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Excerpt from the Book "History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan: Its Prominent Men and Pioneers"

D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia, 1880.


By David Schwartz

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In 1837, Rev. Samuel L. Julian, a Free-Will Baptist preacher, settled in Porter, and immediately organized in the Kinney settlement a church of that denomination, which for a time flourished briskly. Julian removed to the far West in 1838, after selling his farm to Jacob Wright. After Mr. Julian's time Elder Dodge, a Baptist minister, preached in the settlement. In the west, Rev. Wilder Mack, a Protestant Methodist preacher, held occasional services at the house of George S. Frees. Harvey Barker, from Wayne County, was a settler in 1841, and was also a local Methodist Episcopal preacher. For some time after his settlement he preached every Sunday at the dwelling-house of some settler.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Porter.-A Methodist Episcopal class was organized in Porter as far back as 1844 at Gravel Lake, and meetings were held in Roderick Bell's cooper-shop, as well as in town schoolhouses. The first class-leader of whom there is any recollection was Mr. Mitchelson, after whom, in 1847, Myron Hall was chosen. The class was on the Paw Paw circuit, and its first pastor was Rev. Mr. Reynolds. The Methodist Episcopal classes now in Porter - three in number - are attached to the Lawton charge, of which Rev. T.T. George is pastor. Their aggregate membership is 75, and they are called respectively South Porter, Porter Centre, and Number Nine, their places of worship being township schoolhouses.

A Freewill Baptist Church was organized in 1858 by Rev. Edward Root, of Ohio, who then came to Porter as a settler. He was the church's pastor continuously until 1870, when he moved farther west. For the past year the church has had no pastor. Elder Daniel Osborn holds services, however, once a month. The church attendance includes about 20 members. Isaac Parish and Abner Munger are the deacons, and James Bradt the clerk.

The First Methodist Protestant Church was organized March 14, 1865, by Elder Samuel Reeves, as the West Porter class, in the school-house on section 17. The organizing members were B. White and wife, Augustus Weldon and wife, Merritt Tappen and wife, Elias Harmon and wife, John Stuyvesant and wife, Miles Van Sickle, Malintha Harmon, and Leonard Harmon. The Valley class was organized Jan. 3, 1866, with 33 members, and the North Porter class Feb. 8, 1866, with a membership of 13. The West Porter class was attached to the Van Buren circuit, in which it was the first. The pastors who succeeded Elder Reeves were Revs. Nichols, Bayne, Newell, Reed, Phillips, Byers, Murray, and Clarke. Elder Reeves, the first pastor, is in charge now for the second time. The present membership of the three classes is 80.

In 1867 the society erected, on section 20, the fine church building which is now in use. The church trustees now serving are Augustus Weldon, Henry Corey, Warren Wood, Elias Harmon, and James Ellis.

The Christian Advent Church, worshiping in the Bell school-house, was organized in 1871 by Rev. James Ferris, of Buchanan, at the Porter Centre school-house, with 25 members. Mr. Ferris continued to preach until 1878, since when no regular services have been held. The membership is now about 30. John Carver is the deacon and Peter Rock the clerk.


The first school-teacher in Porter of whom there appears to be any recollection was Warren S. Corey (brother to Nelson Corey), who taught in the Kinney settlement. Sarah, daughter of Nathan Cook, taught the first school in the Bell neighborhood, and the second one at Porter Centre - the first teacher at the latter place being Josiah Judson. Loring Barker taught a school in 1841 in Miles Van Sickles' log cabin. The township has now ten school districts, of which six were organized in 1845. The appended table will show the condition of the public schools as per official report for the year 1879:

The school directors for 1879 were George D. Boyce, Charles Hooper, J.W. Burlington, L.M. Walden, C.W. Lohr, A.J. Hall, D. Cornish, D.C. Van Antwerp, J.H. Hall, S. Beach.


This grange was organized April 26, 1873, with 19 members. The first Master was George D. Boyce, whose successors in that office have been James W. Burlington, Elijah Warner. and John McLane.

The present membership is 50, and the officers as follows: John McLane, M.; Russell V. Munger, O.; George H. Weldon, L.; Elias Harmon, Chaplain; Mrs. Elijah Warner, Sec.; Mrs. Manasseh Kern, Treas.; Leonard Bates, Steward; Henry Yetter, Assistant Steward; Mrs. George Weldon, Pomona; Miss Mary Kern, Flora; Mrs. Samuel Bartlett, Ceres; Mrs. J.P. Barker, Stewardess. Regular sessions are held at the town hall, Porter Centre.



