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

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






Walter C. Mallory was born in Westfield, Chautauqua County, N V., June 10, 1851. His father, John B. Mallory, was descended from Irish and English parentage, having. been born in the same place, May 12, 1821.

John B. Mallory was married to. Laura C. Wright, of Westfield N. V., June 1,. 1850. They resided in their native town for several years, and then moved with their two children, Walter C. and Fayette A., to Hillsdale County, Mich., where they remained until 1856, when the public lands of central Michigan came on the market and they removed to Gratiot and secured half a section of land on sections 23 and 24 in Seville Township. Alma then consisted of five log houses, and only two of the six and one-half miles of road built on section lines was then opened.

For some time they lived in their log cabin with no doors or windows. On April 7, 1856, Mr. Mallory made a trip to Ithaca and remained overnight. Mrs. Mallory sat up all night and kept fire brands burning to drive back the wolves that howled around the cabin until daylight.

The first two acres were chopped and cleared off without the aid of a team. The first school district organized in the township was in their neighborhood, and the first term was taught by Eunice (Shults) Doyle in an abandoned settler's shanty, with five children enrolled. Slab seats made of peeled poles were fastened around one side of the shanty, and basswood bark formed the roof. This shanty was replaced by the old log school house, and that was succeeded by one of the first frame structures that now dot so many corners in Gratiot County.

Walter C. Mallory, the subject of this sketch, spent his winters in school and his summers on the farm. When 21 years of age he went for himself; taught school, worked in the lumber woods, and in the harvest fields of Ionia County, and commenced clearing up an 80-acre farm. In 1879 he was married to Nina C. Brainerd, of Summit County, Ohio. From this union were born six children, as follows: Frank W., now of Princeton, Idaho, married to Eston McCan, of Jasonville, Indiana, in 1909; Henry G., of Spokane, Wash.; Laura C., of Palouse, Wash.; John B., on home farm; Leslie T., of Bovill, Idaho, and Amy M.


Mr. Mallory has held several responsible offices in his township, and is one of the five directors of the Clinton and Gratiot Mutual Fire Insurance Company, a position he has held for about 17 years. He is one of the well known men of Gratiot County, and is justly held in high esteem by his large circle of acquaintances and business associates.

Although Mr. Mallory has seen the beauties of the great West, he and his wife will probably spend the remainder of their lives in the comfortable farm house on their well-cultivated farm, section 24, Seville Township.




Pitt Family Photo

Few residents of Gratiot County have ever reached that high position in the affections and esteem of its citizens as did the subject of this sketch-William T. Pitt-now deceased. And it seems within the hounds of strict truth to say that - no death has caused more general, or more sincere regret. The work of writing his biographical sketch, though briefly, is by no means a welcome or pleasurable task, excepting only as it may be considered a tribute to a good man and a good friend, and as an absolute necessity in the preparation of a reasonably complete, truthful and consistent history of the county.

At the time of his death - March 26, 1910 he was serving his twenty-second term as supervisor of Seville Township; and this fact clearly indicates his standing among those who knew him best. He served as register of deeds one term, being elected in the fall of 1890 on the ticket nominated by the Patrons of Industry and endorsed by the Democrats. In 1886 and again in 1888 he was Fusion candidate for county treasurer, and in 1894 he was the nominee of the People's party for congressman from the 11th district. His popularity carried him largely ahead of his ticket but the Republican vote overwhelmed him together with the entire Fusion


ticket. In 1906, as Democratic candidate for representative in the state legislature, he made a great run, but went down before the heavy Republican majority.

