Life of LORANCIE SCHELLHOUS
written by him in March, 1873
I built another log house, moved back to Elyria, stayed on the place a year or two. My brother-in-law owned a piece of land on the state road. He wanted to trade with me, he had a good log house, and some improvements so I traded with him. I changed places and I was then on the very road that I cut through the wilderness when I first came to Ohio. It had become a state road, from Cleveland to Sandusky. After I had moved, had paid for the land almost, and was trying to live again, the best we could, my wife grew worse, through the winter, and finally died early in the spring. I think in March, her sister Polly had stayed with her through the winter. I broke up housekeeping, for a time, went to work at carpenter work with brother George. Martha went to live with her grandmother; Leonard with his uncle Clark Eldred, worked at the business some time, got uneasy, and concluded to give up that business. I often thought of my home I had left. I had formerly formed the acquaintance of a person by the name of Cynthia Webster, who was one of our neighbors when living in Amherst. She had lost her husband, about four years ago, she had two children named Teresa, Nine years old, and Melissa, five years, after a while I concluded to call on her and make her a visit. I also did so, was received kindly. After talking over our situations, I finally popped the question. She finally accepted and we were married. I then took my family of wife and four children to my place in Elyria. Then concluded to build an addition to our house and barn for the purpose of keeping, Tavern, as there was considerable travel on that road. Finally got ready, put out our shingle. We soon found all the customers we wanted. The next year after we were married we had another addition to our family, our son Loran was born.
Now for Michigan. In the year 1829, brother Roswell left Ohio, moved to Michigan, bought on Nottawa Prairie, built him a small log house with two rooms, extoled the country very highly, which gave our friends the Michigan fever. At that time I had a slight attack, but got over it. When brother Marten and Samuel Noyes and brother George went to see the country, they liked it well. Marten and Samuel Noyes and brother George went and each entered a quarter section, which took all the money that George had. He got a man to enter a fraction of 119 acres where Colon now stands, told me he could redeem it in a year or two. Then he came back to Ohio, told me the situation. I took the fever and agreed to go with him, if I could sell. I soon found a chance to sell, and sold cheap, took the money, and started with them to Michigan.
I paid for the mill site as it was then called, bought a fraction of land where Mr. Scott now lives on Little Prairie. Then I returned home again; this was in the fall of the year 1830. Next thing was to get ready to go to Michigan. Had the winter before us, our mill irons to make, got a blacksmith to make them. Got the irons for a breaking plow, got all things ready to start the last of April. The company that was with us as follows, my family with five children, Loran was the youngest (he was two years old) brother Marten and family; George Brooks and family; in all thirty one souls. Eighteen of us ate together or messed together. I had two wagons, five yoke of oxen, three cows, a noble sow with eight shoats. I finally got started on in good spirits with plenty of provisions. Got along slowly, had no bad luck, roads quite muddy, came to the Maumee Swamp, had a hard time to get through but finally got to Maumee River, crossed it in a ferry boat, then went on to Monrowe, had to camp out a good many nights. If we could find a good place to bait our teams we would stop, sometimes stay all night, start in the morning early. We got to Coldwater Prairie, there was one log shanty in the whole prairie. The man had plowed two or three acres. We found a good place to feed our teams, camped there all night. The next day camped at hog creek, then the next got through to Nottawa prairie where brother Roswell lived; on the 16th day of May 1831. While we were talking and shaking hands our comrade Brooks had unloaded; his bedding and the other articles filed one of the rooms, and had no chance to hardly turn around, finally got straightened around, got some mush and milk for supper, took our wagons for lodgings the best we could. In the morning got some breakfast. My wife said to me, "If we have a place to go to let us go there." "I glory in your spunk," so said I. So I told George our calculations, and got our teams together, loaded up the family. This was Sunday morning, and started, got to the creek about the middle of the afternoon, turned our teams out and drove them to the marsh. There was then good bait for the cattle. Then went to work to fix a tent, went on the creek bottom below where the mill stands, cut some poles and crotches, peeled some bark, barked it up, stuck down the crotches put on the poles, covered the top with bark, hung up some blankets, built a good fire, prepared our supper and got a good nights rest. We felt glad we had got through thus far Monday and got a good night's rest. We commenced cutting house logs, cleared a place to set the house after we had logs cut, commenced hauling placing the foundation, hauling and rolling up with the oxen, continued that way as far as we could without help, then we got our neighbors to help put on the last long, then for the roof, cut down a large tree, and sawed it in blocks, three feet long, then rive it in shingles, then called shakes, covered the house. I took one of my wagon boxes to make a door, built a stick chimney at one end of the side of the house, then placed our long shingles on them, then placed our beds which answered for beds the same week Saturday night we moved into our house, one week from the commencement of building. Then Monday morning went to work to wood our breaking plow. Found a winding tree to make a moldboard, make a complete plow, then went down to Roswell, broke up six acres of prairie, dropped the corn in the edge of the furrow, so the next furrow covered the corn. Before we went to the prairie we tried to plough at home, ploughed about 1/? acre for garden, we did no more to our corn. In the fall and had a nice piece of corn. When we got plowing and planting corn done it was the sixth day of June, 1831. In the meantime we planted our garden, raised a nice lot of vegetables, melons, broom corn, and our stock made us no trouble, came home every night. Great fat hogs lived on shack which laid on the ground all winter.
