Clyde Township *
TOWNSHIP 2 north, range 15 west, was organized in 1860, and named Clyde after
the place of the same name in New York State. It is bounded on the north by Manlius, on the south by Lee, east
by Pine Plains, and west by Ganges. The Chicago and Michigan Railroad passes in almost an air-line between north
and south, having in the town two stations,-Fennville and Sherman. These are small but growing villages. Clyde
is just beginning to develop as a fruit-producing township, and gives encouragement to believe that in the near
future the peach-culture will be a large and valuable industry. In January, 1880, about 200 acres were set to fruit,
mainly peaches, of which latter J. W. McCormick had 13 acres; Bathrick & White, 12 acres; William H. McCormick,
10 acres; while W. H. Silcox, S. Atwater, H. Hutchins, and others were likewise prominent as peach-growers.
The great tracts of lowland in Clyde, heretofore neglected and worthless, are in a fair way to be redeemed to agriculture.
Efforts upon a liberal scale, looking to effective drainage, have thus far been attended with satisfactory results,
and it may therefore be regarded as a simple question of a brief time as to the ultimate reclamation, of the major
portion at least, of what is now a waste region.
THE EARLY COMERS IN CLYDE.
Doubtless the first invasion by white men of the territory now occupied by Clyde
was effected by Jacob Bailey and a company of laborers he brought with him for the purpose of setting up a saw-mill
on section 10, in the interest of a New York land-owning firm, known as Green, Mitchell & Co. Bailey's advent
occurred in 1837, and from that time until 1840 he carried on the mill and cleared land with considerable activity.
In 1840, however, the company ceased operations in Clyde, and Bailey, with his men, mill, and all, disappeared
from the neighborhood. Shortly after that, James Harris located on section 1, upon the Allegan and Saugatuck road,
where he opened a blacksmith-shop, and Robert G. Winn temporarily located upon a place on section 6. Harris and
.Winn were for five or six years the oniy white inhabitants of the township.
The next settler was Charles T. Billings, a New Yorker, who in 1846 located upon 40 acres on section 6, where he
still resides. When Billings came, Harris was living on section 1, but Winu had moved from section 6 into Newark,
whence he subsequently went to Ganges, his present home. Walter Billings, who made a location upon section 5 in
1847, remained only a few years. In 1849, Harrison Fry came on, and moved into the shanty earlier occupied by Winn
on section 6.
James Harris, above mentioned, was a millwright, and in 1837 was doing mill-work in Newark township. He was sent
for in 1839 to assist in repairing Bailey's mill, on section 10, in Clyde. It was after the failure of Green &
Mitchell, the company owning the Bailey mill, that Harris located on section 1, on the Allegan road, and there
opened a tavern, in connection with which he kept the blacksmithshop already spoken of. Harris carried on the tavern-stand
nine years, and then traded the place to one Dr. Coats for land in Otsego, whither he removed and engaged in farming.
The Coats family conducted the tavern business a couple of years, and then sold to the Phillips family, wh9 disposed
of it in turn to George B. Smalley.
On section 1 also lived one Bushnell, a neighbor of Harris, who died there at an early date, and was buried on
his farm. His widow soon afterwards left the town. There was also a man called Marmaduke Wood, a resident upon
section 1. Wood worked hard to make a living, but after an experience of four years concluded that he couldn't
do it, and, selling out, moved to Illinois.
The first school taught in the neighborhood was a subscription school in Manlius, in a log house erected by the
people in the vicinity, on the town-line, about eighty rods east of the present Fennville school-house. This was
in the winter of 1846, and the teacher was Laura Hudson, now Mrs. Harrison Hutchins. The first birth was that of
Mary, daughter of Chas. T. Billings, Dec. 21, 1848, now living with her father. The first marriage was that of
Helen A. Billings to Stephen Atwater, in 1862, and the first death that of Jacob Baragar, Feb. 2, 1847.
The first clearing upon the site now occupied by Fennville was made in 1860 by
Henry Blakslee, who did but little, however, before he entered the army, in 1861, not long after which he was killed
in action. In 1862, Elam A. Fenn, an early settler in Manlius, where he had put up a saw-mill, erected, in company
with Levi Loomis, a saw-mill just west of where the railroad-track now passes through Fennville. The mill was soon
destroyed by fire, and then Emerson & Co., of Rockford, Ill., who owned considerable land near there, joined
Penn in rebuilding the mill, and engaged him to clear their land and cut their lumber. In 1870 the railway-line
was run east of Fenn's mill, and David Walter, a shoemaker who came to Clyde in 1854, boarded the railroad laborers
at his house, near Fenn's.
Fennville was then in the woods, but in 1871 was platted by Emerson & Co., and given its name in honor of the
sawmill man. The village site was then in Manlius, opposite the mill. In the fall of 1871, when the village consisted
of the stores of Pardee Grizzell and Stephen Atwater the post-office, and a half-dozen houses, everything, including
the saw-mill, was burned to the ground. After the fire the restoration of the village was effected upon Wilson's
addition, previously laid out by M. C. Wilson upon the property occupied by Henry Blakslee in 1860. There the business
portion of the village is now located. The first house in the addition was built by M. C. Wilson, upon the ground
now occupied by David Signor's hotel. Stephen Atwater was the first to build a store there, and presently Dr. Ass
Goodrich, of Ganges, came and opened a drugshop in Atwater's store, while he also practiced the healing art. To
Daniel Thomas belongs the distinction of having been the pioneer blacksmith. Stephen Atwater, M. C. Wilson, Waterman
Hutchins, and David Signor, still living at Fennville, are reckoned the oldest residents of the place.
