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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.

This township lies in the north part of the county, between Algoma on the south and the township of Ensley, of Newaygo county, on the north; with Tyrone on the west and Nelson on the east.

It was first settled in 1854. Some of the residents claim that a Mr. Beals, who is not now a resident of the township, was the first settler, and others that J. M. Rounds, who now resides in Algoma, was in advance. They were soon followed by John and Martin Hicks, from Indiana; also Robbins Hicks, from Ohio. In 1856 and 1857 the Jewells, Smiths, Roys and Whispels came, followed in 1858 by Ansel Rogers. J. D. Watkins, now a resident of Alpine, settled on section twenty-six in 1855.


This township was attached to Algoma, and called north Algoma, until 1857, when it was organized as a separate township, under the name of Solon. The first annual meeting was held at the house of Walter Rowe, one mile south of the center.


Supervisor -- Edward Jewell. Clerk -- John E. Roys. Treasurer -- John D. Watkins.  Justices -- Andrew Fluent, Munson Robinson, and Obadiah Smith.

For several years the annual township meetings were held at the school house of district No. 2. In 1865, the place of meeting was changed to Cedar Springs -- where they are now held.


Supervisor -- Benj. Fairchild.  Clerk -- John Thetge. Treasurer -- Wm. Johnson. Justices -- John Thetge, C. B. Ford and J. D. Clark.


The elevation of Solon is probably as great as any township in the county, in being nearly on the divide between Grand and Muskegon rivers. It is comparatively level, and in the east part, somewhat swampy.

The timber is chiefly pine throughout the whole township, being interspersed with some grand old oaks in some parts, and in others with beech and occasionally a little maple.

The farms are generally new, with but small improvements. The farms of M. H. Clark, Jewell, and one or two others might be mentioned as exceptions to this. Fruit does well on this pine land wherever orchards have been set. The southeastern part of the township is the mostly thickly settled, while nearly the whole of the northwest quarter is an unbroken forest.


In describing the lakes and streams of this township we will commence at the north.

First, then, there is a small lake on the north line of section four, lying partly in the township of Ensley, Newaygo county. This is sometimes called Lampman Lake. On the Kent County map published 1863, there was a large sized stream marked as the outlet of this lake, but we failed to find any such stream. It has no outlet. One and a half miles east of this, on the northwest corner of section two, is a large, flowing spring, known as Crandall's Spring, which is the source of the west branch of Duke Creek. The stream flows southeasterly through three lakes, known as the Chain of Lakes; the first being on the line of section two and three, (chiefly on three); the next near the center of section two; and the third on the south line of two and partially on seven. This stream then flows a little east of south, to the north part of section twenty-four, where it unites with the east branch, which rises in Jordan Lake, on section one, flows out into Nelson, where it receives some additional water, and again enters Solon at the southeast corner of section twelve. At the junction of these two streams Wellman & Co. constructed a dam in 1856, at a cost of $1,000, with the intention of erecting a large saw mill, which, however, was never built. From this point Duke Creek flows in a southwesterly direction across the township, and passes out on section thirty, into Tyrone. It is fed by several small streams, the largest of which comes from a small lake near the center of section fourteen, (for which we heard no name), and flows into the main creek on the north side of section twenty-eight. This stream has been much used for running logs to the Rouge, and thence to Grand River.

There is a small lake on the north line of section fifteen, known as Mud Lake, which has no outlet.

The size of these seven lakes varies from ten to one hundred acres each.

Cedar Creek rises in Nelson, flows across the southeast corner of Solon, and southwest into Algoma, in the history of which it will be mentioned at greater length.

In the southwest corner are Long Lake, and some smaller ones, which will be further spoken of in connection with the lakes in the northwestern part of Algoma.


was platted in 1859, and probably will be incorporated at the next session of the State Legislature.

It is situated twenty miles northeast from Grand Rapids, by the G. R. & I. Railroad, and lies about half in Solon and half in Nelson, one mile from their south line.

The  first settler here was Robbins Hicks, who came in 1855, and was previously mentioned as one of the early residents of Solon. He now resides with his family in the northeast corner of the township.

There were but few inhabitants and but a very limited amount of business in Cedar Springs in 1867, when the railroad was completed to that point. This immediately infused life into the place, and it continued to grow rapidly as long as it was the terminus of the railroad north, which it was for nearly two years. Since that time, although it has not grown rapidly, and business has not been quite as good in some respects, still it is steadily progressing and new enterprises are being engaged in.

A line has been surveyed the present season, for a railroad from this place to Muskegon, in connection with a road projected from Greenville hither, which, in connection with the road now running from Lansing to Ionia, and the one being constructed from Ionia to Greenville, would make a continuous line from the lake shore to our state capital, directly through Cedar Springs.

We are informed by Mr. Fairchild, who, by the way, is wide awake on railroad matters in that vicinity, and in fact on matters of every kind connected with the growth and prosperity of the village, that the Continental Improvement Company contemplate building a branch railroad from this place to Newaygo. A state road passes through here from Grand Rapids to Big Rapids; also one from here to Muskegon.

