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History of Chickaming Township, MI.
FROM History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Their Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.

Chickaming Township *

CHICKAMING township contains 19 full sections, and 6 triangular sections formed by Lake Michigan, and is bounded on the north and west by Lake Michigan and the township of Lake, on the east by the township of Weesaw, on the south by the townships of New Buffalo and Three Oaks, and is designated on the United States survey as town 7 south, of range 20 west. The name Chickaming is an Indian word, meaning lake.

The highest point of land between St. Joseph and New Buffalo is near Wilkinson Station, being 98 feet above the river at New Buffalo. Along the lake-shore the soil is sandy.

The northerly portion of that section was heavily timbered with beech, maple, and other woods. The southerly portion was white and black oak. In the easterly and southerly portions of the township the. soil is generally a clay loam of good quality. The lake-shore strip is a good region for the production of all kinds of fruit, and is largely cultivated for that purpose. The farming lands are similar in quality and production to those of adjacent townships.

The township is watered by the north branch of the Galien River, which enters in the lower part of section 12, and passes diagonally through sections 13, 23, 22, 27, 29, and passes out in section 29.

Following is a list of persons who made original entries of government lands in the several sections of the township of Chickaming:

Section 1.- E. Griswold, - Sheldon, C. Britain, G. Kimmel.
Section 2.- Sherwood & Co., - Wittemeyer, Calvin Britain.
Section 3.- Sherwood & Co., D. A. Miller, T. U. Wray, B. Horton, and Stuart & Co.
Section 9.- Sherwood. Whole section.
Section 1O.- D. A. Miller, R. Horton, F. M. Wray, J. C. Miller, - Horner, G. Kimmel.
Section 11.- G. Kimmel, - Johnson.
Section 12.- G. Kimmel, C. Kingery, J. Griffin, Rathbone & Co.
Section 13.- Rathbone & Chapin, J. Turner, B. Butterworth, William Bond, Jr.
Section 14.- M. Chamberlain, G. Hoffman. N. Willard, Sherwood & Co., - Homer.
Section 15.- G. Kimmel, Sherwood & Beers.
Section 18.- School lot.
Section 17.- C. Britain, H. Bishop, N. Willard, H. L. Stuart.
Section 19.- S. Clough, E. Goit.
Section 20.- B. L. Skinner, M. Chamberlain, F. H. Clough, H. Nixon, J. Stauffer.
Section 21.- F. Smith, C. Britain, A. Cummings.
Section 22.- J. Horner, G. Kimmel, Sherwood & Co., M. Chamberlain.
Section 23.- M. Chamberlain, Johnson, Lautnan, E. Griffin, Ruthbone & Co.
Section 24.- N. Willard, B. Butterworth, J. Johnson, J. Garrish, J. Haas, Townsend & Co.
Section 25.- J. Haas, N. Willard & Co., Townsend & Co., Nelson Willard and Henry Bishop, Sherwood & Co., - Deacon.
Section 26.- Jacob Haas, J. Pierce, Sherwood & Co. Section 27.-John H. Ostrom & Co., D. Robb, J. Stauffer, and J. Turner. Section 28.-Ostrom & Co., G. C. Balls, John A. Wells, W. Hammond, V. L. Bradford.
Section 29.- M. G. Pratt, E. M. Shelton, V. L. Bradford, J. M. Carter, J. P. Warner, M. G. Evans.
Section 30.- McKersham, J. P. Warner, Clough Whittaker, W. Hammond, V. L. Bradford.


For many years after the settlement of New Buffalo, lands in this township were unoccupied by actual settlers on account of the speculative prices put upon them. The first to locate land was Luman Northrop, from near Hamburg, Erie Co., N. Y., a son-in-law of Festus A. Holbrook. He came to New Buffalo in the fall of 1836, and made that his headquarters, being part of the time at Galien and New Troy. He was collector of New Buffalo township in 1839. About 1840 he bought a farm on the southwest quarter of section 23, where he built a cabin and a saw-mill with a flutter-wheel, lie owned the property until about 1860, and then sold it to Henry H. Pike, now of the "Pike House," Niles. Prior to this sale, he went to California, Lake Co., Ind., and other places. He died about 1868. He was a man of little education, but of strong mental and physical power.

