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Page 394-395

Hon. Thomas MITCHELL. The wealth and prosperity of Constantine are wholly due to the men whose judgement singled it out as an eligible point for business in the midst

Of a country possessing rich resources ready for development by master hands and minds. Prominent among these is the subject of this sketch, who was for many years influential in building up its business interests, and thus while contributing to the advancement of the growth and prosperity of St. Joseph County, materially added to his own fortune, and was enabled to retire on a handsome competence in 1867, while scarcely past the meridian of life. Though not among the earliest settlers of this county he may well be considered one of its pioneers, as it can scarcely have emerged in any great degree from its original wildness when he first came here, and he has witnessed and aided its present advanced state of civilization. Our subject is of Scotch-Irish descent, his father John MITCHELL, having been born in the North of Ireland, where his ancestors had settled, coming originally from Scotland. Mr. MITCHELL’s grandmother was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His mother whose maiden name was Lois HALL, was born in Washington County, N. Y., and she there spent the earlier part of her life. The grandparents of our subject emigrated to America in 1798, bringing their infant son John with them. The latter was born in 1797, and on arriving at a proper age was apprenticed to the trade of carpenter and joiner, which he followed for many years. He was a contractor and builder at Oswego, N. Y., subsequently becoming a farmer, which latter occupation he engaged in until his death, which occurred at Fulton, N. Y., in 1858. His wife died in 1831. Both were justly held in high consideration, as they were people of prudent, thrifty habits, and were kind, careful and thoughtful in their relations with their neighbors and friends.

Our subject was the second of the five children born to those worthy people, and Greenwich, Washington Co., N. Y., was his place of birth, and June 25, 1819, the date of that important event in his life. His early years were spent on his father’s farm until he attained his majority. At about that time he engaged in the foundry business in Oswego County, N. Y., following it there for two years. His next move was to Syracuse, in his native State, where he pursued the same business for three years. In October, 1843, Mr. MITCHELL, seeing in the then young State of Michigan a fine opening for his business, came to St. Joseph County, and established a foundry in Constantine, which he managed with marked financial success until 1860. He then abandoned that business, and subsequently turned his attention to the hardware trade, which he carried on very profitably from 1865 until 1867, when he sold out and retired to private life, at least as far as actively engaging in any extensive business transactions was concerned, devoting his leisure to looking after his property, or emerging from the quietude of his home to take part in the management of public affairs. Mr. MITCHELL was one of the charter members of the First National Bank of Constantine, and has been continuously a Director since its organization in 1866, and has been for a long time and is now one of the Bank Examining Committee.

The Hon. Thomas MITCHELL and Miss Melinda E. STAFFORD, a native of Madison County, N. Y., were untied in marriage in Constantine Village in June, 1847. She is the daughter of the late David and Kate (GATES) STAFFORD, who came to Michigan in 1843 and cast in their lot with the pioneers of St. Joseph County, and our subject was in the foundry business with his father for a short time. Mrs. STAFFORD died in Constantine, and Mr. STAFFORD returned to his old home in New York, where he died. Mr. and Mrs. MITCHELL have a pleasant home in a substantial, well-appointed residence, and their happy wedded life has been blessed to them by the birth of four children, of whom the following is recorded: Mary M. is the wife of E. W. KEIGHTLEY; Stafford T. is a student in the law department of the State University at Ann Arbor; one child died in infancy; Kitty died when fifteen years old.

Mr. MITCHELL is a gentleman of dignified bearing, of true refinement, and of unimpeachable integrity. His fellow-citizens recognize his worth and ability, and have called him at various times to fill reposibilty offices, and the town and county have in such cases invariably commanded his most efficient and faithful service. He has been Supervisor of the township, and has been Justice of the Peace. He was elected to the Legislature in the fall of 1858, and served one term with distinction. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, being identified with Siloam Lodge No. 35, F. & A. M., Constantine Chapter No. 61, R. A., and Three Rivers Commandery No. 29, K. T. He takes an active part in political matters, and in him the Republican party finds one of its ablest advocates.