A little before we moved to Michigan the country had been burnt over The white oak openings was as black as you please, in two or three weeks it changed its appearance and became like a beautiful garden. Then after making all necessary arrangements commenced to begin to make our arrangements cut and hewed some timber. Cut timber for the dam, finally concluded to let it rest until the next spring. It had got too late to put in the dam, so George went back to Ohio, was gone most of the winter. Late in the fall Charles Palmer came to Michigan, moved into our house which was then quite full. He selected the land east of the creek, then moved into it. George got back, then we commenced to build a mill hired a mill wright to make the running gear. Hired several hands to help. Got the dam and the mill frame up and plank for the flume from Hog Creek, Then on the Chicago turnpike called Adams and Kents mill. Finally got the mill a running, then commenced the sickness, all through the country, fever and ague. Out of the thirty-one souls all sick but myself. I cannot tell all the particulars we had.
We sawed about 12,000 ft. By some means the water found a hole under the flume, which tore a hole ten or twelve feet deep under the flume tore out about sixty feet of the dam, then I felt rather down in the mouth but there was no other way but to repair the loss, so went to work again, pried up the mill, got it level again, then cut logs about twelve long, placed them like a log house, notched them as you would to build a log house, commenced on the top of the water site over the hole under the corner of the mill, and flume continued in that way until the crib of logs had settled on the bottom, then filled it full of brush, and gravel then repaired the dam, got the mill almost ready to run again. Previous to this my mother and brother Cyrus and family had moved to Michigan. Cyrus had bought a lot of land where F.O. Vaughn lives. Had built a plank house, had moved into it.
Mother was taken sick with all the family, had to leave our work to care for the sick. Our mother died in that situation. We had neglected the dam, and a small place in the dam was not finished graveling. The water in the pond had raised faster than we were aware of which found a way under the dam, which tore away another part of the dam, about sixty or seventy feet further over. At that time my means were almost exhausted, except my fraction of land on Little Prairie, where Scott now lives. I had to sell that to get means to put in another dam, so I sold it to brother Marten for $1.75 per acre, threw that into the creek with the rest, not quite discouraged yet, built up the dam again (I believe it stands there yet). We had in the meantime quite a lot of saw logs which we had cut on government land up the St. Jo river almost two hundred, got the mill running in good order.
About this time my wife and myself had concluded that partnership was leaky and we thought best at that time to get out of it before it went down, so I told George we had not prospered in our co-partnership I told him I wished to dissolve; told him to make me an offer, what he would give or take. I told him if he would give seven hundred dollars, six in money and one in timber, which he agreed to do, made no writings at all, but took his word; we then dissolved. Brother Cyrus had bought a piece of land where F.O. Vaughn lives, I bought off Cyrus; George was to pay Cyrus for it. We then moved into the plank house, where our mother died on the place. We then thought we had once more got on safe ground. After spending three years of hard toil and sickness was not worth as much as we were before we left Ohio. We had lived on that place but a short time when Ben Stebbens and wife came along on horseback, wanted to buy my place, sold to him; took the money and entered 120 acres, the land I sold afterwards to O.W. Legg and his wife, which was one of our family, after I had bought concluded to make final home, built a frame house built a barn, made quite an improvement, made up our minds to have our son Loren live with us and have the farm. He tried to work but could not stand it. It made him sick to work, was quite weakly. He thought he would rather do some other way, took it into his head to be a clerk in some store so we let him have his own way. When Leonard was 19 years old I gave him his time. Gave him 40 acres of land where Sam Gorton lives. He built the old house Gorton lives in. After our children married off and left us, I will not say any more about them. If you want to know any more about them, you must ask them, they are all of age and at this time all alive and have a care for old, unworth us. Now I will go back to the beginning of the settlement on Michigan.