In 1842 Richard Peckham, a native of Dutchess Co., N. Y., came to New Buffalo from Clinton, Lenawee Co., in this State, and commenced the manufacture of grain cradles and rakes, which he continued for four or five years. In 1843 he located a farm on the northwest quarter of section 20, Chickaming. He was a bachelor for many years, and carried on the farm at the same time with the factory, but finally moved on the farm, and gave his whole attention to it.

Henry Chamberlain, whose history will be found more fully with that of the township of Three Oaks, was the next to locate. He purchased the east half of the northeast half of section 20, where he built a cabin, and lived there about one year.

Alfred Ames, a native of Vermont, came to Eaton Co., Mich., in 1841, and in 1843 came to New Buffalo. In November, 1844, he purchased 78 acres of the De Garmo Jones property, it being the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of fractional section 30. Oct. 1, 1844, he married Miss Mary Fisher, then teaching school in Eaton County. She was also a native of Vermont, and a former schoolmate of his. Mr. Ames built a cabin on the farm (which was heavily timbered, and had no improvements), hired choppers. and worked in the woods all winter, his wife living with friends in Woodford Co., Ill., until some of the conveniences of a home could be obtained, in the spring of 1845 they commenced keeping house. At that time no bridge crossed the Galien River, and to get to New Buffalo was to swim the river, which Mr. Ames often did, taking off his clothes and putting them on his head to keep them dry. The mail service was to them an important matter, as they were both great readers. and the literature of the day was a necessity. Indians were often encamped between the home and New Buffalo. A man by the name of Wilcox, a contractor, lived in part of' the house in 1845. He was engaged in getting out timber for the Chicago harbor improvement. The timber was taken to the lake, put on rafts, and floated to the vessels, which lay from half to three-quarters of a mile out in the lake.

The first school taught in the township was at the house of Mr. Ames, his wife acting as teacher. This was in 1847, Mrs. Ames is still living on the farm which is known far and near as "Clay Banks." Mr. Ames and the father and mother of Mrs. Ames died the same day, at their house, March 4, 1864. Mrs. Ames has obtained considerable celebrity as an authoress, and for many years has written both poetry and prose, which have been contributed to the magazines and papers of the day.

In April, 1845, William Miller, a native of Ohio, settled on section 30, nearly adjoining Mr. Ames. Mrs. Miller is still living on the place. His son, John C. Miller, was a member of the House of Representatives of this State in 1862. Truman A. Clough, one of the first settlers of New Buffalo, owned land on sections 19 and 20. He engaged H. Hebner to clear the land on section 19, and agreed to give him two acres of land in township 8 for each acre cleared in section 19, township 7. He built a cabin and cleared land to the extent of 20 acres, receiving therefor 40 acres lying on Galien River, where his wife still lives. Mr. Clough removed to the farm about 1850, and lived there until the death of his wife, when he returned to New York State. He sold his property to J. N. Wilkinson & Co. Zalmon Desbro located on section 30, where his widow (now Mrs. Daniel Magee) lives. George Garland settled on the southeast quarter of the same section. Arnold Pratt, an early settler of New Buffalo, settled on land adjoining Garland. Richmond Horton, in about 1846, settled on the southwest quarter of section 1, where he made a clearing and built a steam saw-mill. He afterwards sold to Silas Sawyer, and moved to Berrien Springs, where he was interested in building the first grist-mill. He then moved to Ohio.

Tobias M. Ray, from New York, settled on section 16, and built a small water saw-mill on what is known as Ray's Creek, about 1847. He was killed years after by the bursting of a boiler while putting a steam-engine in his mill.

About 1835 a lumber firm took up a tract of timberland on section 11, where they built a water-mill, and constructed a horse-railroad to the lake. This was afterwards taken by Heman J. Rogers and removed to his place on section 11. P. B. Andrews soon after settled on the place where he still lives. Mr.. Andrews built the engine for the "Newburyport," the first steamer on the St. Joseph River.

