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PRIOR to 1821 this was an Indian country wholly, and from that date to 1833 its character of occupancy was not changed except by the incoming of two or three fur traders amongst the natives, and the establishment here of a Baptist mission, connected with which were less than a dozen persons. The township, on the left bank of the river, was first called Kent, in compliment to Chancellor Kent, of New York. The place, from the beginning of active settlement, does not boast of age - it is but fifty-six years since the first frame dwelling house was erected here. Kent township embraced a large territory at the first, nearly all that is within the county south of Grand River; and it was then a part of Kalamazoo county. The name Grand Rapids comes from the rapids of Grand River, the largest fall in that stream. This name was given to the first post office here, in 1832; also to the village incorporated in 1838; but the township name Kent was given by act of the Territorial Legislature, March 7, which also provided that the first election should be held at the dwelling house of Joel Guild, and Kent was the town name till February 26, 1842, when by law it was changed to Grand Rapids, and the city, succeeding the village, retained the latter name. The county name has remained unchanged from the first.


The City of Grand Rapids is situated in township seven north, of ranges eleven and twelve west, at what are called the rapids of Grand River, and occupies both sides of that stream at this point. By the course of the river channel the city is about forty and in a straight line about thirty-one miles from the mouth of the Grand river. Grand River- the largest inland stream of the State- is navigable from its mouth to the rapids for boats of between two and three feet draft. The rapids are not of the nature of an abrupt leap or cataract, but have a nearly uniform descent for the distance of a little more than a mile, through the central part of the city, amounting to a fall of about eighteen feet, over a limestone bed, the western out crop of the limestone rock in this part of Michigan. The river enters the city a little east of the center of the north line; flows nearly due south, bearing but slightly to the west, for about two miles; then turns westerly in a graceful curve, making its exit in a southwesterly direction at the extreme southwestern point of the municipality. A few miles below, the river trends to a course slightly north of west, and thus on to its outlet at Grand Haven into Lake Michigan.


Midway of the city, and well toward the foot of the rapids, when this town was located, were two small islands, directly west of where Monroe street is. The Pearl street bridge, at its east landing, comes upon the north end of them. Immediately below Fulton street and bridge was another and larger island, comprising several acres of land, and below that another, familiarly called Robarge Island. These islands, in the survey, were numbered from the head, 1, 2, 3 and 4. East of the upper three was then the deeper channel of the river, and the one most used for navigation when steamboats began to run. The western channel was shallower but at least four times wider than the eastern. In the early days those islands, with their spreading elms and rich grassy verdure in the summer season, formed a handsome feature of the picturesque landscape in that part of the city. But the insatiate hand of improvement for property uses has been laid upon them; the east channel has been cut off and filled from the upper end more than half way down, the islands made part of the main land, and on them and over the old channel bed are many valuable business blocks and other structures.


The statutory or city charter description of the present corporation boundary line is as follows:

Commencing at the northeast corner of the south east quarter of section eighteen, in township seven north, of range eleven west; running south to the southeast corner of section thirty-one of said town ship; thence west, on the south line of said township, to the southwest corner of the same; thence extended on the south line of township seven north, of range twelve west, to the middle of Grand River, on section thirty-four in said last named township; thence northeasterly along the middle of Grand River to the point which intersects the north and south quarter line of section thirty-five, in said township seven north, of range twelve west; thence north along the line drawn through the center of sections thirty- five, twenty-six and twenty-three, to the center of section fourteen, in said last named township; thence east to the place of beginning.


Thus the city includes the south half of section eighteen and all of sections nineteen, thirty and thirty-one in town seven north, of range eleven west; and in town seven north, of range twelve west, the south half of section thirteen; all of sections twenty-four, twenty-five and thirty-six; the southeast quarter of section fourteen; the east half of sections twenty-three, twenty-six and thirty-five, and so much of section thirty-four and of the west half of section thirty-five as lies south of Grand River. Hence the city covers an area of a little more than nine square miles, equivalent to 5,760 acres, including the water surface or river. It is taken from the townships of Walker and Grand Rapids, and is bounded north by Walker and Grand Rapids town, east by Grand Rapids town, south by Paris and Wyoming, and west by Walker. In each of these surrounding townships, and near by, are business and industrial interests so intimately connected with those within the corporation that in a material sense they may properly be considered and treated, to some extent, as a portion of the city, in a work like this, so closely is most of that suburban territory identified with its growth and progress. On the south and west are the gypsum quarries and manufacture of their products; on the north are large factories, and the Michigan Soldiers' Home; on the east are various business properties and the Reeds Lake resorts. Taking into consideration the matter of population, of wealth, of public and educational institutions, of commercial and industrial activity and enterprise, Grand Rapids is the largest and most important of the interior cities of Michigan, and is second only to Detroit in the State. It is the "Seat of Justice" for Kent county.


Reckoning from a tablet placed by engineers of the United States Government in the center of the Public Square, or Fulton Street Park, Grand Rapids is in latitude 42 57' 49.02" north; and in longitude 85 40' 1.65" west from Greenwich, England, and 8 37' 13.65" west from Washington, D. C. Our times therefore 34 minutes 28.91 seconds slower than that of Washington DC. latitude we are very nearly upon a line with Portsmouth on the Atlantic coast, with the interior cities of Buffalo, Milwaukee and Madison, and midway between San Francisco and Portland on the Pacific coast side. We are but very little north of the European cities of Madrid, Rome and Constantinopole.


Grand Rapids is the natural commercial and market town for a region of fertile and productive country with an average radius from it of about fifty miles. From this center railroads go out on nearly every principal point of the compass - ten railroad lines in as many directions. By rail the following are distances to the places named:

Allegan 33
Big Rapids 65
Boston 736
Buffalo 236
Chicago 182
Cincinnati 303
Detroit 150
Fort Wayne 142
Grand Haven 35
Hastings 32
Ionia 34
Jackson 94
Kalamazoo 48
Lansing 72
Mackinaw City 226
Milwaukee 120 across lake
Montreal 643
Muskegon 40
New York 682
Niagara Falls 228
Owosso 80
Petoskey 190
Richmond 234
Saginaw 113
Sturgis 85
Toledo 204
Toronto 310
Traverse City 145


Professor Alexander Winchell, in his geological description of Michigan, says that "the Lower Peninsula occupies the central part of a great synclinal basin, toward which the strata dip from all directions." He likens these strata to a series of shallow bowls or plates resting one within another. The inner and upper strata, the coal measures and the Parma sandstone, lie to the eastward from here. Below those is the carboniferous limestone group, which here crops out, and it includes the gypsum strata that comes close to the surface at the southwestern part of the city and in lands adjoining, where they are worked by several plaster companies. Underlying the gypsum is the Michigan salt group. Only the lime stone and gypsum are much utilized here, of which more will be said, and some mention made of the efforts at salt production, later in this book. The river limestone was much used in building, in the earlier years of our history, and in foundation walls it is still employed to a considerable extent. It has been very valuable for lime manufacture, producing an article that is unexcelled.

Good quarries of a brown colored limestone were opened near Coldbrook in 1867, which, however, proved no better than the gray, except that it gave variety in tints, for building purposes. On the west side intervals, opposite the rapids and above, the ground is well filled, and in some localities was formerly literally covered with "hard heads" or cobble stones; granite and conglomerate boulders were also there in large quantities. Indications are that at some period vast amounts of these loose stones were dropped from ice, or lodged at and near the rapids by the action of water. Professor J. G. Fish, in a course of lectures many years ago, said that he found, in con junction with gypsum at the plaster beds here, clay which was identical with that which in Vermont is considered superior to the imported article for use in paper making.

