OTTAWA COUNTY, MICHIGAN
THE FIRST 150 YEARS
1847 – 1997
WRIGHT TOWNSHIP, OTTAWA COUNTY, MICHIGAN – SUPERVISORS
1847-1849 Silvius Waters
1850-1855 George W. Woodward, Irenus Wellman, A. Bigelow, Irenus Wellman, Silvius Waters
1860-1861 Amasa W.Auger
1862-1867 Benjamie Lillie, Peter Chappell
1869-1872 John Wasson
1873-1876 Benjamin Laubach
1877-1879 William Molloy
1881-1884 W.F. Kelly, Benjamin Laubach, William Sivers
1889-1893 Thomas Molloy
1894-1897 William H. Sivers, Suel A. Sheldon, resigned December 21, 1898, William Sivers
1899-1900 E.A. Hambleton
1901-1905 Willis Buck
1906-1909 E.A. Hambleton
1910-1911 Charles Clayton, resigned August
1911-1912 W. J. Hanna, resigned Ausust 5, 1912
1912-1913 E.A. Hambleton
1914 Charles Clayton
1915-1919 E.A. Hambleton
1920-1921 Glenn Luther
1922-1924 E.A. Hambleton
1925-1927 Charles Goodenow, Lester W. Martin
1929-1931 Charles Goodenow
1932-1949 Lester W. Martin
1949-1953 Albert Walcott
1953-1954 Frank Gavin
1955-1962 A. J. Walcott
1962-1968 Hugh Henry
1968-1972 Harold Allen
1972-1976 Dr. Wm. Ball
1976-1978 Leonard Schwallier
1978-1996 Herman Speet, Joseph Gavin
WRIGHT TOWNSHIP, OTTAWA COUNTY, MICHIGAN-HISTORICAL
Ottawa County was organized by an act of Legislature approved December 31, 1837.What is now Muskegon County was also include with Ottawa County in the original organization. The county consisted of three townships which were Ottawa, Muskegon and Talmadge. At that time the following Supervisors were elected: Bethuel Church, Talmadge; William Hathaway, Ottawa; Erastus Wilcox, Muskegon. By 1840, these townships were broken up further into five townships: Ottawa, Georgetown, Talmadge, Norton, and Muskegon. Polkton was the sixth township in 1845, and Wright was the seventh township to appear in 1847. In 1859 the supervisors voted to petition the Legislature to organize the County of Muskegon, leaving Ottawa county as it is today.
Wright Township was organized on March 16, 1847, at a meeting at the home of Leonard Roberts. The first officers were: Silvius Waters, Supervisor; Irenus Wellman, clerk; Hiram C. McDearman, treasurer, Edson Fuller, John McLain, Charles Dunning, justices.
It is believed that Justin Walker was one of the first settlers of Wright Township in 1839, locating in the south-east corner, in forestland, just a little beyond the settlement of Walker. Mr. Leland came soon after and located a little north west of Mr. Walker. Other early setters were Benjamin and Timothy Lillie, James Wheeler, John O’Brien, John McLain, C. Roberts, E. Fuller, J. Wasson, J. Parmenter, Charles Buck, E. Streeter, C. Dunning, W.P. Wells, Perley Lawton, I. Wellman, Benjamin F. Lillie, O. McClear, A.I. Clayton, W.W. Averill, James F. Cady, and W.H. Walker.
Benjamin Laubach was elected Justice of the Peace in 1856, and held that office for twenty two years. He was elected supervisor in 1873 and was elected to the State Legislature in 1877, holding that office for two terms.
The earliest record of a township board meeting was dated October 28, 1854 for the purpose of auditing accounts and voting a sum to pay past indebtedness. The following sums were voted: the sum of $55.00 to pay past indebtedness, and the sum of $10.00 to be added to the amount voted at the Township meeting April 3rd, 1854.
