Ottawa County 1878

Grand Haven

The first occupation of Grand Haven was by Rix Robinson, who pre-empted a quarter section, where now is the water front of this city. He there established a trading post.

In the spring of 1834, Zenas G. Winsor, then a young man, came to Grand Haven, as Robinson’s agent. Winsor was the first English speaking person, who stopped there. His place of business was near the "Ferry" warehouse.

The Rev. William M. Ferry is to be considered the first settler. He had been for some years a missionary teacher at Mackinaw Broken in health, he left Mackinaw, and went East, where, in the summer of 1854, he encountered Robert Stewart, who induced him to enter into an arrangement, which caused him henceforth to become a man actively engaged in business.

Stewart had purchased of Robinson one-half of his interest in the pre-emption. He placed certain funds in the hands of making Ferry with which he was to operate, sharing the results, making Grand Haven his center. Ferry associated with him his brother-in-law, Nathan H. White, and came on from Detroit by land. They, Ferry and White, arrived September 15, 1834, in a canoe, with two Indians, furnished by Mr. Slater at Grand Rapids. They found Rix Robinson and his family, the only white persons. Louis Campau had an agent, a Frenchman, at the Lower Diggings, at the mouth, on the left bank of the river. Robinson was busy getting ready for his fall campaign, yet he spent several days showing Ferry his pre-emptions. The one-half of them had been purchased by the Grand Haven Company, consisting of Robinson, Ferry and White, as equal partners. Of this company, Mr. Ferry was constituted agent.

Business arrangements being concluded, Mr. Ferry started for his family at Mackinaw in a birch canoe, with two Indians. Returning, be brought, with him a number of persons, mostly Indians and half-breeds. Robinson came back about the same time, bringing with him Mr. Lasley.

The same season, the Grand Haven Co., laid out the village of Grand Haven. The company built a mill, bought large tracts of land, brought two mills at Grandville, employed Nehemiah Hathaway and George and Dexter Ranney to get out logs at the mouth of Crockery Creek, to supply the mills. They engaged in building river boats. In 1838, they built a steamer called the Owashtenaw, a large stern-wheel boat, too large for the business, as it was then. This was not the first boat, this "Gov. Mason" having been built the year before. She run one or two years, at a lose to the owners, and was burned at the burning of the big mill.

The Grand Haven Company did business some five or six years, operating in land and lumber; managing to use up instead of making money. At one time a raft of 200,000 feet was lost in the lake; at another, 30,000 logs. On the whole, after spending some $100,000, the business proving unprofitable, the company disbanded; dividing the property by friendly arbitration, each pocketing heavy losses.

Having traced the Grand Haven Company to its final burial, we may as well go back to the time when Ferry returned, bringing with him his bosom friend, P.C. Duvernay, and family. They stopped with Rix Robinson during the winter. The building, in which twenty-one persons were quartered, was 16 by 22. The accommodations were not such as would be agreeable to those accustomed, as some of them were, to the refinements of civilization. A part of the twenty-one slept in the loft of the cabin, and a part in a vessel that wintered in the harbor. Nevertheless, they were buoyed by hope, and the voice of praise and thanksgiving went up among them. Ferry and his company arrived on Sunday morning, Nov. 22d. They landed none of their stores, but in Mr. Robinson’s shanty, like the Pilgrims at Plymouth 214 years before, united in solemn worship, Mr. Ferry preaching from Zachariah, iv., 10: "Who hath despised the day of small things?" Thus, as it were, the first act of prayer and praise; and thus they consecrated the future village and city to God.

At the time of Mr. Ferry’s arrival, the nearest white neighbors were thirty miles distant. At the south, ten miles up the Kalamazoo River, lived a family named Butler. At the east there were a family or two, up Buck Creek, in Kent County. On the river there were a very few at Grandville and Grand Rapids; at the north, none nearer than Mackinaw.

