References To Highland Township In
Highland Settlers Who Signed The
Published in Clarence Edwin Carter, Territorial Papers
of the United States, Vol. XII,
As is well known, the Grand River Trail was an old Indian path that ran north-northwest from what is now Detroit, across the Lower Peninsula, to the mouth of the Grand River at modern-day Grand Haven. Beginning in the early 19th century, this trail provided one of the few means of reaching the state's interior and was therefore heavily travelled. Soon known as Grand River Road (or Grand River Avenue within the City of Detroit), the inns, taverns and other accomodations along its route gave rise to cities and towns such as Farmington, Novi, Brighton, Howell and Lansing. For many pioneers who settled in Oakland County, however, Grand River Road was too far south to be of benefit, prompting efforts to either (i) relocate the road further north, or (ii) establish a second, more northerly route. These efforts took on urgency when, on July 4, 1832, Congress directed the President to appoint three commissioners to "lay out a road from Detroit through Shiawassee County (which at the time included Livingston County), to the mouth of the Grand River" for miltary and other use. The result was a "battle of the petitions," with some residents arguing for and others against a change in the road's route.
The petition below is one which advocated relocating Grand River Road "so as to run from the tenth mile post past the head of Walled Lake." Assuming this means 10 miles north of Walled Lake, it roughly corresponds to the current intersection of M-59 and Teggerdine Roads in White Lake Township. From here the proposed route would run northwest "across the Shiawsee River at or near the salt Springs." This is thought to be a reference to Big Salt Lick on the Shiawassee River, the site of modern Byron, Shiawassee County. Looking at a map one can see this is essentially the route of another old Indian trail which is followed by modern White Lake Road (in White Lake Township), Rose Center Road (in Highland and Rose Townships), White Lake Road again (through Fenton and Tyrone Townships) and Silver Lake Road (through Argentine Township) on to Byron. From here the proposed route would presumably have followed what is still called "Grand River Road" through Pittsburg and Laingsburg, northeast of Lansing.
This petition was accompanied by eleven separate "Sections" or groups of signatures. Among these was Section 7, which includes the names of several early settlers in Highland, Milford and surrounding townships. These are reproduced below, along with the text of the petition itself. Each name is preceded by a reference number and may be followed by a short note indicating the signer's place of residence. Additional notes are also given by reference number, following the list of actual signatures. While not a census per se, this petition is the earliest known record of who was physically residing in Highland as of December 17, 1833, when Section 7 of the signatures is dated. In some cases this date is before the individual is described as having "settled" in Highland in old local histories. For such reasons it should prove of considerable interest and value.
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To the Hon. the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled
The undersigned inhabitants of the Territory of Michigan, residing on and near the United States road leading from Detroit to the mouth of Grand river - feeling an interest in the opening and improvement of said road, verrily believe that if said road was so altered as to run from the tenth mile post past the head of Walled Lake then across the Shiawsse River at or near the salt Springs and thence through the seats of Justice of the counties of Clinton Ionia & Kent, it would save an immense expense in the construction of the road - being now laid through a heavy timbered country, and across many extensive marshes and cedar swamps and passing through no important places - But on the route proposed by your petitioners it would pass through an open country well calculated for a road of that magnitude, and pass through some of the most important places in the Territory of Michigan, the direction and distance of the two routes being nearly the same - it would be the means of the settlement of the Grand River Country much sooner and be beneficial to the interests of the Territory and of the United States. Therefore your petitioners pray your Honorable body to pass an act authorising such an alteration, and your petitioners will ever pray.
