VAN BUREN CITIZENS
Allen Odell.- Standing prominent among
the prosperous and progressive agriculturists of Van Buren county is Allen
Odell, who is now living, practically retired from business, in the village
of Kendall, although he still owns a finely appointed and valuable
farm in Pine Grove township. A son of Amasa Odell, he was born in
Huron county, Ohio, May 21, 1847, and since a lad of seven years has lived
His paternal grandfather, Benajah Odell, was
born in New York state, of Revolutionary stock, and was a lineal descendant
of one of three brothers who immigrated from England to the United States
in colonial days. As foreman of a gang of men he assisted in the
construction of the Erie Canal, living at that time in western New York,
he bought wild lands in Huron county, and was there engaged in clearing
the land and tilling the soil until his death, when upwards of eighty years
old. To him and his wife, who maiden name was Sarah Wells, eight
children were born and reared.
Amasa Odell was born in Cayuga county, New
York, in 1807, and as a young man learned the carpenter's trade.
Becoming a pioneer settler in Huron county, Ohio, he purchased a tract
of timber lying on the old plank road, leading from Norwalk to Ashland,
and having erected a log cabin in the wilderness cleared forty acres of
his land. Disposing of his farm in 1854, he again started westward
in search of a new home, making an overland trip to Allegan county, Michigan,
and becoming one of the first settlers of Trowbridge township. Buying
from the government one hundred and sixty acres of land, at one dollar
and twenty-five cents an acre, in the center of the township, it was not
long ere the ringing blows of his axe might be heard as he felled the mighty
giants of the hitherto unbroken forest to make a space on which he might
erect a humble log cabin to shelter himself and the family.
Deer, wild turkeys, bear and wolves were abundant, and the pioneers
depended largely in those days upon wild game for their meat, the mother
in the meantime spinning and weaving the homespun in which she clothed
the family. For sometime after placing the ground in a productive
condition he used to have to team his wheat to Kalamazoo, twenty-five miles
away, to market it. He labored industriously, clearing a large part
of his land and erecting a good set of buildings, doing the carpentering
himself. Subsequently selling his original farm, Mr. Amasa Odell
purchased a near-by farm, on which he resided until his death, at the age
of sixty-seven years.
Amasa Odell was twice married. He married
first Maria Coon, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Kozad) Coon.
He married for his second wife Eliza Coon, a sister of his first wife.
She was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and died in Van Buren county, Michigan,
in the ninety-second year of her age. Six children were born of their
union, as follows: Elizabeth, Samuel, Aaron, Maria, Louisa and Allen.
Allen Odell has lived in Trowbridge township, Allegan
county, three years when in 1857, the first school building in that district
was erected, and in which he received his early education. IN 1864
he enlisted in Company A, Third Michigan Cavalry, and joined his regiment
at Brownsville Station, Arkansas. He subsequently went with his command
to New Orleans, thence to Mobile, and from there rode two hundred and eighty
miles, much of the way through woods and swamps, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He continued with his regiment in its various marches, battles and campaigns
until the close of the war, when, in June 1865, he received his honorable
discharge. Returning home, Mr. Odell began farming in Trowbridge
township, on a tract of twenty acres of land which he had purchased when
eighteen years old. In 1879 he removed form Trowbridge township to
Pine Grove township, Van Buren county, and having purchased a tract of
partly improved land on section twenty-seven, erected a substantial set
of buildings, and continued his agricultural operations until 1891.
Taking up his residence that year in the village of Kendall, he still supervised
the management of his farm, to the area which he added by purchase, and
all of which he still owns. IN 1899 Mr. Odell erected his present
residence in Kendall, and, though not now actively engaged in farming,
buys and ships produce, a business which he commenced while still living
on his farm.
Mr. Odell married, in 1867, Alice Estella Stockwell,
who was born in Trowbridge township, Allegan county, Michigan, of excellent
New England ancestry. Her father Seth Stockwell, Jr., and her grandfather,
Seth Stockwell, Sr., were both natives of Vermont, the birth of her father
having occurred October 29, 1827.
Seth Stockwell, Sr., migrated from Vermont
to Canada, where he resided until 1844, when he became one of the very
early settlers of Trowbridge township, Allegan county, Michigan.
Purchasing a tract of timbered land of the government, he built the customary
pioneer log cabin, and devoted his time to clearing the land and tilling
the soil, living there until his death, in 1889, at the age of four score
and four years. He married first Hannah Everett, who died at the
age of sixty years, and subsequently he married Mary Brundage. His
children, eight in number, were all by his first marriage.
Seth Stockwell, Jr., was seventeen years old when
he came with the family to Michigan. He assisted his father in clearing
a homestead, and when he became of age his father presented him with forty
acres of standing timber. Immediately beginning the pioneer task
of clearing the land, he soon had a sufficient space made, and on it erected
a log house, in which he and his bride began housekeeping. Four years later
he sold his farm, and having purchased eighty acres of land in the same
neighborhood resided there several years. Selling out in 1877, he
bought the homestead property in section twenty-nine, Pine Grove township,
now occupied by his widow, and was there engaged in agricultural pursuits
until his death, October 29, 1891.
Seth Stockwell Jr., July 18, 1851, Lydia Jane Price,
who was born in New York state, August 10, 1835, a daughter of John Price
and granddaughter of Benjamin Price, who spent his last years at the home
of a son in Ohio. Reared and married in the Empire state, John Price
came from there to the territory of Michigan in 1836, performing a part
of the long journey by lake and part with teams. Becoming one of
the early settlers of western Michigan, he took up government land lying
four miles from the present city of Allegan, and began hewing a farm from
the wilderness. A few years later, in order that his children might have
better educational advantages, he moved to Pine Creek, three miles away,
but did not sell his land, continuing its management until his death, at
the age of fifty years. His wife, whose maiden name was Lydia Sanford,
died at the age of forty-nine years. They reared eight children,
namely: Horatio, Lucy Ann, George, Sanford, Barton, Oliver, Milo and Lydia
J., the latter of whom became the wife of Seth Stockwell, Jr.; But an infant
when brought by her parents to Michigan, Mrs. Stockwell was educated in
the rude log school house, with its puncheon floor and slab seats that
had wooden pegs for legs. Since the death of her husband she has
lived at the homestead in Pine Grove township. She reared three children,
namely: Alice E., now Mrs. Odell; Miles; and Flora.