Amos Fisher located a farm on section 30 about 1850, and went to California, where he remained a short time, returned, married, and in 1853 moved on his farm, where he still resides. A school-house was built on his land early in 1853. Martha, the daughter of John W. Wilkinson, taught school there in the summer of that year.

John W. Wilkinson. a native of' Virginia, emigrated to Clarke Co., Ind., in 1833, and in 1847 came to New Buffalo, where he remained till 1854. His brother, Dr. James Wilkinson, was a physician there for several years. Another brother, Joseph N. Wilkinson, then living in Alabama, now in Richmond, Va., became interested in the lumber business, and, as a member of the firm of J. N. Wilkinson & Co., purchased, in September, 1854, of Truman A. Clough, the greater part of section 19 and the southwest half of southwest quarter in section 20, for $10 per acre, John W. Wilkinson taking charge of it. A boardinghouse was put up, choppers hired, and lumbering was actively commenced. The lumber for the first building was purchased of Luman Northrop, who had a small saw-mill on section 23. The only improvement on the land when they came was a clearing of six or eight acres, and a log cabin iS by 28 feet, built. by Mr. Hebner. A store-house 20 by 36 feet was soon erected, and a pier was built out into the lake six hundred feet for convenience in loading lumber and eordwood.

After the completion of the pier a steam saw-mill was erected, with an upright saw, an engine of 20 horse-power, and capacity of cutting 6000 feet per day. From 50 to 100 men were employed, mostly in the woods. Afterwards what is known as Greenbush Pier was built, and still later Pike Pier. From this latter a horse-railroad was built on section 17, extending east to the southeast quarter of section 14. The firm continued to purchase land until they had bought 2500 acres, varying in price from $4 to $6 per acre. A post-office was established at Wilkinson in 1858, Abner Clark, William Fisher, and J. W. Wilkinson were the postmasters. After Chickaming was made a post-office, with Edward Glavin as postmaster, the Wilkinson office was discontinued. Upon the completion of the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad, three post-offices were established, viz.: Sawyer post-office, in the north part of the township, at Troy Station, James Spaulding, postmaster; Lakeside post-office, at Wilkinson Station, John S. Gibson, postmaster; and a post-office at Union Pier, in the south part of the township, with William T. Green, postmaster.

About 1853, Silas Sawyer, of Ohio, came to the township, purchased the place of Richmond Horton, in section 1 and the northeast quarter of section 10, built a steam sawmill, and by his persistent energy won a competence; but the extension of his business during the depression of the times following 1857 was the means of heavy loss. In 1873 he moved to Dallas, Tex., where he still resides. He was the first supervisor of the township after its organization. Bartlett J. Rogers, a native of Rochester, N. Y. (who had advanced money to the firm who built at the lake, on section 3), came here about the same time with Mr. Sawyer, and settled on the northwest quarter of section 11. He moved the mill from the lake to his farm, enlarged it, and was extensively engaged in lumbering. He remained here until about 1863-64, when he returned to New York.

G. A. Orris settled on the northeast quarter of section 2. He now lives in Weesaw, near Hill's Corners. John Vickerman settled, about 1854, on the west half of section 10, where he still lives. S. F. Broadbeck and - Hilliard settled on the southwest quarter of scction 2. The widow of Hilliard, now Mrs. Ashley, still lives on the place.

In 1854, Jerome W. Burnett purchased on the northwest quarter of section 14, where he still lives. In 1858 he sold a part to James A. Cook, who, in 1872, sold Out and moved to Nebraska.

The western part of the township that is accessible to the lake was largely and heavily timbered, and its early settlement was largely due to this fact. For many years the eastern part of the township was a wilderness, except the location made by Luman Northrup, on section 23. In 1860, Albert L. Drew, a native of Cass County, came into Chickaming, and bought 480 acres-the north half of section 26 and the northwest quarter of 25-Aug. 18, 1860. He built a log cabin immediately, and moved in with his family on October 23d of that year. His brother-in-law, Charles C. Sherrill, also a native of Cass County, bought one-half of Mr. Drew's land, in the winter of 1860-61, built a frame house, and moved his family there in the spring of 1861, at which time his house was half a mile from any road. They are both living on the places they then located. Mr. Drew is an active man in the township, and has filled the office of supervisor from 1873 to 1879. Mr. Sherrill is an active member of the Baptist Church, and a thrifty, energetic farmer. He was township treasurer from 1870 to 1877. John Martin settled, in 1860, on the southwest quarter of section 26. He was killed, in 1862, by an accident.

