Horace Sears, 1842 Pioneer of Cascade Township

Horace Sears Log Cabin - 1842 Cascade Township

The cabin was built soon after Horace Sears and his wife, Marie Jane, settled in
Cascade Township, Kent County, Michigan in 1842.  They traveled with Horace's
father, Chauncey, and his brother, Austin, from New Durham, New York.
From left to right: Roy and Percy, sons of William Sears, Elizabeth, wife of William,
Marie Jane, wife of Horace, Horace Sears and William, son of Horace and Marie Jane.


Horace Sears, Pioneer Celebrates Eighty-Eighth Year

Horace Sears Talks Interestingly of Early Experiences
(From a newspaper article, source unknown)

Horace Sears, one of the oldest pioneer residents of Kent County, quietly but happily, observed his eighty-eighth birthday yesterday at the home of his son, William W. Sears, 1081 South Lafayette Street, with whom he is making his home in the latter days of a once busy and active life.

Mr. Sears’s health is remarkable good considering his age. His memory is clear as yesterday and he was able to recall many interesting occurrences in his 65 years’ residence in the county, and he looked with pride on the comparison of present conditions of a growing and prosperous city and those which he met in 1842 when he settled on a tract of land in the wilderness of Cascade township to battle with the trials of pioneer life.

Mr. Sears was born in New Durham, Green County, N.Y., May 3, 1819 and when 23 years of age he, with his young bride( Marie Jane Warner), his aged father, Chauncey Sears, and his brother, the late Austin Sears, and wife, loaded their possessions into a wagon and the five persons started with an ox team for Michigan.

Before undertaking the tedious journey toward Detroit, Mr. Sears had exchanged a small piece of property in New York for 80 acres of wild land in Cascade Township to battle with the trials of pioneer life.

"The trade was made "unsight and unseen", said Mr. Sears yesterday, "neither of us having seen the Michigan land. But I made a good trade, and was well pleased with the bargain. I added 40 acres to it later, making a model farm by hard work and deprivation."

The party that was to hew out a home in the forest, drove from Detroit through the unbeaten highways by blazed trees, and after many days arrived at Whitneyville in Caledonia Township. The reached the little village hotel in the evening, where they found an Indian dancing party in progress. On intimidation from the Indians the men of the party joined in the dance, much to the delight of the red skins.

Mr. Sears says they made a good impression on their neighbors at the first meeting and had little trouble with them while they were clearing their farms, although some of the Indians were bad Indians, and made life precious for them and their wives for several years. However, the men were on good terms with the chiefs of the tribes, who held their members in check most of the time.

Mr. Sears began work at once to clear a place for a small log house and soon they were settled in this new home with Indians, wolves and wildcats for neighbors.

The first winter was spent in felling the timber and making barrels which they exchanged at Luce’s store in Grand Rapids for flour and other vegetables. "Trips to Grand Rapids from his home at that time, with an ox team, through the forests, required two to three days, depending on the conditions of the roads", says Mr. Sears, "and we had to camp over night in the woods."

"I remember driving my team through Monroe Street many times and when the mud was hub deep", said he, " and I tell you it hardly seems possible that such changes could take place as we see today."

Speaking of his experience with the Indians in early days, he told a story with considerable amusement. The Indians invited him and his family to their sugar camp one spring to eat warm sugar. Arriving at the camp they saw several little Indian children swimming in the stone trough of sap. "This was too much for us, and the women especially became suddenly ill and could not eat sugar. We all excused ourselves from the hospitality of the neighbors, much to their disappointment", said he.

"At another time I helped the chief raise a log house and the squaws served a good dinner of venison and corn cake. It was spread on blankets on the ground and we were compelled to eat it with our fingers."

Mr. Sears’ wife (Mary Jane Warner) died April 28, 1896, since which time he has lived with his son. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Sears, three of whom are now living; William W. Sears of Grand Rapids, Lavant C. Sears, of Benzie County, and Mrs. Addie M. Snyder of Ionia County.

Mr. Sears father lived to the age of 94 years, and the son expects to see several years yet of a happy and contented life. He is the only living charter member of the Methodist Church at Alto, which was organized by him and eight others in 1854. He is also the oldest living pioneer of Cascade Township.

Contributed by Dale Working
Created: 19 Mar 2007
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/pioneers/searsHorace.html