Go to Part 1 of the History of Lawrence Township.
About a month after Palmer's settlement he left the place suddenly and was heard of no more, except that he passed through St. Joseph, with his wife, on their way West. It is said that his sudden departure caused Mr. Allen to lose faith in the value of his phrenological knowledge.
Shortly after Palmer's departure his deserted cabin was occupied by John Reynolds, who, with his brother George, had just previously located upon section 13. Nov. 15, 1835, Reynolds and his wife received into their cabin a delegation of eleven people, ten of whom came to settle, and as Reynolds house was the only one at hand, they were forced to crowd into it. These people were Eaton Branch and wife, Dexter Gibbs and wife, with five children, John Allen, and William Williams. There were thirteen, all told, who occupied the house, and as the room in which they slept was but twelve feet square, they were really in close quarters. As a matter of convenience, the gentlemen selected for their dressing-room an out-door spot behind a brush pile. They were, however, shortly in more expansive accommodations, when Allen built a double log house, and called it a tavern. It had on the ground-floor two rooms each fourteen feet square, with sleeping apartments above, and stood just east of where Mrs. Goodenough now lives. Dexter Gibbs was promoted to be the landlord of the tavern, and maintained the dignity of that position until his death, in October, 1838.
The building of a saw-mill in 1836 by John Allen and John R. Haynes gave the village some impetus, but its growth was exceedingly slow, and in 1843, eight years after Allen laid it out, it contained but ten families, viz.: Watson Poole, a carpenter; Alexander Newton, a farmer; Norman Birse, cabinet-maker; John R. Haynes, miller; Joseph Haynes, farmer; Israel Branch, farmer; A.H. Phelps, fur-trader and miller; J.P. Fisk, blacksmith; Benjamin Dunning, blacksmith; and Rodolphus Howe, stock-dealer. At that time the place had lost its original name of Mason and was known as Brush Creek, from the stream flowing through it.
The story is told of John R. Baker (living in Paw Paw at that time, and the owner of considerable village property in Brush Creek) that he rechristened the place Lawrence, after the name of the township, and that upon being asked by a traveler for directions to find Brush Creek, sent the man to Chadwick's mill, on the creek, saying immediately afterwards, "I'll teach him not to call my bright little village by the ugly name of Brush Creek."
John Allen, who founded Lawrence village, was a resident of Ann Arbor, and a very enterprising man. He dealt largely in Western lands, confining his ventures chiefly to Michigan. Unlike most Western land speculators, he sought to improve his purchases by the practical method of fitting the territory for settlement and cultivation, and thus by energetic management realized a considerable profit in the business, while he pushed the development of the country briskly forward. He joined the tide of speculation as it set in towards the Pacific coast, and died a resident of San Francisco, Cal.
It may be mentioned that Allen mortgaged the Mason village property to John R. Baker, and to satisfy that Baker was compelled to take the land, and thus, as has been noted, became the village proprietor, and renamed it Lawrence.
Lawrence Merchants. - While Dexter Gibbs was keeping hotel in the old double log house, John Allen put a small stock of goods into the bar-room, and engaged Ephraim Taylor to sell them. The assortment was doubtless meagre and the stock light, for there was scarcely a field at that time for the development of liberal enterprise in the matter of trade. Not much of an improvement was the store opened by John R. Haynes, in the second story of his saw-mill, some time in 1836. Half of his customers, it is said, were Indians, and probably very few of his goods were sold for cash. Cash was scarce, but "dicker" was more plentiful, and Haynes, of course, like a sensible trader, accommodated his customers. He carried on the trade four or five years, when he disposed of his store and saw-mill interest to H.N. and A.H. Phelps. H.N. Phelps had come to Lawrence for the purpose of lumbering, and had brought a stock of goods with him. These goods he put into the Haynes store, and there he and his brother traded until 1845, when they transferred the store business to a log house formerly occupied by Alexander Newton as a residence, upon the site now covered by the Chadwick block. In 1847 they built a short distance south of the log structure a story and a half frame dwelling, and moved their goods into it. That store was in that day considered a remarkably fine one, and awakened great admiration. The Phelps brothers continued in their new store until 1849, when they retired and leased the building to John R. Haynes, who resumed business and stocked the store with goods bought from Albion by Marvin Hannahs, the latter having come to Lawrence to put up a grist-mill.
