GRATIOT COUNTY, MICHIGAN
From: Gratiot County, Michigan. Historical, Biographical, Statistical, by Willard D. Tucker, Saginaw, MI. 1913.
The little Village of Sickels, about eight miles east of Ithaca, among other good things, serves to perpetuate the memory of Judge Wm. Sickels, its founder. Mr. Sickels was born in Palmyra, Wayne County, N.Y., May 30, 1824. His father, John F. Sickels, was of Holland descent, the forbears settling in the Mohawk Valley, New York state, in the late years of the 17th century. Wm. Sickels moved to Michigan with his father’s family in 1836, settling in Wayne County. He supplemented a common school education with a course at the Northville, (Wayne County) Academy, after which he was engaged in farming until 1854, when he settled in Wyandotte, and later – 1856 – removed to Elsie, Clinton County, where he remained until January 1861, when, having been elected register of deeds the previous fall, he removed to St. Johns. In 1864 he was elected Judge of Probate and held the position four years, after which he held a position in the postoffice department at Washington several years.
In 1873 Mr. Sickels bought a large tract of land in Hamilton Township, this county and from that time until his death he was actively interested in improving his possessions, among other things erecting a large steam flouring mill, and platting a village which was given his name. Though the village never attained large proportions it has served, and still serves a purpose as a convenient trading place for the adjacent farming community.
Mr. Sickels was for a time a soldier in the Civil War, a lieutenant in Company E, 23rd Mich. Infantry.
November 8, 1846, Mr. Sickels was married to Isabel B., daughter of Dennis Kingsley, of Wayne County, N.Y. She was born March 13, 1828, in Orleans County, N.Y. Four children were born to this union – Dennis K., Annie I., Hettie E., and Wm. C.
Judge Sickels served the Township of Hamilton as supervisor in 1881 and ’82. He died at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, John H. and Annie I. Winton, Ithaca, September 3, 1904. His wife, Isabel B., died July 21, 1906. Judge Sickels and wife were both energetic, public-spirited citizens who exerted an influence for good in whatever capacity they were called to serve, and are justly classed among Gratiot County’s most respected citizens.
Carroll S. Betts, of the Village of Sickels, was born in Palmyra, Wayne County, N.Y., March 28, 1844. His father, Seth Betts, was born in Albany County, N.Y., March 11, 1812, and died April 28, 1909, at Reading, Michigan. His mother, Mary J. (Hopkinson) Betts, was born January 18, 1844, in Wayne County, N.Y., and died February 6, 1908, at Reading, Mich. These parents were married November, 1837, and became the parents of six children as follows:
Augusta, born January 17, 1830, died January 12, 1890; Josiah, born January 8, 1842, died June 8, 1844; Carroll Sherman, principal subject of this sketch, born March 28, 1844; Aurelia, born January 17, 1847; Fannie, born April 21, 1849, died August 22, 1906; Helen, born August 12, 1852.
Carroll S. Betts was married to Ellen A. French, at Baldwinsville, N.Y., October 21, 1874; Rev. Wm. Manning officiating.
Mrs. Betts is a daughter of James and Catherine (Bauman) French, the former born September 15, 1818, in Schoharie County, N.Y., died January 5, 1890; the latter born in Schoharie County, N.Y., February 26, 1824, died October 10, 1898. Mrs. Betts is one of a family of five children, viz.; Louisa, born August 8, 1848; Henry, born February 12, 1851; Ellen A., born August 22, 1853; Elizabeth, born December 30, 1857; John, born January 4, 1862..
After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Betts resided at Baldwinsville until December, 1876, when they removed to Cambria, Hillsdale County, Mich. March 28, 1880, they came to Gratiot County, locating in Hamilton Township, where they have ever since resided, with the exception of two years – 1894 and 1895 – during which they resided in Ithaca.
Though politically in the minority party in Hamilton and Gratiot County, Mr. Betts has frequently been chosen to positions of honor and responsibility. In 1883 he served as township clerk. In the spring of 1885 he was elected supervisor of the township, and was re-elected in ’86, ’87, ’88 and ’89, thus holding the office five consecutive terms.
Since March 6, 1906, Mr. Betts has been the efficient agent and collector for the Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Co. of Gratiot County; postoffice address, Ithaca, R.F.D. No. 3. For three years past he has been agent for the Hastings Cyclone Insurance Co. He has held a notary public’s commission continuously for the past 27 years. Speaking of lodges, he has been an Odd Fellow 44 years.