Dated December 10th 1833
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[Section 7 of Subscribers to Petition]
Column 1 Of Signatures
Known Highland Settlers Are In Green
35. Jeremiah Curtis was the brother of Nahum a/k/a Naham Curtis, the first person to purchase land in Highland Township on September 6, 1832. Several of the old histories of Oakland County suggest one or both brothers settled on Nahum's property in Section 36. It is unclear, however, whether either ever actually lived in Highland. There is evidence Nahum Curtis continued to reside in Waterford Township where he originally settled circa 1822. Jeremiah Curtis settled on his own purchase in Section 7 of Commerce Township where he was elected a Director of the Poor at Commerce's first township meeting. Both brothers became Mormons and moved to Missouri circa 1835-36.
41. Jonathan Foster Stratton came from Pennsylvania to Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, where he was an early surveyor. His signature on this petition includes the following statement: "Being personally acquainted with both routes I without hesitation give my opinion the proposed alteration would save several thousand dollars in construction and be of greater benefit to the Teritory [sic], J. F. Stratton, District Surveyor of Washtenaw Co." This suggests Stratton was still residing in Washtenaw County at the time although he would later move to the lands he had recently purchased in Highland.
Proposals For carrying the Mails of the United States for four years, from January 1st, 1836, to December 31, 1840, on the following Post Routes in New Jersey, Pennyslvania, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, and Michigan Territory...will be received at this Department until the 15th day of October next inclusive, to be decided on the 27th day of the same month.
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1703. From Detroit, by Bucklin, Nankin, Plymouth, Borodino, Dixboro', Ann Arbor, Dexter, Lima, Pierceville, Sylvan, Grass Lake, Jacksonopolis, Barry, Smithfield, Kalamazoo, and Marengo, to Marshall, 113 miles and back 3 times a week in 4 horse post coaches.
Special route - Northfield, Green Oak, Lyon, and Walled Lake to be supplied from Ann Arbor, 30 miles, once a week.
Proposals to carry the mail through to Farmington, 38 miles, will also be considered.
Special route - Highland to be supplied from Walled Lake, 9 miles, once a week.
Acts Of The
Legislature Of The State Of Michigan Passed At The Annual Session Of 1849,
AN ACT to provide for laying out and establishing a certain state road, in the counties of Oakland and Genesee.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Michigan, That Eliem M. White, of Milford, David G. Servis, of Highland, and Oliver Palmer, of Atlas, be, and are hereby appointed commissioners to lay out and establish a state road from the villages of Milford, in the county of Oakland, on the most eligible route through the township of Highland, then on the most direct and eligible route to Davidsonville [present day Davison], in the county of Genesee, and who shall cause the survey bill of the same to be filed for record in the office of the several township clerks of the townships, through which the same shall be laid out, on or before the first day of May next.
Sec. 8. This act shall lake effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Approved March 31, 1849.
NOTE: It is unknown if this road was in fact surveyed and, if so, what route was deemed "most eligible." One wonders, however, if the route included part or all of modern Milford Road (from Milford to Holly), Holly Road (from Holly to Grand Blanc), Perry Road (from Grand Blanc to Atlas) and M-15 (from Atlas to Davison). Note, in this regard, that the portion of M-15 between Davison and Ortonville is also called "South State Road."
George Minot, Esq., Editor, Statutes At Large And Treaties Of The United States Of America From December 1, 1845, To March 31, 1851, Little, Brown And Company, Boston (1862), Vol. IX, p. 489
Thirty-First Congress, First Session
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following post roads be, and the same are hereby, established in the States and Territories as hereafler expressed, viz.:
Of Daniel Dunham
Completion of the Michigan Central Railroad across the Lower Penninsula in the late 1840s did not meet with universal acclaim. On the contrary, farmers along its route complained bitterly about the death of cattle, hogs and other livestock struck by passing trains. They accordingly demanded financial assistance to fence the tracks and payment of damages for their lost livestock. For its part the railroad claimed such livestock were "trespassers" on its right-of-way and that the farmers were themselves negligent in failing to control their animals. Unable to gain redress through the courts, many farmers began to take matters into their own hands. Tracks were obstructed with logs and switches thrown, resulting in several derailments. Fat from the carcasses of struck livestock would be rendered into grease by the farmers' wives, then smeared on the tracks; forcing train crews to stop and sand the rails to gain sufficient traction. But while such "resistance" occurred all along the line, it was most intense in the eastern part of Jackson County, between Grass Lake and Michigan Centre. Here one Abel F. Fitch was chosen to head a committee to negotiate with the railroad for just compensation. When their demands were rejected, however, the farmers' protests turned more violent. Locomotives were shot at, stones were hurled through the windows of passenger cars, and piles of wood intended as fuel were set on fire. Matters reached a head when the Michigan Central freight house in Detroit burned to the ground on November 19, 1850. While the cause of the fire was and continues to be debated, many assumed it was the result of arson. Determined to crush the farmers' protests once and for all, the railroad enlisted the services of a former convict as a spy to gather sufficient evidence against Fitch and other Jackson county residents to support a charge of criminal conspiracy.
