HENRY PORTER KETCHUM
Henry Porter Ketchum, a well-known resident of Burr Oak Village, is spending the later years of a well-ordered life in the quiet and comfort of a pleasant home, surrounded by many friends. His property embraces thirty acres of highly cultivated land with substantial buildings, and where he has resided with his excellent wife for a number of years. Mr. Ketchum was born in the Mohawk Valley, near the town of Glenville, Schenectady Co., N.Y., Feb. 8, 1828, and is the son of Chancy and Mary (Wilder) Ketchum, natives of the same place.
Isaac Ketchum, the paternal grandfather of our subject, was one of the pioneers of Schenectady County, N.Y., where he engaged in farming, and spend his last days. Joshua Wilder, the maternal grandfather, was also an early settler of that locality, a Justice of the Peace, and a man of note in his community.
Our subject received a common-school education and learned the trade of carpentry, which he followed in his native county until 1852, and then, a young man of twenty-four years, anxious to see something of the Great West, made an ocean voyage to the Pacific Coast, and remained in California about three years. Instead of entering the mines, however, he engaged in business more certain of returns, as a clerk in various hotels in that region, to which business he seemed peculiarly adapted, becoming very popular and drawing a good salary. At the expiration of the time mentioned he returned to his native State, but soon, however, took up his residence in Weedsport, N.Y., where during the progress of the Civil War he officiated as "mine host" of the Mansion House, and where he continued until 1868.
Henry P. Ketchum now set out one more for the West, and coming to this county settled in Sherman Township, where he employed himself in farming three years, then embarked in the meat-market business at Sturgis, where he operated successfully until 1877. Hotel life, however, had greater charms, and the year following he purchased the Park Hotel at Burr Oak, which he conducted very successfully for a period of ten years. He was married, in 1868, to Miss Mary, daughter of James Jones, one of the pioneers of Oswego County, N.Y., and who was born in 1828.
Mr. and Mrs. Ketchum commenced the journey of life together in 1868, and have lived harmoniously together for a period of over twenty years. Providence bestowed upon them no children, but they have gathered around them hosts of warm friends, and will never suffer for lack of kindly attention and affection in sickness or in health. Mr. Ketchum has always been an active member of his community, giving liberally of his time and means to those enterprises calculated for the best good of the people, socially, morally and financially.
William Stear is a prominent and prosperous farmer of Constantine Township, where he has cleared and improved as good a farm as is to be found within the boundaries of St. Joseph County. He is a native of England, born in Lincolnshire, Jan. 19, 1828. He was reared on a farm in his native shire, and was there married, July 2, 1850, to Miss Frances Haylock, who was born in the same shire as himself, a year and a few days later, her birth occurring Jan. 25, 1829. They continued to reside in their native shire until the spring of 1861, when they came to America with the five children who had in the meantime been born to them. They landed at New York and came directly to Michigan. For three years after that Mr. Stear worked out by the day in Constantine, and by prudence and wise economy he had saved up enough money to warrant him in purchasing land and beginning the task of building up a home. He first bought a tract of forty acres, which is still included in his present farm. It was then nearly all covered with woods. In the years of toil and hardship that followed, in which he was aided and encouraged by his wife, he not only cleared his land from the forest and got it under cultivation, but was enabled to increase its area by further purchase, until he now owns ninety-three acres of fertile and highly productive land, and he and his wife have built up a very pleasant and comfortable home, of which they may well be proud.
The following is recorded of the eleven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Stear: Maria is the wife of Manford Christian, of Constantine Township; William lives at home; Mary A. died when about six years old; Hattie is the wife of Jacob Brandal, of Constantine Village; Charles lives in Montana; Lizzie is the wife of Andy Craner, of Three Rivers; Susie, who was the wife of Charles Brokaw, died in Constantine, July 2, 1884; George is a school teacher; Fannie is at home; Robert H. died in infancy, and Frank is at home.
Mr. and Mrs. Stear are people whose kind hearts generously respond to any call for aid or sympathy from the unfortunate or needy, and all such find in them true friends. By their united labors, prudence and wise management they have obtained a comfortable competence, and can pass their declining years free from toil and anxious cares that beset their earlier life. Their many worthy traits of character have gained them the respect and esteem of all in the community of which they have been members for so many years. Mr. Stear takes a warm interest in the public affairs of his adopted country, and votes intelligently with the Republican party, considering its policy the safest and best in the guidance of National affairs.
Samuel Valentine, the oldest established grocer in Sturgis, is one of its representative business men. He has a good store, neatly fitted up, and carries a large and well-sorted stock, comprising a full line of groceries, provisions, woodenware, gloves, mittens, tobacco and cigars. He sells, at reasonable prices, and from his long experience knows well how to satisfy the demands of his large trade.