He asserted that it was worth more than that imported at $25 per ton, and was more valuable than the gypsum. If this hint has ever been acted upon here his estimate of the article seems not to have been verified. Prof. Fish advocated the theory that the waters of Lake Michigan once flowed into the Mississippi Valley, and those of Lake Superior toward the Polar Ocean or Hudson Bay. The overlying soil is in general good, yielding fair returns for intelligent culture and management, throughout this Grand River Valley.

Of the deep well borings, the following three are selected to convey an idea as to the varieties and order of the earth and rock strata lying beneath our feet:

THE STATE SALT WELL. This was bored in 1838-42, and was situated at the river, south bank, about a mile below the present southwest corner of the city. Measurements were reported by Dr. Douglass Houghton, State Geologist:

---- ---- ---------------------------------
     40   Alluvial soil, five feet clay, then sand  and gravel.
 7   47   Clay, 6 1/2 feet gypsum.
 1   48   Hard rock, said to be limestone.
 13  61   Clay and slate, alternating, some hard rock in lower 4 feet.
 109 170  Sand rock, hard; at 68 feet spring of brackish water; rock harder at 104 ft.
 9   179  Clay and sand mixture, hard.
 5   184  Clay slate.
 101 285  Hard sand rock, then soft, cavities, profuse flow of salt water increasing.
 2   287  Blue clay.
 20  307  Common sand rock.
 24  331  Ash colored clay and sand rock.
 12  343  Sand rock, hard.
 130 473  Blue clay, gravel, shale, clay rock.

THE LYON SALT WELL. This was above Bridge street, on the east bank of the river, and the boring was completed in the fall of 1842. The record was kept by Lucius Lyon:

---- ---- ----------------------------------------
     14   Lime rock
 6   20   Yellow sand rock.
 2   22   Blue clay.
 5   27   Coarse reddish sand rock.
 47  74   Argillaceous, with gypseous strata.
 7   81   Hard, sharp gritted, bluish sand rock.
 19  100  Clay rock, indications of salt.
 79  179  Argillaceous, sandy and gypseous strata.
 1   180  Hard sand rock, water lime.
 11  191  Clay rock.
 109 300  Sand rock, texture, color and compact ness varied. Great spring of water at 264 1/4 feet.
 9   309  Clay rock with fine sand particles.
 66  375  Sand rock, varied texture and compactness.
 60  435  Clay and sand rock, about equal parts.
 11  446  Coarse, loose sand rock.
 18  464  Clay rock.
 3   467  Sand rock.
 194 661  Chiefly clay rock. One foot sand rock at 495 feet.

THE "DEEP WELL." This was sunk in 1887-1888. The boring starts about forty feet below the subcarboniferous lime rock which outcrops in Grand River. Following is the record of strata pierced, kept by Freeman Godfrey:

---- ---- -------------------------------
       10 Drift of gravel, lime and light clay.
 118  128 Gypsum and shales in layers, mixed.
  17  145 Lime rock, hard and soft, thin layers.
  95  240 Sand rock, light color, flowing fresh water.
  19  259 Sand rock, dark, coarse, flowing fresh water.
  12  271 Clay slate, blue, tough, impervious to water.
 129  400 Sand rock, ash color, fine grained; water 200 salt.
  20  420 Clay slate, with pieces of hard clay rock.
  36  456 Clay slate, light blue.
 246  702 Clay slate, light blue, not hard, drilling dry.
  10  712 Water lime rock, dark, hardest at top.
 188  900 Clay slate, light blue or ash color, drilling dry.
 140 1040 Clay slate, darker, harder, with hard lumps.
 115 1155 Clay slate, dark, hard, scented with gas or oil.
  20 1175 Clay, deep red, not hard.
  30 1205 Sand rock, small flow salt water.
 295 1500 Bedford Shale...Clay slate, greenish blue, traces of gas or oil.
 200 1700 DEVONIAN. Clay slate, darker, harder, little stronger in gas.
  75 1775 Slate rock, black, hard, strong in gas or oil.
 200 1975 Lime rock, drab color. UPPER SILURIAN.
 225 2200 Lime rock, dark color, gas inflammable.
  20 2220 Lime rock, dark, gas increased till salt water drowned it.
 120 2340 Lime, sand and salt rock, mixed strata. Drilling ended here, in salt water showing a salometer weight of 100 Q.


It is not easy by mere verbal description to convey a good idea of the original face of the country at Grand Rapids.

The site was one of great natural beauty, charming for its great variety of features in landscape. The valley here is about one and a half miles wide, threaded by a stream near forty rods wide.

On the west side, from the river back to the bluffs, an average distance of about one mile, and through the length of the city north and south, was a very nearly level plain, a large part of which was thickly strewn with granite boulders and a profusion of cobble stone or "hard-heads." There was some undulation of surface, but no very marked unevenness.

Its elevation was but ten or twelve feet above the water of the river, in the average, and the descent to the south was but slight in the distance of two miles. On the part north of Bridge street there were very few large trees at the front, but further toward the hills was in places a heavy growth of maple and elm, and a swamp a little below the general level.

South of Bridge street the land was slightly rolling, and a ravine held a small stream, bringing the drainage from the northern swampy or springy grounds. This brook entered the river about midway between where are now the Bridge and Pearl street bridges.

Toward the southwest corner of the city was a marsh of considerable extent, and a shallow pond. Skirting near the bluffs was an irregular depression or ravine, the bed of a brook that enters the river below the town, and into and through which, in periods of high water, there was sometimes an overflow from the river above the rapids.

Near the northwest corner was a hill or ridge of coarse gravel, some forty feet high, much of which is still there. The bluffs in the distance west were a handsome range of hills, rising to a height of sixty feet or more, and shutting off the view of the country beyond.

On the east side there was greater irregularity of surface, hill and dale, and many points of picturesque beauty. Next the river was a narrow border of nearly level land, varying in width from two or three rods to one-fourth of a mile.

A rod is a distance of 16 1/2 feet, or 5 1/2 yards.

North of Bridge street this was a long, narrow, black-ash swamp. Below Monroe street was a gently sloping plat, mostly dry ground but patched here and there with boggy places. Below Fulton street was a gravel and clay ridge of irregular outline, near the river, extending southward. Near the center of the town an isolated hill of very hard clay, with a steep western face, rose from a point some ten or twelve rods north of Lyon street, east of Kent street, and extended south to Monroe street. Its southern face was also a steep declivity.

Its southwestern angle was less than two hundred feet from the river bank, and its highest point was near or slightly south of Pearl street, west of Ottawa. Pearl, Lyon and Ottawa streets have been cut through that clayey bank, and the last vestige of it will soon disappear. It was called Prospect Hill.

Toward the east and southeast this hill sloped off gently. Between it and Division street was a depression through which ran northerly a spring brook, and near where the United States building stands was a swamp, and a pond of an acre or more in extent.

An acre is a measure of land consisting of 160 square rods, or 4840 square yards. A square parcel of land 208.7 feet on each side would be a one acre parcel.

THE EASTERN UPLAND.  The commanding eminence upon the east side was a sand bluff with a steep western face, that still retains some of its original features, its base at an average distance of perhaps fifty rods (825 feet) from the river, and extending from Coldbrook on the north to beyond Fulton street on the south, a distance of more than a mile and a half. On the summit of this hill, for nearly its whole length, was a plateau, averaging but a few rods in width near the north end, but spreading out at the southeast far into the country. In some places at the summit this hill top was nearly level, but for the most part was undulating and toward the edges cut by ravines leading to the lower lands. Its greatest elevation was and still is about one hundred and sixty feet above the adjacent river bed. From the summit of this hill, and also from the hill range west of town, very fine views of the city and the surrounding country are obtained.

Just north of Bridge street, half way up the hill side, was a cluster of cedars in the midst of which came out a very large spring of excellent water.


The valley of the Coldbrook, winding northwesterly, beyond the sand hills, marked the division between them and the rolling or undulating northeast portion of the city. The face of that part of the town is some what changed by grading and other improvements, but its general outline features remain.

