This town was set off from Georgetown and organized in 1849. At the time it appears there were only 13 voters in the township. Their names were: Monsieur Brown, his son, James M. Brown, Nathan W., Charles and David Richardson, James Skeels, James and James M. Cronkright, George D. and Augustus Donnelly, S. L. Gitchell, Andrew Frieze, and Andrew Frieze, Jr.
Of these were elected: Supervisor, James Skeels; Clerk, James M. Brown; Treasurer, James M. Cronkright, Justices, G. G. Donnelly, Charles Richardson, James Cronkright, Nathan W. Richardson.
Raised $125 for contingent expenses.
The first settlers were the Cronkrights, father and son, who entered in 1843. In 1844, came Monsieur Brown and his son; S.L. Gitchel, Andrew Frieze, Nathan and Charles Richardson and perhaps, one or two others.
The pioneer Cronkright is still resident. Monsieu Brown died in Wyoming in 1865.
Jamestown was sought for its soil alone, being perhaps the best agricultural township in Ottawa county. It probably would not have been reached in thee course of settlement as soon as it was, had it not been for the fact that the really desirable lands nearer the river had been taken by speculators.
The early settler must have a small head and retreating forehead, if he does not look out for the best land. After settlement has given value to timber, and made location desirable, it will do to take land of inferior, or even poor quality. But when the best timber is a nuisance to be got rid of, when the man has to forego all the comforts and appliances of civilization, and do that work which is to give value to the region around, he cannot afford to take poor land. Besides, if he has common sense, he will realize that in future time that first rate land makes the first rate farm, and that the owner of an A No. 1 farm, with his sleek cattle, and his dozen stout boys and rosy girls around him, is about as independent a "nubob" as the country affords. If he is not "monarch of all he surveys," he is monarch of broad acres that he has redeemed from savage wilderness, and he has a right to feel himself a noble man. The novelist, Cooper, with his world-wide reputation, prided himself on being the owner of a farm. "There is no property," said he to the writer, "that is so respectable to own, as a farm." Cooper was right. To be the exclusive owner of a piece of Godís earth has dignity in it, especially if it has that fertile soil, that will roll up the bank account. But after all there is not much dignity in being the owner of poor land. It savors too much of poverty and its twin sister-humility. "I havenít but an acre of it, and it twin sister--humility. "I havenít but an acre of it, and am not so poor as you think I am." was the answer of a Pennsylvanian to the man who told him, "the more such land a man had the poorer he was."
But coming back to the town. The early settlers were obliged to bring their provisions, etc., on their backs from Grandville, or on hand-sleds, on account of the swamps. There were plenty of deer, and other game abounded. So abundant were deer, that one man (a Mr. Hermit ) killed 86 in one winter.
They had their diversions, their gala-days being "logging bees" and log house raisings. A logging bee is the glory of the new settler. Five or ten acres have been chopped and burned. Invitations are sent to all, far an d near. They come, the sturdy yeomen, with their teams; and the bonny lasses come, too. Emulous to outdo each other, they go at the logs and brush with a "Hip! Hurrah!" and log heaps arise like the work of magic. The "mysterious" circulates; and all feel the inspiring effect of "mystery." Long before night the field is cleared; and all adjourn to the house where bright eyes are ready to greet them, where the pigs are smoking on the table, and the abounding etceteras of rustic good cheer. The "fun" in the field has given an appetite that soon sweeps the board. And then comes the good time of social hilarity, which we, poor slaves of etiquette, know nothing of. Why, there is more enjoyment in one logging bee than twenty fancy balls, or fashionable parties--enjoyment higher, purer, and really more desirable. There is soul in it, and people love to realize that they have a soul.
No school was in the town until the summer of 1851. The first was kept by Miss Elizabeth Bates.
The pioneer preacher was Elder A. B. Toms, a Free will Baptist.
But one church edifice has been built in the town--that of the Dutch Reformed. The Free Will Baptist, the Methodists and the Disciples have organizations, but no building.
In the winter of 1873-4, an event occurred over which a mystery still hangs: the disappearance of the town treasurer, C. C. Pratt. Whether he was murdered, or run away, is matter of opinion.
Like most new rural towns, Jamestown has left little for record. Probably the most important event is putting the drain through the long swamp, a part of which is in that town. This is revealing the invaluable worth of those detested lands. The Drain Commissioner has opened a mine of wealth. It is now for the people to work it, It is found that these drained swamps yield fabulous cops, especially of onions. All experience so far demonstrates that mud (not peat) swamps are land in its perfection; and in time many will be the benedictions showered on the Drain Commissioner, whose assessments, are apt to be met by many a grumbling curse. Why, man, your swamp with a good ditch through it, is worth five times as much, acre by acre, as your dry land. It has for ages been the reservoir of fertilizing matter, drawn from the land around, and is an inexhaustible region--a mine of fertility. Happy is its lucky owner. Oh! I wish I owned some of it!
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 2 June 2010