Henry Phelps was born in New York in 1813, and came with his parents and siblings to Michigan, in 1836. An older brother, Aaron Phelps, settled in Milford where he was briefly a man of some prominence; building an early mill and distillery and serving as Milford's first postmaster. Henry and the rest of the family, however, settled in Rose Township, just over the border from Highland. Described by one writer as "clever to the point of cunning," Phelps at first seemed destined for success in life. When Rose Township was organized in 1837 he was elected its first Town Clerk. While not having any formal legal training, he also practiced "pettifoggery," arguing small cases before local Justices of the Peace. After a brief stint working with his brother in Milford he moved to Michigan Centre to run his own distillery. This venture failed after six months, however, when a draft he used to pay for rent and supplies proved worthless. From this point his life turn a turn for the worse. Moving to Sharon, Washtenaw County, he married and took up farming. In 1844, however, he was convicted of horse-stealing and sent to Jackson State Prison for five years. Pardoned in April, 1849, his credentials as an "ex-con" landed him a job as an informant for the U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit, charged with gathering evidence on the numerous counterfeiting rings that operated in Michigan at the time. Among those Phelps investigated was none other than Abel F. Fitch, leader of the Jackson County farmers fighting the Michigan Central Railroad. In the process Phelps reported that he had not only turned up evidence of counterfeiting, but also learned of Fitch's alleged role in burning the Detroit freight depot. This information was duly passed along to the railroad, which quickly hired Phelps as its own secret agent at a salary of $40.00 per month. After further investigation - including Phelps' feigned involvement in an attempt to burn a second depot - Fitch and 43 others were arrested on April 19, 1851. Charged with arson and conspiracy, they were ironically transported to jail in Detroit via a special Michigan Central train.
The resulting trial was a sensation. Reporters for both the Detroit Advertiser and the Detroit Free Press took detailed minutes of the proceedings which were later published in book form. In addition to the large number of defendants and the polarizing nature of the charges, public interest was heightened by the appearance of William H. Seward - former New York governor, U.S. Senator and a noted abolitionist - as lead counsel for the defense. Unable to shake the damning testimony given by Phelps, Seward called dozens of witnesses to impeach the informant's credibility by testifying to his reputation for truth and veracity (or the lack thereof). Among such witnesses was "D. Dunham" of Highland Township - undoubtedly Daniel Dunham, who settled in Highland in 1832 - who testified as follows:
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D. Dunham - Have lived in Highland, Oakland county, for seventeen or eighteen years; am a farmer, and
knew Phelps about fourteen years ago, near Rose, in Oakland county.
Know by report that his reputation for truth was not good. Judging from his
reputation there, it would depend on circumstances whether I would believe him under
oath. If I knew what he said was true, I would believe it; if not, I would, from his
repute, place very little reliance on him.
