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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.
Cannon, originally a part of Plainfield, lies northwest of Grand Rapids, having Courtland on the north, Grattan on the east, Ada on the south, and Plainfield on the west.
In the year 1837 the first farm was within its territory by Andrew Watson, who came with his family, accompanied by A. D. W. Stout and family, and settled on section thirty, where Mr. Watson and his aged wife yet reside. In the next year came Isaac Tomlinson, Sen., locating on section twenty-seven, in a beautiful situation commanding an extensive and enchanting view of Grand River and its beautiful valley. In 1839 Wm. M. Miller settled upon section nineteen. Steadily now a tide of emigration set in, rolling the wilderness back by the sturdy energy of the hardy and determined pioneer, swiftly multiplying farms and broadening cleared acres.
Prominent among the new comers in 1840 were James Thomas, on section twenty-seven, Oliver Lovejoy, on section seven, Mr. Rood, and Rev. Mr. Frieze, on section nineteen, the first Minister of the Gospel who took up his residence within the town.
Among the early settlers who bore a conspicuous part in the development and organization of the new town, we would make an honorable mention of M. A. Patrick, locating on section twenty-six, and Ebenezer C. Smith, on section twelve, in 1844. About the same time, Mr. Samuel Steel located five lots for as many sons, in the near vicinity of Mr. Smith, thus fixing the name of Steel's Corners to a most beautiful and productive part of the town. Mrs. John Hartwell, on section thirty-four and Demis Hine, on section thirty, settlers of 1845, and James Dockery, on section four, who settled in 1846.
In 1846 a separation from Plainfield was effected, and the township was erected into a separate town, under the name, by a mistake in the Legislature, of Churchtown, assuming its present name, however, in honor of its principal village, at its first town meeting, held to complete its organization, on the first Monday of April 1846, at the house of C. Slaught, in Cannonsburgh. At that time it had a population of 290, and the whole number of votes cast were 64. Its present population is 1,126
FIRST TOWNSHIP OFFICERS
Supervisor, Andrew Watson; Clerk, Henry H. Worden; Treasurer, Lewis D. Dean; School Inspectors, Loyal Palmer, M. A. Patrick; Directors of the Poor, Ebenezer C. Smith, Martin Johnson; Commissioners of Highway, John Hartwell, Cornelius Wample; Justices of the Peace, Harlow T. Judson, John Bishop, Demas Hine, Jared Spring; Constables, Robert Howard, Major Worden, Isaac Tomlinson, Mindrus Whitney.
OFFICERS IN 1870
Supervisor, Asa P. Ferry; Clerk, Thomas Noy; Treasurer, Charles A. Provin; Justices of the Peace, Nathaniel Steel, James Nesbit, Demas Hine, M. A. Patrick; Highway Commissioner, Wm. C. Young; School Inspector, John C. Chapman; Constables, John S. Baker, John M. Thomas, Charles A. Provin, Henry C. Watkins.
Cannon presents a great variety of surface, soil and productions, being quite hilly and broken along Bear Creek and in the vicinity of Grand River, but in other parts, more gently rolling, or beautifully undulating scenery meets the view. In the southern part there are patches of beech and maple timber land, with a sprinkling of pine along the streams, but, mainly, the town is oak openings, plentifully interspersed with hickory. Its main staples raised for the market are wheat, wool, corn and apples. Of the former, large quantities are exported, and its rolling lands and dry, healthful climate make its wool growing a success. Lying within the great Western fruit belt, and being blessed with a deep, pliable soil, it is eminently adapted to horticultural pursuits; of this its people are fully aware, and we find in many flourishing orchards. Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and currants abound, while grapes and the small fruits are fast becoming specialties.
Whatever may be said of its business centers, thrift and enterprise mark its rural districts. Comfort smiles from its tasteful dwellings, nestled amid shade and bloom and an abounding plenty peeps from its well filled and commodious brands. Indigence is scarcely known among its population. All are, to a remarkable degree, independent of worldly goods.
Bear Creek, the exclusive property of Cannon, rises in the northwest corner of the town, on section one, in a large spring having the peculiar power of petrifying all substances that may chance to lie in its waters. The creek, fed by springs all its length, takes its devious way south and southwest, cutting the town nearly in town, debouching in Grand River on section thirty, the southwest corner of the town. This stream, fed by springs, presents a never failing supply of water, and running rapidly, gives opportunity for a number of mill sites, and excellent facilities for manufacturing purposes.