Mr. and Mrs. Odell are the parents of six
children, namely: George C., who married Addie Porter, and has four children,
Pansy, Fern, Clifton and Roselin; Bert P., who married Lillie McGregor;
Charles B.; Millie, wife of John Leeder; Pearl E., wife of Earl Hudson,
has two children, Florence E. and Lawrence; and Gilbert A. Mr. and
Mrs. Odell are worthy Christian people and valuable members of the Methodist
Episcopal church of Kendall.
James Kelley is one of the prominent
farmers in Van Buren county. Most men will succeed better as employees
that as employers, and that fact gives the reason why so many men buy farms
and lose them, through their inability to systematize things and conduct
their farms on a paying basis. The reason of the failure is not because
they do not work enough, but they do not use their brains sufficiently.
This has not been the fault of Mr. Kelley, who has made a success of farming.
He found it impossible to leave the agricultural life, though he tried
it for at time, then found the call of the land too strong for him, and
back to the farm he returned. He has not only been able to secure
a competency for himself and his family, but he has done much for the betterment
of the township in which he resides.
The birth of James Kelley occurred in the
township where he farms today, the date of his nativity being September
2, 1864. He is a son of Michael and Mary (Mahoney) Kelley, both natives
of Ireland, who emigrated from the Emerald Isle about 1849, coming direct
to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where they farmed for several years, and then traded
their land for the eighty-acre tract on sections 7 and 8, which is owned
by James Kelley. Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, Sr., raised a family of seven
children, whose names are as follows: John, deceased; Michael, deceased;
Frank, residing in Oklahoma City; James, the subject of this sketch; George,
residing in Dowagiac; Jennie, the wife of John Rapp; Anna, deceased. One
child died in infancy. In 1887, in the month of February, the father
was summoned to the life eternal, and ten years later, on July 12, the
demise of the mother occurred.
The boyhood of James Kelley was spent on his
father's farm, and he attended the neighboring school. He learned
to perform those duties which are required of a boy brought up as he was,
and after finishing his educational training he devoted his whole time
to assisting to cultivate the soil, remaining at home until he was twenty-three
years of age, the year that his father died. He then determined to
try city life, and went to Chicago, Illinois, where he remained for a year
and a half. Eighteen months was sufficient to convince him that he
was better qualified to make a success as a farmer than in any other capacity,
and he returned home, undertook the management of the old homestead, which
he now owns. He does general farming to some extent, but makes a
specialty of raising horses, cattle and hogs, doing an extensive trade
in live stock.
In religious belief Mr. Kelly is a Catholic,
and in politics he has never cared to unite with any party, preferring
to vote independently and select his man for office, considering the qualifications
of the candidate rather than party supremacy. Mr. Kelley is unmarried,
and has many friends amongst his neighbors, who have for him the high regard
which his uprightness of character merits.
Adolph Danneffel.- Germany has
given to America some of its best and most intellectual citizens.
From the Fatherland has come much that is great and good, and although
our German-Americans cherish in their hearts a tender love for the native
country, they have ever proven themselves among our best and most loyal
patriots and encourage in their offspring the same devotion to their adopted
land. Van Buren county is the home of some of the leading German-American
citizens of the country, and prominent among these, one who has risen to
the front rank of agriculturists of his section through the force of his
own industry and persevering labor, is Adolph Danneffel, of Keeler township,
who, by a long and honorable business career, a thoughtful interest in
others and public-spirited efforts in behalf of his community, has made
himself known and respected all over this part of the county. Mr. Danneffel
was born in Baden, Germany, April 16, 1831, and is the third in a family
of eight children born to George and Mary (Elgas) Danneffel.
George Danneffel, also a native of Germany,
never left that country, where throughout his life he was engaged in agricultural
pursuits and in school teaching. He and his wife were consistent
members of the Roman Catholic faith, and they were interred in the cemetery
of that denomination near their home. Those of their children who
survive are: Adolph; Leopold, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war, and
now an agriculturist in Germany; Charles, who received an excellent education
and is now engaged in farming in Germany; Otto, also a school teacher in
the old country; Phillip, who like his brothers, is engaged in educational
pursuits in the Fatherland; and Martha and Phillipine, who are residents
of Germany. One son and one daughter have passed away.
Adolph Danneffel received a good education
in the German language, and as a youth was apprenticed to the trade of
shoemaker, which he followed in Germany until he reached his twenty-second
year, at which time, not being satisfied with his prospects, he decided
to come to the United States. In April 1854, he boarded a sailing
vessel at Antwerp, and after a stormy voyage of thirty-three days, during
which the passengers suffered the pangs of hunger and other hardships,
finally landed at Castle Garden. On putting foot on American soil
the sum total of the money between Adolph and his brother John Danneffel
was one dollar and fifty cents, and with this they started out to make
their fortunes among a strange people speaking a strange language.
During the next three and one-half years Mr. Danneffel remained in New
York state, working out as a farm hand at ten dollars per month, and about
1858 he came to Berrien county, Michigan, where he worked for a farmer
during the summer. He then purchased eighty acres of wild land in
Keeler township, Van Buren county, and this proved the nucleus for a magnificent
farm of six hundred acres. On first settling here the country was
a vast wilderness of timber land, in which still roamed wild beasts, and
Indian camps were not unusual sights. The axe and the ox-team were the
principal implements used in clearing and cultivating the land, in sharp
contrast to the improved implements of today and the powerful machinery
that is used to operate them. Mr. Danneffel's career is a striking example
of what may be accomplished by a man who has the determination to succeed
and the ability to carry this determination through. He has replaced
the primitive log buildings of half a century ago with modern structures,
a handsome residence and all necessary outbuildings, and his land is now
some of the best in Van Buren county. Since 1903, when his wife died,
he has resided on the old homestead with his youngest son, William.
Mr. Danneffel stands square with the world, and he has always been honest
and fair in all of his dealings with his fellow men. Always ready
to stand up for what he believes to be right, he is, nevertheless, considerate
of the feelings and opinions of others, and it is this sense of fairness
that has made his name known and respected in his section.