Our subject was born in the town of Lysander, Onondaga Co., N.Y., May 17, 1824. His father, Joseph Valentine, was a native of Greene County, N.Y., and he there married Mercy Jones, likewise a native of that county. Six children were born to them, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood, but all are now dead but our subject. The father was a farmer and also a brickmason. He and his wife were people of genuine merit, and were held in the upmost respect by their neighbors and friends.
Our subject was reared in his native State, and received a superior education in the Auburn Academy. He started out in life as a farmer, and was engaged in that calling most of the time until 1854, when he came to Sturgis. Here he found employment under J.G. Wait, as a carpenter. He had learned the mason's trade with his brothers, but it did not suit his taste, so he worked at it only when he could find nothing else to do, pursuing it for about two years prior to embarking in his present business in 1860. Since that time he has devoted himself entirely to the management of his store, and has gradually built up a flourishing trade.
Mr. Valentine was married to his first wife Oct. 12, 1848. Her maiden name was Ann E. Howland, a daughter of Humphrey Howland. Of that marriage three children were born, of whom one, Leonard is, living. Sarah died in her nineteenth year, and Frank died in his twenty-eighth year. Mrs. Valentine departed this life in 1861, leaving many warm friends to mourn their loss, to whom she was endeared by reason of her many excellent qualities and virtues.
Mr. Valentine was married to his present wife in 1872, and to them one child, Maude, now deceased, has been born. Mrs. Valentine's maiden name was Jane Jump. She is a thoroughly good woman and is devoted to the interests of her household. Her parents were Elijah and Charity Jump.
Mr. Valentine has been a resident of Sturgis for thirty-five years, and he has had an important influence in directing its civic life, and has held some of its most responsible offices, for which he is well qualified by education and a natural capacity for affairs. He was City Marshal for three years; Township Treasurer for one year, and a member of the City Council for one years, besides having served on the School Board. He holds an important position in the business circles of this community, his judgment in regard to business matters being keen and farseeing, and his honesty and rectitude of character undoubted. He is identified with the Masonic fraternity as a member of the Burr Oak Lodge.
ALBERT C. FRENCH
A self-made man in the strictest sense of the work, our subject was early in life thrown upon his own resources, and by his own efforts has made his way up to a good position, socially and financially, among his fellow-citizens. A native of Genesee County, N.Y., he was born April 27, 1829, and was the youngest in a family of five children, three sons and two daughters, the offspring of Olin and Arethusa (Palmer) French, who were born in Windsor County, Vt., where they were also reared and married.
The French family after coming to the United States settled in New England, where they became widely and favorable known as well-to-do and influential citizens. The parents of our subject upon leaving the Green Mountain State crossed the St. Lawrence River, and took up their abode in the township of Hull, Lower Canada, adjacent to the city of Ottawa. Thence a few years later they returned to the States, and settled in Genesee County, N.Y. Late they removed to Erie County, and from there, in 1847, to Branch County, this State, locating in Union City, where they spent the remainder of their lives. The father, however, only lived until 1854, passing away in the midst of his usefulness. The mother survived her husband a period of fifteen years, passing away in 1869.
The subject of this sketch remained a member of the parental household until a youth of eighteen years, and accompanied his parents to Michigan. Soon afterward he commenced the struggle of life on his own account. At the age of twenty-three he commenced the study of medicine in Union City, under the instruction of the late Dr. William Church, with whom he remained one year. In the fall of 1852 he entered the office of the late Dr. J. M. Chase, remaining with him a year also, then going to Rockford, Winnebago Co., Ill., spent one summer in the office of Dr. Waite, one of its most eminent and successful physicians.
During the winter of 1854-55 Mr. French attended lectures at Rush Medical College, Chicago. The spring following he returned to Mottville. About that time occurred the death of Dr. Chase by accident, and our subject for a time succeeded to his practice. He finally drifted out of the medical profession, and turning his attention to mercantile business, was employed as clerk in a general merchandise store at Mottville. We find him next established in a book store at Constantine, of which he had the general supervision, and was thus occupied one years. He then formed a partnership with Joseph R. Bonebright, and under the firm name of Bonebright & French they conducted the mercantile business one year together, and at the expiration of this time Thomas Mitchell was added to the firm. The admission of Mr. Mitchell brought to them additional business, and there was organized in addition the firm of T. Mitchell & Co., as operators of the hardware business, while the general merchandise branch was conducted under the old firm name. The mercantile career of Mr. French embraces about four years, and upon the dissolution of the partnerships his time from 1861 to 1864 was spent largely in closing up the business of the two firms.
In 1864 Mr. French turned his attention to the lumber trade, and for two years thereafter was in partnership with the late Isaac Benham. In 1866 he again formed a partnership with his old friend, Mr. Bonebright, and they operated together until 1884. In 1884 Thomas Mitchell was admitted as a partner in the lumber business, but in 1886 he withdrew, and Mr. French now operated the business alone.
