DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWNSHIP AND ITS EARLY SETTLEMENT.
originally a portion of Clinch, lies upon the eastern border of Van Buren, and is known as town 2 south, range
13 west. Its boundaries are Pine Grove on the north, Antwerp on the south, Kalamazoo County on the east, and Waverly
on the west.
At least one-third of the township is covered by a great swamp which extends in a northeast and southwest direction.
The earliest settlements were made in the territory lying south of the swamp, although pioneers penetrated soon
afterwards into the northern and western sections. Good water-power, which attracted the attention of the first
white settler, is found on a fork of the Paw Paw flowing through the town towards the west, and suffices now to
supply two mills.
Although the town has two post-offices, it has no village, the nearest approach to a hamlet being at Almena Mills,
where there is a grist-mill and store. In the south the soil is sandy and productive. In the north there is much
heavy timber and a clayey soil, although one may find in that portion also many excellent farms.
Almena's population in 1874 was 1009. Its assessed value in 1879 was $324,000.
Tradition has erroneously referred to one Joseph Derosier, a Canadian Frenchman (probably a half-breed), as the
first white settler in Almena. Derosier was doubtless the first white man who came to the township, but he was
scarcely a settler. He had an Ottawa squaw for a wife and squatted in 1833 upon section 23, near the swamp, where
he put up a cabin, but his business was simply that of an Indian trader, guide, rover, trapper, and interpreter,
but not a settler in the full meaning of the term.
There was another French Canadian (with a deaf-mute squaw for a wife), called Mousseau, who was a companion of
Derosier, but, like the latter, he was nothing above an Indian hunter. Derosier was known in the town until 1854,
when he died in Waverly. Mousseau died in South Haven.
The great Indian trail from Chicago to Grand Rapids passed through Almena. It was on this trail that Derosier lived,
and in the vicinity of his place, until 1845, numerous Indians of the Pottawattarnie and Ottawa tribes encamped
from time to time. They were chiefly hunters, fishermen, and beggars, but never occasioned the whites any trouble
or even concern. Two of them tried their hands at farming, but made failures of course. Finally the red men left
the region and were seen no more. The first road of any consequence laid out was the Kalamazoo and Paw Paw road,
which was in its time a thoroughfare of considerable traffic. It is yet the mainly traveled highway running east
and west through the southern portion of the town.
The first actual settler in Almena was Jonas Barber, of Prairie Ronde, who came hither in the spring of 1835, and
built a saw-mill on the stream flowing through section 28.
Barber had land near the present grist-mill, and lived there in a shanty. He intended to build a grist-mill at
that point, but abandoned the idea.
Before Barber's advent, however, Junia Warner, Jr., Horace Bonfoey, and one Potter came from New York to Almena,
in the spring of 1834, in search of land. Warner entered 240 acres, lying in both Almena and Anbwerp; Bonfoey located
a tract on section 29, in Almena; Potter declined to make a location, and with Warner and Bonfoey returned to New
In the spring of the following year (1835) Warner, his father (also named Junia), and Horace Bonfoey came again
to Almena, for the purpose of preparing their land for permanent settlement. Warner and his father bought a few
boards at Jonas Barber's mill, and putting up a cabin on section 31 began at once to clear some land, and having
put in a crop and built a double log house, Junia, Jr., went back to New York for his family, while the elder Warner
concluded to remain at Kalamazoo, where he labored at his trade as mason until September of the same year, when
Junia, Jr., reaching Kalamazoo with his family, on his way to Almena, the old gentleman joined them, and all were
soon installed upon the Almena farm, where they found a fairly comfortable home in the log house built by father
and son the previous summer. The widow of Junia Warner, Jr., lives now in Paw Paw, and in describing their trip
from Detroit to Almena says, "We traveled in a wagon drawn by three oxen, and although we made but fifteen
miles a day, we were kept mighty busy at that." Junia Warner, Jr., who had been a Methodist circuit preacher
in New York, continued to preach more or less in the West from the time of his settlement in Almena until his death
there, in 1847. He was known fur and wide as Elder Warner, and although averse to preaching, because of ill health,
he was so persistently called, from here and there, to preach a funeral sermon or organize a church, that he could
not well avoid ministerial labor, and, as a consequence, he was almost as busy as a preacher as he was as a farmer.
