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Publ. by Chas. C. Chapman & Co.
Chicago, 1881.

In presenting this volume to the people of Kent County we feel that they will have more confidence in its historical statements than is usually reposed in works of this nature. The great interest manifested in its compilation by the leading pioneers and public men of the county, largely insures this result. Besides the careful and pains-taking diligence of our historian, in order to secure greater accuracy and completeness, we requested the President of the Old Residents' Society to appoint a committee to revise and correct the manuscript. This Mr. Hilton did, appointing men who earnestly desired a true and faithful record of their county to be made.

The committee appointed to revise and correct the general history of the county and of the city of Grand Rapids, assembled Aug. 30, 1881, and continued their labor for a period of seven days. During the session of this committee many important events were suggested, old landmarks located, reminiscences recited and much historical matter added. The labor of revision, although tedious, was pleasant. Many points were freely and fully discussed, and finally settled satisfactorily to a majority of the members.

We extend to the members of this committee our warmest thanks for the material aid received from them in our labor of compilation, and for the studious care with which they examined the prepared manuscript. As evidence that unusual care was taken in the writing and compilation of this work, we print on the pace following the preface copies of the certificates given us by this committee. These will show to the generations of the future that this work may be relied on as practically correct.

While, however, such a united effort was made to insure accuracy, yet errors will be found within the pages of this volume. It is a physical impossibility to write a book of such magnitude, where so many thousands of facts are related, and tens of thousands of names and dates given, and have it free from mistakes. Accurate and reliable history is most difficult to write. Those who have never experienced the difficulties incident to such labor cannot realized how nearly impossible it is, or appreciate the earnest, honest and faithful labor of the historian. After the most careful and pains-staking searches and inquiry upon any particular subject or about any event, he will even then find many doubts arising in his mind as to its accuracy and entire truthfulness. Each individual to whom inquiry is made will give a different account of any event. One of these may be as honest as the other and try to relate his story correctly, yet they will be so widely different that the most searching and logical mind will be unable to harmonize them. These facts were forcibly realized by the gentlemen who composed the committee, and has been our experience.

As one of the most interesting features of this work we present the portraits of numerous representative citizens. It has been our aim to have the prominent men of to-day, as well as the pioneers, represented in this department, and we compliment ourselves on the uniform high character of the gentlemen whose portraits we present. They are in the strictest sense, and are selected from all the callings and professions worthy to be represented. There are others, it is true, who claim equal prominence with those presented, but of course it was impossible for us to give portraits of all the leading men and pioneers of the county.

As the ending of the tedious and toilsome labor attending the publication of a work of this nature and magnitude dawns upon us, we cannot lay down our pen without returning thanks to those who have so freely aided our corps of historians. Among these we personally mention Albert Baxter, editor of the Eagle; Robert Hilton, John Ball, Prof. E. Everett, Wright L. Coffinberry, Reuben H. Smith, Thomas B. Church, Loomis K. Bishop, Registrar, E. G. D. Holden, Lyman D. Norris, W. N. Cook, Fred S. Clarke, County Clerk; James N. Davis, of the Democrat; Wm. I. Blakely, Thomas D. Gilbert, Judge S. L. Withey, together with a large number of ministers of the gospel and secretaries of secret and benevolent societies who so quickly and fully responded when asked for information.

To the members of the newspaper press of the county, we are indebted for their entire unaminity in support of the work. During the period of our stay in the county, the editors of the various journals co-operated with us in a most cordial manner. Nor can we forget the hundreds who made the publication of this great work possible by patronizing it. To this large and most important portion of the people we must forever feel grateful. They supported the work, and for them it was written and compiled.

To Prof. M. A. Leeson, our historian, we express our thanks, as also to the gentlemen forming our corps of biographical historians. They faithfully discharged every duty devolving upon them.

CHICAGO, December, 1881.

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