In the spring of 1835, Nathan Troop and family arrived from Canada, descending the river from Grand Rapids in a canoe; Thomas W. White, Thomas D. Gilbert, Miss Mary A. White; also, forty-two Robinsons, kindred of the pioneer, Rix Robinson, who came in a schooner by way of Mackinaw. They settled at different points up the river. Dr. Timothy Eastman, from Maine, came during the summer. Wm. Hathaway and William Butts came from Canada, and commenced building a steam mill at Grand Haven. This mill was afterwards owned by Troop and Ferry. Mr. Troop built a warehouse for Campau, at the "Lower Diggings," which, with the land on which it stood, has disappeared, through the encroachments of the river. Mr. Troop was a carpenter. Capt. David Carver came to trade with Clark B. Albee, as his clerk, Carver failed in 1837; went to California with Fremont, and perished on that suffering expedition.

Robinson, White and Williams built a warehouse in 1835, and D. Carver another in 1837. The warehouse, long occupied by Albee, was built by John F. Stearns, who afterwards engaged in lumbering business on the Muskegon.

The "Lower Diggings" warehouse were first occupied by Thomas Lewis, of Grand Isle (a genius and a colt), and by Peter Andree, of Detroit.

In the fall of ‘35 came on Luke A. White, who stayed awhile; went back, and returned with Dr. Stephen Williams. Robinson, White and Williams formed a partnership for general business-the first regular mercantile firm at Grand Haven.

Col. Hathaway came in the fall of ‘36, and acted as lumber agent for the Grand Haven Company. He afterwards removed to Grandville. He was a man greatly esteemed, whole-souled and manly. About this time arrived James Clydesdell, with seven children, twelve shillings in money, and some portable effects. He did not remain poor, for industry and pluck are not permanent allies of poverty.

In the winter of 1835-6, starvation threatened the infant colony. All along the river the remembrance is of "short commons;" provisions, other than what was obtained by hunting, almost unattainable. The Grand Haven Company had money; and made ample arrangements for food for those in their employ. They had purchased a winter’s supply in Detroit and Ohio, and shipped around the lakes. The vessel had the stores of merchandise and an abundant supply of pork, flour, & etc., and was expected to arrive before the close of navigations; but was wrecked on one of the islands of Lake Michigan. Grand Haven looked blue when the news of the loss was reported. Supplies could not now be obtained by way of the lakes. Up the river they had none to spare, and not enough for themselves. There were no roads to the southern settlements. There were no bridges, and it must be a desperate effort that secures them from the horrors of famine. Ferry brooded over it for a few hours; then took White into his counsel; and the result was that White, with the means in his pocket, was the next day wending his way southward on the beach; feeling the importance of his mission, and determined to "do or die."

If you fellows at your ease, treading on your first-class rag carpets, and grumbling about your taxes, would know what it is to live in a new place, just catch Nathan White when he is at leisure, and get him to relate his adventures on that expedition. [Alas! White tells it no more.]

It was a cold stormy time, and the young man had a time of it-came near losing his life in crossing the Kalamazoo river; but, dripping and freezing, he got out and went to the farming settlements near Battle Creek. There he purchased 200 bushels of wheat, about 100 hogs, and a lot of corn for the hogs, and hired men and teams to bring his purchases to Grandville. And here it is well to record a rare act of scoundrelism on the part of the man who sold the wheat. While bought and paid for 200 bushels, to be delivered at the mill some miles distant. The man delivered 160; and refused to furnish the rest or to refund the money, saying that it was good enough for him for being such a fool as to pay for the wheat before he got it. That man ought to have been talked to! His cool cussedness was certainly sublime. White, with his caravan of men, teams and hogs, wended his way through the snow to Grandville, where a part of the supplies were left for those dependent on the company there, the rest were taken on the ice to Grand Haven. The river had fallen, leaving the ice on the banks sloping, so that the hogs, once on, could not get off, and they had no discretion but to go the knife at Grand Haven.