William T. Pitt was born May 13, 1841, near the Village of South Lyon, Mich., son of George and Elizabeth (Duncan) Pitt. He was the oldest of four children, the others being Delphine, George and Anna. The mother died in 1851.George Pitt married Elizabeth Manchester two years later, and two sons-Charles and John-came to this union. George Pitt died at his home in Pine River, to which township he bad removed in 1868. William T. Pitt spent his boyhood days as a farmer, attending the district schools in winter. At the age of 18 years he went to California by way of the Isthmus, remaining in that state about eight years engaged in various pursuits. Returning to Michigan in the fall of 1866 he remained about a year and then took a trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming; a town just founded, but destined to become of considerable note as one of the roughest frontier settlements in the entire country. After about a year Mr. Pitt returned to Michigan. In the spring of 1877 he again took a trip to the West, the Black hills being his destination, and gold mining his object. He returned to his home in the following fall, and the next spring-1878-he removed to Gratiot County, locating in Pine River Township where he remained about two years and then removed to a wild farm that he had bought on section 22 of Seville Township; the farm that constituted his home until his death, thirty years later.

Mr. Pitt was married, March 4, 1869, to Bettie Lawson, of Northville, Mich., daughter of Moses and Elsie (Beard) Lawson. She was born March 7,1845. A daughter-Isabel-came to this union, born July 14, 1872. She is now the wife of William Shong, of Seville. They are the parents of children as follows: George, Ruth, Esther, Leah.

Mr. Pitt carried on his farming operations along intelligent and progressive lines. His farm, located on the pine hills of central Seville seemed well adapted to the raising of peaches. His early experiments in peach raising proved successful, and in later years the fame of his peach farm extended far outside of the county limits. He always took a deep interest in the agricultural development of his township and county, and was prominent in the support and encouragement of societies and clubs having for their object the advancement of agricultural interests.

Death claimed our subject after a brief illness with pneumonia, at the home of his daughter. His faithful wife had preceded him to the Unknown World in October, 1909. A county publication, in closing an account of his death, paid him this tribute: "He was an enthusiast in whatever he undertook, yet quiet in manner. He was a man of influence in the community where he lived, kindly in disposition, sympathetic and progressive. Another gave expression to the people's appreciation of his qualities in these words: "Mr. Pitt was a man who was ever ready to help in the advancement of the town and county, ever striving to help and elevate the farmers and their interests in every way possible. A man of unusually pleasant and genial disposition, he will be greatly missed, not only in his own immediate community, but throughout the whole county."

In closing, it may well and truthfully be added that in all his relations with his fellowman, William T. Pitt was always a true, just and effective friend or opponent, and though firm and tenacious in his views and convictions, was uniformly and always a gentleman. And Mrs. Pitt was his faithful helpmeet in every sense. She was a woman of

Superior worth, a leader and helper in all work for the betterment of humanity.






Tom Steele Helen Steele

Helen L Steele, section 10, Seville Township, was born in Cape Codd, Massachusetts, September 16, 1851, second daughter of Marcus and Zupha (Robbins) Ring, pioneers of Pine River Township, and numbered among its most respected citizens.

Marcus Ring was born October 16, 1816, in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. After reaching maturity he sailed the seas for 20 years, and then January, 1858- removed to Gratiot County, locating in Pine River Township. He was married in Nova Scotia to Zupha, daughter of Rufus and Letitia (Wyman) Robbins, May 4, 1843; a woman of great force and courage, no obstacle in life being too great for her faith and perseverance to remove or overcome. Mr. and Mrs. Ring removed from the farm to Alma, May 21, 1892, and there Mrs. Ring died on the 17th day of October, 1905. Mr. Ring followed her a year later, passing away November 18, 1906, at the ripe age of 90 years. Mr. and Mrs. Ring were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church for over 50 years.

Helen L., the subject of this sketch, was married April 11, 1874, in Pine River Township, to Thomas Steele, who was born in Seneca County, N. Y., May 25, 1833, the son of William and Elizabeth Steele. He became a school teacher by profession, being engaged in that vocation in various places in Ionia County, in Shepherd, Isabella County and in Sumner and Pine River, Gratiot County. He fitted himself for his profession in the schools of New York State, finishing at Hillsdale College, Mich., after his removal to this state.

