A Bit of History of Colon Township



Newspaper clipping from the archives of The Colon Community Historical Society Museum, estimated to be 1927: “At this time of every year, as the annual reunion of the Go-Getters’ club approaches, the thoughts of everyone from out of town naturally turn to Colon and the surrounding country. It was suggested by F. B. Cornwall, president of the club, that a brief history of the township would be interesting to many, so with that in mind, the following has been prepared by the publicity committee:

When Colon Township was first known, it constituted the eastern half of Nottawa Township. In 1833 it was detached and consolidated with Leonidas, into a separate township. In 1836 it obtained its freedom and its present territory. The first white settlers were various members of the Schellhouse family. The first being Roswell, who settled on what, is now the Sam Stewart (William Bower) farm, in section six, of the north-west section of the township. He came in 1829 from Ohio. He erected a two-room log house which had the distinction of being the first hotel and in which he accommodated many prospectors and people seeking new home-sites. In 1830, Lorensi, Martin G. and George F. Shellhouse came to visit their brother, Roswell, and liked the country so well they returned to Ohio and brought their families together with George Brooks and his family – a party of thirty-one persons in all, back to Michigan. They arrived in May 1831. They stayed one night at Roswell’s and the next day each sought their own home site.

Mr. Brooks settled on the banks of Sturgeon Lake, on what is now the farm owned by Grant E. Farrand. Lorensi S. settled on the site now occupied by Frank Lamberson’s house. Here he erected a log cabin, beginning on Monday morning and completing it by Saturday night. The records show that the first livestock, outside of the oxen driven through, was that of Lorensi Schellhouse, being 3 cows, a sow and 8 shoats. Lorensi seemed to have been of a more ambitious turn than his brothers for it is shown that after building his own home, he made a breaking plow, using a twisted tree for a mould board and proceeded to farm. He first plowed a garden spot for himself and then went to his brother Roswell’s place and plowed six acres. This was planted to corn, vegetables and melons. Lorensi then turned to damming swan creek, to furnish power for a sawmill. This was completed and in operation by 1832. He got most of his lumber from Bronson, in Branch County, and after sawing out 1,000 feet the water undermined the dam and it washed out twice in 1832. The last time it was built so solidly that it (illegible).

While the various Schellhouse families accomplished most of the first things in the township, there are other families who came just a little later, who became very prominent. Among there were Comfort and J. Tyler in 1832. Alvin Hoyt and Hopper in 1832, Abel Belote, 1833; H. McMillen 1834; Henry K. Farrand, 1836, Phineas and Joseph Farrand, 1838; Dr. Mitchell, 1836; Adam, William and John Bower and William H. Castle in 1835; Dr. A. J. Kirbie, 1831; Chas. L. Miller, 1840; Robins and Samuel Noyes, 1836; Chaffees, 1835; Schoefields Louis Leland from Massachusetts, 1838; Eberhardsd, Wagners, Dr. Vories, 1836; and John Bowman, 1835, from Pennsylvania; Danburys and Tellers from New York, and also the Vanvorsts; Levi Matthews, from Connecticut, in 1830; Clipfells, in 1839, from Alsace; and the Borrs and Engles from Germany.

Palmer Lake received its name from Charles Palmer, who came from Ohio in 1831. a few of the old spots selected by the early settlers today are still known by those names. Among them are the J. K. Farrand place, south of town; Clarence Gorton’s beautiful home west of the village; Jesse Castle’s fine old homestead, east of town, and a few still speak of the island now owned by Harry Blackstone as the Chas. I. Miller Island.

Among some of the “first things not already mentioned are: — The first white child born to Roswell Schellhouse in 1830; the first marriage was between Jonathan Engle Jr., and Della Brooks, in 1832; the first school house was on the Brooks place overlooking Sturgeon Lake, on the farm now owned by Grant E. Farrand. The first teacher was Martin G. Schellhouse, who was followed by Colon’s first school m’am, his daughter, Martha. The first religious service, aside from funerals, was held in this school house and was a Methodist service. The first barn was built in 1836 by Lorensi Schellhouse and the first brick house was built by Gilbert N. Liddle in 1847, on the Truby farm, west of town. The brick for this house were made by Joel Dane, on the farm on the Fairfax road, now occupied by Ralph Neal.

The first cemetery was laid out on the present sight west of town in 1832, and comprised one acre of ground. The first burial in this plot was Emily Noyes, aged 8. the first bridge over St. Joseph river in the township was built in 1839-40, and was known as Farrand’s Bridge. This was the third bridge on the entire river. Leland Bridge was first built in 1845. The first full blooded sheep were American Merinos. These were brought in by H. K. Farrand. He, together with Phineas Farrand, were the first to introduce full blooded Short Horn cattle. This was in the year 1852, and they secured the cattle from Kentucky.

The first officially laid out road through the township was from Centreville to Coldwater in 1836. The first township meeting was held in 1833, at which time Roswell Schellhouse was elected supervisor and his brother Martin, the first clerk. The records are incomplete and the names of other officers are not shown. Of course we realize this is in no way a complete history of the township, but space prohibits further details and we believe this covers well the earliest settlers.”