Crockery Township History

The township name may have come from the large amount of Indian pottery found on the banks of Crockery Creek. The word crockery in the Ottawa language is nunica, or a contraction of menonica, which signifies the clay used by Native Americans in the manufacture of their earthenware.

The chief stream, Crockery Creek, traverses the eastern portion of the township. Most of the area had been pine and hemlock land, with some oak openings and heavy timber. As lumbering interest gave way in the 1880s to farming and raising of fruit, the township prospered.

The first white settler in Crockery Township was Manley Patchin, who came in 1836; next came William Hathaway, Jr. and Josephus Hathaway in 1839; Charles T. Gibbs came into Crockery from Grand Haven in 1844. Col. Amos Norton, a prominent early lumberman of Mill Point (Spring Lake), was the first supervisor of Norton Township, which in 1845 included Spring Lake, Crockery, Norton and Fruitport. Dr. Timothy Eastman was surveyor; Richard M. Mason, Richard Hathaway and C.T. Gibbs were Highway Commissioners. The road from Mill Point through Nunica to the east line of Crockery was laid out in 1845-46. Crockery became a separate township in 1849. The first meeting was held at the home of William Hathaway, who became the first supervisor.

The first settler of the Village of Nunica was M.C. Carpenter, who in 1855 built a boarding house near the railroad depot of the Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee Railroad. Platted in 1865 by Henry Ernst, it was then a railroad and logging village. The village grew until about 1880, when it boasted three saloons, three general stores, two blacksmith shops, a one-room school, a drugstore, doctor, bank, grist saw and flour mills, chair factory, pickle factory, two hardware stores, farm implement dealer, creamery, two barber shops, two pool halls, two livery stables, veterinarian, undertaker, three churches, hotel, Odd Fellows Hall, Grange Hall, and a restaurant. By 1882, the village of Nunica was the principal township center with about four hundred inhabitants. The Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Muskegon Electric Railway Company ran through town from 1899 until 1928, when the development of roads and automobiles put it out of business.

Spoonville, now completely gone, was a neat little village on the banks of the Grand River in the early 1880s. It lay west of Crockery Creek and two and one-half miles south of Nunica. The railway line to Holland crossed the river at Spoonville, which was a flag station till it was destroyed in about 1882. The principal building was the saw mill built by John Spoon in 1856, when there was only one log house. The mill had all modern improvements and cut seven and one-half million feet of lumber a day. Spoon's barn was said to be the largest in the county, 100'x40', with 24' posts. It was 60' high to the top of the cupola and cost $2000 to build. A hand-operated Spoonville ferry crossed the river for many years, but was replaced by a railroad bridge in 1870.

On the Spoon farm were found remarkable mounds containing a large number of skeletons, stone and copper implements, and elaborately ornamented earthen vases. In recent times, Grand Valley College archeology students have dug extensively in this area. On the high ground was an Indian Village and burial mounds. Joseph LaFramboise built a fur-trading post on this site in 1782. He was killed by an Indian in 1806, and his half-Indian/half-French wife, Madeline, operated the post very successfully until 1821. She sold out to Rix Robinson when he came to Grand Haven.

SPOONVILLE SCHOOL, 120th AVENUE. Located about 1/2 mile north of Spoonville on the east side of 120th Avenue is the old Spoonville School. Still standing and still painted red, it is over 100 years old.

LEONARD ROAD, originally a wagon trail, was first constructed in 1848. Running from Spring Lake to Grand Rapids, it was the first township road and was called River Road.

WILLIAM HATHAWAY FARM, 11352 LEONARD ROAD. Hathaway was the second settler in the township in 1839. In 1848, he was named postmaster of the Crockery Creek Post Office. Located in his cabin, it was about two hundred yards behind the present barn. The first township meeting was held there in 1849, and he was named the first supervisor. The present owners are Mr. and Mrs. Roger Holmes. It is a Centennial Farm, since Mr. Holmes is a descendant of Hathaway.

BATTLE POINT, 144th STREET AT THE RIVER. This was the site of an Ottawa Indian Village and burial grounds. A few Indians still lived there in small homes in 1855, and an Indian school held about twenty pupils. Battle Point was misnamed, since a battle never took place there.

TAYLOR SCHOOL, LEONARD ROAD JUST WEST OF 100th AVENUE. Presently painted red, it was the first township school. Organized in 1849, it was named for the first teacher. This area was known as the Hunter settlement.

OTTAWA CENTER, ORIOLE DRIVE AT THE RIVER. Platted in 1855, this village boasted a river boat landing, sawmill, general store, saloon and several homes. In the 1890s, it was considered as a site for the county seat. It became a ghost town at the end of the logging era. Ottawa Center Cemetery started in the 1840s, is located about 1/4 mile west of the Ottawa Center and is the final resting place of many early settlers.

PENNOYER FARM, 9730 STATE ROAD. Land was bought in 1850 by Henry Pennoyer of Grand Haven; the house was built in 1858 and is the oldest house in the township. Mrs. Pennoyer (Lettie Teeple) wrote her life story, a long and very interesting account of pioneer life, while living there. Henry Pennoyer owned and operated the Washington House Hotel in Grand Haven before the family moved to Crockery. He was the first Ottawa County Sheriff, County Treasurer and State Senator.

THE ERNST FARM, 10831 CLEVELAND STREET. Henry Ernst purchased the land in 1858, built a small house, platted the Village of Nunica in 1865, and built the present house in 1870. It was completely restored and is now called Stonegate Inn, a bed and breakfast inn.

THE GORDON FARM, 11685 LEONARD ROAD, was purchased in 1863. The house was built during the Civil War. Now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Gordon, it is a Centennial Farm.

Transcriber: Leslie Coulson
Created: 8 December 2005