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Page 395-396

Daniel W. RANK. Among the many examples we have about us of what energy and perseverance will accomplish, none present evidence of greater success than is represented in the life and past career of the gentleman whose name heads this sketch, who, since he was fourteen years of age, has been obliged to provide for his wants by his own efforts and exertions, which he has so successfully done that he is now the owner of a first-class bakery and grocery store in White Pigeon. His father, Andrew RANK, was a native of White Deer Valley, Milton Co., Pa., where our subject was born May 22, 1851. The education that he received was obtained at Danville, Pa., where he resided until he came to White Pigeon in 1865.

Mr. RANK was fourteen years old when he arrived here, and from that day to the present he has been obliged depend entirely on his own exertions. In the early days of his residence here he sold peanuts at the depot, in which business he put as much vim and energy as though he were transacting a business amounting to thousands of dollars, and he made a success of it. Being offered an opportunity to better his condition he went to Elkhart, Ind., in 1869, and worked in the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Round House, and later in the starch mill for several years. While in Elkhart he learned the baking trade. In the spring of 1878 he came back to White Pigeon and established his present business. At that time his entire worldly possessions amounted to $140.

From the humble beginning mentioned our subject now owns his property and has a large and increasing trade, which represents the investment of between $1,500 and $2000. All his dealings are notably fair and honest, and in mercantile circles he is known to be a man of undoubted integrity and substantial business ability, and in his life we find an excellent example that the young man just embarking in the field of active life may follow to good advantage, and it shows what may be accomplished by a man who began poor, and adopted the principles of honest, prudence and industry as his guide, which principles are guide boards along the road to success.

The subject of this sketch was married to Miss Carrie DIDER, April 6, 1881. She was born here Nov. 21, 1857. She is the daughter of John DIDER, a highly respected resident of the town. The present success that her husband has achieved is to a great extent due to her faithful and industrious attention given the business. She assists him materially in the store, and may be found at her post at all times, and never under any circumstances avoiding a duty, however unpleasant it may be, that will contribute in any way to their ultimate success. It is the desire of both husband and wife to acquire a competence, which, in the evening of life, will allow them a sense of rest and quiet, and it is admitted that they are on the broad road to a realization of their hopes.

The grandfather of our subject left him some money, but as has often happened before, the administrator to whom the settlement of the estate was entrusted, applied the funds to his own personal use, ignoring the rights of our subject. Some other valuable property in Pennsylvania should have come to Mr. RANK, but it has been successfully withheld until the Statute of Limitations intervened, and he is now left without recourse.

Our subject refused political preferments that have been tendered him by his friends. He does not boast of the flourishing condition of his business, but wisely holds his own council as to his plans and future prospects. It is enough to say that he is very prosperous. He is an esteemed member of the Masonic fraternity. Mrs. RANK is an earnest and consistent member of the Reformed Church.

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Page 396-397

James KENNEDY, of Sturgis, agent for the Phillips Fanning Mill, is a solicitor of many years’ experience, and has been very successful in introducing the said mill into general use throughout Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. He came to Sturgis in 1854, and for several years was identified with its industries, both as a manufacturer and agriculturist, before entering upon his present business.

Our subject was born in Monroe County, N. Y., near the city of Rochester, Dec. 11, 1830. His father, John KENNEDY, a Scotchman by birth, emigrated from his native heaths in old Scotland in the early days of the settlement of Monroe County, and became one of the original settlers of the present site of Rochester. There was then but one house, a rude log cabin, covered with shakes, on the spot where a great city now stands, and there were no streets, the highways consisting of Indian trails. John KENNEDY married Cynthia BALL, and to them came five children, of whom our subject was one. Mr. KENNEDY had three children by a previous marriage.

