This township has a mean width of about four and one-half miles from east to west, and an extreme length of about nine miles, with the city of Grand Haven

occupying the north end of the town.


Nothing can be said of the settlement of this township as distinct from that of the village of Grand Haven, which was the nucleus for at least all the north-western part of the county. The pioneers of the city were the first settlers in what was known as Ottawa township until the year 1863, when it was changed to Grand Haven. Ottawa township was co-extensive with the county (save two congressional towns organized as Talmadge), and was organized in April 1838.

Wm. Hathaway was supervisor, and the election took place at the house of Nathan Troop. It may be regarded as the parent town from which, by successive pruning, all the other towns have been separated, until it finally gave up its name, and in fact when separated from the city in 1867, the town dwindled to quite a small affair. The city limits are pretty extensive, and the population of the town numbers but 642 according to the last United States census.


In 1867, the year the city was chartered, the town officers were: Supervisor -- R.W. Duncan, the Grand Haven lawyer; Clerk -- John Fuite; Treasurer -- Jacob De Boe. J. Mastenbroek was supervisor in 1876-7-8-9, and Henry Saul in 1880-1.


The town contains 18, 319 acres of land. The valuation of real estate as equalized by the County Board of Supervisors has been of late years as follows: In 1877, $106,720; in 1878, $98,305; in 1879, $86, 471; 1880, $80, 672; 1881, $81,827.


The town contains over 16,000 acres of taxable land, and its general quality is seen in the fact that although adjoining a flourishing city, where "corner lots" command good prices, the lands of the town are rated at about $5.00 per acre on an average for purpose of taxation.

A considerable portion of the town consists of a series of sand hills, some of them 200 feet in height, and since experiments have demonstrated that much of these are valuable for horticultural purposes, it is possible that a great change will soon take place. There is a considerable portion of marsh in the town, too little above the lake or river level for drainage.


Peach Plains settlement, to the south and east of the city limits is a tract of about 2,000 acres that is becoming famous as one of the choicest fruit regions, although it is less than fifteen years since it was first selected.

The pioneer in fruit growing, and still a leader in that line, was the Hon. Townsend E. Gidley who bought about one-third of the lands of the Robert Stuart estate, which had been out of the market for about a score of years since the death of the owner, and amounted to about 2,000 acres. Mr. Gidley bought the lands near the river about two miles to the southeast of the city, paying about $15 an acre, for what now would be worth perhaps $30. He has now 70 acres of orchard with over 10,000 trees, chiefly peach, with apple, plum and cherry, and his heaviest crop has been 5,000 baskets.

Mr. Walter Phillips is next south of Mr. Gidley, and is quite extensively into fruit. He has also an elegant residence. He has been quite successful with small fruits, of which he has 20 acres. Mr. Smith is next south, next James Seek, who is on the river. On the west side of the road past Mr. Gidley is E. T. Andrews, Mr. Bissell, John and Johannes Goudberg. Messrs. Norcross, father and son, are nearer Pottowatomie Bayou which extends west from the Grand River nearly one and a half miles. Mrs. Woolcot and son are energetic fruit growers, and hace a small but well cultivated plot of 15 acres. The most successful in strawberries in 1881 was E. Branch, who has fifteen acres next to Norcross.

The Hon. D. B. Conger, on Peach Plains, is an old resident, an extensive peach raiser, with more or less small fruit. He is a man of energy and of great will power. He was educated for the law, has been in Australia and in many other foreign lands, was senator in Wisconsin for two terms, and has been in Peach Plains about twelve years. G. R. Harris is a successful grower of small fruits, having a fine location of 20 acres; and two Hollanders. Messrs. Gringhuis and Grubno, have 40 acres each of all kinds of fruit, and are earnest, successful men.

Lake Macatawa Beach


GEO. W. AIKEN, of Section One, was born in Rumney town, N.H., in 1846, and spent his youth boating on the lakes until 1875, when he settled on his present place. In 1872 he married Emilia Doud, born in Wayne County, N.Y., in 1845. They have one child, Jesse M., born in 1874.

ANDREW M. COLE, of Section Thirty-Five, was born in Wilson, Niagara Co., N.Y, in 1824, and moved thence to Lockport, N.Y., where in 1861 he enlisted in Company M. Eighth N.Y. Artillery, under Capt. Catheren. He was present at some hot engagements, of which the principal were the battles of Winchester, Cedar Mountain, and Antietam. In 1863 he took his discharge. From Lockport Mr. Cole then moved to Battle Creek, and there engaged in mercantile business. In 1876 he settled on his present place. In 1848 he married Miss Mary A. Culver, born in Royalton, N.Y., in 1826.

