150 YEARS HILLS AND DALES
VOL I


150 YEARS HILLS AND DALES - VOL II
Hillsdale Bicentennial Commission 1776-1796
Hillsdale County Historical Society
and the Hillsdale County Bicentennial Commission
Hillsdale, Michigan
1976

Printed by Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX

Unsure of page numbers.

150 Years Hills and Dales Vol. II
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP

 
 
 
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…AMBLER; and Orrin COBB.

Prior to the spring of 1840, to the growing list of settlers were added Ralph and Alvin HAMILTON; the DECKER brothers, Hiram, who was elected treasurer in 1861 and justice of the peace from 1866 to 1874, and Erastus C. who was elected assessor in 1840; Alanson DRISCOLL, a blacksmith who served as highway commissioner in 1840 and 1845, tax collector in 1840, assessor in 1852, overseer of the poor 1855-56, and treasurer in 1857: Finley McARTHUR, who became highway commissioner in 1840; Rufus DAVIS, a carpenter and joiner who worked for the railroad company for several years; Willet GREEN; Julius RICHARDS; Henry SHERMAN; David K. CHASE; Levi H. DURYEA; and William P. DARROW, assessor in 1852 and overseer of the poor in 1851.

There before springtime 1841 came Silas S. LINDSLEY; Adelbert BLOUNT; Henry TRUMAN, who came to section 31 and served as highway commissioner in 1841; Aaron W. NICHOLS, who served long as justice of the peace, from 1842 to 1856, assessor in 1841, and overseer of the poor in 1854; William WAY to section 1; John BULLARD, who served as highway commissioner in 1841 and died while serving as a soldier in the Mexican War; and Pelatiah HYDE, who died in the Civil War.

MID CENTURY ARRIVALS

In the township by the spring of 1842 were Hiram HOWE, assessor in 1842 and long the highway commissioner, 1843, 1846, 1847, 1851; Solomon FENTON; Peter CONRAD; Isaac DOTY, who did duty as assessor in 1843 and overseer of the poor in 1845; Joseph W. ASHLEY; Philo A. WELLS; and Joseph G. HOWE.

In 1846, Charles D. LUCE settled on section 20, coming from Arcadia, Wayne County, New York where he was born April 6, 1820 to Joseph and Betsey SOVERHILL LUCE. In February, 1850, Charles married Miss Sylvia R. BROWN, the daughter of Daniel S. and Rhoda BROWN of Erie County, Pennsylvania. Beginning in 1850, Mr. LUCE served nine terms as supervisor of Jefferson, 1851, 1852, 1860, 1869-71, 1874-77; four terms as treasurer, 1858-59, 1865-66; and seven years on the County Board of Superintendents. In 1872 he was elected to the representative branch of the Legislature, serving on the committees of Education and Engrossment and Enrollment. Returning to civil life, he accepted the position of president of the Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company in the 1870's.

E.D.FORD came to Jefferson Township by a series of moves: from Wayne County, New York to Medina County, Ohio in 1833, to Adams Township, Hillsdale County in 1836, to Indiana for a number of years, to Hillsdale in 1849, and finally to section 18 in Jefferson in 1854.

Amasa BLOUNT, the son of Lemuel BLOUNT of Woodbridge Township, came to Jefferson in 1841. His brother Avery arrived some years later. The family originally came from Barre, Orleans County, New York.

James LEONARDSON came to Michigan from Montgomery County, New York in 1836 and settled in Jefferson Township in 1843 where he was supervisor 1863-64, 1866-68, and 1873, and highway commissioner 1856 and 1859. He served as Deputy United States Provost-Marshal for Hillsdale County during the Civil War. He later moved to Pittsford.

Rowland BIRD, for whom Bird Lake was named, had arrived before 1837, for that spring he served as one of the inspectors of election at the township's first town meeting. In 1838 he was elected justice of the peace and highway commissioner.

Zela HADLEY came to Michigan in 1844 to join his brother Horatio, who was running a sawmill in Hillsdale County. He purchased eighty acres in the part of Florida Township that is now section 2 of Jefferson and began clearing it to make a home. He later added an adjoining fifty acres in section 11. Zela served as township treasurer in 1874 and 1875.

