Page 340-341

John R. GENTZLER occupies a prominent place among the young farmers of Florence Township, and his farm on section 31 is classed as one of the most valuable in this locality. He is a son of Adam and Lydia A. (LEHMER) GENTZLER, natives of Pennsylvania; his father was born in 1827 and his mother in 1828. In 1854 Mr. GENTZLER settled up his affairs in Pennsylvania, having resolved to make his residence for the future in the State of Michigan, and in due time he located in St. Joseph County, where he soon became identified with its growing agricultural interests, purchasing land in Park Township, which he improved into a good farm. Although he was not among the first settlers of the township, he found that it had not advanced very far from the primitive condition of its early days, and well did he perform his part in the pioneer labors of clearing the land and developing its rich agricultural resources. He is, politically, a Democrat, and is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and now resides in St. Joseph County. The good mother of our subject died Aug. 18, 1885, having rounded out a useful and busy life of fifty-seven years. She was also a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. To her and her husband were born five children, two sons and three daughters.

John R. GENTZLER, of this biographical sketch, was the third child of these worthy people, and was born in Pennsylvania, April 19, 1853. Consequently he was scarcely a year old when his parents came to St. Joseph County to live, and his boyhood days were passed at his father's homestead in Park Township. His education was conducted in the schools of Constantine, where he stood well in scholarship. After leaving school he entered upon his life work as a farmer, and for seven years managed his father's with gratifying success. At the expiration of that time he purchased his present farm in Florence Township, and has since labored assiduously to bring about its present high state of improvements. It comprises 160 acres of as fine farming land as is to be found in St. Joseph County, is supplied with a good set of buildings, and everything about the place denotes thrift and careful management on the part of the owner. He is a skillful and practical farmer, employing the best and most approved methods both in cultivating his land ad in raising stock, to which he also pays much attention.

Mr. GENTZLER has the hearty co-operation of a good wife in his work, and to her encouragement and assistance he gratefully acknowledges that he is much indebted for his success in life. They were married at Constantine, Dec. 14, 1876, Mrs. GENTZLER was formerly Miss Catherine MILLER, daughter of George and Susanna (WALTERS) MILLER, natives respectively of Virginia and Ohio. She was herself born in Ohio, Nov. 24, 1859, and of her union with our subject three sons have been born, namely: Fred W., born Sept. 13, 1881; Charles R., Nov. 17, 1883; Clare A., Sept. 19, 1887.

Mr. and Mrs. GENTZLER have a pleasant home, and they often extend its charming hospitalities to their numerous friends. They are active members of the Lutheran Church at Constantine, and their daily lives indicate that they are guided by the highest principles of conduct. Mr. GENTZLER exerts a good influence in the community, as he is liberal and public spirited, and cheerfully does all that he can to advance the various schemes for the improvement of the township. Politically, he is an ardent Democrat.

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Page 341

Hon. William MORRIS, of Burr Oak Township, is the son of William P. and Nellie MORRIS, and was born in the county of Surrey, England, on the 24th of September, 1804. He was brought up on a farm. He was educated in the High Schools, has a good English education, and is a clear, intelligent student of the various questions that are before the people from time to time.

In 1823 the parents of our subject, with their six children, came to America and located in New York City. Of these six children only two are now living, viz., our subject and his sister Elizabeth, who is a maiden lady and resides at Oakland, Md. By occupation Mr. MORRIS, Jr., is a farmer. This he followed upon coming to the New World. They lived on Sturgis Prairie until the spring of 1852, and from there they removed to Burr Oak and settled upon the present farm. Various positions of public trust and honor have been filled by Mr. MORRIS since he came to St. Joseph County. He was elected Justice of the Peace in 1842 and continued in the office several years. He was Postmaster at Sturgis from 1845 to 1857, and in 1847 was chosen by the Democratic party to represent his district in the State Legislature. After coming to Burr Oak he served for fur years as Justice, and for two terms, viz., 1853 and 1854, he was Supervisor of Burr Oak township.

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Nellie CHAPPELL, who was born in England. There were given to her six children, whose names are recorded as follows: Elizabeth; William, the subject of our sketch; Mary, Anne, Frances and Emily.