Although in his eightieth year, Mr. Danneffel
is in full possession of his faculties and his mind is as clear as when
he came to this country many years ago, a poor immigrant boy looking for
his fortunes in the new world,-clearer perhaps, for the years experience
and observation have made him alert to all that is of interest to his community.
He has always supported the principles of the Republican party, and cast
his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. His fellow citizens have recognized
his ability as a public official by electing him to positions of honor
and trust, and he has served as director of the school district for six
years, highway commissioner for two years, and the supervisor of his township
for six years, and in none of these did he betray the confidence thus displayed
in him. He has also at numerous times represented his party in county
conventions, and as an official was ever alert to protect the people's
interests. Now, in the evening of life, he can look back over a well-spent,
useful career, content in the knowledge that there is not the slightest
stain or blemish upon his record.
On March 14, 1857, Mr. Danneffel was married
to Miss Phoebe Arndt, and seven sons and two daughters were born to this
union, all of whom survive: George, a retired farmer of Benton Harbor,
Michigan, is married and has two children, George and Saide; Mary, widow
of Charles Swartz, resident of South Bend, Indiana, has one child, Charlie;
Charles, a retired farmer of Benton Harbor, is married; Frank, living in
Bainbridge, Michigan, is an agriculturist, and has three children, May,
Herbert and Lymon; Adolph P., also an agriculturist of Bainbridge, is married
and has two children, Florence and Lloyd; Catherine, the wife of Adelbert
Salter, an agriculturist of Keeler township; Albert, who is farming in
Keeler township, is married and has three children, Dean, Robert and Ward;
Simon, also farming in Keeler township, is married and has two children,
Edward and Margaret; and William, who is living on the old homestead
with his father, married Miss Emma Mundt and has one child, Johnnie.
Mr. Danneffel is a great-grandfather.
In 1880 he made a visit to his native land, where
he remained four months, and then returned to his adopted county, more
pleased than ever.
William Summers.- In the science
of agriculture, both practical and theoretical, William Summers stands
second to none in his part of Van Buren county, and that he has made a
success of his operations a visit to his excellently improved farm in Bangor
township will prove. Mr. Summers is one of the self-made men of his
community, and stands high both as a farmer and citizen. He is a native
of Kosciusko county, Indiana, where he was born October 11, 1856, a son
of William T. and Catherine (Lower) Summers, natives of Ohio. William Summers
was a farmer all of his life and died in Indiana about 1856, after which
his widow, who still survives him and makes her home in Columbiana county,
Ohio, was married (second) to Henry Booze. To the first union there
were born Marietta, who is deceased; Matthias, of Bangor; and William.
Mr. and Mrs. Booze also had three children: Samantha, the wife of Cassius
Sanor, of Ohio; and Ira and Ulysses, who are deceased.
William Summers came to Michigan at the age
of six years and remained on the farm of his stepfather until he was nineteen
years of age, when he came to Michigan and for four years was engaged in
working for others. He then purchased eighty acres of land in section
15, Bangor township, on which he made numerous improvements, including
the erection of some of the best farm buildings in the township.
Later he purchased fifty acres in section 14, and he now operates it as
one property, being engaged in general agricultural pursuits. Mr.
Summers has an intimate knowledge of soil conditions here, and he also
knows the scientific use of fertilizers, the benefits of crop rotation
and how to nurse and nurture old lands, and he has also been one to look
to the interests of posterity.
On May 6, 1881, he was married to Miss Sarah Westcott,
daughter of William and Huldah (Dean) Westcott. Mrs. Summers was
the next to the youngest child of her parents, her brothers and sisters
being: Benjamin, who died in infancy; Lyman and Eugene, living in Van Buren
county; Lodema, the widow of John Van Auken of Bangor township; Mary, the
wife of Lewis Wood, of Bangor township; Esther, the wife of Robert Springett,
of Bangor; Sarah, who married Mr. Summers; and Rebecca, who married A.
Fausnaugh, of Bangor. Mr. and Mrs. Summers have had three children:
Carrie, who lives at home; Ermie, the wife of Frank Wood, of Bangor; and
Lola Luzette, a teacher in the schools of Van Buren county. Mr. Summers
is a Democrat in his political views, but he has been kept so busy by his
private interests that he has no time to engage actively in public matters.
Dr. George Frank Young.- Engaged in
an active general practice of medicine in South Haven during the last eleven
years, and by participation in the public affairs of the city and county
of his home manifesting his interest in them and their enduring welfare,
Dr. George F. Young has amply earned the good opinion of the people which
he so largely enjoys, and has proven his title to the claim of good citizenship,
which is freely accorded him by everybody who has knowledge of his progressiveness
and public spirit, and the intelligent and helpful way in which he employs
them for the general weal.
Dr. Young is a native of Van Buren county, Michigan,
born in Paw Paw on July 26, 1875, and a son of Charles W. and Anna (Van
Auken) Young. The father was born at Burbank, Wayne county, Ohio,
and the mother in Bangor township, this county. They are both living, as
are two of their three children, the Doctor and his brother Merle H., a
sketch of whom will be found in this volume. The father of these
gentlemen came to Michigan with his parents when he was a small boy.
The family located in Van Buren county, and here he received his education.
Here, also, soon after leaving school he began and conducted his life work
as a merchant and farmer, in which he prospered for many years. He
is now living retired from active pursuits, enjoying the rest he has so
fully earned and the esteem and good will of the people around him, which
has also been bestowed freely and without stint because of the genuine
merit and estimable qualities as a man and citizen in the object of it.
He has been a man of prominence and influence,
and been chosen to a succession of township offices and other positions
of trust and importance, among them that of treasurer of the Michigan State
Agricultural Society. He was supervisor of the township several terms,
and the township never had a better one, according to the testimony of
persons who have lived under many and watched the administration of them
all. In church connection he is a Methodist Episcopal, and in fraternal
relations a Freemason with membership in several branches of the order,
including Lodge, Royal Arch Chapter and Council of Royal and Select Masons.
Politically he is a loyal member of the Republican party and a zealous
worker for its welfare.
Dr. George F. Young obtained a high school education
in Paw Paw and made his preparation for his profession work in the medical
department of the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated in
1899. After his graduation he passed one year as an interne in the
hospital, and then located in South Haven, where he has ever since been
industriously engaged in a general practice of his profession with a steadily
increasing body of patients and a rising reputation as a physician.