Mr. French several years ago wisely invested a portion of his capital in land, and is now the owner of a fine farm of 120 acres in Lockport Township, which is conducted by a tenant. In 1861 he put up the first brick residence in Constantine, a handsome, roomy structure, which not only makes a very desirable home, but is an ornament to the town. It is built in the midst of handsome grounds, and there are about it all the indications of taste and culture for which the proprietor is noted.
The marriage of Albert C. French and Miss Esther R. Benham took place at the home of the bride in Constantine Village, April 17, 1758. This lady is the eldest daughter of the late Isaac and Chloe (Case) Benham. Mrs. French was born in Constantine, Aug. 28, 1836, and is a lady greatly esteemed in her community, possessing more than ordinary intelligence and accomplishments.
There are few men in St. Joseph County whose record has been more creditable or praiseworhty than that of Mr. French. As a business man he has been active and enterprising, prompt to meet his obligations, and of the highest integrity. None have taken a warmer interest in the growth and development of St. Joseph County, and to the various enterprises tending to this end he has given his uniform encouragement and support. He has been honored with many positions of trust and responsibility, officiating as County Recorder and as a member of the Common Council, and occupying the minor offices. Socially, he belongs to Constantine Chapter No. 61, R.A.M., in which he has filled all the offices, and for a period of five years was the Master of Siloam Lodge No. 35, F. & A.M. He also belongs to the Three Rivers Commandery No. 29, K.T. He is one of the most conscientious supporters of Democratic principles. A man of decided views, he keeps himself well posted upon matters of general interest, and is essentially one of those who form the bone and sinew of a well-regulated community.
HENRY E. ROOT
Henry E. Root, a wealthy resident of Constantine Village, where he is living in retirement, is well known throughout Southern Michigan, not only as one of St. Joseph County's most honored citizens, but as a fine representative of the noble pioneers who have played such an active part in her development. Coming here in all the strength and pride of early manhood, he has not only witnessed the gradual giving way before the ax of the pioneer of the grand old primeval forest that for centuries had covered so much of this region, and seen large towns and busy villages take the place of the humble log cabin of the white settlers, or the wigwam of the red man., but he has been an important factor in bringing about this change, making St. Joseph and adjoining counties a fruitful and prosperous farming country, where commerce and manufactures also flourish. To the energy, foresight and enterprise of such men as our subject, St. Joseph County is indeed greatly indebted for its material prosperity and high standing. Mr. Root experienced all the privations and hardships incidental to pioneer life; but difficulties fast disappeared before his indomitable will and steadfast purpose to make life a success, and old age drawing nigh finds him well fortified against material misfortune.
Our subject is a worthy descendant of a fine old Massachusetts family on his father's side, and of sober Connecticut ancestry on his mother's, and in the ancient town of Pittsfield, in the former State, he first opened his eyes to this world Dec. 5, 1813. He is a grandson of that gallant Colonel, Oliver Root, famous in the military annals of the colonial history of Massachusetts, who born so honorable a part in both the French and Indian Wars, and in the Revolution. The Colonel was a son of Samuel Root, and losing his father when he quite young, at the age of eight years was bound out to Mr. King, of Westfield, Mass., to learn the trade of a shoemaker. When he was a lad of nearly eighteen years his bold and ardent spirit led him to enlist in the second French war that was then waging. He had an eventful experience in his army life, as is recorded in the "Root Genealogical Records." Arriving at the seat of war the sturdy youth was assigned to the famous corps of rangers organized by Maj. Robert Rogers, which had among its officers those men of immortal fame, Gen. John Start, Israel Putnam, and others of like character, who altogether made one of the most splendid military companies known in history. When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Colonel, then in the prime and vigor of a stalwart, athletic manhood, immediately offered his serviced to the Continental Army, and they were gladly accepted, and he served with distinction among the many noted Colonial officers. He was present at the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, in October, 1777. He was Major of his company under Col. Brown when that officer fell at Stone Arabis, in the Valley of the Mohawk, and succeeded to the command. He was a man of fine physique, six feet and one inch in heights, of a robust constitution, and was never sick in his life until five days before his death. With rare disinterestedness he refused to apply for a pension, to which he was justly entitled for the valor and patriotism that he had displayed in his country's defense while an officer of the Continental Army, on the ground that the act of Congress could only have been intended for the benefit of those veterans who had no other means of support, while he was well off. The old warrior is not peacefully sleeping his last sleep under the sod of the old State he loved so well, and on his tombstone is inscribed: "He fought the enemies of his country in two wars, and his only enemies were the enemies of his country."
