Early Settlement

The first settler of Mason, or in what is now the township of Vevay, was Lewis Lacey, who came here in February or March, 1836, to build a saw-mill for Noble & Co., of Monroe, and to chop twenty acres on section 8. Upon the completion of the saw-mill, Ephraim B. Danforth, a member of the firm above named, settled at a place and assumed charge of their interests. He located in 1837. The firm owned seven-eighths of the land in the old village plat of Mason. In 1838 they erected the first grist-mill in the county, the saw-mill having also been the first institution of the kind in the county.

Mr. Danforth was elected one of the first associate judges for Ingham County in 1838, and was re-elected in 1842. He was twice elected to the State Senate, and in 1848 was appointed by the Governor and Senate a commission to lay out and construct a State road from the village of Mason to Lansing. In 1850 he was a delegate to the convention which framed the present constitution of the State. While a member of the Senate he, together with Hon. Joseph H. Kilbourne, of the House, worked with untiring zeal to secure the location of the State capital at Lansing, and, as is well known, their labors were crowned with success.

In 1850, Mr. Danforth sold his interest in the village of Mason and removed to Lansing, where he died, Aug. 17, 1853. He was engaged in the milling business in the latter city, and during his residence in the county was one of its most useful and prominent citizens.

Chauncey A. Osborn, a native of Attica, N. Y., settled at Mason, Sept. 18, 1838. He purchased lots the same fall and built a house, the location of the latter being on lot 6, block 14, and the sale being made by E. B. Danforth. Mr. Osborn's wife, who was a native of Madison Co., N. Y., died at Mason in 1872. One son, Andrew, died in Sierra Valley, Cal.

Marcus Whitney, from Naples, Ontario Co., N. Y., settled in the township of Rives, Jackson Co., Mich, July 14, 1835. The nearest mill was then at Ann Arbor, and he speakes of having purchased flour in Detroit, during the first years of his residence in the State, paying for the same as high as twenty-five dollars per barrel. Mr. Whitney removed to Ingham County in March, 1870, and is now residing at Mason.

Daniel L. Case was born at Three Rivers, in the province of Upper Canada (now Ontario), in 1811, his parents being of New England people, who had emigrated to Canada a few years previous to the war of 1812, and who returned to the United States upon the breaking out of the war. In October, 1820, Mr. Case came to the Territory of Michigan, and in July, 1843, settled at Mason.

Oliver Griffin, who died in August, 1874, in the ninetieth year of his age, was a native of Tewksbury, Mass. He learned the trade of a shoemaker in the city of Boston, and afterwards started in business in WashingtonCo., N. Y. In 1836 he removed to Michigan and settled at Napoleon, Jackson Co., and in 1840 came to Mason.*
*R. F. Griffin, his son, says winter of 1841-42.

The following obituary notice of former prominent citizen of Mason, and an early settler in the county, si preserved in the records of the Pioneer Society:

" Amos E. Steele was born at Queensbury, Warren Co., N. Y., June 28, 1806. He was married to Rozana Cranson at Lockport, N. Y., May 1, 1834. They emigrated to Michigan and settled in the township of Onondaga, Ingham Co., in the month of Autust, 1836, and were among the pioneers of the new county of Ingham. At a special election, held in 1838, Mr. Steele was elected associate judge of the Circuit Court for Ingham County. At the general electio in December, 1839, he was elected as representative in the State Legislature from the representative district composed of the counties of Ingham and Livingston. In 1840 he was appointed United States marshal to take the census that year in Ingham County. At a special election for that purpose, held on the 10th of February, 1846, he was elected to the office of judge of Probate, to fill a vacancy in that office caused by the death of Hon. Henry Fiske. In April, 1844, he removed to Mason, where he continued to reside until his death. During his life of more than forty years in Ingham County he was frequently called upon to fill various offices of responsibility and trust in his township and village, and held the office of justice of the peace twenty-seven years. He was widely known and universally respected. His official duties were discharged with fidelty. He was a kind and good neighbor, a devoted husband and father, and as a companion and friend always courteous and genial. During the last eight years of his life he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and maintained a consistent Christian life. He gave liberally for the support of the gospel and the various claims of charity and benevolence.

"His family consisted of seven children, four sons and three daughters. His youngest son and the three daughters were spared to bless and assist him in his declining years. His first born died in his youth, at his home in Mason. His next two sons sacrificed their lives for the preservation of the Union in the late war of the Rebellion. Col. A. E. Steele fell at the battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, and Capt. Henry V. Steele in one of the Battles of the Wilderness, May 24, 1864. These were the saddest events of his life; but, being a man of strong force of character, he was enabled to bear the severe loss with fortitude and becoming resignation.

"He died at his residence on the morning of the 15th of March, 1878. The funeral service was performed by Rev. William Reilly, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, assisted by Rev. G. W. Barlow, of the Presbyterian Church, amid a large circle of sympathizing and mourning friends."