The Doctor keeps up with the progress of his
profession by using all the means at his command for the purpose.
He is an active member of the Kalamazoo Academy of Medicine, the Michigan
State Medical Society and the American Medical Association, and they receive
and contribute benefits by his earnest participation in the proceedings
of each. He is also a student of the best current literature bearing
on his work, and studies both theory and practice by close and reflective
observation of its manifestations in his experience from day to day.
Dr. Young has taken a great interest in everything
involving the progress and improvement of the city and county of his home,
and always done his part in the promotion of any worthy undertaking designed
to quicken the activity of the people in this respect. He is a member
of the City Library Association and was one of the founders of the South
Haven Hospital. In politics he is a Republican, with firm faith in
the principles of his party and a willingness to work for it on that account.
In the fraternal life of his community the Doctor
also takes a deep and intelligent interest and a serviceable part.
He is a Freemason of many degrees, belonging to Star of the Lake Lodge,
No. 158; South Haven Chapter, No. 58, Royal Arch Masons; and South Haven
Council, No. 45, Royal and Select Masters. He is also a member of
Pomona Lodge, No. 193, Knights of Pythias. He regards these fraternities
as valuable forces in the moral and intellectual life of the city, and
does all he can to make them as strong and serviceable for good as possible.
His membership in each is highly valuable and fully worth the estimate
placed upon it.
Dr. Young was married on October 12, 1904,
to Miss Harriet Bradley, who was born, reared and educated in South Haven,
and who has a strong hold on the regard and good will of the people of
the city, among whom she is very popular and very highly esteemed.
Her interest in the social life of the community is ardent, and her aid
in every good work undertaken by its residents is hearty, energetic and
helpful in a high degree. She and the Doctor are accounted as among
the most estimable and representative citizens of South Haven and Van Buren
county, and well deserve the rank they hold.
Stanley Sackett.- A man of pronounced
business acumen and tact, and of exceptional financial ability, Stanley
Sackett is one of the leading bankers of Van Buren county, being proprietor
of the Bank of Gobleville, a well-known and substantial banking institution.
He is an excellent representative of the native-born citizens of his community,
his birth having occurred on a farm in Pine Grove township. His father,
Frederick P. Sackett, and his grandfather, Dr. Joel B. Sackett, were both
born in Niagara county, New York, while his great-grandfather, Charles
Sackett, was a native of New England, and was of Welsh ancestry.
Joel B. Sackett was reared in Niagara county,
New York, where his parents were pioneer settlers, and was there educated,
becoming a member of the medical profession. Removing to Indiana, he practiced
there awhile, his home being in Elkhart county. About 1846 he came
to Michigan, settling in Porter township, Van Buren county, being the first
physician to locate permanently in this part of the state. He was
a man of much force of character, and in addition to healing the sick ministered
to their spiritual needs, as an evangelist preaching the gospel in different
places and making his influence for good felt throughout the community.
His death, which occurred in Porter township, was mourned as a public loss.
He married Mary Kinsman, and they became the parents of three children,
Frederick P., Pluma and Charles.
But a child when he came with his parents
to Van Buren county, Frederick P. Sackett grew to manhood in pioneer times,
and having availed himself of every offered opportunity for acquiring knowledge
became a teacher in the public schools of the county. Soon after
the outbreak of the Civil war, he enlisted in Company H, Thirtieth Regiment,
Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and went South with his command, acting in
the capacity of musician. He was captured by the enemy and was confined
in Libby and Andersonville prisons seven months. During this incarceration
he endured all the hardships and sufferings of prison life, among the latter
being the loss of all his teeth. When released he returned home on
account of ill health and was honorably discharged. After regaining
his health he again enlisted in an Iowa Regiment for one hundred days,
and was in the service till the close, when he was again honorably discharged.
Returning home, he resumed his professional labors, becoming the first
teacher in district number two, Pine Grove township. Subsequently
he purchased a tract of timber land in Pine Grove township, and for a time
devoted his time to clearing the land and tilling the soil. He afterwards
sold that farm at an advance, and having bought another farm in the same
township conducted it successfully until his death, in 1904, at the age
of sixty-eight years.
Frederick P. Sackett married Susan Earl, who was
born in 1843, in Cattaraugus county, New York. Her father, James
Earl, was born in the same county, a son of Henry
and Isabelle (McLain) Earl. He was reared and married in his native
state, and in 1848 came from there to Silver Creek township, Allegan county,
Michigan, being accompanied by his wife and children. After living
there for a time he then removed to Trowbridge, Allegan county, and lived
there two years. Coming then to Van Buren county, he bought a tract
of heavily wooded land in Pine Grove township, erected a log cabin in the
midst of the wilderness, and immediately began the pioneer task of redeeming
a farm from the forest. The settlements in this part of the county
were then few and far between, and the intervening woods were filled with
all kinds of wild game, while Indians were still numerous. He was
a man of undaunted courage and energy, and not afraid of work. He
partly cleared and improved several tracts of land near where he first
located, selling each one at an advance from the original price.
After disposing of one of his farms, he moved to Trowbridge township, Allegan
county, but his stay was of short duration, and he returned to Pine Grove
township, and continued his residence here until his death, at the age
of sixty-two years. Mr. Earl's wife, whose maiden name was Delilah
Waite, was born in New York state, and died in Michigan, at the age of
sixty-two years. They reared nine children, as follows: Laura; Lucinda;
Sarah; David; James; Susan, widow of Frederick P. Sackett, now lives in
Gobleville, Michigan; Evlin; Mary; and Newton. Mr. and Mrs. Sackett
also reared nine children, namely: Earl; Andy; Grace; Stanley, the special
subject of this sketch; Harry; Fred; Frank; Logan; and Pearl.
Having completed his studies in the rural schools
of his native district, Stanley Sackett, whose home was four miles from
the village of Gobleville, subsequently attended the graded schools of
that village, for some time gladly trudging back and forth night and morning
in his efforts to obtain a good education, although during the last few
months of his attendance he lived with Dr. Carpenter, earning his board
as hostler and general chore boy. Ere he had finished school he accepted
a position in the Gobleville Exchange Bank, of Gobleville, of which Mr.
