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Township Hisotry

A fascinating link is here at Michigan County Histories . It is part of a digital library of documents scanned in by the University of Michigan.  This document about Shiawassee County, including New Haven Township, was written in 1880.  Some of the text follows;

 NEW HAVEN was among the earliest of the townships of Shiawassee County in point of settlement, and was probably, in 1837, the extreme northern limit of civilization in the valley of the Shiawassee. It is described in the government survey as township 8 north, of range 3 east, and joins Saginaw County on the north, Caledonia on the south, Hazelton on the east, and the township of Rush on the west.

The surface of New Haven is generally level, with very little rolling land. An exception to this is, however, observed in the immediate vicinity of the hamlet of West Haven, where some elevations vary the scene and greatly enhance its picturesque beauty. An extensive tamarack swamp formerly existed in the township, but careful drainage has converted this into the most fertile land found within its limits. The soil may be generally described as a clay loam mixed with gravel. To the north and west sand prevails to some extent, while clay predominates in the south and on the eastern border. The former marshy land in the north and east is now well cultivated and very productive. The soil yields a good quality of wheat, while grass is always a prolific crop, and corn well repays the labor of the farmer. The report of farm products for 1874 gives the number of acres of wheat harvested in 1873 as ten hundred and fifteen, which produced fifteen thousand nine hundred and forty bushels, while the yield of corn fiom five hundred and forty-two acres was seventeen thousand four hundred and ninety-two bushels. Of other grains, nineteen thousand two hundred and twentyfive bushels were harvested, and fifteen hundred and fifty tons of hay were cut. The yield of latter years is greatly in excess of this, as a result of the improvement of much of the land of the township. Fruits find here a congenial soil, though the apple is the staple product of the orchards. Peaches are grown, as are also plums and cherries, but not in great abundance. The prevailing timber is elm, beech, maple, and oak, some specimens of which attain an unusual size. The Shiawassee River flows through the northwest portion of the township, and affords excellent water-power, which is utilized at West Haven for manufacturing. SixMile Creek, a considerable stream, enters the township at section 33, and flowing northwest pours its waters into the -' By E. O. Wagner.

The earliest settler who invaded the forests of New Haven was Horace Hart. Not a white man had yet penetrated this dense wilderness with a view to making a permanent home within its boundaries. Mr. Hart came from Monroe Co, Mich., in 1836, accompanied by four sons,-Lewis, Robert C., Joel A., and Joseph W.,-all of whom located in the township. He entered four hundred and eighty acres of land on various sections of the township, and gave each of his sons eighty acres, retaining himself one hundred and sixty on section 35, upon which he settled. He placed his family on their arrival, in Owosso, while he, with his sons, proceeded to the tract on the latter section and built a cabin, which one of the sons, with his wife, occupied until the family a few months later removed to it. Mr. Hart, with the abundant aid which his family afforded, made rapid progress in the labor of clearing, and at the expiration of the first year had improved ten acres, a portion of which was sown with wheat. He was for some time comparatively isolated, the nearest neighbor being four miles distant. At his home was celebrated the earliest nuptials in New Haven, Miss Nancy Hart, his daughter, having been united to Mr. Thomas R. Young. In this family also occurred the first death, that of his son Robert C., in 1848. Mr. Hart himself survived to an advanced age, and died in 1867 at the home of his son, Joseph W. Hart, who located in the east portion of the township, and later on section 19, where he improved the land and remained until his death in 1870. The homestead is now occupied by his son William, who is one of the most enterprising farmers in New Haven. Lewis Hart lived upon the same section. Joel A. Hart removed to Caledonia, where he died in 1862. In 1837 occurred an incident which for a brief time caused some consternation in the neighborhood immediately adjacent. Miss Nancy Hart and a younger sister, aged five years, while strolling in the woods lost their way, and from Sabbath morning until the following evening no trace of the wanderers could be discovered. The settlers for miles around joined in the search, and they were at last discovered two and a half miles from the paternal roof, nearly exhausted with hunger and fright.

