History of GRATIOT CO., Michigan. Historical Biographical, Statistical

By Willard D. Tucker pub. 1913 Press of Seemann & Peters, Saginaw, Michigan





The description of Seville Township-Town 12 north, range 4 west shows it to be the northwest corner township of the county; as far removed from the principal meridian and the base line as possible and still remain in the county. Quite a portion of the township is hilly and is pine land, having been the home of some of the most valuable pine forests of the state. The soil of that part of the township is of a sandy nature, and, without fertilization will not stand extensive cropping. Properly managed, however, it raises good average crops; and it has the advantage of being easy to till, and is up out of the water. The heaviest soil is found in the eastern and southeastern part, and many fine farms are there located. Relics of the pine forests are seen on every hand throughout the hilly portions, in the form of pine stump fences. They are not now as numerous as they were, and the old stumps are beginning to show the ravages of time to some extent. Even a pine stump is not everlasting; but it is nearly so. However, the last stump of the last stump fence will finally go, and then when there is nothing else left to verify the fact that such a thing ever existed, the proof may be found in the reproduction here shown in these pages.


Map Photo




Under date of February 17, 1910, the late lamented Wm. T. Pitt who was for so many years identified with the interests and history of Seville, sent to the writer a communication hearing upon the early history of his town-ship, to be used as might seem best in the preparation of this work. Mr. Pitt's death occurred only a few weeks later-March 26th-and this fact adds to the interest that naturally will he felt for any communication coming from his pen. Such portions of his article as seem to be especially appropriate for use here are given as follows:

In the year 1854, over half a century ago, a few brave, hardy men who desired homes of their own, struggled through the wilderness-the forests and swamps of Gratiot County, to what is now Seville, the northwest corner township of the county. Nineteen of the 36 sections were at that time covered with beautiful, large white pine trees. Five sections were tamarack swamp. The remaining 12 sections were hardwood timbered land. There are four lakes in the township. Half-moon, Mattison, Peterman and Dunkling. The beautiful Pine River with its hard hanks and gravelly bottom passes through the western portion of the township.


Pine Stump Fence Photo


"The hardwood land is mostly on the east side of the township, and it was there that the first settlements were made. The earliest pioneers located their lands, then went 'outside'. Outside meant civilization; a good place to go after the long, weary tramp that was necessary to find and locate the claim that was to make the future home. In the year 1855 a few who had located their land the year before, moved in with their families. It required 'a long pull and a strong pull and a pull all together', to get through, with no roads except what could be made with an ax and hand-spike as they made their slow progress through the wilderness.

"The following year more settlers came in, the township was organized and the first election held at the log house of Adam Oberlin on the south-east corner of section 12, where his son Simon now resides. When it came to naming the township several names were suggested, but none seemed to be just the one wanted until Mrs. S. S. Hastings suggested that it be named Seville, after her old home in Ohio. The idea seemed to strike favorably, and Seville it was named.

"At the first election-April 7, 1856 a hat was used for a ballot-box. Just what kind of a hat it was I do not know, but it hardly seems likely that it was a derby. Eighteen of the 27 voters were elected to office at




this election. Those who did not get an office were P. D. Eagan, Fergis Conley, Henry Boyer, Samuel Shroy, Jacob Oberlin, Peter Lott, Nathaniel G. Smith, Warner Lott and David Hosford. Other early settlers were Patrick Murray, who died soon after he came here, his being the first death in the township; Michael Murray, Thos. Murray, John Manion, Nicholas Joslin, Henry Dexter, Nicholas Demory, Calvin B. Fisher, Thos. J. Tann, Jacob Boyer, David Hamp, Nathaniel and Jacob Strayer, John Robbins and Aaron B. Mathewson. The latter cut his road alone from the Strayer farm to his place just north of Riverdale. His shanty was covered with black ash bark, mother earth was the floor, wolves and wild cats his nearest neighbors.

"Geo. W. Wright, John W. Dunn, L. J. Van Leuven, Robert Wood and Marklan Stanton were early settlers in the northwest part of the township. The last named lies buried on the farm which he cleared and lived upon, the southeast corner of Sect i on 7. In 1863, 860 acres assessed to J. W. Dunn. and the valuation placed at $2,000, a fraction over two dollars per acre. At that time the tract of land was covered with the nicest kind of green, standing pine.


Photo From Pitt Farm


"When Joseph Abbott moved into his log house on section 12, on the 2nd lay of February, 1855, he had but two rows of shakes on his roof, the rest being open to the blue sky a n d the tree tops. He ground corn in a coffee mill - for his family of six. Hubbardston was the place he had to go to mill. The distance was 31 miles and the route was by way of Alma. His oldest son, Frank, who is still a resident of Seville, remembers well his father's tool chest which was used by him for a bed to sleep on nights, and for a table to eat from during the day. Maple Rapids was their postoffice. During the fall of 1856, known as 'the smoky fall', people got lost in their little clearings.