Zela was born at Sandy Creek, Oswego County, New York, February 10, 1823 to Samuel and Betsey WILDER HADLEY, natives of Vermont.

The youngest of nine children, Zela was educated in New York State, June 17, 1849, he married Amy L. AMBLER, a native of Hillsdale County, born to Erasmus D., 1801-March 31, 1852 and Sarah SCHOFIELD AMBLER, 1804-1891, who had come to the Jonesville area from New York State in 1835 until 1842 when they moved into Florida Township. Erasmus was a contractor in railroad construction and helped build the line through the county. For a number of years he operated a gristmill south of Osseo. He was the first supervisor of Jefferson Township. Erasmus was a contractor in railroad construction and helped build the line through the county. For a number of years; he operated a gristmill south of Osseo. He was the first supervisor of Jefferson Township, 1837-39 and gave the township its name. To the AMBLERS were born Edwin A.; Alice M., Mrs. George L. LOOMIS; and Sadie E., Mrs. M. L. RAWSON.

Joseph SLAGHT, who came to Jefferson Township in 1844, was born to John and Phoebe HOWELL SLAGHT in Seneca County, New York. December 6, 1817. After many years in New York working as a tanner and engaged in sawmilling, the John SLAGHTS settled on a farm in Genesee County in 1847.

Joseph was educated in the primitive neighborhood schools in New York during winter terms, helping his father in the tannery and the sawmill during the rest of the year. He also worked at times at the carpenter trade. In 1843 he married Sarah A. BROKAW, born November 6, 1815 to Isaac and Mary FRENCH BROKAW in Millstone, Somerset County, New Jersey, who had moved to central New York in 1821.

In 1844 Joseph came to Michigan over the lake to Monroe and thence to Hillsdale County. After purchasing eighty acres of timber without a semblance of a road to or through it, e returned to New York, and in the autumn of 1845, he brought his family to the farm. He purchased land to increase his farm to 155 acres later. In 1861 he was elected supervisor of the township and in 1848, highway commissioner. A son, J. Albert, was born to the Joseph SLAGHTS Jul 22, 1849. In 1895 Albert married Mary A. MAXON, a native of New York State.

Among the recollections of Charley MEYERS are memories concerning Albert SLAGHT, who owned the farm adjacent to the MEYERS farm on the east. The farm was heavily timbered and Albert made lots of maple syrup which he sold in 1910 for $1.25 a gallon. Charley enjoyed visiting the woods' sugar camp during the seasonal "boiling down" of the sweet sap of the maple trees, and participating in the "sugaring-off" when syrup boiled to the right consistency was poured in the snow to form maple sugar candy. Said to be part Indian by heritage, Albert wouldn't kill the blue racers that lay around in the trees in spring and summer. When Alva MORRIS bought the SLAGHT farm, he "set in" a sawmill and sawed-off the timber.

Charley also recalls the old Indian trail that led west in front of the SLAGHT farm between Culbert and Peterson roads along Silver Lake. That was the trail Baw Beese followed east via Hog Back Hill to visit the Devils Lake tribe.

Moses RUMSEY came with his parents from his native Fayette, Seneca County, New York to Ohio where he attended school winters and helped on the farm at other seasons. In 1847 he came with his father to purchase 120 acres of unbroken forest on what is now section 1 of Jefferson Township. For twenty-eight years he was an elected township official: assessor, 1853; treasurer, 1855; supervisor, 1857, 1865, 1872; and justice of the peace, 1868, 1876.

The son Erwin RUMSEY, a Jefferson Township farmer, married Hartis MILLER whose parents, Martin and Margaret DOREDER MILLER had settled in the county in 1864. The Erwin RUMSEYs were parents of Clyde E., Lloyd M, and Carleton C. Erwin served Jefferson township as justice of the peace in 1891 and as school inspector in 1892. He was also the enumerator of the United States census. He enjoyed work as a Freemason, a Knight of the Maccabees, a Parton of Husbandry, and, with his wife, was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star.

