City of Hudsonville
Georgetown is positioned along the bend in the Grand River, which provided a natural spot on which to develop a city. The river originally flowed southwest and left many acres of valuable lowlands in the township. Flat land extended for miles in all directions. The river crosses or touches eight sections of land in the township before going north and then westerly to Grand Haven, where it empties into Lake Michigan.
The settlement began with the Jenison family. Lemuel and Sara Jenison, with seven of their original eight children, arrived from New York where they had lived as successful farmers. They entered Michigan at Bay City, stopping at Bryon for two years. In 1836, they crossed the Grand River and built a home on one hundred twenty acres of land near Rush Creek. There were three sons, Hiram and the twins, Lucius and Luman. Their married daughters were Harriett Putnam, Altha Bliss, Annie MacArthur and Bettsy Hanchett.
The settlement began to grow as Hiram Jenison purchased one thousand six hundred acres of white pine timberland at the price of $1.50 per acre. He set up a lumber mill on Rush Creek; his brothers joined him in the enterprise. Over one million board feet came from the mill the first year and four million the second. The Jenisons supplied and operated the Brown and Britton lumber mill. This work unfortunately contributed to the death of Lemuel, who was killed by a falling tree soon after the family settled.
Another lumberman, George Ketchum, built gang sawmills. a foundry, and a machine shop. Georgetown was named in his honor. It was a small settlement, with only one hundred thirty three people eleven years after the Jenisons arrived. Early in 1840, Georgetown was attached by legislation to Ottawa County. It included what are known as Jamestown, Blendon and Zeeland Townships.
River commerce was booming, but some boat captains charged exorbitant fees. This forced merchants to develop roads and form wagon trains. One such road led from Jenison through high land north of Hudsonville toward Zeeland and Holland. Its path can still be traced on aerial photos.
Today, the City of Hudsonville has about sixteen percent of the population and about ten percent of the land area of original Georgetown Township. Homer Hudson, for whom the city is named, purchased land in Georgetown Township from the Jenisons in 1858, twenty-two years after the Jenisons arrived. He developed a nursery where he raised and sold fruit trees. He was the first postmaster for the settlement called South Georgetown, which boasted a post office as early as May 1, 1868. The federal government designated it as Hudsonville on February 18, 1872. The Chicago and West Michigan Railroad tracks were completed through Hudsonville in 1872. Twenty acres of this land was platted in February 1873, and this tract was dedicated to the village of Hudsonville.
Transcriber: Leslie Coulson
Created: 22 November 2005