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History and Directory of Kent County, Michigan, Containing a History of Each Township and the City of Grand Rapids, Compiled and Published by Dillenback and Leavitt, County History, Directory and Map Publishers, Grand Rapids: Daily Eagle Steam Printing House, 1870.


Alpine is one of the west tier of townships, and is bounded on the north by Sparta, on the east by Plainfield, on the south by Walker, and on the west by the township of Wright, Ottawa County. It retains its original form and size, containing thirty-six square miles.

The first settlers were Solomon Wright and family, who came from Wayne county, New York, in the year 1837, and located on the south line, near Indian Creek. The family consisted  of the old gentleman and lady and five sons, Benjamin, Solomon, Noadiah, Andrew and Jeremiah, only one of whom remains in the township, and that is Solomon. The old people are both dead, one some lost his life in the recent war, one is living in Lowell, and two are in Walker. In the year 1840 John Coffee and Richmond Gooding came from Ohio, penetrated the forest nearly five miles beyond the Wright neighborhood and settled on section nineteen, near the west line of the township. For years this was considered the "jumping off place," as they called it, there being no settlements north of them, and in fact no house in any direction nearer than three or four miles. About the same time Jacob Snyder -- a German -- settled on section thirty-five, and another German by the name John Plattee on section thirty-six, in the southeast corner of the township. A short time before this, Turner Hills and family came from Vermont, and located in the east part of the township, on section thirteen, where, for several years, they were the northernmost settlers. Mr. Hills died many years ago, but the widow and two sons remain in the township.

Among other pioneers who settled in various parts of the township, were Noel Hopkins, Baltas Schaffer, Peter Schlick, James Snowden, Sherman Pearsall, John B. Colton, A. B. Toms, Thompson Kasson, Joseph Hipler, John Ellis, Edward Wheeler, Hervey Wilder, Joseph Bullen, Moses Ramsdell, John J. Downer, Hiram Stevenson, Artemus Hilton, Henry S. Church, Charles Anderson, Francis Greenley, and the Boyds, Denisons, Meads, Brewers, Davenports, and Cordes, all of whom came before 1850; and most of them yet remain to enjoy the fruits of their early labors and sufferings.

Many and varied were the privations endured by these early settler. We who have never been pioneers cannot fully appreciate the sufferings, the trials, and hardships which were their lot. Think of a journey to Grand Rapids with an ox team, over rough roads, with a grist for the mill; of a return in the night with its many perplexities, now and then losing the indistinct road, with a consequent delay of a half hour; of finding trees blown across the way, preventing further progress until they have been removed by the use of the ax, and so through the list.

Again imagine the loneliness of a family coming from a thickly settled part of the country, and making a home in the wilderness, with no actual neighbors; with no schools; with no churches; and in fact with no associations except those of their own fireside. Little time can be spared for social intercourse, even, at home. The round of duties consumes each day but the Sabbath, which is to them indeed a day of holy rest.

We would not wish to be understood to intimate that there are no enjoyments connected with such a life, for downright satisfaction is always the result of manly toil. Situated, as the pioneer is, in an unbroken forest, with every stroke of the ax, and with every effort made to toward improvement, he seems to be hewing out a little world of his own. Every acre added to the cleared space adds more than its proportionate amount of pleasure to the soul of the laborer. He looks forward to the time when his broad acres shall be seen clothed with the rich yellow grain of a plenteous harvest. He walks by faith and not by sight. The "sweet bye and bye" is anticipated, and that is what incites him to labor and to endure.

Then again much pleasure is found in the little visits which they are occasionally favored with. That peculiar community of feeling which is the characteristic of persons of depressed circumstances, is enjoyed by pioneers, and early settlers, in an unusual degree. There is a mutual dependence of one upon another, felt by everybody; and this never fails to beget a spirit of friendship between them.


