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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.
The township of Nelson is one of the northern tier of township, and is bounded on the north by Pierson, in Montcalm county, on the east by the township of Spencer, on the south by Courtland, and on the west by Solon.
Twenty years ago this township was an unbroken wilderness where wild animals made their homes but little molested by man, and twenty years is a short time in which to make a history. But the stalwart men who are now cutting down its forests and converting the timber into lumber, while at the same time turning the soil for the growth of grains and fruit are doing a good work, which, offers few salient points for the historian, is still of immense value to mankind. If he who causes a blade of grass to grow where there was none before is ? benefactor, the world must owe much to those who open to wilderness to the uses of man.
We are informed that William H. Bailey was the first white settler in Nelson, and? settled there in 1851, some time in July of that year. He still resides in this township on section 8. We are glad to have sold him a copy of this history, and have no doubt he will feel a justifiable pride when he reads the long list of residents who now point him out as that honored individual "the oldest inhabitant." Mr. John S. Jones moved into the township during the same year, and is said to be the second settler. He now resides on section 33.
Among the early settlers, although we did not learn the date of their coming, were John M. Towns, Josiah Towns, N. R. Hill, D. B. Stout, H. M. Stanton, George Stout, Andrew Stout, Riley Smith, Samuel Punches, Joseph M. Clark, Andrew S. Tindall, John N. Tindall, John Dean, Elisha Dean, H. D. Streeter, Thomas Almy, Mr. Ream and his two sons, Bradford Bailey, James Bailey and Joseph Wood.
Wm. C. Benjamin, a bachelor, came to this town several years ago with a "pocket full of rocks," from California, purchased a fine farm, and improved and beautified it. He also repented of this lonely state, married an intelligent lady and became the father of two children. Last summer, at the close of harvesting, in which he had worked hard, he committed suicide by cutting his own throat -- it is supposed in a fit of temporary insanity. This sad tragedy cast a gloom over the entire community where he lived.
Nelson was organized as a township by the Board of Supervisors on the 13th day of October 1854, and the first township election was held at the house of Charles H. Leake on the first Monday of April 1855, George Hoyle, John S. Jones, and George N. Stoddard, being Inspectors of Election. The following were the
FIRST TOWNSHIP OFFICERS
Supervisor -- George Hoyle. Clerk -- George N. Stodard. Treasurer -- Charles H. Leake. Justices of the Peace -- Samuel Punches, Simpson Anderson, Cyrus Stillwell, Harlow H. Stanton. Commissioners of Highways -- Smith Barrett, Harlow H. Stanton, Moses E. Ross. School Inspectors -- Harlow H. Stanton, Ithiel R. Smith. Constables -- Bradford Bailey, Josiah D. Townes, Amos Bessey, Peter D. Buck. Overseers of the Poor -- Church Bailey, Joseph Wood.
From this election we take a step of fifteen years and present the names of the
PRESENT TOWNSHIP OFFICERS
Supervisor -- Mindrus H. Whitney. Clerk -- Brownell S. Simmons. Treasurer -- David B. Stou. Justices of the Peace -- Brownell S. Simmons, Mindrus H. Whitney, Jason R. Squires. Commissioners of Highways -- Jason R. Squires, Stephen Ferner, Nathaniel Hughey. School Inspectors -- Orlon Smith, Nicholas R. Hill. Constable -- William A. Dean.
Pine timber predominates in this township, and in the northeast corner there are many large cedar and tamarack swamps. But the soil, although in many places light, as the presence of pine denotes, is still very productive, where, as is generally the case, beech, maple, and other hard wood trees are mixed with the pine. For fruit raising this town promises to be one of the best in the county. Its streams are Black Creek, in the northern part of the township, and Little Cedar and Big Cedar in the western part. Pine Lake is a fine sheet of water, covering some 100 acres on sections 26 and 35.
The school house in District No. 1, known as the Clark School House, is located in the center of section 8, and is a fine framed building, painted white.
The school house in District No. 2, is a plain framed structure, standing near the northwest corner of section 20. It was built in 1869.
The school house in District No. 3, a large white, framed building, was erected in 1869. It stands on the southeast corner of section 23.
District No. 4 has a good, white framed school house on the west line of section 34. It was erected in 1867 and is know as the "White Dove" school house.
The Cedar Springs school houses, used for a graded school, are described in the history of
which village is located partly in this township and partly in Solon, its description being given under the latter head.