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History of Paw Paw Township, MI. Part 3
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.


On the 24th of March, 1859, the Prospect Hill Cemetory Association was organized, for the purpose of providing a public cemetery on Prospect Hill. Land was accordingly purchased there and handsomely laid out with lawns, smooth drives, walks, and other attractive improvements. I. W. Willard was chosen president, Elisha Durkee clerk, and T. A. Granger treasurer. Prospect Hill is one of the highest elevations in Van Buren County. Upon its summit, in 1875, Mr. I. W. Willard erected an observatory 127 feet high, from which, on a clear day, it is said may be seen the waters of Lake Michigan and as many as thirty villages. The cemetery, which now covers an area of 30 acres, has many natural beauties, and is adorned with costly monuments. The present officers of the association are F. W. Selleck, President; J. W. Van Fossen, Clerk; and G. J. Hudson, Treasurer.


Methodist Wpiscopal Church.-The first sermon (of which there is any present recollection) heard in Paw Paw was delivered by Rev. Junia Warner, Jr., a Methodist Episcopal older of Almena, in April, 1835, in Hinckley's blacksmith shop. From that time until 1839, Mr. Warner preached frequently in the village, as did occasionally traveling preachers from Kalamazoo and Silver Creek.

In the fall of 1835, Rev. J. T. Robe, in charge of the Kalamazoo mission, organized a Methodist Episcopal class in Paw Paw, with the following members : Theophilus and Charlotte Bangs, Junia Warner, Jr., Arminda Warner, W. Newcomb, Clarissa Newcomb, David Thorp, Junia Warner, Sr., Philura Warner, Sellick Longwell, Nancy Longwell, John Lyle, Oliver and Avis Warner, Horace and Susan Bonfoey, John K. and Emeline Bingham. Of the foregoing, two are still members of the church, namely, Arminda Warner, aged seventy five, and Charlotte Bangs, aged eighty one. David Thorp, who was the leader of the first class, offered his log chair shop on the west side of the river as a place of worship. After using it some time the class went into a framed house owned by Myron Hoskins. Afterwards the village school house was used, and in 1844 a church building was erected upon the site of the one now in use. The first church trustees were Theophilus Bangs, Junia Warner, Jr., Oliver Warner, Horace Bonfoey, and John Lyle.

Among the earliest pastors were Revs. T. P. McCool, S. S. Williams, E. Kellogg, and H. B. Beers. The church was at first attached to the Laporte district, Indiana Conference, afterwards to the Michigan district, in the same Conference, and later still to the Kalamazoo and Niles districts. The corner stone of the present handsome house of worship was laid Aug. 9, 1876. The structure, which cost $6600, was dedicated Dec. 17, 1876. Soon afterwards a union meeting was held in it, when 75 persons were received into the Methodist Church, and 70 into the Presbyterian. Rev. J. K. Stark was the Methodist and Rev. T. D. Marsh the Presbyterian pastor.

During the forty four years of its existence the church has received into membership upwards of 2000 persons. The membership on the 1st of January, 1880, was 160, Rev. S. B. Mills being then the pastor in charge. The trustees are James Bale, Thomas Adriance, S. H. Blackman, C. A. Young, A. J.1 Sorter, John Walker, H. H. Hurlbut, and E. M. Snow. The class leaders are C. M. Gilson, James Abrams, and Samuel Qua. The Sundayschool is in charge of C. A. Young, and has an average attendance of about 80.

First Baptist Church.-On the 21st of April, 1838, a few Baptists living in Paw Paw village met to talk about organizing a Baptist Church. Stafford Godfrey was chosen chairman, and William P. Baldwin clerk of the meeting. As a result the First Baptist Church of Lay fayette was then formed, with the following six members: Stafford Godfrey and wife, William D. Baldwin and wife, E. H. Niles, and Ursula Conklin. E. H. Niles was chosen clerk, and Stafford Godfrey and William P. Baldwin deacons. Elder Hall, of Kalamazoo, was invited to preach once in four weeks. During the first year five members were added, namely, Archibald Buys and wife, Luther Branch, and Henry G. Monroe and wife.

On the 20th of March, 1841, the name of the organization was changed to "The Van Buren County Church, located at Paw Paw and Brush Creek," the reason being that worship was held at Brush Creek, as well as Paw Paw.

