Bloomfield Blossoms: p. 68-69 Creator
Smith, Kay, 1925- Institution
Bloomfield Township Public Library Subject
Bloomfield Township (Mich.) -- History Subject
Land settlement -- Michigan -- Bloomfield Township --History Item Number
part of 'Bloomfield Blossoms' by Kay Smith Type
text, image Format
FAMILY GROUPS EMIGRATED IN THE EARLY DAYS
We can easily trace the next settlers as they bought land
and built log houses along the Saginaw Trail going north.
Rarely did a man or a couple arrive alone. They were
accompanied by relatives ranging from parents, sisters and
brothers and their husbands and wives to nephews and
neices. Three generations was a usual group.
Since women in this era were rarely referred to in legal or
even historical annals, the relationship of the men to one
another was the customary phrase. "Dr. Ziba Swan and his
son-in-law Sidney Dole" the accounts say. When the Swans
arrived in 1821 and settled near the Rouge at Quarton and
Woodward today, they also had other local connections.
Daniel Ball, who lived in Birmingham, was the father of
Horatio Ball of the famous and infamous Ball Line Road,
and Horatio was Dr. Swan's brother-in-law. Daniel's friend,
Captain Hervey Parke sent for his brother, Dr. Ezra Parke,
and the Dr. Parkes' built their house on the west side of
Woodward at Lone Pine Road. Another resident, Harry
0. Bronson, was Hervey Parke's brother-in-law. Opposite
them were the Fishes, Deacon Elijah and his demented
brother, Juni. Juni escaped one-night and committed the
Township's first two murders, doing in a Mrs. Utter and her
daughter with an axe. The Fishes' daughter was the first
white child born in Bloomfield. Typically, we don't know
her first name although we know she lived just eight years.
The next family north was Judge Amasa Bagley and his
son-in-Iaw, William Morris, near long lake Road. Father
and son Asa and Lemuel Castle lived to the northeast and
Daniel Ferguson, Major Joseph Todd, Asa B. Hadsell and
Colonel David Stanard were the other residents to the
To complete the story of the nameless women who were
our pioneers, when their husbands died they were listed on
later tax rolls as Widow Chafee, or simply Mrs. Dole.
If there were other settlers in 1821 in the wilderness
beyond the trail, history hasn't told us of them, but shortly
these forested lands and clear lakes would ring with the
sound of the axe as well.
TATTERED AND WELL-THUMBED, THE OLD
TOWNSHIP MINUTES AND "THE BOOK OF ESTRAYS"
REVEAL OUR HISTORY
Verifying the arrival dates of our pioneer families becomes a
fascinating preoccupation. County tract records tell us who
bought each parcel of land from the government, but
they don't reveal whether the purchaser settled or merely
bought for speculation.
There are several sure ways to determine who was here
Our most valuable record is the old hand-written book of
minutes of each annual Township meeting beginning in
1827. There were more than 50 posts to fill, from super-
visor and clerk through pound masters and poor masters,
to road overseers and fence viewers. There were not
enough men in the Township to fill all these
responsibilities, but as the population increased, more
names were entered until in 1833 the docket was at full
strength. Obviously, anyone whose name appears in this
book in any given year was actually here in that year.
Next, imagine how valuable a cow, horse or hog was to
a pioneer. In spite of the little bell around its neck to
locate it in the dense forest, animals strayed away. If they
were lucky enough to escape the wolves and wind up in
someone else's enclosure, it was incumbent upon the
finder to record a description of the animal in the "Book
of Estrays" at the pound master's house. The signed
descriptions are another permanent record of our first
Determining the age of a house is another matter. Building
permits were not issued until the 1930s, early taxation
was not on dwellings but only on personal property, so
only word-of-mouth will give you even a clue as to the
date on which an old house was erected. In our search
for the oldest house still standing in the Township proper,
we had to rely on architectural features and the use of
certain building materials to determine which was the
earliest of the houses still standing. The contestants and
the winner follow shortly.