He of whom we write received but a limited education in the schools of his native county, as he had to work hard and could attend school but little. This defective education of his earlier years he has greatly improved by observation and intelligent reading. He came to Michigan in the fall of 1850, a little ahead of the railways. In 1854 he came to this township from his home in Branch County and has since lived here. He was actively engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1864, when he came into the village of Sturgis, and the following fifteen years was engaged in selling pumps, and a part of the time in their manufacture, although he was on the road mostly. Since 1877 he has been engaged in the fanning-mill business, and travels by team over Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, doing a fine business, as his pleasant, frank manners and his undoubted honest quickly gain him popularity with the people among whom he travels, and he easily makes sales.

The marriage of our subject with Miss Martha C. MORSE took place April 20, 1854. Mrs. KENNEDY was born in New York State, Aug. 16, 1831. She is the daughter of E. Z. MORSE, the first still living and the latter deceased. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. KENNEDY, three of whom live, namely: Ella, Frank and Edward. The name of the deceased child was Myrtie, who died at the age of ten years. Ella married Edwin G. THOMPSON, editor of the Ligonier Leader , and they have three children; Martha, Grace and Jamie. Frank married Lizzie NOLTON, and they live at Adrian, Mich., and have one child Bessie. Mrs. KENNEDY is a woman of superior character, and an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which she is an esteemed member.

The employers of our subject place the utmost confidence in his worth and ability, and he has never betrayed their trust. He has always worked for their best interest, and is regarded by them as one of their best salesmen. He is well esteemed by his fellow-citizens, and he and his wife are pleasantly situated in a cozy home.

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Page 396-398

Hon. John HAMILTON, ex-member of the Michigan Legislature, did good service in that body during the session of 1879, officiating as a member of some of its most important committees, namely, supplies and expenditures, and agriculture, and was interested in various other measures under discussion at that time. He has long been recognized as one of the most enterprising farmers of Constantine Township, but in the spring of 1882 retired from the active labors connected therewith, and is now taking his ease at a pleasant home not far from the town limits. He is the owner of 126 acres of valuable land, which is provided with a fine set of buildings, and which is now operated by his son William.

Our subject was born in Wooster, Wayne Co., Ohio, Sept. 1, 1812, at the modest homestead of his parents, William and Nancy (INGMYER) HAMILTON, who were natives respectively of Beaver County, Pa., and of Maryland. They came to Michigan Territory in the spring of 1832, arriving here May 28, and settled in Constantine Township, where the father battled with the elements of a new soil and succeeded in building up a comfortable homestead. Here both parents spent the remainder of their days, William HAMILTON passing away Dec. 4, 1862, and his excellent wife April 17, 1852. They reared a fine family of eight children, four sons and four daughters, two of whom are living, our subject and William, a resident of Dundas, Minn. John HAMILTON was a young man twenty years of age when he accompanied his parents to this county, and since that time has been a resident of Constantine Township. The people of this region have thus had abundant opportunity to make his acquaintance, and the fact that they have entrusted him at various times with matters of great importance indicated the esteem and confidence in which he held. Politically, he is a member of the Democratic party, and was elected to the Legislature in a Republican county, running on a National ticket. He is broad and liberal-minded in his views, a man well informed and not easily turned from his purpose. Few men are more widely or favorably known throughout this region. He has built up for himself a good record as a man and citizen, one of which his posterity will have no reason to be ashamed.

Miss Nancy POE, of Constantine Township, became the wife of our subject Nov. 13, 1834. Mrs. HAMILTON was born in Stark County, Ohio, Nov. 13, 1812, being a few months the junior of her husband. Their union was blessed by the birth of twelve children, of whom the record is as follows: Elizabeth became the wife of William SLOATE, a resident of Florence Township; Sarah married Andrew MORRISON, of Fabius Township; Margaret is the widow of Francis GREENE, and resides in Constantine; William P. married Miss Julia RYNERSON and they are comfortably located on a farm not far from the Hamilton homestead; they have one child, a daughter, Blanche M. Matilda A. married Isaac BORN, a well-to-do farmer of Florence Township; John was first married to Miss Eliza DENTLER, now deceased; his second wife was Miss Susan GROSS and they live in Park Township. Nancy, Mrs. Curtis POWELL, is a resident of Cass County, this State; George married Betsey GENTZLER, and they live on a farm in Constantine Township; Harriet, Mrs. Franklin DENTLER, is a resident of Parkville; Henry T. is in business in Constantine. Two are deceased: Charles when nine months old, and Ella when fifteen years of age.