His widow now lives in Paw Paw, hale and vigorous, at the age of seventy-four. His father died in Almenu in 1841.
His mother died in Paw Paw, January, 1880, at the advanced age of ninety-six.
Horace Bonfoey, who came with the Warners in the spring of 1S35, was from Otsego Co., N. Y., and made a settlement
in Almena, upon section 29, where he lived until his death, Jan. 11, 1873. At the time of his location he, the
Warners, Jonas Barber, and Derosier were the only white inhabitants of Almeiia. Of Mr. Bonfoey's children, those
now living in Almena are Russell W. Bonfoey and Cyrena Hall.
In the fall of 1834, William Ranney, and John, his son, Campbell Waldo, Frederick Krull, Alvin Hall, Russell Palmer,
and Freeman Hall came to Almena in company on a land-hunting expedition. Ranney bought land on sections 14, 23,
25, and 26; Palmer and Krull on section 24; Freeman Hall on section 26; and Alvin Hall on the same section, adjoining
Freeman's place. Of the seven, however, John Ranney and Freeman Hall were the only ones who became actual settlers.
Returning East with the rest of the company after the lands-were located, John Ranney came West again alone in
1835, and made a settlement on section 25, upon land his father had located. Ranney was a bachelor, and the story
goes that when he left his New York home for the West he was engaged to be married to a charming girl, and the
understanding was that he was soon to return for the wedding. The girl, however, speedily proved false to her vows,
and not long after John's departure married an idle, brainless fellow. Ranney took the matter so much to heart
that he forswore womankind and resolved to die a bachelor. Meanwhile, the girl who had jilted him led a sorry life
with her worthless husband, who, fortunately for her, died before many years. She wrote to Ranney informing him
of the event, thinking, it might be, that his heart still warmed towards her, and that she might win him back;
but Ranney paid no heed to her communication, and she died not long after in an insane asylum. True to his resolve,
Ranney lived a bachelor, and died on his Almena farm in 1863.
Willard Newcomb, who bought of Potter (he who came west with the Warners in 1834) land entered by the latter in
Almena, settled in the town in 1835. and put up a blacksmith-shop on section 29. Freeman Hail, who came to Almena
in 1834 with the land-looking party of seven, returned hither in 1836, and effected a permanent settlement on section
26, which has since been his home. When he settled, there were in the town only the Warners, the Newcombs, the
Bonfoeys, John Ranney, and Mears the miller.
Samuel C. Annable, now a resident of Almena, came to the town with his family in November, 1835, and settled upon
a farm in sections 23 and 26, previously located by his father-in.Iaw, William Ranney. He found a temporary home
for his family in John Rariney's log cabin, and in the spring of 1836 built a comfortable house on his own place.
Asahel S. Downing, a resident of Cayuga Co., N. Y., migrated to Almena in the spring of 1836, with his family and
his father-in-law, Isaac Barnum. They went first to Paw Paw, and stopped six weeks with Edwin Barnum. Downing and
the elder Barnum then went into Almena and bought land on sections 29, 32, and 33 of Willard Neweomb and Horace
Bonfoey. The mill-site now occupied by Brewer's mill was on the property, and there Barnum intended to erect a
grist-mill, but before the undertaking was commenced he was stricken with apoplexy, and died the year following
his settlement in the town. Downing assisted Mr. Barnum to put in a crop of wheat, and then moved to a place of
his own on section 28, where he put up a frame house in 1837, and in that house-since then enlarged and improved-he
still lives. Mr. Downing's residence was the first framed house of any consequence erected iii town. Downing opened
also a blacksmith-shop on his place, and carried it on for more than twenty years.
Henry, son of Isaac Barnum. lived with his father until the latter's death, and then settled upon section 29, re
maining there until his death, in 1856.
Isaac Barnum had come West in 1835, and determining then to be a settler when he should come again the following
year, he resolved to provide a supply of wheat beforehand, and so purchased a quantity of Dr. Brown, of Prairie
Ronde. When Mr. Barnum came out in 1836 he sent Mr. Downing over to Brown's to get the wheat, with instructions
also to take it to mill. When Downing reached Brown's he learned that the latter had gone to Virginia on a visit,
carrying the key of the barn with him. Downing returned home without the wheat, but on a second trip secured it
and carried it to Redmond's mill in Prairie Ronde. The miller being unable to grind the grist then, Downing went
home empty-handed a second time.
