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History of Vergennes Township, Kent County, Michigan
Sylvester Hodges is accredited with being the first settler within this town, during the year 1836, although it is reported that he first settled in that year in Lowell township, planting the first apple-trees, and helping build the first house in that village.
James S. Fox, Alex, Rogers, Emery Foster, John Brannagan, Wm. P. Perrin, Thompson I. Daniels and Lucas Robinson settled in the township in the fall of 1836, and the spring of 1837 Franklin Kenney, Micah Mudge, Silas S. Fallass, Newcomb Godfrey, J. Wesley Fallass, Elias Walker, Morgan Lyon, Amos Hodges, Chris. Misner, Alfred Van Deusen and Benj. Fairchild came early in the winter of 1837-38. About February of that year Rodney Robinson, John M. Fox, P.W. Fox, A. D. Smith, O. H. Jones, J. Wells and Geo. Brown came to settle.
The township was detached from Kent, and organized under a separate town government in 1838, when there were only 19 families in the township. For several years the farmers had to carry their grists to Ionia, to Granville or to Kalamazoo to be ground. At this time the township was comparatively an unbroken wilderness. Grand Rapids could boast of but half a score of poorly furnished houses and only two stores, those of Louis Campau and Mr. Watson. The record of this township is similar to that of the others. Its settlers had all the hardships of pioneer life, but in due time these difficulties gave way under the pressing progress of civilization and commerce. The wilderness was soon converted into fine farms, and mills were erected on the several streams; school-houses were erected, villages incorporated and commerce encouraged.
Gideon A. Hendricks settled in Vergennes, on section 33, in 1843. He returned to New York State, where he resided until 1860, when he revisited Michigan, and settled on section 2, Vergennes, in 1866. He died in April, 1878.
Among the first purchasers of the township lands, as acquired by the United States in 1836, and placed in the market in 1839, were the following: Eliza Andrews, sec 2, Aug. 19, 1839, John Llooyd, sec 4, Aug. 8, 1839; Newcomb Godfrey, sec. 11, Aug. 8,1839, Amos Wood, sec. 12, Aug. 8, 1839; Silas S. Fallass, sec 13, Aug. 8, 1839; Benjamin W. Towe, sec. 15, Feb. ll, 1840; Ira Bassett, sec. 30, Aug 8, 1839; Caleb D. Page, sec 23, July 17, 1839, John J. Devendorf, sec 26, Aug 8, 1839; Calvin Kelsey, sec 29, aug. 8, 1839; Anthony Yerkes, sec 32, Dec. 9, 1840; George Brown, sec 34, Aug. 3, 1839; James Montague, Ben. Toles, Jared Wayles and a few others made settlements.
In speaking of Vergennes in early times, it must be borne in mind that its center was Lowell; that its settlers were mainly there, or in that part of Vergennes which is contiguous. a few pushed up Flat river. The two towns Vergennes and Lowell lived lovingly together as one for 10 years, not following the example of many sister towns, of setting up independent as soon as they had a dozen voters. There is good reason why the two townships should keep together. They were, in substance, one settlement, which the township line about equally divided. This settlement, near the mouth of the Flat river, was the place; the scattered settlers around seemed to be its dependencies. They lived together as a community; they did not choose to divide; and they did not until both towns were well supplied with inhabitants.
Vergennes was one of the towns earliest organized. By act of the Legislature in 1838, four townships, 5,6,7,8, north, range 9 west, Bowne, Lowell, Vergennes and Grattan, were set off from Kent, and made a town. The first settlement was in what is now Lowell, and the south part of the present town of Vergennes. Its early history is mainly that of Lowell.