The first summer we had no water to use only the creek water. I went in search of a spring of water. I finally found one under the hill close to the lake, it seemed to boil up through the marsh. I cleared away the muck found it to be cold and good. It was marsh all around the place except a small bunch of willows. I then took my team, hauled down a Sycamore tub about five feet long, pressed it over the spring kept digging around it, digging out the inside; working that way until within one foot of the top; then drew gravel and filled all around, packed it until the water ran over the top of the tub, then there was quite a rejoicing in the family, that remains to be seen this day.
All the neighbors we had were living nearly five miles on the west line of the township, Brother Roswell, Marten, M.G. Brooks and Dr. McMellen. That summer we had plenty of Indians passing by on Indian Trail which passed our house. They often passed by sometimes 50 or 60 in drove Indians, Squaws, dogs and ponies, going past to the timber land to hunt.
I must tell a little circumstance that happened. The hog that we drove with us from Ohio, would go to the marsh near the trail, as a large lot of Indians were passing with dogs, I heard the hog squeal. I saw that it was the Indians coming I took my rifle and ran to where the dog was. The dog had the hog by the hind parts and I then shot at the dog. He left the hog and ran after the Indians. I followed as far as I could, got to the creek before the Indians crossed. I had a canoe to cross in and I jumped into it and followed after the dog. I followed after the dog pounded the dog with a paddle until I thought he was dead, then returned to the shore then took up my rifle which laid on the ground turned the breech, raised it up before the big Indian, looked him straight in the eye; I tried to look as savage as I could. The Indian stood, looked amazed, never as much as winked, then I pretend call down pointing to the canoe told them to march across the creek, they passed on and after a few days they returned from their hunt. Every dog had a bridle on their noses tied together. I had no more trouble with dogs that season. After that the Indians were quite friendly, appeared to be glad to meet me and shake hands. Then the Indians were friendly, but when they had whiskey they were troublesom. A man by the name of Hatch had a shanty on or near the river for the purpose of trading with the Indians, kept whiskey for the Indians. I will mention one more circumstance which happened while I was absent from home; one night a parcel of drunken Indians came to our house in the latter part of the night. They came into the house when the family were all in bed, which frightened my wife. She got out of bed, dressed in a hurry, went to where the Indians were. They pretended to warm themselves. She told them as well as she could to clear out but they refused. There was one amongst them that appeared to be more sober than the rest. My wife motioned to him to clear them out. She then took up the fire shovel intending to drive them out, then they began to depart. She gave them a brand of fire, told them to build a fire out of doors. By that time the children were frightened. After reading this to my wife she told me it was not quite right, as she heard the Indians coming sometime before they got to the house. Got Leonard up and tried to fasten the door but could not fasten it before they got in. I shall not say much more about the Indians.
Only a short time after this they killed my breeding sow which I considered worth forty dollars at that time. At that time the government paid the Indians for their reserved claims. I threw in my claim for the hog. I was allowed eighteen dollars for it. Now I will return to some other affairs.
The next season after coming to Michigan we had to go to Coldwater to get blacksmithing done for the mill, there was a blacksmith just moved in on the east end of the prairie by the name of Bingham; to get there had to go to Hog Creek on the Chicago road, then to Coldwater had to go south and an ox team would take two days, to go and back.
About this time there was a great cry about the lauk war. There was a company of militia formed, a draft to be made; it happened that brother George and the mill wright, by the name of Kirke were both drafted. They had to start immediately to meet the Indians that were expected to go through Michigan to destroy all the inhabitants. Those behind thought best to build a fort, we had a meeting, for that purpose, agreed to build a picket fence to be twelve feet about the ground to plough and take the trees to build a breastwork inside breast high. I was chosen to select the pickets and help load, when commenced hauling we worked hard for a few days, I had to leave my family at home. We did not feel much alarmed. Some of the inhabitants of the county left, went to Detroit, after a few days news came that the Indians were stopped, did not come as far as Chicago. Then we gave up building the fort. Then we returned to our business, then in a few years we began to think of building roads, to get out. The inhabitants began to flock in, from all directions. The township was not organized the first few years. The township was combined with Leonidas, did the business as one township.
