History of Salem, Washtenaw County, MI, published 49 years ago - 1881, or the USGenWeb project
History of Salem,
Washtenaw County, Michigan, 1881

John, Jos. and Mrs. Amy Dickenson, New York State, first settlers of Township, 1825;
Captain Ira Rider first postmaster of office established in year 1832
Rev. Eben Carpenter first minister of Baptist Church;
first white child born was Isaac Peters

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The following data is taken from a history of Washtenaw county published 49 years ago - 1881. This is the first of a series of interesting township histories.)

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Early Settlement of Salem.

The first American settlers of Salem were John Dickenson, Joseph Dickenson and Mrs. Amy Dickenson, all natives of New York, who left Seneca county in 1825, and located lands on sections 13 and 14, in the fall of that year. About the same period Elkanah Pratt, better known as Dr. Pratt, met John Dickenson in the forest and claimed him as a neighbor, so that for a long period the question, Who is the first bonafide settler was discussed. Now, however, it is conceded that the honor belongs to the Dickensons, as they preceded Dr. Pratt by a few days. In 1827, Dickenson built the first log barn ever erected in the township, and three years later (1830) constructed the first frame barn. Edmund Pratt, son of the doctor, came in 1826, and erected the first log dwelling house. Jesse Peters and Mrs. Peters arrived in the township with Mr. Pratt. Royal Wheelock came as early as the year 1825; Aaron Blood in October, 1825; he settled in Salem in 1826; Joseph Lapham, in 1828; Jacob Bullock, in April, 1827; Constant Woodworth in 1826; Daniel S. Burch, in 1827; P. C. Murray, in 1828; Luther Grayhan in 1829; Orson Packard, in 1828; George Renwick, in 1827; Joseph Stevens, in 1826; Samuel, John and Robert McCormick, three brothers, in 1827; Ashley Root, in 1830; Captian Ira Rider, in 1830; Capt. Robert Purdy, in 1831; but dwelt on that portion of his farm in Lyon, a township of Oakland county, ultimately moving into Salem in 1835; John Belgrave and Benjamin Pryor in 1831; Alexis Packard, in September, 1831; Henry Bowers and John Freeman, in 1830; George King, in 1831, and Rev. Eben Carpenter, the same year; Lyman Corban located on section 24 in 1828; Daniel, Rufus and Elijah Herrick settled here in 1832; John Ceeley and Troiles Bennett, in September, 1831; Eliphalet Lewis, in the fall of 1831; Charles Lewis, 1828, Thomas Bussay, 1828; James Murray, 1828; in 1831 Seth Thompson, Rueben Peebles, David Peebles and Rev. Hiram Hamilton, settled in the township. Eliakim Walker and Peres Walker located section 9, in May, 1831; two years later, in May, 1833, settled in the townsip(sic); O. E. Smith, located on section 11, where the D. L. & N. depot now stands, in 1830; D. N. Smith in 1833; Peter Lane, in 1836; T. D. Lane, in 1836; John Van Sickles and Peter Larkings, in 1831. Larkings settled on section 1, immediately after his coming into the township. Rev. Moses Clark, the first Baptist minister, located in Salem in 1832; in 1825 he settled near Geddesburg where he resided until coming to Salem. Phineas Clark opened a blacksmith shop on E of NW section 11, in 1832. Henry Yanson located on section 31, in 1831; E. C. Roberts came into the township in 1835; Elijah Coldren came in 1831, settling on section 13, now owned by his son, Peter Coldren. James and Ellis Sober, in 1831. Doctors Edward Cook and Adam Spencer arrived about 1835. They were the first practicing physicians in Salem. Among others who located here between the years of 1831 and 1835, were the following persons: Robert Shankland, Dudson Webster, Harrison Savage, Geo. H. E. M. Nalors, E. S. Warden, Ira Root, John Peebles, Warren Hamilton, Andrew Rogers, John B. Smith, William B. Mead, Theran Wykuf, John Hart, Henry Whipple, Henry Forshee, Geo. Nelson, Anson Cary, Darwin D. Cook, Geo. McCormick, Orange Woodworth, John Waterman, Luke Drake, Lemuel Dwelle, Anthony Farley, Martin Rorabacher, Jonathan Kingsley, Ida Ham, J. B. Van Atta, Ephriam E. Edmund, Simmons Harvey Knapp, Levi Westfall, Asa Corson, Atchison Moses, Richard Walter, D. Corson, Sylvester and Jerome Sober, and John Davis; Stephen Haywood located lands on section 15 in 1831; Calvin Wheeler on section 11, September, 1830. Isaac Wynkup came to Salem while a youth, and for many years took a very leading part in public affairs of that section of the county.

In the list of early purchases of the lands of Salem, mention will be made of many pioneers who came at a later date. Before passing from this subject it is well to add, that Rufus Thayer located the e. of n.e. of section 13, it being the first land entered in Salem, and also a tract of land in Plymouth township. Having resided in the latter, his name will be associated with its history.

Mrs. Peters, wife of Jesse Peters, who came into the township early in 1825, was four months here before she met her sister pioneer, Mrs. Amy Dickenson. Though the latter was undoubtedly here before Mrs. Peters, both of them may be termed the first white women ever seen in the district. At this early day the red men and their squaws roamed through the bush in quest of game. Deer, bear and wolves were here in large numbers, yet the Indians not satisfied with the rich food which such game afforded, would visit the houses of the settlers at intervals, begging for bread and tobacco, and often causing alarm in the homes of these Eastern women, who were not accustomed to see the barbarians in their wild state.

The first white child born in the township was Isaac Peters. He was the son of Jesse Peters, and appeared among the pioneers early in 1827.

The first death which occurred here is said to be that of William Jackson; but the first marriage was that of Elisha Comstock to Mary Black, in 1827.

Royal Wheelock was the first justice of the peace, having received his appointment form Gov. Cass in 1829. George Renwick was the first supervisor; and Alexis Packard, the first township clerk.

Caption Ira Rider was the first postmaster, having charge of the office established in 1832, a little west of Lapham's Corners, and one mile south of the center of town known as Salem. This was discontinued to give place to the present office of Salem.

A special 'thank you' to Charla Kurtz for transcribing and submitting this historical data.

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