In 1855 Thomas PORTER, 22 who had been apprenticed to a shoemaker in Billinghy, Lincoln Shire, England for seven years, and his bride, Isabelle SHARPE, came on the sail ship Orient from England. They resided a short time in Webster, New York, after which they struck out for the West to find a suitable location for him to ply his trade. They arrived in Osseo in 1866 where they purchased a quarter acre of land and a cottage for $300. He not only mended shoes and boots; he made them. The front room of his home was his shop which was a haven for little boys who liked to watch the process. In winter it was warm and he was kind as they watched him making boots.

That front room was the village post office for six years during a Democratic regime. Aunt Ann PORTER's flower garden(end of page)

 
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STOCK-JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP DRAIN CASE

About 1903, Jefferson Township was involved in one of the most prolonged litigations in the history of Hillsdale County, the Stock-Jefferson township Drain Case, which eventually reached decision in the State of Michigan Supreme Court.

the controvery[sic] dated back to 1853 when the late John P. COOK filed the first suit against Jefferson Township relating to the drain as affecting the water supply of the Hillsdale Mills. The matter in one form or another was intermittently before the courts for fifty years.

The last controversy was brought up in 1893, when the authorities of Jefferson Township dug a drain from Lake Pleasant and surrounding marshes for the purpose of draining a sinkhole in the highway. Objection was made by F.W. STOCK, proprietor of the Hillsdale city Mills who claimed Lake Pleasant as a tributary of Baw Beese Lake and that the waters of Baw Beese lake would be lowered by that drain and the flow would be diverted from the Stock mill race. He commenced injunction proceedings in the circuit court and prolonged litigation was carried on by Frankhauser brothers for Mr. STOCK and Chester and Twiss for the township and George E. PORTER, then highway commissioner, as defendants.

Judge LANE decided that Mr. STOCK had the right of the water diverted by the drain and decreed that the township and PORTER fill up the ditch to a specified height. The township appealed the case to the supreme court, which affirmed the decision of Judge LANE.

In November, 1897, the township complied with Judge LANE'S decree by ordering Highway commissioner PORTER to fill up the ditch, which was done, but some unauthorized person or persons removed the filling, since which time the waters in dispute have merged with the murky waters of the Maumee, instead of augmenting the historic St. Joe. Frankhauser and Cornell, about 1902, commenced contempt proceedings for Mr. STOCK against the township and Mr. PORTER for not keeping the drain filled up, and the case was again before Judge PECK of Jackson circuit, Judge CHESTER being barred by reason of having been engaged on the main case.

Judge PECK held that the former decree made it the duty of PORTER to keep the ditch filled, and fined PORTER $50.00 for contempt. The township appealed from this finding and decree, though F. A. LYON and F. H. STONE, and the supreme court reversed Judge PECK in the 1903 decision, holding that when the township and PORTER filled up the drain as ordered, their duty ended, and that they could not be held in contempt because persons unknown to them and acting without their knowledge or procurement had removed the filling. Thus is explained the gooseneck in Bear Lake road that skirts the sinkhole at the south end of Lake Pleasant.

A neighboring newspaper printed a humorous account of the episode in a column headed "Michigan Topics;" "since 1893 there has been a row in Jefferson Township, Hillsdale County, over a ditch . . . Jefferson Township wanted a ditch and George E. PORTER scooped it out. F. W. STOCK had a mill on a natural water course which was affected by the artificial canal. This affected STOCK, and he went to, and through, the courts including the court of last resort, and they all decided that what God had put asunder let no fellow join thereto: that a natural water-course must not be interfered with by the shovel of man.

"The courts held substantially as did Congressman, now judge, YAPLE concerning the tariff, which he declared was 'an act of congress to annul an act of the Almighty.' PORTER was ordered to dam the ditch. STOCK had previously damned both PORTER and the ditch - and the township had damned STOCK. Porter damned the ditch - and STOCK but somebody tore out the dam. PORTER was asked to dam it again, but he declared that he had dammed it all that was necessary and refused to dam it any more, thus practically telling Judge PECK to be ____ himself and see how he liked it. The Judge didn't like it, and found PORTER guilty of contempt and sentenced him to pay a fine of $50 within 40 days. The court also decided that the jail was too small to hold the whole township of Jefferson, and though it abetted PORTER, he could not commit it for contempt."

