Pontiac Village and City 1820s

 

EARLY SETTLERS OF THE 1820s.

Among those who came in 1820 and 1821 were Judah Church, Abner Davis, Eastman Colby, Alexander Galloway, Rufus Clark, Enoch Hotchkiss, James Harrington, G. W. Butson, John Edson, Joshua S. Terry, Joseph Harris, Stephen Reeves, and Captain Joseph Bancroft.

 

1820 Charles Howard, Oliver Parker
1821 Captain Hervey Parke
1822 Almon Mack, S. L. Mills, Joseph Morris, Asa Murray, Captain Joseph Bancroft
1822 Schuyler Hodges, Geo. W. Galloway
1823 John Southard, Ira Goodrich, Chester Webster, Joseph Harris
1824 E. B. Comstock, Francis J. Smith, Merritt Ferry, Henry W. Thomas, Deacon Jacob N. Voorheis, John Powell, Hon. Thomas J. Drake
1825 D. C. Buckland, S. T. Murray, H. W. McDonald
1826 Laban Smith, Ira Stowell, Sr.
1827 Origen D. Richardson
1828 Luke Phillips
no date John Clark, Dr. Chipman, Mr. Spalding, C. C. Hascall

 

RECORDS OF DEEDS, executed by Stephen Mack (from the original patent mentioned in Part I) to the following parties:

 

Name Lot Date Name Lot Date
Peter Godfroy No. 54 March 9, 1822 Daniel Le Roy No. 67 March 13, 1822
David Stanard No. 64 March 13, 1822 David Stanard No. 10 March 13, 1822
James McCloskey No. 50 March 29, 1822 James McCloskey No. 27 March 29, 1822
James McCloskey No. 40 March 29, 1822 Orison Allen No. 47 April 1, 1822
Orison Allen outlot No. 11 April 1, 1822 Harvey Williams outlot No. 8 May 4, 1822
John Crofts town lot No. 75 May 4, 1822 John Crofts town lot No. 76 May 4, 1822
John Crofts town lot No. 77 May 4, 1822 John Murdock outlot No. 3 June 14, 1822

The consideration for each of the above-described lots was one dollar.

On the 29th of May, same year, Harvey Williams reconveyed lot No. 8 to Stephen Mack for the sum of forty-five dollars.

A "STAR-CHAMBER" COURT AND A NOVEL NOMINATION. In the course of the hilarious proceedings it was proposed by one of the party that an impromptu court be organized for the trial of various and sundry individuals, against whom charges had been preferred. The high court was organized with Hon. Solomon Sibley on the bench (a wooden one, with three legs), and at once proceeded to business. Judge Whipple was among those who were found guilty of misdemeanors, and the sentence of the court was that he should strip to his nether garments and dance steadily for half an hour on the mill floor, and Sheriff Morris was directed to see the sentence properly executed. A cheap fiddler with a cracked violin was on the ground, and the judge was denuded of his superfluous clothing, and, in the presence of the august assemblage, was soon deep in the intricacies of the mazy dance. He held on bravely for the first fifteen minutes, amid the plaudits of the company, but at length, his sentence, like Cain's of ancient memory, became greater than he could bear, and his tottering, limbs refused to follow the orchestra. In vain the sheriff and his minions urged him -- "On with the dance!" Tired nature could go no further, and he succumbed, and "became as a little child," and the penalty of the law had no terrors for him. Finding him incorrigible, a committee was appointed to consider his case, and deal with him as they might deem best.

After consultation and a warming of the inner man, they took him to the back window of the mill and held him by his heels suspended on the outside over the flume below, where a ragged stone wall and a mass of crossed timbers awaited his precipitation in the yawning depth. He was then informed that one of the number would proceed to count, slowly and solemnly,-one-two-three-four-five, and if, at the sound of five, he surrendered and agreed to finish his dance, all right; if not, down he must go, headlong. The judge bore up, like the brave man he was, until the count reached " three," when he cried, " Enough!" and was marched back in triumph, and soon completed his task, when he was exchanged for a fresh victim.

One culprit had made up his mind that he would fare better in running an Indian gauntlet, and he carefully stowed himself away in Colonel Mack's new barn, under some marsh hay in the loft. The sheriff's posse, after diligent search, assembled at the barn, tolerably well satisfied that the delinquent was there hidden.

After a hurried consultation, one of the party said, "Gentlemen, we have hunted high and low, and there is little doubt but he is in this barn; and there is just one way to bring him out." "How is that?" said the crowd. a "Burn, him out!" The idea took at once, and a pile of hay was quickly gathered on the floor, and soon the trembling fellow heard the flames snapping and crackling. No longer doubting that he was to be roasted alive, he sang out, "Hold on! I'll come down!" And he was speedily taken to the mill and compelled to perform his allotted part in the farce. The flames in the colonel's barn were quickly extinguished, and the fun went on as before.

During the "celebration" the subject of nominating a delegate for Congress came up, and after mature deliberation the company concluded they had the right material, and proceeded to make the nomination after a form not laid down in the statutes, but altogether original and very imposing.