Along the streams and ravines and toward the river was some heavy timber, chiefly oak, maple and elm. Along the range line (Division street) to the south end of the city was a swampy, muddy region, some portions of it bearing heavy timber, and a short distance west of that was a long, narrow, swampy, tamarack vale, then nearly impassable, but now traversed by the railroads coming in from the south and southeast; and between this and the river, and along down to Plaster Creek, was a region broken by hills, except the narrow belt of bottom land, and all this latter, or nearly all, was quite heavily timbered. Considerable tracts of the wooded lands in and all about the city remained for near a quarter of a century favorite hunting grounds. SPRINGS AND WATER COURSES. Most of the smaller streams and water courses that once meandered these city grounds are now gone from sight. Sewer drainage carries them in scores of under ground conduits to the river. Above the north line of the city, on the west side, runs the Indian Mill Creek, which enters the river near the railroad bridge. The brook which once ran across West Bridge street, and through a ravine into the river south of that street, is now deep in the ground and conducted beneath the canal on that side, through a culvert.

Near two miles east of the southern part of the city are Reeds and Fisk lakes. They are the source of the main stream of Coldbrook, which runs northwesterly and comes into the north part of the city, discharging into the river a little north of Coldbrook street.

Carrier Creek is a northern branch of Coldbrook, which still runs in or near its original bed; but most of the water of both streams is diverted by pumping to the hill reservoir and used in the city supply.

Turning again to the southward, there was once a pretty brooklet, coming from that part of the town called Bostwick's addition, crossing Division street, and near where the Union depot now is joining another brook that came in from a swamp a short distance south; thence flowing to the river near where is the Fulton street bridge. This is also now conveyed in sewers and culverts.

Still further south came a stream from numerous springs on Blakely's addition and beyond, which crossed Division street at the north part of the Grant Addition tract, ran down a ravine across the Grandville road and into the river below where the gas works are located. At the point where this stream passes out from the low hills there, at an early day, a dam and race were constructed and a small building erected for a turning lathe and other light machinery, which were worked for a few years. Another noticeable rivulet had its rise from springs along and south of Fountain, and from that street, a little west of Division, flowed northerly through a pond bordered by flags and willows, and along where the Postoffice building is, passed well out toward Crescent avenue near Ionia street, rounded the north end of Prospect Hill and followed closely its western base back nearly to Lyon street; thence from Kent street turned westerly and half way to Canal street, where was another pond; thence flowed northwesterly across a miry place in Canal street and into the river near Erie street. That brook is also out of sight now, and discharges through the Kent alley sewer.


Improvements, public and private, have very much changed the face of the city, and the end is not yet. Its present features need not be dwelt upon here. Nearly all the lower sink holes and bogs have been filled to new grades, and made dry land. Other parts that were once miry from springs have been reclaimed by sewering. Much filling has been done in Waterloo street and vicinity, and from that east to Division street, which has also been so much changed each way from the Island street crossing, that where once were sharp, short and very muddy clay hills, is now an easy grade and a dry and well surfaced thoroughfare.

A large tract at and about the Union depot grounds, formerly, at times, submerged by river freshets, has been made solid ground for the heavy business done in that locality. Streets below the hills on the east side have been raised generally, and a vast work has been done in excavating and grading at the hill summits. The esthetic beauty of the place as it was in nature is gone; its beauty now pertains to business uses, and the embellishments of modern civilized life and taste.


The Grand River rises in Washtenaw county (site of Ann Arbor), about ninety miles east and forty- five miles south of this city. It, with its several branches, drains a very large territory. Its general course is a little north of west. From a point about seven miles east of this city it bears more to the north, making only three miles west to six miles north, to where the Rouge River comes in; thence it runs westward, circling to the south, and from a point one and a half miles north of the city almost due south till at the foot of the rapids it turns again southwesterly, having described nearly three-quarters of a circle, in a sort of horse-shoe bend, within the course of a little more than fifteen miles.

The Indian name of the Grand river was Ouashtenong (or Washtonnong) Sebee - far away or long-flowing water.

Andrew J. Blackbird (an educated native) says it means "over flowing river," and that the Indian name for these rapids was "Paw-qua-ting," meaning shallow rapids. In reference to the magnitude of Grand River at this point, the City Engineer, in a report made in July, 1881, estimated the amount of water flowing over the rapids during ordinary low stages, at nearly if not quite 1,000,000,000 (one billion) gallons per day.

In the unprecedented low stage in September, 1879, it exceeded 600,000,000 (six hundred million) gallons.

Some speculative observers have a theory to the effect that not many ages ago the gravel hill which lies on the west side between Walker avenue and Second street, was an island. The reasoning is, substantially, that when Grand River carried a volume of water much larger than at present, a channel left it at a point some distance above the head of the rapids, and passed westward through the now small valley of Indian Creek; thence through the old tamarack swamp at Leonard street, thence through a cedar swamp which formerly lay across Walker avenue, and on south westerly, down through the Gunnison marsh, joining the main river where the "big ditch" now discharges its waters. According to this theory the mouth of Indian Creek must have been at that time far back toward those western bluffs.


Nearly all the land in this vicinity is good for gardening and farming. In some localities the soil needs fertilizing and careful cultivation, in others less care and stimulants; but all about us the country is productive, and yields a fair reward for intelligent husbandry.

There is considerable variety of soil, adapting it to a corresponding variety of products. And the city affords for all farm and garden products a home market which gives to the owners and occupants good prices and quick returns.

Much of the country around this city was devoted by the early settlers to raising wheat and corn, producing good crops; but in more recent years attention has been turned to fruits and to garden vegetables for table supplies in the rapidly growing city.

Apples, peaches, pears, plums and cherries, and the berry fruits, and onions, celery, asparagus, beans and peas, and the several root crops, have their various suitable soils and localities, and all find a ready home market. In the early days game of many kinds, and fish, were abundant; but of the native meats, except fish, the near-by supply is exhausted. Fish are yet taken from the river and adjacent waters in considerable quantities; but the bear, the deer and the wild geese, ducks and turkeys, partridges and quails, are no longer the ready victims of the huntsman for the morning meal.

By the pioneers, wolves, bears and wildcats were often encountered, and even so late as 1856 wild bears were sometimes seen perambulating the streets of the city.

Deer and bears had a "runway" crossing the river at the still water just above the rapids. But their day is long since passed. And even the song birds whose music once enlivened the woods, and the wild honeybees that stored sweetness in the trees, and the wild berries, and many varieties of beautiful flowers of the forest and the openings, have dwindled away - almost gone, abashed, from the presence of the white man.

And the grand, natural parks and groves and thickets, of maple, and elm, and oak, and hickory, and black walnut, and linden, and pine - these have been cut away - utterly destroyed - except such occasional small patches as are needed for farm and family uses.

Efforts are made in a few places, and along public thoroughfares, to restock with trees, for shade and for beautification, but the process is slow.

The rock maple was an important factor in the production of sweets for the pioneer settlers. Maple sugar was a staple article, and the chief one of the saccharine sort. The Indians had known the art of making it, by boiling down the maple sap, before the white man came; and during the village days, and for some years after, a common sight in these streets was the incoming of the Indian pony bearing on each side a mokirk of sugar (weight from thirty to sixty pounds) swung saddlebag-fashion, and above them the bright-eyed Indian squaw or maiden, sitting astride. This mokirk was a trunk-shaped basket, made of birch bark usually, with a cover, and ingeniously sewed with fine roots or bark strings.

In reference to soil products, the fact may be mentioned here that the principal if not the only food crop cultivated by the Indians was corn. Where that would grow well, and could be easily tilled by the crude Indian methods, they gave it much attention, especially near their villages, where the squaws did the tillage while the braves were absent in the chase - hunting or fishing - or rested lazily at the wigwams. According to a statement made by John Almy, who surveyed the mission lands in 1838, all the grounds of the river front on the west side, from the foot to the head of the rapids, had been cleared and had "been occupied by the Indians as cornfields from time immemorial."