(Photo - Caption: DeWitt's Mineral Baths and Bottling Works, 1909)

(Photo - Caption: The DeWitt oil well at time it was shot, 1904.)

OSSEO GAS AND OIL COMPANY

About 1921 the Osseo Gas and Oil Company completed incorporation at $200,000 to begin drilling by August 1 on the Charles M. DEWITT property south of Osseo. Stock was issued and nine directors were elected; Charles M. DEWITT, president; Lewis TAYLOR, vice-president; Charles G. DARROW, secretary; Aaron PERRIN, treasurer; Linden ASH; Adelbert BLOUNT; Charles E. BURNETT; and Fred L. FULLER.

A. R. PURCELL drilled the well for the Osseo Oil and Gas Company. By the time the well reached 116 feet, the harder rock slowed the progress to one foot per day. Excitement increased as, when the well reached the 120-foot level, the drillers began working night and day.

In ROBINSON's 1973 Hillsdale County, Michigan Rural Directory, occurs an account of Charley DEWITT's search for oil: "At Osseo, C.M. DEWITT drilled a well 1430 feet in depth. According to Mr. DEWITT, gas and oil were struck just below black and brown shales (Antrim) from 1219 to 1259 feet, gas again at 1380 feet and oil and gas below 1400 feet, and the oil just below 1420 feet. The first oil and gas horizon appears to be in the top of the traverse, while the lower one is quite probably in the Dundee. An Atrypa reticularis from the oil horizon, indicates that it was probably that of the "bastard Trenton" or Dundee, and certainly not that of the Trenton proper.

The well was filled for about 150 feet with stone and cement and the gas rock above was shot. The gas, originally have a pressure of about 70 pounds, was nearly sufficient to fire the 25 H.P. engine used in pumping the mineral water which was struck in abundance below 1229 feet. The pressure has since decreased to about 38 pounds. According to Mr. DEWITT, the cement filling in the bottom of the well did not set, or only partially, so that a heavy lubricating oil can be obtained after the 1100 foot head of water is pumped off.(end of page)

 
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busy practice. Dr. McKELLAR moved to the Broad Street residence in Hillsdale that later became the home of the HENNESSY's, kept four horses, and engaged Bill HARRING as his driver. For Sunday drives he maintained a rubber-tired buggy.

By 1908-9, a new directory noted changes on the business and professional scene as follows; John BOWDITCH, Alice DARROW, Mrs. H. M. JONES, Duncan McKELLAR, and William KEEFER were no longer listed, Luce and Bryce brothers were replaced by BURNETT and TAYLOR, who added cement to the sale of tile and brick: Ella PULVER's general store appeared as the BURNETT Company; and I. H. GREEN was replaced by C.D. PHILLIPS, grocer. New to the Osseo scene were J. W. HOOVER, barber; Ira J. STONER, physician; L. YOUNGS, blacksmith; and the Osseo Cheese Company>

Osseo business establishments and operations supplying advertisements to the 1910 Hillsdale County Directory gave proof of a thriving community. G. W. DARROW and Company announced that it sold exclusively Laurel stoves and ranges, the world's greatest fuel savers, guaranteed to give perfect satisfaction; carriages and wagons; gasoline engines; hardware; horse clothing; that it guaranteed Satler's celebrated brand of custom made harness that it handled; and that it contracted plumbing, furnace work, steam and hot water heating and tin and sheet metal work.

The BURNETT Company advertised dry goods, gloves, and mittens, groceries and provisions, hosiery, shoes, rubbers, wallpaper, lime, cement, and plaster. A. PERRIN and Company, across the street, in the cement block store building, erected in 1904, announced its offerings; dry goods, groceries and provisions, hosiery, shoes, rubbers, men's furnishings, wallpaper, and drain tile. The Osseo Market, operated by A.J. RARICK, offered vegetables and salt and smoked meats. Leon CRANDALL advertised toilet articles, drugs and sundries, hard and soft coal, icecream, soda water, and confectionaries. The Cleveland Milling Company on Railroad Street publicized flour and feed and solicited custom feed mill work.