Having seen teams and hogs safely on the ice, White arranged for his own triumphant entry into Grand Haven. He made a collar and tugs for his horse, of hay, lashed a cross pole to the bow of a canoe, placed his saddle in the stern; with a bed-cord, kindly furnished by Mrs. Oakes, for lines, he harnessed his horse with the hay-band hitched to the cross-pole. He mounted the saddle, kissed his hand to the fair Mrs. Oakes, waved his hand to the by-standing crowd, and shouted "Git up!" Like an Esquimaux, he shot over the ice, passed the teams midway on the river, and was hailed at Grand Haven, not with the booming of cannon, for they had none, but with the hearty "God bl ess you" of the whole little community.

And here it may not be amiss to relate a little incident, to show the effect of short commons on the most cool and philosophical. Bread, venison and pork had been the course all winter, and the people, though blessing the Providence that kindly supplied these, still felt a starving desire for something vegetable to break the monotony. In the spring, Mr. Ferry procured of the Indians about half a bushel of cranberries. Mrs. Ferry, with a light heart, picked them over, and on a furnace out of doors, cooked them with Indian sugar; thinking all the while of the treat she was preparing for the dear ones at home, and for those in their employ. Just as they were about done, an old grey-hound Michigan sow tipped over the furnace, spilling her luscious treat in the sand. That calm, self-poised woman was unnerved; she sat down and cried from sheer vexation. The nerves that nothing seemingly could shake, that had never failed when facing death or danger, failed her then. We will not blame the sainted woman. You or I would have been mad, and sprained our ankles kicking the old brute. From this we may see that trifles may be great things.

About this time, steamboats from Buffalo began to put in for wood, furnished by T. D. Gilbert from the bayous around.

The first school-house was erected in 1836. It long was the place for all public meetings, was chapel, court house and town house as well.

In 1837, Col. Amos Norton arrived, and commenced putting up a mill at Nortonville. In a few months came Jabez Barber and Richard Mason, who helped him to complete it. These three men left Canada during the disturbances in 1836-7. Barber perished in the ill-fated "Pacific," when coming home from England in 1854. Barber and Mason, in1844, built the mill at Mill Point (Spring Lake).

Benjamin Hopkins, also from Canada, arrived in 1837, and purchased lands at Eastmanville, where he lived and died.

A specimen of primitive justice as administered by the people, may serve as an episode. A male specimen of humanity had stolen a pig. The proof was complete; but what to do with the scamp, was the question. In full council of the self-constituted regulators, he was solemnly sentenced to march through the streets with the pig on his back; and thencefor-

ward to preserve perpetual absence. The sentence was carried out. The pig was strapped to the sinner’s back, and all paraded the streets. When satisfied with the exhibition, it was emphatically hinted to him that he had better leave. Acting upon the hint, he incontinently gave them a specimen of tall walking.

We will here introduce a lively sketch of pioneer life, by the worthy ex-mayor Griffins:

"Instead of first-class railroads, as now, the mode of traveling along the Grand River was on snow-shoes, in Indian trails, or on skates on the ice, in the winter; or paddling an Indian canoe, in summer. A good canoe, bought of an Indian, cost $3. A pre-emption settler, in possession of one of these was all right in those days. He could load it up with vegetables; paddle down to Grand Haven; sell out very soon to the Indians, or the few white people there, get his tea, tobacco and whisky, and go back home again.

"If the settler wanted something more costly, as flour or pork, his only alternative was to get up a shingle shanty, and make shingles. The banks of the river, from the Rapids to Grand Haven, were dotted with these. I have known some parties take a load of shingles on a hand-sled, twenty miles on the ice, sell the land for provisions (or whisky, if not temperate), which would last them only one week; and then repeat the same operation.

"A soon as the pole-boats started to take freight to Grand Rapids, their condition was better to get to market; and when the Gov,. Mason and other steamers followed, as population increased, our condition was vastly improved. One of these steamers, was commanded by Capt. Sihley, now deceased, but well known to our earlier settlers. This Capt. Sihley was promoted from captain of a pole-boat to the steamer, and he deserved it. A more manly and accommodating captain could not be found. I recollect an incident, proving the truth of this assertion, being myself on board the boat at the time. A settler on the bank waved his hat violently for the boat to stop. The captain said, ‘I do not see any freight to put on board, but I’ll see what he wants.’ He rang the bell, and the boat stopped. ‘I. say captain, I want you to bring me half a pound of plug tobacco tomorrow, and a box of matches.’ ‘All right.’ says the captain, rang the bell, and was off again."

