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Page 386-387

Morgan PLANT Among the leading farmers of Burr Oak Township the subject of this sketch holds a prominent position, he having aided largely in the development of its agricultural interests. Whatever he has undertaken has been done thoroughly and well, his present possessions not being extensive, but nevertheless valuable. His farm comprises eighty acres of land on section 34, and of which he took possession in 1869. He has a little more than rounded up his threescore years, and such has been his course in life that he is enjoying a happy and green old age, with his children comfortably settled around him, useful and intelligent citizens, and in addition to them, scores of friends whom he has made during the years of a well-spent life.

The town of Stafford, Genesee Co., N. Y., contained the early home of our subject, and where he first opened his eyes to the light April 30, 1825. His father, Stephen PLANT, was born in Litchfield, Conn., June 24, 1782, and married Miss Melinda BROWN, who was born in New Marlboro, Mass., Sept. 6, 1782, the same year as her husband, being his junior by only a few months. They took up their residence in Stafford, Genesee Co., N. Y., where the father carried on farming, and built up a good homestead which sheltered him until his death, on the 14th of February, 1853. The mother survived her husband thirteen years, her death taking place at Pike, Wyoming Co., N. Y., March 30, 1866.

The parental household included three sons and four daughters, and our subject is the only surviving member of his family. He spent his early life on the farm in his native township, and a few months after the death of his mother, came, in June, 1866, to Michigan, locating first on a tract of land three miles north of the village, and which embraced the farm afterward occupied by Abner DAVIS. This remained his home until 1868.

Our subject was married in his native county, Dec. 28, 1848, to Miss Alice E. EMERSON, who was born at Brownsville, N. Y., Nov. 25, 1823. Her parents were Ira and Dianna EMERSON, natives of New York State. Mr. and Mrs. PLANT commenced the journey of life together in the year 1848, and came together to their pioneer home in the West, accompanied by their children, who were all natives of Stafford, Genesee Co., N. Y. Their eldest, Frances A., was born March 21, 1850, and became the wife of Charles C. NEEDHAM, of Burr Oak, Mich., Nov. 28, 1867, and died at her home there Sept. 13, 1887; Alice K. was born March 5, 1853, and died March 8, 1854; Caroline A. was born Dec. 8, 1851, and married, Dec. 14, 1870, to Elias P. WILLIAMS, of Sturgis, Mich.; she now resides at Denver, Col. Albert E. and Alma E. (twins), were born Aug. 14, 1856. The former married, March 12, 1879, Emma WILSON, of Burr Oak, this State; the latter was married, Aug. 14, 1872, to Jasper H. EMERSON, of Caledonia, N. Y. David P., born July 13, 1859, married, Dec. 28, 1885, Sarah PYLE, of Burr Oak, Mich.; he is now a resident of Goshen, Ind.

Our subject and his estimable wife, although not members of any religious denomination, usually attended the Methodist Episcopal Church, and contribute liberally to the support of the Gospel. Mr. P., politically, votes the straight Republican ticket, and has been the uniform encourager of the enterprises calculated to benefit the people around him. He is a man of the strictest integrity, one whose word is as good as his bond, and with his estimable family occupies a leading position in a community of intelligent and worthy people.

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Page 389-390

Hon. William ALLMAN, ex-member of the Michigan Legislature, and a retired capitalist and banker at Sturgis, and whose portrait appears on the opposite page, has made for himself an enviable record as a successful business man and useful citizen. He first opened his eyes to the light on the other side of the Atlantic, in Yorkshire, England, May 12, 1818. When a young man twelve years of age he emigrated to America, and for the following eight years lived in Canada, engaged at clerking. He left there during the Patriot War in 1838, and came to Sturgis; he became a student of Asbury University at Greencastle, Ind., from which he was graduated in 1845. He became a resident of this county in 1838, and at once identified himself with the matters most nearly allied to its prosperity and advancement, and in 1857 and 1877 represented in the State Legislature the district comprising one-half of the county of St. Joseph, Mich. In 1854 he was appointed Secretary and Treasurer of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, which position he occupied from the time of its organization until 1859, a period of four years.