S. B. Munroe was the proprietor, his first compensation having been but
one dollar a week. He lived with his parents during two years of
the time, walking to and fro night and morning. Devoting all of his
energies to his new work, Mr. Sackett soon proved his worth and ability,
and was promoted according to his efficiency until made manager of the
institution. In 1901, leaving Gilbert Mitchell in charge of the Gobleville
Bank, he went to Bloomingdale to establish, for Mr. Munroe, a private bank,
and remained there a year. Returning then to Gobleville, Mr. Sackett, in
company with Mr. Mitchell, bought the Gobleville Bank. Mr. Mitchell
died a year later, and Mr. Sackett operated the institution, with the Mitchell
estate as a partner, for three years when he bought out the Mitchell heirs
and has since continued as sole proprietor of the institution, which is
one of the safest and best in the county. In addition to banking
Mr. Sackett carries on a general insurance and real estate business, in
each line being especially successful.
Mr. Sackett married, in 1904, Lena Frank Crosby,
who was born in Gobleville, a daughter of William S. and Ella (Pike) Crosby,
and they have one child, Elaine Sackett. Mr. Sackett is an active
member of the Michigan State Bankers' Association and of the American Bankers'
Association. Fraternally he belongs to Gobleville Lodge, No. 393, Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, and to the Encampment; he is also a member of Hudson
Lodge, No. 325, Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons; of Paw Paw Chapter,
No. 34, Royal Arch Masons; of Lawrence Council, No. 43, Royal and Select
Masters; of Peninsula Commandery, No. 8, Knights Templar; and both he and
his wife are members of Lily Chapter, No. 230, Order of the Eastern Star.
Seymour A. Boyer, is another of our
good citizens whose parents came from New York in time to let their children
grow up in Michigan and incidentally to enjoy the fruits of their own work
int he transforming of the wilderness into a new and prosperous agricultural
country. Our subject's parents were Edward and Dorcas (Bowe) Boyer,
both born in New York. The father died in 1887 but the mother is
still living (in 1911), at the age of seventy-one. The three children
besides Seymour also live in Michigan, Sterlen is a resident of the county,
as is also the youngest child, Alden. Florence is Mrs. Milton Ackley,
Seymour A. Boyer was born in Berrien county
in 1871, on January 25th. His life-long occupation has been farming
and since his father's death he has had charge of the home place.
He was but sixteen when he was left fatherless and so was obliged to discontinue
his schooling at that age and to begin the duties of practical life.
In 1900 Mr. Boyer bought forty acres of land in Bangor township and in
the something over ten years since purchasing it he has increased his holdings
to three time the original amount and now engages in general farming and
stock raising. His is one of the farms of which the county is proud
and glad to claim as belonging within her borders.
On January first, 1896, Mr. Boyer was married
to Miss Edith Lyle, whose parents, Marvin and Frances Lyle, were both natives
of New York. Edith Lyle Boyer was one of two children, but her brother
died in childhood. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Boyer was dissolved
in March 1904, by the death of Mrs. Boyer. She left four children,
Norman, Agnes, Mervin and Carleton, all now at home and attending school.
The present Mrs. Boyer is Isabel, the daughter of Edward S. and Rebecca
J. Miles Jelley. The former is a native of England and the latter
of New York. Mrs. Boyer is the only surviving member of her family,
her two brothers dying in infancy. The marriage of Miss Jelley to Mr. Boyer
took place March 27, 1910.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Jelley were formerly engaged
in teaching. After spending many years at that profession, Mr. Jelley
gave it up to work for a company who dealt in school books and school supplies.
Mrs. Jelley had the honor of teaching the first school opened in Hartford.
Both were people of culture and endowed with many admirable qualities of
mind and character, which their daughter has inherited in generous measure.
Like her husband, she is a member of the Methodist church.
Mr. Boyer is aligned with the Independent
voters in matters of national policy. He belongs to the Grangers
and is a member of the Fraternal Brotherhood. Both as a progressive
farmer and as a citizen and neighbor he is accorded a high place in the
Bartholomew Donavan ranks with
the substantial farmers and respected citizens of Arlington township, Van
Buren county, Michigan, where he has made his home since 1856.
Mr. Donavan is of Irish descent and was himself
born on the "Emerald Isle," the date of his birth being August 20, 1841.
In 1852 he came to America. After four years spent in New York state
he came west to Michigan, and has ever since been identified with Van Buren
county. Eighty acres of his present farm he bought in 1865, subsequently
he made additional land purchases and improvements, and now he owns a fine
farm of one hundred and ninety acres in sections 28 and 32 of Arlington
township, where he carries on general farming and stock raising.
Mr. Donavan has been twice married.
His first wife, who before marriage was Miss Slacie Burger, died in the
prime of young womanhood, without issue. In February 1892, he married
Miss Eliza Porter, daughter of Alexander and Catherine (Murphy) Porter,
both natives of Ireland; and their children are three in number, May and
Josephine, attending high school at Lawrence, and Catharine, at home.
Mr. Donavan and his family are members of
the Catholic church, and his political views are with those advocated by
the Democratic party, and which he casts his franchise.
William L. Congdon is a well-known
farmer in Decatur township. Michigan boasts, and with reason, of
its wonderful agricultural resources, and that it has become such a successful
farming country is attributable to the fact that men of acknowledged ability
have identified themselves with the cultivation of the soil. Mr.
Congdon, a farmer by nature, by inheritance and from choice, stands prominent
in the state which he has helped to make famous.
On the 9th day of December, 1880, William L. Congdon
began life on a farm in Springfield, Missouri. His parents, George
M. and Mary C. (Fultz) Congdon, were both natives of New York, and soon
after their marriage they came west, took up their residence in Missouri,
in 1882 came to Michigan, where they bought forty acres of land in Decatur
township, and proceeded to farm. In a short time Mr. Congdon, Sr.,
sold his tract of land, moved to Marcellus, where he remained three years,
then returned to Decatur township, and bought fifty acres of land in section
18. This land he also sold at a profit, and some of it he traded
off for other property. He is now living at Lawton, but his wife
died on the 21st of March, 1905. Father and Mother Congdon were the
parents of six children,- Etta, wife of P. J. Flynn, of Chicago; Clinton
W., residing at Springfield, Missouri; George W., deceased; Isaac E., now
living in Decatur, Michigan; Lillian May, married to William Anderson,
of Chicago; and William L., whose name initiates this biography.