"At the spring election of 1859 the man who made the ballot-box that had been used at the two preceding elections refused the use of the box to the inspectors. He felt that he had not been fairly treated as he had got no office. So the result was a large sugar bowl was procured and used for a ballot-box. When an elector handed in his ticket the inspector raised the cover, dropped in the ticket and then replaced the cover; a proceeding




 that was repeated as often as necessary until the polls were closed. This story was told me by Mrs. John B. Mallory, who said that for many years that election was referred to as the 'sugar bowl election.'

"A curiosity in the shape of a bill for damages was presented to the township board June 5' 1865, reading as follows: 'Gentlemen this is for damages for road running this day across section 3 it is $10.00. Sighned Doe.'

Photo of Old Snags

"The first school in the township was taught in a log shanty on what is now the George Emsley farm on section 13. It was located just north of where the Mallory school house now stands. It was t a u g h t by Eunice Doyle, a sister of the late Jas. L. S h u 1 t s, who was supervisor several years. There were five scholars-Mary A. Shults, Jas. H. Shults, Wa1ter C. Mallory, Fayette Mallory and Julia Mallory. The f irst Sunday school was held at the Brady school house, Adam Oberlin, superintendent. The superintendent had a family of 16 children.

"In many places in Seville Township we have evidence of the existence of a people that lived here long before the Indians. On sections 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 30 and 36, stone and copper implements, pottery, skeletons and many other relics of prehistoric times have been found. On section 30 a mound 60 feet in diameter, and the center eight feet above the level of Pine River has been found. The river has cut away from the north side 15 or 20 feet. A recent investigation of this mound shows that two different excavations were made into it many years ago.

"Bones of two different mastodons have been found, one on the N. Demory farm, section 14, the other on the M. Mallory farm, section 23; about a mile apart."




"The first annual township meeting held in pursuance of statute, at the house of Adam Oberlin, April, 7,1856."




April, 1856: The whole number of votes cast was 27. Sup.-Carlile Weeks; Clk..- John B. Mallory; Treas.-Jas. L. Shults; H. C.-Henry Clifford, Jas. L. Shults, Joseph Abbott; J. P.-Samuel Boyer, Cornelius Rockwell, Wm. Badgely; Sch. Insp.-Carlile Weeks, Wm. Badgely; Overseer of Poor-Peter Lalle, A. N. Rockwell; Const.-Jackson Amburster, Henry Shults, A. Fisher, C. Rich. Signed by Jas. L. Shults, Adam Oberlin and N. G. Smith, as inspectors of election.

The meeting voted $100 for contingent expenses and $250 for highway purposes.

The supervisor and clerk had to go before Elijah Porter, a justice of the peace in Pine River Township, to be sworn into their respective offices.

A special election was held Nov. 29, '56, to elect justices of the peace, presumably in place of those who failed to qualify. The following were elected, 15 votes being cast: Chas. Rich, Nathaniel G. Smith. Wm. H. Badgely, John Coulson. This is signed by Jas. L. Shults, Wm. H. Badgely and C. J. Rockwell, as inspectors.

April, 1857: Twenty-six votes were polled.

Sup. -Henry Boyer Clk. -C. J. Rockwell; Treas. A. N. Rockwell; H.C.-Chas. Rich, Jacob K. Strayer, Samuel Shroy; J. P.-Jas. L. Shults, John Coulson, Calvin B. Fisher; Sch. Insp.-Nathaniel G. Smith, John B. Mallory; Directors of Poor-Peter Lott, Wm. H. Badgely; Const.-Arthur McCoy, John Currence, Henry Shults.

Overseers of highways were elected as follows: Joseph Abbott, Samuel Boyer, Nat. G. Smith, David Hosford, J. B. Mallory, Pat. Eagan, Nicholas Joslin, Joel Rogers.

1858: Election was held at the house of John B. Mallory, and 29 votes were cast.

Sup. Henry Boyer; Clk.-Asa N. Rockwell; Treas. -John B. Mallory; H. C.-Nicholas Joslin; J. P.-Nicholas Joslin; vacancy, Geo. W. Wright; Sch. Insp.-Nat. G. Smith; O. of Poor-Sam. Boyer, Jo. Abbott.

A bounty of $4 was voted for wolves, and $5 for the use of Mr. Mallory's house for election purposes.

Oct. 2, '58, Pat. Eagan was appointed clerk in place of A. N. Rockwell, resigned.

1859: The election was held at the residence of Wm. H. Badgely, and 29 votes were cast as follows:

Sup-Henry Boyer 16, Jas. L. Shults 11 Clk.-Pat. D. Eagan 16, Henry Shults 13 Treas.-John B. Mallory 18, Thos. J. Tann 11; H. C.- Adam Oberlin 21, David Hosford 8; J. P.-Nat. G. Smith 18, Henry Shults 6, David Hosford 3; 3 yrs., N. Joslin 17; 2 yrs., Geo. W. Wright 28; Sch. Insp.-J. 13. Mallory 19,. T. J. Tann 10; Directors of Poor-Calvin P. Fisher 19, Jacob K. Strayer 25.