We will also let our friend Griffin tell his story of going to mill in early times:

"Two families, first settlers at Eastmanville, were out of breadstuff in the month of January, 1838. Your correspondent, accompanied by J. V. Hopkins (now deceased), started on foot for Grandville, twenty miles up the river, to purchase a little wheat and corn’ arrived there, and were informed that the only place to get it was at Howlett’s farm. We purchased a load, got it to Ketchum’s mill, with the promise to have it ready for us in one week. On our return home we were overtaken by a tremendous storm. Crossing the river on the ice was very difficult. It was accomplished by each of us providing two broad boards; getting on one, and sliding the other in front-creeping from board to board until the unsafe bridge of ice was passed.

"The storm increased, and having no road or marked trees to guider our course, we got lost in the wilderness of hills and valleys on the north side of the river, between Grandville and Sand Creek. After traveling all day, we fortunately found Sand Creek; followed the stream down to Talmadge post-office, kept by father Bethnel Church, whose hospitality was proverbial; his venerable old lady providing the best they had for the comfort of tired and hungry men. This was ten miles, and a half way home, for that day’s work. The third day we reached home; and waiting three days more, prepared an ox team, took our axes along to clear the way, and with a lunch of good sandwiches, set out for Grandville to get our grist. Two days more, and our team was at Grandville, but on the wrong side of the river; no bridge, and the ice still precarious. But in the emergency, with determination and pluck, we got the grist over, loaded it up and started for home, on the tenth day from the first movement to get these supplies-only twenty miles off."

For a long time Grand Haven was of slow growth, its business resting almost entirely on lumber and forwarding. In 1851, it had four merchants-Ferry, Albee, Gilbert, and Griffin. Then its exports of lumber were 36 ½ millions; shingles, 3,200 M. In 1853, 41 millions of lumber; shingles, 13,000 M; staves, 320 M. In 1855, lumber, 45 millions; shingles, 37,000 M.

In April, 1853, the steamer Detroit, as an experiment, commenced making regular trips to Chicago. The same year, the road across the marsh, known as the "sawdust" road, was made to the ferry.

The population, in 1854, was 671. Spring Lake was then Mill Point, a mere lumber manufacturing place, with the usual rustic surroundings of such places.

At this time the village was quite compact, and the style of the place simple. The principal hotel was the Washington (since burned). There was no church edifice, but public worship was held in the old school house. The second school house was built at about this time.

As a little community they were very fraternal; social intercourse was hearty, simple and free. The tone of society was moral. Winter was a season of social enjoyment, summer of active business. There were no manufactories other than of lumber. At about this time Mr. Albee established a tannery, which he ran until it required 100 hands to operate it. This to him eventually was no advantage, and it has ceased to exist.

Railroad communication and the development of the surrounding country have enabled Grand Haven to extend its business; and the census returns show a striking increase.To properly appreciate that increase the three places, Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg must be considered as one. To all intents and purposes they are one, and are so considered in all that has been written, or in what follows.

The present state of development may be seen in its extended limits, its magnificent hotels, its enlarged business, its schools, churches, manufactories, fisheries and extended commerce, and in the fact of its having become a place of popular summer resort. All things seen auspicious of greater prominence in the future.

The business of Grand Haven in 1873, was: Lumber 125,000,000; clearance, other than of river boats and the Goodrich line of steamers, 1,166; 15,000 persons visited the place on account of the springs; 120 men and 20 boats employed in fishing; pay roll of the mills and factories, $1,000,000.

Grand Haven City.

