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Chapter VII.
Outline Sketch -- Colonial, Territorial, State and Local.

Digressing momentarily from the thread of merely local settlement and development, take a hasty glance at the stiches set in earlier days, and the governmental and official seams leading therefrom into and through the corporate communities of this section of the Grand River Valley. Before and during and for some time after the Revolutionary War, this Upper Lake region of our country was little known, except the points where were missionary or trading stations. Indeed, from 1701 down to the administrations of General Lewis Cass, which began in 1813, the history of Detroit, the territorial capital, and of Michilimackinac, the headquarters at the Straits of the early French voyageurs and Jesuit missionaries, may be said to comprise about all of the local history for that period, of what is now Michigan. This northwest country was a portion of what was called New France or Canada, from 1603 to November, 1760, when it was surrendered to the British. Under both French and British control, the Governors or resident commandants exercised the functions of both civil and military authority, subject to orders of the commanding general to whom they reported. The first local civil government was provided in 1774. After Canada was divided into two provinces, in 1791, Michigan formed a part of Upper Canada. The following are lists of Governors, or acting Governors, under each control:

Under French Rule:
1603-12 M. Chauvin, Commander de Chastes, and M. de Montes
1612-19 Samuel de Champlain, with Prince de Conde as acting Governor
1619-29 Admiral Montmorenci as Acting Governor
1633-35 Samuel de Champlain
1636---  M. de Chateaufort
1637-47 M. de Montmagny
1647-51 M. d' Aillebout
1651-56 M. Jean de Lauson
1656-57 M. Charles de Lauson-Charny
1657-58 M. d' Aillebout
1658-61 Viscount d' Argenson
1661-63 Baron d' Avangour
1663-65 Chevalier de Saffrery-Mesy
1665-72 Chevalier de Courcelles
1672-82 Comte Frontenac
1682-85 M. Lefebvre de la Barre
1685-89 Marquis de Denouville
1689-99 Comte Frontenac
1699-1705 Chevalier de Callieres
1705-26 Marquis de Vaudreuil
1726-47 Marquis de Beauharnois
1747-49 Count de la Galissonere
1749-52 Marquis de la Jonquiere
1752--- Baron de Longueuil (acting short term)
1752-55 Marquis Duquesne de Menneville
1755-60 Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal

Under English Rule:
1760-63 General Jeffrey Amherst
1763-66 General James Murray
1766--- Paulus Emelius Ivine (Pres. of Council)
1766-70 Sir Guy Carlton (Lieut.-Gov.)
1770-74 Hector T. Cramahe (Pres. of Council)
1774-78 Sir Guy Carlton
1778-84 General Frederick Haldimand (Lieut.-Gov.)
1784--- Henry Hamilton (Lieut.-Gov.)
1785--- Colonel Henry Hope(res. of Council)
1785-92 Guy Carlton, as Lord Dorchester
1792-96 John Graves Simcoe (Lieut.-Gov.)

Although this Territory was set off from Canada in 1783, the United States did not get full control of Michigan till 1796, and in the period between those years the Canadian governors had de facto authority. Virginia appears to have had primarily a well founded claim to possession of the Northwest Territory, by virtue of her original charter; but Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York also set up claims, and dissensions concerning them interfered somewhat with the formation of the Union. All of them, however, were finally surrendered. In 1787 an ordinance was passed by Congress for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio River, which is memorable from the fact that it excluded slavery forever and made liberal provision in perpetuity for the support of schools. Under American government General Arthur St. Clair was Governor of the Northwest Territory from 1787 to 1800, when the Territory was divided and the Territory of Indiana created. The latter included Michigan, and General William Henry Harrison was its Governor till 1805. In 1804 an act was passed which placed in the jurisdiction of Indiana Territory Michigan and all that part of the United States north of the thirty-third parallel, west to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1805 a division was made into two Territories---Indiana and Michigan---the latter to include that part of Indiana Territory lying north of a line drawn from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan due east to Lake Erie; and on July 2 of that year the Governor and Judges took the oath of office at Detroit. A Territorial seal was adopted, probably the private seal of Governor Hull. In 1814 Governor Cass devised another seal, which was duly recorded, bearing the motto, "Tandem fit surculus arbor" ---indicating that the Michigan Territorial shoot had become an independent tree. In 1816 a strip was taken from the Territory and included in the new State of Indiana. In 1818 Congress added to Michigan Territory all of Wisconsin and the western part of the Upper Peninsula. In 1819 the election of a delegate to Congress was authorized. In 1823 the government of the Territory was transferred from the Governor and Judges to the Governor and a Council of nine persons, to be selected by the President from eighteen persons elected by the people. In 1827 the people of the Territory were authorized to elect thirteen persons to constitute the Legislative Council. In 1834 the Territorial limits were enlarged, by which Michigan Territory was made to include all of the present States of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and a large part of Dakota. Wisconsin was set off in April, 1836, leaving Michigan a Territory by itself. In 1835 a convention of eighty-nine delegates, chosen by the people, was authorized to form a State Constitution. It assembled in Detroit, May 11, and concluded its work June 24 of that year. Seventy-three delegates attended. Those from Kalamazoo county, which then included Kent, were Lucius Lyon, William H. Welch, and Hezekiah G. Wells. the Constitution which they prepared was ratified and adopted by a vote of the people on the first Monday in October, 1835. This Constitution remained in force as the fundamental law of the State until that of 1850 went into operation. The Governors of the Territory of Michigan were:
William Hull,  March 1, 1805, to October 29, 1813.
Lewis Cass, October 29, 1813, to August 6, 1831.
George B. Porter, August 6, 1831, to July 6, 1834.
Steven T. Mason, July 6, 1834, to September 20, 1835.
John S. Horner, September 20, 1835, to November 2, 1835.

