THIS is not the largest, nor is it the wealthiest and best improved township in the county. But the soil is largely
of what they called in the early days, “low lands,” and under the excellent system of underdraining and ditching
has become unsurpassed in fertility. The higher lands, though good for grazing fields and reasonably productive
in the growth of grain and fruits, are less fertile than the redeemed swamp or marsh lands. The main water courses
run through the center of the township, a northeasterly course, and are but a continuation of the’ waters of Ten
Mile Creek, referred to in the history of Amboy township. This stream has its rise in the adjoining township of
Chesterfield, on the west. Another prominent water course comes out of Michigan and runs south, just west of the
village of Lyons, and empties into Ten Mile Creek. The waters of the greater part of this township empty into Ten
Mile Creek, and flow with a gentle slope in their long run for an outlet. The streams upon the southern side find
their way south to Swan Creek and Bad Creek, coursing their way down to the Maumee river, and emptying therein,
by two different outlets, into Maumee bay. The land was originally covered with a large growth of excellent timber,
which, instead of adding to its value in the early days, involved a large amount of labor and expense in the removal
and the preparation of the soil for cultivation. Mitch of this was rolled into log heaps and burned on the ground,
a prodigal destruction of much wealth, had it existed in later years. The principal varieties of timber were the
black walnut, hickory, sugar maple, burr-oak, butternut, wild cherry and elm, on the lower lands, with oak, ofttimes
of a scrubby variety, on the higher or uplands.
Royalton was the fourth township in its organization in the county, being organized June 4, 1837. Since its organization
there has been but one change in its size, when the three southern tiers of sections were taken from it and added
to the newly created township of Pike. As is well understood, it is in the northern tier of townships and lies
between Amboy on the east and Chesterfield on the west, Pike bounding it on the south and the State of Michigan
on the north.
There has been a little difference of opinion as to who was the first settler in the township, but Eli Phillips
is generally accorded that honor. Mr. Verity, who took a great deal of interest in local lustory and wrote quite
extensively upon the subject, thus disposes of the question of the first settlement in. Royalton township:
“Coming into the territory, as these early settlers did, from the east, by the lake, or the so-called ‘white prairce
schooner,’ upon its southern shore, through Ohio, or from the North, through Canada, via Detroit, it was quite
natural that these explorations should be solely confined to this territory. Not until 1832, did entries begin
to be made. In this year Eli Phillips entered his land, and his charter right to it (a deed and seal), was signed
by Andrew Jackson, president of the United States. Early in the season of the following year Eli Phillips, with
his young wife, started from the vicinity of Adrian for this disputed strip, and located where he had purchased
the year before, upon sections ten and eleven, town 9 south, range 3 east, now in the township of Royalton, which
was then an unbroken wilderness for at least seventy miles due west, and none nearer on the south than the Maumee
river. Who, of today, would be willing to take such a step for a home, then of so little money value, and face
the difficulties apparently insurmountable, to make one of greater value? Accustomed as he was to the Berkshire
hills of old Massachussets, where he was born, in the land of the Puritans and of learning, with his young wife,
Vesta (Arnold) Phillips, and children, we must realize that in that time the trial was a severe one; but through
all these difficulties there was no repining. Mr. Phillips haskept that land, and he lives upon it today .
It was fifty-four [now seventy-one] years ago that he erected the log cabin, the first of this township, and also
the first upon the soil of Fulton county. Very soon after Eli Phillips settled in this township, others followed,
and came to stay. Butler Richardson, it is said, was the next to follow Eli Phillips. He came in May, 1834, from
Niagara county, New York, and settled upon section 15. He was born in Ontario county, New York, June 30, 1806.