Our sketch and Miss Marcia St. John, of Cattaraugus County, N.Y., were married on the 30th of December, 1840. There have been born to them thirteen children, of whom nine are still living, viz.: Ellen, who was born on the 16th October, 1842, who is at home; Albert, born Jan. 24, 1847, and lives in England; Fred, born on the 30th of August, 1839, of Fredericksburg, Tex.; Charles, born June 14, 1853, of Fredericksburg, Tex.; Frances, born Dec. 8, 1855; Elizabeth, born Jan. 17, 1858; George, born June 9, 1860; Gilbert, born Aug. 23, 1863; Clayton, born on the 22nd of March, 1866.

The home of our subject is upon his highly cultivated property of 700 acres situated one and one-half miles west of Burr Oak Village. This he has brought to its splendid condition by his assiduous care and constant effort. He is a man well-to-do, and his home, which is very pleasantly situated, presents in its interior arrangements the true refuge that home is designed to be. Politically, our subject is a Democrat, and it is safe to say there are few, if any, in the large circle of his acquaintances who do not thoroughly esteem him and his family.

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Page 341-342

SV. CORNELL, of Burr Oak, came to this point in 1888. He had previously for a period of three years been engaged as a hotel-keeper in the city of Coldwater. He had also been on the Pacific Slope, at Diamond Springs, forty-five miles from San Francisco, Cal. Our subject was born in Niagara County, N.Y., March 14, 1827, and is the son of Daniel and Anna (SMITH) CORNELL, natives respectively of New York and Canada. They came to Michigan in 1834, settling in Lenawee County, where the father carried on farming two years in Raisin Township. Thence he removed to the vicinity of Coldwater, where he followed agriculture until his death, which occurred March 14, 1872. During his early manhood he had been engaged in mercantile pursuits. The mother passed away one month before the decease of her husband. The parental family included nine children, all of whom lived to mature years, and four are n ow living, residing mostly in Branch County, Mich.

The educational advantages of Mr. CORNELL were extremely meager during his childhood and youth, he not being able to write his name until after reaching his majority. Subsequently he attended school, studying arithmetic and geography and taking lessons in writing until he obtained a good knowledge of the common branches. He had been trained to habits of industry and economy and there had been implanted within him those elements of character which enabled him to enter upon the struggle of life with manly courage and resolution. At the age of twenty-three he considered himself justified in the establishment of a home of his own, and was married, in 1850, to Miss Cordelia BARNES, of Girard Township, Branch County, this State. This lady was born in Michigan, and was the daughter of Chancy and Eliza BARNES, natives of Vermont, the father of blacksmith by trade and also a farmer. Of this union there were born three children, all living. Alfred B. married Miss Mary ROONEY, who was born July 4, 1861; they have one child, Paul D., born Cot. 22, 1882. This son is proprietor of the livery, sale and feed stable in Burr Oak. Za was born in California, married Mr. C.I. MILES, of Coldwater, who is now a merchant of McAllister, Ind. Ter.; Frederick W. is a traveling musician, at present in Illinois. Mrs. Cordelia CORNELL, the mother of these children, departed this life at her home, April 25, 1872.

On the 26th of March, 1873, our subject was married the second time, to Mrs. Kate P. (PARKER) SUTTON, daughter of Hiram and Sallie (CROCKEY) PARKER, who were natives of Canada and New York. The former is still living, but the latter died Aug. 11, 1854. Mrs. CORNELL is a well-educated lady, and taught for a period of ten years in the High School at Burr Oak, and other schools in this vicinity. Her culture and refinement are fully recognized in the social circles of her community, where she is a general favorite.

Mr. CORNELL for a period of thirteen years was connected with the music store of C.J. Whitney, of Detroit, commanding a salary of $110 per month. During his residence in Branch County he officiated as Constable, and is at present Justice of the Peace and member of the Town Board. He takes an active part in political affairs, and is a staunch supporter of Democratic principles. A man of good judgement and sound sense, he commands respect in the social and business circles of his town, numbering among his acquaintances hosts of friends. He identified himself with the Masonic fraternity about 1872, and is a member in good standing of the lodge at Burr Oak. As one of the pioneers of St. Joseph County, he has been permitted to note the wonderful transformation of the wilderness to a civilized community, and during the early days endured in common with the people about him the toils and sacrifices incident to life in a new settlement. He has chopped wood for thirty-one and one-fourth cents a cord, at a time when money was scarce and people were glad to obtain sufficient to keep them in food and clothing. Many times for days together he lived entirely on "Johnny cake," and was thankful to get that. Now, in the enjoyment of a comfortable home and competence, he is receiving but that which is due him as one who has labored faithfully and conscientiously, and built up for himself the record of an honest man and good citizen.

