Gleaning the Past.........
Burr Oak Township
St Joseph County, Michigan

Contributed to the Michigan USGenWeb Project

Transcribed and proof-read by Josephine Reed Garzelloni
23 Sep 1997

Bits and Pieces of History and her people
Collected and compiled by
Josephine Reed Garzelloni
Contributed to the St Joseph County Michigan GenWeb
for the free use of all.
Not to be sold or published without permission.

This work is done in honor of my Mother,
Maxine Virginia Reed
29 February 1916 ~ 7 February 1989
She did the very best she knew to do
in the face of overwhelming adversity
"Soar on the wings of angels my Sweet Mother"

All of this work is bits and pieces of data I've collected over the years I've spent being a "pack-rat". I love history and research and was a saver of "tidbits of information" since I was a young child. Years before I ever thought about doing our families history. I will name my sources for all information if I know it. This information is being provided in the hope it will shed some light for others who are having some difficulty in finding their way on the path to their families beginnings. I can neither confirm or document any of this information other than as it's being provided here. I hope I'm able to help you toward that end. Jo Garzelloni, 1997



First land entries in Burr Oak Township were made in the year 1831 and were as follows: The NW 1/4 and W 1/2 of southern SE 1/4 of Section 11 by Orman Coe of Genesee County, New York, 6 June 1831.


The E 1/2 of the N.E. 1/4 of Section 24 by Lewis Austin of St Joseph County, Michigan, 14 September 1831.

These were the only two entries made that year.
From the papers of Geneva Smith


The first marriage and first death in Burr Oak Township


Mr Miller had since his infancy, lived on the extreme borders of civilization, consequently had received no book education, knew nothing about social enjoyments, except such as pertained to rugged prairie life. He had never been married.
Soon after the advent of Mr Miller into Burr Oak, two bachelor brothers named Eldred, from Vermont, entered one hundred and sixty acres of land where Mr Worden now lives, erected a log house, and commenced improvements. At length, a maiden sister of theirs, probably 40 years of age came on to take charge of their domentic affairs. Her plainness of countenance and form amounted to repulsiveness. Mr Miller met Miss Eldred, and became violently enamored. He had fancied that Plato himself had not surveyed unmoved such charms as she displayed.
After Miss Eldred had played the prude the usual time, she reciprocated his amatorial advances, and after a few months of billing and cooing, like younger lovers, these ancients were married in 1831.


The first death that accurred was that of Mr Sheldon from Vermont. He was a bachelor, about 35 years of age, well educated, and of high moral character. He Purchased, at an early day 160 acres of land two miles north of Burr Oak Village from Mr Haslet, later occupied by William Miller. He boarded with Mr Smith and commenced to work on his land, but in the fall of 1833 he died. Honorable Wales Adams supplied a rough coffin for his remains, and taking it to his residence with oxen, the same being four miles distant, Mr Adams and two of the neighbors dug a grave, and buried the deceased on his own land.

From the papers of Geneva Smith

Compiler note: I have no idea where Geneva gathered these but the prose doesn't sound like hers.



The religious history of Burr Oak will be found where it has been principally made, although, of course, meetings were held in various parts of the township priour to the settlement of the village.


A distillery was built in 1840 or thereabouts by Hopper, in the NW part of the township and was operated by him for about 5 years when it was abandoned.

Papers of Geneva Smith



There is more misfortune at the home of Mr and Mrs T.J. Reed .... their little daughter again has a broken leg. Monday morning the child, who is just now of creeping age, tipped over while in its rocking chair. Tho the fall was only a few inches, it was sufficient to cause serious trouble for weeks to come. It will be remembered the little one broke its leg some months ago, but from this entirely recovered. Now the break is a re-break, which we surely hope may speedily heal.

Compilers note: this little child was Miriam Ellen Reed and her leg was broken the first time when she was just a newborn and her brother dropped her. He was very young himself. Miriam was my mother's sister.


July 22, 1915, Mrs P.A. Hambright, died age 58 years old, born near Stroh, Indiana, in 1857. Leaves her husband and nine children., who live in various parts of the United States.