Mr. ALLMAN was appointed a Trustee of Albion College, with which he was connected a number of years. During his term of service in the Legislature there occurred the great contest concerning the land grant to railroads in the State of Michigan, and concerning which his conscientious and temperately uttered opinions had their due effect in its settlement. He became connected with the First National Bank of Sturgis at its organization, and subsequently served as its President for nine years, and until failing health compelled him to retire from the Presidency. He was originally a Whig, and upon the abandonment of the old party he identified himself with the Republicans, of whose principles he has been a warm supporter for over thirty years; he is a zealous worker for prohibition.

March 15, 1846, witnessed the marriage of our subject with Miss Lousia FAIRCHILDS, natives respectively of New York and Connecticut, the father born Oct. 25, 1791, and the mother, June 15, 1798. The father died at his home in Sturgis, Jan. 4, 1873, and the mother Sept. 16, 1868. The former was in his early manhood Captain of a steamer on the Hudson River. Their family included twelve children, namely: Jane A., Mary E., Louisa, Benjamin, Sally, Asal B., Emily, Harriet, Julius, Lucretia, Ezra and Emily. Of these six are living, and residing in different States of the Union.

The parents of our subject were Major ALLMAN and Margaret (HAXBY) ALLMAN, and they were of pure English stock. The father was born Nov. 22, 1791, and departed this life Dec. 28, 1858, at his home in Sturgis. In early manhood he learned the tailorís trade, but being religiously inclined, occupied the pulpit of the Methodist Episcopal Church for a number of years as a local preacher. From Sturgis he moved to Crown Point, Ind., where he officiated as Postmaster a number of years, but finally, on account of failing health, was compelled to retire. At the time of his death there were left six children, four of whom are still living, namely: Elizabeth, Mrs. GROCE, a resident of Canada, and who has been blind for a number of years; Matilda, the widow of S. CADE; William and Amos. John died in 1875, and Jabaz in 1885.

To Mr. and Mrs. ALLAM there were born three children, the eldest of whom, Harriet L., died in infancy. Lucretia is the wife of Dr. T. F. THORNTON, a practicing physician of Sturgis; William M. married Miss Annie, daughter of Thomas S. BEALS, of Detroit, and is cashier of the National Bank of Sturgis.

Mr. ALLMAN, in 1865, helped to establish the First National Bank of Sturgis, and twenty years later, in 1885, renewed the charter and has since been Vice President. He has been a Director of Schools many years, and been active in the erection of school buildings, believing soundly in the education of the young. He has contributed more to the support of the Methodist Episcopal Church than any other member of its congregation, giving liberally and cheerfully as his means justified, and has held the most important offices therein for forty-five years, and was Superintendent of its Sunday-school for over thirty years. In the public meetings called for the discussion of the enterprises calculated for the general good of the community, he has taken a prominent part, possessing as a speaker rare talents, being forcible and convincing in argument. With the exception of Constable, he has held nearly all of the offices of the township. He still retains possession of the spot of ground upon which he first settled, and where he has built up one of the most comfortable and attractive homes in the city.

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Page 390-391

Jacob BURGER There were few among the early settles of St. Joseph County who took a more thorough hold upon the esteem and affections of the people than the subject of this biography, a native of Pennsylvania, who came to Southern Michigan with his parents in 1847. He was born in York County, in the Keystone State, March 15, 1830, and departed this life at his home in Constantine Township, Feb. 8, 1882. The beautiful and well-appointed homestead which he built up from a tract of uncultivated land, left as a rich heritage to his children, is not as dear to them as the record of his life, which was that of an honest man and a good citizen. The BURGER family it is supposed is of German descent, the forefathers of our subject crossing the Atlantic at an early period in the history of America. Henry BURGER, the father of our subject, was also born in Pennsylvania, and upon reaching manhood was married to Miss Sarah BENAGE, a native of the same State. Soon after uniting their lives and fortunes they decided to seek a home in the West, and after coming to this county lived about one year in Mottville Township. Thence they removed to Constantine Township, where the father died in the spring of 1866. Mrs. Sarah BURGER survived her husband a period of eighteen years, remaining a widow, and passing away at the home of her son Jacob, March 20, 1884, aged eighty years and two months.