In 1844, the church being controlled by residents of Lawrence township, the Paw Paw members withdrew, and on the 8th of August in that year eight persons met in Paw Paw, at the house of Elder M. Clark, and organized the First Baptist Church of Paw Paw. The eight persons were Elder M. Clark, Stafford Godfrey, Alonzo Sherman, Matilda Engle, Lucy Ann Sherman, Jane Woodman, Elmira Baker, and Jane Legrave. The records do not indicate that the church employed any regular pastor for the first few years, but show that occasional supplies were provided. The school house was used for services, as was the court house. An attempt was made to build a house of worship in 1848, but it was not successful.

Between 1850 and 1853 meetings were held but seldom, but in the latter year there was a renewal of interest. The membership increased to 37, and Rev. J. T. R. Jones was engaged as pastor.

In October, 1855, Elder Alfred Handy succeeded Elder Jones as pastor, and remained until 1859.

On the 9th of September, 1857, the corner stone of the brick church now in use was laid, and within a brief period the house was occupied for worship, services having previously been held in a building in Main Street now used as a part of Harris' carriage factory. The pastors since 1860 have been Elders Dunham, Walden, Maybin, Purrett, Galpin, Haydon, Stephenson, Choate, Heritage, and Wilkie. Rev. Mr. Wilkie, the last minister, retired in August, 1879, since which time the church has been without a pastor. The church membership on the 1st of January, 1880, was about 80. The deacons were then Stafford Godfrey, J. S. Cogswell, and Eli Wise. The church trustees are N. Grover, A. Sherman, R. B. Lane, A. M. Palmer, and J. C. Evart.

Christian (or Disciple) Church.-From an old church record dated March 25, 1843, is taken the subjoined entry:

We, the undersigned, members of the Church of Christ, having met at the dwelling of Brother Loyal Crane, for the purpose of setting in order the things that remain, have proceeded to do so by appointing Brothers James Crane and Loyal Crane bishops (elders), and Brothers Asahel S. Downing and Samuel Turner deacons. James Crane, Loyal Crane, Samual Turner, Asahel S. Downing, Alonzo Crane, Daniel Abbott, James B. Crane, Almon B. Corey."

It would appear from the foregoing that an organization had been effected previous to the meeting above mentioned, and according to the best evidence the date of that organization was in February, 1842. Besides those above named as members, the following joined the church at the meeting of March 25, 1843: Rheuma Barnum, Sally Ann Crane, Hannah Downing, Alonzo J. Abbott, Eliza Crane, Ann Turner, Sarah Ann Barnum, Susannah Lee, Sally Armstrong.

At a church meeting held in the school house at Paw Paw, March 30, 1844, James Crane and Asahel S. Downing were appointed elders, Samuel Turner and Loyal Crane deacons, and Edwin Barnum and Loyal Crane evangelists. The first preacher was Rev. Mr. Martin, a missionary, who preached only at extended intervals. In 1858 the society purchased the meeting house previously used by the Baptists, and in 1861 the church edifice now in use was completed and occupied. At the close of that year the clerk reported that the membership was 234, that 101 had been admitted during the year that 11 had been dismissed, that 3 had been excluded, and that 11 had "gone to the war."

After Rev. Mr. Martin's time, among those who served t.he church as pastors were Rev. Messrs. Martindale, Miller, Anderson, Roe, Wilcox, Lane, Jackson, Spencer, Frame, Crane, Ebert, Collins, Russell, Scans, and Brooks. Rev. Theodore Brooks, now the pastor, entered upon his charge in 1878.

The membership is now 219, and in the Sunday school (of which James Crane is superintendent) there are 13 teachers and an average attendance of 102 pupils. The church elders are David Woodman (2d), J. W. Ball, and N. P. Conger. The deacons are A. S. Downing (chosen March 25, 1843), M. P. Allen, S. Shafer, and J. F. Bullard.

Free - Will Baptist Church.-The Free Will Baptist Church of Paw Paw was organized Feb. 13, 1841, in School District No. 2, in the township of Antwerp, near Paw Paw village. The first members were Samuel Gilman, Judith Gilman, Abigail Woodman, David Woodman, Joseph Butler, Laura Butler, James Lee, Hannah Lee, Roxanna Lee, Susan Morrison, Silas Breed, and Anna Gray. The records mention the election of Silas Breed as the first clerk, but are silent as to the election of deacons. Those who have served the church as pastors to the present are Revs. Daniel Osborne, J. H. Darling, L. J. Whitcomb, Stephen Bathrick, G. P. Blanehard, G. P. Linderman, and 3. B. Drew, the latter being the present pastor, who began his services Sept. 1, 1878. Three hundred and eight persons in all have been received into the church since its organization. The membership on the 1st of January, 1880, was 200.