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Page 342-343

Mary (GOODGER) BRAGINTON. The roll which carries the names of the many devoted wives, fond mothers, and true Christian wives, fond mothers, and true Christian women, so widely scattered throughout this broad domain, holds none that casts a brighter light or awakens deeper feelings of respect than that of the lady whose name heads this sketch. She is the widow of William BRAGINTON, who was born in England. She is also a native of England, where in 1828 she and her husband were married. After this event they remained in England for several years, where the husband worked at this trade, which was that of a carpenter. They had heard so much regarding the possibilities of the New World, and the opportunities which it presented, and which could not be realized in their home country, that they determined to try the truth of the reports for themselves.

In pursuance of this resolution, our subject with her husband crossed the ocean, and settled first in Westchester County, N.Y., whence they moved to Philadelphia, Pa., where they resided several years. They then moved to Ohio, making their home near Akron, where they resided for fourteen years, when they migrated to Cass County, Mich., and purchased a farm, and there lived until they moved into the village of Mottville; they lived here until the husband's death, which occurred Feb. 12, 1876, and here our subject still resides.

Mrs. BRAGINTON is the mother of twelve children, eight of whom are living, namely: Mary A., Edward, William B., Rosalie, Martha, Elizabeth, John and Stephen. Mary is the wife of Albert CONWAY, a prosperous machinist; she is the mother of five children, four sons and one daughter, Edwin is married and lives near Crown Point, Ind., where he is engaged in farming; he is the father of three children, two sons and one daughter. William B. lives in Dunklin County, Mo., is married, and the father of three sons and three daughters; Rosalie is the wife of Chester FIELD, a prosperous farmer living in Russell County, Kan., and is the mother of two sons and two daughters; Martha is the wife of George BROWN, and resides in Red Oak, Iowa, and is the mother of two children; Elizabeth was the wife of Emory FIELD; her husband died on Thanksgiving Day, 1884. He was by occupation a commercial traveler. John married Frances KNOX, and they live in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he is in business as a real-estate dealer; he is the father of one daughter. Stephen married Sarah LELAND, and lived in Grand Rapids, where he was engaged in a factory; he is now dead, and left a family of four children. George was a soldier in the Civil War, and was killed in 1864, during the siege of Nashville, Tenn.; he was a valiant soldier, and among the thousands of brave men none were more courageous than he.

Mrs. BRAGINTON is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and endeavors by her daily walk and conversation to bear witness to the mercy and goodness of the Lord. She is in deed and in fact one of those good old mothers in Israel, who have done so much, and have suffered so greatly, that the cause of Christ might flourish. She devotes all her time and labor to the extent of her somewhat limited strength to furthering the cause of religion, and there are none more happy than she when the heart of any erring one finds rest and peace in Jesus. She is well advanced in years, and enjoys the perfect confidence and esteem of everyone with whom she comes in contact. Her life is rounded out with the fulness of the love of God and her fellow creatures, and now, in the evening of her life, she has the blessed consciousness that she has faithfully performed her duty in the Master's vineyard, and is patiently awaiting the messenger that will call her hence to a better and everlasting life.

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Page 343-345

John J. STEARS is a fine representative of the agricultural community of St. Joseph County, as he brings to his labors an intelligent, well-trained mind, and is in every respect a thorough, business-like, systematic, practical farmer, as is clearly shown by the appearance of his farm on section 29, Florence Township, with its broad, carefully tilled acres, its neat, well-appointed buildings, and the fine stock grazing in the fields.

Mr. STEARS is a son of the honored pioneer citizen, Mr. Thomas STEARS, and he is a native of this township, May 9, 1852, being the date of his birth. He spent his boyhood days on his father's farm, and doubtless assisted in its cultivation when not attending the public school, where be obtained the preliminaries of his education. He was a bright apt scholar, and being ambitious to secure a higher education, became a student at Hillsdale College in 1869, spending a year very profitably in the literary department of that excellent institution of learning. In the winter of 1871-72 he took another course in that college, this time in the commercial department. After leaving college Mr. STEARS chose farming as his life vocation, and by the quiet force of persistent efforts, directed by sound discretion and constant devotion to duty, he has met with marked success and always has his farm of 160 acres well improved. He is engaged in mixed farming, and has some finely graded stock, to the raising of which he pays much attention, through not to neglect of his grain fields, where he reaps abundant harvests.

