Samuel Stratton was born
February 28, 1808, at New Salem, Erie County, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan Frost and
Ruth (Foster) Stratton. Like his brothers - Jonathan
Foster Stratton and Joseph Frost Stratton -
Samuel Stratton came to Highland Township from Washtenaw County, Michigan, in the early
1830's. His residence was brief, however, since he died on April 24, 1834;
reportedly the first person to die Highland.
Samuel Stratton's early
death may have been due to a mental afflication which resulted in occasional bouts of
insanity. One of these figures in a story told about N. I. Brown of Ann Arbor,
Michigan. The famous Chief Okemos had allegedly agreed to show Brown an Indian
silver mine several days ride northwest of town. After venturing deep into the
wilderness, however, Okemos had a change of heart and bolted away on his horse.
Brown tried to follow, but soon became lost and so dashed about "at the top of his
horse's speed, not knowing whether he was in the right direction or not." It
is at this point that Samuel Stratton enters the tale:
In the early settlement
of Ann Arbor, widow Stratton, with her family, occupied the farm one mile south of the
city. Her second son, Samuel Stratton, then some 20 years of age, was subject to
occasional fits of insanity. When the fit was upon him, he would take to the woods,
and, subsisting only on berries and roots, in one or two weeks starve it out and return
At the time of young Brown's hunt for the silver mine, Stratton had been absent about two
weeks, his friends supposing he had wandered off a great distance and probably starved.
Stratton says that in the afternoon he saw Brown riding in an opening, in a circle,
at full speed, and knowing, from his actions, he was lost, took his station behind a tree
to give him a good scare; so, as the horse came round, he broke out after him, yelling a
million murders. He then left the circle and made a straight break for the
woods. The pony, equally frightened with the rider, ran into a swamp, and sinking
down, stuck fast. Brown gave it up; there was the devil, for he had seen him.
Turning in his saddle to take a fair look, Stratton, nude as he was born, and
out-grimacing the arch-fiend of evil, was standing at his horse's tail, and with a hoarse
laugh roared out: "Brown, don't you know me?"
Stratton says, that as soon as Brown was able to speak, he quietly remarked:
"Look here, Mister, do you know the way out of these woods?"
"Of course," replied Stratton.
"Well, then," said Brown, "do you just take me home, and you shall have the
best suit of clothes in the store."
"Done," said Stratton. "How's the provisions?"
Stratton swept the pile, at least four pounds of pork and crackers to match, and throwing
Brown's blanket over his shoulders, they took a bee-line for home. Coming to a
settlement the next day, Stratton staid out, holding Brown's horse, while Brown went in,
and after purchasing a suit of half worn clothes, ordered dinner for four.
"Why, do you think I'm so stingy ?" said the old lady.
"Never mind," said Brown, "set on the victuals."
Afterward, when the old lady was looking on and observing the destruction of her winter
stores, she exclaimed, "I shall charge for four! "
Finishing their meal they arrived in town late in the evening. Brown resumed the
duties of his clerkship, and Stratton appeared the best dressed man in the streets.
History of Washtenaw
County, Michigan, Chas. C. Chapman & Co., Chicago (1881), Vol. II, p. 901-902.