His son Henry, the father of our subject, was born in Pittsfield, Mass., Oct. 21, 1783. He was married to Thankful Johnson in 1810. She was born in Haddam, Conn., Oct. 16, 1785. They located in Pittsfield, where he was actively engaged in farming for many years, and there his venerable life was brought to a close May 3, 1863, at the age of nearly ninety years. His wife survived him two years, dying Nov. 30, 1865. During their pleasant wedded life of over fifty years nine children were born to them, of whom our subject was the third in order of birth and is now the only survivor.
Our subject passed his early life in Pittsfield on the old homestead where he was born until he was sixteen years old, when he was apprenticed to learn the tailor's trade. He served nearly five years, and then went to Hartford, Conn., where he worked as a journeyman for two years. In 1835 he went to Medina, Medina Co., Ohio, and stopped there until the spring of 1836. Then, in company with William G. Bagg, he walked through the forests and swamps of the intervening country to Constantine, arriving here some time in April. He at once began to work at his trade, and continued at it until the spring of 1838. When he first came here he entered 200 acres of land in Constantine and eighty acres in Cass County, and in the spring of 1838 began to make improvements, and in the following Spring settled on his land in Constantine. He continued to live there, and actively engaged in the development of a farm until about 1852, when he returned to the village where he has lived since, with the exception of one season on his farm. For six years he was engaged in the butchering business here, but in the spring of 1858 he bought the hotel then known as the Wells House, but now called the Romaine House, and for twenty-two years was successfully engaged in its management. In his capacity as "mine hose" he was a great favorite with the traveling public, as he was ever frank, genial and obliging in his manners, and his wife, with her cheerful, motherly presence, added to the popularity of their hotel, and vied with him in making their guests comfortable. Mr. Root leased his hotel in 1880, and has since lived in retirement, although he still looks after his farm and other property. Besides the Romaine House he owns 436 acres of very valuable land, all in Constantine Township. In all his career as a business man Mr. Root has displayed unusual tact, foresight and ability, and all his transactions have been conducted with fairness and generosity. He, of course, takes a keen interest in the affairs of the county and township, with which he has been identified for so many years, now numbering over half a century, and in whose upbuilding he has borne an honorable part, and does all that he can to promote the various schemes for their advancement. Politically, he stands by the Democratic party as one of its staunchest adherents. More than fifty years ago our subject was united in marriage in Constantine to Miss Lucinda Beckwith, April 14, 1837, being the date of their wedding. Mrs. Root was born in Saybrook, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, Jan. 10, 1816, and was the sixth child in the family of ten children of the late Levi and Lucinda (Starkweather) Beckwith, who were born respectively in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1777, and in Connecticut in 1782. Her parents first settled in Vermont, and then removed to Ashtabula County, of which they were early pioneers. They subsequently settled in the township of Saybrook, that county, where Mr. Beckwith bought a farm, whereon he and his family lived until August, 1828, when they came to St. Joseph County, this State, arriving at a point on the White Pigeon Prairie, Aug. 6, 1828, and there they settled near the wilderness, they being the fifth family to locate on that prairie, and Mr. Beckwith sowed the first wheat that was ever sown on the prairie, on the farm which is now owned by Rodney Beckwith. They settled in the southern part of Constantine Township, where they continued to live until death called them hence, the father dying in September, 1839, and the mother Aug. 10, 1846. The paternal grandparents of Mrs. Root lived to an advanced age. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Root has been blessed to them by the birth of a family of five children: Henry L.,; Charles O. and Mary L., deceased; Clarissa A. and Aaron C. Clarissa is the wife of Dr. William E. Jewett, of Adrian, Mich. Aaron, who is a farmer in Constantine Township, married Anna McGill, and they have one child, Henry E., Jr. Henry L., the eldest, is unmarried and lives with his parents, helping his father in the care of his business interests. He was a soldier in Company A, 49th Massachusetts Infantry (Col. Bartlett and Cap. I.C. Weller), was severely wounded in front of Port Hudson, La., and will carry its effects to his grave. He was serving in the store of his uncle at the breaking out of the Rebellion, and was one of the noted "Allen Guards" of Pittsfield, Mass., who enlisted in a body and did gallant service on many a hard-fought field.
DR. JAMES W. BECK
Dr. James W. Beck, dental surgeon, of Sturgis, is as capable, talented and polar a member of his profession, and as true-hearted and esteemed a citizen as can be found in St. Joseph County. He was born in Toledo, Ohio, Dec. 16, 1848, His father, John J. Beck, was of English birth, the place of his nativity being London, England. About 1830, when quite young, he came with his parents to the United States, and settled near Somerset, Ohio. He afterward went to Cincinnati, and was for many years employed as bookkeeper for an auction commission firm. He thence removed to Toledo, and in 1854 to Hudson, Mich., where he lived until 1865, when he came with his family to Sturgis. He was a man of sterling worth, universally respected for his integrity and upright business transactions, and was for twenty-one years cashier of the Sturgis National Bank. His wife, whom he married while residing in Toledo, died in May, 1886, and he, resigning his position in the bank, went with his daughter to San Francisco, dying there in June, 1888.