The second of the earlier pioneers who found a home in New Haven was Richard Freeman, an Englishman by birth, who came to Michigan very soon after his arrival from the shores of Great Britain. Peter Reid, a resident of the city of New York, purchased one hundred and sixty acres on section 20, upon which he placed Mr. Freeman, who began at once the work of clearing, the township at that time being totally destitute of any suggestions of civilization other than were indicated by the small opening made by Horace Hart. Mr. Freeman effected a considerable improvement upon this place, but ultimately removed to one hundred and sixty acres which he purchased on section 21. He afterwards became a resident of the township of Rush, and is now located upon section 30 in New Haven. At the house of Richard Freeman was held the earliest township-meeting, the voters on that occasion being Horace Hart, Lewis Hart, William Durkee, Humphrey Wheeler, Richard Freeman, John Dunlap, and Spencer W. Stout. Mr. Freeman has been during his residence in the township active in its interests, and is esteemed as a most excellent citizen. Humphrey Wheeler may be mentioned as the third settler in point of arrival. He had been a former resident of Chenango Co., N. Y., from whence he emigrated to Oakland County in 1836, and to New Haven in the spring of 1838. He removed to and settled on eighty acres section 15, which had been given Mrs. Wheeler by her father. A cabin twelve by sixteen feet in dimensions was immediately constructed, covered with troughs and having a floor made of hewn logs. The box of a sled was dismembered and did duty as a door after some remodeling. During the construction of this modest dwelling Richard Freeman extended the family a cordial hospitality. The family of Mr. Wheeler were victims to chills and fever, which prevented the accomplishment of a large clearing the first year. At this time a pilgrimage of four miles was necessary to procure water for household use. Indians were frequent visitors, and bears caused much consternation among the cattle.

The following incident is given by John N. Ingersoll in "Sketches of Shiawassee County:" "As an illustration of the trouble which the pioneer settlers encountered from the close visits of these 'varmints,' James B. Wheeler, Esq., relates to us the fact that when his father, Humphrey Wheeler, came into the county, in 1838, settling in what is now New Haven, he drove with him from Pontiac three good-sized hogs; and on the second night after his arrival the entire family were roused from their slumbers by the excessive squealing of one of the porkers, and on going out to discover the cause found a wolf in close contact with the hog, the latter evidently getting the worst of it. The wolf made its escape and the hog was saved, only, however, to be carried off the next night by a bear,the last of his pigship. This same bear, a bold and plucky fellow, was just afterwards supposed to have been captured by baiting and a spring rifle, set for him by the renowned John Pope. It was on a Saturday night, and early next morning John was seen wending his way to Corunna, with the carcass of old Bruin and two significant jugs, loaded on a ' stone boat,' drawn by oxen of ' Pharaoh's lean kine.'"

In 1855, Mr. Wheeler erected the spacious hotel familiarly known as " Wheeler's Tavern," in which he became well known as the genial host until his death, in June, 1860. He was the earliest supervisor of the township, and filled other important civil offices. Spencer W. Stout was a pioneer of 1839 from the Empire State, and made a location upon eighty acres on section 4. Mr. Wheeler received him hospitably on his arrival, and entertained him until a house could be built upon his land. He made a small clearing, but finding the solitary life of a bachelor monotonous very speedily obtained the consent of Miss Rosanna Hart to become his wife. This was the second marriage- in the township. Mr. Stout in 1868 removed to Tennessee, but later resumed his residence in Michigan.

John Dunlap was the earliest settler of the year 1840, when he purchased eighty acres on section 33, remaining at Owosso while making the preliminary improvements upon the land. His progress was not rapid, but a productive clearing ultimately took the place of the wilderness that greeted his arrival. Mr. Dunlap remained upon this farm until his death. He was one of the earliest inspectors of election, and filled other offices of importance. William Durkee, a previous resident of Oakland County, was also a pioneer of 1840. He located upon two hundred acres on section 29, and bought an additional forty on section 32, which had been entered by him in 1836. He remained with Mr. Wheeler (whose brother-in-law he was) until a shelter for his family was completed, and on their removal he at once began clearing. Mr. Durkee made some progress in his improvements, but found the soil of New Haven less suited to his ideas than that of Oakland County, to which he returned in 1850. Peter Reid, whose name has previously been associated with that of Richard Freeman, was a resident of New York City, and entered land in this township in 1836. He was for a while a settler, and afterwards came for short periods, at one time remaining for two consecutive years. He cannot, however, be spoken of as a permanent resident.