The first charter election was held April 1st, 1867. Elected as City Council:

George Parks, Mayor; Charles J. Pagelson, Recorder; Arend Vanderveer, James A Rice, John W. Hopkins, William Wallace, Isaac H. Sandford, Peter Van Weeldon, Henry S. Clubb, Harmon Bosch, Aldermen.

The first meeting of the Council was April 6th, when were appointed Charles I. Pfaff, Marshal; Robert W. Duncan, Attorney; John Bolt, Street Commissioner.

1868-R. W. Duncan, Mayor.

1869-Dwight C. Cutler, Mayor.

1871-Henry Griffin.

1872-3-Geo. E. Habbard.

1874-5-James A Leggatt.

1876-Wm. M. Perry.

Public Schools at Grand Haven

Until 1852, the school, with the exceptions of a few months, was under the care of Miss Mary A. White. It was begun by her in the missionary spirit’ kept up for years with little remuneration, other than the satisfaction of doing good, and the earnest love of all the young people, who recognized in her their ideal of goodness, and who considered her infallible. Miss White still survives, enshrined in the hearts of all, who remember her as their teacher. For nearly twenty years she was the teacher at Grand Haven. Her impress is on the place.

In 1861, the school was opened in the second school house; for a year under the charge of Miss White. The first man employed to take charge of the school was Franklin Everett, who conducted it six months, assisted by his wife. For several years the school was in charge of teachers engaged for short terms.

In 1860, Charles H. Cushman was employed as principal. In 1863, he was succeeded by Charles Chandler, Jr.
In 1865-6, the school was under the charge of Prof. A. W. Taylor.
July, 1867, Prof. A. J. Itsell was placed in charge. He remained two years-succeeded by Prof. D. B. Safford. He had ten assistants.
May 11th, 1870, the contract was let to build the new school house. The school was for a time under the charge of Prof. M. W. Darling.
July 3d, 1871, Prof. A. Hardy was engaged, and the school opened in the new building. He continued in charge until 1875, when superior inducements removed him to Milwaukee, much to the regret of Grand Haven, During his time the number of assistants was about sixteen.
Prof. Lindley Webb succeeded Hardy. He stayed one year, and also went to Milwaukee.

The superintendence was given, July, 1876, to Miss E. M. Beekwith, who had been long connected with the school.

Grand Haven has from the first been anxious to have a good school; has endeavored to provide the best teachers, and the best facilities. Her central school house is one of the best in the State; and it is safe to say that no town is more generous and earnest in the cause of education.

Cutler House

This imposing structure, which illustrates the public spirit, pride, wealth, enterprise, and daring of Dwight C, Cutler, was formally opened July 4th, 1872.

There is no need of describing it, as it is the one object that challenges the notice of every visitor to Grand Haven.

The mineral springs had already attracted attentions; and the idea of making Grand Haven the "Saratoga of the West," brought into existence the Cutler House of Grand Haven, the "Pomonia" at Fruitport, and the hotel at Spring Lake. The mineral springs at the several places, are the basis on which they rest. Health and fashionable summer rustications have made Grand Haven and vicinity, places of resort. Should fashion, as is expected, and as past seasons indicate, give these places celebrity, these houses, the most pretentious of which is the Cutler House, will be mines of wealth to their owners; and the precursors of others more magnificent. If the springs lose their attractive power, the people will, with their thumbs on their noses say, "I told you so!"

The Cutler is finished and furnished in palatial style, at an expense of $200,000.

Great Credit is due to Mr. Cutler for his enterprise, and the determined spirit which he showed in his attempt to develop what promises to be the greatest interest of Grand Haven. It was a venture, and a daring one. Whether he eventually realizes from it fortune or loss, he will have laid Grand Haven under obligations. This springs cannot be made popular places of resort unless near them are first-rate hotels. The few years that have elapsed since heavy capital was thrown upon the mineral water, have, rendered the rich return nearly a matter of certainty, and hope for the future is buoyant.

Spring Lake has also its mineral waters, and its great hotel, dividing the interest with Grand Haven.

