The temporary organization of the town was authorized on the Legislature March 19th, 1845. Its territory consisted of four townships, 5,6, 7, 8, N., R., 14 W. The first town meeting was appointed to be held at the house of Timothy Eastman. At the first town meeting, the 14th of April, Timothy Eastman was chosen Moderator, and Robert F. Tracy, Clerk.
There were 19 votes. The meeting was adjourned from Eastman’s house to the school-house near by, where were elected:
Timothy Eastman, Supervisor; John N. Hopkins, Clerk; Paschal Maxfield, Treasurer; T. Eastman, R,F. Tracy, Benj. Hopkins, P. Maxfield, Justices.
Twenty offices were filled, of which T. Eastman had 3, P. Maxfield, 3; B. Hopkins 3; Ephraim Parsons ,Robert Tracy, and Charles Wiley, each 2.
The names of sixteen of the voters are found on the record. Timothy Eastman, Pasehal Maxfield, Robert F. Tracy, Justus Stiles Charles Wiley, Stephen Morse, Warren Streeter, Joseph Burlinghams, John N. Hopkins, Benjamin Hopkins, Daniel Realy, Ephraim Parsons, David Stanton, Paul Avery, John Gardner, James Charles.
One hundred dollar was raised for town purposes.
Indicative of the subsequent growth of the town, in 1847 the vote was 43; in 1848, 26; in 1840, 35. A reference to the summary of legislative action, will show that in this time the dimensions of the territory were undergoing changes.
The settlement of Polkton and Talmadge are in substance the same. A center of settlement was at Steele’s Landing (now Lamomt) near the line of the two towns. Neighbors found themselves in different towns. Most of the pioneers located on the Talmadge side. So the proper place for giving the rise and progress of the settlement is in connection with that town, and the village of Lamont.
Although at a very early day settlers clustered around Lamont, the town of Polkton made but little progress for quite a number of years. Timothy D. and Benjamin Lilly pushed on a distance from the "Landing" in 1843, and settled themselves where they have ever since resided. They cut their own road from the Landing, Richard Platt, 1844; Sylvanus Waters, 1844.
Of the early settlers, or as early as 1848, we are able to give the names of Chauncey and Justus Stiles; Warren Streeter (transient), Peter McNaughton, Richard Stile, Abraham Peck, Josiah T. Lawton, Walter McEwing (the first in the Cooperville part of the town), 1845; Syvester Jackson, Ephraim Doane (transient). He was afterwards murdered at St. Louis; Henry Garter (transient, Paul Averill, a Canadian, who left on account of the "patriot war." Daniel W. Scott, who established a tannery,--the first between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, on Dorr Creek, east of Cooperville; Edward Streeter, by Scott; John Averill (son of Paul); John N. Hopkins and Wm. Platt.
The most of these, in green old age, are still living and enjoying the fruit of their labor. A few rest where we all must rest. Josiah Lawton died in 1863, aged 77; and Paul Averill died in 1873, aged 55; and John N. Hopkins (More identified with Spring Lake) is also dead.
The part of the town away from the river did not grow much until the D. & M. Railroad came through.
There was no school nearer than Eastmanville, until 1853. Then Miss Eliza B. Torrey taught a school of ten scholars, in a log house without windows, one mile north of Cooperville. That house did service until 1871. This Miss Torrey is now Mrs. Daniel W. Scott, near Cooperville.
Benjamin F. Cooper, in the spring of 1845, purchased the section, on which Cooperville is situated. It remained untouched until the D. and M. Railroad came through. Then Cooper, as an inducement, offered the company the undivided one-half of 160 acres, if they would locate a depot there, and call it Cooperville. He sent his two sons to start the place. They built a saw-mill, and opened a store. They stayed four years, failed, and went back to Utica. Cooper got discouraged and did no more. After his death the property was sold to W.F. Storrs, George W. Danforth, Charles Hosmer and A.C. Ellis; and the place began to grow, and has since developed itself into a business place of some importance. It has at present seven stores, two taverns, one tannery, a saw and grist-mill; and the other adjuncts of a thriving country village. It has a good brick school house, which cost $5,000. It is not a fancy structure, but a good, substantial, plain building. It was built in 1871. The first principal was Milo D. Alderson, who for two years presided in it; and who gave general satisfaction. He was succeeded by Geo. A. Farr; who aided by two assistants, is now in charge. Scholars, 150.
Polkton has been the theatre of an unusual numbers of tragically deaths.
Albert Randall was killed by the fall of a limb of a tree, in 1850.
Frederick Marshall was the same year killed by the fall of a tree; and about the same time Frederick Whiteup, Hollander, met a similar fate.
Peter Wilde, an old man, hanged himself, in 1875.
Harry Steele was killed by the bursting of a mill stone.
Norman Hinsdale, at Lamont, was drowned while attempting to rescue a boy.
James Van Gordon, a young man, was killed by being struck on the head with a club. His assailant was a youth, who was sent to the house of correction two and half years.
A youth by the name of Vanden Bowt was killed by the fall of a limb. He was not a resident.
The churches of Coopervcille are the Episcopal Methodist, the Congregational, and the Free Methodist. The congregational has ceased to have an active existence. .
The Methodist Episcopal Church was started in 1866. The original class were:
Walter McEwing and wife; Rosewell Toothacre and wife; Robert Martin and wife; Mrs. Sours, Mrs. Austin, and two others.
For two years, meetings were held in private houses, and then in the hall over one of the stores.
After the Congregational church was built, the Methodists had the privilege of the house once in two weeks. In 1875, they bought out the right of the Congregationalists to the house-that society having run out. The class is still small.
The Free Methodist have an active organization.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 2 June 2010