William L. Congdon has no recollection of his native
home, as he was but two years old when the family moved to Van Buren county,
Michigan, and his boyhood was passed in Decatur township. He entered
the district school and later attended the public school of Decatur.
After completing his educational training he determined to make agriculture
his chosen calling. Commencing to farm with his father, he later
bought the homestead of forty acres above mentioned, to which he has added
twenty-five additional acres. He does general farming and stock raising,
bringing all his intelligence to bear on his work, so that he is enabled
to produce large crops from the land.
On Christmas Eve of 1901, Mr. Congdon married
Pearl, daughter of Guy and Eveline (Mayhart) Exceen, residents of Lawton.
Mr. and Mrs. Exceen had a family of three children,- Myrtle, deceased;
William F., residing at Ottumwa, Iowa; and Pearl. Mr. and Mrs. Congdon
have two daughters,- Lillian M., born March 3, 1904, a student in the public
school; and Anna Maxine, whose birth occurred July 13, 1911.
In political sympathies Mr. Congdon is a Republican,
but he has never evinced any desire for public office for himself.
In fraternal connection he is affiliated with the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows and with the Maccabees. The family attend the Methodist
church. He is a man who is greatly esteemed by his many friends.
Leander Simmons.- Noteworthy not
only as the representative of an honored pioneer of Michigan, but as one
of the self-made men of Van Buren county, Leander Simmons holds a prominent
position among the successful agriculturists of Pine Grove township, where
he has a large farm, which in its appointments compares favorably with
any in the locality. The neatness, appearance and flourishing condition
of his farming property bears visible evidence to the most casual observer
the thrift and care of the proprietor, and show conclusively that he has
a thorough understanding of his business and that he exercises excellent
judgment in its management. He was born January 26, 1840, in Townsend
township, Norfolk county, Ontario, Canada, a son of Isaac Simmons, and
grandson of Philip Simmons, both natives of Newark, New Jersey. His
great-grandparents on the paternal side immigrated from Germany in colonial
days, settling in Newark, New Jersey, where they spent their remaining
days. They reared four sons, two of whom lived and died in Newark,
while the other two settled in Rochester, New York. Philip Simmons
was a blacksmith by trade, and followed it through his active career.
He married, and reared five sons and five daughters.
Early in life Isaac Simmons learned the trade
of a shoemaker, all shoes at that time having been made to order.
Moving to Norfolk county, Canada, when young, he bought fifty acres of
land in Townsend township, and after marrying followed his trade and farmed.
Selling his farm in 1841, he started for the West, accompanied by his wife
and son, and journeyed overland with teams to Allegan county, Michigan.
All of this part of the state was then heavily timbered, much of the land
being owned by the Government. Deer, bear, catamounts, wild turkeys
and, in fact, game of all kinds native to this section of the country were
plentiful and, with the Indians, populated the forests. After looking
about for a time Mr. Isaac Simmons bought, in Gun Plains township, forty
acres of land, a very small patch of which had been cleared to make room
for the substantial log house that stood upon it. Ready money was
a scare article in those days, and he added to this income by working in
a shoe factory at Kalamazoo, making shoes by hand, as no machinery for
the making was then in use, being thus employed whenever work on his land
was not imperative. Subsequently selling out there, he removed to
Kalamazoo county, and having purchased land in section six, Cooper township,
was there engaged in general farming until his death, a the age of sixty-six
years, his life having been lost in a fierce tornado which he encountered
while returning to his home from Plainwell.
The maiden name of the wife of Isaac Simmons
was Mary Culver. She was born in Townsend township, Norfolk county,
Canada, a daughter of Henry and Eunice Culver, both of whom were born in
Pennsylvania, of German ancestry. She survived her husband, and lived
to be nearly ninety years old. She reared three sons, namely: Leander,
with whom this brief sketch is chiefly concerned; Marvin, who owns and
occupies the old homestead; and Philip, who died at the age of thirty-one
But an infant when he was brought by his parents
to Michigan, Leander Simmons has no recollection of any other home.
An Ambitious student in his youthful days, he attended the pioneer schools
of Allegan county and of Cooper township, completing his studies at Kalamazoo
College. He was reared to habits of industry and honesty, and began
as a boy to assist his father on the farm, remaining beneath the parental
roof until attaining his majority, when he began life's battle on his own
account, with no other capital than strong hands, a willing heart and an
unlimited amount of courage and energy. Locating in Pine Grove township,
Van Buren county, in 1862, Mr. Simmons bought eighty acres of land in section
three, and immediately began the arduous labor of reclaiming a farm from
the wilderness, and in a comparatively brief time had much of his land
under cultivation, and in the raising of crops was making good money.
As his means increased, he wisely invested in other lands and now has title
to four hundred acres of as fertile and productive land as can be found
in western Michigan. His large brick house is sheltered from the
cold winds of winter by a natural grove of pine and oak trees, and near
by stands his barn, which is conveniently arranged, and other substantial
farm buildings, his estate, with its excellent improvements, being one
of the most attractive and desirable in the township.
Mr. Simmons married, in 1866, Margaret Hazen, who
was born in Townsend township, Norfolk county, Canada, a daughter of Daniel
Hazen. Her father was a wagon maker, and for many years followed
his trade at Woodhouse, Norfolk county, Canada, where he spent all of the
later part of his life. Mrs. Simmon's maternal grandfather, Colonel
Gilbert, was an officer in the English army, and for several years was
a recruiting officer in Norfolk county, Canada. Mrs. Simmons passed to
life beyond at the age of sixty-four years, leaving four children, namely:
Elgy, Arthur, Elmer and Mary. Elgy and Arthur are prosperous farmers.
Arthur, who fought during the Spanish-American war in Cuba and the Philippines,
has been for a number of years in the railway mail service, with headquarters
at Seattle, Washington. Mary received her advanced education at the
State Normal School in Ypsilanti, and is now a teacher in the Seattle High
School. Although Mr. Simmons has even been too much engrossed with
his own affairs to meddle with politics, he has always performed his duty
at the polls, and has served on the Republican Township Committee, and
for twenty years has been a member of the local school board.
