New York Daily Tribune

By Greeley & McElrath -- Office, Tribune Buildings -- Five Dollars a Year

Vol. VII, No. 66 New York, Friday Morning, June 25, 1847 Whole No. 1934


Grand Rapids, Michigan -- Its Growth, Business, &c.

Correspondence of The Tribune

Detroit, June 18, 1847

Since my last letter to you on my return trip from the West, I have had the pleasure of being witness to some incidents so truly characteristic of the universal Yankee nation, that, for once, I can confidently promise you in a future letter something more than "decidedly rich;" for the present contenting myself with a slight sketch of what I have made up my mind to be the spearpoint, in a business view, of the interior of Michigan.

The last few weeks have been spent by me in what is termed the Grand River Valley (in which the capital of the State is now located), and business leading me to the mouth of the Grand River, I necessarily passed through the village of Grand Rapids, en route, where I was induced for a short time to remain to inform myself correctly of the many advantages said to be possessed by this town over any other west of Detroit, and why by many, it is confidently asserted, will in a few years rival Detroit herself. The population exceeds somewhat 2,000 in number, and I was not a little surprised at the difference in the apparent energy of the business men of the place, as compared to many of the towns of the South and Southeast. The river at Grand Rapids becomes a broad and powerful stream, far exceeding in capacity the Genesee in our own State and not so subject to exceeding low stages of water, and thereby affording one of the very best water powers in the State or Union, if properly improved; but as the canal is now situated, it certainly is a shabby concern, and can hardly be entitled to the name of a hydraulic power, notwithstanding there are situated upon it tow flouring mills, two foundries, and various other establishments incident to the developing resources of the might West.

Hon. Lucius Lyon, now Surveyor-General at Detroit, has erected buildings for the manufacture of salt, and such a salt ell some 700 ft. from which water is procured, which yields from 50 to 60 bushels per day by boiling and evaporation. I regard this, however, more as an experiment than as satisfactorily exhibiting the real capacity for manufacturing salt. I agree with Dr. Houghton, the late and much-lamented State Geologist, that the Grand River Valley contains sufficient saline water to supply the whole West with this article, if properly and sufficiently developed.

While at the rapids I had the pleasure of attending the laying of the corner-stone of the new Episcopal Church, it being erected with much spirit and in handsome style by the contractors, and which will be, no doubt, not only a good ornament to the village but one of the finest buildings of the kind in the whole western portion of the state.

It so happened that the week passed at the Rapids was during the sitting of the Circuit Court, Chief Justice Ransom presiding Judge, an by the invitation of an acquaintance I made my way to the Court House to see how Justice was dispensed here, as in my peregrinations further West I had seen some amusing specimens of judicial proceedings. The Court House was filled, and from the interest manifested in the case, so the attention of the Court had been called to an application for excluding from the Bar two of its members on charges of malpractice. The charges were read and applications filed; whereupon the Judge very properly took occasion to remark, in strong terms, upon the disrepute to which not only Courts of Law, but the Bar generally, had fallen, by reason of unworthy members being admitted to the privileges of professional men. The remarks were entirely just, and did honor to the man who uttered them, standing as he does among the first jurists, and one if not the very best Judge in the State, and there denouncing practices tending to degrade a profession which, it can be said, that for long years he has honored. The Criminal Calendar, I learned, would present at the ensuing Term a formidable array.

I would here take occasion to remark that this village is becoming notorious for transactions not at all reputable to her citizens; and unless a strenuous effort is made by all good and true men interested in the welfare and good repute of that certainly beautiful village, it will soon become in so notorious disrepute that persons seeking a home at the West will avoid it as they would the leprosy. I hope my remarks will give no offence to any one of the very many gentlemen whose acquaintance I was happy to make while there; but I would most earnestly and sincerely say, and as one who wishes well to this unprecedented flourishing town, that unless you take efficient means to effect a radical and thorough reform in this matter, your village will soon suffer what it will take years to redeem.

Yours, &c.

Transcriber: Jennifer Godwin
Created: 9 June 2002