Pioneer history of Eaton County, Michigan

"I hear the tread of Pioneers of nations yet to be,
The first low wash of waves where shall roll a human sea."
So spake in wise prophetic words the poet of the free.

While standing lone mid forests vast on Lake Superior's shore
This music broke upon his soul above the water's roar.
He listened then for coming men; let us con their mission o'er.

The coming men must clear the woods and conquer foes and fears;
Their wives must share their toil and care and, smothering many tears,
Must children rear mid want and fear, while hope filled up the years.

A noble race of stalwart men! their hearts must know no fear;
With courage strong, eschewing wrong, they left all kindred dear
And, last words spoke, with hearts of oak they came to conquer here.

Savage was Nature's gentlest mood, savage the beasts, they tell;
Savage the blast of winter's gale, savage the trees that fell;
Savage the blows of these savage foes, savage the men as well.

These were the foes that hedged them round, these were the foes o'ercome;
But their weapons were mainly those of peace, and they conquered, one by one,
The pathless wood and the fordless flood and here they built their home.

Home, home, 'twas a humble home, but the love that there was known
Was the mother love and the father love and the love of their children own;
A love that grew dear because of the fear of the dangers they shared alone.

Then neighbors came and strangers came and they welcomed one and all;
And their hearts grew warm. No social storm and seldom a a petty brawl
Was permitted to break nor aught to take from the love they bore for all.

So with sympathy vast they came at last to claim as brethren all
The men who land from a foreign strand and settle within the wall
Of our oceans vast. So we came at last to form a Nation, small.

But soon to expand and cover the land and extend from sea to sea,
From perpetual snow to the gulf below and to islands in the sea.
Our soldier bands in foreign lands fight old world tyranny.

But evils here we now must fear and fight with might and main
All sinful lust and lust of pride and lust of sordid gain.
The liquor curse and evils worse have bound us with a chain.

These are the foes that now disclose and all advance assail.
The pioneers put by all fears; to conquer ne'er did fail.
Shall we, their sons, prove recreant ones and let our foes prevail?

Let's emulate the pace they set and every wrong assail,
And greeting give to all who live wherever they may dwell;
Our brethren all both great and small to own them we do well.

In brotherhood to all mankind our love should none forsake.
Accept the task, if islands ask our freedom to partake;
Let's share this boon with them right soon, their energies awake!

Shout LIBERTY to all the world till heaven's vault is riven!
And as we pray from day to day let charity be given.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as 'tis in Heaven."

So shall our land become more grand home of the noble, free.
I hear the tread of Pioneers' sons echoing from sea to sea.
And I hear the shout their songs ring out, "LOVE, TRUTH and LIBERTY."


Table of Contents

Foreword 1
Charlotte 7
Bellevue 15
Eaton 27
Hamlin 37
Vermontville 46
Sunfield 57
Trying Trails 62
Delta 70
Eaton Rapids 81
Eaton Rapids City 89
Chester 93
Pioneer's Golden Wedding 97
Kalamo 101
Walton 107
Olivet 109
Oneida 116
Grand Ledge 123
Roxand 127
M. A. C. Semi-Centennial 134
Benton 138
Brookfield 149
Windsor 156
Carman Golden Wedding 164
Carmel 165
Address to Pioneers 173
Pioneer Society 190


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This book has been published for the benefit of the people of Eaton County, who through life's ancestral chain are lovingly linked to the past. Its pages cover portions of the history of the county including a third of a century, but they make no claim of entire completeness. If power were given the narrator a complete detailed history would resurrect and reveal all of the myriad of hardships, privations, afflictions, reverses and solemn visitations as endured by the pioneers, who leaving already settled communities, wended their way into the primeval Michigan forests to carve out homes and enlarge the borders of civilization.

Such a reflection of a past generation cannot be reproduced in completeness. The impotence of mere words render its impossible.

But these pages as compiled and written covering the early history of Eaton County by Hon. Daniel Strange of Oneida, a life-long resident and pioneer, supply a fund of interesting historical matter and information that will grow in value with the years, and be treasured more and more as generation follows generation through the years that are certain to follow.

All of these first settlers have passed on before. Nearly all of them as we usually interpret life are now sleeping beneath the sod which through their efforts and sacrifices was tilled and prepared. Every cemetery in the county bears within its bosom those who fought the heroic fight of dominion, passing the fruits of their anxieties and toil to those of us who follow them. Surrounded and impressed by these sacred memories this rehearsal of events covering a generation should be of great value, and to Mr. Strange, now advanced in years, a product of Eaton County and a nobleman by nature, who has gladly given of his time and strength in the compiling of this book should the people feel profoundly grateful.

To the readers of this book the suggestion is ventured that life is one continuous whole, in reality not broken by periods or generations, but past, present and future actually linked indissolubly together as the moving picture may be viewed upon the screen. Thus families of the past and present are only seemingly broken, and we now in action, or possibly on the threshold of the future, are also pioneers working out the plan of a still more glorious destiny.