Matthew Vassar Selkirk,- This enterprising
merchant, influential citizen and civic force in the life of South Haven
and Van Buren county, has been a resident of the city ever since 1866,
when he was fourteen years old. Here he completed his education and
learned his trade as a harness maker. Here he also married and has
maintained his domestic shrine. He has, therefore, been closely and
serviceably connected with the interests of the community for a long time
in business and private life, and in addition has given its residents good
service as a public official at different times.
Mr. Selkirk was born in Waukegan, Lake county,
Illinois, on May 28, 1852. His parents, James and Electa C. (Austin)
Selkirk, were natives of the state of New York, the father born in Homer,
Cortland county. He died at the age of sixty-three years, and the
mother died in July 1907. Five children were born of their union,
two of whom are living, Matthew V., and his older sister Lucia S., who
is the wife of Charles P. Ludwig and resides in Otesgo, Michigan.
The father came West in 1837 and first located in La Porte, Indiana, for
a short time, then moved to Lake county, Illinois. He was a Methodist
Episcopal clergyman for over forty years, and busied himself in other affairs
of great and signal service to the country in critical times. In
1849 he went to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, but in the
fall of 1850 he returned to his former Illinois home in Lake county.
There, in connection with his ministerial duties, he cultivated a farm
and did a great deal toward keeping up the anti-slavery agitation.
When the terrible storm cloud of the Civil war burst
upon the country he made his faith good in practical work by organizing
a company of volunteers to go to the defense of the Union. But he
was refused entry into the service for the field himself, because it was
believed he could do a great deal more good at home recruiting men.
His company comprised ninety-seven men, and he was to go with them as their
chaplain. He remained at home, however, and in the course of the
war enlisted one thousand and four hundred soldiers in Lake and McHenry
counties, Illinois, and aided vastly in keeping up the enthusiasm of the
people for the Union and its salvation from dismemberment. But his
family paid its tribute to the Union cause in actual services in the field.
His brother Charles enlisted in the South when he was but sixteen years
old and was the captain of his company, but was soon afterward taken prisoner
at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. He was paroled and sent home, and when
his parole expired he again enlisted, although then barely seventeen, and
served to the end of the war. In 1866 he came to South Haven and
lived for a time, then went to Kalkaska county and engaged in the drug
and grocery business several years, and served two terms as county clerk
and register of deeds. He spent the last years of his life in Gibson
In the fall of 1866 the family of Rev. Mr.
Selkirk was moved by him to South Haven, where he continued to do ministerial
work and also carried on a flourishing drug business. In politics
he was an ardent and zealous member of the Republican party from its organization
to the close of his life. He cast his first vote for it in 1856,
its first campaign, and never failed to support its candidates afterward
while he lived. He also took an active stand in its favor in his
talk and work, and rendered it considerable service at all times, notwithstanding
he was a clergyman and in business.
Matthew Vassar Selkirk began his education
in Waukegan, Illinois, and completed it in South Haven. At the age
of sixteen he started to learn the trade of harness maker, and in 1871
went into business as a manufacturer of harness. He continued
his operations in this line of production until the fall of 1899. He then
devoted his attention to the real estate business for a few years, and
in 1910 returned to harness-making, in which he is still engaged.
His business is extensive and active, but it has never been so great or
exacting as to deaden his interest in the welfare of his community or lessen
his efforts to promote that by all means at his command.
He served as village treasurer one term and
as alderman from his city ward one term, and in many other ways has contributed
directly and essentially to the progress and improvement of the city.
He is the owner of the opera house in South Haven, and is careful to see
that it offers only proper entertainment to its patrons, for in all respects,
intellectually and morally, as well as materially, the public weal is an
object of supreme interest to him and always has his earnest and intelligent
advocacy and aid. Mr. Selkirk was married on October
24, 1883, in Waukegan, Illinois, to
Miss Helen J. Palmer. She was born in the state of New York and
is a daughter of George and Sarah Jane (Morrison) Palmer. The father
was born in New York state and died while serving his country in the Civil
war. The mother is still living and makes her home with Mr. and Mrs.
Selkirk. They had only one child, their daughter Helen J., now Mrs.
Selkirk. By her marriage to Mr. Selkirk she has become the mother
of two children, their daughters Effa N. and Mildred V. Effa married
Ralph E. Longley and lives in Seattle, Washington.
George W. Hutchins.- The death
of George W. Hutchins, of Paw Paw township in this county, which occurred
on May 5, 1911, took away from Van Buren county one of its most substantial
and progressive farmers, a sturdy and sterling citizen, a man of high character
and enlightened public spirit, and a friend of hundreds who felt a deep
sense of personal bereavement when he could be
with them no more. He had a special interest in the welfare
of the county of Van Buren, because his parents were among its pioneer
settlers; he was born and reared within its borders and passed the whole
of the sixty-seven years of his life among its people; and his brothers
and sisters were nearly
all born and all who grew to maturity were reared upon its soil, which
gave them their stature and their strength for life and became the resting
place of their remains and those of their parents in death.
Mr. Hutchins was born in Paw Paw township, this
county, on November 6, 1843, a son of Richard and Sarah (Huxtable) Hutchins.
The parents began their lives, grew to maturity, and were educated and
married in England. They came to this country and Michigan in 1836,
and located in Van Buren county, where they hewed a farm out of the wilderness
and transformed the unbroken wilds into a comfortable home for their offspring.
They had nine children: William, who was born on November 13, 1832, and
has been dead for a number of years; Ann, who was born on June 30, 1834,
and is also deceased; Elizabeth, whose life began on October 28, 1836,
and ended many years ago; John, who came into being on February 18, 1839,
and has long been dead; Mary,
who was born on May 12, 1841, and is now the wife of Richard Hutchins,
of Paw Paw; Charles, who first saw the light of this world on September
20, 1842, and now has his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan; George W., the subject
of this brief memoir; Thomas, who was born on August 3, 1846, and is now
living in the state of California; and Sarah, who was born on December
3, 1849, and is
George W. Hutchins was a farmer all his life
from his boyhood. He attended the country school in the neighborhood
of his home when he had opportunity and could be spared from the exacting
duties of cultivating a new tract of land which had not yet learned obedience
and responsiveness to the developing hand of the husbandman. As soon
as he was able he bought off the heirs and with his mother conducted the
farm until her death, after which he purchased more land and at the time
of his death he owned one hundred and three acres of land, well improved
and brought to a high state of
productiveness of his skillful cultivation. The farm is in section
twelve of Paw Paw township, and is one of the best in this part of the
For some years he occupied the old family homestead
of ninety-seven acres, but a number of years ago the buildings on this
were destroyed by fire, and he then bought the farm of one hundred and
three acres which he thereafter occupied until his death. It is on
the other side of the road
from the homestead, and the land is of the same character as that.