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As can be seen, Dunham claimed on direct examination that Phelp's "reputation for truth was not good." On cross-examination by the prosecution, however, he is less sure of himself. While he claims to "have heard a number of the farmers... speak of Phelps reputation," he could only identify "a man named Weed, who is dead" and Rufus Tenny. Note, in passing, that the identity of Weed has yet to be determined. Pressed further, Dunham concedes "I won't be positive that I heard Rufus speak of Phelp's character..." and "I can't remember any one I heard speak of it..." The reference to Enos Leek is somewhat obscure. It appears, however, that Phelps sold Leek some property and went to Dunham to have his deed acknowledged. Dunham did so, even though he was not a duly elected Justice of the Peace at the time. Since the deed was not lawfully acknowledged, Phelps stood to lose "a large sum" on the transaction. Dunham claims he may have spoken to Leek and offered to pay the expense of securing a proper acknowledgment, but is not sure. The prosecution's purpose in bringing up this episode was no doubt to show that while Phelps had good reason to be angry with Dunham and "may have used some words," he did not threaten Dunham with prosecution, even though he had ample grounds for so doing.
The case was finally submitted to the jury on the morning of September 25, 1851. Nine hours later it returned with a verdict, finding twelve of the defendants guilty and exonerating the rest. The result was anticlimatic, however, since the principal defendant - Abel Fitch - had grown increasingly ill during his long confinement in jail, dying on August 24. Even as the trial of his remaining co-defendants continued, Fitch's body was taken to Jackson where it was given a hero's burial. In an ironic twist, the defendants found guilty were pardoned after a few years at the behest of the Michigan Central, which sought to mollify lingering public resentment over the whole affair. For his part, Henry Phelps made the mistake of returning to Jackson County to visit, only to be arrested for having "conspired" with the railroad to bring the original charges! After lawyers for Michigan Central intervened, however, Phelps was released. Urged to leave Michigan altogether, he relocated to Texas where he was killed in a brawl. For his part William H. Seward went on to become Secretary of State under Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, in which capacity he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.
So ended the saga of the "Great Railroad Conspiracy" in which an early Highland pioneer played a small but interesting part. Those wishing to learn more about this episode in early Michigan history should consult Charles Hirshfeld, The Great Railroad Conspiracy: The Social History of a Railroad War, Michigan State College Press (1953), available on line at: http://www.archive.org/stream/greatrailroadcon00hirs/greatrailroadcon00hirs_djvu.txt The entire Report of the Great Conspiracy Case: The People of the State of Michigan versus Abel F. Fitch and Others (1851) is also available through Google books at: http://books.google.com/books?id=3_0aoEmkGYgC&dq
Statutes At Large Of The United States,
Forty-Third Congress, Sess. 1 - Chapter 21 - February 4, 1874 - An act to establish certain post-routes
It is enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following are hereby established as post-routes:
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From Hartland, via Highland, to Highland Station
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Court Of Michigan
Wm. H. Wells, for Appellant.