The Indians had also raised corn in the vicinity of Waterloo street. And the prairie grounds at Grandville, and between there and the rapids, had been similarly cultivated.


Perhaps most to be regretted in the devastation of forestry forestry at this place, may be the destruction of the beautiful white elm, of which there were several clusters, and some very grand specimens. There were several elm trees just southwest of the Public Square, and along Bostwick street below the hills. There was a fine grove toward the southwest part of the city, and another in the north part on the west side.

A very few remain. A handsome old elm stands behind that church just north of Bridge and south of Ionia street, and there are other isolated trees. Two very handsome ones stand in the center of Bostwick street, a little north of Lyon. They are a little more than three feet in diameter near the ground, perhaps sixty feet high, with wide spreading tops reaching to both sides of the street, and in summer time affording a fine shade from the sun's rays. Recently an effort in the Common Council to have them removed brought one of our local writers E. G. D. Holden -- to the front with the following:

"WOODMAN! SPARE THAT TREE!" They stood two mammoth elms, apart Upon the sloping hill, As sentinels, long years on guard, Yet strong and stalwart still; And passing there, one day I heard, atwixt their bowers of green, A queerish conversation held,  Amid their leafy sheen, Those noble trees between. I could not quite at once make out, The funny sound that burst So strangely from those ancient trees, Or which was speaking first; But as the soft breeze lulled a bit,  And stilled their swaying eaves, The voice came out, so plainly that  `Twas heard among their leaves, Like one that moans and grieves: "Say, mate; do you remember when, Three hundred years agone, We started on our vig'rous growth, The forest hill upon? And how we lived, and grew, and loved, Our many friends of old; Slaughtered and gone now, every one, And with the earth's damp mold, Are dead, and stark, and cold ?"

"Why yes, dear chum; I mind it well; With red men camping here  Beneath our shade, when time had made Our forms a land-mark dear; We saw the scalp-dance, and the love Of Indian maids, for braves Who made no threat to slash us down, Upon their fathers' graves, Anent Grand River's waves." "That's it; for now the city lords,  Who have nought else to do,  Are bound to have our blood, I hear, To clear away the view; I think they'd best by far look up Some other ax to grind; And not be worrying our lives With rumors, to my mind,  So racking and unkind."  "Me too! How wond'rous wise they are, About us two old blades;  Why bless me, do they ever thank Us for our gen'rous shades? Or think it takes three hundred years, To build such homes as we Give lovingly to every bird The years bring, fair and free, To nest with you and me?"  "Oh, it will be a sorry day, If they should cut us down, Who are the oldest settlers now, In all the busy town; We never yet an ill have done, The good we love the best, And pleased are we when children pause Upon the walk to rest,  With welcome shade caressed." "Well, mate, we've lived together long, And should they kill us quite, I cannot see what we can do To put the matter right; And when the day of doom comes on As come for all it must, United we will mingle still, Though mingling in the dust, Two lives that have been just."

The voices ceased, yet long I stood, Another word to hear; While eke my eye was moistened with A something like a tear; And then I vowed to tell the tale, In kindly words like these,  And pray the Councilmen to spare Those venerable trees,  Whose shades the million please.

ELMS IN BOSTWICK STREET. Those trees are spared, and the ground and street by them shaped with special reference to their preservation.

EARLY DISCOVERIES. Early discoveries at Grand Rapids, or in the Grand River Valley, which have been made a matter of record, are not numerous nor very important. It is not known who first of the white explorers gazed across these rapids and exclaimed: "Behold here a beautiful valley!" And no special items of discovery are set down in the early chronicles. Discoveries there were undoubtedly, but not of diamonds, nor gold, nor silver, nor of majestic mountains, nor of great cataracts, nor of bewildering caves, or glens, or rocky, labyrinthine passes.

They were merely of a placid and beautiful stream, broken only by a rippling and gentle fall, flowing through a region of flowery verdure, very inviting to seekers for new homes, in the midst of a wilderness and a hundred miles from civilized communities, but destined to become a veritable garden for happy settlers, and for productiveness and wealth.

The gypsum, the lime rock, and other natural sources of gain, through labor and enterprise and skill, were not among the enrapturing visions of the first explorers.

ORIGINAL FACE OF KENT COUNTY. When John Ball was selecting lands, prior to 1844, he made voluminous notes of those surveyed in this vicinity, and about thirty years later prepared a paper giving a brief description by townships, which was printed in the Michigan Pioneer Collections, under the title of "Physical Geography of Kent County."

From that, with some emendations, and from other sources, have been compiled the following paragraphs.

The descriptions may strike the reader, first, as having been far from perfect in the beginning; second, as very interesting on account of the illustration which they afford of the great changes made in the surface of the country by settlement, improvement, destruction of timber, cultivation and drainage. In this latter light they are well worthy of thoughtful perusal: Kent county has a great diversity of soil and surface. It lies at an elevation of say ten to four hundred feet above Lake Michigan. At the usual stage of the water in the lake, the foot of the rapids at Grand Rapids is not more than ten feet higher. This, with the other great lakes, has fluctuated in the height of its waters not less than five feet within the last forty years.

In 1848 the water was so high as to kill trees on low lands along the lake borders. This description of the lay of the land, and the original productions of the county, by townships, begins at the southeast corner town:

BOWNE - Township five north, range nine west. As to surface, comparatively level, or but slightly rolling. Originally it was mostly heavily timbered with maple, elm, and the other kinds of timber usually found on what are called timbered lands; some swamps and marshes, with a growth of tamarack and grass. The soil is of the rich loam usual in Michigan lands producing such timber. There are two small lakes in the west part, and quite a number of brooks flowing into a larger one in the south part, which falls into the Thornapple, thence to Grand River. Little if any waste land, with proper drainage.

CALEDONIA - Township five north, range ten west, through which from south to north the Thornapple flows, is from that cause quite diversified; that river having high bluffs from which extend a somewhat rolling country. The land on the east of the river is oak openings, with the usual sandy soil of that kind of land, easy of tillage, and, from an admixture of lime, quite productive. All the lands in the township on the west side of the river are timbered, and away from the river not at all broken.

GAINES - Township five north, range eleven west. Timbered beech and maple land; besides the timber usual on that kind of land there was much black walnut. It was so abundant, the first settlers used it for building rail fences.

he land is very fertile, and somewhat diversified in surface, rising quite high in the southwest part, and from that cause, probably, comprises some of the best fruit lands in the county.

Streams small - Plaster Creek heading in the east part, and from the west brooks flow into Buck Creek.

BYRON - Township five north, range twelve west. All timbered, of the usual kinds of timber, and soil considerably diversified in surface; some swamps of great extent. From the one extending through the southeast part of the township flows the Buck Creek to Grand River. Water flows also to the Rabbit River, and so to the Kalamazoo. The water from the west part flows to Buck Creek, which falls into the Grand River on the west line of the county.

The swamps and marshes are all susceptible of drainage. They supplied the first settlers with hay.

WYOMING - Township six north, range twelve west. Much diversified in soil, surface and timber. Grand River cuts off some four or five sections from the northwest corner. On sections seven and eighteen is an extensive swamp flowed by the river at high water; back of this swamp rises a high bluff, and the rest on that side is openings of hills and plains. The southwest part, the usual timbered land; but from the southeast corner to the center on the west, adjacent to Buck Creek, hard timber was quite generally interspersed with pine.

Mills were early erected on Buck Creek to manufacture lumber for the Chicago market. Northeast half of the town, variegated openings, with some burr oak plains, all of good soil, and through this part flows Plaster Creek, where on section two the plaster rock shows itself in the bed of the creek, the same rock struck in boring the State well for salt in the adjoining section three, at the depth from the surface of forty feet.