Farley Rue Danberry was born 15 Dec 1853, and departed this life 14 July 1915. On September 25, 1875, he was married to Lucia Mae Tyler, who passed away September 10, 1912?. Mr. Danberry leaves to mourn his death, four brothers~~Nicholas of Manton, George of Matteson, William of Colon, Alpha of Burr Oak. For years the deceased was the village blacksmith at Findley and enjoyed a wide acquaintance and the confidence and respect of the whole community. For a great while he had been gradually failing in healthy, tho able to be up and about until within a few days of his demise. And to Mr and Mrs Roy Jenkins is great credit due for their extreme kindness thruout his decline.


At the home of the bride's mother, Mrs Erdine Coney Godfrey, in Battle Creek, on July 4, 1915, Miss Muriel E Godfrey and Mr William J Fechler were united in marriage. The groom is a merchant in Flint, Michigan and that city will be their home. The popular bride has many friends in this locality, who will wish them every joy.

Burr Oak Acorn, Tuesday, 22 July 1915



May 26, 1898, marriage license issued to Otis Hackett, 29 Burr Oak, and Lena Neindorf, 28, Burr Oak.


same paper, Charles Klesert is digging the cellar for his new dwelling


Nat Sanborn, 72 years, committed suicide by poisoning, 14 August 1895 Note: Compiler doesn't know why this death was in the newspaper so many years after the fact.

Burr Oak Acorn, Week of 26 May 1898



Charlie Hyde died at Albion. Charles Henry Hyde, one of the several brothers who formerly lived here, died at Albion, Mich last Saturday, April 24, at the age of 53 years. His last sickness was of gallstones. The remains were brought to this place by the 1:17 train Monday afternoon and were met by relatives, friends, Undertaker Renshaw and bears. Burial was in the village cemetery.
Burr Oak Acorn, Deaths for 1915 column



Wealthy man flees to escape asylum. Kalamazoo, Mich. to prevent his being sent back to the Kalamazoo State Hospital, where relatives, it is alleged, are anxious to keep him. Amos J Winslow, wealthy resident of this city, has gone to Chicago and is hiding in that city. His attorney, William Fox, stated that he was not held a captive there, but that he had gone to Chicago to prevent being sent back to the asylum.
Burr Oak Acorn, April 1915


Georgia Deal of Fawn River has been staying at the D Binkley, grandparents home several days.
Burr Oak Acorn, April 1915


Too Much Drunkenness
A stranger could not have told from appearances, Saturday evening, judging by the number of drunks on the streets, that this was a dry town. No arrests. laGrange Democrat Call.
Burr Oak Acorn, April 1915


Mr and Mrs Jeff Belote are moving from the J Gunthorp place to Angola, Indiana


High School graduates of 1915
Minnie Winkleblack, Edna Friend, Gladys E Munsell, Frank G Nofsinger, Clare Bordner, Orson Lilly, Harold Himebaugh, Frances Dixon, Leona M Fennell, Edna Bauman. Burr Oak Acorn, June 1915



Mrs Jenkins and Lavern visited the Freedom school and at the County Home last week.
Burr Oak Acorn, April 1915



Dandelion Wine
Four quarts flowers, pick off short; pour four quarts boiling water over them, let stand over night or twelve hours, than strain, add juice four lemons, strain again the next day. Then add four pounds granulated sugar; let stand a week in jar; skim every day. Then put in jug or bottles, keeping open for a while; keep them filled so the top can be skimmed off. Should be six months old before using. Burr Oak Acorn, April 1915


California Expositions $68.12 round trip via New York Central Lines Choice of many routes going and returning. All your questions gladly answered. Ticket Agent


The good die young, but occasionally an old hen shows up on the bill of fare as a spring chicken.
Burr Oak Acorn, April 1915



A mother is always seeking a good match for her daughter....yet a good match is merely a cheap stick with a head on one end of it.
Burr Oak Acorn, 1915



Mrs Guy Thurston and daughter of Battle Creek, came last night to spend a couple of weeks with mr and Mrs Solon Thurston. June, middle, 1915
Burr Oak Acorn, 2nd week in June 1915



Amos Newton Eicher, born Elkhart Co, Ind, Sept 10, 1862?, died 15 ? June 1915, aged 52 yrs, 4 mos 5 days, at age four moved with parents to Noble, Branch Co, lived 12 years, then moved to Millbrook, Mi. In 1909 he went to Baker, Montana where he lived on a farm until he died. Father, Abraham Eicher of Findley, one brother, Melvin Eicher, of Baker, two sister, Mrs Huldah Keller of Findley and and Mrs Barbara Keeslar of South Bend, three nephews, L.D. Keeslar and Harold and Harry Keller, besides other relatives.