Worship was continued in the Antwerp school house and other convenient places until the completion of the present edifice, which was dedicated in 1859.

The deacons of the church are Philip Sherrod and O. H. P. Sheldon, the latter being also the clerk. The Sunday school, in charge of Edwin Douglass, has a membership of 150 and an average attendance of 90.

First Presbyterian Church.-The First Presbyterian Church of Paw Paw was organized in the autumn of 1843, at the residence of Edmund Smith. The loss of the early records has rendered it impossible to reproduce the names of all the first members, but the memory of old residents supplies the names of some of them, as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Van Antwerp. Salmon Hunt and his daughters Mary and Margaret (one of them, now Mrs. N. M. Pugsley, being still a member of the church), Mrs. Edmund Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Elias Harwick, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Mills.

The first elders were Daniel Van Antwerp and Samuel Mills. The first trustees of the society, elected June 24, 1844, were Daniel Van Antwerp, Salmon Hunt, Samuel Mills, A. K. Axtell, Dwight C. Grimes, Lorin Darling, A. V. Pantland, Samuel Grimes. and Edmund Smith.

During 1844, Rev. James McLaurine was chosen to be the first pastor, who served about three years. After being then absent a year (during which time Rev. Mr. Davidson supplied the pulpit), he returned and remained two years. He closed his labors in 1850, and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Holmes, who was followed in 1852 by Rev. Oliver W. Mather. For a brief season, in 1855, Rev. Mr. Whitney was pastor, and about the beginning of 1856 Rev. H. C. Tuttle entered upon the charge. Rev. Norman Kellogg succeeded him in 1859, and remained six years. In 1S65, Rev. Albert E. Hastings began his pastorate, and in 1868 Rev. 0. H. Barnard became the pastor, and remained until 1871. He was followed by Revs. N. Otis, C. R. Wilkins, and T. D. Marsh, the latter being now in charge.

During about a year after its organization worship was held in the ball room of the Exchange Hotel, and in 1845 a church edifice was erected near the court house. In 1856 the building was destroyed by fire, and in 1858 was replaced by the present structure, which was dedicated March 3d of that year. The church has now a membership of 140, and the an average attendance of 90. The present elders are Robert Morrison, N. M. Pugsley, Lyman Tuttle, John S. Tuckey, E. P. Mills, Chandler Richards, John W. Free, Henry Randolph, Thomas Tuckey.

St. Mark's (Protestant Episcopal) Church.-St. Mark's parish was organized at the court house in Paw Paw Feb. 22, 1851, by A. W. Broughton, Anthony Cooley, Thomas J. Pinnoek. Charles Selleck, I. W. Willard, Williamson Mason. T. W. Meichor, George B. Sherwood, J. R. Baker, E, S. Smith, George W. Ocobock, O. F. Parker, R. J. Merrill, Henry Ismon. H. L. Eggleston, A. V. Pantland, Peter Gremps, S. T. Conway, J. K. Pugsley, B. Hurd, A. Wilder, William Hill, and Benoni Hall. At the second meeting, March 11th, Theodore P. Sheldon and Thomas J. Pinnoek were chosen wardens, and I. W. Willard, George B. Sherwood, G. W. Ocobock, Anthony Cooley, J. K. Pugsley, and B. Hurd as vestrymen. Of the vestrymen the only one known to be living is J. K. Pugsley.

On the 3d of June, 1851, Bishop McCoskry gave his canonical consent to the organization of the church, and on the 1st of July Rev. V. Spalding was called to act as rector, at a salary of $200 per year, it being understood that the Missionary Society would furnish him $200 more. Mr. Spalding held his first service in an abandoned store, and used the counter as his pulpit. In February, 1852, a cooper shop belonging to the Messrs. Grimes, and previously used by the Congregational Society, was leased, at a rental of $1 per week, being occupied about a year. That house of worship is now a portion of Harris' carriage factory. Mr. Spalding preached until December, 1852, and after that the church organization ceased its active existence for a period of thirteen years.