Two days afterwards he went to Redmond's for his flour, and he was told that the people of the neighborhood having
voted Redmond's mill-pond a pestilence-breeding nuisance, had torn the dam away, and so there was Barnum's grist
yet unground, and the family at home waiting for the bread which came not. Downing was much discouraged, but he
loaded up the wheat once more and carried it to Comstock's mill, four miles east of Kalamazoo. There he left it,
and returning in two days, eventually secured his flour, greatly to his joy no doubt., for in the work of securing
it he had made four trips to mill, traveled about one hundred and forty miles, and consumed ten days of his time.
Between 1836 and 1840 the settlements were quite numerous, and included those of John Campbell, Albert Fosdick,
Bridget Finley and her five sons, Nahum Eager, Chauncey Abbott, Asa Crofoot, Blakelee Burns, Abel Burns, Jacob
Plank, T. C. Benton, Samuel Turner, ___ Libby, and others.
Asa Crofoot visited Almena in 1835, and entered 160 acres on sections 25 and 26. He made a small clearing, and
then went to Schoolcraft, where he obtained employment, and from time to time, as lie could, he improved his Almena
farm. In 1844 he married, and in that year located permanently in Almena, and still lives on the place he entered
Chauncey Abbott, living on section 23, settled there in 1840, after a two years' residence in Oshtemo. Bridget
Finley settled on section 12 in 1839, with six children, of whom Michael and James had farms of their own. Mrs.
Finley died in 1864, on the place now occupied by her son James. About the time- of the advent of the Finleys,
Harvey Fosdick and John Campbell settled in that- neighborhood. Amasa Tenney, now on section 28, came to Michigan
in 1838, and to Almena in 1840, where he bought a farm of Asahel S. Downing. John Maxfleld and wife, parents of
Mr. Tenney's wife, came out at the same time, but did not like the country and went back to New York.
Samuel B. Fisk, a mill-wright and house-carpenter, located in Lawrence in 1844, and in the fall of that year settled
in Almena, which has since been his home. Samuel Mills bought land on section 34 in 1843, and lived there until
his death, in 1860. His son, E. P., now resides on the farm. Allen McPherson settled on section 36 in 1845, and
in 1846 Samuel Hayden on section 34, Jacob Erkenback on section 36, and W. F. French on section 23.
Alva T. Stevens was a settler in Almena in 1837. He lived afterwards in Kalamazoo, but finally returned to Antwerp,
where he located permanently on land he entered (in Almena and Antwerp) in 1837, and where he died in 1865. His
son, A. W., resides now in Almena.
L. A. Brown, now a resident of Almena, came hither with his uncle, Julius Wilson, in 1856. Foster Johnson and N.
W. Waite, although settlers in Michigan in 1837, did not come to Almena until 1861. O. H. P. Sheldon, who settled
in Antwcrp in 1846, did not become a resident of Almena until 1871.
The pioneers of Almena were not called upon to endure the average hardships experienced by settlers in many parts
of Van Buren County, for to those in the south especially Paw Paw was close at hand, with its conveniences of civilization,
while the country itself, composed of fine oak openings, was easily penetrated, and had accessible roadways everywhere.
The year 1838 was the sickly year, and many people died of fever and ague. So prevalent was the disease that there
were at one time but three well persons in the entire town,-Mrs. Isaac Barnum, Horace Bonfoey, and a colored farm-hand
named Henderson. These three looked after the sick ones, and certainly had their hands full.
Exciting adventures with wolves were not infrequent among the settlers. Mr. F. C. Annable relates how he was coming
home one night from an Indian camp, with two venison hams strung across his shoulder, and how the wolves chased
him. He ran for life, and made up his mind to sacrifice the hams to his hungry pursuers; but fbrtune favored him,
so that he reached home in safety, hams and all. But bless you," says he, "I was the worst scared young
man you ever heard of." The "big swamp" was a dreaded place, and nearly every pioneer of Almena
was lost in its mazes at one time or another, until they began to find out that to follow the streams up would
be sure to lead to an opening. After that the danger of being lost in the swamp frightened no one.