Haynes traded at that location two years, and in 1851 having put up a fine building at what is known now as Crissey Corners, opened it as a drug- and grocery-store. Upon his retirement from the Phelps store it was reopened by Thomas De Wolf, who had been the representative at Lawrence of James E. Bishop, of Chicago, who was largely concerned in lumbering. In 1853, H.N. Phelps became De Wolf's partner, and retiring in 1854, was succeeded by the firm of Phelps, Balfour & (James) Haynes. That firm wound up business in 1855. Haynes closed his grocery- and drug-store in 1854, and was succeeded there by Thomas De Wolf and Sylvanus Rowe. De Wolf removed to Chicago in 1855, and Rowe continued on his own account until 1856, when he moved to a place previously occupied by Uri Utley, took in Mr. Lockwood as a partner, and closed January, 1858. Rowe went to Decatur, came back to Lawrence and opened a store, in which he was burned out, and after that he confined himself to the practice of medicine.
Returning to 1850, one Mitchell opened a store that year on the site of Dexter Gibbs' log tavern. He soon moved across the river, where he traded a year, and in 1851, William Hodges opened a store adjoining Mitchell's place, and carried it on until 1855. In 1854, J.M. Fisk and Clemens put up the first building, on the east side of the street south of Crissey's Corners, and opened it with a general stock. Clemens went out in about ninety days, and in 1857, J.M. Fisk sold the business to his father, J.P. Fisk, who retained it until his death, in 1865. E.H. Phelps kept store for a time in the place vacated by Sylvanus Rowe in 1858, and in 1856, J.E. Bishop opened what is now the Chadwick store. E.E. & J.L. Chadwick first occupied the place in 1858. The store is still kept by E.E. Chadwick, his brother having died in 1872.
In 1860, H.M. Marshall, who had been clerking for Sylvanus Rowe, opened a store across the river, moved into the village the same year, and in 1874 completed and oc- cupied the fine brick block in which he now carries on his business. Charles W. and J.M. Fisk succeeded J.P. Fisk in 1865, and in 1868, the firm dissolving, J.M. Fisk moved into the brick store he now occupies, and which he built that year. Ridlon, Phelps & Co. entered the trade in 1867, in the building now occupied by H.L. Cornwell. Ridlon bought out his two partners - Phelps and Cornwell - and pursued the business until 1872, when he moved away. Cornwell - who had been at Cassopolis - returned to Lawrence in 1873, and reopened the old store for account of Phelps & Cornwell. Phelps retired in 1875, and W.E. Cornwell came in. In 1879, W.E. Cornwell retired, and opened a store across the way.
Besides the general stores of E.E. Chadwick, H.M. Marshall, J.M. Fisk, and H.L. Cornwell, there are in the village the grocery-stores of W.E. Cornwell and J.L. Phillips; the drug-stores of J.F. Barrows and George Jerome; the hardware store of Hill Brothers; and the usual minor business establishments found in a country town.
Physicians. - The Rev. J.L. Marvin, one of the pastors of the Lawrence Congregational Church, also practiced medicine from 1844 to 1851, wlien he moved to Paw Paw. Previous to Dr. Marvin's coming, Lawrence people had to go to Paw Paw when a doctor was needed. During Dr. Marvin's residence in Lawrence, Dr. C.P. Prindle was also a village practitioner. He became afterwards a resident of Dowagiac, wliere he died. During 1853, Drs. Nelson Rowe, Sylvanus Rowe, and JoeI Camp located in the village. Dr. Nelson Rowe died in 1864. Dr. Sylvanus Rowe is still in practice at the village. Dr. Camp went to Bangor to live in 1861. Dr. A.F. Haskins came in 1858, and is still one of the village physicians. Dr. Terwilliger came in 1861, and left in 1863. In 1862, Dr. O.B. Wiggins began practice in Lawrence, and still pursues it. Besides the physicians above noted as in practice in Lawrence, there are also Drs. E.S. Cleveland and William Rowe.
