Page 187-194

Dr. Ira F. Packard, a retired physician and surgeon of Sturgis, and a man who is well known throughout Southern Michigan, both as a practitioner and a citizen, is the subject of a most interest history, which is substantially as follows: Born on the 7th of June, 1808, our subject is a native of Royalton, Windsor Co., Vt., and the youngest son of Benjamin Packard, who was the youngest son of Elijah Packard, the latter of whom settled at an early day in the town of Bridgewater, Mass.

Benjamin Packard, the father of Ira, moved to the town of Royalton, in the State of Vermont, soon after the close of the Revolutionary War. Nothing of especial note occurred during the boyhood of our subject, his time being spent mostly in obtaining such education as the schools of that day afforded, while he employed his time during vacation working on the farm. When he was fifteen years old he was deprived of a father's care by death, and was thrown upon his own resources in completing his education and obtaining a living. In the spring of 1824 young Packard repaired to Boston, Mass., and took a position in the wholesale and retail store of Kittridge & Wyman, dealers in groceries and West India goods. He continued through the summer and fall with this firm, then returned home to attend the winter term of school in his native town.
picture of Ira F. Packard

In the spring of the year 1825, our subject entered the service of the whale ship "Alexander," and upon the long voyage which followed gathered much information in regard to a seafaring life and the world in general. The ship returned to New Bedford in the month of July following, with a cargo of oil and bone, and Mr. Packard subsequently made upon her several other short voyages. The fall of 1828 found him in Philadelphia, Pa., where he was engaged for a brief time in the Pottsville mines as the employe of Aaron Burr, and which were in charge of his nephew George. In February, 1829, he migrated to Allegany Co., N.Y., settling in the town of Pike, which was the home of a brother, and where he sojourned a brief time; then going to Yorkshire in Cattaraugus County, he established himself in the mercantile business. On the 27th of April, 1829, he was married to Miss Emily M., daughter of Col. Araunah Hibbard.

This business venture of Mr. Packard not proving a bonanza, he closed out, and going into Erie County, Pa., engaged in the grocery and provision trade upon the present site of the custom house there. Here he was again doomed to disappointment, the cholera breaking out and all business being suspended for the time. Not being possessed of capital by which he could lay idle, he was compelled to close out his business. He then returned to Yorkshire, and engaged as clerk with Messrs. A. & W. Hibbard.

In the spring of 1836 our subject commenced the study of medicine and surgery under the

instruction of Dr. Bela H. Colegrove, of Sardinia, Erie Co., N.Y., with whom he continued a period of three years. In the meantime he attended medical lectures in the Western college of Physicians and Surgeon at Fairfield. Upon completing his studies he removed with his family to the town of Sherman, now Sturgis, this county, of which he has since been a resident.

Having secured a lucrative practice, Dr. Packard followed his profession continuously until the spring of 1850, when his close application to his duties began to have a perceptible effect upon his health. He now decided upon a trip to California, and accordingly spent the summer following in the gold fields of the New Eldorado. He was successful in the mines, obtaining a reasonable recompense for his time and trouble. He returned to Sturgis in the spring of 1851, and practically retired from practice, although occasionally treating the old friends who were unwilling to give their cases into new and strange hands.

Since withdrawing from his profession Dr. Packard has been identified with various business enterprises in the city, serving as a Director of the National Bank. He has distinguished himself as a public-spirited citizen, one having a warm interest in the growth and progress of his adopted State. In religious sentiment he possesses a broad, liberal and Catholic spirit, and while being a man of decided views, with his own peculiar beliefs and convictions, he willingly accords that same privilege to others without comment or reflection. He was originally a Whig in politics, and upon the organization of the Republican party cordially embraced its principles, and has been a supporter of its general policy up to the present time.