DeGarmo Jones entered the plaster land on section two, and was interested in the first mill erected there for plaster manufacture. Gypsum seems to underlie the whole county. On this same section two were salt springs much frequented by deer. There were, too, mounds of the pre-historic man, where have been found their bones and stone implements.

PARIS - Township six north, range eleven west. Watered by Plaster Creek, and about equally divided between timbered and opening land, the northwest portion being openings, the surface mostly approaching a plain, and generally a good soil, making from its location near the city a valuable farming township.

CASCADE - Township six north, range ten west. The Grand River clips off a small portion of the northeast corner, and the Thornapple meanders from south to north, about through the center. The flow of this stream is rapid, and it is bordered by high banks, making excellent water-power. The whole is openings, except a small portion in the southwest part. Soil and surface much diversified; in some parts quite hilly, in others plains. Soil from sandy to rich timbered.

LOWELL - Township six north, range nine west. Through the north part of this township flows Grand River, and the Flat River falls into the same on section eleven, where there is quite an extended plain, formerly an old Indian burial place and planting grounds, and now the village of Lowell. On the south of the river the country soon becomes rather high and rolling.

Lands: openings, from which flow many spring brooks to the river. In the south part are some swamps, through which there is an outlet from the lake on section twenty-five, down south into the Thornapple. The lake on section thirty-two has no outlet.

VERGENNES - Township seven north, range nine west. Oak openings, and much diversified in surface and soil, and quite elevated above the Grand River, into which, and eastward into Flat River, flow its clear streams.

ADA - Township seven north, range ten west. Grand River flows through this town ship, diagonally, entering it on section thirty-five and leaving it on section six, dividing it so as to give about one-third southwest of the river. On section thirty-four the Thornapple falls into the Grand River, where is quite an extent of rich plain lands, former planting grounds of the Indians, now the village of Ada. Lands much broken and high bluffs, near the river, down to which the brooks flow.

GRAND RAPIDS - Township seven north, range eleven west. Grand River clips the northwest corner and thence flows southerly near the west line. This town is much elevated above the river, as is the adjoining southern part of township eight north, around which the river makes a wide bend. It is much diversified in soil and surface, hills, plains, swamps and lakes; soil fair, though in the northeast quarter are some poor sandy hills. In the south part is a large lake (Reeds Lake) much frequented from the city of Grand Rapids.

WALKER - Township seven north, range twelve west. The west part of the city of Grand Rapids is in the east part of this township, through which Grand River flows, with a fall of some sixteen or eighteen feet, over a lime rock bed. Some distance, say a mile, from the river on the west, arise abrupt bluffs, beyond which is a rolling openings country, and in the north part some timbered land - all a good soil. Below the city are some extended bottom lands, and also below, and near the river, plaster quarries and mills.

ALPINE - Township eight north, range twelve west. Mostly rich, undulating timbered lands, though some pine and some swamp lands. Well watered, one creek flowing from northwest to southeast corner, of sufficient size for mill powers; also brooks flowing westward into Ottawa county.

PLAINFIELD - Township eight north, range eleven west. Grand River sweeps around through the southern part, leaving some third or fourth of it south of the river high table land back of the river bottoms, with little timber and good opening soil. On the north side, too, are elevated plains and hills, the Rouge River coming through the same from near the northeast corner, falling into Grand River on section twenty-three.

CANNON - Township eight north, range ten west. Good opening lands, much diversified in surface, plains, hills, some marshes and a number of beautiful lakes, fine brooks and creeks. On one, Bear Creek, are mills and the village of Cannonsburg.

GRATTAN - Township eight north, range nine west. Surface broken and rolling. Original timber largely of oak, hickory and pine. Lakes on nearly every section, and varying in size from twenty to three hundred acres. Flowage mainly toward Flat River. Soil mostly good. Some marshes or tamarack swamps.

OAKFIELD - Township nine north, range nine west. Splendid openings. Has a dozen beautiful lakes, and many spring brooks, most of which flow east into Flat River.

COURTLAND - Township nine north, range ten west. Openings, fair-faced lands, with some marshes and two lakes; not very well watered, and what creeks there are flow both ways, part into the Flat and others west into the Rouge River.

ALGOMA - Township nine north, range eleven west. Rouge River makes a wide serpentine circuit through the southern part. A considerable portion of the town is hilly, and the soil inferior and quite diversified in its timber, consisting of hard wood, pine, and oak openings. Well watered by the Rouge River and other streams.

SPARTA - Township nine north, range twelve west. Mostly rich timbered land, conveniently undulating. On the Rouge River in the east part some pine and wet bottom lands, and in the north part an extensive swamp. Well watered.

TYRONE - Township ten north, range twelve west. Hard and pine timber, mostly woodland, and much swamp. The Rouge River flows sluggishly through the east part, and from the west side creeks run into the Crockery Creek, which falls into Grand River near its mouth.

SOLON - Township ten north, range eleven west. Rolling lands, pine, hard timber, and swamp. A portion of the soil poor, the east part poorly watered; from the west part the streams flow to the Rouge.

NELSON - Township ten north, range ten west. Rolling, timbered land, interspersed with pine; fair soil, few streams, those flowing into both the Flat and Rouge Rivers.

SPENCER - Township ten north, range nine west. Mostly hard timber, yet consider able pine; soil fair and rather level, the eastern half covered to quite an extent by large and smaller lakes, outflowing into Flat River.


In common with many other western localities, this Grand Rapids region has its evidences of very early occupation; probably by what are termed pre-historic races. There are, or were before their defacement or demolition by modern civilized man, numerous tumuli, evidently ancient burial places, hereabouts, and in exploring them many relics of much archaeological interest have been found. Some of these are undoubtedly very ancient. Skeletons and bones crumbling to dust, in places very favorable to their long preservation, have been unearthed, that were in such positions, and clusters, as to leave no room for doubt that they were given sepulture many generations, and even centuries, before white men came upon this ground. And with them in their graves have been discovered not only the more recent spears and flint arrow heads, and silver beads and bracelets and breastplates and other ornaments, and copper needles and axes; but a variety of more ancient stone articles and implements, such as axes, pipes curiously wrought, and vases of coarse pottery in peculiar patterns..

These latter, of stone, are often found, with much decayed skeletons, beneath the former, indicating deposits of greater antiquity. In this part of the country none of the Indian mounds were very high. Generally they were raised but a few feet above the surrounding grounds - sometimes bordered with depressions from which earth may have been taken for their construction, but more generally the levels about them bear no indications of ever having been thus excavated. The mounds differ much in size or area. Some are so small that, though flattened on the top and but a few feet or a rod or two in diameter, it appears not impossible that they may have been conical and much higher originally. The larger ones, how ever, were probably never rounded either to pointed or spherical tops; and not infrequently on the smaller, as well as the larger, and over the remains of human bodies and their accompanying relics, were large trees bearing evidences of many centuries of growth. When the fur traders and missionaries and the pioneer settlers came to these rapids, in the years from 1821 to 1834, there were Indian burial places on or near the bank of the river at various points on the northerly side, below the center of the present city and at the mouth of Flat River particularly, and on the other side near the Thornapple, below the southern limits of the city and along down to Grandville.

There were also evidences of cultivation at some period near all such places. The burial grounds of the Indians at the village below the Pearl street bridge, west side, comprised also a number of mounds, which since have been defaced and leveled in the construction of streets. And there, as else where, in some of them it was found that beneath the buried remains of Indians of the tribes found here by the whites, were other and earlier deposits of similar character, in which were relics of the origin of which these later tribes professed to have no knowledge.

The grading and working of streets on the west side of these rapids, displaced most of that portion of the mounds above the general level, and therein were found a variety of beads, rings, bracelets, and silver trinkets, along with the skeletons exhumed.