Cannonsburgh, the only business center of any note within the town was founded in 1842, an Indian war trail its main thoroughfare, and the settler's ax the only key that would open the forest gates that guarded its entrance. In 1844 and 1845 its mills were erected by E. B. Bostwick, H. T. Judson architect, and a store opened. As an inducement to permanent settlement, the village was platted in 1845, and Mr. Bostwick, the enterprising business agent of LeGrand Cannon, its proprietor (an eastern capitalist and large land holder in the town,) was instructed to give a village lot to each resident not otherwise provided for; thus twenty-five lots were given away. The town received the name it now bears in honor of its founder, who testified his appreciation of the distinction conferred by presenting the village with a small ordnance bearing his name and the date. This is treasured as a momento of early times, and used on the 4th of July and other holiday occasions, wakening the echoes of memory in a many a heart as its thunders reverberate among the hills that completely surround the little village. Cannonsburg is situated upon both sides of Bear Creek. Laterly it has suffered much by fire. It has one store, one grist mill, one woolen mill, with a cider mill attached, one saw mill, one cooper shop, two wagon shops, three blacksmith shops and one hotel. It has no dedicated place of worship, but the Methodists are about erecting a fine church, to be constructed of wood, 36x60 feet in size, and costing $3,300. It has a Union School House, situated on a picturesque bluff overlooking the town; it is built of wood, two stories high, 34x56 feet in dimension. Two teachers are employ in its schools.
Buenavista is situated on section thirty, near the mouth of Bear Creek. It consists of eight or ten dwelling houses, and the Bear Creek flouring mill, erected in 1848, and now owned by Carey & Houston, of Grand Rapids. There is nothing more to be said of it, save that it is located amidst beautiful scenery, and is something of a wheat mart in the fall of the year.
There are several lakes within the town, but only two are worthy of particular note. Silver Lake, on sections nine and ten, lying just north of and touching the line of the Grand Rapids and Ionia State Road, and its name indicates, is a most beautiful sheet of water, containing 300 acres.
One mile directly east of Silver Lake we come upon Bostwick Lake, a huge crystal, in emerald setting. No more beautiful scene can well be imagined. Its waters are very cold, evidently emanating from springs, as it has no visible inlet or natural outlet. This was a favorite resort in early days for fishing parties, and parties of pleasure coming from the village often camped on its banks and tarried over night. A huge canoe, fashioned by an Indian, from a white wood tree grown a mile south of Cannonsburgh, was transported with a vast amount of labor to its shores and launched upon its waters. The distance traversed was five miles, occupying two days in the transit, and employing four yoke of oxen. There, in the later years, the settlers on lands adjacent to the lake found the deserted canoe, a monster of its kind, over thirty feet in length. Wind and wave have long since done their works upon it; only a fragment of it remaining as a relic in the family of S. B. Kutz, formerly of Cannon, now a resident of Rockford. This lake also lies north of the State Road, which bends slightly in passing round its northern shore. It contains about 400 acres.
Ball Hill is a noteworthy eminence on section one. It rises abruptly from the surrounding country, and lifting its lofty towner above the forest trees, is visible for many miles away. It received its name from its long-time owner, John Ball, of Grand Rapids. It is now the property of Mr. Cowen, and planted with apple trees up to its very summit.
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS
There are eight district schools in the town, and two churches. The First Congregational Church, (Rev. Mr. Eaton, of Lowell, present officiating pastor,) is a wooden structure of 36x50 feet in dimensions. It stands upon a little eminence east of and commanding a beautiful view of Bostwick Lake. It has a small Cemetery attached. The first M. E. Church, at Steel's Corners, one mile east, was erected in the same year. It is also built of wood and is a trifle smaller than the Congregational Church.
The number and prosperity of the schools and churches in the town are a reflection of the intellectual and spiritual enterprise of the people, speaking more than the volumes of history for their useful and moral lives.
It is worthy of record here, that, of the first six families settling in the town, namely A. Watson, A. D. W. Stout, I. Tomlinson, E. Whitney, Mr. Rood, and J. Thomas, both heads of each family are yet living, and four families still reside in the town.
It is an equally remarkable fact that the first two white children were born to the families of Mr. Stout and Mr. Watson, on the same day, September 27, 1837. Both were daughters and there was but two hours difference in their birth. The children were namely respectively Mary Stout and Jeanette Watson.
May 6, 1842, the great destroyer entered the family of Mr. Isaac Tomlinson and laid low his little daughter, Martha Jane. This was the first death in the town occurring among the whites.
Most of the early settlers are living yet, but some are dead. Of those who are gone, justice demands that, as in a "roll of honor," should be place the names of E. B. Bostwick, business agent for Mr. Cannon, who died on an overland journey from the States to California; S. S. Haskins, closely identified with the early history and prosperity of the town, and several year a dealer in dry goods and groceries at Cannonsburgh; Timothy Wetmore, horticulturist, and at one time an efficient supervisor of the town, and Benj. Davis, also Supervisor some years, and dying while yet holding that office. These have passed on, but in the prosperity of the people, and smiling fields from the wilderness reclaimed, their works yet remain.