In later years he returned to Niagara county, where he was married to Elizabeth McCumber, on October 1, 1839, and
came from there to Fulton county, and became one of the successful farmers of Royalton township. He had a family
of three children. On the first of February, 1866, his son, Chapman, was supposed to have been murdered, while
he was caring for the stock. On that fatal morning the barn was set on fire and consumed. His bones were found
among the ruins, together with the remains of nineteen head of cattle. Prosecutions were made, but no convictions
obtained. At the same time Mr. Richardson lost a large amount of hay and farm utensils.”
George W. Welsh, another of the pioneers, was born in Montgomery county, New York, October 13, 1804, and came from
Niagara county, that State, to Royalton in 1834, settling upon section 15, where he lived and reared a large family.
During his life he was called upon to fill the several offices of township trustee, justice of the peace, township
clerk, and assessor.
Barney M. Robinson was another old pioneer of the township. He was born in Dutchess county, New York, March 5,
1812, and with his wife came to this county in 1839. Before locating here, he had been called out by General Brown,
of “Ohio and Michigan war” fame, and participated in the military maneuvers of that bloodless affair. But this
was not even a taste of war, and on March 1, 1861, Mr. Robinson enlisted in Company I of the Sixtyseventh regiment,
Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and served eleven months, when he was honorably discharged.
Charles D. Smith, who came to this territory during the stormy contest for ownership of the disputed strip, was
born in Orange county, New York, July 24, 1811, and came to Fulton county in 1835. settling on section 7. He died
at his home in Royalton township, October 21, 1858, in the prime of his manhood. He was a highly respected citizen,
and was thrice honored by the people of the county by being elected to the position of sheriff.
Amos Rathbun came to Fulton county in 1837. He was among the men of that time who came to make a home and was ever
willing to endure the hardships incident to a pioneer life. He was horn at Salem, Connecticut, January 20, 1812,
and grew to manhood among the thrifty New Englanders, being fully prepared when he came to Fulton county, as a
man, to meet the Indian on equal ground, and subdue an almost unbroken wilderness. Mr. Rathbun built the first
schoolhouse in his neighborhood, of logs, with a floor of split puncheotis, hewed upon the face, the seats and
desks being of the same material. It was built upon the corner of his farm, one mile south of the present village
of Lyons. In later years he left the county and settled near Weston, Lenawee county, Michigan, where he died August
Jenks Morey came to this county in 1838, from Mentor, Lake county, Ohio, and settled upon section 9, Royalton township,
where a large part of the village of Lyons is now built. He kept the first hotel in the township, in 1850, in a
fine wooden structure, in which hotel accommodations were furnished for years. He died after many years of toil
in the wilderness, November 15, 1871.
Elias Richardson came to Royalton township May 14, 1836, and settled first upon section 9, but afterwards bought
eighty acres adjoining, on section 10, upon which he built a frame house in which he resided the greater part of
his life. He was one of the directors of the plank road which was built in 1850, from Toledo to Morenci, Michigan,
and built eleven miles of the road. Thomas Richardson came at the same time of his brother Elias,’ and Hiram Richardson
came in 1837, a year later, all of them being from Niagara county, New York. Elias Richardson was twice honored
by the people of the county with the office of county commissioner, and served six years.
John Sturtevant came in 1835, Joseph H. Applegate in 1834, and Witt L Windship in 1835. Benjamin Davis came in
1838, from Dutchess county, New York, and became a very successful farmer and business man of the county. Ansel
H. Henderson came in 1836. He was born in Niagara county, New York, November 22, 1813, and after settling in Royalton
was recognized as a leading man, filling the offices of assessor, township trustee, and other positions of trust.