Usually the bones were reburied, and the other articles appropriated by the discoverers. In the spring of 1856 was found, some miles below the city, a skeleton which Louis Campau pronounced that of a Sac Chief, buried half a century or more before; with which were found a knife, a coil of silver wire about the neck, and a breastplate and armlets of silver, apparently of English manufacture. These were comparatively modern, of course, and within the city, in 1858, similar articles in great profusion were discovered in making excavations on the mission lands.

Prof. J. B. Steere, of the Michigan University, in 1870, described the findings of some explorations in Montcalm county, which were similar in kind to all others up and down Grand River, and its tributaries. With the skeletons and bones there were oval vases or kettles, made of coarse clay, and blackened as if used over fire. Some of them on the outside appeared as if they had been moulded in baskets. Inside they bore finger prints, and the rims appeared as if pinched at regular intervals between the thumb and finger. These seemed to have been placed not very deep in the ground, and as if the mounds were heaped over them from surrounding trenches. The later Indian graves were mostly without mounds, except where they were on the summits of old mounds and over other graves. The more modern sepulchres had sometimes a pen of poles built over them, converging to the center, or roof-shaped, the ground being left nearly level, while often the older ones are under trees from one to three feet in diameter, indicating great antiquity.

In 1874, Edwin A. Strong, Wright L. Coffinberry and Joel C. Parker - as a committee in behalf of the Kent Scientific Institute explored a group of mounds near the river, and just below the south line of the city, and about the same time many others hereabout, of which Messrs. Coffinberry and Strong gave substantially the following account in a paper read before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at its meeting in Detroit in August, 1875: Eight groups, containing forty-six mounds in all, were inspected, of which fourteen mounds were explored with great care. A typical group of seven teen, on the farm of Anson N. Norton, about three miles below the city on the south bank of the river, were surveyed and platted. Those excavated and examined varied in altitude from two to fifteen and a half fe4t, and in diameter from ten to one hundred and two feet. All were more or less conical, some what flattened at the top, with a broad talus at the base; such a form as a conical mound of earth will naturally assume from long exposure. The material of the mounds seems in most cases to have been gathered from such an extent of surface about them as to leave no appreciable depression, and is usually of the same or similar alluvial soil. Only in a few cases does there appear a mixture of the underlying gravels or clays, and generally it is evident that no great interval of time elapsed between the beginning and the completion of a mound.

That these mounds are very old seems to be beyond question. Trees are standing upon them as large as some that have been cut on similar soil, which showed two hundred and sixty rings of growth; while by them are lying the remains of larger trees, which must have been giants when those standing were but saplings. And more conclusive evidence of the great antiquity of the mound structures is found in the articles which many of them contain.

Human bones are decomposed almost beyond recognition, and the same is true of the shafts of long bones of herbiferous animals, sometimes found there, so tender that they may be rubbed to powder between the fingers. Copper is encrusted with a thicker coating of the carbonate than are pieces of that metal found at the depth of several feet in the heavy drift of the same vicinity. Shells are in a friable condition, and wood, and bark and all fabrics are entirely decomposed. Nevertheless there is difference enough in this respect, in different cases, to suggest that all mounds of the same group are not coeval. One mound, at Spoonville, Ottawa county, removed years ago to make way for a dock and mill, was described by those who leveled it as a pile of fish-bones, ashes and shells, at least fifteen feet high, forty-five feet wide and one hundred feet long.

About one-third of the mounds examined were clearly places of sepulture. The use of the others, or the motive which led to their construction, can only be conjectured. They may have been monumental or commemorative, or erected as observatories, the latter being considered the least probable. They were simply empty but structural piles of earth, mingled confusedly with those of the burial class, and not distinguishable from them by any external signs.

Where there were no human remains there were no other relics, while in no case were skeletons exhumed without finding something else of interest, and often several different kinds, such as stone, bone and copper implements, pottery, drinking vessels, and other articles.

Human remains found were almost invariably in an elongated, concave, irregular oval pit, a foot or two below the natural surface of the ground, surrounded by whatever other objects of interest the mound contained. There is no uniformity of posture in the positions of the skeletons; the feet are turned indifferently in any direction; often the limbs appear to have been forcibly flexed upon the body; still oftener the bones are confusedly mingled. Seldom is a complete skeleton in place found. Usually the skull is flattened as if by the pressure of the soil in settling.

Copper articles found appear as if they had been wrapped in coarse woven cloths, and in several instances, where the earth has been carefully cleared from bone, spears, flint implements, or even the common fragments of quartz pebbles, impressions of fabrics were clearly visible, such as might be made by slack-twisted threads of coarse, loosely woven cloth. Shells were found, shaped apparently for carrying or storing water, in one case having holes near the edges, as if to hang by a cord or thong. Fragments of coarse pottery had markings as If shaped and baked or dried in a basket of rushes or coarse grass. Fragments of finer hollow ware were unique in appearance, the upper portion bearing marks as if made by revolving upon some kind of wheel, and the lower part being irregularly convex and having three or four strong protuberant knobs. The rim is beveled or rounded at the edge, often ornamented with a check pattern, apparently made by strokes diagonally of a pointed instrument. Below this is a plain band bordered by grooves, or rows of triangular pits, or both. These vessels are small, having a capacity of not more than one or two quarts. Nothing of recent deposit was found in the Norton group of mounds; but in a mound on the farm of Myron Roys, about a quarter of a mile distant, were exhumed parts of a skeleton and a bed of charcoal. These were only about a foot beneath the surface. This mound was about six feet high, forty feet in diameter at the base, and considerably flattened by time. Nothing else was found here, except a few flint chips and a small copper needle, thickly coated with green oxide. Another account of this "find" describes two pipes - one of nicely wrought green trap rock, the other "a finely carved piece of fossil coral."

The trees growing about and upon these tumuli, and above the deposits, are of several varieties of hardwood - oak, maple, ash,, elm, basswood, and others - and of age apparently between two hundred and fifty and three hundred years; but, as Mr. Coffinberry naturally queried, "Who knows whether they are of the first or fiftieth crop of timber since the building of the mounds?" In 1876 three skeletons were unearthed in digging for street improvements at Grandville. In a section of the lumber vertebrae of one of these was found imbedded a piece of a flint arrow head, about an inch in length. It was completely buried in the bone, which had evidently healed and grown about it, and apparently it had passed through the abdomen to reach the position of its lodgment. Wright L. Coffinberry has examined upward of sixty, and thoroughly explored upward of forty, of those ancient earthworks called mounds, in Kent and Montcalm counties, and a large share of them in Grand Rapids and this immediate vicinity. A number of them were on the west side of the rivet within the city limits. In grading these were only cut down to about the general level, and in this process many bones and implements of comparatively recent deposit were found. But it was in deeper excavating, for sewerage and for laying gas and water pipes, that older and more interesting articles were discovered - often in deposits directly under those of the burial places of the Indian tribes that were here when the white people came.

Four mounds were displaced and leveled in improving West Fulton street, and beneath the bases of two of them, in trench digging, large deposits were opened, in which were found articles of interest, such as vases, pipes, copper tools, bone tools, and in one of them, wrought in copper, a good imitation of two of the upper front teeth of the Castor beaver. Beneath the base of a mound in Court street were taken two nuggets of native silver (about thirteen pounds), and one of copper (about fourteen pounds), with bone husking pegs, copper axes, bear's teeth with holes drilled in them, and other curiosities, which Mr. Coffinberry sold to the Curator of the Peabody Museum in Salem, Mass., for $200.

An offer of $100 was made by the Smithsonian Institution for the Norton mound relics; but these, under previous stipulation, belonged to the Kent Scientific Institute. With all these deposits were found human hones that had the appearance of having been divested of flesh before they were placed in the pits or cists; generally the long bones with the relics and the craniums on top, upright in position and very near together.