William H. Clark, a native of Elba, Genesee Co., N. Y., came to Michigan in November, 1835, with his father, Abijah L. Clark, the family settling at Rollin, Lenawee Co., and removing to Bunker Hill township, Ingham Co., in March, 1843, Abijah L. Clark is now deceased. His son William commenced learning the printer's trade at Mason, in 1845, in the office of the Ingham Herald. He worked several winters at Lansing, and in 1855 went to Illinois, in which State he published a paper until the breaking out of the Rebellion, when he enlisted. He served three years in the army and was twice wounded. In December, 1864, he returned to Mason.

One of the most prominent citizens of Mason, during its entire history, has been Dr. Minos McRobert, now residing in the place. He came here -- a young man -- in June, 1837, and continued the practice of medicine, which he had begun in the East. He was formerly a resident of Clinton Co., N. Y. Upon his arrival in Mason he built an office, which was soon recognized as headquarters for nearly all business pertaining to the village or the county. It was used as the county register's office, and from the multiplicity of other uses was almost a court-house. Dr. McRobert has else-where been ementioned as the second physician who settled in Ingham County. He early engaged in other business, and since he made Mason his home has devoted his enerty and capital towards the furtherance if its interest.

George W. Shafer, from Colchester, Delaware Co., N. Y., came when unmarried to Michigan, in June, 1839, and settled at Mason. He brought a stock of goods with him, and for two years was engaged in mercantile business. He placed his goods in a small building which had previously been used as a grocery by Zaccheus Barnes, now of Mason. Mr. Shafer's store was the first of importance in the place.

When Mr. Shafer came the frame of a hotel ws up, on the southeast corner of Adh and B Streets, opposite the court-house square. He purchased it the same year (1839), finished it during the fall and winter, and became its landloard as soon as it was completed. It was known as the "Mason Exchange," and was the first regular hotel in the place. It was a two-story building, and was kept by Mr. Shafer about ten years; he built an addition to it in 1847. The second proprietor of the house was Isaac Horton. H. J. Donnelly was one if its later proprietors. The building was finally moved to the eastern part of the city, where some one set fire to it and burned it down.

The first man who entertained travelers in the place was James Blain, whose log house was an approach to a hostelry. It stood in the middle of the road, about at the southwest corner of what is now R. F. Griffin's place, and was a resort for land-lookers and immigrants generally on their way to other localities. It was torn down in the fall of 1842. James Blain and his son David afterwards built and kept a tavern the house subsequently owned by Amos E. Steele, and now occupied as a dwelling by the widow of the latter. James Blain exchanged his property in Mason for the farm of Mr. Steele, in the township of Onondaga, to which he removed; he and his wife are both now deceased.

George W. Shafer was married in 1842 to a sister of Wright Horton, the latter having also married a sister of Mr. Shafer. The Hortons had come to the place in the fall of 1838, and settled on a farm in what is now the northern portion of the city. Mrs. Shafer thinks that there were then three frame buildings in Mason, -- viz., Dr. McRobert's office, which was afterwards used as the county treasurer's office, and the dwellings of E. B. Danforth and Nathaniel Blain, -- the latter then occupied by Hiram Converse. Mr. Blain, who was a brother of James Blain, removed subsequently to Jefferson village, in the township of Alaiedon. Wright Horton, whose wife died here, lived on his farm about thirty years, and is now residing in Kansas. Several of his children also died here.

Rosalvo F. Griffin, of Mason, came to the village Oct. 2, 1842, with his father, Oliver Griffin, from Washington, Co., N. Y. The latter had been here the previous winter. His death occurred in September, 1836. When the family arrived the vicinity ofMason was still covered with the heavy timber which abounded so plentifully in all this region, and the village then, although six years old, had all the characteristics of a a pioneer settlement.

Perry Henderson, a native of the town of Tully, Onondaga Co., N. Y., came to Michigan with his wife and three children in 1844, and stopped during one summer in Oakland County. In the fall he removed to Ingham County, and settled in the township of Leroy. In 1854, having been elected sheriff of the county, he removed to Mason, where he has since resided, and where he is at present engaged in the hardware trade.

Peter Linderman and William H. Horton, who are mentioned at length in the history of Vevay township as having settled respectively in 1836 and 1837, were both within what are now the city limits, having resided on farms north of the then village.

John Rayner, from Cayuga Co., N. Y., (a native of Orange County), visited Michigan about 1837-38, and purchased a large amount of land in Ingham County. In the spring of 1849, accompanied by his wife, two sons, and a daughter, he settled at Mason, where several of his children are now living. Mr. Rayner engaged at once in farming and speculated in land to a consideral extent. At his death, which occurred in the month of May, 1879, he left a large amount of property. Six of his children are living in the State.

The following is a list of resident taxpayers in the village of Mason in 1844, as shown by the assessment roll for that year:
George W. Shafer James H. Wells Jason B. Packard
William Tweedy Raney & Wells Chauncey A. Osborn
Oliver Griffin John Coatsworth James Turner
John Rayner John S. Griffin James Turner & Co.
Hiram Converse E. B. Danforth Daniel L. Case
Issachar Hammond Oliver S. Osborn Amos E. Steele
Hiram H. Smith John W. Phelps Hiram H. Smith

Taken from:
"History of Ingham and Eaton Counties Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers", by Samuel W. Durant.
Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., 1880.
Page 203 - 205

Sondra Higbee

Graphics provided by:

Kat's Graphics
Old Fashioned Clip Art