In 1919 Osseo boasted a new industry. When Henry FORD added self-starters requiring storage batteries to his Ford cars, Orison CLEVELAND immediately saw an opportunity beckoning. In partnership with his cousin Emmet TRIPP, he formed the Cleveland Box Company.

Early in the summer of 1919, the Osseo Box Factory opened in the building south of the flour mill and formerly used by Aaron PERRIN as a creamery and cheese factory. It was a complete operation from tree to box. Purchasing the timber for the boxes from farmers in the vicinity, CLEVELAND sent a woods' crew to take the timber off the stump. His haulers teamed the logs to his sawmill next to the box factory where a large quantity of stock was prepared by the mill crew and stacked in the mill yard to dry. In the factory, the dry stock was manufactured into lock-corner boxes to be used for storage batteries in automobiles for starting and lighting.

CLEVELAND provided the boxes for a number of firms, the major one being the Grier-Sutherland Battery Company on Larned Street, a block or two from Cadillac Square, in Detroit, to which CLEVELAND delivered the boxes in model-T Ford trucks. Harvey SHAFFER delivered truckloads on a regular basis. At the height of the operation, the Cleveland Box Company employed twenty-three men. But it was an ear pregnant with rapid change and the development of the rubber battery box killed the Cleveland wooden lock-corner box operation. By 1924 the production had ceased.

Changes of the times also killed Cleveland's flour milling operation located adjacent to the box factory. When Orison CLEVELAND acquired the flour mill in Osseo from Leon ELLIOTT about 1910, housewives did their own baking with flour ground from the area's winter wheat which had a soft grain. The mill exchange was one barrel of flour for five bushels of wheat. But following World War I, when housewives began buying bakery bread, bakers needed flour ground from the hard kernel of the spring wheat grown on the western plains with the result that the demand for flour from the county's winter wheat dwindled until, by 1927, it was no longer profitable for CLEVELAND's flour milling operation to continue.

In the 1910 directory, F.J. STOVER and L. M. JONES announced that they were physicians and William LYON and O. L. YOUNG advertised that they did carriage and wagon repairing on Railroad Street near the depot.

By the time ads were placed in the Farm Journal Directory that covered the years 1919-1924, the G. W. DARROW Company announced "We aim to please: everything in hardware and implements, and DORT MOTOR CARS." The BURNETT Company, offering fertilizers, salt, cement, general merchandise, and highest prices for eggs and butter, proudly indicated its establishment in 1890 at its location Osseo, Hillsdale County, Michigan.

Meat market and drug store seems too have been combined in the ad contributed by F.L. FULLER and Company: medicines; toilet articles; finest lines of cigars and tobaccoes; up-to-date line of groceries and provisions; ice cream, sodas, and soft drinks in season; full line of fresh and salt meats. This particular advertisement seems to indicate certain changes coming into the living style in Osseo. The announcement of "ice cream sodas and soft drinks in season" indicates the addition of luxuries to necessities, and the offer of "fresh meats" suggests a means of refrigeration was being utilized.

Fred L. FULLER, Sr. had purchased the general stock of merchandise of Leon CRANDALL and entered business in the PHILLIPS store building in September, 1913, having for his partner Charles BODLEY whose interest he purchased in 1917. He continued operating the business with the assistance of members of his family. His daughter Susie left school in 1915 to work at the store.

Susie remembers her father buying a six foot refrigerator - a big thing set right in. At the top was a door for the ice her father(page ends)

 
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had cut at Deer Lake. The door below opened for the meat. It could hold whole beeves

Outside of the store on the south were the scales for weighing livestock bought by Leon CRANDALL, drover for the stockyards near the freight house. The weighing was done one or two days a week when wagon loads of livestock were brought in by farmers to be loaded on railway freight cars for shipment to the Buffalo, New York stock market. In winter loads of coal from the coal yard east of the depot were weighed on the scales. Susie frequently tended the weighing in the store's back room in addition to clerking out front.

