The Old Settler’s Society of Kent County met 22 February 1858 and again 29 February 1868.

A group of the early pioneers, thinking an organization should be formed to represent the early settlers of Kent County, issued a circular letter inviting the residents of Kent County who settled in the territory of Michigan prior to January 26, 1837 (that being the date Michigan became a state), to attend a meeting at the office of Messrs. Ball and McKee on Monday evening, 22 February 1858 at 7:00 p.m.

Twenty two men attended, and with John Ball presiding and D. W. Evans acting as secretary, they formed The Old Settlers’ Society of Kent County. Its purpose being to perpetuate the early history of Kent County and to continue good social feelings among the pioneers. Jonathan F. Chubb, J. Almy, S. L. Withy and William J. Welles were appointed a committee to draft a constitution.

Those attending were:

George Coggeshall John Ball George Martin

Antoine Campau John Almy M. Ringuette

John W. Pierce John Ringuette W. G. Henry

D. S. Leavitt James Lyman S. T. Perkins

John T. Godfrey Rix Robinson Ransom C. Luce

Charles Shepard Robert Hilton C. H. Taylor

A. B. Turner Nelson Robinson D. W. Evans

S. L. Withy


Met to re-organize 27 December 1871

Adopted Constitution 17 January 1872

First picnic held, 21 June 1873

Name changed to "The Old Residents’ Association of the Grand River Valley", 26 January 1875

Picnics held annually since 1876

First Banquet and Reunion held at the Morton House, 8 February 8, 1876

First Officers Elected – 1872

President Jonathan F. Chubb

Vice President Thomas D. Gilbert

Treasurer John Ball

Secretary John W. Pierce

First Officers After Re-Organization 26 January 1875

President Rix Robinson

First Vice President Ezekiel W. Davis

2nd Vice President Dr. Charles W. Shepherd

Secretary John W. Pierce

Treasurer Luman R. Atwater

Officers at 50th Re-Union 2 March, 1925

President Capt. Charles E. Belknap

1st Vice President Richard E. Blumrich

2nd Vice President T. Emory Tuttle

3rd Vice President Mrs. Martha Campbell

Secretary Mrs. William J. Glasgow

Treasurer Charles W. Garfield

Presidents Following Mr. Belknap

Julius Tisch 1929-1930

Frank Van De Van 1931-1933

Leo Caro 1934-1935

Oscar Kilstrom 1936

Mrs. Ida Witcomb 1937

George M. Reed 1938

Truman Smith 1939

Leon R. Stow 1940

J. Neal Lamoreaux 1941-1942

Fred P. Geib 1943-1944

Leon R. Stow 1945-1946

Clarence A. Middleton 1947-1948

Former Officers

W. Newton Cook Elected 31 years

Thomas Hefferan Elected 27 years

George W. Thayer Elected 22 years

Reuben H. Smith Elected 19 years

Dr. Charles Shepherd Elected 16 years

Thomas D. Gilbert Elected 14 years

Eber Rice Elected 14 years

Charles E. Belknap Elected 14 years

Leonard Covell Elected 13 years

Robert Hilton Elected 12 years

P. V. Fox Elected 11 years

R. C. Luce Elected 10 years

R. E. Blumrich Elected 9 years

J. W. Holmes Elected 8 years

Dana B. Shedd Elected 7 years

F. E. Tuttle Elected 6 years

C. C. Comstock Elected 5 years

Ezekiel W. Davis Elected 5 years

George W. Owen Elected 5 years

J. W. Pierce Elected 4 years

Luman Atwater Elected 4 years

Hiram H. Allen Elected 4 years

Zerras Winsor Elected 4 years

H. J. Hollister Elected 4 years

Leonard Remington Elected 4 years

At. S. hite Elected 4 years

Mrs. W. J. Glasgow Elected 4 years

Rix Robinson Elected 3 years

Charles Taylor Elected 3 years

Aaron Hills Elected 3 years

Henry Spring Elected 3 years

John Ball Elected 2 years

William A. Tryon Elected 2 years

Noyes L. Avery Elected 2 years

Robert Sinclair Elected 2 years

W. L. Coffinberry Elected 2 years

W. A. Berkey Elected 2 years

Charles W. Garfield Elected 2 years

Jonathan W. Chubb Elected 1 year

F. Everett Elected 1 year

J. A. Rumsey Elected 1 year

J. C. Klyn Elected 1 year

Charles A. Robinson Elected 1 year

Mrs. Martha Campbell Elected 1 year


Revised 26 January 1925

Revised 26 January 1948

Article I - Name

The name shall be "The Old Residents’ Association of the Grand River Valley", consisting of Kent, Ionia and Ottawa Counties.

Article II - Objects

To unite in social fellowship, to promote an interest in the history and growth of the community, and to collect and preserve biographical sketches, statistics, and historical facts and reminiscences.