Samuel Donovan, about 1862, settled on the southwest quarter of section 23; Horace Warren on the southeast quarter, and Andrew Carpenter on the southwest quarter of section 26. In the spring of 1861, Luman Northrop moved to Weesaw, giving as a reason that neighbors were getting too thick.

David Adamson, an Irishman, came in 1861 with Mr. Sherril, and located in the southeast quarter of section 26. He enlisted in the army, and soon after his house was destroyed by fire, and one of his children perished in it. About 1865, John Baker, John Findle, C. Hess, and George K. Barnhart, with their families, came in, and purchased the southeast quarter of section 25. About 1869 they, with other German families in Weesaw and Three Oaks, built an Evangelical church on the southeast quarter of section 25. At nearly the same time, Samuel Priest settled on northeast quarter of section 25.

In 1862, Clement H. Goodwin, of Aurora. Ill., came from Galien, where he had been in business, and with his nephew, Richard M., hired the Wilkinson mill, which they ran for about a year, and purchased land on fractional section 25, where a saw-mill and a brick store were erected, and a pier built into the lake. They engaged largely in cutting and shipping cord-wood and in the manufacture of lumber and ties. A horse-railroad was built east to the west line of section 27. They had purchased large tracts of land on the north half of section 28, and had control of the land over which the road passed. Mr. C. H. Goodwin died about 1871. He was a prompt and active business man, possessed of great energy and tact. Richard M. Goodwin is to-day one of the foremost men of the township and one of its most active business men. He carries on a handle-factory, at Union Pier, in addition to his other business. John Frank and William Gowdy were settlers at Union Pier. John M. Glavin and Edward Glavin located a little north. John M. Glavin was in the Legislature of the State in 1867.

O. R. Brown settled about 1861 on section 2, where he erected a steam saw-mill and carried on a large business for several years, and where he still lives. A horse-railroad was built from the Sawyer Settlement to the Fuller Pier, in the edge of Lake township.


This township produced a finer quality and larger quantity of oak and whitewood timber than any township of its size in the county. The first operations of importance were those of the Michigan Central Railroad. In 1847 they built a steam saw-mill on section 30, where there was a large body of fine oak timber. Upon the completion of their pier at New Buffalo, the mill was removed to that place. Andrews & Miller built a steam saw-mill on section 3 about 1851, and continued it till about 1860. In 1853-54, Silas Sawyer bought on section 10, and built a steam saw-mill. The lumber was so heavy that for the first year of work his operations were confined to ten acres. About the same time J. N. Wilkinson & Co. bought a timber tract on sections 19 and 20. This was afterwards increased largely. The Wilkinson Company built the Wilkinson, Greenbush, and Pike Piers. A horse-railroad was built, and a large business was carried on in lumber, cord-wood, and railroad-ties.

About 1855 two men from New York built a steam sawmill on section 11, and constructed a horse-railroad from there to the lake at the Fuller Pier. This afterwards passed to Bartlett R. Rogers, who continued it for some years. O. R. Brown, about 1861, purchased the Andrews Mill, which was carried on about a year. Darius W. King, of Niles, about 1863, purchased the Greenbush Pier and used it for delivering cord-wood, of which large quantities were cut and shipped to Chicago. Upon his death, in 1865, the property was rented to J. M. K. Hilton, and was continued till 1868, when it was sold to Paul Cross. The Pike Pier was sold to J. M. K. Hilton, who was soon associated with Horace R. Pike. It was carried on as a wood-yard for several years, passing into the possession of Mr. Pike.

About 1862 or 1863, A. L. & H. L. Drew built a steam saw-mill on section 26, which was continued about eight years. L. F. Wilcox also built a steam-mill, on section 15, which ran for some years. A mill was built at Union Pier, by Goodwin & Gowdy, about 1863. It is now in possession of Wm. Gowdy, and is still running.