May 24, 1874, Thomas and Helen Steele moved to Montcalm County, residing there one year. They then r e m o v e d to Ionia County, remaining there until 1884, when they returned to Gratiot County, locating on section 10, Seville, where Mr. Steele died August 14, 1890. He had continued in the business of teaching up to within two years of his death. Mrs. Steele made her preparations for teaching in the schools of Alma, Ithaca and St. Louis.

To the union of Thomas and Helen Steele four children were born - Jennie F., Zilpha E., James M. and Paulena M. Jennie F. Steele was married September 22, 1896, to William Carroll, and resides in Seville. Zupha F. Steele has been a teacher in the schools of Gratiot for many years, and holds a life certificate from the Michigan State Normal. James M. Steele has devoted his time to agricultural pursuits on the old homestead in Pine River Township, and also on his farm on section 10, Seville. Paulena M. devotes her time to the study and practice of music.

Mrs. Steele's first recollections of Pine River Township are of a vast wilderness with a small clearing, made with a rude log cabin in the clearing. Her arrival was not by rail, nor yet by stage, but in an ox-cart Her spring seat was the family wash-tub turned bottom up. She has seen changes in the more than 50 years of her residence here. She has lived to see Gratiot stripped of its grand forests, and in their place she sees fertile fields of growing and ripening grain. The rumble of the railroad train and the tooting of the motor car horn indicate that Gratiot has kept pace with the rest of the world; a member of the vanguard in all that typifies progress and development, and the varied improvements indicative of the march of modern civilization.

Mrs. Steele is a valued member of the M. E. Church. Mr. Steele also was a member of this church at the time of his death.



Mr. & Mrs. Emsley Emsley Home

George H. Emsley was one of the best known, and one of the best, farmers of Seville Township for many years. His fine farm was located on section 13 and consisted of 16O acres of well-cultivated land and supplied with first-class farm buildings. His farm home, one of the best in the county, is well portrayed by the accompanying view.

Mr. Emsley was born in St. Catharines, O n t a r i o, December 12, 1848, son o f Richard Emsley, who was a native of England, and of Jane (Umpleby) Emsley, who also was born in England.

W h e n George H. was five years old his parents removed to the State of New York, settling on a farm in Erie County, 15 miles east of Buffalo. The father died there in 1864. In 1866 George H. came to Gratiot County with his mother and his sister, Priscilla, who was then 16 years old. They came by way of St. Johns, that being the nearest railroad station at that time coming the rest of the way by team. They settled on 120 acres of land two miles west of Alma, 40 acres being on section 32, Pine River, and 80 acres on section 5, Arcada. The mother died at Alma in 1873. In 1868 the sister, Priscilla, was married to Manferd Strong, of Buffalo, N. Y

In his earlier years in Gratiot, Mr. Emsley, in addition to his business as a farmer, was also engaged in lumbering. In 1895 he settled on the Seville farm referred to at the beginning of this sketch. There he lived, engaged in the varied activities incident to a farmer's life, and with gratify in success for about 15 years. He and Mrs. Emsley spent two or three winters in Florida and California, and in 1911 he sold his fine Seville farm



and removed permanently to California where he and his wife are enjoying all the comforts, luxuries and advantages of the fine climate, the luscious fruits and the delectable flowers of that favored state.

Mr. Emsley was married December 13, 1870, in St. Louis, this county to Rose Van Leuven, who was born at Ann Arbor, Mich., May 8, 1848. She is the daughter of Nicholas and Mary Van Leuven. Her brother, Lucius J. Van Leuven was for many years a prominent and well-known resident of this county.

Mr. and Mrs. Emsley have no children. By their removal to California, Gratiot County lost an estimable family. Wherever they are they win the friendship and respect of all with whom they come in contact, both in a social and business way.





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Author: Pat Hamp
Copyright © 1999 [P. L. Hamp]. All rights reserved.