Mills and Millers - In the summer of 1836, John Allen and John R. Haynes built a saw-mill on Brush Creek, but did not saw any lumber until early in the winter. About 1844, H.N. & A.H. Phelps bought the mill, and afterwards replaced it with the one now operated on the same site by Rufus Tillou. Previous to 1844, A.H. & Colonel Theodore Phelps had put up a saw-mill two miles and a half south of the village. They sold it in 1843 to Gen. B.F. Chadwick, from whom it took the name by which it is yet known, - Chadwick's mill. Thomas Hayes operates it at present.
The Phelps brothers had also a store in connection with their mill, and used to barter goods for logs. Their lumber they floated to market at St. Joseph.
In 1848 a stock company, composed of William Hodges, H.N. Phelps, T.S. Camp, John Andrews, and A.H. Phelps, put up a large saw-mill on the Paw Paw River, near the village. In 1850, Marvin Hannahs, of Albion, erected a grist-mill near the saw-mill and put in two run of stones. Haynes had a small run of stones in his old mill in 1838, but its grinding capacity was very small. Hannahs' mill may therefore be noted as the first of its kind worthy the name of grist-mill. In 1862 the grist-mill and saw-mill on the Paw Paw were destroyed by fire. In that year William Anderson built on Brush Creek the grist-mill now owned by Tillou & Olin, to whom Anderson sold the property in 1868. Rufus Tillou manages both the grist-mill and the adjoining saw-mill for his own account.
The steam saw-mill just east of the village, run by Sutton & Seeley, was started by Tillou & Cable in 1864. R. Osgood's steam saw-mill, near there, was built by Osgood & Lane in 1867. Henry E. Rowland's steam planing-mill, which he built in 1878, completes the list of mills at the village.
L. J. Dane, who has a plow-point works and general repair-shop at Lawrence village, has been engaged in the same business at that place since 1866. He operates also an extensive cider-mill, and is interested with C. L. Northrop in a cider-jelly manufactory, a cider-vinegar works, and an apple-drying establishment, all these being located near the railway depot in Lawrence.
Village Organization. - The village of Lawrence was incorporated under act of Legislature approved March 24, 1869, and in that act the village limits were described as follows: All that tract of country situated in the township of Lawrence as to wit, the east half of the southwest quarter of section 9 and the east half of section 9, the west half of section 10, the north half of the northwest quarter of section 15, and the north half of the northeast quarter of section 16.
The first annual election for village officers was held May 3, 1869, in Chadwick's Hall, on which occasion the aggregate number of votes cast was 139. From the year of the first election to 1879, inclusive, the village presidents, trustees, recorders, and treasurers have been chosen as follows:
The Fire of 1859. - On the night of Dec.31, 1859, the village of Lawrence was visited with a destructive fire, which swept the west side of Paw Paw Street of all its stores, and laid nearly the entire business portion of the town in ashes. The stores burned were two belonging to Chadwick & Bro., and the places of Sylvanus Rowe, J.B. Potter, George Koon, J.L. Phillips, and L. Moulton. The aggregate loss was about $12,500. Measures were, however, speedily taken for the rebuilding of the structures, although the business interests of the village received a severe blow through the disaster, which now would be considered serious, and then was a great public calamity.
The Lawrence Advertiser, now published at Lawrence by Van Hoesen & Bates, was founded by Theodore L. Reynolds in February, 1874, and continued by him until 1876, when he sold it to G.A. Cross, who disposed of it three months afterwards to R.L. Warren. In October, 1879, Mr. Warren transferred his interest to the present publishers, continuing, however, his editorial control. The paper is strongly Republican. It contains 4 pages, or 28 columns of printed matter, and is issued weekly.
Paw Paw Valley Agricultural Society. - In 1863 a stock company was organized for the purpose of holding annual autumn fairs at Lawrence, and in the western part of the village laid out grounds and improved them to the extent of an investment of $5000. After an existence of eight years the company failed, and its effects passing to a new organization called the Paw Paw Valley Agricultural Society, this latter has carried the matter forward since then with much success. The grounds, which are well appointed, cover about 20 acres. For 1879, the President was H.J. Hendryx; of Decatur; the Vice-President, Amos Dopp, of Lawrence; the Secretary, J.B. Potter, of Lawrence; and Treasurer, Charles Rockwell, of Lawrence.
