Until April 5th, 1847, this town was a part of Talmadge. Its settlement and early history are identified with that town. At the date above given, the township commenced its separate political existence. It was in no great hurry to be set off-apparently better pleased with being a part of a large concern, than the whole of a small one.
At its organization, which was at the house of Leonard Roberts, the following were elected its first officers:
Silvius Waters, Supervisor; Ireneus Wellman, Clerk; Hiram C. McDearman, Treasurer; Edson Fuller, John McLain, Charles Dunning, Justices.
Who first made a beginning in Wright is matter of question. It was reached, not by pushing adventure, but in regular progress-going a little beyond- a part of the early settlers, feeling that they belonged to the settlements around Grand Rapids; and others that they belonged to Talmadge.
As far as known, Justin Walker was among the first, if not the first, to locate in the town-he locating in the extreme southeast corner. He came with a wife and six children in 1839. It was but just stepping over the line of the town of Walker, which was pretty well occupied. They were then only one and a half miles from neighbors. Mr. Leland came about the same time, and located northwest of Mr. Walker.
This Mr. Walker was killed at Grand Rapids, 1863, by the kick of a horse. His wife died in 1874.
Several settlers came in 1840, among them the brothers Lilly (Benjamin and Timothy B.), who gave name to a part of the town-the "Lilly Settlement;" James Wheeler and John O’Brien.
it is not deemed necessary to trace the progress of settlement any further, as it has no historic value. Good land was the attraction, and people went to occupy it, just on the outskirts of civilization. To locate there was not an adventure; and it was subject only to the inconveniences common to back woods life. Its history is the development of one of the best farming towns in the State. The snug little village of Berlin, which at first clustered about a mill, is its business center The railroad passing through, puts it in easy communication with the world. In thrift and wealth it will compare favorably with any rural town. In fact, a man owning land there ought to be poor, if he could not get rich from it. True, all have not; as some are born to be poor; and others choose present pleasure to future independence and respectability; and, as all experience proves, there is luck, as well as skill in making a fortune,
But the general experience of mankind is, that if a young man will push into the woods, secure a piece of land, such as is found in Wright, go to work and develop it, keep out of debt, let whiskey and fashion alone, he may in a green old age, sit in his front door and enjoy his meerschaum, while contemplating his waving fields, his flocks, herds, and well filled pocket book. His turkeys will gobble around him; his lambs bunt the sheep in his yards, and his peaceful soul will be at rest. Who wouldn’t be an old man, after a long, laborious, useful and honorable life? He looks on the land he has redeemed from the wilds; he looks on the children whom he has raised, and for whom he has denied himself; and the peaceful, cheering thought steals over him, that those children are impatiently waiting for his death, that they may enjoy the fruits of his labors. But what has this to do with Wright? Perhaps nothing. But it must be strange town, if it has not some such happy old men. But more commonly the man, when he finds himself too old to work, gives up the business and property to his son, relying on filial love and duty for the quiet enjoyment of an old age free from cares. He finds himself thrust into a corner, wearing his son’s cast-off clothes-"the old man;" and by and by when he is found dead-hanged or drowned- a coroner’s verdict is given, "Died by his own act. No cause can be assigned." But we will come back to Wright.
In the northern part of the town is a German settlement of about fifty families, and about as many more over the line, in Chester. Most of these came in 1842. They were poor people, who came, not as a colony, but from different German States, to make for themselves a home. They did not come together, but settled, German near German. They are mostly thriving farmers; have a church (Catholic), resident priest, and really form a German community. They were first settlers of that part off the town.
The Irish Catholics have a church west of Berlin, and the Adventists a society in the north part. There is no need of trying to hand down their history; for, it their doctrine is true, we all shall soon be "where the dew falls not;" if not true, but the idealization of fanaticism, it is charity on the part of history to help oblivion.
A reference to the census report will show that Wright had some 500 inhabitants at the time it was set off; that its growth has been steady, if we suppose an error in the returns of the last State census, which shows a falling off. It is believed there was an increase. The same is observable in several other towns in the Grand River Valley-the State census less than the preceding U.S. Probably the explanation is, that the marshals, being paid per capita, made exaggerated returns in 1870.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 2 June 2010