Early Settlement of Spencer, Wyoming, Walker, Vergennes and Tyrone
Spencer township is situated on the northeast corner of the county, and was first invaded by an old trapper by the name of Lincoln. He had a shanty on the bank of the lake of that name, and there he lived alone for a number of years.
The first regular settler was Cyrus B. Thomas, who located in the summer of 1846. The second settler was Henry Stroup, who located in January 1848. M. B. Hatch came in 1853, and E. B. Cowles, B. G. Parks, Jacob Van Zandt, Wm. H. Hewitt, Wm. T. Parshall and Daniel Hastings followed. In a short time the township became well settled and soon began to show signs of rapid improvement.
The first township election was held in 1861.
Tyrone is in the northwest corner township of Kent county. It was first settled by Mrs. Louisa Scott and family, who went in to board workmen on the State Road then being made on the west line of this township. In 1850 Lot Ferguson settled about one mile further down on the road, where the Casnovia House afterwards stood.
In 1852 Jacob Smith and Harlon Jackson settled one mile east of the State Road, on the present road from Cedar Springs to Muskegon. In the following year John Thompson came into the same neighborhood, with Jos. Kies.
In 1855 other settlers came in, and soon the township became quite well settled by enterprising citizens, who have succeeded in improving the town and enriching themselves.
The township was, for some time, attached to Sparta, but in 1855 it was organized as a separate town under the name of Tyrone, the first annual meeting having been held at the only school house in the place, which stood near Mrs. Scott's residence.
Tyrone has now become a prosperous and thickly settled town. Within the township are several thrifty villages. Excellent school houses have been erected and every improvement made necessary to make the homes of the residents comfortable.
Vergennes lies east of Ada, and was first settled by S. Hodges in 1836. It was organized under a separate town government in the township. For several years the farmers had to carry their grists to Ionia, to Grandville 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.
Following is a list of early settlers in Vergennes: S. S. Fallass, J. W. Fallass, L. Robinson, T. I. Daniels, James Wells, A. R. Hoag, S. Hodges, J. G. Fox, W. P. Perrin, A. Rogers, A. K. Shaw, E. Foster, N. Godfroy, A. Hodges, E. Walker, C. Misner, M. Lyon, B. Fairchild, J. Branagan and A. Vandeusen.
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. Vergennes is now one of the most prosperous townships in Michigan.
Walker, one of the western tier of townships, was first settled by Samuel White in 1836. Mr. White built the first frame barn west of Grand River, and soon after erected a saw mill on Indian Creek. Later in the same year Mr. White was joined by Jesse Smith and a Frenchman named John J. Nardin, who came and settled in the township. The following persons followed to complete the early settlement: Henry Helmka, Wm. W. Anderson, Joseph Denton, John Hogadone, Harvey Monroe, John Harrington, Patrick O'Brien, Stephen O'Brien, Jas. Murray and the Edison family. Many others followed at an early day.
The first township meeting was held in April, 1838, at the Mission School House. The records indicate that this was the only school house then in the township.
In 1838 emigration had fairly settled in, and in a few years the place was thickly settled. All the settlers were enterprising, hard working men, and their energies were not exerted in vain. Walker has now become one of the best improved townships in Kent county, and promises a prosperous future. School houses have been erected in every school district in the town, and mills and manufacturing establishments have been put up with satisfactory results.
Wyoming is one of the western tier of townships of Kent county. It was first settled by Mr. David Tucker, G. H. Gordon, Luther Lincoln, Jos. B. Copeland, Hiram Jenison, William R. Godwin, J. T. Chubb, M. Roys, Henry West, R. Britton, J. C. Abel, E. P. Walker, A. Bryant, Joseph McCarthy and others.
In 1834 G. H. Gordon built a saw mill on section seventeen, and soon after other mills were erected. This was the beginning of enterprise in Wyoming, and it has been steadily kept up to the present day.
The existence of plaster in this township is probably one reason for its rapid settlement and great enterprise.
The first mill for grinding plaster was built in the winter of 1840 by Mr. Daniel Ball, of Grand Rapids.