Manufactures of Grand Haven and Vicinity

Exclusive of the general lumber manufacture, comparatively little is done in the way of manufacture, Formerly, C. B. Albee had a large tannery. But Albee and the tannery belong to the past. At present, foremost in the way of manufacturing, is the foundry and machine shop of the Hon. Wm. M. Ferry, at Ferrysburg, where a good business is done in mill work, steam engines, etc. This has been in successful operation for many years. A specialty with this concern is mill machinery, many improvements in which have originated in the practical mind of the proprietor.

Waite Manufacturing Co. - J.B. Waite came to Grand Haven in 1870, and bought out the planing mill of C.D. Vleiger; and carried on the business of planing and jobbing, to which he soon added the making of hand rakes.

Previous to that, Waite & Schofield had been experimenting on a corn-planter.

In 1872, a company, with a paid in capital of $30,000, was formed of prominent business men of Grand Haven; Waite, President. They made ironing tables, horse rakes, hand rakes, and corn planters. In 1875, they dropped ironing tables and added feed cutters.

Business of 1875, (the year ending in July): 250 corn planters; 50,000 hand rakes’ 500 horse rakes; 500 iron tables. 1876: 625 corn planters; 40,000 hand rakes; 800 horse rakes.
Hands employed, 50.

The corn planters are meeting with great favor, and was becoming introduced into the great corn States. It is their intention to push this machine.

Stearn’s Planing Mill is engaged in fitting material to send off on contracts, employing about fifteen hands. In connection with it is an establishment for making staves and heading, making 30,000 sets per week.

Fletcher & Rose’s establishment are engaged in making various small articles in wood, especially curtain rolls, 80,000 of which they turn out in a week. It is believed they intend to make anything which they see money in.

A tub and pail factory is just being started by W. Whitney, who is intending to do a large business.

Ship building at Grand Haven is an important interest. Messers. Squires & White have a large dry-dock and extensive ship yard, with facilities for building equal to any part of the lakes. Vessels, propellers and barges are being constantly built and repaired.


On the right bank of the river, below Grand Haven, will be seen a shanty village on the sand-bank; but that represents no small interest; it is the landing place for the fisheries, and where the fish from the lake are prepared for the market.

The fish are caught by gill-nets, placed at various distances from the shore, even in 300 feet of water, 25 miles from shore. They are gathered into little steamers, sail-boats, and smaller craft. Often forty barrels a day are secured. The white fish are becoming scarce, and the fisherman are every year obliged to go a greater distance to obtain them. It is a well known fact that in general fish are a stay-at-home animal. In an inland lake of one-half a mile in width, one side may be fished out and the other be well supplied. In the winter of 75’-6 a great number of young white fish were deposited at Grand Haven, to restock the over-fished waters.

Churches of Grand Haven

Public worship was established at Grand Haven at the time of the arrival of Mr. Ferry; he preaching in his own house until the erection of the school-house, in the fall on 1836. At that time a Presbyterian church was organized with nine members-the first in Grand River Valley.

The original members were:

Rev. Wm. M. Ferry, Mrs. Amanda W. Ferry, Mary A. White, Pierre C. Duvernay, Mrs. Julia Duvernay, Caroline M. White, Nehemiah Hathaway, Mrs. Lucretia Hathaway, Charles Duvernay.

Pirre C. Duvernay was made Ruling Elder.

The school-house served as a place of worship until the church was built. The corner stone of that was laid September 19th, 1855. It was dedicated May 31st, 1857.

With the exception of a few months, Mr. Ferry was the preacher until April, 1857. Until October 18th, 1859, the church was served by temporary pastors-Rev. Joseph Anderson, A. D. Eddy, D.D., and Rev. Louis Mills. At this time, David M. Cooper was installed pastor. The pastoral office has been held in the following order: Rev. W. M. Ferry, from the commencement until 1857; Rev. Joseph Anderson, 1857-8;Rev. A.D. Eddy, D.D. , 1858-9; Rev. D. M. Cooper 1859 to 1864; Rev. J.N. Phelps, 1864-1866; Rev. David H. Evans, 1866 to 1869; Rev. J.M. Cross, 18690 to 1871; Rev. Henry S. Rose, 1871 to 1875; Rev. John B. Sutherland commenced November, 1875. The membership of the church has been:

Received in all, 208; dismissed, 70; died, 22; removed without letters, 7; present membership, 169.

