Olive is a very large township; comprising over a regular township and a half. The soil is varied; the west part near Lake Michigan is sandy, and, particularly in the southwest part of the township, it is being utilized in the way of fruit raising. Some of the best peaches in the State are grown here. The sandy lands, which a few years ago were considered nearly valueless, are furnishing homes and occupation to very many families. It was about 1860 that the fruit interest began to be developed. In the southeast part of the township we find splendid soil and fine farms. Over the entire center we find large tracts of low, marshy land, where cranberries and whortleberries grow wild. Much of this land is being reclaimed by thorough drainage, and eventually will become good farming land. The township contains several small hamlets, the better of which are Olive Center and Ottawa. There are several mills cutting pine and hemlock, the latter being the more prevalent.

The southern part of Olive and the north of Holland, known as Ventura, has a post-office of that name, and is mainly devoted to fruit raising, in which great success has been met. The land, much of it, was bought for twelve and one-half cents an acre. Quite extensive orchards are already planted, and the product yields a handsome income. The township is not very thickly settled as yet, but has, perhaps, something over 3,000 acres under improvement, and is found by judicious cultivation to produce good crops. Greenleaf C. Jones, Charles Post, and Porter P. Piner are among the early settlers, and each have fine orchards and excellent fruit. It probably contains 1,500 inhabitants. The Grand Haven Railroad, now under the control of the Chicago & West Michigan R. R. Co., has a station at West Olive, and it has a post office of that name, although the place is inconsiderable. It was platted by R. M. Paget, in 1870, while Ottawa Station was platted by James Sawyer, in 1872.


There were a few settlers at quite an early date, for a portion of the town was surveyed in 1831, but, with the exception of the fiasco of the Port Sheldon Company, in 1836-8, there was little done in the way of settlement until after the Holland Colony came in 1847. The history of the stupendous undertaking at Port Sheldon is in the general history of Ottawa, and will be found very interesting reading.


Olive was organized in 1857 with fifty-seven voters, when the following named persons were chosen to fill the offices:

G. C. Jones, Supervisor; J. M. Fellows, Clerk; K. Warner, Treasurer; Stephen Baxter, Arend Smith, J. B. Eastway, Highway Commissioners; Hendrick Van Balgoojen, James B. Eastway, Timothy Tainter, Warner Semple, Justices of the Peace; K. Warner, School Inspector; John Vantongern, Overseer of Poor; Stephen Coleman, Jan Hoffman, Wm. Timers, Constables.

At the same meeting one hundred dollars was voted to be raised to defray town expenses. Since which time the following named persons have acted as Supervisors:

G. C. Jones -- 1858 -- 1865-6-8-9; Charles H. Coleman -- 1859-60-61; R. M. Andrews -- 1862; Otto Breyman -- 1863-4; Chas. F. Post -- 1867; Silas S. Kular -- 1870; Joel M. Fellows -- 1871-2-3; Wm. Willis -- 1874-5; A. P. Stegenga -- 1876-7-8-9-80-81.

Town clerks:

J. M. Fellows -- 1857-8; Reuben Daniel -- 1859-60; Walter Weener -- 1861; Isaac A. Allyn -- 1862-3; Chas. Porter -- 1864; A. P. Stegenga -- 1865-6-7-8-9; Wm. A. Willis -- 1870-1-2; John D. Wood -- 1873-4; Chas. L. Waffle -- 1875; H. D. Jones -- 1876-7-8-9; James H. Carey -- 1880-1.

Officers for 1881:

A. P. Stegenga, Supervisor; J. H. Carey, Clerk; Joel M. Fellows, Treasurer; J. Ovens, Commissioner of Highways; C. Ovens, Justice of the Peace; O. Trunmble, Superindent of Schools; C. Nivison, School Inspector.




GEORGE W. YATES was born in Clermont County, Ohio, April 19, 1837. He settled with his father in Iroquois County, Ill., in 1844, and remained until 1861, when he enrolled in Company D, 10th Illinois Infantry, serving three years and five months as rank sergeant. Mr. Yates now resides on Section 27, Olive Township, and is engaged in lumbering.