Political preferment was evidently as eagerly sought after in those days as at the present time, and candidates were not wanting who were willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the country. As they presented themselves, they were taken, one at a time, and dumped into one of the hoppers of the rear mill, while the miller stood at the spout and carefully examined the flour as it came from the rapidly-revolving stone. Handling the first sample with the air of a connoisseur, he gravely remarked, "That is rather inferior stock; it might, however, pass for fair middlings!"  Of course, they wanted no such material as that, and the victim was unceremoniously dragged out of the hopper and hustled to one side, while the next in order suffered himself, like a "lamb led to the slaughter," to be "put through."  "Well, that is a little better; would make a fair article, but there is too much bran!" And so on through the list, until it came Judge Sibley's turn, when the miller tested the article very closely, and, knowing the judge was the favorite, remarked, with great apparent satisfaction, "Ah, that is the thing; that is super-extra, -- the best brand we make!" And accordingly the judge was unanimously nominated.

These reminiscences of other days simply show that

and it is no disparagement to the prominent men of Michigan to know that here, in Pontiac, in the early day, they met together and enjoyed themselves as "children of a larger growth."

In 1820, Mr. Conant retired from the firm, and Colonel Mack and Judge Sibley continued in business together until the colonel's death, in 1826. The colonel, on his own account, built a distillery about 1823, which was run in connection with the flouring-mill, and about 1824 he also erected and put in operation a small woolen-mill. It contained one set of machinery,-that is, for carding, spinning, and weaving,-and did quite an extensive business.

INDIANS. The Indians were quite plenty for some years after the first settlement of Oakland County. The most prominent chief who visited this neighborhood was Kishkor-ko, the great war-chief of the Chippewas, who for a long time made his home in the vicinity of Saginaw. He passed through Pontiac annually or oftener, when visiting Detroit and the British posts in Canada, whither he went once a year to receive the presents which were made by British agents and traders. He was a powerful man physically, weighing about two hundred and fifty pounds, but, intellectually, far below the class to which Pontiac and Tecumseh belonged. Among his own people his power was absolute, and his word was law.

In his passage through the white settlements he assumed a haughty, dictatorial tone, and demanded provisions with the air of a conqueror; but a firm, unyielding course on the part of any white man with whom he came in contact always brought him to terms. It would appear that "Pontiock" was a title given by the Indians to whoever seemed to be a leader among themselves or the whites, as at different times Kish-kor-ko dubbed Major Oliver Williams and Colonel Stephen Mack by this appellation, and it was always given to those who met the savages with an equal hauteur and bold and unflinching language. Almon Mack, the Indians called Coontz, meaning son.

Many interesting anecdotes are remembered by a few of the older inhabitants of the days when the Indian was a neighbor, or at least a visitor among them.

Kish-kor-ko was bloodthirsty in his nature, and was finally arrested and confined in the Detroit jail, on a charge of murder. His wife was allowed to visit him, and secretly conveyed him a dose of poison. At the time of his death he was supposed to have been about fifty-five years of age.

THE ORCHARD LAKE INDIANS were a kind of independent band, not bearing allegiance to any prominent chief. Like every other portion of their race, they loved the white man's " fire-water," and drank to excess whenever and wherever they could procure it. Oftentimes this propensity came very near producing trouble between them and their white neighbors. The centre of their trading operations was with Colonel Mack, at Pontiac, and there they came with their skins, furs, and venison, and traded (first) for whisky and whatever pleased their fancy. On one occasion one of these Orchard lake Indians-a fellow named " Green-coat"-was at the store of Colonel Mack, where, after imbibing pretty freely, he got into some difficulty, and was finally ejected from the building by Almon Mack. When he found himself outside he blustered terribly, and, flourishing his knife, declared he would kill Mack or any other white man that dared to come and fight him. Hearing this bravado, Mack very coolly stepped up to him, struck him a blow that laid him prostrate, put his foot upon him, and took away his knife and broke it. He then let him get up, and presented him with a better knife and told him to go home and get sober. Soon afterwards he came with a fine quarter of venison and presented it to Mack, saying, "Not Green-coat, bad whisky!" From that time he brought in regularly a portion of every deer he killed, and after Mr. Mack's removal to Macomb county he followed him with his presents of venison.

H. N. Howard has many amusing incidents of Indian manners and customs. Whenever they visited Pontiac they traded more or less with Howard. The latter was a good runner, and the Indians would always insist on his running a race with some one of their number. He beat them all for several years, when they finally brought a new and active young fellow, who beat Howard as bad as he had before beaten the Indians. This wonderfully elated the savages, and they went away rejoicing. They were generally peaceable, except when under the influence of liquor, and very rarely meddled with the property of the whites. They were kind and obliging to a fault, and in sickness the squaws were always willing to do anything in their power to assist their white neighbors.

THE FIRST DEATH. Miss Lovina Mack died on the 2d of September, 1823, and this is believed to have been the first death of an adult white woman in Oakland County.

Colonel Stephen Mack died in November, 1826, and was buried on his own land, as was also his daughter, on the east side of the river and south of Pike street. The bodies were afterwards disinterred and buried in Oak Hill cemetery. 

 

Source:  History of Oakland County, Michigan by Durant, Samuel W. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & co., 1877.



"A little nonsense now and then
is relished by the best of men;
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