In 1873 a handle-factory was established near the railroad by Sanborn & Gowdy, and in 1875 it came into the possession of R. M. Goodwin, by whom it is still run.

The Union Pier Handle-Factory was started first by Sanborn & Gowdy in 1873, and came into possession of B. M. Goodwin in 1875. It is situated on the line of the Chicago and West Michigan Lake Shore Railroad, about three miles from New Buffalo. The engine is 75 horsepower, and Mr. Goodwin has employed about 30 men. Shipments are made to Chicago and South and East.

Union Pier contains also a post-office, saw-mill, and a brick store.

The assessed valuation of the township of Chickaming in 1856 was $88,416, as shown by the assessment-rolls of that year. The roll of 1878 places the valuation of the township at $114,485.


The townships of Chickaming and Three Oaks were set off from the territory of New Buffalo in 1856 by the Board of Supervisors. The order of the board for the first election of township officers- was as follows:

"Notice is hereby given that the first annual meeting for the election of township officers in each of the townships of Three Oaks, Chickaming, and New Buffalo, in the county of Berrien, State of Michigan, will be holden on the first Monday in April, A.D. 1856, as follows, to wit: In the township of Chickaming, at the store of J. N. Wilkinson & Co., and that Richard Peckham, Silas Sawyer, and Alfred Ames are duly authorized to preside at such township-meeting, and to perform all the duties required by statute in such cases made and provided." The election in Chickaming was duly held, in accordance with this order.

The town records cannot be found, and the civil list given below is necessarily imperfect. The names hate been gathered from assessment-rolls and other documents, as follows:

1856, Silas Sawyer; 1857, Richard Peckham; 1858, John C. Miller; 1859-60, George Montague; 1861-62, John C. Miller; 1863-65, John M. Glavin; 1866, James Abner Wilkinson; 1867-68, John C. Miller; 1869, Oliver P. Newkirk; 1870, Richard Peckham; 1871, Oliver P. Newkirk; 1872, Wm. A. Keith; 1872-79, Albert L. Drew.

1856-57, A. B. Wilkinson; 1858-60, Richard Peckham; 1861-62, Richmond Hortun; 1863-65, Frank Gowdy; 1866, Henry P. Nourse; 1867-68, Frank Gowdy; 1869-70, Michael Deady; 1871-72, Albert L. Drew; 1873, Frank E. Sawyer; 1874-79, Wm. A. Keith.

1859, Freeman Pulsifer, 1860-67, Jephtha Pulsifer. 1868-69, James H. Spaulding, 1870-77, Horace Wilcox, C. C. Sherrill, 1878, Richard M. Goodwin, 1879, Hale H. Miller.

The township, like many others in the State, is encumbered by railroad bonds, from which much trouble is growing, and the matter is now in the courts.

While the territory now in Chickaming was in New Buffalo it was in one school district, but no school was held until 1847, when 9 children were gathered at Mrs. Ames' house and taught by her. This was soon organized as District No. 1. The township now has 6 school districts, of which No. 3 has a graded school. The number of children, in 1878, in this district, between five and twenty years of age, was 136, and they were allowed 50 cents each of the public money. This district was organized Nov. 13, 1860. A school-house, costing $700, was built the next year. Mrs. A. L. Drew was the first teacher, and the number of pupils was 5.


The Union Pier Baptist Church was organized at Union Pier, Aug. 7, 1869, with 13 members, as follows: Wm. Fisher and wife, Mrs. J. A. Wilkinson, G. D. Vandy and wife, Hattie Vandy, Fanny Vandy, W. A. Gowdy and wife, B. Gowdy, Mrs. John Gowdy, and two others.

The pastors have been as follows: Revs. Samuel Millis, E. L. Millis, J. G. Bostman, Henry Meachin. The church has at present 42 members.

An Evangelical Lutheran Church was established on section 25, in the southeast quarter of the township, Composed of the German families in the townships of Chickaming, Three Oaks, and Weesaw, in that neighborhood. A church was built in 1869.

* By: A. N. Hungerford

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