The church has one of the best parsonages in the State, erected in 1873, and costing $6,000.

The Congregational church is an offshoot from the Presbyterian, resulting from a lack of harmony between the acting pastor-the Rev. J. Anderson-and the Rev. Mr. Ferry, the particulars of which are not essential to history.

Congregational Church

On April 29th, 1868, a Congregational church of 16 members, was organized, and the Rev. Joseph Anderson, who had been supplying the Presbyterian church, was constituted pastor. As intimated above, this was a secession from the original Presbyterian church.

In May, 1859, a neat and commodious church edifice was dedicated, free of debt. This church was destroyed some years afterwards by fire, uninsured. It had been under the pastoral care of Mr. Anderson until he left as chaplain to go with one of the Michigan regiments. He was succeeded by the Rev. J.B. Fiske, who spent three years or so with the church.

Discouraged by the burning of their church, the society languished. On August 16th, 1871, the society re-organized. In 1872 they sold the old lot, and purchased another, on which, at this writing (1876), they are erecting a beautiful brick church edifice.

May 12th, 1874, church re-organized with 27 members.

March, 1875, the society extended a call to the Rev. J.V. Hickmot, who has since held the pastoral relation.

Present status: Membership, 56.

The church and society are confident that a bright future is before them. At present they labor in hope receiving aid from outside.

Evangelical Lutheran-St. John’s Church of Grand Haven

The congregation is composed of German people, spread over a wide extent of the region around about Grand Haven. Services in the German language.

The organization dates from 1866, the first minister, the Rev. J.L. Daib, of Grand Rapids.

Their church was consecrated in the spring on 1868. The lot was the gift, of Wm. M. Ferry, Sr.

It was a small organization at first-about a dozen,. The names, as gathered from memory of one of their member, were: Charles F. Paggelson, John Ziletlow, John Teitz, Henry Saul, Henry C. Bare, William Dehn, Henry Wasch, Christian Meinck.

The society has expended $6,000 on the church and parsonage. The second pastor (1871) was the Rev. F.W. Spindler, a German, still holding that relation.

The church is without, debt; numbers 200 communicants; has a congregation of from 300 to 400; the audience room, 32x52, being generally crowded.

Unitarian Church

This is a new society, and as they have no church edifice, or church property, it may be considered as experimental. It was organized in April, 1875. For three years it had had a provisional existence, and several liberal clergymen had preached there. In April, ‘75, the Rev. M. H. Houghton was called to the pastorate. He left in about eight months, and was succeeded by the Rev. Geo. W. Cook.

The meetings are held in the hall of the Cutler House, where assemble as good a congregation as in the churches. The Society is zealous and energetic; determined to go ahead, and establish "Liberal Christianity" in Grand Haven.

The present officials are : Dr. Cummings, T.D. Stickney, D. Cutler, J.B. Waite, W.G. Smith, D. Gale, W.C. Sheldon.


This may be considered a Mission, with its center at Grand Haven, having in charge several minor churches.

St. Mary’s Church, at Berlin, was organized about twenty years ago. Up to that time, the few Catholics who undertook the erection of the church, were poor, and scattered through a country which was nearly a wilderness. The present house is too small, and will, before another year, be replaced by a more commodious one; funds for which are already collected.

A large Catholic settlement at Dennison, Ottawa county, has a fair prospect of having a church edifice at no distant day.

St. Mary’s at Spring Lake, was built in 1869; is a neat and comfortable building, having a membership of 300 souls.

St. Patrick’s. at Grand Haven, was built in 1872-3; is a large and expensive building, and when completed according to the plans, will be one of the finest churches in the city, capable of accommodating about 1,000; cost about $12,000.

All these, and some minor outlying stations, have been for some timer under the pastoral care of Father T. J. Murphy.

