CHAPTER XXXIV

KENT COUNTY GOVERNMENT


Grand Rapids being the county seat and the center of official business for Kent county, historic lists of the principal county officers properly come in here. They have been carefully gathered and arranged, as closely as possible to correctness even in details; though the destruction of the county records, some thirty years ago, has rendered the work rather difficult. This chapter will be useful for reference, and also an aid to many in recalling to mind various events and incidents connected with the names given of officers and years of their terms of service.

SHERIFFS

NAME

YEARS

Ezra Reed

1837-1838

Aaron Russell

1839-1840

Harry Eaton

1841-1842

Solomon Withey

1843-1844

C. P. Babcock

1845-1846

DeWitt Shoemaker

1847-1848

Harvey K. Rose

1849-1850

Leonard Snyder

1851-1854

Daniel S. T. Weller

1855-1856

Anson N. Norton

1857-1860

Sluman S. Bailey

1861-1864

William Thornton

1865-1866

Sluman S. Bailey

1867-1868

Jesse F. Wyckoff

1869-1872

Isaac Haynes

1873-1876

Freeling W. Peck

1877-1880

Isaac F. Lamoreaux

1881-1882

Lyman T. Kinney

1883-1886

Loomis K. Bishop

1887-

COUNTY CLERKS

NAME

YEARS

Stephen Wilson

1837-1838

Charles H. Taylor

1839-1846

Samuel R. Sanford

1847-1848

Reuben H. Smith

1849-1854

Peter R. L. Peirce

1855-1968

Daniel McNaughton

1869-1872

Hobart H. Chipman

1873-1876

Frederick S. Clark

1877-1882

Orland H. Godwin

1883-1886

Cornelius L. Harvey

1887-

PETER RANDOLPH LIVINGSTON PEIRCE was a prominent citizen of Grand Rapids for upward of a quarter of a century. He was born at Geneseo, New York, May 25, 1821, and was a son of Colonel John Peirce, who moved from Virginia to Western New York about the time of the War of 1812. From Geneseo, in 1836, Peter removed to Detroit, where for a time he read law, and thence in 1840 came to Grand Rapids. Here he again studied law in the office of George Martin (afterward Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court), meantime keeping a bookstore, and was one of the active members of the Grand Rapids Lyceum, the debating club of the period. In 1843 he removed to Cincinnati and engaged in mercantile trade. While there he became interested in temperance movements, and wrote a history of the Order of the Sons of Temperance in Ohio, of which 100,000 copies were published and circulated. He also contributed many articles to the newspapers of that city, and formed a habit of writing for the newspaper press, which he kept up through life; his productions in that line being always sprightly and readable as well as useful. From Cincinnati Mr. Peirce returned to Grand Rapids in 1850, and followed mercantile business some five years. He had the eye and the taste of an artist, with talent in architectural drawing. In each of the years 1853, 1854, 1855 he was chosen City Clerk, serving three terms. In 1854 he was elected Clerk of Kent County, and re-elected to the same office until he served seven consecutive terms, running through fourteen years. In that position he won universal commendation, and was called the Model County Clerk of the State. As an officer he was methodical, expert, prompt and exact in his records and in the details of the public business. He was chosen to the State Senate for the term of 1869-1870, and there his services were indefatigable and efficient, to the great benefit of the cause of education; he being the chairman of the Committee on Education and influential in procuring the passage of the Act abolishing the rate bill and making the common schools free; also successful in urging liberal appropriations for the State University. Mr. Peirce was elected Mayor of Grand Rapids in 1873 and also in each of the years 1875 and 1876. From about 1870 for some six years he was connected with the ??Land Department of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Company, and compiled a historic and descriptive map of the country comprising its land grant, which was widely circulated, at home and in Europe. March 19, 1877, he was appointed Postmaster at Grand Rapids, which office he held at the time of his death. Through all his life Mr. Peirce was an active, industrious, public-spirited citizen, and in social circles remarkable for his cheerful, lively and happy disposition and mirthful mind, which made him a welcome guest at all gatherings. During the War for the Union he was active among the foremost in promoting enlistments, and generously alive in aiding needy families of the gallant men who went to the front, giving liberally of his own means in numerous instances. He was very popular with the soldiers and worked in their interests at all times. He was popular as a lecturer, and as a speaker at public gatherings, and it was said of him that for eighteen consecutive years he delivered an address at some Fourth of July celebration. His happy manner of spicing with wit and anecdote and humor his fervid patriotism, earnest appeal and instruction, always insured him a large and well pleased audience. In religious sentiment Mr. Peirce was an Episcopalian of liberal views; was a member of that denomination after 1843, and a vestryman of St. Mark’s Church in Grand Rapids for eighteen years. In its behalf he manifested a zealous interest, and managed many trusts with scrupulous fidelity. Politically, from its organizaion, he was an active, earnest and enthusiastic adherent of the Republican party. Mr. Peirce married, in May, 1843, Ellen E. Steele (daughter of Chester Steele of Hinesburgh, Vt.), who died in January, 1858; and again in April, 1859, Cora, daughter of Benjamin H. and Maria J. Mitchell of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who survives him and is yet a resident of Grand Rapids. In domestic life, his was a happy household. Mr. Peirce died at his home, November 12, 1878, leaving a widow, two sons and a daughter. Few in their lives had more or warmer friends than he, and few or none are more sincerely mourned when the death summons comes. He was a member of the Bar of Kent county, but never entered into general practice as an attorney. As a citizen and as a public officer, Peter R. L. Peirce was a man of spotless integrity. His life was one of influence and usefulness.