To Henry and Sarah BURGER there were born seven children. Jacob was one of the elder members of the family, and grew up a genuine farmerís boy, strong of muscle and healthy of mind, and when reaching manhood was fully competent to enter upon his chosen calling- that of a farmer. At the age of twenty-four years he was married, Nov. 8, 1854, to Miss Lavina, daughter of William and Catherine (BOWER) GEORGE, who like the BURGERS, were natives of Pennsylvania and emigrated to this county during its early settlement. They located in Constantine Township, where they spent the remainder of their days, dying at an advanced age, the father when ninety years old and the mother when ninety-one. They were the parents of five children, of whom Mrs. BURGER was the third. She was born in Pennsylvania, Nov. 2, 1830, and was a small child when her parents came to Michigan. She with her husband watched the growth and development of this now prosperous commonwealth with that warm interest only felt by those liberal and public-spirited citizens who, while having much to absorb their minds in their own concerns, were nevertheless not too selfish to interest themselves in the welfare of the people around them.

Five children came in due time to the home of Mr. and Mrs. BURGER, the eldest of whom, a daughter, Sarah C., is the wife of William B. ALLERTON, of Constantine Township; of William H., the second child and eldest son, mention is made hereafter; Charles M. is carrying on farming on his own account not far from the old homestead; John J. died when an infant of fifteen months, and a little daughter, unnamed, also died in infancy. These young people are exceptionally bright, which qualities, added to their careful home training and practical education constitute them most promising members of the community.

William H. BURGER was born in Constantine Township, July 12, 1858, and was reared at the homestead, becoming familiar with agricultural pursuits. He received a common-school education, at an early age developing those qualities which have placed him in front ranks among the leading men of his township. Although comparatively young in years he has obtained a substantial foothold financially, and in company with his brother Charles owns and operates 315 acres of improved land on section 14. He carries on general farming and stock-raising, and is in the enjoyment of a good income. Politically, he gives his support to the Republican party. He is unmarried.

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Page 391-392

Samuel TEESDALE Senior member of the firm of Samuel Teesdale & Son, manufacturers of bent woodwork and wagon-makersí supplies, in Constantine, is a well-known and honored citizen of St. Joseph County, and has been identified with its business and industrial interests for many years, formerly manufacturing wagons, carriages, etc., as well as the present articles with which he supplies the market.

Mr. TEESDALE is a son of one of the early pioneers of St. Joseph County, and may be denominated a pioneer himself, as he was nearly grown to manhoodís estate when he accompanied his father from his native land across the Atlantic to Michigan, in 1834, and not long after established himself in business here. He was born in Lincolnshire, England, near the old city of Boston, March 9, 1815. His father, Samuel TEESDALE, was likewise a native of that shire, as was his mother, whose maiden name was Mary EVASON, who died in England in 1832. In 1834 the father of our subject emigrated to the United States with his children, and coming to Michigan, located in that part of St. Joseph County now known as Florence Township, on the edge of White Pigeon Prairie, and this became one of the earliest settlers of that township. He lived there some twenty years, clearing his land and carrying on agriculture, and then sold his property there, and bought a place in Constantine Township, on the line between that township and Mottville. He afterward sold his farm there, and retired to private life in the home of his daughter the late Mrs. William HEYWOOD, with whom he lived until his death, in 1865. He was the father of eight children, of whom our subject was the second in order of birth.