Dr. Packard and his wife became the parents of a family of five children, three sons and two daughters, the record of whom is as follows: Nelson I. was born April 8, 1830, and married Miss Lizzie A. Toby, Oct. 15, 1856; they have no children. This son is President of the National Bank of Sturgis, a man of fine talents, and a highly respected citizen. Homer H. Packard was born Aug. 10, 1832, and married Miss Sarah C. Stillman, Dec. 9, 1959; he is a druggist by profession, and a resident of Cheboygan, this State; he has no children. Emily M. was born Nov. 6, 1834, and was married to Henry S. Church, Oct. 25, 1860; Mr. C. is a grocer in good circumstances, and a resident of Sturgis; they have no children. Frank S. was born Feb. 10, 1838, and was married, Sept. 25, 1860, to Miss Jane E. Clark; they have three children, Frank I., Gertrude A. and James J., and are residents of Sturgis; his son Frank , Jr., was born Aug. 17, 1861, became a youth of great promise, choosing the profession of medicine, and was graduated from Ann Arbor (Mich.) Medical College; he died at Cheboygan, Feb. 8, 1888. Gertrude A. married Nelson Upham, and lives in Cheboygan, being the mother of one son, Frank Sherman; James J. was born Oct. 8, 1868, married Miss Bertha Miner, and is the father of two children, a son Frank and a daughter. Lucina M. Packard was born Jan. 26, 1843, and married Thomas J. Acheson, Oct. 1, 1863. They have three sons; Frederick I., born April 29, 1866; Nelson H., May 17, 1874; and Thomas J., Aug. 7, 1885. All live in Emporia, Lyons Co., Kan.

The ancestral history of this branch of the Packard family is as follows: Probably the first representative in this country was one Samuel Packard, who, with his wife and eight children, came from Windham, near Hingham, in England, in the ship "Diligence," of Ipswich, with 133 passengers, John Martin, Master, and settled in Hingham, in the year 1638. Thence he went to Bridgewater, Mass., where he died in 1684. He was the father of twelve children, namely: Elizabeth, Samuel, Zaccheus, Thomas, John, Nathaniel (our subject), Mary, Hannah, Israel, Joel, Deborah and Deliverance.

Nathaniel, one of the sons of Samuel Packard, and the great-great-grandfather of our subject, married, a daughter of John Kingman, and became the father of thirteen children, namely: Samuel; Zachariah, the great-grandfather of our subject; George, Fearnot, Margaret, Sarah, Lydia, Faithful, Hannah, Deliverance, Elizabeth, Mary and Deborah. Zachariah married Abigail, the daughter of Richard Davenport, in 1724, and became the father of four children-Elijah, Abigail, Nathaniel and Nathan. Rev. Elijah, the son of Zachariah, was graduated from Howard University in 1750, and settled in the ministry at Plymouth, in 1764. He afterward went to Marlboro, and was married to Mary Rider; they became the parents of four children-Abigail, Benjamin, Elijah and Mary. Benjamin married Mehitable Fobes, daughter of Eliab Fobes, in 1782, and moved to Vermont in 1784, their son Lyman was born in January of that year, and died in December, 1819; Benjamin, who was born July 15, 1787, died April 13, 1869; Charles was born June 28, 1790, and died Nov. 13, 1808; Luch was born May 21, 1800, and died March 17, 1803; Silas was born in 1795, and died Sept. 8, 1830; Lucinda was born May 8, 1805, and died Oct. 27, 1831. Their youngest son was Ira, the subject of this sketch.

Benjamin Packard, the father of our subject, who was born in Bridgewater, June 7, 1760, served as a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, and was on duty at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, and witnessed the surrender of Geo. Burgoyne. He was wounded by a ball across the breast, and by buckshot in the arm. He saw the smoke rise from behind a bush, and shot through the bush, and said there was no more smoke came up from behind the bush. Elijah Packard, the paternal grandfather of our subject, was murdered by a robber and highwayman, one Bolton, who was afterward hung for robbery in Canada, confessing his guilt on the scaffold. Dr. Ira S., our subject, has a deed done in the handwriting of his grandfather, Aug. 29, 1765. He also has the old family Bible in two large volumes, which was printed in London, England, in 1683, and was bought by Grandfather Elijah Packard. It has written on the fly-leaf-"Elijah Packard, his book, price f21. Bought of William Joseph Snell, of Bridgewater, in the years 1752." that sum in American money would be $101.64.