REGISTER OF DEEDS

NAME

YEARS

Jacob Barns

1837-1838

E. W. Barns

1842, to fill vacancy

Benjamin Smith

1843-1844

George H. White

1845-1846

John M. Fox

1847-1852

Fred. W. Worden

1853-1856

Leonidas S. Scranton

1857-1860

John R. Stewart

1861-1866

William G. Beckwith

1867-1872

Simeon Hunt

1873-1876

Loomis K. Bishop

1877-1882

Henry F. McCormick

1883-1888

Nathaniel Rice

1889-

 

COUNTY TREASURERS

NAMES

YEARS

Hiram Hinsdill

1837-1838

Aaron Dikeman

1839-1843

Sidney Smith

1843-1844

James Davis

1845-1848

Solomon O. Kingsbury

1849-1852

Nelson Robinson

1853-1856

Daniel C. McVean

1857-1858

Thompson I. Daniels

1859-1866

George Young, Jr.

1867-1872

Henry Bremer

1873-1876

John A. S. Verdier

1877-1882

Andrew J. Stebbins

1883-1886

Charles D. Stebbins

1887-1888

Sherman T. Colson

1889-

 

ANDREW JACKSON STEBBINS was born in Madison county, New York, October 14, 1840. In October, 1846, he came to Michigan with his father, Gaius P. Stebbins, who settled in Sparta, Kent county, two miles south of Sparta village. Charles D. Stebbins now owns and lives on the farm first taken up by his father, on Section 26 in Sparta township. Andrew J. in youth attended the common school. When the War of the Rebellion came on, he enlisted in Company B, Twenty-first Michigan Infantry, and went into the service; had charge of medical supplies at Hospitals No. 1 and No. 4, Nashville, Tennessee, and was hospital steward until the close of the war. After his return he worked on a farm two years, and then engaged in the lumber trade; for several years owning and operating mills on Section 1, Sparta, known as Stebbins’ Mills; also lumbered several years for William T. Powers. He then built an elevator at Sparta Center, and bought grain for some time. Afterward, in 1880, he went to Dakota and spent a year in Deadwood, lumbering there for W. T. Powers. Mr. Stebbins is mainly a self-educated man, but has always taken great interest in schools. At his mills in Sparta, after two years of hard work in that behalf, and several defeats, he succeeded in securing the organization of a school district formed of territory taken from the four towns of Sparta, Algoma, Tyrone and Solon; also in having a good school house built, and nicely furnished with patent seats and desks. While he lived there he managed to have at least nine months of school each year; often making personal contributions for the maintenance of good schools, and frequently giving presents to the small scholars for constant attendance and faithful work in their studies. For several years in Sparta he held the office of Justice of the Peace. In 1882 he was elected Treasurer of Kent county, since which time he has resided in Grand Rapids, and was re-elected in 1884, thus holding the office four years. In 1889 he was elected a member of the Common Council – Alderman from the Fourth Ward. Mr. Stebbins married, in 1866, Mary V. Gillam of Sparta. They have three children – Miss Elsie, born in 1869, teacher; Orson D., born in 1870, book-keeper, and Leo A. J., born in 1888. Politically, Mr. Stebbins is a Democrat. He was a charter member of Kent Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and High Priest therein until he removed to Grand Rapids. For many years he has owned a fine farm in Sparta, but never lived on it. At present he is engaged in the real estate and insurance business, in partnership with Charles A. Robinson.

COUNTY SURVEYORS

NAMES

YEARS

Charles Shepard

1843

William Slawson

1845-1846

Volney W. Caukin

1847-1848

William Slawson

1849-1852

James Dockeray

1853-1854

Ezekiel Howell

1855-1856

David R. Smith

1857-1860

John F. Tinkham

1861-1862

Edward L. Briggs

1863-1866

Riley Smith

1867-1868

Robert S. Jackson

1869-1874

Dorr Skeels

1875-1882

Homer A. Collar

1883-1884

Emory W. Muenscher

1885-1886

Elias C. Martin

1887-1888

Dorr Skeels

1889-


THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

The office of County Commissioner was not an abiding one. The first election of members for that board was held in November, 1838. By an act approved February 10, 1842, the Legislature abolished the office, and established a Board of Supervisors instead. Those who served on the Kent county Board of Commissioners were: Robert Hilton, Rodney Robinson, Sylvester Granger, William B. Hawks, and William H. Withey.

The Board of Supervisors is the legislative body of the county, and has supervision of all its public affairs. Below are given the names and terms of service of these guardians of the public welfare, by towns and wards.