Across the street Susie enjoyed watching Mr. SOCKRIDER perform the interesting process of making cheese in the factory behind the PERRIN store.

She recalls that her father furnished the coal to power the engine for drilling the Osseo oil well on the DeWITT farm south of town. She often walked down to watch the excitement. She speaks of Mrs. Charley DeWITT, "bedecked and bedabbled with fancy clothes and a plumed hat, who stayed just long enough to touch the well off. Susie had been afraid the well would blow up before Mrs. DeWITT could get away"

The FULLER store was moved to the PERRIN building upon the discontinuance of PERRIN's store, and later it was moved across the street to the DARROW building.

(Photo Caption: Duncan McKELLAR, M.D.)

(Photo Caption: BURNETT's Grocery Store; Echo ASH and John McNEAL, meat cutter.)

When Fred, Sr., retired in 1934, his don and wife, Fred L., Jr. and Nola FULLER managed the business until the elder FULLER died in May 1937 at which time Mr. and Mrs. Veranas MOORE bought the business in the George DARROW Company building.

Fred L. FULLER, Sr. had been born in Franklin Township, Lenawee County, April 6, 1863. He married Mary A. WALTERS September 11, 1886, and to them were born Harry L., 1887; Fred L., Jr., October 20, 1892; Ida, who married Wheaton COMAR in 1924; Susie, who married Clyde MILLER, March 7, 1925; and Eileen, who married J. W. BOWDITCH, February 6, 1930.

Before moving to Osseo in 1899, Fred L. Sr., had been a telegraph operator in Indiana, first for the Chicago and Erie and then for the New York Central line. He was one of the first carriers out of Osseo after the establishment of rural mail service. For twenty years, 1917-1937, he was Jefferson Township clerk.

FRED L. FULLER, JR. RECALLS FAMILY LORE HIS GRANDMOTHER TOLD HIM. His great-grandparents, the Mike McDOWELLS, came to Monroe, Michigan on a flatboat. There they hitched oxen onto a flatbed wagon and brought their goods to Osseo. They cleared ground and sold it, and they ran a store here in Osseo right next to the post office. Most of the time they lived in Lost Nation. Of the McDOWELL's thirteen children, Susan, in 1857 married James WALTERS, August 8, 1835-1919. To the WALTERS, four children were born: Fred's mother, Mary, January 11, 1865-December 5, 1952; sons Cortland and Enos WALTERS, both of Osseo; and Retta WALTERS ESTERLINE of Pioneer, Ohio.

June 7, 1916, Fred L. Jr. married Nola RUDY, January 14, 1895-1950. To them, April 16, 1917 was born Wilma Eileen, who married Dale BRADFORD May 22, 1937. Their son Jerry, born December 18, 1944, on May 8, 1965 married Sherry L. SHAW. They are the parents of Rochelle, February 14, 1966; Angela, April 8, 1967; and Tracey, February 19, 1969. The dale BRADFORD's daughter Kay, born November 28, 1938, married Curtis SCHMITT January 25, 1957. They are the parents of Mark, October 24, 1959; Cheryl, September 18, 1958; Norman December 2, 1968; and Stacy, February 27, 1970.

Fred L. Jr. was a New York Central station agent from 1915 in a succession of stations: Corona, Indiana on the New York Central Airline: Delta, Ohio; Archibald, Ohio; Osseo, Pittsford, Hudson, Clayton, and finally, Jonesville from which station he retired in 1953 to live in Osseo.

September 5, 1951, Fred L. married Cora SAWYER. In 1953 they set an asparagus bed and a hundred blueberry bushes from which, in season, they sell about 245 pounds of asparagus and about 800 quarts of blueberries.

Fred served on the Osseo School Board of Education about 10 years.

To Susie and Clyde MILLER (April 24, 1892-March 4, 1965) was born a son, Donald L., January 24, 1926, and one daughter Phyllis born February 6, 1937.

By Donald's second marriage, he has two daughters. Sandra MILLER SNOW and Peggy Sue MILLER. Donald L. MILLER is married to Ella SUMMET. Phyllis married Jim PRICE and has a son Steven.