The grandfather of this gentleman, Asaph Bartlett, was a native of Massachusetts, as was also his father, William L. Bartlett. The latter, at the age of nineteen, married Abigail Warren, and that couple were the parents of five children - three sons and two daughters. Of these Samuel Bartlett was the oldest, having been born in Genesee Co., N. Y., Feb. 16, 1816, to which county his parents had moved from Massachusetts, and where they occupied a farm. At the age of sixteen years Samuel Bartlett was deprived of his mother, and from that time until he was twenty-one he attended school winters and worked for monthly wages during the summers. His school days were over after he became of age, but his days of laboring for hire were not, and for seven years he found employment at different occupations, a portion of the time being spent in a store.

The latter was detrimental to his health, and he was forced to begin again on a farm. March 24, 1844, he was married to Miss Charlotte Parsons, daughter of David and Lucy Parsons. She was born in Le Roy, Genesee Co., N.Y., July 9,1825, and was one of a family of six children, of whom but two were sons. Her grandfather's name was Aaron Parsons; her grandmother was of Welsh descent. Her parents were natives of Vermont - the rugged "Green Mountain State." Samuel Bartlett and wife became the parents of one child, a daughter, Helen A., born Feb. 8, 1849. She became the wife of Russel Munger. After Mr. Bartlett was married he worked a farm for two years on shares, after which he, in company with his brother, purchased one hundred acres of land, and farmed it together until 1853, when they sold it. In 1856, his health being poor and a change appearing necessary, Mr. Bartlett came to Michigan, and purchased forty acres on section 25, Porter township, Van Buren County, including the site of his present residence. He has since added forty acres to his farm, and the whole is excellent in quality. It was covered with heavy timber when he came into possession, and in the respect of clearing he had all the experience of the earlier pioneers. Mr. Bartlett's mind in earlier years was imbued with the teachings of the Baptist Church, but his religious views are at present of a liberal nature. He allows all the privilege of believing as they choose, and respects their opinions. His political status is that of a Democrat, but he has never taken an active part in township politics.


Sanford Corey, the sixth in a family of nine children, - three sons and six daughters, - was born in the State of New York, May 7, 1821. In 1823 his father removed, with the family, to Ohio, and in 1835 the son came with an uncle, Samuel Corey, to Michigan, and lived with him five years. He then found employment at clearing land by contract, and soon purchased a tract for himself in Kalamazoo County, which he subsequently sold, and made another purchase of sixty acres on section 26, in Porter township, Van Buren Co. To this he has added from time to time, and now owns a fine farm of two hundred acres. Jan. 31, 1844, Mr. Corey was married to Oliva J., daughter of Jabez and Eleanor Matthews, who was born April 25, 1826. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Corey were the following: Oliva S., born Aug. 15, 1845, died Oct. 17, 1876; Charles M., born Sept. 17, 1847, died April 21, 1866; Ella M., born April 18, 1852. Mr. Corey was one of the first to settle and clear a farm in this portion of the township, and it is related that the stories he told of his experience in those early days were interesting and amusing. His wife died Nov. 9, 1875, and he survived her only until Aug. 1,1876. His daughter Ella, who causes this sketch to be inserted in this work, was married, Sept.28, 1873, to Benjamin S. Harris, a native of Kalamazoo, at which place his people settled at an early date. He had one brother and one sister. Mr. Corey was a member of and an active worker in, the Free-Will Baptist Church. In his political views he was a Democrat, and held various positions of trust in the township, including the offices of supervisor and justice of the peace. He was very much respected by his fellow citizens, and his loss was sincerely regretted. His early educational advantages were quite limited.