Rising Sun Lodge, No.119, F. and A.M., was chartered Jan. 13, 1860, and is claimed to be the third lodge in the State in point of age. Its charter members were 10 in number, as follows: Emory O. Briggs, M.; J.R. Stevenson, S.W.; John B. Hudson, J.W.; ______ Goodale, R.B. Danks, S.G. Mather, C.H. Betts, Peter Dyer, Clark Van Dervoort, H. Bunnell. The lodge-room, in the Marshall block, Lawrence, is one of the handsomest in the county. The membership Dec. 1, 1879, was 80, when the officers were J.F. Barrows, W.M.; O.B. Wiggins, S.W.; Orrin Crawford, J.W.; Charles Rockwell, T.; George Crawford, S.D.; T.O. Sweet, J.D.; L.J. Dane, Tiler.
Lawrence Chapter, No. 95, R.A.M., was chartered Jan. 20, 1875, with Amos Dopp, S.G. Mather, R.W. Stickney, Eri Bennett, A.S. Haskins, Isaac Monroe, Newell Crissey, William Webster, E.L. Cross, and J.F. Barrows as members. Amos Dopp was H.P.; S.G. Mather, K.; R.W. Stickney, S. The present membership is 55. The officers are as follows: Newell Crissey, H.P.; S.G. Mather, K.; A.S. Haskins, S.; O.B. Wiggins, Sec.; Charles Rockwell, Treas.; G.A. Cross, C. of H.; Eri Bennett, P.S.; J.F. Barrows, R.A.C.; C.W. Sweet, 3d V.; C.R. Webster, 2d V.; T.O. Sweet, 1st V.; M. Ryan, Tiler.
Lawrence Grange, No. 32, was organized in 1874, with 21 members. Meetings are held in Lawrence village once every two weeks. The present officers are William W. Bass, M.; F. Branch, O.; D.S. Bacon, L.; Albert Bryant, Treas.; Charles Jacobs, Sec.; T. Lanphear, Steward.
Railway Communication. - Previous agitation touching the necessity of railway connection with some point, resulted, in 1867, in great activity and enthusiasm in support of a project urged by John R. Baker to build a railway which should connect with the Grand Trunk. The proposition awakened much eager attention, brought out the promised support of local capitalists, filled the community with sanguine expectations, and pushed business briskly ahead, while real estate advanced considerably. Unfortunately the enterprise failed, and the reaction was great and depressing. Other railway projects followed in due time, and each fresh proposition received such local encouragement as disclosed a strong desire for railway conveniences, but nothing in the way of tangible results was reached until 1877, when the narrow-gauge road, known as the Toledo and South Haven, was completed from Paw Paw to Lawrence, and on September 15th of that year the first train reached Lawrence. Since that time the village has enjoyed the convenience of daily rail communication with the outside world.
Rev. Luther Humphrey was the first pastor of the church, and succeeding him Revs. Calvin Clark and D. Jeffers occupied the pulpit, although only the latter was ordained as pastor. At a meeting held Aug. 11, 1844, it was voted "to change the church to Congregational," whereupon all the officers resigned. The church was named the First Congregational Church of Lawrence, and August 12th Watson Pool and Horace Stimson were chosen deacons, and by resolution the church was placed under the care of the Kalamazoo Presbytery.
Until February, 1858, worship was held in the village school-house and the Baptist church. February 20th the society's new church edifice was dedicated, E. Taylor, of Kalamazoo, preaching the dedication sermon.
Since 1844 the church has had for its pastors Revs. J.L. Marvin, Walter Pattinson, John Scotford, Edward Cleveland, Edward Shaw, James Watts. Rev. G.W. Blanchard is the present pastor, and preaches once a week. The church trustees are H.L. Cornwell, F.M. Banta, and Eaton Branch. The deacons are Eaton Branch and Geo. Kelley. The membership Dec. 1, 1879, was 33. The Sunday-school is in a prosperous condition, and is in charge of the pastor.