Alpine is united with the Walker, until the year of 1847. Its first independent township meeting was held at the School House in the southeast corner of the township, on the 5th day of April 1847; which resulted in the election of the following named persons as officers: Supervisor, Edward Wheeler; Clerk, C. D. Shenich; Treasurer, Casper Cordes; Justices, Wm. H. Withey, John Coffee, John Colton, and John Tuxbury. The next annual meeting was held at the house of Edward Wheeler, near the center of the township. Soon after this a small School House was erected on the corner of Mr. Wheeler's farm, one-half mile east of the center, and was used as a place of holding township meetings until about the year 1860, when a nice, frame, Town Hall building was erected on the northeast corner of section twenty-one.


of Alpine are Supervisor, Isaac Haynes; Clerk, Hanson Rogers; Treasurer, Charles Dole; Justices, John Coffee, Warren Bailey, Charles Waterman, and Hollis R. Hills.


Alpine -- which is said to have derived its name from the supposition of many of the early settlers, who were near the streams, and in the eastern part of the township, that it was chiefly timbered with pine -- is very different from what its name would indicate to a stranger. There was, originally, considerable pine along the larger streams, and in the northeasterly corner of the township. At one time, seven saw mills were situated on Mill Creek, and were doing a brisk business; but now there is hardly enough left to sustain three.

The source of Mill Creek is Cranberry Lake, which is situated on the line between Kent and Ottawa counties, extending into section six of Alpine. From there to Pickerel Lake on section ten Mill Lake is but a small rivulet. We mention this as the main stream; however there is another branch about the same size, which comes in from Sparta, and unites with the former near the north line of section nine. From Pickerel Lake to its mouth it is fed by several small streams, one of which comes from Downer Lake on the southeast quarter of section ten. The main stream passes about one and one-half miles north of the center of the township, thence southeasterly until it unites with Grand River in the southwest corner of Plainfield. For a distance of five or six miles from its mouth, the water power is sufficiently good for manufacturing purposes. Along this stream is a series of small swamps, extending nearly the whole width of the township from east to west, and bordered on either side by clay bluffs, rising in some places to a height of sixty or seventy feet.

North of this, and extending into Sparta, is a ridge of high, rolling, timbered land, which is as good as can be found in the county, for farming purposes, fruit growing, etc. On the south is a similar ridge, which divides Mill Creek on one side from Indian and Sand Creeks on the other.

One branch of Indian Creek rises near the center of the township, and the other in the western part. These branches unite in the north part of section twenty-eight; thence the stream flows south into Walker, crossing the south line of Alpine near the center.

One branch of Indian Creek rises near the center of the township, and the other in the western part. These branches unite in the north part of section twenty-eight; thence the stream flows south into Walker, crossing the south line of Alpine near the center.

One branch of Sand Creek rises in the Western part of Alpine, and flows south into Walker, and thence west into Ottawa county. Another branch of the same stream has source in a small lake covering about ten acres, situated on the line between sections twenty-eight and twenty-nine.

Minnie or New Boston Lake is situated on the east line of section twelve, and extends east into Plainfield. The lake and surrounding swamp cover about forty acres. A number of years ago a saw mill was erected on the north side of this lake, and an effort was made to build up a burgh, which was christened New Boston; but like many other enterprises of a like nature it never went much beyond the paper plat.


of the beach and maple timbered portion of Alpine -- which comprise about two-thirds of the township -- generally clay or loam. Indeed Alpine is a township of good land, well adapted to the production of both grain and fruit. The good looking orchards, and the loads of nice apples, peaches, plums, pears, etc., as well as the excellent yields of wheat and other grain, speak for themselves. The soil of the pine timbered portions is sandy, but it grows fair crops when well-cultivated and improved. Among the largest and best farms in the township, are those of Solomon Wright, A. Downer, Mrs. James Snowden, Judson Buck, L. N. Dennison, David Herrick, Richard Gooding, and Eberhard Coles, each of which comprises two hundreds acres of more.


Colton's Saw Mill, built in the year 1845 by Colton and Phillips, situated on the south side of section thirteen, is now owned and operated by Gideon Colton. This mill is capable of cutting nearly a million feet of lumber per year; but on account of the scarcity of pine does a comparatively small business.

The saw mill situated on the northeast corner of section twenty-five, commonly called Withey's Mill, is manufacturing large quantities of shingles and some lumber. It is owned and operated by Aaron Leland.