This is an action on an insurance policy issued by the defendant to one Heman W. Clark, February 3, 1886, and renewed twice, to-wit, February 8, 1887, and February 1, 1888. The policy covered a two-story frame building, occupied for general store and post-office purposes at Highland Station, at the sum of $1,000, with $400 additional on store and post-office, furniture and fixtures therein. The fire occurred April 25,1888, and a loss of $1,336.95 was claimed in the proofs of loss upon the building, and $373.50 on furniture and fixtures. After said fire, and on the 14th day of June, 1888, with the consent of the company, the policy was assigned to plaintiff, who brought this suit in the Oakland Circuit Court. The defense rested upon alleged erroneous representations made by Clark in the application for insurance, which was a written one, and signed by him, and upon the fact that the conditional nature of the assured's title was not expressed in the written portion of the policy, as provided therein. This defense was coupled with an alternative claim that, if recovery was permitted, it must be limited in amount to the interest of Clark in the insured property. The trial was by jury, and plaintiff had verdict and judgment for $1,430.73. The proofs of loss made by Heman W. Clark, June 28, 1888, showed as follows, as to the title to the property insured: " The property insured belonged exclusively to Heman W. Clark, so far as the legal title was concerned, but he had given a contract to Betsey Crouse, aforesaid, to sell it to her upon payment by her to him of a balance of $976. This contract was on the 19th of September, 1887, taken up, canceled, and afterwards destroyed by all parties, and a new one issued in its stead, a copy of which new one is hereto attached. The old one was same in form as this new one, and for same amount, but time for payment of money was different, and it became due at or before the date of the new one. The agent, Fred Harris, knew of these contracts. Any other information wanted about this contract will be furnished." It appeared from Clark's testimony that at the time of the fire there was about $300 due him upon this contract. June 3, 1888, the balance was paid to him. In the application for insurance the following questions and answers appear: "Question. Does applicant hold title to land in fee? Yes. Q. Any other party interested in property? No." The policy provided among other things, that the application:
"Shall be considered a part of this policy, and a warranty by the assured, and if tlie assured, in a written or verbal application, makes any erroneous representation, or omits to make known any fact pretaiuing to the risk, * * * this policy shall be void. Or, if the assured is not the sole, absolute, and unconditional owner of the property insured, or if the said property be a building or buildings, and the insured be not the owner of the laud on which said building or buildings stand by title in fee-simple, and this fact is not expressed in the written portion of the policy (then follow other provisions), then, and in every such case, this policy shall be void." Then follow other provisions. "And it is further expressly covenanted by the parties hereto that no officer, agent, or representative of this company shall be held to have waived any of the terms and conditions of this policy, unless such waiver shall be indorsed hereon in writing." The application also contained a covenant that the statements therein contained constituted a just, true, and full exposition of all the facts and circumstances in regard to the condition, situation, ownership, title, etc., of the property to be insured, and that the same were made a condition of the insurance, and part of the contract, and a warranty on the part of the assured. The condition of the title, as shown by the proofs of loss and by the testimony in the case, was not set out or expressed in the written portion of the policy.
To meet this defense, the plaintiff relied upon the fact, which he was permitted to show against the objection of the defendant, that the local agent of the defendant company at Highland, who took the application for insurance and wrote out all the statements contained therein, Fred G. Harris, was fully informed at the time of such application of the condition of said title, and was kept acquainted with it thereafter, and that it was stated to him both by Clark, and by Mr. Crouse, the husband of plaintiff, and acting for her, that they wanted the property insured so that in case of loss Mrs. Crouse and Clark could both recover as their interests might appear; that Harris told them that it would make no difference; that it was not like a mortgage, and it would not need any mention in the application or policy, as a mortgage would; that the whole facts were explained to Harris before the application was made, and he was informed that Mrs. Crouse was to pay the premiums, which she did. It was contended that in taking this application Harris was the agent of the defendant company, and that his knowledge was the knowledge of the company, and that issuing this policy as it did, with full knowledge of the condition of the title, and what was the intent and purpose of obtaining the insurance, the defendant was estopped from interposing this defense. Mr. Harris was sworn, and gave evidence as to the scope and extent of his authority, but he did not deny the claim of the plaintiff that he was fully aware of the condition of the title, and the purpose for which the insurance was effected, to-wit, the insurance of the interest of Clark and plaintiff as the interest of each might appear at the time of the loss. Neither did he inform Mr. Clark of any restriction upon his agency, not even that he must send the application to the company before the policy would issue, but he testifies that he supposed Clark knew this, because he had obtained insurance through him before.