Now perhaps you would like to know how this town came by the name of Colon. Well I will try to tell; in the first settlement of the county there was a great stir about building cities on paper. George and Hatch took into their heads to lay out a city plot on the land that I then owned finally arrangements were made, got a surveyor, laid it out, into lots when completed, we wished to give a name could not find one to suit. Finally I happened to take up an old dictionary, the first word I put my eyes on was Colon. Looking to see the definition, we will call the name of it Colon, looked up there see the lake and river coming along, that is exactly the definition. Agreed says they, that is the way the name of Colon came. When the township was organized, the name was established by the legislature. That was the end of our city. About this time I had left Colon, went to work building a house myself. I built quite a good house for the times. Had a little blacksmith shop no blackmith short of White Pigeon. The neighbors wanted some little job done which I could not refuse, so I tinkered on. Started a turning lathe, began to make chairs to supply the inhabitants. After which there were wheels wanted so I made wooden wheels as they were called, and reels, then the little Flax wheel which kept me busy for a long time. After a while I was appointed Postmaster. Had to get the mail from Kent and Adams on the Chicago road, had to get it once a week, had the proceeds of the post office. Letters were then 25 cents each, which was rather small business for me, but I kept on for the benefit for the settlers. The first town meeting was held at my house. After the officers were elected we unanimously agreed to serve the town without charge this continued two or three years, until we were set off as a township by itself from Leonidas. Now I shall go back a ways and tell about roads. We were rather shut off on account of getting out east, George and myself started to try to find a road to the county of Branch County seat. We went east to the foot of Matteson Lake now called, then east as near as we could, to his place Findley, found the place, the people there had commenced some public buildings. They seemed pleased with the idea, concluded to help survey the road, got a survey on our own expense, surveyed the road to our place then some of the inhabitants turned out and cut part of the road through the timber lands of Branch cut it the other which answered several years. A few years after Amos Matteson came to that town the town was named by him called after his name. A. Culver and M. Corsen all had settled on a section line, examined the line for the purpose of getting a road to Coldwater. Found it to be suitable to build a road. Then petitioned the legislature for state road from Coldwater to Centreville, St. Joseph County. I was the one to carry the chain. Cut and stuck and marked every mile from Matteson to Centreville, then I went on the line to Centreville, got up a subscription of nearly two dollars then got what help we could, went to work, cut the road, bridged the streams, made cross-way the town of Matteson, Culver. Matteson and Corsen did their share. It was a hard road at first, but it was tolerable good. Now I must tell about one little circumstance which happened to me about this time of the building the Court house in Centreville.
I was appointed collector to collect the taxes in Colon. I had collected pretty much all except Dr. McMellon's. He stood out would not pay, I told him I should have to take property and sell it. I had only time to advertise told him, turned out some property, he then turned out his old horse to pay his tax which was ten dollars. I advertised the horse the day of the sale came, I could get no bidders. I adjourned the sale, tried again, could not find anyone to bid on the old horse, the law was such I was obliged to make up the money if I could find property, so I bid off the horse myself, after keeping the horse a few weeks, I had a chance to sell the horse just enough to pay the tax and his keeping, then he sued for the horse, had a trial before the justice of the peace. I beat him there, then he appealed to the county court. My lawyer told me I was safe, came to the trial, everything appeared to look well in my favor. Then the judge commenced summing up the matter, as a going lawyer Stewart arose and said: it is a matter of law, would it not be best to further consider the matter? After that it was carried to the Chancery. There it was decided against me. Last and all amounted to over $100. Then some of the Lawyer got up a contribution of $40.00. That was all the law-suits I ever had of any importance.
Now there is so many things I might mention which you are all acquainted with, will forbear only to say most of my time has been occupied in labor building roads, bridges and school houses, meeting houses. Tried to serve the public, postmaster nearly 17 years, had to quit labor to take care of my dear wife who has been blind nearly 12 years. Not been able to earn anything for our support. Have been sustained through the providence of a kind Heavenly Father. I have always tried to keep out of debt, most always had a little means on hand.
Bought wheat we needed and payed down for it did not buy what we did not want. And now being eighty years old lacking a few weeks and my wife a little over eighty years, waiting for our deliverance, trusting in the Lord, thinking it is better to trust in him and keep his commandments, than to follow the traditions of men, finally to heed the instruction of Solomon, hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments which is the whole duty of man.
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The content of this page is courtesy of Cheryl Thrams, a direct descendant of Lorancie SCHELLHOUS and Joe Ganger, President of the Colon Community Historical Society.
The picture is courtesy of Cheryl Thrams. Many thanks to both!
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