In selling the homestead, therefore he neither left the scenes of his boyhood
and youth nor subjected himself to new and untried conditions in his farming.
On February 28, 1886, Mr. Hutchins was united in
marriage with Mrs. Lydia(Carr) Warner, a daughter of George and Catherine
(Snyder) Carr, natives of New York, and the parents of four children: William,
who lives in Waverly, this county; Mrs. Hutchins; Moses, who was killed
in the Civil war; and George, who died in infancy. These children
of the father's second marriage. His first union in wedlock was with
Miss Christine Plank, who bore him four children: Jacob, who lives in Paw
Paw; and Peter, Cornelius and William, all deceased.
By her first marriage, which took place in
1859 and united her with Delos Warner, Mrs. Hutchins had one child, her
son Willard Warner, who was a resident of Waverly, Van Buren county, but
now resides with his mother. Her second, Mr. Hutchins, during all
his mature years gave faithful adherence and support to the principles
and candidates of the Republican party, and was a
zealous worker for its success in all campaigns. He held several
township offices and rendered the people good service in them all.
He was a Baptist in religious faith and connection, and for many years
served as one of the decons of the congregation in which he held his membership.
In this he
always manifested the warmest and most helpful interest, and was held
in cordial regard as a force of great value in promoting its welfare and
expanding its usefulness among its own members and the people of the community
John H. Tripp.- Leaving the home of
his parents and the scenes and associations of his childhood and
youth at the age of seventeen, and coming to Michigan when it was still
a part of the remote West, to join a brother in South Haven who was conducting
a general store in that city, himself far from his kindred and still a
young man, John H. Tripp, now one of the leading business men and citizens
of the town of his adoption, gave at an early age a signal proof of his
mettle and an indication of the qualities of resolute and self-reliant
manhood which have distinguished him through all his subsequent years of
life and in all his business undertakings.
Mr. Tripp is a native of Orleans county, New
York, where his life began on September 1, 1852. His parents, Alvah
and Jane (Blakely) Tripp, were also natives of New York, the father born
in Delaware county on March 15, 1806, and the mother was born in 1810.
She died on January 22, 1866, and the father passed away in 1882.
They were the parents of seven sons and seven daughters, of whom ten grew
to maturity and five are now living, three of the daughters and two of
the sons. John H. was the thirteenth child born into the family.
The father was a carpenter and farmer, and
located in western New York in 1832, and there he erected a sawmill which
he operated in connection with his farming and some work that he still
did at his trade. Early in the forties he bought land in Michigan,
near Lansing, where the State Agricultural College now stands. He
made a tour of observation through this part of the country and foresaw
its possibilities in the way of progress and improvement, and he eagerly
embraced the opportunity to become possessed of some of the opportunities
it offered for advancement to industry and thrift by purchasing the land
spoken of. He then returned to his New York home with the intention
of moving his family to his land in this state. But his wife declined
to come West, and he abandoned his project. The then remained in
New York until after her death, and passed his last days with his children
in that state and this one, dying at Kibbie, Michigan, where his remains
were buried. He was a great lover of good horses, and in his time owned
some very fine ones. In politics he was a Whig in early life and
later a Republican, and in religious connection belonged to the Free Methodist
church from his boyhood.
John H. Tripp was reared to the age of seventeen
on his father's farm in the state of New York, and obtained the higher
portion of his education in schools at Albion and Rochester in that state.
In 1869, having finished his schooling, as he supposed, the problem of
life was before him, and he made his choice of a locality in which to solve
it. He came to South Haven, Michigan, and there he clerked for a
time in a general store kept by his brother, Samuel A. Tripp, with whom
he remained two years. The next two years he passed in the same capacity
in the employ of D. G. Wright, another merchant of South Haven, attaining
his majority while in the employ of that gentleman.
He felt at this time that his education was
incomplete, and at the end of the period mentioned he went back to New
York, took up his residence in Rochester, and again attended school there.
While doing so he worked on a farm in the neighborhood of the city, so
that he lost nothing in the way of provision of his livelihood while preparing
himself for higher duties and the use of better opportunities for his advancement.
He next taught school two winters in New York, and then returned to Michigan.
After his second arrival in this state he located
at Kibbie and bought one hundred and sixty acres of stumpage land in the
vicinity of that town. He cleared his land and resided there for
eighteen years, cultivating it and carried on a general merchandising enterprise
in Kibbie, where he was also agent for the Michigan Railroad.
Keeping in touch with the spirit of progress, and
always alert to the needs of his community, Mr. Tripp in 1896 organized
a telephone company within his own family, and in March 1898, incorporated
it as the Kibbie Telephone Company, of which he has been secretary, treasurer
and general manager from the start. The line runs into South Haven,
of course, and the offices of the company are in that city. Mr. Tripp
is progressive and studious of his business, and keeps his telephone service
up to the latest developments in the enterprise. He also makes every
effort to meet every requirement of the community in the matter and fully
satisfy all the proper demands of his patrons, so that his telephone line
is one of the best in the state, and has no superior in this part of the
Mr. Tripp was married on December 23, 1880, to Miss
Flora Watson, a native of Michigan, born near Grand Rapids, and the daughter
of Jerome B. and Catherine (Friant) Watson, who were born and reared in
the state of New York and located in Van Buren county, Michigan, in 1854,
being among the pioneers of the county. The father has been dead
some years, but the mother is still living. They had ten children,
of whom Mrs. Tripp was the first born. The family home in this county
was in Geneva township, seven miles east of South Haven, and was literally
hewed out of the wilderness. The father filled a number of township
offices, among them that of supervisor, which he held for a number of years.
He was a Republican in politics. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Tripp
there are three children: Harold J., who married Miss Vera Nyman;
Verne W., who married Miss Hallie Merrett; and Hazel M., who is living
at home with her parents. Mr. Tripp is a Republican in politics,
and an excellent citizen in every particular.
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