The First Baptist Church of Lawrence. - A Baptist Church was organized in Paw Paw, April 21, 1838, by six persons, and called the First Baptist Church of Lafayette. March 20, 1841, at a special meeting held in the house of Henry G. Monroe, near Lawrence, Orrin Sutton and wife, Peter Clark, and Simeon Brooks, of Lawrence, were received as members, Peter Clark was chosen deacon, and the name of the church changed to that of the Van Buren County Church, located at Paw Paw and Brush Creek. At that meeting it was resolved, "That we adopt the following articles in addition to our former ones: 'As we believe faith establishes the law as a rule of articles, and is inseparably connected with good works, consequently we believe it to be inconsistent with a profession of religion to sell or purchase lottery tickets, vend or use any intoxicating liquors, except as a medicine or for mechanical purposes, or to resort to any method of personal gratification or profit which will corrupt good morals or endanger the salvation of others.' "
May 5, 1841, at a meeting of the church in the Brush Creek school-house, Laura A. Barnes (now Mrs. Allen Rice) was received by baptism. At a council convened at the Brush Creek school-house, May 5, 1841, at which delegates from the churches of Edwardsburg and La Grange were in attendanee, the young church was recognized. Its members numbered then 14, as follows: Stafford Godfrey, Ursula Conklin, Archibald Buys and wife, Luther Branch, Henry G. Monroe and wife, Peter Clark, Sally Heath, Simeon Brooks, Orrin Sutton and wife, Amanda Briggs, and Laura Adelia Barnes. Rev. William T. Bly was engaged as pastor, and preaching through 1841, added 11 persons to the church membership. May, 1842, the church joined the St. Joseph River Baptist Association, and until 1844 struggled feebly without a pastor. From 1844 to 1845, Rev. Moses Clark was the pastor, but from 1845 to 1851 no regular public worship was held, and matters were far from prosperous, the organization of a new church in Paw Paw in 1844 having materially weakened the membership.
In 1851 the advent of Rev. E.S. Dunham as pastor gave the church a new lease of life, and under his zealous and active care much prosperity was gained. During his pastorate, which extended from 1851 to 1858, the name of the church was changed, Sept. 6, 1851, to the First Baptist Church of Lawrence. The First Baptist Church society was organized Nov. 29, 1851, with Orrin Sutton, Allen Rice, and O.S. Witter as trustees The building of a church edifice was commenced January, 1853, and in June, 1854, the church withdrew from the St. Joseph River Association to join the Kalamazoo River Association. The first church trustees were Thomas De Wolf, O.S. Witter, D.T. Fox, Allen Rice, and Horace Dowd, and although the church was opened for worship in 1854, - three denominations using it in common, - it was slow of completion and was not dedicated until 1865. A union Sunday-school was organized with the Congregationalists in 1854 and continued until 1858, when the latter occupied their own house of worship. After Mr. Dunham's retirement, in 1858, there was no pastor until 1861, when Rev. Albert Gore, of Hartford, was engaged and preached one year. His successors have been Revs. William H. Simons, Donald McGregor, H. Hayden, George S. Martin, J.W. Megan, and S.A. Cole. Mr. Cole has been the pastor since 1878, and preaches every Sunday. The membership is now about 80. The deacons are Allen Rice, H.G. Barnes, and Henry Donaldson. The trustees are H.G. Barnes, Henry Donaldson, Levi Firmin, Lyman Moore, and L. Alden. The Sabbath-school numbers 40 scholars, and is in charge of Superintendent William Merritt and five teachers.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lawrence was organized about 1840, and began to hold worship in the village school-house. In the absence of records referring to the early history of the church, the relation of that portion of the church's history is restricted to oral evidetice. Upon the erection of the union school-house in Lawrence, the house previously in use was sold to the Methodist society, and remodeled into a house of worship. As such it still serves. The present pastor is Rev. V.G. Boyington, whose charge includes Lawrence, West Lawrence, and Hartford. The present church trustees are W.H. Corey, E.J. Lane, and Messrs. Ives, Moden, Cornwell, and Brainard. The class-leader is E. J. Lane, and the church membership about 40. The Sabbath-school, which is in a flourishing condition, has an average attendance of from 30 to 40, and is in charge of T.J. Parker as superintendent.