Our subject passed his early life in Toledo, and after coming to Michigan completed the regular course of study at the High School at Hudson. In 1870 he established himself as a dentist in Monroe, this State, where he met with much success, continuing there four years. In 1874 Dr. Beck opened an office in Sturgis, and has here built up an extensive and lucrative practice, his competency in all branches of his vocation having won him a large patronage, customers who have once had the benefit of his skill and experience being sure to call upon him for any further needed dental work.
Dr. Beck was united in marriage, Nov. 7, 1883, To Miss Mima, daughter of Thomas Naylor, of Middlebury, Ind. Of their union one child has been born, a bright and interesting little daughter named Ethel.
Our subject takes an active interest in the growth and prosperity of this community, aiding all schemes for its improvement, and has served faithfully as Village Clerk three terms, as Township Clerk one term and has been School Inspector two years. Both Dr. and Mrs. Beck are valued members of society, and have the good wishes of a host of friends and acquaintances.
HON. JONATHAN G. WAIT
Hon. Jonathan G. Wait, a prominent resident of the city of Sturgis, came to this region during its Territorial days, in 1834. He was then a young man twenty-three years of age, having been born in Livingston County, N.Y., Nov. 22, 1811. Nature endowed him with fine capacities and a resolute will, and from the foot of the ladder in life he has risen to an enviable position among his fellowmen.
Josiah and Ann (Graham) Wait, the parents of our subject, were both natives of the town of Amstead, N.H., whence they removed after their marriage to the vicinity of Ovid, in Livingston County, N.Y. Later they changed their residence to Perry, Lake Co., Ohio, where they lived a number of years, and then removed to LaPorte County, Ind.
The patronymic of our subject has been spelled in several different fashions, namely: Waite, Wayte, Wayght, Waight, Wait, Waitt, Watt, Weight and Waiet. It has been traced back as far as 1075, to William the Conqueror, who gave the earldom, city and castle of Norway to Ralph D. Waiet, who was the son of an Englishman by a Welsh woman, and who married Emma, a cousin of the Conqueror. Among their descendants were Richard, John and Thomas, who were among the earliest settlers of New England. Thomas was the father of Josiah and the grandfather of our subject, Jonathan G. Wait. Reared upon the farm and educated in the common schools, our subject at the age of seventeen, being a bright and ambitious youth, commenced teaching in the district school, which occupation he followed at intervals for several years. After a brief sojourn upon his first visit to this State he went back to Ohio, but returned the following year and located on Sturgis prairie, where he commenced to till the soil and build up a homestead. He has since occupied the land which he secured, and has village property where he erected four houses the first year, and about 100 since, owning twelve business houses in Sturgis at this time. He soon began the manufacture of boots and shoes, and at the same time carried on a cabinet and chair manufactory, giving employment to ten or fifteen hands. This was before the days of machinery, and this business was conducted a period of fifteen years. Subsequently Mr. Wait became interested in the manufacture of lumber, and in 1850 was in the employ of the Michigan Southern Railroad Company, not only in procuring the right of way for the projected road, but taking heavy contracts in the building of fences and depots.
The enterprise and energy of Mr. Wait obtained due recognition by the people of this county, and in the fall of 1850 he was chosen by the Whigs as their representative in the General Assembly. Heserved during the administration of Gov. Barry, at which time occurred the great contest between the Michigan Central & Michigan Southern Railroads, the latter coming out victorious. In 1857 Mr. Wait helped to organize the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company, being elected a Director thereof, a position which he has held to the present time. During that year he superintended the grading and bridging of twelve miles of this road. In 1860 he was elected to the State Senate, serving satisfactorily, and re-elected two successive terms, during which time he had charge of many important matters, including the bills for the extension of the time for constructing the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway. This was then considered a very important project, especially to the people of Sherman, Burr Oak, Fawn River and Sturgis Township. Previous to this Mr. Wait had served as Township Clerk, Supervisor, and Justice of the Peace many years. In fact his whole life has been largely devoted to public duties, in the discharge of which he had acquitted himself in a conscientious and praiseworthy manner.
Mr. Wait when nearly twenty-eight years of age was wedded, Oct. 20, 1839, to Miss Susan S., daughter of George and Mary (Hershey) Buck. This lady was born in Erie County, N.Y., Jan. 8, 1821. Her parents, natives of Erie County, Pa., emigrated to Michigan during the days of its earliest settlement, in 1828. The father was a farmer by occupation, and built up a good homestead from the wilderness of Sturgis Township, this county. Their family consisted of seven children, three of whom are living.