ADA TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Sidney Smith

1838-1840

Rix Robinson

1841

Norman Ackley

1842

Sidney Smith

1843

Rix Robinson

1844

Amos Chase

1845

Nelson Robinson

1846-1852

Emory F. Strong

Jan. to April, 1853

Gurden Chapel

1853

John H. Withey

1854-1856

Peter McLean

1857-1858

Moses O. Swartwout

1859

Peter McLean

1860-1865

William H. Mekeel

1866

Hiram A. Rhodes

1867

Peter McLean

1868-1869

John T. Headley

1877

Peter McLean

1878

John T. Headley

1879-1880

Peter McLean

1881

Walter S. Plumb

1882-1884

John T. Headley

1885-1886

E. B. Clements

1887

John Headley

1888

Edward B. Clements

1889

ALGOMA TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Smith Lapham

1849-1852

James Mosher

1853

Smith Lapham

1854

George H. White

1855

Morgan Allen

1856

Smith Lapham

1857

James Mosher

1858

William Thornton

1859-1860

Morgan Allen

1861-1864

Horatio N. Stinson

1865-1866

Walter Chipman

1867

Horatio N. Stinson

1868-1876

Neal McMillan

1877

Oscar House

1878

John T. Gould

1879-1880

Nathan Gould

1881

John T. Gould

1882-1889

ALPINE TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Edward Wheeler

1847

William H. Withey

1848-1850

Alonzo Brewer

1851

Charles T. Hills

1852

John B. Colton

1853-1855

Reuben H. Smith

1856

Lyman Murray

1857

Reuben H. Smith

1858

Lyman Murray

1859-1865

Isaac Haynes

1866-1872

Henry D. Wedge

1873

Lyman Murray

1874

Henry D. Wedge

1875

Lyman Murray

1876

Norton Fitch

1877-1882

James Hill

1883-1889

BOWNE TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Roswell F. Tyler

1849-1852

A. C. Hill

1853

Daniel C. McVean

1854-1856

James H. Truax

1857-1858

Luke Strickland

1859-1861

Jared Miller

1862

Luke Strickland

1863-1864

James H. Truax

1865-1867

Abner D. Thomas

1868-1870

A. Lewis Coons

1871-1872

Abner D. Thomas

1873-1874

W. T. Remington

1875

A. Lewis Coons

1876

Abner D. Thomas

1877-1879

David M. Skidmore

1880

James C. Johnson

1881-1885

Martin A. Holcomb

1886

Peter J. Sinclair

1887-1888

William E. Davis

1889

BYRON TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Gideon H. Gordon

1836

George W. Scranton

1837

Julius C. Abel

1838

Robert Howlett

1839-1841

W. R. Godwin

1842-1843

Eli P. Crossett

1844

W. R. Godwin

1845-1847

Elijah McKenney

1848-1849

Jerry Boynton

1850

James M. Pelton

1851-1854

Amos B. Smith

1855

James M. Pelton

1855-1860

S. S. Towner

1861

James M. Pelton

1862-1863

Loyal Palmer

1864-1866

William P. Whitney

1867-1874

Samuel Tobey

1875-1877

William P. Whitney

1878

Samuel Tobey

1879-1882

Byron McNeal

1883-1887

James S. Toland

1888

Moses Rosenberg

1889

CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

John P. McNaughton

1840-1841

Norman Foster

1842-1843

Roswell F. Tyler, William Gibson

1844

John A. Cornell

1845

Justus G. Beach

1846-1847

Reuben H. Smith

1848

William H. Brown

1849-1853

Lyman Gerould

1854-1856

Zabin Williams

1857

William H. Brown

1858-1859

Warren S. Hale

1860

William H. Brown

1862-1862

William I. Wood

1863-1864

Adam B. Sherk

1865-1867

William I. Wood

1868

Marcus Buell

1869

Adam B. Sherk

1870

Robert S. Jackson

1871

William I. Wood

1872

Martin Whitney

1873-1876

Austin W. Hill

1877

Marcus Buell

1878

Sherman T. Colson

1879-1888

Alfred W. Stow

1889

CANNON TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Andrew Watson

1846

Hugh E. McKee

1847

Norman Ackley

1848

James Dockeray

1849-1850

Andrew Watson

1851

Timothy E. Wetmore

1852

James Dockeray

1853-1854

Daniel C. Pratt

1855

Benjamin Davies

1856-1861

George W. Van Every

1862

James Dockeray

1863-1865

Asa P. Ferry

1866-1870

James Dockeray

1871-1875

Loomis K. Bishop

1876

Albert W. Davis

1877

Andrew J. Provin

1878

William C. Young

1879-1881

William S. Johnson