Nelson Corey (pictured at right) was born in Vermont, Aug. 19, 1816, and was the fourth son in a family of nine children. His father, Jacob Corey, was a native of Vermont, and was married at the age of eighteen to Miss Betsey Durham, she being but sixteen years old. In the year 1818 he moved to Ashtabula, Ohio, where he remained until his death, which occurred in 1828. Nelson was then twelve years of age, and from that time until he was twenty-one he worked by the month. In the spring of 1837 he came to Michigan, and in 1840 bought his first piece of land, on section 26, Porter township. On the 12th of May, 1842, he married Miss Lucina Kinney, whose people were very early Settlers in the township, and lived happily until Aug. 2, 1855, when death separated them. Mr. and Mrs. Corey were the parents of seven children, as follows: Sanford, born April 8, 1843, died July 16, 1843; Edward S., born October 1, 1844; Henry J., born May 26, 1846; Martha L., born May 14' 1848; Horace H., born November 26,1849; Almon W., born August 12, 1853; Willis N., born August 2, 1855. Mr. Corey was married, in January, 1856, to Delila Fletcher, daughter of one of the early settlers of the township, and to them were born two children, - Delcena R., November 11, 1857, and Mary U., March 3, 1859. With this wife Mr. Corey lived until July 30, 1865, when death again entered his home and left him a widower. His childrem are all living, except two, some being settled in Michigan and others farther west. Mr. Corey is an active member of the Protestant Methodist Church. In politics he is a Republican. Since the death of his wife he has resided with his son Henry, who married Rohama Anderson, a daughter of one of the pioneers of the county. Mr. Corey is now sixty- five years of age, and has lived in Michigan forty-three years. He has witnessed the transition of a wilderness into a garden, and sees a productive and beautiful region in the place of a land covered with a mighty and unbroken forest. The history of Van Buren County would scarcely be complete without some account of the life of Mr. Corey.


This gentleman - a view of whose home appears in this volume (Note: I do not have this picture at this time) - was born in Ohio, August 22, 1837, and came to Van Buren County with his father, Luke Munger, in 1839. When he had reached the age of twenty-one years he went to Minnesota, with a capital of fifty dollara, and pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land, upon which he remained about one year, and returned to Michigan to assist his father with his farm duties. In June, 1861, he sold his Minnesota land for five hundred dollars, and in August, 1862, purchased forty acres on section 34, in this township (Porter). That was disposed of in 1864, and he bought sixty acres on which he now resides, on section 28; to this he has added until his present farm consists of one hundred and forty-nine acres. On the 13th of August, 1865, Mr. Munger was married to Helen A., daughter and only child of Samuel and Charlotte Bartlett, who came to Michigan in 1856 from the State of New York. Her parents are residents of the township of Porter. Mr. and Mrs. Munger are the parents of four children, as follows: Frank R., born November 24, 1868, died March 27, 1871 ; Charlotte E., born June 10, 1872; Berenice A., born July 23, 1874, died March 6, 1875; Alberta M., born April 20, 1878. Mrs. Munger was born February 8, 1849. Mr. Munger is a Democrat in politics and has held various township offices; is enthusiastic and energetic in all his undertakings, and has been blessed with prosperity.


The grandfather of this gentleman came from Germany to Pennsylvania at an early day, and settled in Lehigh County. His son, John Nicholas Kern, was born in that county in 1764, and was one of a family of ten children, - seven sons and three daughters. He was married to Catharine Sager, and was a farmer by occupation. His children were ten in number, as were his father's, and divided in the same ratio, and of these the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this notice was the youngest, his birth occurring in the same county in Pennsylvania, Oct. 31, 1809. When he was ten years old he suffered the loss of his father, after which he remained with his mother until he was eighteen, when he commenced to learn the tobacconist's trade at which he worked about eighteen years. In 1840 he was married to Miss Caroline Herlan, daughter of Jacob and Caroline Herlan, she being the oldest in a family of five children, who were all girls but one. She was born in Germany Feb. 7, 1820, and came to America with her father in 1832, the family settling in New York. In 1836 they removed to Detroit, Mich., where the daughter was married to Mr. Kern. For five years after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Kern resided in Detroit, and in the spring of 1846 came to Van Buren County and settled upon the present home, in the township of Porter, he having purchased it ten years before. It was then entirely new, not a spot cleared even large enough on which to erect a house. To his first purchase of one hundred and sixty acres one hundred and twenty have since been added, aggregating two hundred and eighty acres. Mr. and Mrs. Kern are the parents of six children, as follows: Frances Albina, born Oct. 24, 1841, married John W. Alexander; Caroline Catherine, born Jan. 22,1844, died Feb.21. 1852; Mary Cornelia, born Nov. 19, 1845; Clara Maria, born March 5, 1848, married Alfred Bayliss, who is a teacher at Sterling, Ill., where Mr. Alexander is also living and practicing law; Elizabeth Warren, born Feb. 7, 1850, died Jan. 7, 1853; Julius M., born June 10, 1853, married Margia, daughter of James Young, and now living in this township. Mary C. Kern, unmarried, is living at home. Mr. Kern's education was acquired by attending the district schools during the winters, his summers being spent at hard labor. He is not a member of any religious denomination, and is liberal in his views on religious subjects, but his life has been one of uprightness. In politics he is a Republican, although not an active politician. He has held the office of supervisor one term, and has been a justice of the peace for twenty years.

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