Samuel TEESDALE passed the early years of his life in the land of his nativity, living with his parents until he was thirteen years old, when he was apprenticed to learn the wagon-makerís trade and wheelwrighting. He served an apprenticeship of five years, and then accompanied his fatherís family to this country, in 1834. He worked one year at White Pigeon at joiner work, and at the expiration of that time came to Constantine, and started in the wagon-making business in a small way. For nearly fifty years he engaged in the manufacture of wagons and carriages, and gradually, by strictly honorable dealings and close application to his business down to the minutest detail, he built up an extensive trade. He used none but the best material in his work, and his vehicles were so well made and so durable that they met with a ready sale. In 1882 he added the manufacture of bent wood-work to his business, still continuing the manufacture of carriages and wagons for a short time. In the same year he admitted his son into partnership with him, and then discontinued the latter branch of his business, they now giving their attention entirely to the manufacture of bent woodwork and wagon-makerís supplies, which they carry on very profitably.

Our subject has been twice married. His first wife, to whom he was married on Pigeon Prairie in 1840, was Miss Elizabeth WELLBURN, a native of Yorkshire, England. She bore him three children, as follows; Mary, now the wife of Mr. HALL, of Grand Rapids; Eliza, the wife of Levi MACHIMER, and Joseph, both residents of Constantine. Mrs. TEESDALE, a woman of excellent character, who was highly respected by all who knew her, departed this life in Constantine, in 1849. Mr. TEESDALE was married to his present wife, formerly Miss Frances E. BRYAN, in 1850. She was the fourth child of a family of twelve, born to the late John and Sarah (BABCOCK) BRYAN, and her birth occurred in Moscow, Livingston Co., N. Y., Feb. 16, 1820. Her parents were among the earliest settlers of Michigan, removing from their native State to Ypsilanti in 1823. The team that carried their goods from Detroit to that place was the first that made its way through the woods, cutting a road and blazing the way, and occupying five days in going less than thirty miles. Before that goods had been shipped down the river, a roundabout and expensive route. When the emigrants arrived at their destination they found but five families who had preceded them, and they were settled on an eligible place about a mile outside the present limits of the flourishing city of Ypsilanti. They remained there until 1834, and came to St. Joseph County in December of that year, casting in their lot with the very few pioneers who had preceded them in Constantine. They afterward removed to a farm in Constantine Township, and subsequently took up their home in Constantine, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. and Mrs. TEESDALE are the parents of five children by this marriage, two of whom are living, Lois and John B. The latter is in business with his father, and Lois is the wife of H. J. FELKER, of Grand Rapids. The other children died in infancy.

It has been Mr. TEESDALEís fortune to witness the greater part of the development of St. Joseph County from the wilderness, and , coming here in the strength and vigor of early manhood, and with great enterprise establishing a business which in time became one of the important industries of St. Joseph County, he has been no mean factor in promoting the material advancement of the county, and in him Constantine has found a useful, exemplary citizen. A man of fine character, well dowered with firmness, activity and enterprise, together with sound principles and lofty religious convictions, his life has been a success, both from a financial and moral standpoint. He is blessed with a wife of more than ordinary intelligence and capability, who can sympathize with and share his beliefs, and who at the same time knows well how to manage her household affairs, and to make home pleasant and attractive to its inmates. Mr. and Mrs. TEESDALE are, and have been for many years, among the leading members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he has borne a conspicuous part in the management of its affairs, holding church office continuously for forty years. In ante bellum days Mr. TEESDALE was a strong Abolitionist, and was one of the first five in Constantine who voted the Abolition ticket. He was one of the first to join the Republican party, and through the war and afterward was a strong supporter of its policy. The Prohibition movement appealed to his sympathy as a strong temperance man, and he was one of the first to join the party after its organization, and still continues to act with it. A thoroughly good man and citizens of St. Joseph County.

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Page 392-393

Francis G. HEALD, D. D. S. Prominent among the rising members of the dental profession in Southern Michigan is the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this brief biographical notice. He is a native of New York, born in Kingston, Ulster County, Nov. 12, 1862. His parents, Abel and Celestia (GRANGER) HEALD, were both natives of the Empire State, and remained there many years after their marriage. In 1867 they removed with their family to Indiana, and settled in Elkhart, where Mr. HEALD engaged in the hardware business. He established a flourishing trade and continued thus engaged until his death, in September, 1879. To him and his wife were born six children, of whom three are living, namely: Francis G.: Cora, who resides with her mother in Elkhart, and Sheldon, a student in the School of Pharmacy in Chicago.