Mrs. Nancy (POE) HAMILTON departed this life at the family residence in Constantine, Jan. 10, 1881. She was a native of Stark County, Ohio, and a lady greatly respected by the people of this county, who knew her so long and well. She encouraged her husband in his worthy ambitions and was his true and faithful helpmate during all the years of their wedded life. Her parents were natives of Pennsylvania, and the mother died in Ohio, the father in Cass County, Mich. The HAMILTON family is of Irish origin, and is represented in America at a very early period in its history, before the opening of the Revolutionary War. The subject of this sketch is one of its most worthy descendents, a man who has left his mark among the early settlers of Southern Michigan, and who will be remembered long after he has departed hence.

On both sides the grandparents of Mr. HAMILTON took part in the struggle for independence. His grandfather, Thomas HAMILTON, entered the patriot army as a private, but for gallant and meritorious conduct was promoted to the rank of Captain, and served from the beginning of the war until independence was achieved. William, father of our subject, speaking of his father, often told his children what had been told him by his parents; that from the time he was six months old until he was over three years of age he never saw his father, who during all that time was with his command in the field. Returning to the pursuits of peace he settled down on a farm in Wayne County, Ohio, and there the old soldier lived many years to enjoy the blessings of peace which his sword had helped to win. During the second war with Great Britain he again engaged in the service of his country, and was one of the gallant band who defended the frontier against the incursions of the savage allies of the British. Full of years and honors the brave patriot passed away about the year 1826, leaving to his descendants a name of which they may well be proud.

Mr. HAMILTON’s maternal grandfather, INGYMER, was also a Revolutionary solider, and gave his life to his country, being killed in battle. Mr. HAMILTON and his descendants thus inherit on both sides a love of liberty, one of the best bulwarks of a free country.

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Page 398

Thomas CATTON is numbered among the substantial farmers of St. Joseph County, and is successfully carrying on agriculture on section 35, Constantine Township. His farm is well tilled and improved, yielding abundant harvests in repayment of his care and toil, and, aided by his good wife, he has built up as neat and comfortable a home as one could desire.

Our subject is a native-born citizen of Constantine Township, his birth having occurred here April 28, 1841, within a distance of fifty rods of where he now lives, and he may be said to have grown up with the township, as in his early days it can hardly have been of any size or importance as regards population and business. The parents of our subject, John and Fanny (STEARS) CATTON, were both natives of England, having been born in Yorkshire. It is not stated when they came to this country, but after marriage they settled in Florence Township, this county. They lived on different places in Pigeon Prairie until their death, the mother dying in 1877, and the father in 1887. They had four children, of whom our subject was the eldest. He was reared on a farm, and received the benefit of a common-school education. Since attaining man’s estate he has been engaged chiefly in farming, with the exception of six years’ experience in business as a dealer in agricultural implements. He did very well at that, but he preferred the freer and more healthful employment to which he had been reared, to the close confinement necessitated by his business, and he again resumed the pursuit of agriculture, giving up his place in town, but still dealing to some extent in implements. He has met with the success that his labor and strict attention to work merit, and is now the possessor of 120 acres of well-tilled land on section 35, provided with comfortable buildings, and the necessary appliances for farming.

The marriage of our subject with Miss Lottie O’HARRA was solemnized in Constantine Village, July 17, 1865, and their happy union has been blessed to them by the birth of two children, Fannie O. and Hattie B. Mrs. CATTON is a daughter of the late Hugh O’HARRA, of Allen County, Ind., where she was born Dec. 28, 1840.