Article III – Membership

1. Any person who has resided in the Grand River Valley twenty-five years or more, who has attained the age of 40 years, at the time of application is a resident thereof, and is of good moral character, is eligible to membership in the Association.

2. At any annual meeting of the Association, Honorary membership may be bestowed on any member who has had a continuous membership for thirty five years. Persons become honorary members cease paying dues.

Article IV – Admission and Fees

All applications for membership shall be made in writing, and shall give the applicant’s full name, date and place of birth, present residence, and if not a native, the time of his or her immigration to the Valley.

Each applicant shall pay to the Secretary an admission fee of one dollar, which shall accompany the application.

The annual dues shall be one dollar.

The Association may at its annual meeting call for a special assessment upon each of its members, not exceeding one dollar a year.

Names of members two years in arrears shall be dropped from the rolls and notified of same.

Article V – Meetings

The annual meetings of the Association shall be held at the city of Grand Rapids on the 26th day of January of each year, that being the anniversary of the formation of the Association.

The Executive Committee may by reasonable notice through the city papers of Grand Rapids, call extra meetings when they may deem if advisable.

There shall be held an annual banquet and reunion prior to May 1st, and an annual picnic prior to September 1st, same to be under the direction of the Executive Committee.

An annual fall meeting shall be held prior to December 1st, at which time business may be transacted.

Monthly social meetings may be held on the first Saturday of each month, except July an Augu

Article VI – Officers

The officers of the Association shall consist of a President, three Vice Presidents, a Secretary and a Treasurer, who shall be elected at the annual meeting and shall take office at the close of the annual banquet.

The Executive Committee shall consist of the above officers and the retiring President.

The Executive Committee shall have power to fill by appointment any vacancy occurring from any cause in its membership.

Article VII – Duties of Officers and Executive Committee


Article VIII – Standing Committee

The Standing Committees of the Association shall be – Fellowship, Historical, Membership, Program, Reception, Finance, Publicity, Genealogical, and Honorary Membership.

Article IX – Amendments


Grand Rapids

February 29, 1868

Pursuant to notice a meeting of the Old Settlers was held at the Counting Room of A. Roberts & Son.

When William A. Tryon was called to the Chair and J. W. Peirce, Secretary.

The proceedings of the old records was made.

On motion of J. W. Peirce, I. G. Tompkins was admitted an Honorary Member of this Society.

On motion of P. Tracy – Resolved that a committee of five persons be appointed by the Chairman, to take charge of the Photographic Picture now on exhibition in the Post Office and see that the same be kept in some suitable public place.

Then – P. Tracy, J. W. Peirce, George C. Nelson, L. R. Atwater and A. B. Turner were appointed.

On motion of J. W. Peirce – Resolve that the subscription paper for the Photographic Group of Old Settlers be entered on the records, together with the names of the subscriber.

Meeting then adjourned

W. A. Tryon, Ch’n

Attest – J. W. Peirce, Sec’y

We the undersigned old residents of Grand Rapids for the purpose of encouraging Art and Enterprise, and further as a mark of our appreciation of Mr. Tompkins efforts in getting up the Photographic Group of the Pioneers of Grand Rapids, do subscribe and pay the amount of one dollar each to I. G. Tompkins.

And it is further understood and agreed that after all who will have subscribed and paid, "the said" Photographic Group of the "Pioneers of Grand Rapids" shall be given to one of the said subscribers by lot, in the manner that shall de devised and agreed upon among the said subscribing.

The drawing of the Picture to take place on Christmas Ever, December 24, 1867

Grand Rapids, December 8, 1867

A. Hosford Smith        
J. W. Peirce                        
William Haldane
S. L. Withey                
William A. Richmond         
A. Roberts
W. D. Roberts             
F. D. Richmond                    
T. H. Lyon
W. P. Mills                  
 Ira S. Hatch                          
G. M. McCray
R. E. Butterworth        
D. Turner                              
C. P. Calkins
H. Leonard                   
Charles Shepard                 
Eliphalet H. Turner
George C. Nelson        
Silas Hall                              
Israel V. Harris (Died-12/17/1886)
John Ball
J. W. Squier
J. M. Nelson (D-1/10/1883)
Robert Hilton
Erastus Clark
James Lyman
John T. Holmes
George Young
C. H. Taylor
C. W. Taylor
Ebenezer Barns
Billius Stocking
Z. G. Winsor
L. R. Atwater
A. B. Turner
William A. Tryon
H. K. Rose
P. Tracy
W. N. Cook
Reuben Smith
Joel Guild
B. Burton

The next meeting recorded was 27 December 1871 and then Wednesday, 17 January 1872 at which time the Constitution was adopted.

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 31 July 2002