The meeting voted to appropriate $50 "to build a town house and each resident to be allowed to work his proportional share thereof. The town house to be erected as near as practicable to the center of town, and that Henry Boyer, Nicholas Joslin and Geo. W. Wright be appointed to superintend the building thereof."

1850: Election held at the house of Samuel Shroy; 21 votes cast.

Sup.-Henry Shults; Clk.-Pat. D. Eagan; Treas.-J. B. Mallory; H. C. Sam. Shroy; J. P.-David Hamp; Sch. Insp.-N. G. Smith.

It was voted to appropriate $50 of the 2-mill tax for the purchase of books for the library; also voted to establish district libraries.

The town house evidently had not progressed very for toward completion, for Henry Boyer, Geo. W. Wright and Pat. Eagan were appointed to




look after the matter, the building to be 18 by 20 feet in size, and to be built by Oct.20. To be let to the lowest bidder.

April, 1861: Election held at the house of Samuel Shroy; 20 votes polled.

Sup.-Henry Shults; Clk.-P. D. Eagan; Treas.-J. B. Mallory; H C -Henry Clifford; J. P.-E. F. Wiley; 3 yrs., Henry Shults; Sch. Insp. Henry Shults.

The erection of a town house still seemed to hang fire for it was voted to have the town house built on the south half of the northwest quarter of section 26; and that Ira Amsbury, Calvin B. Fisher and John A. Robbins be appointed to superintend the same; and $25 was voted to build the same; to be built on or before April 1, 1862.

At a meeting of the board Jan. 4, '62 the building committee recommended that "$50 be advanced to Warner Lott on the town house building, as he has the body up." The board agreed, and issued a town order.

April, 1862: The election was held in the new town house.

Sup.-Henry Boyer; Clk.-P. D. Eagan; Treas.-J. B. Mallory; H. C. Anthony McCoy; J. P.-John Hicks; Sch. Insp.-Ira Amsbury.

Jan.24, '63, the board appointed Asa N. Rockwell supervisor vice Henry Boyer, "who has vacated his office", says the record.

April, 1863: Sup.-Ira Amsbury; Clk.-P. D. Eagan; Treas.-J. B. Mallory; H. C.~A. N. Rockwell; vacancy, Daniel Hicks; J. P.-Jas. L. Shults; vacancy, Daniel Hicks; Sch. Insp.-E. F. Wiley.

April, 1864: Sup.-Ira Amsbury; Clk.-P. D. Eagan Treas.-Samuel Boyer; H. C.-Isaac Welch; vacancy, T. J. Tann; J. P.-Henry Boyer; vacancy, Samuel Boyer; Sch Insp.-Ira Amsbury, vacancy, T. J. Tann.

A special election was held Aug. 25, '64, "for the purpose", says the record, "of trying to raise a bounty for persons volunteering into the United States, the whole number of votes polled were 11, of which number there were pol1ed nine against raising $100, and for raising $100 there were polled two votes. We, therefore, declare the above vote was lost." Signed by Pat. Eagan, Ira Amsbury, Thos. J. Tann, Jas. L. Shults, township board.

A special election was held Oct. 9, '64, "to elect a supervisor to fill the vacancy caused by Ira Amsbury, the late incumbent, being drafted into the United States service as a soldier. The whole number of votes cast was 12, and Henry Boyer received the 12 for supervisor."

Pat. Eagan seems to have resigned as clerk and the board must have appointed Jas. L. Shults to the vacancy, for on Dec.12, '64, a special township meeting elected John J. Moffett as clerk, "the former officer, Jas. L. Shults, having been drafted, leaving said office of township clerk vacant."

April, 1865: Sup.-Henry Boyer; Clk.-John J. Moffett; Treas.-Sam. Boyer; H. C-Adam Oberlin; vacancy, Henry Clifford; J. P-John B. Mallory; 3 yrs., N. Joslin; 2 yrs., Thos. J. Tann; 1 yr., Henry Boyer; Sch. Insp.-J. B. Mallory; vacancy, T. J. Tann.

The meeting voted that T. J. Tann, Sam. Boyer and J. J. Moffett be a committee for the purpose of removing the town house to the N. E. corner of the S. 1/2 of the N. E. 1/4 of section 27; and $20 was voted "to pay Mr. Faulkner for the land and for the necessary writings."

For some reason the regular April election of 1866 was skipped, for the record shows that a special meeting was held at the town house on April 26, 1866, at which there were 49 votes polled as follows:

Sup-Jas. L. Shults 25, Ira Amsbury 24; Clk.-Pat. D. Eagan 24, Joseph Davis 23; Treas.-Asa N. Rockwell 24, Sam. Boyer 24; H. C.- Henry Clifford 48; J. P.-Jesse L. Pelton 47; vacancies, Richard Whitbeck 25,





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Author: Pat Hamp
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