Catholic population of Grand Haven about 250.

Service are held at Grand Haven three Sundays in a month; the same at Spring Lake, at Berlin once a month; at Dennison six times a year; at Holland six times a year; at Saugatuck, in Allegan county, four times a year. At Holland are about twenty families.

Nationalities: Berlin-400 people; all Irish. Dennison-Irish. Spring Lake-German, Irish and French. Grand Haven-Irish, French, German, Hollander, Indian and African.. Holland-Irish, French, German, and Hollander. Saugatuck-Irish, French, German and Indian.

From the above facts, kindly communicated by Father Murphy, it will be seen that the Catholics have little but missionary operations in the Lake region of Ottawa county. But the sincerity of Catholics and the devoted zeal of their clergy, always render them a power wherever they have a foothold. Believing in their church, they are ready and willing to make all other interests secondary to it. Hence that church has an intense vitality, and is a power wherever it is.

Methodist Episcopal, at Spring Lake

Before the organization of any class, there had been occasional preaching. In 1862, a small class of twelve or fifteen was gathered by Elder Wm. M. Colby; some of the members of which were Daniel B. Thorpe, Mrs. H.A. Hopkins, Mrs. T.D. Dennison, Mrs. Wm. Flanders, Mrs. Wm. Britton, Loren O. Perham.

Services were held for two years in the school-house, with a slow increase of numbers.

The Presbyterian and Methodist societies bought a partly built church of the Hollanders; finished, and jointly occupied it. That house was so used five years, when it was burned down. During this time there was some increase. The Methodists bought the ground of the Union Church, and directly commenced to rebuild; were three or four years in completing it. It was dedicated in 1872. At this time the membership was about 60. The size of the church is 38x60, with basement. Cost, $7,500. The parsonage, built during the same time, cost $1,200. Present membership about 120.

Pastors-W.M. Colby, David Engle, James Roberts, James Cowan, J.R.A. Wrightman, James W. Reid, Levi Master.

The church has been harmonious and generally prospered.

Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church, at Spring Lake, was organized by Rev. H. Lucas, a missionary of the American Home Missionary Society, and the Rev. Wm. M. Ferry, of Grand Haven, on Feb. 12th, 1853. There were five members when it was organized: George G. Lovell, L.M.S. Smith, Anna H. Smith, Miss Lydia Norton and Harriet J. Franklin. G.G. Lovell and L.M. S. Smith were elected ruling elders.

The Rev. H. Lucas supplied the church for a year after its organization; followed by Rev. Henry Redfield, one year.

The Rev. Joseph Anderson was afterwards minister, he at the same time, serving the church at Grand Haven. He was succeeded by Dr. A.P. Eddy, who commenced his labors in May, 1858; he also laboring at Grand Haven. He continued until some time in 1866, and was succeeded, as stated supply, by the Rev. Joseph Lud, who served the church for three years. He was followed by the Rev. A.G. Bebie, who stayed something less than two years.

The Rev. W.H. Blair, the present supply, commenced in July, 1872.

Since the organization of the church, 77 have been added by letter or profession. Present membership, 55; society membership, 154.

The first church edifice was destroyed by fire. The present building was dedicated Jan. 26, 1874. The cost was about $10,000.

From a feeble beginning, it has gone on until it takes respectable rank among the churches in the Valley; and its fine edifice is an honor to its enterprise. The missionary who first collected the little bands has just (1876) gone to his rest. Spring Lake is not the only place that cherishes his memory.

Prussian Settlement.

In the township of Grand Haven, five miles south of the city, on the Holland road is a German population of some 45 families, They have a Lutheran church, organized in 1870, of which John Bean, Henry Saul, and Henry Boardman were the original elders, and Frederick Bean, William Bean, and Charles Ladewig were the deacons. The church was organized with 23 members. They have a small church edifice, and a congregation of from 100 to 200. Preaching in German. The name of the church, around which they cluster is the "German Lutheran Emanuel." The people are mostly Prussians.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 23 July 2010