George B. Brown came in 1836. He was born in Connecticut and was honored by being chosen as the first sheriff of
Fulton county. In 1836, there came to this township many families whose members have been honored citizens. Amos
H. Jordan and Henry Jordan came from Vermont; A. C. Osborn, who settled on section 15, came from Montgomery county,
New York; Jared Hoadley, David L. Butler, who first settled in Royalton township in 1836, and several years later,
1855, bought a farm in Amboy and moved there; Ebenezer S. Carpenter. Mordecai Carpenter. Willey Carpenter, John
T. Carpenter and Snow Carpenter. “Uncle” Billy Smith came to this township in 1833, with, or soon after, Eli Phillips.
Smith was a bachelor. Warren Dodge settled in the township in 1834, coming from New York. Joshua Youngs settled
here in 1835. The same year David Wood settled on section 9. Frasier Smalley came in 1834, and in 1835 came William
and Charles Blain, brothers, who settled in the eastern part on the line of Amboy and Royalton townships. Aipheus
Fenner was born in Berkshire county, Massachussets, July 29, 1813, and settled in Fulton county in 1838, on section
io, of Royalton township, being one of the pioneers of the county. He filled the office of constable and other
positions of trust.
Enos C. Daniels was born in Madison county, New York, December 22, 1814, and settled in Fulton county in March,
1840, where he built the first frame hotel, first church, brick building, dwelling house and block in Lyons, and
the first grist-mill in Royalton township.
Samuel Carpenter came to Lenawee county, Michigan, in 1828, and from there to Fulton county, in 1843, consequently
he had more experience in pioneering than most of the persons named. He settled on sections 21 and 22, just sixteen
miles south of Adrian. At or near the hamlet called Logan (now Adrian) Mr. Carpenter spent most of his boyhood
Michael Forester and Patrick Burroughs came to this county in 1840, and the former lived to be over one hundred
years old. David Potes came in 1840, John Hinkle in 1838, and Nathaniel S. Ketchum in 1835, the latter being from
Orange county, New York. John, Erastus and James Welsh came in 1838, from Niagara county, New York. Many others
came during the same period whose names have been lost or not definitely ascertained.
The early schools are spoken of in the chapter on “Educational Development,” but it is perfectly germane to say
here that the educational interests in Royalton township have kept pace with the onward march of civilization in
other directions. The log structure of pioneer days soon gave place to the more pretentious buildings of the middle
period, and these, in turn, to the modern and finely equipped buildings of the present day. Among the first teachers
of the township were Miss Olive Green and Warren J. Hendrix.
Elder Hodge, a Baptist minister, was the first preacher in the township, and Colonel Lathrop of Lucas county preached
in the very early days to those of the Universalist faith. The first church built was the Universalist at Lyons,
in 1862. There are now four churches in the township: one Universalist, one Disciples in Christ (both of these
being in the village of Lyons), one Free Methodist and one Methodist Episcopal, the last two being on the eastern
border of the township.
The first burial places in the township were usually private grounds, established on the farms as necessity required;
but finally public cemeteries were laid out, and these “cities of the dead,” of which there are several in Royalton
township, receive the care and attention that is due them.
Almost all the early families obtained their flour at Tecumseh, Michigan, and those who did not were compelled
to go further before finding another mill. Probably the first saw mill constructed and operated in the township
was built in 1850, by the Plank Road Company, and it was located on the west side of the present Lyons cemetery.
James Baker of Gorham was the manager of the mill, which was used exclusively for sawing plank for the road. The
mill, in later years, was moved to Gorham where it was owned and run by Thomas F. Baker.
There is but one small town in Royalton township — Lyons or Morey’s Corners, the postoffice name being the former.
From the early days of its existence it has been a popular trading point, and in late years it has progressed until
it does quite a flourishing business, being sustained by an excellent farming country. In writing of churches,
schools and other public enterprises, this village has been frequently mentioned. The various industries incident
to towns of this size, together with the social, religious, educational and political functions, are all represented,
while the mercantile and other business interests are quite extensive.
Rural postoffices for the accommodation of the people were early established, some of which were kept in the farm
houses. They have been discontinued on the adoption of the admirable system of “rural free delivery,” which brings
almost every farmer in daily contact with the outside world, and his mail is left at his door. Add to this the
convenience of the modern telephone, and the isolation of country life is reduced to the minimum.