Donald earned the reputation of an ex-marine who doesn't give up. In 1946 he and his horse were the victims of a track accident in the 2:27 stake pace on the Governor's Day harness racing program at the Ionia Free Fair. Pacer Milkpan Dewey, after the spill, broke from the shafts of his bike and kept going from force of habit. He circled the track three times without breaking his pace before he was stopped. Just discharged from the marines, owner-driver Donald L. MILLER, headlined as "a farmer boy from Osseo," commented that military service was safer and he did not know but that he would return to it.

A year later, Don drove Milkpan Dewey to a grand slam victory in the same race, winning all three heats in a fast field of eight horses and registering times of 2:12, 2:14, and 2:13. Governor SIGLER recalled the previous year's spill when he presented the 1947 Governor's Trophy blanket award to the Osseo youth, owner and driver of the up-and-coming pacer.

In the 1919-1924 Farm Journal Directory, the Cleveland Milling Company ad was developing a certain sophistication in its wording: "custom feed millers, dealers in flour, feed, grain, lumber, and logs in car lots, specialty of black walnut logs." It proudly announced, "Phone, Citizens, Osseo," thus indicating the inroads of that technology.

The importance of the agricultural community in Jefferson Township was also reflected in the 1924 directory. Father and son, Charles and Fred BOWDITCH inserted the announcement, "Spring Hill Farm, Charles BOWDITCH and Son, proprietors, breaders of scotch and Scotch Topped Shorthorn Cattle, Village Baron, No. 582121 in service, inspection invited, Osseo, Michigan. Independent phone 706."

As late as 1949, an article appeared in the Michigan Farmer of February 4 about a registered shorthorn cow owned by Fred BOWDITCH of Osseo. The nineteen-year-old shorthorn cow, Wimple's Star, and her seventeenth offspring, a daughter, set what was possibly a record in the state. Mr. BOWDITCH, president of the Hillsdale County Fair Society, had kept Wimple's Star from a herd of purebred shorthorns his father had founded in 1881 on his farm near Osseo.

Jay RUSSELL announced: "breeder, large type Poland China Swine for sale at popular prices, RFD 1, Osseo, Ransom, telephone 1001 Frontier." Squire DARROW advertised, "Auctioneer, breader of Large English Berkshire Hogs. Rose Comb Black Minorca Fowls, stock on had at all times, price right. Phone 815, Osseo Central, Osseo, Michigan."

The large amount of livestock in the area surrounding Osseo plus the convenience of the railroad facilities, resulted in the formation of the Osseo Co-operative Livestock Association. At the meeting at the home of M.G. MOSHER in Osseo, the manager, E.D. CHENEY, showed that $37,000 worth of livestock had been shipped out of Osseo since the previous report. The company had been (page ends)

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(Photo Caption: Fred FULLER, Sr., in his store: groceries, drugs and sundries.)

formed in the early 1920's, selling debenture-like shares at $100 each. Headquartered in a building near the present-day BURNETT Lumber Company, its first manager had been Will REYNOLDS. A narrow road led east from the lumber yard to the stockyard south of the railroad tracks, across from the school building. Livestock was weighed on scales adjacent to the F. L. FULLER Company store in the brick building, now the Masonic hall, and taken in at the stockyard one or two days a week. It was shipped out on the railroad Saturdays to the Buffalo market.

Farmers in the area brought in cattle, calves, lambs and hogs by teams and wagons equipped with stockracks. A mark of distinction was the combination stock-hay rack which was hinged to lie flat for haying, yet could be raised to form an enclosure convenient for the hauling of hogs, calves, and lambs. The patented popular model came painted a forest green. Fred BODITCH shipped the last railroad cars of livestock out of Osseo. The Osseo Cooperative Livestock Company ended its business operation about 1925-6.

