History of Genesee County, Michigan


The history of Genesee county is most interesting and instructive, and to hope, and to believe, that this volume may help to preserve for our generation, and for generations to come, its priceless lessons, has been to the editor a source of great pleasure and satisfaction. The long occupation of our forests by the romantic, war-loving red man is prolific of traditionary lore; the comparatively recent development of our county's resources by the white settlers abounds with instruction and interest; but the records of this history, while abundant, are not easily accessible to the general reader.

From time to time, our citizens have written about the incidents of pioneer life among the white settlers who came to these lands in an early day. Each and all of these, men and women prominent in every walk of life clergymen, teachers, physicians, attorneys, busy men and women of literary taste have thus indirectly contributed to the present work. Books have been published on the history of the county, some of them works of high merit. One of these, of special excellence, has been largely used in this work. It was among the first to appear the "History of Genesee County," published in 1879 by the Philadelphia firm of Everts & Abbott, On the whole, it has been found to be, as it claimed, a reliable and, for its time, exhaustive history of the county in all its phases pioneer, agricultural, manufacturing, civil, military, educational and religious.

To make this old material more generally and pleasurably accessible, it has been here entirely rearranged and systematized, and largely rewritten. The present task has been to correct, eliminate and supplement. Portions of it have been excluded, owing to differences in historical perspective between 1879 and 1916. Many new facts relating to our early history have been added. Its chapters X to XVII contained such an excellent military record of the county, so complete and well written, and the events have still such great interest for all, that these chapters have been gathered into one and allowed to stand, with corrections and additions. All that was interesting and essential in the history of the townships has been retained and supplemented, with special reference to the pioneer period.

Another mass of material largely used in the present work is that in "The Book of the Golden Jubilee of Flint." The method has been mainly that of quotation, partly to preserve the individuality of the writers, as well as to make proper acknowledgment for each portion used.

In chapter I, much use has been made of the excellent work entitled "Michigan as a Province, Territory and State." Besides the various other histories of Michigan, such as those by Farmer, Lanman, Cooley, Mrs. Sheldon, and special works like those of Rev. T. J. Campbell, S. J., on "Pioneer Laymen of North America" and "Pioneer Priests of North America," use has been freely made of the general sketches in other county histories.

All of chapters II and III, and portions of several other chapters, have been written by Mr. William V. Smith, of Flint, who, as secretary of the Genesee County Historical Society since its organization, and a life-long student of the Indians, particularly of this region, is an authority of eminence on the subjects to which he has made contributions. A large part of the material used in connection with the local history of Genesee county and the city of Flint was prepared by Mrs. Kate E. Buckham, to whom, as associate editor, especial acknowledgment is due. Invaluable information has been contributed by many of our citizens, whom to name individually would be impracticable, but to each and all of these the editor wishes to express sincere thanks.

As Byron says: "Critics all are ready made," This volume cannot expect to escape a generous fusilade of their feathered shafts. Those whose opinions are of value will at least read it with that care which the real critic vouchsafes to every book; and as they read, they will remember that the editor has sought to make, not an encyclopedia, but a record of our history whose perusal will be a pleasure, as well as a profit.


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All life and achievement is evolution; present wisdom comes from past experience, and present commercial prosperity has come only from past exertion and sacrifice. The deeds and motives of the men who have gone before have been instrumental in shaping the destinies of later communities and states. The development of a new country was at once a task and a privilege. It required great courage, sacrifice and privation. Compare the present conditions of the people of Genesee county, Michigan, with what they were but a little less than a century ago. From a trackless wilderness and virgin land, it has come to be a center of prosperity and civilization, with millions of wealth, systems of railways, educational and religious institutions, varied industries and immense agricultural and dairy interests. Can any thinking person be insensible to the fascination of the study which dis- closes the aspirations and efforts of the early pioneers who so strongly laid the foundation upon which has been reared the magnificent prosperity of later days? To perpetuate the story of these people and to trace and record the social, religious, educational, political and industrial progress of the community from its first inception, is the function of the local historian. A sincere purpose to preserve facts and persona! memoirs that are deserving of perpetuation, and which unite the present to the past, is the motive for the present publication. The publishers desire to extend their thanks to those who have so faithfully labored to this end. Thanks are also due to the citizens of Genesee county for the uniform kindness with which they hare regarded this undertaking, and for their many services rendered in the gaining of necessary information.

In placing the "History of Genesee County. Michigan," before the citizens, the publishers can conscientiously claim that they have carried out the plan as outlined in the prospectus. Every biographical sketch in the work has been submitted to the party interested, for correction, and therefore any error of fact, if there be any, is solely due to the person for whom the sketch was prepared.