Roswell Shipman, a pioneer of 1842, came from Monroe Co., Mich., and located upon eighty acres on section 23. The land was entirely unimproved on his arrival. He erected a structure of logs to which the family removed, and Mr. Shipman began the labor of underbrushing and clearing. He was dependent upon his own exertions, and found industry and perseverance indispensable qualities to his success. Mr. Shipman afterwards removed to Caledonia, where his death occurred. Several of his grandchildren are still residents of New Haven.

Czardus Clark, a former resident of Chautauqua Co., N. Y., located in 1843 upon eighty acres on section 29, which was a dense forest with no indication of civilization near. John Dunlap was living, and had a small clearing, on section 33, to which he and his family were welcomed while building a cabin of logs. Mr. Clark found ready employment in the felling of trees and clearing of brush. Deer were readily shot from the dooryard or supplied by the Indians, who traversed the forest on fishing and hunting expeditions. Wolves were also occasional visitors, though not so obtrusive as in other portions of the township. Mr. Clark survived until 1875, when he died in New Haven. His sons, Lorenzo and Ashley D., came at the same date, both of whom located upon section 29. The former is deceased, and the latter now resides upon section 28. Three other sons, Czardus, J. Franklin, and Charles B., are all farmers on section 28.

Jesse B. Amidon removed from Oakland County and selected land upon section 21. John Dunlap, a relative of Mrs. Amidon, welcomed them on their arrival. There was no highway other than the State road, and some difficulty was experienced in reaching his purchase. There was not a saw-mill in the township, Owosso and Corunna being depended on to supply the lumber for building purposes. Mr. Amidon found a journey of sixty miles to Pontiac necessary to obtain flour and other supplies. He did not long submit to these privations, but removed from the township. In 1859 he became a resident of Hazelton, his present home. Francis R. Pease came from New York State to Livingston County in 1838, and to New Haven in 1843. He first located upon section 18, and later upon section 21, where he had forty acres, Mr. Amidon having formerly occupied the place and built a log house to which he removed. During the winter of his arrival there occurred the heaviest snow-storm remembered, which so obstructed the roads as to make travel very difficult. Snow or deep water as a consequence of defective drainage covered the highways. At the house of Mr. Pease very early religious services were held, being conducted by Elder Pattison. Mr. Pease died in 1856, and his widow still occupies the homestead.

Walter R. Seymour removed from Caledonia to this township in 1842, and located upon eighty acres, entered by Trumbull Cary, on section 18, later purchased by Lewis Finley. He built a log house upon this land, which was improved, and occupied until his death. His widow still survives, and is the present owner of the place. Mr. Seymour was prominent in the earlier interests of the township and held several town offices. Isaac W. Rush purchased of C. M. Boutwell eighty acres on section 21, upon which he settled in 1844. He remained but a brief time and removed to New York State, where he died.

Dwight Dimmock came from Owosso to New Haven in 1844, and located upon one hundred and twenty acres on section 28, which is at present occupied by C. B. Clark. He began a clearing and improved a few acres, but finding his labors uncongenial, returned again to his former residence. John Pope, a somewhat eccentric character, came to New Haven in 1844, and bought land on section 19. He afterwards removed to section 34, upon the Lewis Hart farm, and, after a somewhat migratory life, settled in Owosso, where he died, in 1866.

Lewis Finley purchased, in 1845, the whole of section 18, which was entered in 1835 by Trumbull Cary. A portion of this he located upon and improved. On his death it was inherited by his sons Aaron and Nathan, who now occupy it.

The Dumond family, consisting of father and sons, made their advent in 1849, having been former residents of the State of New York. They improved a farm on section 29. Some members of the family are still residents of the township.

George Ott came from New York State to Monroe County in 1847, and purchased meanwhile, in the township of New Haven, two hundred and forty acres on section 19. He employed other parties to do the clearing, and erected on Six-Mile Creek the first saw-mill in the township, which for several years was run profitably. He afterwards divided the early purchase among his children and purchased a farm of ninety acres on section 18, the site of his present residence.