The Historical Atlas for Ottawa County, 1882, tells us that Wright Township was desirable for its "richness of soil and adaptation to general farming purposes, and one of the best townships in the County. Its surface is undulating, and is well watered by Sand Creek and its tributaries, which furnish motive power for one good mill. The timber is mostly hard wood, and the soil a rich clay loam, inclining to sand and sand loam in places. It is unsurpassed as a wheat raising township, and for grazing and general farming purposes, and in the matter of stock and stock-raising, it probably surpasses any township in the county. The farmers have paid much attention to the improvement of stock generally, and particularly to cattle".
The State Census for first thirty five years of existence of Wright Township show a steady population increase:
298 - 521 - 868 -1520-1584-2077-2064-1922 (Village of Berlin 270)
WRIGHT TOWNSHIP. OTTAWA COUNTY, MICHIGAN
VILLAGES AND POST OFFICES
First Post Office was established as Berlin on September 23, 1852
Post Masters George W. Woodward September 23, 1852
Samuel L. Bigelow January 6, 1855
Eli Woodman May 5, 1858
Samuel Everhart February 19, 1859
Benjamin S. Whitman October 5, 1866
Robert B. McCulloch May 15, 1867
George M. Huntley November 3, 1885
John A. Meyer December 7, 1886
Joseph Raymond May 10, 1889
John Mead December 2, 1890
Wellington R. Lawton July 5, 1893
Henry E. Shuster July 12, 1897
Ray Carpenter May 1, 1902
Margaret Carpenter December 2, 1911
The Village of Berlin was changed to Marne in June of 1919- in honor of the local troops who fought at the Battle of Marne in France.
Cornelius G. Schurr August 2, 1924
Clarence O’Hearn October 15, 1934
Geraldine O’Hearn October 1, 1935
Clarence O’Hearn February 19, 1946
Jennie Schurr December 31, 1955
Clyde Ryan May 18, 1956
Evelyn Berg (Officer in Charge) April 22, 1977
Lawrence J. Weber July 16, 1977
Gerald M. Lyster (Officer in Charge) May 21, 1981
Carol M. Dodge (Officer in Charge) December 3, 1981
Ms. Michael M. Stauffer March 20, 1982
Rick L. Miller (Officer in Charge) January 6, 1996
John M. Bottema February 17, 1996
First rural delivery service out of the Berlin Post Office was established in 1902, with carriers John Gorter, Jasper Miller and Ray Marvin using horse and mail wagon, or sleigh during the winter months.
Some of the first inhabitants of Wright Township settled in that section that is now the village of Berlin. Settlers built pine cabins along the banks of Sand Creek, and discovering the force of water for power, the Old Mill Dam was built.
BERLIN TO MARNE
A few businesses were in the Berlin area as early as 1840, including Thomas McCulloch, blacksmith, Samuel Everhart, wagon shop, and Mr. Ira Ford, who owned a grist mill and saw mill by the Old Mill Dam. This was around Sand Creek, in the area of State Street going to the fairgrounds. The dam held the waters back on the north side of he bridge, and created quite a large size pond, which was used by the young for swimming and ice skating.
The village of Berlin was platted in 1857, on land originally belonging to Ira Ford. According to descendants of Mr. Ford, he had come from Lock Berling, Connecticut, and asked that the village be named Berling. Through some error, the "g" was left off of the name, hence the village became Berlin. The village became the voting precinct for the township until a new township hall was built in Reno in 1888.
After World War I, many citizens of Berlin felt the name of the village should be changed. A May 1919 edition of the Grand Rapids Herald stated that "Ottawa County has the only "Berlin in the United States." It goes on to say, "Despite some discussion relative to a change in nomenclature, our neighboring American town of Berlin (famous for annually producing the biggest fair of its size in the world) has stuck to its name."
"Unquestionably it has demonstrated its loyalty and devotion and Americanism with sufficient fervor during the past two red years so as to leave no possible inference that it bears any relationship – sympathetically or otherwise – with that other "Berlin" against which we have been in arms. Confessedly we admire its nerve in holding fast to its ancient and historic title."