Mr. and Mrs. Betts are the parents of a son – Burr – who was born in the Township of Cambria, Hillsdale County, July 10, 1877. Burr Betts was for several years one of Gratiot County’s popular and successful teachers, having nine terms to his credit. Between times he aided his father on the farm. He taught his last term at Sickels, afterward entering the general store of Lewis & Yost at Ithaca, as salesman, where he remained three years. He then bought a general store at Sickels which he has since conducted,
Burr Betts was elected township treasurer in the spring of 1911. Declining a re-nomination, he is devoting his energies to his mercantile trade.
The Betts family, collectively and as individuals, may properly be classed among the most trustworthy and popular of Gratiot County’s citizens. Their family sketch, therefore, will be considered a valuable and interesting feature of this volume.
John L. Ringle is one of the landmarks of Hamilton, having been a resident of the township since 1862. He still owns the farm located by him at that time on section 17, and which he has occupied continuously until February. 1909, when he removed to Sickels where he now resides, and where he and Mrs. Ringle propose to take like a little easier than in the past. Nearly a half century of farm life, commencing when the land was in a state as nature fashioned it, ought to entitle one to a respite. Like a convict who has earned “good time,” he is entitled to that much reduction of sentence.
John L. Ringle was born in Stark County, Ohio, in the year 1845. His father - Abraham Ringle – was born in Pennsylvania, in 1811. His mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Aumaugher, was born in Switzerland, coming to America when ten years of age. She died in 1854. When a young man of 19, Abraham Ringle met with a severe accident. While at work in an excavation a mass of earth fell on him, dislocating his hop and crippling him for life. He removed from Stark County to Seneca County, Ohio, in 1846, settling on 80 acres in a new country. After getting this land pretty well cleared up, he sold it and bought a 40, where he lived till the fall of 1862, when he moved with his family to this county, buying 160 acres in Hamilton Township, where he lived till his death at the age of 93 years. In coming to Michigan they moved with a horse team and an ox team. His was the first horse team in the township. In those early days most of the trading was done in St. Johns, 25 miles away, taking a day to go and a day to get back.
John L. Ringle resided with his parents till he was 24, when he took to himself a wife and went to work to make himself a home, on section 17, the farm he still owns, and on which he lived until recently, as previously stated. His marriage took place December 3, 1868, Rev. Elias Sower officiating. The bride was Miss Maria C. Hazelton born in Macomb County, Michigan in the year 1850. Her father, John Hazelton, was born in Canada in 1830, and died in St. Johns in 1861. Her mother, Adelia (Pendell) Hazelton was born in the State of New York in 1833. They came to St. Johns in 1859. After the father’s death in 1861, the family moved to Gratiot County. The daughter, Maria C., who afterward became Mrs. Ringle, attended school in Ithaca, Giles T. Brown, teacher. She afterward taught the first two terms of school in District No. 2 of Hamilton, boarding around among the patrons of the school, as was the custom in those days. She died Sept. 1, 1912.
To the union of Mr. And Mrs. Ringle four children have been born – Arthur J., June 26, 1869, died March 14, 1871; Herbert L., August 4, 1871; Edith B., June 5, 1873; Fred D., October 6, 1876. Herbert L. Ringle graduated from Alma College. After teaching several terms of school, he was married, December 25, 1901, to Lodema Williams, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John R. William. They have three children – Merna La Moyne, born September 14, 1903; Maurine Lucile, born September 28, 1905; John Kenneth, born November 14, 1907. They reside in Ithaca. Edith B. Ringle received a common school education. She was married to Arthur Williams in 1892. They live a short distance south of Sickels. One child, Cecil, born in 1893, died September 2, 1895. Fred D. Ringle attended Ithaca High School, but on account of sickness had to leave before graduating. He was united in marriage to Pearl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Sower, in March, 1898. They reside three miles east of Ithaca and have three children – Arthur, born October 10, 1899; Lela, March 3, 1902; Carlton, Oct4ober 22, 1905
John L. Ringle owns 120 acres of land, well improved and with comfortable and convenient building, sowing a contrast to the conditions of half a century ago that can only be appreciated by those through whose toil and tribulations the change has been brought about. Mr. Ringle tells of their experiences in getting here from St. Johns. When they got this side of Bridgeville and about two miles south of Old Pompeii, they got stuck in the mud. They hoped to get to J. B. Smith’s, at Pompeii, that night, but on account of the mud were compelled to go back half a mile where they wee taken in for the night by Uncle Dean Helms, and finished their trip the next day.
Mr. Ringle has always been very properly reckoned as one of the reliable and substantial citizens of the township. He has held the office of highway commissioner and was for many years school treasurer in his school district. The story of a night hunt, told by him, appears in another place in this volume.