In June, 1836, Congress passed an act for the admission of Michigan to the Union, provided she would accept the boundary which gave a strip of disputed territory on the south to the State of Ohio, and take in lieu of that what is known as the Upper Peninsula. This, after much cavil and the holding of two conventions, was finally agreed to by popular vote, and Michigan became a full-fledged State, January 26, 1837. And thus was ended a controversy with Ohio, which for a time assumed serious proportions, and which has since been popularly referred to as "The Toledo War." It has proved a very advantageous settlement for the State; the mineral resources of that upper section being found immeasurably greater than had been anticipated by the most sanguine dreamers.

The State Government formed by the first Constitution has remained substantially unchanged in its main features, though marked changes in many of the details have since been made. In 1850 a new Constitution was adopted, which remains in operation at the present day, with a few amendments. The powers of Government are divided into three departments; Legislative, Executive and Judicial. The Legislative power is vested in a Senate and House of Representatives; the Senate consisting of 32 and the House of 100 members, elected by districts every two years. The Executive power is vested in a Governor, chosen by popular election, who holds his office two years. The Judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, circuit courts, probate courts, and justices of the peace, and in cities, such other municipal courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction as may be established by the Legislature. Following are the names of State Governors, with dates of beginning of terms:

1835-Stevens T. Mason
1840-William Woodbridge
1841-J. Wright Gordon (acting)
1842-John S. Barry
1846-Alpheus Felch
1847-Wm. L. Greenly (acting)
1848-Epaphroditus Ransom
1850-John S. Barry
1852-Robert McClelland
1853-Andrew Parsons (acting)
1855-Kinsley S. Bingham
1859-Moses Wisner
1861-Austin Blair
1865-Henry H. Crapo
1869-Henry P. Baldwin
1873-John J. Bagley
1877-Charles M. Croswell
1881-David H. Jerome
1883-Josiah W. Begole
1885-Russell A. Alger
1887-Cyrus G. Luce

Of the other State officers, those chosen or appointed from Grand Rapids and vicinity have been:
Lieutenant-Governor: Moreau S. Crosby, 1881-1885
Secretaries of State: Charles H. Taylor, 1850-1853; Ebenezer G. D. Holden, 1875-1879
Attorneys-General: Byron D. Ball, 1873-1874; Moses Taggart, 1885-1889
Commissioners of Railroads: Wm. B. Williams, 1877-1883; Wm. P. Innes, 1883-1885
Names of members of the Legislature from Kent County are given below in alphabetical order, with years of service:

In the Senate:
Andrus, Wesley P. 1877-78
Ball, Byron D. 1871-72
Bell, Digby V. 1842-43
Bridge, Henry P. 1840-41
Crosby, Moreau S. 1873-74
Curtiss, John L. 1885-86
Foster, Wilder D. 1855-56
Hine, James W. 1883-84
Hine, Milton B. 1879-80
Lapham, Smith 1857-58
Lyon, Truman H. 1853-54
Murray, Lyman 1875-76
Peirce, Peter R. L. 1869-70
Porter, Lewis 1859-60
Richmond, William A. 1844-45
Robinson, Rix 1846-49
Russell, Henry C. 1881-82
Seymour, Henry 1867-68
Stark, George P. 1887-88
Watkins, Milton C. 1863-66
Wesselius, Sybrant 1889
Withey, Solomon L. 1861-62