Mrs. Emily M. (Hibbard) Packard, the wife of our subject, was born in Clarence, Niagara Co., N.Y., April 23, 1811, and was the first female white child a native of that county. Her father was Col. Araunab Hibbard, a soldier of the War of 1812, who was severely wounded at Queenstown Heights. He was one of two brothers who came from England at an early day.

Page 189-190

Solomon L. Dentler is classed among the most practical, wide-awake and successful farmers of St. Joseph County. His farm on section 26, Constantine Township, is amply provided with substantial buildings for every necessary purpose. Its carefully tilled acres yield abundant harvests, and it is altogether considered one of the most desirable farms in this section of the county.

Our subject was born July 2, 1824, in Turbotville, Northumberland Co., Pa., and is a son of Solomon L. and Esther (King) Dentler, both of whom were natives of that county, where also both died. They had a family of twelve children, seven of whom lived to maturity. The children were named: John, now a resident of White Rock, Ogle Co., Ill.; Barbara, wife of Phineas Hangenbuch, of Alexandria County, Va.; Jacob, living in Northumberland County, Pa.,; then came Solomon L.; Samuel, a resident of Union County, Iowa; Eliza died at the age of ten years; George, Esther and Lucy died in childhood, and two infants died unnamed. Peter, who was a resident of Lycoming County, Pa., died in July, 1888.

Our subject was reared on his father's farm until he was eighteen years old, and he was then apprenticed to learn the miller's trade. He followed that occupation many years in Pennsylvania, and until he came to St. Joseph county in the spring of 1865. He then turned his attention to farming, the pursuit to which he had been reared. He purchased 120 acres of good land in Constantine Township, and has ever since been a resident of this place. His arduous labors in improving his land have been amply rewarded in the good income that he derives from its cultivation. He has erected a good set of farm building, complete in all their appointments, and has been so fortunate in his ventures that he has purchased more land, and his farm now comprises 175 acres of land, as well tilled and fertilee as any in the neighborhood.

November 16, 1852, the marriage of our subject to Miss Elizabeth A. Narber was solemnized in Danville, Montour Co., Pa. Mrs. Dentler was born Nov. 14, 1834, in Lycoming County, Pa., her parents having been Jacob and Susanna (Good) Narber, who died in that county. Mr. And Mrs. Dentler have had five children, namely: Alice B., who is the wife of Rev. S. George, of Allen, Branch Co., Mich.; H. H. Beecher and Colfax B., living at home, and Grant A., a student at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio. They have lost one child, Narber L., who died when three years old. When Mr. Dentler made his first purchase, forty of his 120 acres was in timber, and this, with the exception of a few acres, he cleared himself, not being financially in a condition to employ help. Almost all of the fifty-five acres subsequently purchased he also cleared, but in this latter was helped by his sons, then growing up.

Mr. Dentler's success in life is attributable not only to his capacity for work, to his sturdy enterprise and persistent will power, but also to the fact that he is conscientious and upright in all his dealings, and does by others as he would like to be done by, thus securing the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens. He has ably filled some of the local school offices, and in other ways performed the duties of a good citizen. His political views are substantially those of the Republican party, of which he is an earnest supporter. He and his wife are members of the Lutheran Church, and actively assist in its good work, and ever since the organization of the church in this township he has filled some of its official positions, as Elder, Trustee, etc.

Page 190-190

The Saturday Mail of Sturgis occupies a prominent position among the newsy journals of the State, and, as conducted by its present editor and proprietor, exercises no unimportant influence upon the various questions under discussion by the people of the county. Mr. Marvin came to Sturgis in 1881, and has been connected with the Mail since 1886, having edited the Michigan Democrat for four years. He is a very popular man, an old soldier, and a citizen who has made his mark in his community.

Mr. Marvin, a native of Rochester, N.Y., was born in 1844, where he received as good an education as the public schools of that city afforded until he reached the age of seventeen years, at which time he enlisted as a Union soldier in the 105th New York Infantry. He served with his regiment in the second battle of Bull Run, was at South Mountain, Fredericksburg and Antietam, and after the 105th was consolidated with the 94th New York he, as a member thereof, was engaged in the battles of Gettysburg. At the expiration of his first term he re-enlisted for three years, or during the war, and took part in a number of prominent battles, including that of Five Forks, in which he received a wound in the head, which came near causing him to be mustered out for all time.

