GRATTAN is one of the eastern tier of townships. It was originally a part of Vergennes, and was created into a separate town in 1846. It was largely settled in its southern portion by emigrants directly from Ireland.
In 1843 the first settlement was made within the limits of the town, by Dennis and John McCarthy and Richard Giles. In 1844, Luther B. Cook built the first house north of Seeley’s Creek. Among the early settlers who followed were C. Close, J. Watkins, Henry Green, Anthony King, V. W. Caukin, M. Kennedy, and W. McCarthy.
Prominent among the settlers who came in 1845 were John P. Weeks, Orson Nichoson, William Byrnes and A. Green. Of these old settlers most reside where they first located.
There are many interesting personal experiences incident to the early settlement of this town. Out of many of these I will mention one. A widely known and highly respectable couple, still residents of the town, wished to get married, but there was no functionary in that part of Kent county vested with authority to perform the ceremony. A well-known Justice of Ionia county chanced to be visiting at the house where the parties were, and their dilemma was made known to him. Of course he had no jurisdiction in Kent, but the county line was only half a mile away, and a walk through the forest was proposed and agreed to. The Justice took his stand in Ionia county, and the bride and bridegroom, protesting, would not leave the county to be married, joined hands just over the line, and in the presence of a few friends, gathered beneath the grand old oaks, on the pleasant afternoon of July 28th, 1844, the twain were made one, to their own gratification as well as that of the spectators.
In those early days the settler, with his axe, cut the way for his future home, and in the absence of stores, grist and saw-mills, supplied, by his own ingenuity, the actual necessities of himself and family. Today, all the conveniences of civilized life are at hand, and well cultivated farms, and the more than ordinary wealth displayed in dwellings are highly significant of the great enterprise and consequent prosperity of the people.
Grattan has not only maintained an honorable position in the county, but has also made its record among the dignitaries of the State. Among those who have represented that section in the State Legislature are Hon. Volney W. Caukin and Hon. M. C. Watkins.
LOWELL lies north of Bowne and south of Vergennes. It is one of the eastern tier of townships in Kent county. Its soil, timber and productions are greatly diversified. The soil of the southern portion is mostly clay or loam, lies very high, and is generally level and well adapted to farming purposes. The north half is considerably broken by the Grand and Flat rivers, and Lakes McEwing, Pratt, Morse, Stoughton, and several swamps. This township is well supplied with stone for building purposes, and in some parts they are used to some extent for fencing, especially in the northwest corner of the township.
In the year 1829, Daniel Marsac came from Detroit and went among the Indians in the vicinity of the present village of Lowell as a trader, although a regular trading post was not established there until 1831, when Mr. Marsac built a log hut on the south side of the Grand River, near the present site of J. Koff and Co’s extensive chair works.
When Mr. Marsac first pitched his tent within the borders of Kent county, then an almost unbroken wilderness, the only roads were the Indian trails, and the only means of navigation was the canoe, or the "dug-out", as it is sometimes called; or for more extensive transportation a raft made of poles or small logs fastened together.
In the spring of 1835, a family by the name of Robinson, numbering in all forty-four persons, set out from the State of New York, and arriving at Detroit, embarked on a small vessel for Grand Haven, via Mackinaw. On the 7th day of June of that year they reached the mouth of Grand River, and, putting their household goods on rafts, poled their way up the river and settled in Ottawa and Kent counties. These were only a part of the Robinsons; Rix Robinson had been trading with the Indians at Ada for several years previous. A year later another brother, named Lewis, came with his family and settled on the west bank of Flat River, in the south part of what is now the village of Lowell. He was soon followed by Rodney, his brother. The timber for their first log hut was cut two or three miles up Flat River and floated down by the help of Indians, who were always friendly to those who used them well.
A tract of land lying on the east side of Flat River was set apart as university lands. In 1836 Luther Lincoln, from Grand Rapids, came and settled on a small lot of the university lands, and built a log house, which was afterwards occupied by Don A. Marvin as a tavern.
In 1837, Charles Newton, Matthew Patrich, Samuel P. Rolf, Ira A. Dawes, William Vandeusen and Mr. Francisco settled along the north side of Grand River, on the old Grand River Road, from two to five miles west of Flat River. In 1839, William B. Lyon and Ransom Rolf settled on the same road, near those previously mentioned.
At the time of the sale of lands in this tract, the Indians attempted to enter and hold the lands they had been tilling under the pre-emption laws; but, as the agent knew nothing about whether the red man could hold land by these laws, the matter was referred to the general land office, and, while waiting the decisions, Philander Tracy attempted to gain possession by erecting a small hut thereon and sowing the field with oats, which were destroyed by the Indians. His papers, which had been granted, were afterwards revoked, and although the decision was unfavorable to the Indians, they loaned money to a Frenchman, who entered it for them.
John B. Shear and some others came in the year 1844, and settled in or near the present village of Lowell. In December, 1847, C. S. Hooker, formerly of Connecticut, came from Saranac. He erected the first frame house in the township, which was also the first in Lowell. In 1847, Mr. Hooker erected the grist mill on the east side of Flat River. It was run by an over-shot-water-wheel, water being brought by means of a race, a distance of about forty rods from the island in Flat River. In 1849, Mr. Hooker constructed a dam across the river just below Bridge Street.
The Lowell Postoffice was established about the year 184, and took its name from the township, which was organized about the same time. The new village was called Lowell because of its prospects in a manufacturing point. The first village officers were: C. S. Hooker, President; C. A. Blake, Recorder; J. Chapman, Marshal; C. Hunt, Assessor; Wm. W. Hatch, J. B. Shear, and A. Peck, Trustees.
Within the last few years Lowell has become a large manufacturing and commercial mart. Its citizens are very enterprising, and many of its factories and business houses will compare favorably with those of Detroit.