Mr. Harris was authorized, by his commission as agent, which was introduced in evidence, to "solicit and forward applications for insurance, deliver policies and renewals to applicants, and to collect and forward the premiums on same," subject to instructions. Among these instructions was the following: " After a policy has been delivered, if changes occur in the ownership or character of the risk, rendering indorsements of any kind necessary under the terms of the policy, you will forward the same to this office, with a statement of the changes required, which will be indorsed, without any charge, to the insured." The circuit judge instructed the jury, in substance, that if they believed that, at or before the making of the application, Mr. Crouse, acting for his wife or Mr. Clark, correctly and fairly informed Mr. Harris of the fact of the land contract held by plaintiff for the purchase of the property insured, and the agent afterwards, by his negligence or ignorance failed to state that fact in the application, the policy would not be avoided thereby, and that in the taking of the application Mr. Harris was acting as the agent of the insurance company, and the information he possessed would be deemed to be the information of the company.
These instructions were correct, and in accordance with repeated decisions of this court: Kitchen vs. Insurance Co., 57 Mich 144, 145; Insurance Co. vs. Throop, 2 Mich 159, 160; Insurance Co. vs. Olmstead, 21 Mich 246, 252; Copeland vs. Insurance Co., 77 Mich___ ; Temmick vs. Insurance Co., 72 Mich ___ ; Brown vs. Insurance Co., 65 Mich., 306; Baker vs. Insurance Co., 70 Mich., ___. Insurance Co. vs. Throop, above cited, is a case very similar in its facts to the one at bar, and the reasons for the rule laid down in this state are well and fully stated by Justice Cooley in his opinion filed in that case, and need not here be restated. The defendant relies mainly upon the case of Cleaver vs. Insurance Co., reported in 65 Mich., 527, and also in 89 N. W. Rep. 571, but there is a great distinction between that case and the one at bar. This distinction was partially pointed out in Baker vs. Insurance Co. In the Cleaver case the assured had his policy in his possession at the time of his conversation with the agent, upon which conversation he relied for recovery. Here the action of the agent and the conversation relied upon was, as in the Baker case, before the policy was issued. The application contained no restrictions upon the agent's authority to act for the company, nor was the assured notified of any; and the agent's restrictions in his written authority were confined by its terms to acts after the policy was issued. Clark and the agent of Mrs. Crouse both supposed that he was the agent of the company, with power to bind such company; and, having written out the application himself, he was the agent of the company in taking it, and his knowledge was the knowledge of the company. Therefore the company issued, if the claim of the plaintiff be true, the policy with full knowledge of the state of the title, and also that the insurance was intended to be taken for the full insurable value of both interests, and the defendant is now estopped from making either one of its defenses. The restriction upon the agent being in the policy, and not in the application, cannot be construed to refer to any act or knowledge of the agent that occurred before the delivery of the policy. The judgment will be affirmed, with costs. The other justices concurred.
Page ic (99) - COMPLAINTS AND PETITIONS
January 26, complaint was received from D. S. Barrett of Clyde, Oakland county, alleging that the view of trains approaching the Flint & Pere Marquette railroad crossing at Clyde was so obstructed as to render the crossing dangerous, and requesting proper protection. After an inspection had been made by the department and a hearing afforded all parties interested, it was agreed that the crossing should be moved twenty feet north, and an order was issued for an electric alarm bell at said crossing.
Page cxix (119) - OFFICIAL ORDERS ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF RAILROADS
86. June 5  To Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad Company: Special order for the erection of an alarm bell at crossing just north of Clyde station, Michigan.
Persons In The Civil, Military And Naval Service Of The United States,
Page 230 - Postal Service - Michigan
Wickens, Fred A., PM $376
Page 237 - Postal Service - Michigan
Burgis, Geo. H., PM $417
NOTE: At this time the position of postmaster (PM) was an appointed office, while "Rural Free Delivery" carriers (RD) were Civil Service jobs. The listings for the latter include the state of the persons birth (NY or Mich) and the congressional district in which they resided.
Journal Of The
House Of Representatives Of The State Of Michigan,
Mr. [Albert G.] Griggs presented
Petition No. 406.
Petition of Chas. Barnett and 3 other citizens of Clyde, Oakland county, in favor of an increased rate of passenger fares on the railroads of the State. The petition was referred to the Committee on Railroads.