The record of Mr. Marvin as a soldier was highly creditable in all respects, and his record as a citizen has been no less so. After his return from the army he took up his abode in LeRoy, N.Y. On the 12th of August, 1872, he was married in the city of Hillsdale, Mich., to Miss Emma A., daughter of Horace P. Hitchcock, one of the pioneers of Hillsdale County, and now deceased. Of this union there were born two children who died in infancy, Estella May, in 1874, and Clifton in 1886. The family residence is pleasantly located opposite the School Park, and is the resort of many friends. Genial and hospitable, Mr. Marvin is a universal favorite both in business and social circles. He learned the printer's trade early in life, and is therefore well fitted to conduct a newspaper office in all its details. The Mail was established as a neutral sheet in politics, and in order to fulfill the promise to its subscribers, still remains so.P> In 1888 Mr. Marvin was nominated for Register of Deeds as the successor of the able and efficient Mr. Hill, and ran seventy-seven votes ahead of his ticket in Sturgis, lacking only 106 of being elected.


Henry Sevison is a fine representative of the farmers and stock-raisers of St. Joseph County, not only on account of the wealth he has accumulated in his honorable calling, and that he owns one of the largest and most valuable farms in Southern Michigan, very pleasantly located in Florence Township, but that for personal integrity, for business ability and uprightness of character, he stands pre-eminent among his fellow-citizens. He is a native of Pennsylvania, born Sept. 21, 1825, in Turbotville, Northumberland County, to Henry and Elizabeth (Mowerer) Sevison, natives of Germany, the father born March 14, 1792, and mother in July, 1795. His parents had seven children, of whom he was the fifth in order of birth, five sons and two daughters. They died while yet in the prime of life, the father being drowned in the Susquehanna River, at Muncy dam, Northumberland Co., Pa., when our subject was but four years old. At the age of six he went to live with Mr. William Laird, with whom he lived until he was twenty-four years old. He came with his kind benefactor to Michigan in 1838, when it had scarcely begun to merge from its primitive wildness, and ever since that time he has in one way and another been closely identified with its agricultural and business interests. He first went to Schoolcraft, St. Joseph County, with Mr. Laird, but they immediately came to Florence township. Our subject was then a strong and healthy lad and was of great assistance to his guardian. At the age of fifteen he took charge of his farm. He had but little time to attend school, but studied evenings and spare hours through the day. To such men as Mr. Laird, of whom he took counsel when he was forming his business habits, and Stephen Vickory, of whom he purchased his farm, he gratefully acknowledges that he owes his success in life.

Our subject worked for John Talbot, in Centreville, and while thus engaged enlisted in the war with Mexico, but in a short time afterward the war closed and his company was disbanded. He first began work for himself by carrying on a farm on shares in the summer, and in the winter in making four barrels for the firm of Moore & Protzman, of Three Rivers. He has always followed farming, though often in connection with other business, and he bought his first farm of 240 acres when he was twenty-one years old, having accumulated $300, which he used for his first payment on the land. He continued for some years to make flour barrels in the winter, still having his home with Mr. Laird, carrying on his farm for him in addition to his trade. At one time he engaged for three years in the mercantile business at White Pigeon, while still managing his agricultural interests. That venture did not prove the financial success that he had anticipated and he gave it up, and has since devoted his attention to the management of his large stock interests and his extensive farm. He became so prosperous in his undertakings that at one time he owned 1,332 acres of valuable land, but he has given to his children farms and thus reduced his estate to 1,200 acres of land. For nineteen years Mr. Sevison has been an agent for the Oliver Plow Company, and has a large territory that he oversees, having several agents under him whom he keeps supplied. In all of his dealings he scarcely loses a dollar, and we may mention here that during his long business career he has never sued but one man, and then only when every other course for an honorable settlement had failed.