Mr. CATTON is a practical man of shrewd common sense, who deals justly and fairly with his neighbors, who recognize him as eminently trustworthy and entitled to their full respect. He and his wife, who is likewise held in high estimation, are sincere Christians, and conduct themselves in accordance with high principles. They are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he has been Steward and Trustee. He is influential as a citizen, and while a resident of Constantine Village was a member of the Village Board, and held the responsible office of Treasurer of that board for one year.

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Page 398-399

Bela P. SCOVILLE, M. D., is one of the leading physicians of St. Joseph County, and he is also prominent in social and political circles. He is pleasantly situated in Constantine, where he and his wife have one of the most attractive homes to be found within its limits. He was an officer in the late Civil War, and won a distinguished reputation for bravery and fortitude in the time that tried men’s souls.

Our subject is a son of Theodore M. SCOVILLE, of whom see sketch on another page of this work. He was born in Collinsville, Lewis Co., N. Y., Aug. 11, 1843. The first five years of his life were passed there on his father’s homestead, and his parents then removed to Conneautville, Crawford Co., Pa. When he was twelve years of age his parents took up their residence in Burke, Dane Co., Wis. Three years later the family settled in Warren, Ohio. Two years after that, our subject, a lad of seventeen years, started out in the world for himself. Previous to that he had gained the preliminaries of his education in the common schools, and had attended the Normal School at Madison, Wis., and also at Warren, Ohio. He then went to Union Mills, Erie Co., Pa., for the purpose of studying medicine with the late Dr. B. E. Phelps and was with him one year. He was making rapid progress in his studies when the great Rebellion broke out, and though he was ambitious to fit himself for his profession and to enter upon his duties, his intense patriotism and love of country bore down all things else, and at the first signal of distress he flung aside all youthful hopes and aims and sprang to the defense of the stars and stripes, enlisting in the spring of 1861 for a term of three months. Jan. 9, 1862, the young hero again enlisted, and became a member of the 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry, with the rank of Sergeant. He was subsequently promoted to be Second Lieutenant of his regiment. His second term of service extended to July 10, 1865, when he was honorably discharged. His regiment was an independent organization, and most of the time acted as scouts, and in fighting Mosby’s command and other guerrillas in the Shenandoah Valley. Our subject took part in many important battles and was never found wanting in bravery or devotion to the cause, and was always in his place in the heat of battle. While scouting just previous to the battle of Gettysburg, having twenty-five men under his charge, he was quite severely wounded, but he did not flinch and would not allow his wound to prevent his taking part in the battle. At Winchester, Va., he also received a slight wound in the shoulder.

After his retirement from military service Mr. SCOVILLE returned to Crawford County, Pa., and resumed his medical studies under the direction of Dr. Whitley, of Conneautville. He remained with him one year, and then entered the medical department of the University at Ann Arbor. He was graduated from that institution in the spring of 1868, and thus well equipped entered upon the practice of his profession at Mottville, in this county. He continued there eleven years. He then established himself in Constantine, where he has built up an extensive practice. He is very popular, and is the beloved physician in many a household, where his presence has brought healing and stayed the coming of the Angel of Death.

Dr. SCOVILLE and Miss Jennie HUTCHISON were united in marriage in Constantine, in 1880. She is a daughter of the late James HUTCHISON, and was born in Mottville Township, this county. The residence on Washington street, and their pleasant household circle is completed by the presence of their little son, Charles S.

The Doctor has attained his present high position as a member of the medical profession in St. Joseph County solely by the exercise of talents of a high order, seconded by worthy ambitions and an indomitable will. At one time he was obliged to relinquish a part of an extensive practice, as his health threatened to give way on account of his devotion to his beloved calling, but his health has improved, and he is once again in active practice. He is prominently identified with the Masonic fraternity, being a member of Constantine Chapter No. 61, R. A.; of Three Rivers Commandery No. 29, K. T., and he is at present, and has been for the last three years, Master of Siloam Lodge No. 35, F. & A. M. He has taken quite an active part in political matters, and is in full sympathy with the Democratic party.

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