To our subject and his estimable wife there have been born the following children: William H.H., April 25, 1842; Daniel G., March 24, 1844; George, June 18, 1846; Mary E., Sept 28, 1847; Thaddeus P., Dec. 28, 1849; Arthur H., April 2, 1851; Jay G., Aug. 1, 1854; Jessie, Oct. 14, 1856; Frank W., Dec. 22, 1858; Lee E., July 22, 1861, and Henry. Thaddeus adopted the profession of aw, entering upon the practice of his profession at Sturgis; he died in California.
Mr. Wait was reared in the doctrines of the Baptist Church. Politically, he votes the straight Republican ticket, and energetically supports the principles of his party. He established the Sturgis Journal in 1860, and continued to run the same until 1875. Mr. Wait is, and has been for a number of years, very extensively engaged in the mercantile business, and kept four peddling wagons on the road for several years.
JOHN M. HUFFMAN
John M. Huffman has been a resident of St. Joseph County for forty years, and until his retirement from the active cares of life to his present home on section 23, just outside the corporate limits of the village of Constantine, was connected with its agricultural interests. He was a practical, skillful farmer, and worked his farm in Park Township to such good advantage that he gained a comfortable competence, and can now pass his remaining years without the necessity of hard labor.
Our subject comes of good Pennsylvania stock. His parents, Samuel and Polly (Jones) Huffman, were both natives of the Keystone State, and there spent their whole lives, dying in Clarion County. The father was a substantial farmer, and he and his wife were held in general esteem by those who knew them for their many solid virtues. They had a family of nine children, of whom our subject was the fourth in order of birth.
Mr. Huffman was born June 22, 1824, in Clarion County, Pa., and there on the old homestead grew to sturdy manhood. He was reared to the life of a farmer, and remained an inmate of the parental home, affording his father active assistance in the management of his agricultural affairs until 1849. He was then twenty-five years old, and had obtained a good start in life, so he determined to try farming in Michigan, and build up a home here. With that end in view he came to St. Joseph County, and settled in Fabius Township. A few years later he removed to Park Township, of which he remained a resident for twenty-eight years. He became the possessor of a farm there, comprising eighty acres of as fertile and productive land as is to be found in the limits of the county. This, by careful cultivation and constantly added improvements, he greatly increased in value, and it was classed among the fine farms of the township, and when he desired to retire from active labor he no difficulty in disposing of it at a good price. In May, 1885, he sold all of his property in Park Township and came to this village, where he owns a small place, to spend his declining years in retirement.
Mr. Huffman has been three times married. His first marriage, which took place in Clarion County, Pa., was to Lucinda Briggs. By her he had two children; Margaret, who is the wife of Emanuel Strome, and Dorsey, who is a resident of Muskegon. Mrs. Huffman's wedded life was of brief duration, as she died while yet young, in Fabius Township, April 19, 1854. The second marriage of our subject was to Elizabeth Miller, and the following is the record of the four children born to them: Effie is the wife of Emanuel Eichholtz; Samuel died when about two and one-half years old; Ada lives at home with her father, and Charles died in infancy. Mr. Huffman's second wife died in Park Township, June 9, 1877, and he was again married, June 21, 1878, being then united to Mrs. Louisa Richmond, his present wife. She was born in Tioga County, N.Y., March 16, 1830. She has also been three times married. Her first husband was Josiah N. Fisher, who died in Ligonier, Ind. By that marriage she had five children, as follows: Eliza O., who is the wife of Lewis H. Bossett; Frank lives in Three Rivers; Albert lives in Denver, Col.; Fred lives in Lansing, Mich., and Alva J. lives in Chicago, Ill. Mrs. Huffman's second marriage was to John Richmond, who died in Ohio. One daughter was born of that marriage, Minnie R., who is the wife of Thomas J. Keene. Mrs. Huffman is a devoted member of the Baptist Church, and her daily life is guided by the highest Christian principles. Mrs Huffman's maiden name was Louisa Tracy, and she is the daughter of Erastus and Eliza (Arnold) Tracy, natives respectively of Massachusetts and Unadilla, N.Y. After marriage her parents settled in Tioga County, N.Y., and thence subsequently came to St. Joseph County, this State. They settled in Constantine, where he died in June, 1884. Mrs. Huffman's mother still survives, at an advanced age. They were among the earliest settlers of this county. They had nine children, of whom Mrs. Huffman was the second, as follows: James, Louisa, Romelia, Mary, Martha; Levi and Lavina, twins; Walter B. and John.
Mr. Huffman, although not among the early settlers of St. Joseph County, has some claim to be classed among its pioneers, as in improving his farm he did his share in developing and strengthening the great agricultural interests of this part of Southern Michigan. He stands high among his neighbors as a man of truthful, honest, kindly nature, and one on whom they can rely for friendly aid or wise counsel. In his political sentiments he is a sound Republican, giving staunch support to his party.