To the lady who presides over his home, and makes it pleasant and attractive to his family and their many friends, Mr. STEARS was united in marriage Feb. 16, 1882. A son and a daughter have blessed their union: Bessie, born Oct. 28, 1883, and Harry, born Aug. 6, 1885. Mrs. STEARS was born in Washington County, Pa., Dec. 18, 1859, and came to Florence Township in 1881. Her maiden name was Emma A. GREENLEE. Mr. STEARS had been previously married, Miss Mattie E. GLAZE, of Northumberland County, Pa., becoming his wife Oct. 24, 1878. After a brief and happy wedded life she passed away at Florence, Feb. 7, 1880.

Mr. STEARS is a man of clear, vigorous intellect and of unimpeachable integrity, and his fine business education well fits him for the civic offices that have been entrusted to him. He has long been connected with the management of the schools of his township, and has been School Inspector for seven years. He is now Township Clerk, which office he has filled to the satisfaction of his fellow citizens for five years.

He and his wife are greatly respected by all who have the pleasure of knowing them, and they are valued members of the Reformed Church at Constantine.

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Page 344-345

William H. ROYS. The agricultural interests of Constantine and vicinity have been admirably represented by the subject of this sketch, who is a scion of stanch New England stock, and came to the West during the early years of his life. The offspring of a good family, he is the son of Lent ROYS, a native of Sheffield, Berkshire Co., Mass., and born in 1775. He was reared to farming pursuits, but upon approaching manhood repaired to the town and learned the trade of a tanner, which he followed in Sheffield a number of years, carrying on the business for himself. In 1830, however, he resumed farming in Sheffield Township. He was married there in 1880 to Miss Mary, daughter of Lewis HOLMES, a native of Plymouth, Mass., and her parents were of old Puritan stock. She removed with her father to Sheffield in her girlhood, and there spent her last years, dying at the age of sixty-seven. Lent ROYS survived his wife a number of years, and passed away at the home of his daughter, Eliza ANGEVINE, in Dutchess County, N.Y., at the age of ninety-four years.

The parental family of our subject consisted of twelve children, seven sons and five daughters, all of whom lived until upward of thirty-six years- a remarkable circumstance. Of this large family only three are now living: Norman, of Florence, this county; William H., our subject, and Eliza ANGEVINE. William H. was born in Sheffield, Berkshire Co., Mass., July 12, 1823, and spent his boyhood and youth at the old homestead, becoming familiar with the various employments of farm life. In 1844, at the age of twenty-one years, he started out for himself, and was employed as a farm laborer by the month for six years following. In 1849 he crossed the plains to California and engaged in mining in Tuolumne County until 1853. In the fall of that year he returned eastward as far as this county on a visit to his brother, Norman, with whom he remained until the spring following.

Mr. ROYS being pleased with the outlook in this section of country, concluded to make it his future abiding-place, and accordingly purchased of his brother Norman 175 acres of land on section 18, in Florence Township. He gave his entire attention to this for a number of years thereafter, bringing the soil to a good state of cultivation, and erecting modern and substantial building. Later he added to his landed estate until he was the owner of 262 acres. He has now one of the best regulated farms in this region, and is considered a man well-to-do, capable and efficient in the transaction of business, and a skillful agriculturist.

On the 4th of October, 1854, Mr. ROYS was married at Lyons, Wayne Co., N.Y., to Miss Eliza, daughter of Harvey and Angeline (ROYS) GEER. Mr. GEER was born in Connecticut, March 16, 1802, and is still living, making his home with his son-in-law, our subject. The mother was a native of Sheffield, Mass.; she was born in 1806, and died at the home of her daughter Eliza, at the age of seventy-four. Their family consisted of ten children, eight of whom are living: Levi R. is at Grand Island, Cal.; Henry resides at Upper Lake, Cal.; Everard resides in Grundy Centre, Iowa; Albert, at Union City, Harvey resides in Berry County, Mich.; Selesta FOLLETT resides in this State, and Ella J. DIMICK in Florida.

