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This page contains a description of the Organization of Jackson County.

History of Jackson Co., Michigan
Chicago, Inter-State Publishing Co.


Up to the spring of 1835 the settlement was a little republic under the rule and authority of a single magistrate. During the session of the Legislative Council 1830-31, an act was passed organizing the 20 townships of the county into one township by the name of Jacksonburgh, attaching the same to Washtenaw County for judicial purposes. The first township meeting was to be held at the house of Wm. R. Thompson, April 4, 1831.


We now arrived at a period at which the political sentiments of the settlers were to be made known by an election. Politics at this time were a good deal mixed, being divided intoi three or four distinctive parties - "Jackson men" - "Adams men" - "Mason" and Anti-Mason, - the two latter constituting the distinguishing antagonism of party at the time. The manner of voting then was a ballot separately for each candidate until the choice was made, and then for the next in regular rotation. If no choice were made on the first ballot a second was taken, and so on until all the offices were filled. It was in fact the caucus as well as the election, and altogether more democratic than the present system, as it enabled those who weilded the politicfal franchise to vote for men instead of the ticket. This was the modus operandi in the early days of our little republic.

At thuis time the community was without any board of election or township officers, except a justice of the peace. The Territorial laws provided that in such cases any justice or legal township officer might call the meeting to order and proceed to choose a moderator and clerk, who being duly sworn, together with the justice of the peace, should form a board of inspectors of election, and thus were authorized to receive and canvass the votes and declare the result.

Under these provisions the first township meeting was held April 4, 1831, at the house of Wm. R. Thompson. It was called to order by Wm. R. De Land, Justice of the Peace, and proceeded to elect viva roce, Alexander Laverty, Moderator, and Hiram Thompson, Clerk. With the election of Supervisor came the tug of war, when freemen met foemen in open ballot. The masons were certain they would carry the election; the Anti-Masons were confident the choice would be in their favor. The4 ballots for Supervisor being called for and counted by the board, it was ascertained that the whole number of votes cast was 31, of which Ralph Updyke, Anti-Mason, received 17, and Wm. R. Thompson, Mason, 13. Mr. Updyke cast his vote for Capt. John Durand. Christian Prussia, Anti-Mason, and David Stuker, Mason, the candidate for township clerk, received a similar vote to that recorded for the supervisor. Horace Blackman and Ezekial T. Critchett received 14 votes each. They represented the Anti-Mason section. Horace Blakcman received no opposition in seeking the collectorship, and guardian of the peace. Isaac Sterling, Mason, Alex Laverty, Anti-Mason, and Isaiah Bennett, Mason, were elected highway commissioners without opposition. Lemuel Blackman, Anti-Mason was elected overseer of the poor. Wm. R. De Land and S. Stoddard, Anti-Masons, and Dr. Oliver Puss, Mason, were chosen school-commissioners. Hiram Thimposon, W. R. De Land, Osgood H. Fifield, Isaac N. Swain and James Valentine, were elected school inspectors. John Durand, Martin Flint, Samuel Roberts and Timothy Williams were chosen fence-viewers, and Martin Flint, pound-master. After establishing some municipal by-laws for the regulation of the township in regard to cattle, etc., running at large as free commoners, and in regard to fixing a bounty on wolf scalps, the meeting dispersed.

The "History of Jackson County" has been scanned and is available on Google Books.

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Steve Shiley