Latter-Day Saints. - In the "Nauvoo" district, just west and north of Prospect Lake, exists a religious organization known as Latter-Day Saints, and by many incorrectly called a Mormon community. The organization was effected in the year 1868, by one E.C. Briggs, a traveling elder, with a membership of about 10, and called a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Since 1868 preaching has been enjoyed pretty regularly every Sabbath in the Nauvoo school-house. The church membership was at one time about 50, but is now reduced to 12. The last elder of the church was Columbus Scott, who preached until November, 1879, since which time there has been no preaching, although meetings have been held every Sabbath as usual. The present church officials are Seth M. Bass, Priest; David Bentley, Deacon; Henry Manee, Teacher.
First Free Methodist Church of Lawrence. - Catherine Coombs, Caroline Erdman, and Jane E. Ransom were the only members of the Free Methodist Church at its preliminary organization, Aug. 27, 1871. At a second meeting, held September 17th, Lawton Draper and wife, Stephen Ransom, and Hannah Say were received into membership, and a permanent organization of a class was effected by the election of Lawton Draper as leader. The organization was effected in the Baptist meeting-house by Rev. Edward P. Hart, district chairman of the Coldwater district, attached to the Michigan Conference. Until October, 1875, when the present house of worship was erected, services were held in the Baptist church once a fortnight. Upon its organization the church was included in the Waverly and Lawrence circuit, and has had for its pastors Revs. Ellsworth Leonardson, S.C. Stringham, J.W. Sharp, H. Ferguson, W.H. James, and J. Lawrence, the latter being now in the second year of his pastorate. The membership is 25. The trustees are Daniel Abrams and Stephen Ransom. The steward is Stephen Ransom, and the class-leader James Thompson. The Sunday-school contains six classes and is in charge of the pastor.
Disciple Church. - In March, 1874, Rev. W.W. Johnson, an evangelist from Illinois, stopped at Lawrence during a tour through Michigan, and finding there seven persons of the Disciple faith anxious for a church organization, formed the church at a meeting held in the Baptist meeting-house March 22d. The seven persons who were admitted into the membership were T.O. Sweet and wife, Michael Ryan and wife, Alice Denton, Luanie Howe, and Mary Howe. Nightly revival meetings were held in the Baptist church until April 6th, when the further use of the house being denied, and the church failing to increase beyond the original seven, the organization was discontinued.
No further attempt was made towards reviving the church until the winter of 1878, when Elder Levi Dewey, of Dowagiac, who had been holding services at the Red Creek school-house, held a meeting at Fisk's hall, in Lawrence, and there, with his Red Creek school-house congregation and members of the faith in Lawrence, organized a church, whose membership then aggregated 25. When Elder Dewey organized the church he removed to Lawrence, and until September, 1879, held services every Sunday. He then returned to his farm near Dowagiac, and since then has preached for the Lawrence Church once a fortnight. Cross' hall is now used as a place of worship and for the Sessions of a Sabbath-school, which was organized in the winter of 1878, and had at one time 45 pupils. The church membership is now 65. The elders are Stephen Plopper and T.O. Sweet. The deacons are M.H. Plopper and Merrick Aldrich. Michael Ryan is clerk and treasurer.
Lawrence High School - The only graded school in the township is the one at Lawrence village. It occupies a fine brick edifice, which was completed May 1, 1869, at a cost of $11,117. It has four departments, in charge of a principal and three assistants, and during 1879 instructed an average of 225 pupils, of whom 30 were non-residents.
The condition of the public schools of Lawrence, as
shown from the annual report made Sept. 1, 1879, is as
Number of districts (whole, 5; fractional, 2) 7
(Number of) scholars of school age 533
Average attendance 526
Number of school-houses (brick, 1; frame, 6) 7
Value of property $14,800
Number of teachers employed 18
Amount paid teachers $2398.90
The school directors for 1879 were E. Williams, A.S. Haskin, Arthur Jennings, L.H. Clark, F.L. Spencer, John Robinson, Howland Place.
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