Daniel Young, a pioneer from Wayne Co., N. Y., located, in 1852, upon forty acres on section 15, which he subsequently increased to eighty, and upon which he erected a substantial residence. At this date there were no roads intersecting the State road, and no family had located within a distance of twenty miles north. Humphrey Wheeler-one mile distant-was the nearest neighbor. He offered the family hospitality for a period of six weeks, while Mr. Young obtained employment in the harvest fields. He built a house of boards, which afforded him a comfortable home for fourteen years, after which his present dwelling was erected. Indians of the Fisher tribe were frequent visitors. They were great beggars, and did not maintain the established reputation of the race for honesty. Mr. Young has two children residing in the township, to whom he gave each forty acres on the same section.

Rev. William Cochran removed from Buffalo, N. Y., to Washtenaw County in 1837, and to the township of New Haven in 1852, where he purchased of Warren Hart the east half of the northwest quarter of section 23. Some improvements had been made on the land and a log house erected, though few settlers had yet arrived. He devoted much time to the cultivation of this farm, and also became familiar to the residents in the exercise of his sacred calling, having been one of the earliest preachers in New Haven. Mr. and Mrs. Cochran now reside in Corunna, the latter having been a very early pioneer in Washtenaw County.

Phineas Burch came in 1854 from Niagara Co., N. Y., and made a home upon eighty acres on section 16, upon which there were no improvements. The State road having passed his farm afforded him advantages of travel not enjoyed by many of his neighbors. He built a log cabin on his arrival and effected a clearing of three acres the first year. His trade of carpenter and joiner, however, occupied much of his time. The farm is still his home, which by cultivation has been made very productive.

Chester Cram, who preceded Mr. Burch by one year, came from Oakland County, whence he removed from New York State. He purchased one hundred and sixty acres on section 27, together with an additional eighty which he sold on arrival. On the remainder he located and erected a house of logs, meanwhile availing himself of the temporary abode offered by Roswell Shipman. Mr. Cram cleared ten acres the first year, and continued improving the land until his death in 1866. His two sons, Horace and Levi, live upon sections 27 and 22, respectively, and with them their mother alternately resides.

James H. Desbrough removed from Ann Arbor to New Haven in 1855, having come direct from England to the former place in 1852. He located upon eighty acres on section 26, which was entirely uncleared. He remained with William Cochran while building a temporary home, and soon after had effected a considerable clearing. Mr. Desbrough erected a substantial residence in 1869, but lived only one year to enjoy it. His widow now occupies the farm.

S. H. and J. Alliton came with their grandfather, Roswell Shipman, to the township in 1855. They engaged in daily labor until the opening of the war, when they entered the army. After their terms of service had expired, each purchased a farm on section 33. This land was uncleared, but has since been rendered by careful labor among the most valuable farms in New Haven, and upon each is erected a substantial residence.

Samuel P. Conklin came from Rockland Co., N. Y., in 1857, and located upon forty acres on section 22. In the midst of the forest which covered this land a frame house was standing. that had been erected by J. J. Garner, a circuit preacher, of whom he purchased the property. In 1869, Mr. Conklin removed to his present farm of eighty acres on section 28. Daniel Conklin preceded him one year, and located upon section 22, where he still resides.

Patrick Riley came from Flint to this township in 1857, having purchased eighty acres on section 24. He remained with Jesse D. Hanford on section 26 while building, and immediately after began chopping. A clearing of ten acres was the result of his first year's labor. In the spring a fine crop covered this land. He has been successful in his farming pursuits, and now has two hundred acres on section 26 and eighty on an adjoining section. Edward Murray came at the same time as his friend Riley, with whom he remained until a house had been erected on section 25, where he owned eighty acres. He still resides upon this land, where he has a well-improved farm.

Michael Hart, who was formerly employed upon the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad, purchased one hundred and sixty acres on section 36 in 1860. It had been formerly occupied and some improvements had been made upon the land. He is rapidly cultivating this farm, having nearly half of it now covered by growing crops.

Christopher Rochm come to the township in 1861, and remained for a year at Six-Mile Creek, now West Haven. He meanwhile purchased eighty acres on section 32, and while building upon it remained upon the Dunlap farm. He has greatly improved this land, and still resides upon it. His son, William H., is the present clerk of the township. Among other names that may with propriety be mentioned on the roll of pioneers are those of Oliver Hopkins, John Desbrough, H. W. Wheeler, Lewis Rowe, P. B. Soule, John T. Shepard, Willis Taylor, Ira Root, J. R. Knight, William M. Lindsey, A. D. Whitney, H. J. Hopkins, and O. C. Gaylord.

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