HON. T.E. GIDLEY, after having passed the first few years of his business life in mercantile pursuits, at Poughkeepsie N.Y., the place of his nativity, warned by his failing health, closed his business, and in the Spring of 1833 sought and found, or rather made a home in the then far away and almost untrodden wilds of central Michigan. Here, a leading characteristic of "the new settler," soon developed itself, in causing the wilderness around him "to blossom as the rose." The facilities for effecting improvements on the free burr oak openings enabled him to bring large tracts of land under both agricultural and horticultural products in the State. Enterprise and liberality are elements certain of recognition in new settlements. In the second year of his residence in the territory Mr. Gidley was elected a member of the convention to form a State constitution. In the convention he was brought into intimate relations with many of the prominent men of that day, destined to be still more so at a later day in the administration of State affairs. Mr. Gidley was elected a member of the first legislature under the new constitution, and subsequently held a seat in either house through some fifteen or more sessions, as shown by the records, quite overtopping the legislative roll of the State, and, here in this connection we would state the fact that he was never known to use his influence, in any degree, to secure his nomination for any office.

In the Scott Presidential election Mr. Gidley was made one of the five Presidential electors. In the gubernatorial election of 1852, he found himself a candidate against his intimate personal friend of the constitutional convention, Robert McClelland, but declining to contribute a large amount to a fund which he feared would be applied to illegitimate purposes, he was not elected. Mr. Gidley, quite tired of public office and in declining health, positively refused all further tender of office. Again thinking that a change of residence might be of advantage to his health, in the Spring of 1868 he purchased and settled on unimproved lands next adjoining the city of Grand Haven. With his reputation as a fruit grower, and, with the ability to effect large improvements, his advent on the lake shore, gave an impetus to the business that came to be felt quite throughout "the old fruit belt" of western Michigan. In our day, in calling on Mr. Gidley, at his own country home, we are glad to find him, though a man of many years, comparatively hale and hearty, making the most through the bleak season of the year of home and fireside; a well stored library and tables loaded with the current literature of the day -- quite longing for the genial airs of "the summer time" to call him to his wonted work of caring for his ten thousand fruit trees, nearly all of which are in bearing condition.

JOHANNES GOUDBERG, fruit grower in Section 27, was born in Holland in 1821, and came to Grand Haven in 1853, working first for a few months at White's and at Norton's mills. In November of the same year he went to Indiana, returning in July of the following year, working again at Norton's mill, settling in December 1854 on his present farm, which he has made very productive by his constant labor on it. He married in 1853 Miss Betta Speelman and has had five children, two of whom survive.

JOHN GOUDBERG, fruit grower, was born in Holland in 1829, and emigrated in 1854, working first at Norton's mill for several months, and settling the same year on Section 27, Grand Rapids township. He married in 1868 Miss Clara Felt, and has one child, born April 18, 1874. He has an excellent fruit farm and is a hard worker.

G.R. HARRIS, fruit grower on Section 34, was born in Erie County, Pa., in 1839. When but fourteen years of age he left home and made his own way in the world; going to Wisconsin, which he left for Allegan County in 1866, being there engaged in fruit growing. He married in 1868 Miss Emma Morse, born 1844 in Chittenden County, Vt. In 1861 Mr. Harris fought for his country in a Wisconsin regiment, under Col. Mansfield and Captain Hill. In 1871 he settled on his present fine fruit farm.

ABRAHAM MASTENBROEK was born in the Kingdom of Holland in the year 1833, and emigrated to America, arriving in Philadelphia on the first of May, 1853, where he remained three months, and then came to this State, working first for Mr. Campau, the Indian trader, and then for Galen Eastman eleven years. He then came on Section 12 on the 1st of May, 1878. He married in 1860 Nellie Vanderman, and has three sons and one daughter.

PETER SMITH was born in 1835 in Holstein, near Denmark, and in 1854 came to this country, settling in New Orleans, but in 1873 came to Ottawa County. In 1855 he married Miss Anna Katie Ahrens, who was born in Hanover in 1832. They have but one daughter, Ida Emma, born 1865. Mr. Smith is engaged in piloting at New Orleans, while his wife manages the fruit farm, which she wishes to dispose of.

LEVI TRACY, of Section 34, was born in 1809 in Randolph, Orange County, Vt., and in 1852 went to Wisconsin working as a carpenter and wagon maker. He had studied law in Vermont, and had satisfactorily performed the duties of Justice of the Peace for many years. In 1867 he settled on his present place, on Section 34, on Peach Plains. Squire Tracy has also served the township in the capacity of school commissioner, ever seeking to promote the cause of education. In May 1840, he married Miss Ann Ford, a native of the town of Brookfield, and they have had three children, two of whom survive: a son, born March 4, 1841; a daughter born Jan. 20, 1848. The son who died was named Orum, who was born Oct. 17, 1855, and died Feb. 6, 1872, aged seventeen years.


Transcriber: Leslie Coulson
Created: 1 July 2006