On the north side of the swamp the first settlement was made by Nathan Williams and his son-in-law, John Condon,
who came to Almena in the summer of 1836, and made a clearing on section 12. In the following year they crossed
the swamp, and making a location on section 4, lived there until 1865, when they, with their families, moved to
Iowa. Condon was equally noted as a farmer, fiddler, hunter, and trapper. He owned an exceedingly well-trajned
wolf-dog, and the State, county, and town bounty aggregating $30 on each wolf-scalp, Condon gathered first and
last a bountiful harvest of dollars from that source.
Next in order of settlement in the region north of the swamp came Jacob Currier and David Showerman. The latter
had been at work in Gremps' saw-mill at Paw Paw two years, when, in 1838, he settled on section 7, in Almena, on
the Allegan road, and there, after a while, opened a tavern. He died in Almena in 1863.
Currier, who had been engaged in milling, with Morrill and others, in the southern portion of the town, made a
settlement on section 7, and being by trade a machinist, set up a small shop on his place, which fronted the Allegan
road. He died there in 1844. His widow married William Markillie, who came to Waverly in 1843, and to Almena in
1845, since when he has occupied the old Currier farm. William H. Stephens, now living on section 4, was a bachelor
when he made a settlement there, about 1840, and he has lived there ever since.
James Ketchum, who lives on section 9, says that when he came there, in 1843, with his father Elibu, the settlers
on the south side of the swamp included Newton Canady, Nathan and Joseph Williams, John Condon, Henry Van Tassell,
Jerome Thrasher, Daniel Frary, and William H. Stevens.
Henry Campbell, a New Yorker, came to Almena in 1838, and worked at the company's saw-mill until 1839, when he
married a daughter of Willard Neweomb and made a settlement in Waverly. Leaving there in 1844, he located in Almena,
upon section 8, where he died in 1872, leaving a widow who still survives him.
Thomas Clark, from New York, lived in Almena a year before locating, in 1847, upon a farm in section 18, where
Alvin Crowell had preceded him as a settler. Mr. Clark still lives on the place, and his sons, James, Robert, and
William, are living in the town. Silas Breed, the founder of Breedsville, in 1835, moved from there to Antwerp,
and afterwards, in 1851, to section 7, in Almena, having bought the place of John Crowell, a previous settler thereon.
Mr. Breed died in 1878. His widow and her son Silas now occupy the farm.
J. W. Stoughton, who came to Michigan with his father in 1824, became himself a settler in Oakland County in 1844,
and in 1856 removing to a place in Almena previously occupied by Josiah Hopkins, has lived there to the present
The first birth among the settlers in the township was that of a child of Elder Warner. The same child was also
the first to die in the new settlement,. the year of its birth and death being 1836. Isaac Barnum, whose death
occurred in 1837, was probably the first adult person who died in Almena. Interments were made upon the Warner
place until 1840, when the Almena cemetery was laid out. At that time seven bodies were transferred from other
places and interred in the public burial-ground. The second child born was a son to Jacob Currier, Dec. 9, 1838.
His name is George S. Currier, and from his birth to the present day he has been a resident of Almena. The first
marriage was that of Alonzo Cobb, a school-teacher, to a daughter of Willard Newcomb, - Charles M. Morrill, justice
of the peace, performing the ceremony.
The jury list of the township in 1842 was as follows: Jacob S. Currier, Roswell Cook, Jacob H. Van Antwerp, Amasa
Tenney, Willard Neweomb, Benjamin Eager, C. H. Abbott, Nathan Eager, David Showerman, J. H. Rockwell.
The voters in the town in 1843 numbered 18; in 1844 they were 34; in 1845 there was an increase of 54; in 1857
to 137; in 1861 to 144; and in 1874 to 224.
EARLY MILLS AND MILL-OWNERS.
As already chronicled, Jonas Barber built a saw-mill on section 28 in 1835, and
after operating it a short time, disposed of it to Maj. Edwin Mears, of Paw Paw. In 1836 he sold it to a company
composed of Charles M. Morrill, Nathaniel Livermore, Jacob Currier, and Thomas Brown, who came there from Lowell,
Mass., in the year named. They pursued the business on a large scale, and did also something in the way of farming
upon adjacent land. The company gave up the business after carrying it on a few years, Livermore removing to Paw
Paw in 1847, and then returning to Massachusetts. Jacob Currier bought a farm on section 7, and lived there until
his death, in 1844. Morrill farmed afterwards on the Territorial road in Antwerp; he engaged later in milling in
Pine Grove, and removed ultimately to Lawton, where he now lives. Thomas Brown went back to Massachusetts after
closing out his interest in the Almena mill. The mill property passed to the possession of Daniel O. Dodge, and
was best known as the Dodge mill. Walter Wise endeavored at a later date to utilize the power in the manufacture
of heavy paper, but the scheme proved unsuccessful. The only saw-mill in the town now is the one on section 28,
known as Brewer's mill.