William Barton was born in Scotland, May 22, 1798. In 1814 he entered the British military service under the duke of Wellington and served nine years, being present and taking an active part in the battle of Waterloo. In January, 1822, he came to America and the next year settled in Columiana County, Ohio, where he remained until 1854, when he came to this county and settled in Hamilton Township, one of the very earliest pioneers. He was married June 17, 1827, to Catherine Stickels and eight children were born to them. As a resident of Hamilton Mr. Barton occupied a position in the front rank as an influential and progressive citizen, and was almost continuously kept in public office, the most important being the justice of the peace (four terms) and supervisor (five terms). He died at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, A.E. Barstow and wife, Ithaca, June 21, 1888, aged 90 years. His wife, Catherine Barton, lived to the great age of 104 years, passing way at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A.E. Barstow, December 4, 1907. (See sketch of .E. Barstow.)
Elijah Curtis, born June 6, 1802, in Cayuga County, N.Y., settled on section 3, Hamilton Township, in 18755. At the first lection he was elected supervisor, treasurer, justice of the peace and director of the poor. Two months later, at a special election the voters relieved Mr. Curtis of some of his responsibilities by election a new treasurer – Henry Simmon. Mr. Curtis continued an important factor in Hamilton affairs for a number of years; died February 2, 1888, aged 86. James B. Curtis was supervisor in 1871, also served as treasurer, clerk and justice. Daniel H. Curtis was clerk, school inspector and drain commissioner; died August 21, 1883, aged 56. Seth J. Curtis was supervisor in 1906, ’07, and ’08. Other Curtises appearing as citizens of more or less influence in Hamilton were Allen Curtis, who first settled in Lafayette, later removing to Hamilton, and died February 25, 1884, aged 79; Harvey O., and Ezra Curtis. If thee were any more prominent Curtises they have kept clear of the official records.
Silas Hill settled on Section 3, Hamilton, in 1873. He was born July 4, 1830, in Otsego County, N.Y., son of Stephen Hill. He came to Gratiot from Eaton County Mich., where he had lived 16 years. In Hamilton his integrity and ability won the approval of his townsmen and they kept him in important official positions many years – treasurer six years, highways commissioner, two years, supervisor, four years. He was married in Eaton County, March 18, 1857, to Lucy, daughter of Edward Bracy. Their living children are George and Edwin. Mr. Hill died July 11, 1905, aged 75 years.
Joseph Wright, who passed to his long home more than ten years ago, is still remembered by a multitude of friends. He settled on section 18,
Hamilton Township, in 1854, and remained there for about 33 years, removing to Ithaca in 1887 where he passed the remainder of his days. He was born in Clinton County Mich., April 9, 1836. He was married September 5, 1855, to Hannah Ackles. Mr. Wright was of a kindly, jovial disposition and won many friends. He served two years as supervisor, and was elected justice of the peace three times. He was also school inspector and treasurer of his township. He died at his home in Ithaca, March 28, 1902; his wife’s decease occurring a few years previously.
Thomas Derry came to Hamilton in 1865, from his parental home in Wayne County N.Y. At the same time came his three brothers – William, John and Alfred – and accompanying them were John and George Killeen, the latter being the well-known and popular M.E. minister, so long identified with church work (and a little political work on the side) in Gratiot County. Some settled in Hamilton, some in Lafayette, adjoining townships. All were good citizens taking a leading part in all township and neighborhood matters that should be of interest to the community; also industriously laboring to vanquish the wilderness and make for themselves comfortable homes. By natural increase the name became more general than any other in that part of the county. The lst of the four brothers passed way during the last year. Their deaths occurred as follows: Alfred, died March 2, 1890, aged 46; William, June 6, 1897, aged 62; Thomas, December 12, 1901; John, June 8, 1912, aged 76.
Regretting inability at this late day to do full justice to Hamilton’s numerous worthy pioneer citizens by mentioning them all, reference to the following will have to suffice: The family name Wight, is, and has been for many years, one of the most common in Hamilton Township. In late years it has become more scattered bout the county. There were five brothers – Francis, Sheldon, Mason, William R. and Abraham L. All were first-class citizens and business men. Sheldon served s clerk and treasurer; William R. was clerk and supervisor; Abraham L. was clerk 13 years. Leonard Wight, the father died April 5, 1904, in Hamilton. The name of Muffly is another name very common in Hamilton. John Muffly was a pioneer and died May 23, 1891, aged 83. David Muffly, who was a Civil War veteran and came to Hamilton in 1855, died June 15, 1910, aged 79. Jacob Muffly, son of John Muffly, also an old soldier, died September 11, 1911, aged 74. Henry Simmon was a popular pioneer and held the office of treasurer five terms. Joseph H Seaver was supervisor six years, and was afterward register of deeds; Elon P. Potter served as supervisor 15 years without a break; C.S. Betts, five consecutive years; Jas. W. Baker was clerk seven consecutive years, and is now supervisor; John R. Williams was treasurer five years.
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