1882-1886

Oscar House

1887

William S. Johnson

1888

Frank Ladner

1889

CASCADE TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Peter Teeple

1848-1849

Asa Denison

1850

Frederick A. Marsh

1851

Peter Teeple

1852-1853

Asa Denison

1854

Gideon H. Denison

1855-1857

Peter Teeple

1858

Gideon H. Denison

1859

Edgar R. Johnson

1860-1861

Horace Henshaw

1862-1863

Edgar R. Johnson

1864

Henry Holt

1865

Henry C. Denison

1866-1867

Alfred Stow

1868

Edgar R. Johnson

1869-1872

Horace Henshaw

1873

Edgar R. Johnson

1874-1877

Henry C. Denison

1878

Edgar R. Johnson

1879-1881

William C. Denison

1882

George P. Stark

1883-1884

Edgar R. Johnson

1885

George P. Stark

1886

Edgar R. Johnson

1887

George P. Stark

1888

John H. Withey

1889

COURTLAND TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Philo Beers

1839

Isaac Tower

1842

Philo Beers

1843-1844

John Austin

1845-1846

Nelson Miles

1847

Philo Beers

1848-1849

Fred W. Worden

1850

Horatio N. Stinson

1851

Philo Beers

1852

Harry H. Kingin

1853

Asa P. Ferry

1854-1855

Philo Beers

1856

Isaac T. Worden

1857

W. H. Myers

1858

Jacob I. Stoner

1859

Wheaton L. Hewitt

1860

Calvin Thompson

1861

William H. Myers

1862-1866

Barton Johnson

1867

William H. Myers

1868-1877

Isaac M. Hunting

1878

Charles M. Mann

1879

Elias C. Brooks

1880

Charles M. Mann

1881

Fred. Stegman

1882-1883

W. H. Myers

1884

Simeon P. Peterson

1885-1886

William F. Woodworth

1887-1888

Charles H. Carlyle

1889

GAINES TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Peter VanLew

1848-1853

Alexander Clark

1854-1855

Peter VanLew

1856

Aaron Brewer

1857-1860

Charles Kelly

1861-1862

Aaron Brewer

1863

Charles Kelly

1864-1865

James M. Pelton

1866

Charles Kelly

1867

Henry L. Wise

1868

James M. Pelton

1869-1870

Aaron Brewer

1871

William J. Hardy

1872

Aaron Brewer

1873-1876

Valentine Geib

1877

Lewis A. Solomon

1878-1879

Nelson Kelly

1880-1885

Lewis A. Solomon

1886

Nelson Kelly

1887

Lewis A. Solomon

1888

Valentine Geib

1889

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Rix Robinson

1834-1835

Ezekiel W. Davis

1836-1838

William G. Henry

1839

Francis J. Higginson

1840

George Young

1841

John Almy

1842-1843

Josiah L. Wheeler

1844

Truman H. Lyon

1845

Daniel Ball

1846

Harvey K. Rose

1847

James M. Nelson

1848

Aaron Dikeman

1849

Lewis Reed

1850

Foster Tucker

1851-1852

Abram Shear

1853

Foster Tucker

1854

Lewis Reed

1855

Foster Tucker

1856

George W. Dickinson

1857

Augustus Treat

1858

Kendall Woodward

1859

Obed H. Foote

1860

Foster Tucker

1861-1873

Henry F. McCormick

1874-1882

Henry H. Havens

1883-1889

GRATTAN TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Milton C. Watkins

1846

John John P. Weeks

1847-1848

Milton C. Watkins

1849-1850

Frederick C. Patterson

1851

Milton C. Watkins

1852-1853

Converse Close

1854

Luther K. Madison

1855

Converse Close

1856

Milton C. Watkins

1857

Converse Close & Dudley Newton

1858

George D. Wood

1859-1860

Theo. N. Chapin

1861

B. W. B. Madison

1862

Salisbury Mason

1863-1864

George D. Wood

1865

Volney W. Caukin

1866

George D. Wood

1867

Oliver I. Watkins

1868-1870

Jerome A. Duga

1871

Oliver I. Watkins

1872

John W. Nicholson

1873-1875

Oliver I. Watkins

1876

Alvin C. Davis

1877-1878

Aaron Norton

1879-1884

Oliver I. Watkins

1885-1886

Johnson M. Giffin

1887-1889

LOWELL TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Cyprian S. Hooker

1848

Harrison Wickham

1849-1851

Cyprian S. Hooker

1852-1853

John Brown

1854-1856

Cyprian S. Hooker

1857

Jacob Chapman

1858

Arvine Peck

1859

Charles B. Carter

1860-1863

Almon M. Elsworth

1864-1869

Robert Hunter, Jr.

1870

Edmund Lee

1871

Simeon Hunt

1872

Charles R. Hine

1873

Robert Hunter, Jr.