Our subject was but four years of age when his parents removed to Elkhart, and he there received the preliminaries of his education in its public schools. He afterward attended the Indiana Dental College, at Indianapolis, from which he was graduated in March, 1882. After receiving his diploma he worked one-half year with Dr. Harris, of Chicago. Meeting with unusual success while there, Dr. HEALD was encouraged to establish himself in business on his own account, and accordingly, in the spring of 1883, he visited Sturgis, and being pleased with its location and business inducements, he determined to make his home here. Since establishing himself here he met with good success, and has built up a large and lucrative business, and is now one of the most popular dental surgeons in the county. Dr. HEALD keeps apace with the newest methods used by his professional brethren, and he stands deservedly high in his calling, his skill and excellent workmanship being especially commended by all his patrons.

The marriage of our subject with Alice M., daughter of John C. and Caroline (MATHEWSON) BENNETT, was solemnized Feb. 28, 1888. She was born and reared in Sturgis, and is a young lady of much culture and refinement. Dr. HEALD and his wife are much esteemed throughout the community for their many pleasant social qualities. Though not connected with any religious organization, both are interested in the moral as well as the educational and material advancement of their town and county.

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Page 393-394

Jacob S. GENTZLER is one of the leading farmers and stock-raisers of St. Joseph County, owning and managing one of the largest and most valuable farms in or near Constantine Township, finely located on section 25. On this he and his family have a beautiful home, as he has erected on of the handsomest residences in Southern Michigan, and has fitted it up with all the modern conveniences. His farm is supplied with substantial and commodious barns, and other necessary buildings, and all kinds of machinery for cultivating the land, or in any way facilitating the labors of the farm.

Our subject was born in Washington Township, York Co., Pa., Sept. 29, 1833, being the sixth child in the family of Jacob and Elizabeth (SPECK) GENTZLER. (For further parental history see sketch of Adam GENTZLER, elder brother of our subject, under whose name a full history of the family is given.)

The boyhood of our subject was passed on his fatherís farm in his native county, and he received a common-school education. He was about sixteen years old when he came here with his parents, in 1849, but before coming to Michigan he learned the carding and fulling business, and was engaged at that time for five years; aside from that he has been engaged chiefly in farming and stock-dealing, engaging in the latter for upward of twenty years. He owns little less than 500 acres in St. Joseph County, and the broad, well-tilled fields, with the fine herds of cattle and horses, all of good stock, and the n eat and commodious buildings, with all the modern conveniences, constitute a model farm, with all its accessories. Mr. GENTZLER erected a fine house, which was destroyed by fire March 23, 1873. He immediately replaced it by one finer and more costly, and now has one of the most elegant residences in St. Joseph County.

Our subject was united in marriage, to Miss Elizabeth LEHMER, in Constantine Township, April 27, 1854. She was born in Carroll Township, York Co., Pa., March 12, 1835, being the youngest of the four children, two sons and two daughters, of John and Susanna (FICKES) LEHMER. Her parents were natives of York County, Pa., and were there married, and made their residence there for several years afterward. In 1855 they came to Michigan, and settled in Constantine Township, where they spent the remainder of there lives. Of the five children born to our subject and his wife, but two, John W. and Adam H., are now living, the others dying in infancy. John married Mary A. STEARS, daughter of Thomas STEARS, of Florence Township, and they now reside in Constantine Township.

Mr. GENTZLER has accumulated his wealth by the exercise of rare business talent and clear judgement. He is a man of great decision of character, with strong opinions, which he does not hesitate to express on proper occasions. A man of his ability, worth and wealth, necessarily wields a strong influence in his community. This is especially true in regard to educational matters, in which he is deeply interested, as he believes that education is the surest foundation for a successful and useful life. He is a sincerely religious man, and he and his wife are prominent members of the Lutheran Church, having done much toward building it up and sustaining it financially. He has been Trustee of the church, and as a member of the building committee, was active in securing the erection of the present house of worship in Constantine Village.

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This page was created on 29 Jan 2001
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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