William A Cavander, died at his home in Sturgis, on Tuesday evening, June 15, 1915, as the result of any injury received the day previous at the Aulsbrook & Jones furniture factory when a board, hurled from a large circular saw at which he was working, struck him on the left side of the abdomen with terrific force. Age was 39 years, his wife formerly lived in Burr Oak. He was born at Sherwood, Branch Co, Feb 22, 1876, and raised in that vicinity. Later he spent most of his life as a sailor on the great lakes. He was married to Miss Rose Gest of Burr Oak, July 4, 1911, after which he moved to Detroit. After residing there three years, he moved to Sturgis
Burr Oak Acorn, July 1915



Phillip Arver, son of Richard and Olive Arver, was born in Binghampton, New York, August 19, 1848. At the age of 8 years, he came with his parents to Iowas, and at the ago of 15 he removed to LaGrange County, Indiana, and a little later enlisted as a private in Captain Ersat?es B Parsons' company, B, 10th Reg. Mich, Inf., and received an honorable discharge from service 19 July 1865.

Nos. 7 through 28 extracted by Josephine Reed Garzelloni



Coldwater, Branch County Real Estate Records
William Lock of St Joseph County, Michigan on 24 April 1833 "located" on the E 1/2 of S.W. 1/4 Sec. 30 ?own 7 S. Range (sic) 8W. Bronson, Rec. patent 4 November 1834, Liber 160, page 14

William Lock, of Branch County on 22 October 1835, "located" on the W 1/2 of SW 1/4 Sec. 30-7-8, Rec. patent 10 September 1838, Liber 160, page 96

William Lock of Marion County, Ohio "located" on the W 1//2 of S.E. 1/4 Sec 20T7S R.8W. Bronson on 16 September 1831. He received patent from U.S. Government on 10 October 1833 and this is recorded in Liber 138, page 13. Register of Deeds for Branch County.



Part of Al Borgert farm....west end of Eagle Street. U.S. to Richard A Vial (Vail), 3 September 1850
Michigan Tax to Henry H. Riley, 13 December 1854
Richard A Vail to Electa to Dyer Corp 9 August 1859
Dyer Corp and Sabra A to Emily C Fenton, 12 November 1860



First Government Claims

1. Orman Coe, 6 June 1831
2. Thomas Eldred, 8 June 1832
3. George Eldred, 8 June 1832
4. Silas Snow, 18 October 1831
5. Thomas Lock, 2 may 1833
6. Samuel Spurgeon, 12 September 1833
7. Mathias Spurgeon, 12 September 1833
8. Sophia Smith, 23 August 1833
Cephus Smith, 23 August 1833
9. William Lock, 19 September 1836
10. Gideon Sanborn, 6 November 1833
11. Sidney Carpenter



No. 45 Patent
5 November 1833
United States to Samuel Haslet (spelled Haislet), the N.E. 1/2 of S.E. 1/2 of Sec 10 in twp 7. S range 9 W in the District of lands, Subject to sale at White Pigeon Praire (sic) Michigan Territory, containing 40 acres. Seal by the President Andrew Jackson, by A. J. Donelson, Secy.; Elijah Hayward, commissoner of the General Land Offices


No. 46 Patent
5 May 1836
United States to Samuel Haslet (spelled Haislet), N.W. 1/2 of S.E. 1/4 of Sec 10, (Seal) By the President Andrew Jackson, by A. J. Donelson, Secy, Ethan A Brown, Commissioner of the General Land Office.