A post office was established in 1866 for the benefit of the people near the saw-mill, and called "Fenn's
Mill." Elam Feun was the first postmaster, and, until the completion of the railway, received a mail three
times each week by way of Manlius. Previous to 1866 the latter place was the post-office for the people at Penn's
Mill. When the village was laid out, the name of the post-office was changed to Fennville. SucceedingFenn, the
postmasters have been Stephen Atwater, Wm. Seiver, George Smead, and J. W. McCormick, the present incumbent.
Fennville is fast rising to importance as a shipping-point as well as a trading-place. During the season of 1878
the railway-shipments included 5000 barrels of apples, 55,000 baskets of peaches, and 25 cars of wheat. During
the season of 1879 shipments included 137,000 baskets of peaches, 4000 barrels of apples, and 60 cars of wheat.
The outlook for 1880 promises a material advance in business over the figures for 1879.
Besides Dr. Asa Goodrich, Fenaville's physicians have been Drs. C. F. Stimpson, Hull, McCullough, Andrews, and
Meaghan. The two latter are now the resident physicians.
In 1867, Alouzo Sherman and Ezra L. Davis came to Clyde, with about 20 men, and
set up a saw-mill on section 32. They also opened a store, and called the place Sherman. Davis remained only a
few years. - Mr. Sherman has continued uninterruptedly to follow the saw-mill business at the place ever since.
When the railway was opened, in 1871, a post-office was established at Sherman and called Bravo, its present name.
The appellation is supposed to have been suggested by some one who wished thus to indicate the spirit that must
have animated the pioneers of the place in starting a village in the woods. Chandler Eaton, the first postmaster,
was succeeded, in 1873, by the present incumbent, Eugene D. Nash, who has also been the railway agent since that
The village when visited by the writer, in February, 1880, boasted three stores, a saw-mill, and a stave-mill.
The railway shipments at Sherman depot during the season of 1S79 included 25,000 baskets of peaches, 37 cars of
wheat, and 1400 bushels of clover-seed. The business of shipping fruit and wheat at tins station is expected to
advance materially during 1880, and, as two new stores were erected in the village in February, 1880, public expectation
would seem to point to a speedy and vigorous trade increase.
Settlements in Clyde were confined until quite recently to the northwestern portion.
Sherman, in the south, was settled in 1867, and in 1872, Eggleston and Hazieton, interested with Stockbridge and
Johnson, extensive landowners, put up a large saw-mill at the place now called Clyde Centre, employing in the woods
and at the mill about 75 men. They erected a number of houses, including a large boarding-house for their laborers,
opened a store, caused a railway-station and post-office to be established there, and carried on their business
prosperously until 1877, when, the timber-supply being about exhausted, they removed the mill elsewhere, and Clyde
Centre was accordingly relegated to obscurity. James Bathrick and James B. White were among the first hands employed
in the mill, and when it was removed they bought farming-land on section 20, where they have since been engaged
in agricultural pursuits, particularly, however, at present in the business of fruit-growing.
W. A. Briggs, whose parents settled in Maniius in 1851, located at Clyde Centre in 1874, and lives there now. There
is at the Centre a Free-Will Baptist Church organization, which worships in the school-house and has a small membership
in the thinly-settled neighborhood.
Clyde, originally a portion of Pine Plains, was set off by the county supervisors
Oct. 12, 1859, and named by Ralph Parish, who had come from Clyde, N. Y. At the first town election, held April
2, 1860, 13 votes were cast by the following persons: Ralph Parish, George G. Smalley, B. H. Heath, David Walter,
Charles T. Billings, Stephen Thayer, John Withrow, Henry Davidson, B. B. Wells, Richard Purdy, Robert Hayes, Frank
Seymour, Jeremiah Stafford.
The following persons have been chosen annually since 1860 as supervisors, clerks, treasurers, and justices of
1860-64, Ralph Parrish; 1865, E. A. Fenn; 1866-79, J. W. McCormick.
1860, George G. Smalley; 1861, William Williams; 1862, E. H. Heath; 1861, R. H. Bushnell; 1864-66, David Walter;
1867, Newton Arnold; 1868-72, David Walter; 1873, Newton Arnold; 1874-75, David Walter; 1876-79, S. Atwater.
1860, E. H. Heath; 1861, C. T. Billings; 1862-63, D. Walter; 1864, R. Bushnell; 1865, W. F. Billings; 1866, J.
Robertson; 1867, M. C. Wilson; 1868-71, S. Atwater; 1872-75, H. F. Pullman; 1876-77, W. W. Hutchins; 1878-79, C.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
1860, C. T. Billings; 1861, B. W. Phillips; 1862, R. Parish; 1863, E. H. Heath; 1864, E. A. Fenn; 1865, C. T. Billings;
1866, J. W. McCormick; 1867, E. L. Davis; 1868, E. A. Fenn; 1869, C. T. Billings; 1870, J. W. McCormick; 1871,
Joseph Pyles; 1872, George Cook; 1873, S. Atwater; 1874, J. W. McCormick; 1875, W. H. Silcox; 1876, E. D. Noah;
1877, S. Atwater; 1878, J. W. McCormick; 1879, S. B. Severns
Clyde contains no house of worship, although the village of Fennville has, on the Manlius side, a Methodist Episcopal
church edifice, in which many of Clyde's citizens worship. There are in the township, at various school-houses,
frequent religious meetings, but thus far no denomination has found itself strong enough to erect a house of its
Of schools there are but four, and one of them is in a fractional district. The enrollment of school children in
the four districts is 124, and the average attendance in three of them is 90.
* By David Sehwartz