Mr. ROYS shortly after his marriage brought his bride to his new home in the West, and they have since resided in Florence Township. The household circle was completed by the birth of three children, all of whom are living. Clara the oldest was born in 1855, and is the wife of Henry C. DRAKE, who is carrying on farming and gardening in the vicinity of Constantine; Mable was born March 1, 1861, and continues at home with her parents; Emma was born April 16, 1871, and is also at home. Mrs. DRAKE took kindly to her books in her girlhood days, and was graduated from the graded school at Constantine. The paternal great-grandfather of Mrs. ROYS was a soldier of the Revolutionary War, and spent his last years near Lyons, N.Y.

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Page 345-346

John C. KINNE. The form of this highly esteemed resident of Leonidas Township has been a familiar figure among the people of St. Joseph County for a period of over fifty years. He first trod the soil of Michigan soon after it was transformed from a Territory into a State, and is thus entitled to be ranked among its early pioneers. He has been steadfastly loyal to the section of country adopted at that time as his home, having here spent the best years of his life, beginning his labors upon the soil of this region when a youth of seventeen years. Since that time he has remained continuously identified with the best interests of St. Joseph County. Life began with John C. KINNE at the modest homestead of his parents near the little town of Naples, in Ontario County, N.Y., Jan. 26, 1820.

He is the offspring of an excellent family, being the third child of Capt. Elias B. and Martha (Clark) KINNE, the former born in Patridgefield, Mass., Dec. 31, 1788, and the latter in Naples, Ontario Co., N.Y., April 14, 1796. The parents after marriage lived for a time in the latter place, but in 1837 left the Empire State, resolved to cast their lot among the pioneers of Southern Michigan. Coming to this county, the father secured a tract of land in Leonidas Township, where he lived and labored the remainder of his life. He closed his eyes upon the scenes of earth in 1849. In the War of 1812 he served as Captain of an independent company, with which rank he was mustered out, and retained the title until his death. A quiet and unobtrusive man, conscientious and of the strictest integrity, he performed creditably all life's duties, and shed a good influence upon those around him. He never sought office, but was content in supporting by his vote the principles of the Democratic party.

To Capt. Elias B. and Martha KINNE there were born twelve children, six sons and six daughters. All of these were reared to mature years except one, and made homes for themselves. Seven now survive. John C. was a youth of seventeen when he accompanied his parents to this county, and still continues his residence on the old homestead, which was inaugurated by his honored father and which, it is hardly necessary to say, possesses for him a far more than moneyed value. The original area has been extended, and the farm now embraces 200 broad acres, with the buildings and machinery necessary for the successful prosecution of agriculture. The first humble dwelling was abandoned in 1873, and replaced by our subject with a modern residence, substantially built and most conveniently arranged. Everything about the premises indicates comfort and prosperity, and the whole forms a delightful picture of country life pleasing to contemplate. Mr. KINNE has been quite prominent in the affairs of his community, holding the offices of Township Treasurer and Highway Commissioner, and filling other positions of trust and responsibility. He is an adherent of the Democratic party. He is connected with Masonic fraternity, being a charter member of Blue Lodge and Colon Chapter, and a prominent light among the brethren. He and his excellent wife are also members of Leonidas Grange No. 266, P. of H.

Miss Serena VAN VLEET, a native of Ridgeway, Lenawee County, this State, became the wife of our subject April 10, 1870. Mrs. KINNE is the daughter of Peter and Abiah (MILLER) VAN VLEET, who were natives of the State of Massachusetts and moved to Lenawee County, Mich., during an early period in its history. Thence they changed their residence later to Hillsdale County, where the father followed agriculture until his death, which occurred at his home in Adams Township. The mother subsequently took up her abode in Litchfield Township, where she passed the remainder of her life. Mrs. KINNE was born April 12, 1840, and her earliest recollections are of the pioneer home in Lenawee County, where her parents battled with the difficulties of life in a new settlement and reared their children amid the disadvantages incident to that time and place. Mrs. K. acquired a common school education, and remained under the home roof until her marriage. Of her union with our subject there were born three children, of whom only one is living, Edith May, who is now at home. The deceased daughter, Martha A., died when an interesting child twelve years of age and an infant. Mr. and Mrs. KINNE number their friends by the score among the people of this part of St. Joseph County, where they have erected on its most desirable homesteads, and fulfilled their obligations to the community as worthy and conscientious citizens.