Burr Oak History
Page 1
31 October 1881
Lester Washburn and wife of Nottawa and Mrs Olive Weaver of Findley and sister Mrs Sarah Hackett and Mrs Ellen Reed and family. Mr Washburn, aged 92 years, had not seen his sister for 20 years. All in good health
Mrs Washburn, age 79
Mrs Hackett, age 78
Mrs Weaver, age 86
One great great uncle, 2 great great aunts, 1 great grandmother, 1 grandmother, one great uncle, papa and momma and baby Reed.



"Hall" .....Town Building
11 March 1881
It was voted to investigate renting or purchasing a town building to be used jointly with the Township.

9 August 1880
It was voted vacate Burr Oak Incorporation

Sale of old jail and land on 5th Street at Public sale, Saturday, 17 January at 2:00 P.M.

Nos. 29 through 35 from the papers of Geneva Smith



Burr Oak Acorn
The Three Rivers Herald was founded in 1868, originally published by a Mr Reynolds as the "Sturgis Star". The press and material were brought from Chattanooga. It was later moved to Burr Oak by a Mr Dewey, who commenced the publication of the "Democrat". In July 1872, the paper passed to (Smith and Newton) but the enterprise languished, and in September 1873, Dr Orin B Arnold and son bought the dead plant of Mr Newton, who was avoiding a Sheriff's levy, and moved it to Three Rivers. In 1875, the "Democrat" was changed to the "Three Rivers Herald" and until the death of the Doctor, 30 May 1883, the junior partner carried on until he was reposted Post Master of Three Rivers. Mr. J. J. Parker bought it then.

Burr Oak News
The first paper printed in Burr Oak was the "St Joseph County Democrat", edited by Ed. W. Dewey, dated 1 December 1869. A copy is ownd by Dr. George Crofford.
Extracted from the Burr Oak Acorn by Geneva Smith



Burr Oak Acorn
First 1882
27 December 1894
Nate Cole and wife of New York here for a visit. He was founder of the "Acorn" in 1882.

Burr Oak Acorn
6 June 1889
A paper called "The Burr Oak Courier", dated 20 April 1877 was published by C.H. Smith. The Burr Oak Acorn was owned by the Frasier House Proprietors, November 1888. Mr Foster of Dalton, Michigan was with the first paper published in Burr Oak, (per Burr Oak Acorn, November 1888)

Drug Store
Burr Oak Acorn
8 February 1894
Mrs Clara Grove purchased the store block occupied by Lee, the druggist, 1894. Robert Root bought it 1958-9

Burr Oak Acorn
19 April 1894
Hill and Bennett of Nottawa have contracted with S.V. Cornell for moving the "Rink" 45 feet east, size 100x40

Lee Drug
Burr Oak Acorn
10 May 1894
The new plate glass front for Lee's Drug Store was installed this week, the third withing a month.
Extracted by and in the papers of Geneva Smith



Burr Oak History
S.B. page 1
(Transcribers note: Geneva Smith doesn't explain what "S.B." stands for)
Picnic at Snooks Landing, 12 August 1899
Present were:
Mr and Mrs George Sheffield Mrs Homer Shane Mr and Mrs William H Sheffield Mrs J.M. Urie Mr and Mrs George Eagle Miss Ethel Thurston Mr and Mrs Ira Plant Mrs H.F. Smith Master George Addison Miss Tillie Tracy Master Harrison Plant of Detroit Miss Zela Plant Miss Ruby Richard of Grand Rapids Others were at the B.O.Y.C. cottage. Mr Clyde Siggins and Mr Otis Hincher extended use of the cottage.



Burr Oak Post Office
Burr Oak Acorn
Geneva's Note: Copy is in back of Book #2 of Village Records
The first post office was established 10 May 1837 at the home of Julius Thompson 2 miles north of Burr Oak (in 1916) known as Fry Corner). He was succeeded on 21 May 1852 by Samuel Needham, succeeded Mr Lancaster, and on 24 July 1855, this office was discontinued. According to the records it was re-established on 15 April 1861 with B.N. Stone as postmaster. It was located in the large wooden building which stands on the corner east of the Old Eagle Hotel (corner of 4th and Front Street). Following is a list of PostMasters and their time of service.

