The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan



 Portrait and Biographical Album of Oakland County, Michigan, Chapman Bros. (1891), pp.   613-614

JOSEPH J. BIRD is the son of one of the early pioneers who came to Michigan in the early days when blankets were made to do service for doors, and when Indians, deer and wolves were the most numerous and attentive neighbors.  Our subject is a son of Gardner Bird whose father lived in Massachusetts.  Gardner was born in Massachusetts in 1802.  At an early age he went to New York and lived a short time in Ontario County, where he was married to Eliza Johnson.  Eight children blessed this union, namely: Alvira, Darwin, Albert, Melvina, Joseph, Elizabeth, Marcus and Mary, who are all living except three.  The four elder children were born in New York.

Gardner Bird came to Michigan in 1831, and took up a farm of one hundred and twenty acres from the Government in Webster Township, Washtenaw County.  After a few years he removed to Pleasant Valley, Brighton Township, Livingston County, where he took two hundred and forty acres from the Government, which now belongs to his son Albert, On this farm, Mr. and Mrs. Bird re- [Begin Page 614] mained until their decease.   She was called from earth in 1854, and he died in 1883.  He was a Whig and finally a Republican but never aspired to public offices.  He was always a farmer and saw many hard times after he came to Michigan.  He plowed the first furrow that was turned in Brighton Township and put up the second log house there.  In one season he killed forty deer and often shot wild turkeys.  He was a great huntsman and at one time with one shot killed two wild turkeys as he stood with his gun at the window.   He was a hard working man and broke many acres of land.  At his death he was the owner of two hundred and forty acres of land.

The subject of this sketch was the first white child born in Brighton Township, Livingston County, Mich.  The date of his advent is October, 22, 1834.  He worked for his father and went to school until he was twelve years old.  After that he had no schooling in the summer.  He was married in his native township, November 24, 1850.   His bride was Elizabeth, daughter of Job Cranson, and Mary L. (Hyde) Lenox a native of Madison County, N. Y.  The parents of Mrs. Bird had five children, namely - Jane, Elizabeth, Celestia, Linus, and Lester, only two, Elizabeth and Celestia lived to mature years; the latter is deceased.  Elizabeth the wife of our subject was born June 30, 1838, in Brighton, Livingston County, Mich.  Her father had a fine farm there and in Milford Township.  He finally sold his land and went to Fenton, in 1867, and engaged in the banking business in 1870.   This he followed until his death in 1882.  He was a Democrat in early life but became a Republican after the organization of that party.

Joseph J. Bird after marriage worked on the farm by the year but soon decided to buy a farm from Mr. Cranson.  At the end of the second year he came to Highland Township, Oakland County, and in 1861 purchased a farm of two hundred and forty acres; this is the farm referred to above.  Here he made his home for about five years when he went to Wisconsin and purchased one hundred and eighty-eight acres.  But he remained there only nine months when he sold out and returned to Brighton, Mich.  He worked his father's farm for three years and then returned to the farm which he had purchased in Highland Township, Oakland County.  Here he now resides, having two hundred and forty acres, a large part of it well improved and having placed upon it a beautiful house, excellent barns and all necessary outbuildings.  He is a general farmer and stock-raiser and he and his three sons are sturdy Republicans.

The three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Bird are bright, enterprising young men, a credit to their parents and to the community in which they live.  Clayton J., born October 10, 1859, is a farmer in Highland Township, as is also Arthur C., who was born May 22, 1864.  This second son graduated at the age of nineteen years at the Lansing Agricultural College and he is a teacher as well as a farmer.  Harry L., was born September 23, 1869.  He is still pursuing his studies at Ann Arbor where he will graduate in pharmacy in the Class of '91.


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