JOSEPH B. CATTON
Joseph B. Catton, a retired farmer living pleasantly and comfortable in Constantine Village, has been a witness of almost the entire growth of St. Joseph County, from the primeval, forest covered land of more than half a century ago to its present advanced state as a wealthy agricultural region, where commerce and manufactures also flourish, as in 1833, when he was nine years of age, his parents, John and Mary (Barnard) Catton, came to this county and east in their lot with the earliest pioneers of Southern Michigan, and with the exception of a few years he has been a resident here ever since. He was for a long time subsequent to attaining manhood actively identified with the agricultural interests of the county, and still owns a valuable farm of 200 acres in Constantine Township. He has therefore been a factor in developing the county, and as such we are glad to represent him in this biographical work, where the record of so many of St. Joseph County's pioneers and leading men is preserved for the edification of the present and coming generations.
The parents of our subject were natives of Yorkshire, England, and there grew to maturity and married. In 1832, determining to avail themselves of the numerous advantages that the United States of American presented over the mother county, they emigrated with their family of five sons and three daughters to these hospitable shores, and for awhile lived in the State of New York. The following year they came to St. Joseph County and settled in White Pigeon Township, of which they thus early became pioneers. They lived there for many years, and patiently endured the discomforts and even hardships of life in a newly settled country. They afterward spent seven years in Indiana, but returned to this State and settled once more in St. Joseph County, and finally passed to the home beyond the grave from their earthly home in Constantine Township.
He of whom we write was the youngest child of those worthy people, and is now the only surviving member of the family. He was born in Yorkshire, England, Aug. 12, 1824, and was quite young when he accompanied his parents across the Atlantic to make his home in the future on this continent, and as time passed on to become a respected citizen of one of the great commonwealths forming the United States. He lived with his parents until their death, including seven years' residence in Indiana. In 1852 he was smitten with the eager thirst for gold that sent so many of our countrymen and the people of other nationalities flocking across the great plains and over the Rocky Mountains to California, to seek for the precious metal. Two years he spent mining in that State, and his hard toil met with due reward, and at the end of that time he returned to St. Joseph County, well satisfied with his gains, to settle down in life. He turned his attention to farming in Constantine Township, and was so successful in his venture that in November, 1886, he retired to his present home, to enjoy the present competence that he had won by honest and untiring industry, and now lives very quietly, surrounded by all the comforts that heart could wish.
Mr. Catton was married in Mottville township, Jan. 1, 1855, to Mrs. Elmira Shellenberger, daughter of Tobias and Catherine Hassenger. Her parents came to St. Joseph County in 1846, and settled in the western part of Constantine Township, where the father died Jan. 8, 1874, when he was within three weeks of being sixty-two years of age. She died on the 11th of December, 1888, lacking but a few weeks of completing her eighty-first years. Both were natives of Allegheny County, Pa., and both when young emigrated to Richland County, Ohio, where they were married. They removed to Wood County, Ohio, and later to St. Joseph County, Mich., settling upon a farm in the western part of Constantine Township, in which place they lived until the death of the father, after which the mother removed to the residence of her youngest daughter in Constantine Township, where her death occurred. Mr. and Mrs. Hassenger were the parents of eleven children, three daughters and eight sons, and Mrs. Catton was their third child in order of birth. She was born in Richland County, Ohio, Aug. 7, 1832.
Mr. and Mrs. Catton have had four children, of whom the following is recorded: Mary E., is the wife of Morris Hayman; George F. is married to Lutie, daughter of William and Ruth Simmons, has two children, and lives on his father's farm in Constantine Township; Willie died in infancy, and Henry B. is a teacher in Constantine Township.
Mr. Catton is in every sense of the phrase a good man. He has been industrious and thrifty, and always dealing fairly and squarely with his fellowmen, deserves that prosperity should smile on him. In his wife Mr. Catton secured a true helpmate, one who is a judicious and capable manager, who has actively co-operated with him in his work, and has never neglected the comfort of her household. She and her husband are true Christians and are esteemed members of the Reformed Church, of which he is an Elder. They are very pleasant, amiable people, whom to know is to like. Mr. Catton interests himself in the political affairs of the Nation, and warmly espouses the cause of the Democratic party.
In reviewing the career of this gentleman, we must admit that the lines have apparently fallen to him in pleasant places. Of a temperament genial, pleasant and companionable, he is a man who at once secures the confidence and esteem of those good fortune it is to make his acquaintance. He is a universal favorite in the social and business circles of Constantine, and occupies a well-appointed home on section 11. He has a comfortable dwelling, a particularly good barn, and the other outbuildings necessary for the modern agriculturist, and has gathered around him all of the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. Generous and public-spirited, he has not thought alone of his own interests, but as he has had opportunity has uniformly labored for the best interests of his community. The example of such a man is everywhere felt, and is untold in its result.