1874-1877

Almon M. Elsworth

1878

Leonard Hunt

1879-1880

Jarvis C. Train

1881-1882

Milton C. Barber

1883

Henry Mitchell

1884

Leonard H. Hunt

1885

Henry Mitchell

1886-1887

Augustus W. Weekes

1888-1889

NELSON TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

George Hoyle

1855

Urias Stout

1856

Adolphus L. Skinner

1856-1860

Benjamin F. DeCou

1861

Adolphus L. Skinner

1862

Barton Eddy

1863

Nicholas R. Hill

1864-1867

David B. Stout

1868

Henry C. Russell

1869

Mindrus H. Whitney

1870-1875

David B. Stout

1876

Henry C. Russell

1877

Albert D. Eldridge

1878

John Berridge

1879-1884

Edgar L. Phelps

1885-1887

John Berridge

1888

Fred. Hubbard

1889

OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Thomas Spencer

1849

Harry McArthur

1850-1853

Thomas Spencer

1854

Harry McArthur

1855-1857

Richard L. Wells

1858-1859

John Davis

1860

William R. Davis

1861-1864

Rufin Caukin

1865

William R. Davis

1866-1874

Harry McArthur

1875-1876

William Brown

1877

William R. Davis

1878

William Brown

1879

Neil Stewart

1880-1882

H. E. Rowley

1883

H. A. Rowley

1884

Nelson B. Rich

1885-1886

Neil Stewart

1887

Edward H. Jones

1888-1889

PARIS TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Joel Guild

1839

James A. Davis

1840

Foster Kelly

1841

Hiram H. Allen

1842

Stephen Hinsdill

1843

James A. Davis

1844

Clinton Shoemaker

1845

James A. Davis

1846

Benjamin F. Freeman

1847

William S. Parsons

1848-1849

Sluman S. Bailey

1850-1851

James A. Davis

1852

Sluman S. Bailey

1853-1854

Timothy S. Smith

1855

Hiram H. Allen

1856

Timothy S. Smith

1857-1858

Sluman S. Bailey

1859-1860

Timothy S. Smith

1861-1862

Samuel M. Garfield

1863-1865

Timothy S. Smith

1866

Isaac D. Davis

1867

Horace Henshaw

1868

John P. Wykes

1869

Samuel L. Garfield

1870-1872

Wright C. Allen

1873

Samuel Langdon

1874-1875

Christian P. Friend

1876-1877

Samuel Langdon

1878

Jerome E. Phillips

1879

Christian P. Friend

1880-1882

Jerome E. Phillips

1883-1884

Hugo B. Rathbun

1885

Everett Hurd

1886-1887

Jerome E. Phillips

1888

Fremont E. Skeels

1889

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Zenas G. Winsor

1838

Collins Leach

1839-1840

Ezra Whitney

1841

Gideon H. Gordon

1842

A. Watson

1843-1844

H. C. Smith

1845-1846

William Thornton

1847

Chester Wilson, Jr.

