Original Highland Township Landowner
Jonathan Foster Stratton
Jonathan Foster Stratton was born January 12, 1801, at New Salem, Erie County, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Frost and Ruth (Foster) Stratton. His father was a Revolutionary War veteran from Massachusetts who settled first in Erie County, Pennsylvania, before bringing his family to Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, in 1825. Shortly after his arrival the elder Stratton died on August 25, 1825. Years later, however, his remains were brought to Highland Township by his children for reburial in Highland Cemetery.
Jonathan Foster Stratton married in July, 1820, Laura Foster Wilson; thought to be a maternal cousin. Upon coming to Michigan he commenced work as a surveyor and "land looker," helping other early settlers locate and purchase suitable parcels. In 1829 he was named by the Michigan territorial legislature as one of three commissioners charged with laying out a road through newly created Jackson county, later to become old US-12. The following year he was engaged to draw the the plat for the original "Village of Jacksonburgh;" now the city of Jackson, Michigan, and later served as county surveyor for both Jackson and Washtenaw counties. In 1836 he mapped the so-called "Second Addition" to the plat of Ann Arbor and was responsible for the naming of Whitmore Lake, in honor of a companion with whom he camped along its shore during a survey expedition.
Jonathan Foster Stratton came to Highland Township, Oakland County, with other members of his family in 1833, settling on his purchase in Section 27. Here he soon became a man of considerable importance. In the spring of 1834 he planted the township's first orchard, using trees brought from Ann Arbor. In 1835 he was elected Highland's first township clerk, a commissioner of highways and an overseer of roads, and also served as the first justice of the peace.
Around 1840, however, Jonathan Foster Stratton left Highland and headed west. In 1841 the family was living at St. Francisville, Missouri, when Jonathan crossed the Mississippi into Iowa Territory in search of a new homestead. He eventually chose a site in what became Pleasant Township, Appanoose County, southwest of Des Moines, where he built a small cabin before returning to Missouri. On his return to Iowa in 1843, however, he abandoned this initial claim, fearing the area might be made a part of slave-holding Missouri, and instead selected a new home in Udell, Appanoose County. As was the case in Highland Township, he soon became a man of prominence in his new community, building the first mill, serving as first county surveyor, and holding a variety of other local offices. He died sometime after 1880 when he appears on the Census for Centerville, Appanoose County.