On the 11th of January, 1865, Rev. Dr. C. A. Foster, of St. John's Church, Kalamazoo, revived St. Mark's Church with considerable success, and remained in charge until January, 1866. Rev. Darius Barker was then chosen rector, and served as such until December, 1877, when Rev. George P. Schetky, the present rector, began his service. Shortly after Mr. Barker entered upon his pastorate he built a commodious addition to his residence in Paw Paw, in which the church met for worship until the erection, in 1S76, of the edifice now in use.

The church membership is now 47. The wardens are D. C. Coleman and J. K. Pugsley; the vestrymen are C. J. Nash, F. E. Stevens, J. Davey, A. J. Mills, J. W. Van Fossen, and William Pugsley. The Sunday school has an attendance of 60, and is in charge of the pastor. The stations in St. Mark's parish are Paw Paw, Lawrence, Hartford, Bangor, Breedsville, South Haven, Pine Grove, Kendall, Lawton, and Decatur.

St. Mary's Church of the immaculate Conception (Catholic).-As early as 1848, Father Barron, of Notre Dame, at South Bend, used to visit Paw Paw occasionally for the purpose of holding mass for the benefit of the families of Pee Pee Yah and other Indians. In 1855, when the village contained seven or eight Catholic families, Father La Belle, of Kalamazoo, held mass in the residence of James Bennett, and came after that about once a month for several years, holding services generally at Mr. Bennett's house. After Father La Belle's death, there came Father Cappon, of Niles, Fathers Quinn, Tierney, and Murray, of Kalamazoo, and Father Roper, of Silver Creek, during which period Paw Paw remained a mission in Kalamazoo parish. It was then created a parish by the name of St. Mary's of the Immaculate Conception, with Rev. John Wernert as the first resident priest, who still holds that position. The present house of worship was commenced during Father La Belle's time, but was not completed until 1872. The attendance includes about 50 families. The missions attached to the parish are Arlington and Decatur. The church trustees are James Doyle, William Ryan, and William Hough.


The first village school in Paw Paw was taught by Miss Roxa Agard, in the summer of 1835, and there being no better school house available, Rodney Hinckley's blacksmith shop was utilized for that purpose. The appointments of that school house consisted principally of a few slab seats, but the scholars are said to have been quite as studious and zealous as in some more pretentious institutions. There were perhaps ten scholars wheti the attendance was at its best, but there were times when not more than four or five would respond to roll call. Of that chosen band of ambitious girls and boys, those known to be living are Mrs. Alonso Shults (a daughter of Peter Gremps) and Jonathan J. Woodman, of Paw Paw, and Isaac Hinckley and his two sisters (children of Rodney Hinckley), now living at South Haven.

The next summer (1836) the village school was taught by Melissa Warner, in a log shanty on the west side of the river, just north of where Mason's planing mill now stands. That school had 15 or 20 pupils. During the summer of 1836, Williamson Mason and Joseph Royes built a schoolhouse on Gremps Street, and in the fall it was occupied, Lorenzo Cate being the first teacher in it, and being also the first male teacher employed in the village. That building was used not only as a school house, but also as a courthouse, and on Sundays it became a house of worship.

The condition of the public schools of the township on the 1st of September, 1879, according to the official report for the year 1879, may be learned from the subjoined table:

Number of districts (whole, 5; fractional, 4)


scholars of school age


Average attendance


Value of school properly


Number of teachers


Amount paid teachers


Total expenses for the year


The school directors for 1879 were J. Andrews, W. Wilson, G. T. Sherrod, E. E. Crane, Charles H. Butler, H. Hinckley, B. Odell, W. M. Shepard, George L. Tuttle.

Paw Paw Union School-The building now used as a town hall was originally the union schools and although additions were made to its accommodations as the demand for room increased, there was still a lack of space, and in December, 1868, the district resolved to build a brick school house, to cost $25,000, and to borrow the money required. The result was the present elegant and imposing structure which stands at the head of Main Street, and which is justly the pride of the town. The entire cost of ground, building, and furniture was $40,000. The edifice was begun in the winter of 1868-69, and was opened for use in September, 1870. It contains six departments, high school, grammar school, two intermediate, and two primary departments,-in which the aggregate average attendance is 414.

The members of the school board are E. O. Briggs, Josiah Andrews, G. J. Hudson, Andrew Richards, Aaron Van Auken, and George W. Longwell.


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