1848

Henry C. Smith

1849-1852

Peter B. Wilson

1853

John Hamilton

1854-1855

H. C. Smith

1856-1858

James K. Morris

1859-1860

H. C. Smith

1861-1866

Austin Richardson

1867-1868

Horace Konkle

1869-1875

H. D. Plumb

1876

Horace Konkle

1877

Henry D. Plumb

1878-1879

Nathaniel Rice

1880-1888

Robert M. Hutchins

1889

SOLON TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Edward Jewell

1857-1858

Nicholas R. Hill

1859

Edward Jewell

1860-1861

Nicholas R. Hill

1862

Edward Jewell

1863

Edward Pryce

1864

Oliver P. Jewell

1865

John J. Dean

1866

Reuben W. Jewell

1867

Mindrus H. Whitney

1868

Asel B. Fairchild

1869-1870

Benjamin Fairchild

1871

Edward Pryce

1872-1877

Asel B. Fairchild

1878-1879

Oliver R. Lewis

1880-1882

Albert G. Rose

1883

Jeremiah Payne

1884-1887

Edmund C. Woodworth

1888-1889

SPARTA TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Lewis W. Purdy

1846-1847

Jonathan E. Nash

1848

Lewis W. Purdy

1849

Horace McNitt

1850

Jonathan E. Nash

1851-1852

Caleb Amidon

1853

Jonathan E. Nash

1854-1856

Ira Blanchard

1859-1860

Jacob Spangenberg

1861-1862

Ira Blanchard

1863

Christopher C. Hinman

1864

Rufus Payne

1865

Sidney McNitt

1866-1867

Volney W. Caukin

1868-1871

Christopher C. Hinman

1872-1874

Jonathan E. Nash

1875-1876

John Manchester

1877

Jonathan E. Nash

1878

Christopher C. Hinman

1879-1880

Rezin A. Maynard

1881-1882

James B. Taylor

1883

Christopher C. Hinman

1884

Avonley E. Roberts

1885-1888

Leslie E. Paige

1889

SPENCER TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Freeman Van Winkle

1861

Thomas Spencer

1862

Charles S. DeCou

1863-1864

Charles D. Spencer

1865

Jacob Van Zandt

1866

Matthew B. Hatch

1867-1873

Jacob Van Zandt

1874

Scott Griswold

1875-1878

John Moran

1879-1880

Michael Ward

1881

John Moran

1882

Scott Griswold

1883-1884

Volney F. Cowles

1885

Scott Griswold

1886-1888

James Ward

1889

TYRONE TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Uriah Chubb

1855-1860

Albert Clute

1861

Milan L. Squires

1862

Joseph Keyes

1863-1864

Uriah Chubb

1865-1867

Charles T. Smith

1868

James M. Armstrong

1869-1871

Augustus C. Ayres

1872

Henry C. Wylie

1873-1874

Henry J. Barrett

1875-1876

Henry H. Wylie

1877

George Hemsley

1878-1880

George Snyder

1881-1886

William W. Fenton

1887-1888

George Snyder

1889

VERGENNES TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Rodney Robinson

1838

John M. Fox

1839

John J. Devendorf

1840

Alanson K. Shaw

1841

Thompson I. Daniels

1842-1844

Arba Richards

1845

Henry M. Brown

1846-1847

John B. Shear

1848

Thompson I. Daniels

1849

Morgan Lyon

1850

Lucas Robinson

1851-1852

Orlando J. O’Dell

1853-1855

Philip W. Fox

1856

Thompson I. Daniels

1857-1858

Silas A. Yerkes

1859-1860

Alex. McLean

1861-1862

Jacob W. Walker

1863-1889

WALKER TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Lovell Moore

1838-1839

Ebenezer Davis

1840-1841

James Davis

1842-1843

Isaac Turner

1844

James Davis

1845-1846

John Potter

1847

Silas Hall

1848

John Potter

1849-1850

William A. Tryon

1851-1852

Curtis Porter

1853

Milo White

1854-1858

William C. Davidson

1859

Milo White

1860

Charles H. Leonard

1861-1862

Jeffrey C. Champlin

1863

Henry C. Hogadone

1864-1865

Horace McNitt

1866

Jeffrey Champlin

1867

Ezra A. Hebard

1868-1874

Abiel A. Wilson

1875

Perley W. Johnson

1876

Abiel A. Wilson

1877

Ezra A. Hebard

1878-1879

Abiel A. Wilson

1880-1881

Perley W. Johnson

1882

Abiel A. Wilson

1883-1886

John Kinney

1887-1889

WYOMING TOWNSHIP

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

William R. Godwin

1848-1851

Nicholas Shoemaker

1852-1854

Egbert Dewey

1855

Ebenezer Davis

1856

Nicholas Shoemaker

1857

Horatio N. Ball

1858-1859

Job Whitney

1860

Ebenezer Davis

1861-1862

Job Whitney

1863

Horace O. Webster

1864

Dwight Rankin

1865

Joseph Blake

1866

Ebenezer Davis

1867

Augustine Godwin

1868

John T. Emmons

1869-1870

Augustine Godwin

1871

Salisbury Mason

1872-1875

Clinton D. Shoemaker

1876-1877

William K. Emmons

1878

William H. Nearpass

1879

Augustine Godwin

1880-1884

Clinton D. Shoemaker

1885-1886

Nichol D. Emmons

1887-1889

CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS AT LARGE

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Henry R. Williams

1850

Truman H. Lyon, Boardman Noble

1851-1852

David Caswell, Isaac Turner

1853

Ralph W. Cole, John W. Peirce

1854

Lewis Porter, Martin L. Sweet, Isaac Turner

1855

David S. Leavitte, David Caswell, Charles C. Comstock

1856

GRAND RAPIDS – FIRST WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Amos Rathbone

1857

John Clancy

1858

John McConnell

1859

William H. Godfroy

1860

John McConnell

1861-1868

Arthur Wood

1869-1871

Patrick J. Britton

1872-1873

Arthur Wood

1874

Patrick J. Britton

1875-1876

William Riordan

1877

John Steketee

1878-1888

Hendrikus Leppink

1889

GRAND RAPIDS – SECOND WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Harry H. Ives

1857

Robert Hilton

1858

John Almy

1859-1860

Henry Grinnell

1861-1863

Clark C. Sexton

1864

Alonzo Seymour

1865-1866

Henry Grinnell

1867

George M. Huntly

1868-1870

Ebenezer M. Ball

1871-1873

William D. Talford

1874

Jefferson Morrison

1875-1876

Robert B. Loomis

1887-1889

GRAND RAPIDS – THIRD WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Warren P. Mills

1857

Ransom P. Luce

1858

Noyes L. Avery

1859

Ezra T. Nelson

1860-1861

George C. Nelson

1862

William N. Cook

1863-1864

William D. Talford

1865-1866

William I. Blakely

1867-1868

Emory Wheelock

1869-1870

William I. Blakely

1871

William N. Cook

1872-1874

George Cook

1875-1878

Simeon L. Baldwin

1879-1883

John Benjamin

1884-1889

GRAND RAPIDS – FOURTH WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Jonathan F. Chubb

1857

Leonard Covell

1858

John W. Williamson

1859-1860

Billius Stocking

1861-1865

John W. Williamson

1866

Billius Stocking

1867-1868

David W. Northrup

1869

Billius Stocking

1870

George M. Huntly

1871

John B. Colton

1872

George A. Field

1873-1874

George M. Huntly

1875

Harry H. Ives

1876-1880

Myron E. Pierce

1881

Harry H. Ives

1882-1886

William D. Frost

1887-1889

GRAND RAPIDS – FIFTH WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

James N. Davis

1857

Philander H. Bowman

1858

James N. Davis

1859

William Hovey

1860

Charles W. Warrell

1861

George R. Pierce

1862-1863

Frederick W. Fitch

1864

George W. Gay

1865-1867

Bernard F. Shinkman

1868-1869

James N. Davis

1870

Jared Wells

1871-1872

George W. Betts

1873

Adolphus L. Skinner

1874-1877

William A. Brown

1878-1881

Adolphus L. Skinner

1882-1885

Simon Sullivan

1886-1889

GRAND RAPIDS – SIXTH WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Erastus Clark

1871

Isaac Simmons

1872

Peter C. Shickell

1873-1874

Billius Stocking

1875

Isaac Simmons

1876-1884

Peter C. Shickell

1885-1888

Jacob A. Smits

1889

GRAND RAPIDS – SEVENTH WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

Lewis Martin

1871

John W. Williamson

1872-1874

Lewis Martin

1875-1877

Ira Currier

1878

Lewis Martin

1879

Ira Currier

1880-1882

Henry O. Schermerhorn

1883-1889

GRAND RAPIDS – EIGHTH WARD

NAME OF SUPERVISORS

YEARS

James N. Davis

1871-1877

Madison J. Ulrich

1878

James N. Davis

1879-1885

Madison J. Ulrich

1886

Robert E. Courtney

1887-1889

Since the establishment in 1877 of the Grand Rapids City Board of Review and Equalization the members of that Board (list given in another chapter) have been likewise members of the Kent County Board of Supervisors.