Mr. Sevison has been three times married. His first marriage took place April 18, 1850, to Anna Burnam, of Florence Township. She was born in England, June 22, 1831, and came to Michigan with her parents, likewise natives of England, when she was ten months old. After a pleasant married life of a few years she passed away Feb, 7, 1857, leaving three children as follows: Burnam H., George E. and Mary E. Burnam, who lives in Florence Township, has been twice married, Ella Gentzler, by whom he had one child, being his first wife, and Elizabeth Greenlee, his second wife; George E., who lives in Iowa, married Mary E. Briden, and they have two children; Mary married W. H. Stears, of this township, and they have one child.

Mr. Sevison's second wife was Rebecca Thompson before her marriage. She was born May 3, 1835, and died March 25, 1875, having scarcely reached the meridian of a life which had been a busy and honored one. She was the first white female child born in St. Joseph County near St. Joseph River, at a town called Aschol, near Three Rivers; all traces of the town are now obliterated. Seven children were born of that marriage, namely: Fremont G., who married Emma Troy, and they have three children; Florence A., who married C.H. Lake, of Bancroft, Iowa; Jessie A., wife of John Rheim, of Logan County, Col.; Grant, born Sept 25, 1863, died March 19, 1866; Luther J., now engaged with the firm of E.W. Walker, of Goshen, Ind., married Carrie Dimmick, and they have one child; Martha, born Aug. 21, 1867, died Sept. 4, 1867; Elliot lives at home with his parents. Mr. Sevison has generously provided for his children; besides giving them land, he has given them several thousand dollars, and they are well established, in prosperous circumstances, and are successful in life. Mr. Sevison's third marriage, April 22, 1879, was to Miss Martha Whited, who was born in Urbana, Ohio, Nov. 8, 1840. Her parents, natives respectively of New York and Virginia, were married in Ohio, and had four children, of whom Mrs. Sevison was the eldest.

Mr. Sevison has been very influential in the affairs of the township, although the pressing claims of his business have not allowed him to hold office very much. In public as well as in private life he had shown that keen foresight and discretion that have made him the respected and honored man that he is today. To his energy and patriotism during the dark days of the Rebellion is our Government greatly indebted, as he was one of that large class of citizens who were instrumental in raising the "sinews of war," doing as much in their way as the soldiers of the filed, staying at no sacrifice, and using all the means in their power to furnish men and money for the suppression of the Rebellion. He was one of the foremost men, at the time when soldiers were secured by draft, in filling the quota of Florence township, and in aiding those who were so unfortunate as to be drafted, being called up an any and all hours of the night to render assistance to his townsmen by taking his team and driving to Kalamazoo, the Provost Marshal's headquarters, to which office he was appointed during the war, and helping his neighbors to adjust their difficulties. Through his individual efforts the township of Florence had the best record of any township in the county for faithfulness and thoroughness during the ordeal of filling quotas and raising money. When the legality of a certain draft was questioned, and an indignation meeting was held at Kalamazoo, Mr. Sevison was appointed by the board to go to Detroit and confer with Col. Hill, to procure from him an order to show the illegality of the draft; the board knowing the energy and indomitable will and influence of our subject, and the (ordinarily) unapproachable character of the one to be consulted, chose him as the one best adapted to bring about the desired result. A large assembly had repaired to the court-house and court-house grounds, anxiously awaiting the return of Mr. Sevison, to hear the news, in a state of intense excitement, but on his arrival with his reports the meeting was immediately quieted, and then our subject, with Hon. Charles Upton, was chosen to Washington, D.C., where the matter was satisfactorily adjusted and the drafted men were released. The order was made for three years and these men were called for only one year, which was the cause of all the trouble. At the close of the war, when the heavy taxation imposed upon the people was a source of bitterness, again Mr. Sevison was called upon as arbitrator, when he again succeeded in adjusting everything satisfactorily and for the bests interests of the people.

Mr. Sevison is an honored member of the Commandery of K.T., being one of the first members of Sturgis Commandery, and a charter member of Three Rivers Commandery. He is a strong Republican and a power in his community. He united with the church at about the age of twenty-one years, and has been an Elder of the Presbyterian Church for over twenty years, and he is one of the earnest workers in the building up of the Sabbath-schools, and taught the first one in Centreville. Our subject's family are all members of the church and conscientious workers in their respective places.

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