Prior to 1838 the nearest grist-mill was at Kalamazoo, but in that year Gremps & Willard's mill at Paw Paw
furnished more accessible facilities. The first grist-mill erected in Almena was put up in 1859 by S. W. Fisk.
That mill-site was originally owned by Jonas Barber, who contemplated the erection there of a grist-mill, but reconsidering
his determination sold the property to Stout & Co., of Kalamazoo, from whom Horace Bonfoey purchased it, and
put up on it a saw-mill and carding-machine.
The southern portion of the town was for years supplied with mail facilities only
at Paw Paw, until the creation in 1856 of an office called Brewerville, at Brewer's mill, where Brewer also opened
a store. Lawrence Brewer was appointed the first postmaster, and when the office was removed to the neighborhood
of Fisk's grist-mill, and the name changed to Almena, Samuel B. Fisk was appointed. His successors in the office
to the present time have been Simeon Brown, Ira Johnson, William R. Cotter, Russell W. Bonfoey, and Hubbard H.
Waverly post-office, now in Almena north of the swamp, was originally established in Waverly township. Dr. Babbitt,
who was instrumental in having the office established, was the first postmaster. Orlando H. Neweomb was Babbitt's
successor, and upon Newcomb's death, the present incumbent, Hiram Goble, was appointed. In 1874 the office was
removed from Waverly to Almena township.
TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION AND
One of the seven towns created in 1837, when Van Buren was divided, was the town
of Clinch, which embraced what are now the townships of Waverly, Almena, Bloomingdale, and Pine Grove. There was
considerable discussion in reference to the name to be given the original town, and without coming to any agreement
the inhabitants sent their petition to the Legislature with the various proposed names attached, and suggested
that a choice might be made from the list. When they learned how the town was named the impression was that the
name of Clinch had been given as an intimation to the citizens that instead of differing so widely in the matter
of christening they ought to have been more harmoniously clinched. It proved, however, that I. W. Clary, member
of the Legislature, had chosen the name in honor of Judge Clinch, of Georgia, whom he greatly admired. When, in
1842, the town of Clinch was divided, F. C. Annable, then in the Legislature, presented the petition for a division,
and named both new towns,-the western half Waverly and the eastern half Almena. At that time Indian names were
in favor for new towns, and Mr. Annable, recollecting something about an Indian princess known as Almena, bestowed
that name upon his own town. In 1848 the northern half of Almena was set off and organized as a township with the
name of Pine Grove.
Appended will be found a full list of those who have been elected since 1842 to the offices of supervisor, clerk,
treasurer, and justice of the peace.
1842.-Supervisor, Charles M. Morrill; Clerk, Junia Warner; Treasurer, H. Barnum : Justice of the Peace, J. S. Carrier.
1843.-Supervisor, Samuel Turner; Clerk, G. H. Brown; Treasurer, Junia Warner; .Justice of the Peace. A. Tenney.
1844.-Supervisor, J. A. Ranney; Clerk, G. H. Brown: Treasurer, F. C. Annable: Justice of the Peace, A. S. Downing.
1845.-Supervisor, J. A. Rauney; Clerk, G. H. Brown; Treasurer, F. C. Annable: Justice of the Peace, Samuel Mills.
1846.-Supervisor, G. H. Brown; Clerk, Samuel Turner; Treasurer, J. B. Hudson; 3ustice of the Peace, D. Showerman.
1847.-Supervisor, Henry Barnum: Clerk, G. H. Brown; Treasurer, J. B. Hudson; Justice of the Peace, Samuel Turner.
1848.-Supervisor, Henry Barnum: Clerk, O. J. Heusted; Treasurer, Freeman Hall; Justice of the Peace. J. A. Chase.
1849.-Supervisor. J. B. Hudson; Clerk. W. F. French; Treasurer, Freeman Hall; Justice of the Peace. Samuel Mills.
