Early Land Owners in Byron Township


Byron Early Land Owners






8 AUGUST 1835



4 MAY 1836



21 APR 1836



7 DEC 1835



7 NOV 1836



5 APR 1837



19 APR 1836



7 DEC 1836



2 NOV 1835



13 JUL 1836



7 NOV 1836



11 JUL 1836

William, Jerry and Nathan Boynton were the first white settlers in Byron township. They descended from a long line of landowners from Yorkshire, England.

Another three brothers – Justus, Jacob and Charles Rogers settled about the same time. It is generally conceded that Nathan Boynton was the first settler. Mr. Eli Rogers brought some means with him, so that he could hire much done. And in two years we find him harvesting one hundred acres of wheat, which he sold for 37 ˝ cents a bushel. Followed in 1837 by John Harmon, Harmon Kellogg and James B. Newell, and soon after Ella Judson came in 1838. Mr. Judson stated that when he built his log house he had to travel an unbeaten trail of four miles to get help and could get only eight ment. Larkin, Ball, Peter Gold, Eli Crossman, Amalek Taylor, Alden Coburn, John Olstead and Benjamin Robinson came to Byron township in 1840, afterward Samuel Hubbel, J. Gallup, Henry A. VanNess, Oliver Harris arrived.

When Mr. Hubbel’s’ house was raised not getting it finished in one day, so the men had to stay overnight, and the only place to sleep was outdoors. All the hard working men had for supper and breakfast was only "roast potatoes".

As late as 1844, the southern part of Byron township was an unoccupied wilderness. Wild animals such as wolves, bears, coyotes were common in those parts of the country. Among the settlers who came to this township in 1843 were Mr. Fox, E. R. Ide, Ezekiel Cook, E. Tuft and James K. McKenney. When Mr. Cook moved into the woods their nearest neighbors lived four miles from them. When Mr. Tuft moved on his place the only signs of a house he had was a small sled-load of lumber. He began to build in December, and the family shivered until the rude home was completed. No roads, save trails tramped out by the Indians in their passage from their villages or camps to their trading post, such as even the present city of Grand Rapids, Michigan was. The nearest postoffice was in Grand Rapids, a distance of fourteen miles. The only means of transportation was to walk, so whoever would make the trip to Grand Rapids would return with the mail. Until 1860 the mail was brought from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo, Michigan by stage. In 1860, the Buck Creek postoffice was opened and later the name was changed to Byron Center postoffice.

During the year of 1845, Messrs. Corkins, Barney, Clark, S. Wilson and William Davidson settled within the limits of the township. Slowly one after another ventured into the timber, to combat with the forest, to conquer a home and a farm. The settlements of the town was so slow, that for ten years hence, one was a pioneer in some part of it. It was twelve years after the first settlers came in, before they had inhabitants enough to feebly commence as a town themselves. The real occupancy started in 1846-1847, and then there was quite an influx in 1847.

In 1847 the vote for supervisor in the town, as Wyoming and Byron was seventy, when it is well known, the principal vote was at and around Grandville. Upon the organization of the new town in 1848, the vote was fifty-two which indicated that either in 1847 the south Byron voters stayed at home, or that many settlers came in 1847. It was a custom at that time, if a town meeting was called, the voters would come out as they considered it their holiday.

Indicative of the relative population of Wyoming and of Byron at the settlement between the two towns, May, 1848, Byron received 28 – 1/10 per cent of the money on hand. At the gubernatorial election in the fall of 1847, the vote of the two towns was ninety-three. In 1850 the population was 309. Census reports show that the population was rapidly increasing.

Byron is essentially an agricultural town. It has two little villages – Corinth and Byron Center – both of which sprung up around the mills which Mr. Towner built in 1871. In 1872 there were twenty-five houses in the village.

Other earlier settlers in 1847 were Josiah R. Holden, Bradly Weaver, David Prindle, Carlos Weaver and Prentice A. Weaver, Eli Young and James M. Barney. Mr. Young related that he killed a bear within a rod of his home with a corn cutter and the aid of his dog.

During the first years of settlement of Byron progressed very slowly. It required a brave heart and a strong arm to encounter the dangers and hardships, consequent upon opening up a new and heavily timbered country. However, the forest gradually yielded to the pioneer’s axe, and beautiful barns have taken its place.

The first year Mr. J. Barney lived in his house, he had to keep his cow and calf in a high log pen near his house to save them from the wolves. One night the wolves kept him awake until the early hours in the morning so he arose, took his gun and was going to take vengeance. When he went outside, the wolves had gone in the bushes and Mr. John Barney followed and then the wolves surrounded him; he then backed up against a tree and the wolves would come so near that he could hear their teeth snapping together. He used all his eloquence to prove that man was not made for wolves, using his gun as his aid and he won his case. Besides the wild animals, people in this part of the area, in the spring of 1836, had a tornado which did quite a lot of damage in Byron. Blew down several trees, but no one was hurt.

ROSS STATION, in Byron township, is located on the southern line of section 26, which is on the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, eleven miles due south of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The population of the hamlet is seventy-five. The postmaster is A. Pelton; the hotel is conducted by N. W. Page; the stores are kept by A. Pelton and James S. Toland. Mr. Toland is assistant postmaster and station agent. The village was platted for Daniel Ross, 20 Jan 1871, by Mr. William Thoraton.

Byron Center was platted 6 Aug 1872 for Augustine Godwin by Surveyor Samuel S. Towner. The first addition was made for Laura L. Belden and Russell Nugent on25 Apr 1874, the surveying being done by A. Godwin. Since that period the progress of the hamlet has resulted in a present population of only 120, being about one-sixteenth of the number of people reported in the township in 1880. The village was made up of a Methodist Church, public school, a steam flouring-mill and a lumber factory. These industries operated by Mr. H. S. Towner and Mr. S. S. Towner. The principal stores are those of Brown & Jacques, Byron McNeal, N. Murdock and O. Narrengang. At the time there were three physicians: John Campbell, N. Chamberlain and H. W. Strong; the hotel operated by C. J. Carroll; the village blacksmith was N. F. Narrengang, (the blacksmith shop remains on the same location), and the postmaster at that time was Chester Phillips.

Scanned and Transcribed by ES
Created: 30 March 2014
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/townships/byron/Businesses/LandOwners.html