The Gentzler family came originally from Wurtemberg, Germany. The first emigrant came here with his wife prior to the Revolution. He was, we believe, named Conrad, and was the great-grandfather of our subject. He enlisted in the Continental Army, and served seven years, or during the entire struggle for independence. On receiving his discharge, and being about to set out for his home, he was shot and instantly killed, by mistake of a sentinel. He left a wife and three sons at his home in York County, Pa. His widow again married, and lived to an extreme old age, being past ninety at the time of her death. Of the sons, Philip lived and died in York County, Pa; he lived to be ninety-four years old, and was father to fourteen children. Conrad removed to McConnellsville, Pa., where he owned a hotel. He is supposed to have taken part in Shay's rebellion, as about that time he disappeared, and his property was never claimed.
George Gentzler, grandfather of Adam, was the youngest son. He was born shortly after his father entered the patriot army, probably in the latter part of 1776 or 1777, in York County, Pa. He worked at shoemaking, but after his marriage because a farmer, settling in Washington Township, in his native county. He was successful in his chosen vocation, and accumulated considerable property. He died of cancer, in his sixty-fifth year. His wife was Margaret Law, also a native of York County. She survived her husband many years, emigrating to Michigan with her son Jacob, and dying at White Pigeon in 1857, aged eighty-four. Jacob was the only child of George and Margaret Gentzler, and was born in Washington Township, York Co., Pa., Dec. 16, 1798. He was married to Elizabeth Speck, Oct. 14, 1819. She was born in Lancaster County, Pa., Jan. 14, 1800. After a few years' sojourn in their native State, they gathered together their personal effects and made their way to the young and growing State of Michigan. Coming to this county in 1849, the father first settled on a tract of land in White Pigeon Township, but later they removed to Florence Township, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Jacob Gentzler looked his last upon the scenes of earth at the old homestead, May 16, 1871. The mother survived her husband twelve years, dying June 20, 1883.
To the parents of our subject there were born eleven children, as follows: Margaret was twice married, first to Peter Stickle, of York County, Pa., and after his death to John Alvey, of Florence Township, this county; George died at his farm in Park Township; Martin was accidently scalded to death in childhood; John was killed at the age of sixteen, by the kick of a colt; Elizabeth died in Kansas, where she had removed with her husband, Richard Stokes. The survivors of the family are: Catherine, widow of Leonard Kapp, of Fabius Township; Adam was next; William, unmarried, is a resident of Nottawa Township; Mary Ann is the wife of Solomon Chronister, of Florence Township; of Jacob a sketch is given elsewhere; Sarah A. lives in Nottawa Township and is the wife of Henry Limbach, formerly Treasurer of St. Joseph County. Adam Gentzler, our subject, was born in Washington Township, York Co., Pa., July 12, 1827. His childhood and youth were spent amid the quiet pursuits of farm life, but when approaching manhood, like many of that age, desirous of a change, engaged in a woolen-mill for a period of four years. Aside from this he has been engaged in farming all his life. He remained a resident of his native county until coming to Michigan in April, 1853, joining his parents after they had resided here a period of four years. He had then been married, and now took up a tract of land in Park Township, upon which he operated twelve years, then removed to Constantine Township, of which he has since been a resident.
Mr. Gentzler was married in Carroll Township, York Co., Pa., July 12, 1849, to Miss Lydia A. Lehmer, who was born there Feb. 19, 1828. Mrs. Gentzler is the daughter of John and Susannah (Fickes) Lehmer, who were native of York county, Pa., and spent their last days in this county, both dying in Constantine. This lady became the mother of five children, and departed this life at the homestead in Constantine Township, Aug. 18, 1885. Their eldest son, Jacob L., is farming on his own land not far from the homestead; Susan died in infancy; John R. is a resident of Florence Township; Elizabeth N. married George W. Hamilton, of Constantine; Mary E. became the wife of B. H. Sevison, and died at her home in Florence Township, in August, 1880.
Our subject has been a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church a period of forty-five years, his parents and grandparents having also long been members of the same church. Of this church his estimable wife was also an adherent for many years before her death. She was a good woman in the broadest sense of the term, benevolent and charitable, and was connected with the Ladies' Aid Society. Mr. Gentzler attained his majority in his native State, and cast his first Presidential vote for Lewis Cass. He has ever since been a staunch supporter of the Democratic party. While a resident of Park Township he was a member of the School Board, and held the offices of Justice of the Peace and Highway Commissioner. He is of a retiring disposition, however, in nowise anxious for the responsibilities of public life, preferring to give his attention to his farm and his fireside. Of late years he has turned his attention largely to stock-raising, also buyinng and shipping. His farm embraces 193 acres of good land, which has been brought to a thorough state of cultivation, and is valued at a good round sum.
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