Original Highland Township Landowner
Michael and Lucy (Davis) Beach
Michael Beach was born 1790/91, the son of Michael Beach, Sr. and Eliza (Castle) Beach of Parma, Monroe County, New York. He served as a member of the New York Militia during the War of 1812; at one point as a corporal in the company commanded by Capt. Jonathan Leonard, another original Highland landowner. Following the war Beach came to Michigan, making his first purchase of land in Troy, Oakland County, in December, 1819. Here he met and married Lucy Davis, the daughter of Joshua and Rebecca Davis, who were also early pioneers in Troy.
Michael Beach was part of a survey team led by Horatio Ball that laid out ten townships between the Flint and Cass Rivers in 1821. Some years later he and his brother-in-law, Joshua Davis, Jr., built a mill on the Rouge River in Southfield; the first in that township. Beach also purchased lands in what became Farmington and West Bloomfield before finally settling in Highland Township. The date of his arrival is uncertain, with one source claiming he came as early as 1830, but in all events he had arrived by May, 1833, when he made his first land purchases in Section 28. Given his experience as a surveyor, he appears to have acted as a "land looker," helping other pioneers locate and choose their own lands, and may have played a role in encouraging other Parma, New York, residents to settle in Highland. In 1847 he returned to the area of his 1821 surveying expedition, helping a group of German immigrants establish the village of Frankentrost in Saginaw County.
Family tradition says that Lucy (Davis) Beach grew weary of relocating her family every time her husband bought or sold a piece of property. She accordingly purchased 80 acres in Section 21, Highland Township, in her own name as a permanent home for her growing family. Here Michael Beach died in 1855, followed by Lucy (Davis) Beach in 1867. See the Beach Family Photo Album for more on this family.