A Flour-Barrel, Stave and Heading Factory has been erected the present season, by Richards & Sharer, which seems to be doing a good business, cutting 20,000 staves and 10,000 headings per day, besides circling fifty to seventy-five barrels per day for their own use, in packing the heading which they ship.

The village contains six Steam Saw Mills, which cut in the aggregated 50,000 shingles and 50,000 feet of lumber per day. These mills have all been erected since 1866, and are severally owned and operated by the following gentleman and firms: W. L. Barber & Co., Byron Prentiss & Co., Mr. Slawson and J. R. Shaw, all of this place; and Isaac Newton and Chauncey Pelton, of Grand Rapids.

It also contains about twenty stores, three or four restaurants, three hotels, kept respectively by Benj. Fairchild, J. S. Tisdell, and C. W. Denison, one livery stable, four blacksmith and several other shops, such as wheelwright, cooper shops, etc.

The Baptist Society have a very good frame church, 36x60 feet in size, which was erected in 1868, at a cost of about $4,000.

The Methodist Episcopal Society are erecting a nice, frame structure, in size 40x70 feet, which is to be finished in good style, with stained glass windows, and a spire one hundred feet high. This will be the best church building north of Grand Rapids, and will cost $5,000 to $6,000.

The Masonic Order have a nice little Hall, tastefully fitted up for their accommodation. There are also two or three halls for public meetings, the largest of which is a new one christened Union Hall, just completed by Paine & Man. The post-office is kept at present by Mr. H. C. Russell, in his drug store. A weekly newspaper, called the Wolverine Clipper, is published by Maze & Sellers.

The schools are on the graded system, and consist of three departments, which are kept in three buildings, for want of a good Union School House.


Outside of the village there are a number of mills, which cut a large amount of lumber and shingles.

We will first mention that of George French , of Rockford. This is a steam mill, capable of cutting 10,000,000 shingles and 2,000,000 feet of lumber per year and stands on the southwest corner of section twelve. It was erected by Mr. French in 1868.

We next come to a first-class steam saw mill, on the north line of section ?, which was erected in 1869, on the site of one built the year previous and destroyed by fire. Capacity of this mill, 20,000 feet of lumber and 16,000 shingles per year. Proprietor, John B. Wagner.

A small, Water-power Saw Mill is to be erected the present year, on the northeast corner of section twenty-eight, on Duke Creek, by Lewis S. Hancock. This is intended to be used as a lumber and shingle mill.

Andrew J. Fluent has a Portable Steam Shingle Mill, on the west side of section twenty-two, which cuts 15,000 shingles per day.

The Portable Steam Saw Mill, situated on the south side of section ten, is capable of cutting 10,000 feet of lumber and 15,000 shingles per day. The lumber mill is owned and operated by H. Morse & Co., and the shingle attachment by C. A. Tower & Co.

The Portable Steam Saw Mill of Willard Barnhart, set up in May 1870, on the west side of section thirteen, is capable of cutting 10,000 feet of lumber per day.

Solomon Ipe's Portable Steam Saw Mill , on the south side of section twenty-three, was erected by him in 1866, and cuts 14,000 shingles per day. It will be noticed that every mill now running in this township is run by steam, although good water power could be obtained on almost any section which now has a mill.


District No. 1 was organized in 1858, and a small frame house erected, which was used until 1860, when a good frame building was erected at a cost of $600. It is located one and one-half miles west of Cedar Springs, on the north side of section thirty-five.

District No. 2 -- Solon Center -- was organized in 1858, and a small log house erected. In 1869, a nice frame building was erected on the southeast corner of section sixteen, at a cost of $700.

This School House is really an ornament to the district, and in fact, to the township, showing, as it does, that the people of Solon are wide awake, and understand the effect of good educational advantages to the growth and prosperity of a new country, and are willing to provide for the  comfort of their children.

We mention this house more particularly because it stand in a much newer portion of the township than the one previously mentioned.

District No. 3 (fractional with Nelson) was organized in 1860, and a small log house was erected, which still stands on the west side of section thirteen, near the residence of A. B. Fairchild. This district is about to raise money for a new house, to be built on the same site, at a cost of $600 or $700.

District No. 4 (fractional with Algoma) was organized in 1869. In the spring of 1870, a nice little frame house was erected at a cost of $250, located on the southwest corner of section  twenty-nine, four and one-half miles west of Cedar Springs, on the C. S. & M. State Road.

District No. 5 was organized in 1866, and a small frame house erected the same year on the west side of section eleven, at a cost of $180.

There are many older townships which can erect large churches and other public buildings, but fail to do as well for their school interests as this "backwoods" township of Solon.

Transcriber: JKG
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/directory1870/solon.html  
Created: 17 May 1999[an error occurred while processing this directive]