Louis Campau, the pioneer fur trader here, said that the natives had no knowledge of the origin of these mounds; only knew them to be the work of human hands; had great veneration for them, and a propensity for being buried on or near them. They were mute evidences of earlier occupation, probably by a different race of people.

In many, if not most, of the above mentioned explorations, Mr. Thomas W. Porter has also taken an active part, and evinced great zeal and interest in the work.

In 1878 Horace and John Martin, brothers, in the town of Wright, about a dozen miles from this city, discovered what was supposed to be an Indian grave, of peculiar description. They were digging by the side of a large beech tree, when they came upon a deposit of eight human skeletons, in upright positions and disposed in a circle. With the bones were found several implements of the chase or of war. They were only about two feet below the surface, but, judging by the annular rings of the tree that stood over them, and which was cut down, the conclusion was reached that the relics must have lain there at least five hundred years.

In the spring of 1880, in excavating for the foundation of a building at the corner of West Leonard and Front streets, the workmen unearthed several skeletons; also kettles, tomahawks, and other relics of a past age. One large copper kettle had a close fitting cover. This was found several feet below the surface. It was so heavy that there was some excitement over the find, the diggers imagining that they had secured a treasure. But on opening it they found within - earth - nothing more. Judging from the nature of these discoveries, it seems evident that at some period the Indians had a thrifty village in that vicinity, probably as large as the one at the foot of the rapids. In 1882, in leveling a mound near the west end of Pearl street bridge, skeletons were exhumed; and there Mr. Coffinberry found a copper spear point or needle, six or seven inches long, one-fourth of an inch in diameter in the middle, tapering to a smooth rounded point at one end and to a sort of flattened shank at the other.

Silver beads also were dug up. He thought these ante dated the Ottawa and Chippewa occupation here, or that of any tribe of the past two or three centuries. A writer in a Detroit paper, describing similar needles found in Canada, suggested that they were Indian sewing needles, used in the construction of bark canoes, garments, and other things, and called attention to a similarity in shape between them and the sewing machine needle of the present day.

The Lansing Republican, in 1877, stated that O. A. Jenison, of that city, had a rare Indian curiosity, a stone pipe, that was found in a mound in Kent county about ten years previously, which it thus described: It is made from a single stone, seven inches long, two and one-half inches wide at one end and tapering down to one and one-quarter inches at the other, and about three-quarters of an inch thick at the center, being beveled on both sides from the center toward the sides and ends, which are quite thin. From the center of this wedge-shaped base rises a stone bowl, resembling an inverted "plug" hat, with a rim seven inches in circumference, the bowl just below the rim being four and one-half inches in circumference. A small hole is drilled from the narrowest end of the base to the bowl, and through this its original owner probably imbibed the smoke from the killikinick with which he filled the bowl. The stone itself is of a dark brown color, with little shining particles resembling silica, is very smooth, and beautifully polished.

In August, 1872, men who were excavating for the foundation of the Butterworth block, between Lock street and the river, and south of Huron street, came upon a buried structure that appeared like an old lime kiln, with a thick, circular wall of stone. Some early residents thought it the remains of a kiln used by the natives; but until it is shown that the Indians made lime, that theory has but little support. Later researches have established the fact that a white man made lime there in 1834.

Other discoveries include bones of extinct animals of great size, of the mammoth or mastodon species, generally found in the mire or quicksands of marshy places. In marshy ground on the farm of Aaron Hills, about nine miles northwest of this city, such bones were found, in 1884. The pieces dug up included twelve ribs, seven sections of vertebrae, and the teeth of the under jaw of an animal of elephantine proportions. One rib was four feet long; one section of the vertebrae was twenty-three inches in length; one tooth weighed three pounds ten and one half ounces, and another three pounds eight and one-half ounces. May 2, 1887, several fragments of mammoth or mastodon tusks were found on the farm of John D. Considine, on section sixteen, town five north, range twelve west (town of Byron). Some of these were about four feet long, eight inches in diameter, curved, and weighed from twenty-five to thirty pounds each.

Parts of trees at great depths below the surface have been found while sinking wells in various localities hereabout. One example is that of a trunk of a cedar tree, lying in a position nearly horizontal, thirty-seven feet down, imbedded in blue clay. This was in Alpine township, found about thirty years ago. The log was over six inches in diameter, and but little decayed.

Many similar instances have been reported in this valley, as well as elsewhere in the State. A class of works supposed to be coeval with the Indian mounds, but which may be either of earlier or more recent origin, so far as the uncertain evidence goes, is that of the so called ancient Garden Beds of Michigan. The remains of Indian cornfields have been noticed in many places, and their resemblance to the fields under cultivation when the whites came, fixes their comparatively modern status beyond reasonable doubt. But these garden beds present a different surface - patches of raised ground of much greater width; some with intervening paths nearly as wide as the beds, others with only narrow depressions or furrows between. The Indian corn hills were seldom or never in rows, but were very irregularly disposed. On the contrary, these beds exhibited great regularity of form. They are described as varying in width from five to fifteen or more feet, and in length from ten or twelve to over one hundred and twenty feet. They appear much like well laid out garden beds, raised about one foot, in the average. The State Pioneer Collection, Volume Two, contains descriptions and drawings of some of these garden beds in the Grand River Valley, but does not give their exact location. That they are of at least as great antiquity as the mounds seems to be the general opinion of those who have made a study of them, and some consider them the work of the Mound Builders.


The Government surveys reached Grand River at this point from the southward in 1831. John Mullett surveyed town seven north, range eleven west, and Lucius Lyon surveyed town seven, range twelve. From these two the city is taken. Almost as soon as the survey was completed, entries of land were made on the left bank of the river. Louis Campau, September 19, 1831, entered the tract now bounded by Bridge street on the north, Division street on the east, Fulton street on the south, and the river on the west. North and south of that tract, next the river, entries were made September 25, 1832, by Lucius Lyon, Eurotas P. Hastings and Henry L. Ellsworth. October 13, 1832, Samuel Dexter entered four eighty-acre lots (fractional) lying on the east side of the range line (Division street) - a tract two miles long by eighty rods wide, next the west line of sections nineteen and thirty, town seven north, of range eleven west.

The following is a statement of the original entries of all the land covered by the present city, as appears by the public records, showing who were the purchasers, and the dates of entry; beginning at the southeast corner, thence by sections to the northeast corner; thence south through the middle tier of sections; returning by the half sections and fractions next the west line of the city, and ending at the northwest corner: Section thirty-one, township seven north, range eleven west - Isaac Bronson, southeast quarter, August 3, 1835. Stephen Woolley, east half south Section twenty-four, township seven north, range twelve west - Lucius Lyon and Eurotas P. Hastings,20 west quarter, December 24, 1834. Ira Jones, west half southwest quarter, July 22, 1833. Josiah Burton, west half northwest quarter, July 31, 1833. Elijah Grant, east half northwest quarter, August 19, 1833. Elijah R. Murry, west half northeast quarter, December 9, 1834. Vincent L. Bradford, east half northeast quarter, July 31, 1835.

Section thirty, township seven north, range eleven west - Arthur Bronson, east half southeast quarter, November 2, 1833. Eurotas P. Hastings, west half southeast quarter, November 2, 1833. Walter Sprague, southeast quarter southwest quarter, November 2, 1833. Toussaint Campau, northeast quarter southwest quarter, December 1 1832. Samuel Dexter, west half southwest quarter, and west half northwest quarter, October 13, 1832. Joel Guild, southeast quarter northwest quarter, July 6, 1833. Abram S. Wadsworth, northeast quarter northwest quarter, November 18, 1833. Daniel W. Coit, west half northeast quarter, October 25, 1833. Jason Winslow, southeast quarter northeast quarter, April 8, 1835. George M. Mills, northeast quarter northeast quarter, January 22, 1835.