Stonehouse's Steam Saw Mill, situated on the northeast corner of section twenty-five, was erected by John Stonehouse in the year 1868, on the site of an old water power mill owned by him, and which was destroyed by fire in the year 1867. The new mill is turning out large quantities of shingles, also some lumber and lath.

Ellis & Brown's Grist Mill, situated on section thirteen, on Mill Creek, is doing a good custom business.

The Wolverine Pump Works, S. N. Edie, Proprietor, are situated on section thirty-six, one half mile northwesterly of Mill Creek Post-office. This establishment was erected in the year 1868. It is located on a small branch of Mill Creek, whose waters give it motive power. The shop is furnished with facilities for manufacturing five thousand pumps per annum.

Orrin Gee owns and operates a small Brick Yard on the south side of section thirty-one.

There is a water power Cider Mill situated on Mill Creek, owned and operated by Gideon Colton, which is worthy of notice. The mill is so built on the bluff at the side of the stream, that the apples can be unloaded from the wagon into the hopper at the top, where they are ground, below which they are pressed, then barreled and loaded into wagons at the foot of the bluff without necessitating the lifting of a pound.


District No. 1 is in the cener of the township. Its first School House was built on the farm of Edward Wheeler, on the north side of section twenty-two. The present School Building was erected in the year 1861, and is substantial frame structure. It stands on the south side of section fifteen, one-half mile east of the Town Hall.

District No. 2 has an old wooden building, commonly known as the Coon School House.

District No. 3 (fractional with Wright) has a nice, brick building situate on the north side of section thirty. It was erected in 1868 at an expense of $1,000.

District No. 4 (fractional with Sparta) has a small frame house, known as Rouse School House, situated on the north line of section three.

District No. 6 (fractional with Sparta) has a school house in the northeast corner of section five. It was erected in the year 1864, at a cost of $1200.

The school house in District No. 7 (fractional with Plainfield), known as the Colton School House, situated on the south side of section thirteen, is a neat frame structure. It was erected in the year 1869, at at expense of $950.

District No. 8 has a small frame house, known as the Pearsall school house, which was erected in 1851, on the northwest corner of section of twenty-eight.

District No. 9 (fractional with Plainfield), has a very old building, known as the Withey school house, situated on the northeast corner of section thirty-six.

District No. 10 (fractional with Wright), has a small frame house, known as the Boyd school house, standing on the southwest corner of section eight. It was erected in the year 1856.

District No. 11 has a small, wooden building, which was erected in the year 1855, and used until the year 1869, when the Roman Catholics of the district, with the aid of those surrounding districts, erected a building of their own at a cost of $1500, in which they now have a German-English school. The deserted building is situated on the south side of section twenty six, and the new one at the center.

District No. 13 (fractional with Walker), has a nice frame building, known as the Johnson school house. It was erected in the year 1859, and stands on the south side of section thirty-four.

District No. 14 (fractional with Sparta), has a small, frame building, which was erected in the year 1852, and is known as the Englishville school house. It is located on the north side of section one.

District No. 15 (fractional with Walker), has a small, frame building, known as the Monroe school house.


The Alpine and Walker Baptist Church is a good frame building, 36x56 feet in size. It was erected in the year 1859 on the south side of section thirty-three, at a cost of probably $2000.

The Roman Catholic Church, situated on the north side of section thirty-four, was erected in the year 1849, at a cost of about $1500. It is a frame structure 26x46 feet in size.


The Alpine House, which was erected in the year 1867 by M. Crill, is a large, commodious, frame building, situated on the south side of section thirteen on the Sparta Center road. This is located in the midst of a little cluster of houses, sometimes called Coltonville. They have a postoffice known as Alpine, also two or three shops, and not far distant on the same section, are the grist and saw mills heretofore described. The "Brick Inn," erected by Joseph Bettes, in the year 1862, on the site of the old "Log Inn," is owned and kept by Washington Heath. It is located in the south part of section thirty, on the Newaygo State road.

Transcriber: JKG
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/directory1870/alpine.html  
Created: 20 May 1999[an error occurred while processing this directive]