1850.-Supervisor, F. C. Annable: Clerk, W. F. French; Treasurer, Elam Warner: Justice of the Peace, David Showerman.
1851-Supervisor, F. C. Annable: Clerk, W. F. French: Treasurer, F. Hall; Justice of the Peace, Amasa Tenney.
1852.-Supervisor, Silas Breed: Clerk, W. F. French; Treasurer, F. Hall; Justice of the Peace, A. S. Downing.
1853.-Supervisor, J. A. Ranney; Clerk, J. G. Brown; Treasurer, Asa Hoyt; Justice of the Peace, B F. Stevens.
1854.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk. W. F. French; Treasurer, Asa Hoyt; Justice of the Peace, Josiah Hopkins.
1855.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, W. F. French; Treasurer, Asa Hoyt; Justice of the Peace, A. S. Downing.
1856.-Supervisor. Silas Breed; Clerk, W. F. French; Treasurer, Asa Hoyt; Justice of the Peace, N. H. Soule.
1857.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, Abner Soule; Treasurer, Asa Hoyt; Justice of the Peace, D. Showerman.
1858.-Supervisor, Silas Breed;. Clerk, Asa Hoyt; Treasurer, Chauncey Palmer; Justice of the Peace, Samuel Mills.
1859.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, Asa Hoyt; Treasurer, Chauncey Palmer; Justice of the Peace. Chauncey Abbott.
1860.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk. E. L. Warner; Treasurer, Chauncey Palmer; Justice of the Peace, Asa Crofoot.
1861.-Supervisor, C. B. Palmer; Clerk, E. L. Warner; Treasurer, A. Bonfoey; Justice of the Peace, A. Herron.
1862.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, E. L. Warner: Treasurer, C. B. Palmer; Justice of the Peace, Jesse Wilson.
1863.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk. E. L. Warner; Treasurer, C. B. Palmer; Justice of the Peace, C. H. Abbott.
1864.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, E. L. Warner; Treasurer, C. B. Palmer; Justice of the Peace, James Stoughton.
1865.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, W. F. French; Treasurer, R. W. Bonfoey; Justice of the Peace,. Charles Dean.
1866.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, E. D. Whitney; Treasurer, Jesse Wilson; Justice of the Peace, Allen Watson.
1867.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, E. D. Whitney; Treasurer, Jesse Wilson; Justice of the Peace, C. H. Abbott.
1868.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, E. D. Whitney; Treasurer, Jesse Wilson; Justice of the Peace, George W. Myers.
1869.-Supervisor, Silas Breed; Clerk, E. D. Whitney; Treasurer, Jesse Wilson; Justice of the Peace. C. B. Palmer.
1870.-Supervisor. Silas Breed; Clerk, I. H. Johnson; Treasurer, Jesse Wilson; Justice of the Peace, Asa Crofoot.
1871.-Supervisor, S. W. Fisk; Clerk, W. F. French; Treasurer, L. A. Brown; Justice of the Peace, C. H. Abbott.
1872.-Supervisor, S. W. Fisk; Clerk. W. F. French: Treasurer, L. A. Brown; Justice of the Peace, C. W. Brown.
1873.-Supervisor, W. F. French : Clerk, A. D. Stocking; Treasurer, L. A. Brown; Justice of the Peace, W. H. Stevens.
1874.-Supervisor, W. F. French; Clerk, A. D. Stocking; Treasurer, L. A. Brown; Justice of the Peace, A. H. Lockwood.
1875.-Supervisor, W. F. French; Clerk, A. D. Stocking: Treasurer, P. N. Teed; Justice of the Peace, C. Goodwin.
1876.-Supervisor, J. H. Darling: Clerk, A. D. Stocking; Treasurer, P. N. Teed; Justice of the Peace, C. H. Abbott.
1877.-Supervisor, J. H. Darling; Clerk, C. B. Palmer; Treasurer, P. N. Teed; .Justice of the Peace, J. D. Abbott.
1878.-Supervisor, W. H. Stevens; Clerk, Frank Cure; Treasurer, Samuel Hayden; Justice of the Peace, N. Lillibridge.
1879.-Supervisor, C. B. Palmer; Clerk, S. A. Breed; Treasurer, P. N. Teed; Justice of the Peace, C. Goodwin.