Section nineteen, township seven north, range eleven west - Benjamin H. Silsbee, east half south east quarter, July 8, 1835. Daniel W. Coit, west half southeast quarter and east half southwest quarter, October 25, 1833.

Samuel Dexter, west half southwest quarter and west half northwest quarter, October 13, 1832. James Lyman, northeast quarter northwest quarter, June 22, 1835. Vincent L. Bradford, southeast quarter northwest quarter, July 31, 1835.

Isaac Bronson, west half northeast quarter, August 3, 1835. Winthrop W. Gilman, southeast quarter northeast quarter, August 10, 1835. Alanson Hams, northeast quarter northeast quarter, July 29, 1835.

Section eighteen, township seven north, range eleven west - Richard P. Hart, southeast quarter, June 13, 1835. James Lyman, southeast quarter southwest quarter, June 22, 1835. Thomas Tileston, northeast quarter southwest quarter, July 6, 1835. Daniel W. Coit, west half southwest quarter, October 25, 1833.

Section thirteen, township seven north, range twelve west - Daniel W. Coit, east fraction south east quarter (about forty-four acres), September 13, 1833. James Davis, lots three (30.45 acres) and four (30.30 acres) in southeast quarter, and east half southwest quarter, September 2, 1840. Joseph Cordes and Michael Thome, southwest quarter southwest quarter, February 13, 1847. Jonathan F. Chubb, northwest quarter southwest quarter, November 3, 1852, east fraction one hundred and thirty-five acres, September 25, 1832. Ebenezer Davis, lot one (67.95 acres), August 29, 1840. Smith and Van Allen, lot two (61.60 acres) and west half northwest quarter, June 18, 1846. Henry Stone, northwest quarter southwest quarter, December 21, 1844. James Scribner, southwest quarter southwest quarter, July 25, 1844. James Scribner and Eliphalet H. Turner, each an undivided half of lots three and four (103.20 acres), January 16 and February 28, 1843.

Section twenty-five, township seven north, range twelve west - Louis Campau, east fraction north east quarter (72. 15 acres), September 19, 1831. Lucius Lyon and Eurotas P. Hastings, north fraction south east quarter (48 acres), September 25, 1832. Henry L. Ellsworth, south fraction southeast quarter (72 acres), September 25, 1832. Louis Campau, Islands Nos. 1 and 2 acres), August 10, 1841. Richard Godfroy, Island No. 3 (9.01 acres), August 3, 1839.

James Scribner, west half northwest quarter, February z8, 1843. American Baptist Missionary Society, lots one and two (91.13 Acres), May II, 1849. George M. Mills, representative and assignee of the Catholic Mission, lot three (65.74 acres), May II, 1849. Daniel D. Van Allen, lot four (40 acres), February 10, 1845.

Section thirty-six, township seven north, range twelve west - Joel Thomas, northwest fraction northwest quarter northwest quarter (8.6o acres), patent issued March 14, 1871. Daniel W. Coit, west fractional half northwest quarter (48.72 acres), September 13, 1833. Josiah Burton, east half northwest quarter (72 acres), August 1, 1833, Elijah Grant, west half northeast quarter, September 13, 1833, and east half northeast quarter, August 19, 1833. Noah E. King, east half southeast quarter, June 20, 1834..

Lewis Freeman and David Freeman, west half south east quarter, July 14, 1834, and east half southwest quarter, July 22, 1834. Daniel W. Coit, west half southwest quarter, October 25, 1833. Aaron B. Russell, Island No. 4, August 13, 1839 (patented August 25, 1841).

Section thirty-five, township seven north, range twelve west - Daniel W. Coit, east half southeast quarter (103 acres), September 13, 1833. George M. Mills, west half southeast quarter, and east half southwest fractional quarter (149.20 acres), November II, 1834. John Dodge, south part west half southwest quarter (62.10 acres), January 22, 1835. (Charles R. Hurlburt took the southeast fraction of section thirty-four, south of the river and just below the last named description, June 28, 1834). Basil Robarge, lot one (35.08 acres), and lot two (57.60 acres), in northeast quarter, September 16, 1840.

Section twenty-six, township seven north, range twelve west - D. D. Van Allen, southeast quarter, southeast quarter, September 6, 1844. William Peaselee, southwest quarter southeast quarter, September 6, 1845. J. W. Gunnison, northwest quarter southeast quarter, December 11, William Peaselee, northeast quarter southeast quarter, September 9, J. W. Gunnison, south half north east quarter, March 1, 1848. John Ball, north half northeast quarter, November 9, 1854.

Section twenty-three, township seven north, range twelve west - Sarah Pettibone, southeast quarter southeast quarter, April 9, 1845. George M. Barker, southwest quarter southeast quarter, May 7, 1845. Oliver Whiting, northwest quarter southeast quarter, June 11, 1845. J. W. Gunnison, northeast quarter southeast quarter, December 19, 1844. Billius Stocking, northeast quarter, August 24, 1840.

Section fourteen, township seven north, range twelve west - Samuel White, southeast quarter, August 13, 1839.

All the lands in that portion of the city east of the river were "located," as the settlers termed it, and purchased of the General Government prior to 1836.

To those on the other side the Indian title was not extinguished until by the treaty of March 28, 1836, and then time was required to complete the public surveys; besides which land appropriations and reservations for public improvements and other purposes, with selections by the State, delayed the issue and perfection of titles, in some cases for many years.

The earliest patent on that side was to the northwest quarter-section of the city, August 13, 1839. But most of the lands there were pre-empted or occupied by "squatters" very soon after the treaty was made, and settlements were made in many instances by others than those whose names appear as the purchasers, the settlers selling or transferring their claims.

The lands of the mission properties south of Bridge street were the subject of some strife between the representatives of the Catholic and those of the Baptist mission. This was finally adjusted by sales giving to the Catholics $8,000 and to the Baptists $12,000. Against that disposition, how ever, Isaac Turner and Willard Sibley vigorously protested; they having "located" upon the premises, in the spring of 1836, under the expectation that after the Indian treaty the land would be open for such settlement, by preemption or purchase. Other tracts, selected by State Commissioners, as University or public building lands, were finally sold on appraisal by the State.

By legislative act of March 25, 1840, it was directed that they be thus sold to actual settlers, or in case the settlers should not purchase at the appraised value they should have the use of the lands for such time as should be equivalent to, or compensation for, their improvements, as determined by the Commissioners. An act passed February 9, 1842, directed that certificates of purchase be issued to E. H. Turner and James Scribner, for lots three and four, in fractional section twenty-four, township seven north, range twelve west, at the rate of $12 per acre for lot three, and $14 per acre for lot four; to Willard Sibley for lot two, fractional section twenty-five, at $16 per acre; to Charles G. Mason for lot two, section twenty-four, at $10 per acre, and the west half of the northwest quarter of the same section at S2 per acre, and to Jules Marion for the west half of the north west quarter of section twenty-five, at $5 per acre. The terms of payment, as pre scribed by the act of 1840, were: One-tenth cash down and the rest in annual installments of the same amount, with interest at seven per cent. The parcels assigned to Charles G. Mason, as above specified, were finally conveyed to Smith and Van Allen; that assigned to Willard Sibley went to the representative of the Catholic Mission, and for that originally assigned to Julius Marion the certificate was issued to James Scribner. Lawsuits over the titles of some of these lands vexed the courts and fed lawyers for several years. They comprise now a valuable and handsome portion of the city; but to this day some of the original claimants, or their near friends, tell pitiful stories of the manner in which they deem themselves to have been swindled out of their just property rights.

Document Source: Baxter, Albert, History of the City of Grand Rapids, New York and Grand Rapids: Munsell & Company, Publishers, 1891. (Name Index)
Location of Original: Various.
Transcriber: Tom McCormick
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/baxter1891/1location.html
Created: 27 April 2000[an error occurred while processing this directive]