The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan

Original Highland Township Landowner

Joseph H. Wendell

W 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Section 3         SE 1/4 of SW 1/4 of Section 3

Joseph Harmon Wendell was born in Charlton, Saratoga County, New York, in 1805, and came to Michigan in 1836 with his brother, John A. Wendell.  

There seems to be some confusion as to which brother settled on the Joseph's purchases in Section 3.  Durant's History of Oakland County, Michigan, suggests it was John who resided there, noting that "The first house in the place [i.e., Clyde] was erected by John Wendell, in 1836 or 1837, on the southeast corner of the village lot, and is the one now occupied by William Wheeler." Seeley's history (which is no doubt based on Durant's) is to the same effect.  Wilson W. Baker's history of Clyde, however, says "The Wheeler farm has always been considered a part of Clyde.  This land was taken up from the Government by Joseph H. Wendell Dec. 12, 1836, who built the first house here, who sold to Phineas Davis Aug. 1, 1838, who sold to Thomas H. Perkins Nov. 10, 1838, who owned the property until April 10, 1856, when it was purchased by Isac [sic] M. Wheeler, the father of the present owner..."

Other sources, however, indicate John A. Wendell actually settled just over the border in Rose Township, Oakland County.  A veteran of the War of 1812, he was elected the first Supervisor of Rose Township in 1837 and retained that position for six more terms.  John A. Wendell also served as Rose Township Clerk and Justice of the Peace and was the Postmaster at Rose from 1837 until his death in 1858.  He was likewise elected to the Michigan legislature as a representative from Oakland County in 1842. 

Under the circumstances it seems likely both Durant and Seeley are wrong and that it was Joseph H. Wendell - not John A. - who settled on the land he purchased in Highland Township.  As Baker's history notes, however, he made but a brief stay, selling the property to Phineas Davis on August 1, 1838.  Two years later the 1840 Census shows Joseph living in Milford Township, Oakland County. Soon after he relocated to Byron, Shiawassee County, where he was appointed School Director in 1843.  Two years later he became an Elder in the Byron Presbyterian Church.  On July 6, 1846, Joseph H. Wendell was appointed Postmaster of Byron; the second to hold that position.  He likewise served as township Treasurer in 1848-49.  Following the death of his first wife he remarried in 1849 and soon after relocated to Seneca, Illinois.

Note that First Land Owners of Oakland County gives Joseph H. Wendell's last name as "Wendall," with "Wendell" as an alternate spelling.   The family descends from Dutch settler Evert Janse Wendel of Albany, New York (New Netherlands Colony), born in 1615.

Our thanks to Rod Wendell, the great-great-grandson of Joseph H. Wendell, for much of this information.


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