CHURCHES IN ALMENA.
In the southern portion of the town Elder Warner used to preach the Methodist
doctrine to the pioneers, and north of the swamp the settlers enjoyed the benefits of religion through Baptist
and Methodist societies organized in Waverly shortly after 1840.
The Free Will Baptist Church of Waverly, although organized in the latter town and still retaining the old name,
has its church edifice in Almena, a short distance across the line, on Covey Hill. The organization was effected
in 1843, at the house of Isaac Brown, in Waverly, with 13 members, whose names were Harviland Thayer and wife,
Jonah Austin and wife, Isaac Brown and wife, Jephtha Waterman, Lucy Herron, Lueinda Aldrich, Peter Haiues and wife,
Polly Marble, and Elizabeth Brown. Rev. Peter Haines, who organized the church, lived in Cooper, Kalamazoo Co.,
and for a year or more came over to preach in Waverly once a month. Services were held in private houses until
1844, when the Bell school-house being built, that was occupied as a house of worship. Until 1866, various school-houses
in Waverly and Almena were used, but in that year the present church edifice in Almena was erected. The first deacons
were Harviland Thayer and Isaac Brown. The pastor to succeed Mr. Haines was Rev. W. H. H. Myers, of Bloomingdale,
who filled the pastorate about twelve years. After him came Elders Darling, Stanford, Whittaker, Keyser, Prescott,
and Mrs. Annie Barton, -the latter now occupying the pulpit. The church membership is about 75, and that of the
Sabbath-school (of which Silas A. Breed is superintendent) is 100. The deacons of the church are C. M. Brown and
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Almena was organized in 1853, and attached to the Oshtemo circuit, with
Mattawan, Genesee Prairie, and the "Hurd" district. The members of the first class were five in number,
Phihip Teed and wife, James North and wife, and Ann Smith. Philip Teed, who was chosen class-leader at the outset,
has served in that capacity uninterruptedly until the present time. Among the early pastors were Revs. Wilson,
Williams (under whose ministry, many members were added to the church), Watson, Beach, Hendrickson, Haviland, and
The Almena school-house was used as a place of worship until 1869, when the church now in use was occupied. It
was dedicated in December of that year, the dedication sermon being preached by Dr. Joslyn, of Grand Rapids. The
church is now in the Mattawan circuit, and has a membership of 14. The pastor is Rev. S. C. Woodman, and the trustees
P. N. Teed, Hubbard Hill, and Abel Burns.
The Free Will Baptist Church of Almena was organized in May, 1877, at the Methodist Episcopal church, with a membership
of 40. The deacons then appointed were G. W. Failing and Martin Erkenbeck, who still serve. Elder Darling, who
organized the church, was the first pastor. Elder Roberts preaches now once in two weeks in a public hail at Almena
Mills. The church has now a membership of 30, and the Sunday-school an attendance of 50.
The first school taught in the town was held in the Warner settlement in a log cabin. The first teacher was Elizabeth
Merry, a sister of the wife of Elder Junia Warner, and after her the teachers were Miss Myers and a Mrs. Palmer.
East of that a log school-house was put up near where the grist.mill stands, and in that a Mr. Hurd, first, and
then F. C. Annable taught a subscription school.
Statistics of the public schools of Almena are given below, as found in the school report of 1879, viz.: Number
of children of school age, 303; average attendance, 262; value of school property, $3110; amount paid for teachers'
wages, $849. List of school directors at date of report: District No. 2, G. W. Failing; No. 3 (fractional), G.
W. Van Dorn; No. 4, D. C. Lockman; No. 5, C. B. Palmer; No. 7, W. Roland; No 8 (fractional), F. Cure; No. 9 (fractional),
G. R. Palmer; No. 10, George Lemon.
ALMENA AND PAW PAW TELEGRAPH
This company was organized in 1876, by Edward Annable and others, and duly incorporated
under the laws of the State, for the purpose of providing telegraphic communication between Almena and Paw Paw,
as well as to afford similar conveniences to persons living on the route.
The company has now seven miles of wire in operation, and is doing excellent service, not only in the way of convenience
of communication, but in the matter of furnishing practical experience in telegraphy to each of its patrons, all
of whom have the privilege of direct communication from their homes with any point on the line. Edward Annable,
chosen the first president, still serves in that capacity.