THE DEPRESSION THIRTIES

When the Detroit Stockyards opened up, livestock trucking operations developed and railroad shipment of livestock to Buffalo decreased, Fred BOWDITCH, the last manager of the Osseo Livestock Cooperative Association, traded the Model-T Ford truck he had used to haul his livestock to the Osseo stockyard for railway shipment, for an International truck and began hauling livestock to the Detroit yards. His first driver, about 1930-33, was Nicholas DEMONGEOT. Nick relates that still today one can see Fred's initials, FAB 1912, carved in a beam of the old freight house, now used by the BURNETT Lumber Company for storage. Nick also recalls that Mrs. Fred BOWDITCH, nee Bertha JENNINGS, was much in demand to perform for programs in the county as a whistler and pianist.

When Nick no longer drove truck for BOWDITCH, Charley SCHEICK began driving the truck loaded with livestock for Detroit. He continued in that capacity until about 1840, shortly before he was inducted into the armed services.

Charley SCHEICK also drove some for Z.B. WALTON who operated an independent trucking operation for years, WALTON acquired his first truck, a 1930 International, in June of that year, and submitted a bid to Harold WARREN, highway path master of the area within the BLOUNT School District, who had put gravel hauling up for bids. Z.B. was awarded the work to haul gravel for the district road repair for 75 cents a square yard, securing the job from among higher-priced teamster bidders who had had the work previous years. Thus trucks replaced horses.

By fall, Z.B. traded for another truck with an interchangeable rack for hauling livestock or gravel.

How long Jefferson town meetings were held in settlers' homes has been lost in time. But at some point, the annual town meeting and elections came to be held in Osseo's hotel. Edna PERRIN recalls that when she registered to vote in 1918, she went upstairs in the hotel, Z.B. WALTON recalls going into Tom ROSE's hotel with his father as the latter gentleman attended town meeting. He remembers that the little grocery store in the hotel was "a bit rough and carelessly kept." He notes that Jefferson had a Democratic supervisor in 1932 when Roy TAYLOR was elected on the ticket headed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

(Photo Caption: Run of stone, TRIPP's Mill)

(Photo Caption: TRIPP's mill burned December 31, 1958. In the door stand Ed BELL, Salem, Michigan and Wayne MILLER, ALLEN, the previous July.)

(Photo Caption: Will HARMON on the threshing machine engine, about 1898)

Immediately after Orla TOWNS won the 1934 election as supervisor, the state returned the PERRIN building which had previously been taken for delinquent taxes, to the township for a portion of the taxes due, and the building became the Jefferson Township Hall, known as PERRIN Hall. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided workers to clean the hall and do the necessary yard work. "Shide" ESTERLINE put on a new roof and tore down the back annex that had previously been an ice house before Dud WILLIAMS used it for a meat market.

Dud lived on Deer Lake near the Bird lake-M34 corner. Down the hill between his house and the lake, he built a slaughter house where he killed, processed, and cured the meats he sold in the little market in the PERRIN annex. He hired farmers in the community to cut and haul blocks of Ice from deer Lake to fill the ice house, thereby killing two birds with one stone; cooling his meat and supplying the wants of housewives who had the ice boxes for refrigeration or who wanted to make ice cream of a Sunday afternoon. Dud closed out his ice and meat business in the late 1920's and for a time ran his brother-in-law, Harry S. VAUGHAN's gas station on East Bacon Street, Hillsdale, at the location just east of the original Lido which VAUGHAN erected after 1933 on the site of the miniature golf course he had put in during the craze for that game in the late 1920's

Later, for a time, Dud WILLIAMS operated the gas station at the corner of Bird Lake Road and M34.

Z.B. WALTON shares numerous memories on the way of life of the twenties and thirties in Jefferson Township. When WPA came into being at the height of the Depression years, each county had a WPA coordinator. Each township managed its own works under the coordinator, CHARLEY WALTON, highway commissioner, had charge of from six to twenty men who worked three or four days a week, cutting brush, shoveling snow, or doing whatever the season or conditions called for. There were many in Republican Hillsdale County who despised its being and its ways, but the WPA tried to fill a vital need of the times of which it came.

Z.B. also recollects the township organization for care of the highways before that(end of page)

 
 

From 150 Years in the Hills and Dales

Woodbridge Township

Ransom Township

 
From History of Hillsdale County, Michigan

Woodbridge Township

 
 

 
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This page updated May 27, 2001