B.N. Stone, applied 15 April 1861
Daniel F Parsons, applied 17 January 1870
Robert B Ferris, applied 15 December 1884
William M Urie, applied 13 July 1885
Lester H Mallery, applied 21 November 1889
William M Urie, 1 February 1894
Robert B Ferris, 11 January 1898
Guy Hackman, 1 February 1916
Myrle Lewis
Edward Hackman
Thomas Bradford
Tracy Stone

Burr Oak Acorn
Designated as a Postal Serving Depository on 6 March 1912. Parcel Post established 1 January 1913
The Rural Free Delivery service was established with two routes, 1 July 1901. Route 3 was established October 1912. The original carriers are still holding their positions. Route #1, W. W. Whitmer carries 400 patrons, 29.55 miles
Route #2, William H Jenkins carries 428 patrons, 29.63 miles
Route #3, L.B. Lancaster carries 376 patrons, 20.38 miles
The total numbers of patrons serviced from this office is about 2,500. This office was advanced to Presidental in the 3rd class, 1 January 1903

From the papers of Geneva Smith



Baptist Church
Burr Oak Acorn
10 May 1894
Rev Smallidge of the Baptist Church assisted by Rev Frank Narbor, a former Sturgis Baptist of Moody College.


Burr Oak Acorn
May 1894
Mr L.H. Mallery bought the Burr Oak Acorn 1 May 1894 from E.P. Bates


Lutheran Church (25th Anniversary)
Burr Oak Acorn
6 September 1894

St Johns Lutheran Church was organized by Rev Evers of Sturgis in 1869.
The first pastor was Rev A. Henkel, followed by
Rev. Hertrick
Rev Hantel
Rev Koch
Rev Neuendorf, present pastor. In 25 years, 253 baptisms, 151 accepted, 43 marriages, 69 deaths and burials, 4802 communions.
Present church erected 18 years ago.
Mr Brown of Sturgis recently decorated walls in water color and grained all woodwork, pews finished in hard oil
An oil painting of Christs Ascension just over the altar adds much to the looks.

From the papers of Geneva Smith



Buckeye Grocery
Burr Oak Acorn
10 May 1894
Charles Betts Grocery Store on the corner under the "Buckeye" is being enlarged when ready for use. E.P. Bates will start his grocery business there.



Park Hotel
Burr Oak Acorn
January 1889
Mrs Jones took over the Park Hotel from Mr S.V. Cornell. I believe she married Ketchum. It was later called Ketchum House.
Park Hotel burned 22 February 1894. It was owned by George Bayler.


Park Hotel
Elmer A Pepper, new landlord having purchased the Park Hotel from Frank A Galaway, 14 May 1908
Elmer A Pepper married Gladys Hyde, May 1908


Park Hotel
Burr Oak Acorn
21 March 1894

The brick for the new hotel is on the ground and as soon as the rain stops, work will start.


Burr Oak Acorn
28 June 1894
Hotel Boyles finished and ready to open. 2 Story, 36x60 with 14x20 kitchen.....The old hotel of North and Parr torn down......29 June 1894...14 rooms upstairs to rent and the private room of W.T. Whitaker, Landlord...Corner of 4th and Front.


Hotel Boyles
Burr Oak Acorn
4 July 1894
Opens this week. Park Hotel burned last February 1894. Contracted by North and Parr, a brick veneer, two story hotel, 36x60 with a one story kitchen addition, 14x20.
By transfer of the lots and the moving of the rink building, the hotel occupies a most advantagous location. Corner of 3rd and Front Street. The building faces 3rd Street. The entrance is gained to the office and the hall extending entirely through from west to east. The office is entered from the hall. The office and sitting room occupy the front separated by the hall and lighted by glass windows in front. The dining room on the south is entered both from the office and the hall. On the north of the hall and back of sitting room are located the rooms of owner Mr Boyles. The 2nd floor accessible by stairway running from hall below and the private rooms of the landlord, Mr W.T.Whitaker and general sleeping rooms, 14 in number. In the front 2 large rooms, the other 12 are good size.

From the papers of Geneva Smith

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