In the House:
Allen, George W. 1859-60
Almy, John 1837-38
Baldwin, Simeon L. 1877-78
Ball, John 1838-39
Beers, Philo 1850-51
Briggs, Edward L. 1873-74
Briggs, George G. 1869-72
Britton, Roswell 1835-36
Caukin, Volney W. 1857-58
Cheney, Amherst B. 1877-80
Church, Thomas B. 1851-56
Davis, William R. 1869-70
Dillon, Joseph 1887-88
Dockeray, James 1863-64
Earle, Nathaniel A. 1881-82
Eggleston, Ebenezer S. 1873-74
Fallass, Silas S. 1859-62
Ferry, Asa P. 1871-72
Finney, Noble H. 1839
Fletcher, Niram A. 1883-84
Ford, Melbourne H. 1885-86
Garfield, Charles W. 1881-82
Garfield, Samuel M. 1871-76
Gilbert, Thomas D. 1861-62
Gill, Frank H.  1889
Griswold, Augustus D. 1863-65
Haire, John 1861-62
Hill, Nicholas R. 1871-72
Houseman, Julius 1871-72
Hunt, Leonard H. 1887-88
Jewell, Edward 1865-67
Johnson, Simeon M. 1843
Johnson, Welcome W. 1877-78
Judd, George E. 1889
Kellogg, Francis W. 1857-58
Killean, John 1887---
Kingsbury, Solomon O. 1867-68
Lapham, Smith 1855-56
McCormick, Henry F. 1879-80
McMillan, Neal 1887---
Moulton, Luther V. 1879-80
Palmerlee, Heman 1881-82
Porter, John 1863-64
Porter, Lewis 1857-58
Powers, William H. 1879-80
Prindle, C. W. 1877-78-81-82
Ransom, James W. 1875-76
Sellers, L. McKnight 1883-86
Seymour, Henry 1865-66
Shoemaker, DeWitt 1853-54
Slayton, Thomas J. 1867-70
Smith, Henry C. 1849-54
Stark, George P. 1885-86
Taylor, Charles H. 1847-48
Taylor, William H. 1861-62
Thompson, George W. 1883-84
Train, Jarvis C.  1883-84
Ulrich, Madison J. 1885-86
Walker, Charles I. 1841
Watkins, Erwin C. 1873-76
Watkins, Milton C. 1859-60
White, George H. 1863-64

In National affairs have served men more or less closely identified with Grand Rapids and the counties now comprising the Fifth Congressional District of Michigan, as follows:
As Presidential Electors: In 1848, Rix Robinson; in 1856, William H. Withey; in 1864, Thomas D. Gilbert; in 1872 and 1876, William A. Howard; in 1880, Aaron B. Turner; in 1884, George G. Steketee, and in 1888, Don J. Leathers. Territorial Delegate to Congress, 1833-35, Lucius Lyon. In the U. S. Senate, 1836-40, Lucuis Lyon; 1871-73, Thomas W. Ferry. In the U.S. House of Representatives, 1843-45, Lucius Lyon; 1861-65, Francis W. Kellogg; 1865-71, Thomas W. Ferry; 1871-73, Wilder D. Foster; 1873-77, William B. Williams; 1877-81, John W. Stone; 1881-83, George W. Webber; 1883-85, Julius Houseman; 1885-87, Charles C. Comstock; 1887-89, Melbourne H. Ford; 1889---, Charles E. Belknap.

Under United States jurisdiction this region was originally included for civil purposes in the county of Wayne. By proclamation of Winthrop Sargent, acting as Governor of the territory northwest of the Ohio River, August 15, 1796, it was ordained and ordered that the lands within a boundary beginning at the mouth of Cuyahoga river, thence through several points mentioned in the order, to Fort Wayne, thence to the most southern part of Lake Michigan, thence along the western shore of that lake to the northwest part thereof, thence north to the territorial boundary in Lake Superior, thence along that boundary through lakes Huron, St. Clair, and Erie to the place of beginning, should "be a county, named and henceforth to be styled the County of Wayne." By a similar proclamation, January 14, 1803, William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana Territory, ordained that the County of Wayne should include the country within a boundary beginning at a point where an east and west line passing through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan would intersect a north and south line, passing through the westerly extreme of said lake, thence north to the territorial boundaryline, thence along said boundary line to a point where an east and west line passing through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan would intersect the same, thence along this last mentioned line to the place of beginning. These two boundaries differ but slightly. were our county now of that area, it would include almost the entire State, a strip from the east side of Wisconsin, and also Chicago, and would have a resident population of more than 3,000,000.

In 1829 Kalamazoo county was organized, and by act of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan, July 30, 1830, all the country north of it, which included what is now Kent county, was attached to and made a part of Kalamazoo county for judicial purposes. By act of the Legislative Council, March 2, 1831, Kent county was set off and named. Under an act of July 31, 1830, and amendments subsequent thereto, James Kingsley, S.V.R. Trowbridge, and Charles Lanman, Commissioners appointed by the Governor for that purpose, located the county seat at Grand Rapids, and set the stake therefor November 8, 1833, as narrated elsewhere, near the center of what is now known as Fulton Street Park. On the 24th of March, 1836, by an act of the State Legislature, Kent county was organized---the act to take effect on the first Monday in April of that year---when it began business for itself. Kent county originally comprised sixteen townships, but subsequently eight townships were added on the north, giving it twenty-four.

The township of Kent was organized March 7, 1834, and was then made to include all that part of Kent county south of Grand River. February 16, 1842, the name of the township was changed from Kent to Grand Rapids. The township of Walker was incorporated December 30, 1837, and originally included all that part of Kent county north of Grand River. From these two townships the village, and afterward the city, of Grand Rapids was taken. There never was an incorporated "Village of Kent," though in popular speech and in a general sense, in the early days, that name was sometimes given to the part lying between Division street and the river and north of the original Campau plat. Similarly the latter plat was named "Plat of the village of Grand Rapids," though there was no legally incorporated village at that time.

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: Ronnie Aungst
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/baxter1891/7govts.html
Created: 30 November 1999[an error occurred while processing this directive]