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Page 346-347

Thomas STEARS, a pioneer of St. Joseph County, is one of the influential and leading citizens of Florence Township, with whose agricultural interests he has been identified for many years. Although he is of foreign birth, he has been a loyal citizen of the United States for fifty-three years, coming here before he had attained his majority, and he was a resident of this State when it was admitted into the Union in 1837, when, under its constitution, all foreigner became citizens without naturalization; and it has been his privilege to watch the development and growth of Michigan from an insignificant Territory in the wilderness to one of the grandest and most powerful commonwealths in the Union. And not only that, but he has contributed to its material prosperity.

Our subject is the son of Thomas STEARS, whose name is held in honor as that of one of the early settlers of St. Joseph County. The father was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1775, and was married there to Miss Elizabeth HARRISON, a native of Waxholme, that shire, and there reared a family of twelve children. In 1835, with this large family, Mr. STEARS emigrated to the United States, and located in White Pigeon, this county. In England he had served at the grocer's trade, but after coming to Michigan he turned his attention to farming, and took up 120 acres of land in Florence in Township, thus becoming one of its pioneers. He was a very industrious, hard working man, and accumulated considerable property during his life. He improved a fine farm, and added twenty acres to its original dimensions. He died May 25, 1862, at Centreville, in this county, at the ripe old age of eighty seven years. He was deservedly respected and esteemed, as in all of the relations of life he had shown himself to be upright and honorable. His estimable wife, who was likewise greatly respected, died at White Pigeon, Sept. 5, 1871. Of their large family of children six are still living, as follows: Thomas, the subject of this sketch; John resides in Waterloo, Iowa; Betsy married William HULL, of Three Rivers; Isabel married Richard HOLCOM, of Three Rivers; Ann married Mr. BURCHELL, who is now dead, and she lives in Cass County, Mo.; Charles lives in St. Paul, Minn.

Thomas STEARS, of our sketch, was born Jan. 6, 1816, in Yorkshire, England, and there he was reared and educated. In 1835 he accompanied his father to America, and in the following year commenced life to himself by working a farm on shares with an uncle, continuing thus for a year, and making his home with that relative. March 26, 1839, he was married, in Constantine, Mich., to Ann WALTHAM. Her parents were natives of England, and, emigrating to this country in 1830, became early pioneers of St. Joseph County. Mrs. STEARS was born at Newbold, Yorkshire, England, Aug. 9, 1818. After marriage Mr. STEARS made his home in Mottville, St. Joseph County, and was living there when the death of his wife occurred, Aug. 13, 1842. Their pleasant wedded life had been blessed to them by the birth of two sons, one of whom died at the same time as his mother. Edmund H., the other son, was born March 14, 1840, and now lives in Constantine, where he is prosperously engaged in farming. After his wife's death Mr. STEARS worked at the carpenter's trade until 1851. In that year, on the 5th of July, he married again, Ann JACKSON becoming his wife, and to her devotion and ability he owes much of his prosperity. She was born Oct. 11, 1818, and is the daughter of John and Milche JACKSON; they were both natives of England, coming to America in1833. Both are now deceased, and buried in the cemetery at White Pigeon.

Of the second marriage of our subject four children were born, namely: John J., born May 9, 1852, is an enterprising farmer of Florence Township (his sketch appears on another page of this work); William H., born July 4, 1854, is a successful farmer of Florence; Mary A., both May 18, 1857, married John W. GENTZLER, of Constantine Township; Libbie E., born Jan. 12, 1861, lives on the farm that her grandfather first owned, and then her mother, the land having been taken up in 1830.

Since this second marriage Mr. STEARS has devoted himself entirely to farming, and has ever since occupied his present farm on section 29. At the age of seventy-two he presents the spectacle of a life fully rounded by its various experience into a serene and active old age. He is still capable of attending to his business and has the care of a large garden. He is well gifted with mental and physical vigor, and is open-hearted and genial. He has always exerted a strong influence in the administration of public affairs, and some of the most important and responsible offices have been entrusted to him. He was President of the County Mutual Fire Insurance Company, for St. Joseph County, for three years. He has been Township Supervisor for three years, was Township Clerk for a number of years, Justice of the Peace, and also Highway Commissioner for a term of years. He is a member of the order of Knights Templars, and belongs to what was the Reformed Church of Constantine, but now has taken the name of Congregational, having united with the Presbyterians. He has voted for every Democratic Presidential candidate since Jackson's day, except Horace GREELEY, for whom he did not vote as he did not consider him a true Democrat.