BILLIUS STOCKING was born in Lisbon, St. Lawrence county, New York, June 12, 1808. His parents were Billius and Patience (Grey) Stocking, natives of Massachusetts, the former born in 1779, the latter in 1777. In the fall of 1833, he, with his brother, Daniel C., came to St. Joseph, Michigan, and in May, 1834, came through on foot from that place to Grand Rapids, sleeping two nights in the woods, and one night at Gull Prairie, on the way hither. They staid here two weeks, meantime visiting Grand Haven; returned to St. Joseph on foot; thence went by schooner to Chicago, and from there went to Ottawa, Illinois, near which place Mr. Stocking purchased 160 acres of land. They then returned to the east, spending about four weeks in the journey. In the fall of 1836 Mr. Stocking again started for Grand Rapids, coming by water to Fairport, Ohio, and the rest of the way on foot, reaching this city in November. During the next winter he chopped wood and split rails, and in the spring of 1837 settled upon the place where he now lives, the northeast quarter of Section 23, Town 7 North, Range 12 West, for which he paid the State $3 per acre when it afterward came into market, and which he soon improved by clearing fifty acres. It is now a part of the city of Grand Rapids. From it, without compass, he and his brother ran a road southeast to Bridge Street, which is no Stocking street – named for him. In the township organization, before the city days, Mr. Stocking was Treasurer of Walker, from 1843 to 1846, inclusive, and also served two terms as Justice of the Peace. In the city he has served as Supervisor for his ward, in all, no less than seven terms. Until he recently retired from public responsibilities under the weight of advanced years, he was also usually filling some other position of official trust, especially those pertaining to schools, in which he has taken great interest. He has also been Under Sheriff of Kent county for one term. Since 1853 he has given much time to land explorations and locations for purchase or settlement in the northern portion of this Peninsula of Michigan. Mr. Stocking married, December 5, 1838, Mary Hunt, who was born June 20, 1818, in Halifax, Vermont. They have resided for more than fifty years in the same location. Of five children born to them, two are now living. The elder daughter married John Widdicomb. Mr. Stocking is one of the very few surviving pioneers; and, at upward of four-score years, having seen and been a part of the growth and progress of Grand Rapids from its wildwood days, none have a surer place than he in the esteem and affections of its people. (See page 107)

ADOLPHUS L. SKINNER was born at Pierpoint, St. Lawrence county, New York, January 27, 1834, and came to Jackson county, Michigan in the spring of 1840. He was educated at the common schools, and Michigan Central college when that institution was located at Spring Arbor, in Jackson county. He came to Grand Rapids in 1851, but returned to Jackson county in the spring of 1852, remaining there attending and teaching school until the fall of 1854, when he came back to Kent county, and purchased from the Government 280 acres of land in the township of Nelson. There he lived, working on his farm summers and teaching school winters until March 23,1863, when he moved to Grand Rapids, and has since been a resident of this city. January 1, 1861, he married Lucinda A. Provin, of Cannon township, who died in this city May 21, 1881, at the age of 42 years. Three sons were born to them of whom the eldest died at six years of age, and the other two are living: Harry J., aged 23, at Great Falls, Montana, and Mark, aged 18, attending the High School in this city. In public official positions the services of Mr. Skinner have been often called for an zealously rendered. During his residence in Nelson he was Supervisor of the township for six years. In 1860 he was appointed an Assistant United State Marshal, and took the United States Census in the north half of Kent county. Later, in this city, he has held the offices of Justice of the Peace, Supervisor many terms, Alderman for his Ward, member of the Board of Education for several terms, and for the past four years Member of the Board of Review and Equalization. On the Board of Supervisors he has served in all nineteen years, and is the present year (1889 Chairman of the Board). Since coming to this city Mr. Skinner has been engaged in the collection of war claims, and in real estate and insurance business. In the examination of titles to real estate and looking up tax matters, his long experience has made him an expert. In 1872 he platted an addition of forty acres in the Fifth Ward of this city, and built for himself a family residence on Plainfield avenue, where he has lived for the past eighteen years –a bustling, active, neighborly, public-spirited man and citizen, enjoying the respect and warm good will of all about him.

