.....ELAM ATWATER. FENN made an exploratory trip into Allegan County in 1851 with partner Elisha Mix; where there were already a number of others in the surrounding territory. He found six families living in the Manlius settlement and a number of hardy pioneers had taken up residence in the woods. In Ganges township he found Levi Loomis being there since 1840, plus Arba N. Crawford, Sprague Collins, John Goodeve. Harrison Hutchins was settled on the banks of Hutchins Lake; and George Veeder, John Billings, James McCormick and the Wadsworth family lived in little clearings in the woods, but the future site of Fennville had yet to attract its first settler, it was just a mud hole.
.....Fenn and Mix returned to their homes in the east and prepared their families for the trip west. They packed every tool and implement they thought would be needed to cut, saw, split and dig with and correspondingly large tools thought to handle large timber. They brought six 7½ lb axes (found 3½ would have been better). All of their effects were shipped by Northern Transportation boats to Chicago, from there by the scow "D. R. Holt". Mr. Mix came in early March, 1852 to select a site and build a house, ready for the families who would follow him in May.
.....Lumber was hauled from Mann's mill over an almost bottomless bed of mud, over roots and around stumps for just fifty cents a thousand to the Benson 80 acre home, halfway to the site of Fennville, see 1873 map. The families did come in May, they were Mrs. Elisha Mix; E. Mix Jr.; Miss Rosa Mix; Benjamin Crawford and Miss Abigal J. Wright who were later married; Elam Atwater Fenn and wife; and daughter Lydia Irene Fenn. Arriving in Kalamazoo they were greeted by Mr. Mix and S. A. Morrison and a large, strong, two-horse wagon. The first night they stayed in the old Otsego Hall Hotel, the second night, after passing through Allegan, they stayed at the hotel in Pine Planes. This story is displayed in more detail at the book "Early Years". Living did not go well during the first months, Some returned to New York but Fenn stuck it out, using his 7½ lb ax he had cleared twelve acres by spring and all was ready for crops before fall.
.....Fenn history can be viewed on the John Crane Page, and explaining the marriage of Lydia Irene Fenn to Henry Lee Blakeslee.
was still living in the village of Manlius attempting with little
success to be a pioneer farmer. A saw mill had been erected in
section 29 where Fenn and Stephen Atwater purchased it.
Atwater deeded 50 acres to Fenn in Clyde Twp. on the east side of the
swamp. Fenn purchased another 20 acres adjoining to the
west. In 1860 they moved the mill to this property. Mr.
Atwater retired from the business and Levi Loomis took his place,
making the firm "Loomis
.....The first mill was a small steam-powered factory with one upright saw and one edger, such as that pictured left. It had a quick working engine with direct connection, the saw being attached to the engine shaft and the speed of the saw controlled by the sawer who gauged the steam power by means of a lever. The mill did a fair business for several years and burned in 1865.
.....In 1866 the first post office was opened which was called "Fenn's Mill", the first postmaster being Elam Atwater Fenn. Tradition has it that the first stamp for canceling letters was carved with a jack knife by Jack Reeves and remained in use for more than a year.
.....The name of "Fennville" was adopted by the new "Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Rail Road" as approved by postmaster E. A. Fenn in 1871.
.....Fenn's 2nd house was located on what became lot 48 in Fennville's First Addition plated by Elisha Mix in 1871. Wilson's Addition soon followed just east of the low area and where the village stores were first built. This all happened about the same time of "The "Fire of 1871". City workers as recently as 1920 reported that far beneath the fill and pavement of Main Street are the remains of the old corduroy road that once crossed the swamp.
Elma Atwater Fenn became village president of Allegan.
Not to be confused with E. A. Fenn, i.e. Elizabeth Anne Fenn.
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