A. P. STEGENGA, born in the Netherlands, June 28, 1842, and settled in connection with his father's family in Holland, Mich., Aug. 4, 1847. He engaged in farming which still continues on Section 33, Olive township. Mr. Stegenga has been largely identified in the government of his township, for he has held the several offices of Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, School Commissioner, Town Clerk for five years and is now serving his seventh term as Supervisor. He married Dec. 12, 1868 Martha Diekema, who was born Nov. 1, 1846. They have five children. Mr. Stegenga's father, Popke M. Stegenga, was born Sep. 6, 1801, and married April 28, 1828 Johantje Bysta, who was born Jan. 27, 1801. Both are still living (1882) having passed fifty-four years of married life, and very hale, bidding fair to live for at least a few more years. The portraits of Mr. Stegenga and his wife and his father and mother occupy a page in this work.

JAMES H. CAREY, born in Hillsdale County, Mich., July 22, 1851, and settled in Olive township in 1861. His first occupation was than of a lumberman, owning a saw mill in 1876, and now is the sole owner of the large saw mill at Olive Centre, also is the present township Clerk. He married May 26, 1875 Cora Lyon, who was born in Medina County, Ohio, Aug. 11, 1857. They have one child, Herbert W., born March 6, 1877.

JOHN D. WOOD, son of William Wood and grandson of Robert, is the only male descendant, and was born in Detroit, Mich., April 14, 1836. He early learned the wagon makers' trade which he worked at for some years. Subsequently he acted as foreman for three years in a large lumber firm at Saginaw. He served in the Quarter Master's department during a part of the war of the Rebellion. He then settled in Illinois where he married Mrs. A. Sherman, whose maiden name was Elizabeth M. Beard, who was born in Seneca County, N. Y., November, 1837, and died June 14, 1878. Mr. Wood settled in Olive township in 1870 and has been township Clerk, Drain Commissioner, and is at present Justice of the Peace.

M. R. MERRITT was born in Monroe County, N. Y., May 7, 1830, and settled in Olive township in 1862, and engaged in farming and blacksmithing, which occupation, in connection with a wagon shop and meat market, he still follows at Olive Centre. In 1862 he enlisted in Company H, 19th Michigan Infantry, and served three years; was wounded at Ft. Donaldson and Spring Hill and taken prisoner at Brentwood, Tenn., also incarcerated at Libby Prison for three months; he gets a pension. He has been Justice of the Peace, Constable and Deputy Sheriff. He married April 5, 1854 Elizabeth H. Harvey, who was born Oct. 20, 1835.

E. L. RHODES was born in Dutchess County, N. Y., on Sept. 10, 1842, and at the age of two years his father moved to Montcalm County, Mich. In 1863 he enlisted in Company K, 4th Michigan Cavalry, and served till the close of the war. He was with the party who captured Jeff Davis in his lady's attire. He married Feb. 7, 1870, Jennie S. Conner, who was born in Ionia County, Mich., Jan. 16, 1848. He has one child, Carrie M., born March 13, 1872. Mr. Rhodes now resides at Ottawa Station, Olive township, and carries on blacksmithing.

J. M. FELLOWS, born in Onondaga County, N. Y., Dec. 29, 1827, and settled in Hillsdale County, Mich., in 1853 and in Olive township, Ottawa County, in 1855, working at farming and shoemaking. He was the first township Clerk of Olive, and has been Supervisor, Justice of the Peace for many years, and the present township Treasurer and Post-master at Ottawa Station. He married Aug. 15, 1847 Maria C. Eastway, who was born in London, Eng., March 30, 1826.

ELIJAH ANGEL was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, May 13, 1849, and came to Ottawa County, Mich., in 1865. He has always been engaged in lumbering, and at present acts as head sawyer and filer at Olive Centre mills. He married Sept. 27, 1876 Minnie Pocox, who was born in Fulton County, Ohio, March 18, 1856. Mr. Angel's present home is Whitehall, Muskegon County. He enlisted in 1863 in Company I, 128th Ohio Veteran Infantry and served till the close of the war.

H. J. DAVIS, born in Delaware County, N. Y., Dec. 7, 1840, and settled in Olive township, Section 34, in 1859, where he still lives. He married July 3, 1864, Margaret E. Adams, who was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., July 1, 1847. He has three children, George W., born June 4, 1865; Maria J., Dec. 7, 1866; Frank, Dec. 7, 1870.

J. G. BOYES, born in New York City, June 5, 1837, early learned the trade of blacksmithing. He settled in Ottawa County, Olive township, Section 44, in 1863. He owns 165 acres and is engaged in farming and fruit growing. He has been twice married, first in Aug. 2, 1863 to Josephine L. Joscelyn, who died May 12, 1877; second marriage to Laura L. Calkin, who was born in Pennsylvania Jan. 13, 1849.

Transcriber: Leslie Coulson
Created: 13 July 2006
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/twprecords/olive/1882olive.html