From his own experiences of pioneer life in St. Joseph County, and from what our subject knows of its early settlers, much valuable material might be gathered for a history of the county and its pioneers. He says that among the early pioneers whom he knew was one John COATES, who came to St. Joseph County in 1829. At that time he had to go as far as Detroit for flour, and for some six weeks had no flour except what was ground in a coffee mill. Mr. STEARS has know the price of pork to be $1.50 per hundred pounds, and even as high as $25 per hundred pounds. In 1837 wheat was worth about $2.50 per bushel and Mr. STEARS had about 100 bushels, which he sold to his neighbors, and would only take $2 per bushel for it from them. In 1854 he drew wheat twenty miles and sold it for fifty cents a bushel, and at the same time had to pay fourteen cents a pound for meat. In 1837 people came from Jackson and Ypsilanti for oats, and offered to pay $1.50 per bushel for them on account of their great scarcity, and corn and other kinds of food were proportionally high. In the early days of settlement oxen were commonly used in improving the land, in marketing, etc.

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Page 347-348

Reuben STOUT. In the month of May, 1846, the father of the subject of this sketch emigrated from Center County, Pa., to the young State of Michigan, locating on a farm on Pigeon Prairie. He occupied this until removing to the Ingalls farm in Florence Township, and from there changed his residence to the Ketchum farm, which he operated twenty-five years. At the expiration of this time he was enabled to purchase the Kechum farm of eighty acres on section 2, Florence Township, where he spent the remainder of his life, passing away on the 12th of February, 1872.

Joseph STOUT was born in Northampton County, Pa., in 1800, where he spent the early years of his life. Upon approaching manhood he learned the trade of gunsmith, which he followed in his native State while a resident there, but in the meantime, after his marriage, removed to Center County, when his son Reuben, of our sketch, was a little lad about six years old. In Center County he carried on farming until his removal to Michigan. The mother, Mrs. Susan (KELLEY) STOUT, was also a native of Pennsylvania. The parents were only separated by death a few days, the mother preceding her husband to the silent tomb on the 7th of February, 1872. Their family consisted of seven children, six of whom are still living. William, the eldest born, died in California at the age of thirty-two years.

Reuben STOUT, the subject of this sketch, was born Dec. 21, 1832, in Northampton County, Pa. His education was begun and completed in the schools of Florence Township, this county, where, with the excepting of six years, he has spent his entire life. In March, 1856, he made a journey to the Pacific Slope, and remained in California until the fall of 1862, then returned to Florence Township, and purchased the farm he now owns and occupies. This lies on section 2, and is 120 acres in extent. In California Mr. STOUT engaged in mining, meeting with fair success.

Up to this time our subject had remained unmarried, but in 1865 was wedded in Florence Township to Miss Malinda DUFFERD, who was then a young lady of twenty-three years. She was born in Wisconsin, and was the daughter of Joseph DUFFERD. Of this union there were born three children, and the wife and mother departed this life at the homestead in Florence Township, in 1872. The eldest son, Frank, died when an interesting youth of fifteen years; Edward died at age of four years; George remains at home with his father.

Mr. STOUT in 1879 was married a second time, in Constantine Township, to Miss Jennie JONES, and they became the parents of two children, Nellie and Callie. Mrs. Jennie STOUT is the daughter of Jerry JONES. Our subject, politically, is an earnest supporter of the principles of the Democratic party. A man of decided views, and one who maintains his principles with all the strength of his character, he has acquitted himself as an honest man and a good citizen, and is held in high respect by the people of his community.

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Go to St Joseph Co., MI Biographical Album Index
This page was created on 28 Oct 2000
Design and updates of this page are by Denise (Beckwith) Frederick, Copyright 2000
This Page Has Been Visited times....since since 28 Oct 2000
A very special 'Thank You' goes to Carole L. (Maudie) Carr for her contribution of St. Joseph Co., MI information and transcription efforts for this huge body of work