The June 13, 1919 issue of The Coopersville Observer states that "The Yanks mopped up the Germans and now the post office department has finished the job of sweeping the "Berlins" off the face of the good old U.S.A." It contains on that June 11, 1919 the post office department changed the name of Berlin, Ottawa County post office to Marne. Of about 200 population in the village, the change was made upon request of one hundred and ten residents in a petition to Washington, stating that they did not like the German name. Signers of the petition were George Burch, Sr., Dr. Charles Chappell, Peter Danforth, John Steketee, Frank O’Hearn, Thomas Garter, Carrie Schall, Mr. Barnoski, Edward Prendergast, George Burch, Jr., and William J. Hanna. The petition asked that the name be changed to Ottawa, but there were so many other Ottawas in the central west that the name Marne was finally chosen. Many of our boys had fought along the Marne River in France during the war.
The August 29, 1919 edition of The Coopersville Observer tells of opposition to the name change, and petitions being circulated to have the name "Berlin" reinstated. John Steketee states in that article "Marne will always be Marne and never Berlin again". And so it remained.
The U.S. Post Office was housed in various stores until the year 1959, when a building was built to specifications, and dedicated on April 18 of that year. That building was added on to and shared with the Marne Office of the Coopersville Bank and at this writing houses Rinaldi Pizza, a beauty shop, and a video store. The present new post office building was dedicated in 1989.
Little settlements developed after Berlin and after the coming of the railroad through Wright township. People in these settlements believed the railroad would become the primary means of transportation, but with the demise of the railroad, these villages are only a memory.
First Post Office established on April 13, 1888
First Post Master George W. Sevey
Discontinued February, 1918 to Berlin
Location was in the area of Arthur Street and 16th Ave. This settlement was named for Philip O. Herrington, who moved to Wright township from Ohio in 1873, and settled on a one hundred twenty acre farm in that area. He built a General Store in 1886 along with Mr. Sevey. The store contained the Herrington Post Office and later a restaurant. The village of Herrington also consisted of a depot, grist mill, and Grand Rapids Stave Co., known as a cooperage, which manufactured wooden barrels. The depot was torn down in 1930. A Grange was organized and a hall built in 1873, as Grange No. 30. In 1961, the Marne American Legion bought the hall.
First Post Office established January 14, 1887
First Post Master George M. Huntly
To be discontinued: February 28, 1907
Order rescinded: February 27, 1907
Other Post Masters Henry R. Paul, December 18, 1906
Discontinued: January 31, 1925 to Coopersville
Beneul Bauman is recognized as the founder of Reno when the little village was developed on a portion of his 40 acre farm in Section 22, on Cleveland Street along the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, which was just north of 16th. The township hall was built here in 1888, and the town also contained a General Store, Joseph Covey, prop.; blacksmith shop, Charles Vandervoort, blacksmith; the railroad depot, located across from the blacksmith, with G.M. Huntly, station agent; and Sanford Siviers, Post Master.
WRIGHT TOWNSHIP – SCHOOLS
When Michigan declared statehood in 1837, a public education plan was adopted based on free schools operated at public expense, which would be under the supervision of the state. The plan recommended that district school boards be developed, composed of a moderator, a director, and an assessor who would be authorized to levy taxes for the erection and maintenance of schools. The people of the townships were to elect a board of school inspectors who would establish new school districts, inspect schools, hire and supervise teachers and distribute money from school funds.
Wright Township acted on the formation of schools soon after becoming a township. Earliest school records are of a meeting of the school inspectors held on May 12th, 1847 at the home of Silvius Waters, for the purpose of forming School Districts. Some of these districts were joined with Talmadge Township, Chester Township, Polkton Township, or Alpine Township. Changes were made in the districts as population grew, but by the year 1880, districts were pretty well established and school houses erected.
District One: LILLIE SCHOOL – Northwest corner of 40th Ave. And Garfield St. -Building was sold in 1962, and is no longer in existence.District Two: CLATON SCHOOL – Southwest corner of 8th Ave. And Arthur St. - Closed in 1957. Has been converted into a house.
District Three: McDEARMAN SCHOOL – Southeast corner of 40th Ave. And Cleveland St. - First school house was a log building which burned down, again rebuilt in 1862. Closed in 1962.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 25 January 2007