 

SUPERINTENDENTS OF THE POOR

These officers are appointed by the Board of Supervisors. During the first four or five years after settlement no public provision was made in Grand Rapids for the support of the poor. The pioneers were neighbors and friends, and the unfortunate amongst them usually found sympathy and care. But in April, 1839, the town voted to raise $300 for the support of the poor. It is presumable that the financial revulsion of 1837 brought about the resort to public aid. In the earlier days the practice was to "farm out" the paupers to the lowest bidder for their care. At first each town took care of its own. In May, 1849, the County Superintendents advertised for sealed proposals for keeping and clothing the paupers of the county until the first of November following. This advertisement was signed by George Coggeshall, William G. Henry and Jonathan F. Chubb as superintendents. In 1855 the county purchased its Poor Farm, on Section 16 in Paris – 80 acres of land, at a cost of $1,800, and the paupers were moved there December 1, 1855. The farm is now much enlarged and improved; and there the poor of the county are well cared for. The following have served as County Superintendents of the Poor.

NAMES OF SUPERINTENDENTS

YEARS

John M. Fox, Solomon L. Withey, Wilder D. Foster

1854

J. M. Fox, S. S. Bailey, Solomon L. Withey

1855

Curtis Porter, William Parsons, Thompson Sinclair

1856

C. Porter, Wm. Parsons, Aaron Dikeman

1857-1858

Leonard Covell, Timothy S. Smith, George W. Allen

1859-1860

Hiram H. Allen, Curtis Porter, George W. Allen

1862-1863

Hiram H. Allen, Ebenezer Anderson, William Bemis

1864-1868

William Leppig, Samuel Scudder, John Steketee

1869-1871

W. Leppig. J. Steketee, Riley Smith

1872-1873

W. Leppig, Riley Smith, Reuben H. Smith

1874

Moses V. Aldrich, Reuben H. Smith, Riley Smith

1875-1878

R. H. Smith, Asa W. Meech, W. L. Coffinberry

1879

W. L. Coffinberry, R. H. Smith, A. W. Meech

1880

W. L. Coffinberry, R. H. Smith, S. M. Pearsall

1881-1883

W. L. Coffinberry, R. H. Smith, A. W. Meech

1884-1887

W. L. Coffinberry, Nelson B. Rich, A. W. Meech

1888

A. W. Meech, N. B. Rich, David Lankester

1889

 

MOSES V. ALDRICH, prominent for nearly a quarter of a century in the business circles of Grand Rapids, was born at Macedon, Ontario county, New York, September 13, 1829. His education was only such as could be obtained at the common schools of his boyhood days. His father, Stephen H. Aldrich, moved to Michigan in 1836. Soon afterward Moses was in the employ of a railroad company, working faithfully to earn his own subsistence and to contribute to that of his father’s family. A few years later he entered a dry goods store at Plymouth, Michigan, as a clerk. While still a youth he attracted all who knew him by his affability, his obliging dispositions, and his strict integrity. About 1852 he was promoted to partnership in the firm of J. S. Scattergood & Co., a fact which amply testifies to the confidence and esteem of his employers. Glancing at this beginning and through his uniformly successful career, the fact becomes apparent that Mr. Aldrich was essentially a self-made man. In 1855 he disposed of his business at Plymouth and came to Grand Rapids, entering into partnership with his wife’s father, William B. Ledyard, in the manufacture of fanning mills and milk safes. This business grew to large proportions, and its products supplied the market in a large part of Michigan and Wisconsin. Mr. Aldrich was active manager of the concern, and pushed it with extraordinary vigor and success. In 1860 was organized the banking house of Ledyard & Aldrich, in which Mr. Aldrich continued as a partner until 1862. In February, 1871, he opened a private banking house and continued in this business until his death. After his death this enterprise was merged in the Grand Rapids National Bank, by reorganization. Mr. Aldrich’s intuitive judgment of men and affairs, his thorough integrity, and his fine executive ability, commanded public attention, and he was chosen Mayor of the city for three consecutive terms, in 1868, 1869, 1870. He had a habit of close watchfulness, as untiring in public as in private affairs, and he won general commendation in his official acts. From 1875 until his death he served as County Superintendent of the Poor, an office accepted purely out of kindness of heart to the unfortunate and suffering. The County Poor House may be rightly called his crowning charity. When asked why he should give his valuable time so persistently to this distasteful work, he replied that it was to satisfy himself that abuse should not be added to the ills already visited on the helpless and imbecile inmates of this institution. Mr. Aldrich was stern in justice. It was one of the pleasures of his life to give advice and assistance to young men of spirit and ambition. He had been poor himself, he said, and he knew how hard was the struggle. On the other hand, he had small patience with the shiftless poor, refusing aid to such except in cases of destitution. Though a stanch Republican, Mr. Aldrich was no ambitious politically. Such offices of local trust as he was persuaded to hold were accepted for the public good and not for personal aggrandizement. He loved the place which he had chosen for his home, and he entered into all its enterprises with indefatigable and fearless zeal. The prosperity of Grand Rapids to-day is a fitting tribute to the sound judgment and untiring energy of her pioneers, her early "city father". One by one these able men are dropping from the ranks, and the record of their lives is preserved for their posterity. On the list of these the name of Moses V. Aldrich will ever have a foremost stand. The pathos of an early death accrues to him. He was cut down in the prime of his manly success, at the age of only fifth years. He died December 8, 1879, leaving a wife, two grown daughters and two sons. The wish of his heart was not fulfilled – "that he might live to see his dear boys men."

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: Evelyn Sawyer
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/baxter1891/34countygovt.html

Created: 5 November 2001[an error occurred while processing this directive]