Harrison and Laura (Hudson) Hutchins
From two sketches created  in 19th Century History


.....HARRISON HUTCHINS, This worthy old pioneer is at present residing on section 1, Ganges Township, Allegan County. He was born in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont, September 3, 1815, and was a son of David and Sally (Burnell) Hutchins. The father was born on a farm in the Green Mountain State and received a very limited education, as when quite young he was engaged in lumbering on the St. Lawrence River.

.....Our subjects mother was Sally, daughter of Samuel Burnell, a native of Connecticut, who spent most of his life in Vermont. Mr. Burnell was a farmer, and during the Revolutionary War served his country from the beginning to the close of hostilities. He was very prominent in political affairs in his community and served several terms in the Vermont Legislature, finally declining further office on account of his advanced years.
View family photo on son's Edward page.
.....Harrison Hutchins was one of a family of eleven children, born to his parents, only four of whom are living. Two died in infancy, and the remaining nine bore the names of Sophia, Adeline, Alvin, Louisa, Samuel, David, Harrison, Cynthia, and Sarah. David Hutchins, on moving to Massena, New York, located in St. Lawrence County, where he was engaged in running a sawmill. His next removal was to Jefferson County, where he followed the occupation of a farmer. Fourteen years later he came to Allegan County with his family, where he lived until his death. He was a prominent member of the Masonic Fraternity, and stood by his order during the strong excitement of the Morgan Episode.

.....Although his school days were few, Harrison stopped going to school at age 9 and was diligent in prosecuting his studies at home, and thus acquired a good fund of information. He probably worked in the cotton factory whit his father at Watertown, New York. At twelve years of age he went to Rochester to live with his sister Adaline, and worked at Prescott in Canada where he was employed in a brickyard. He later learned the coopers trade and made excellent barrels and kegs. Harrison and his father David came to Michigan in July of 1836 via the Erie Canal when twenty years of age. They took a schooner to Detroit, Harrison alone walked the entire distance from Detroit to Allegan. Allegan was small town with only a saw mill and a few log houses, he was greeted by Leander Prouty and many of his old neighbors from Rochester.  After making arrangements in Allegan, he returned to Detroit for his father and the two men walked back together. They began exploring the wooded lands west of Allegan to find the place they wanted to settle.  At this time there were no settlers between Allegan and the shores of Lake Michigan although indians had traversed the trails and streams in this area for many years.  Probably the first settler on the lake shore was by William G. Butler in 1830 who set up a fur trading at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River which became known as Singapore.  When Harrison and David, his father, penetrated the virgin forest of Allegan County, it was the frontier of the world, In fact he was a scout in the advance guard of the legions of men to follow.

.....In May of 1837, David and Harrison decided on a piece of land on the north shore of the Little Lake (now Hutchins Lake) and took title to 160 acres in Section 1, Ganges Township, and James McCormick took up a claim in the southwest corner of Manlius Township just across the road,  where they were the first settlers between Allegan and Singapore.  Pier Cove was not settled until 1849.  James McCormick keep a boat tied up on the Kalamazoo River, wherein the point became known as Mack's Landing. The Bailey Mill Road was used to travel to the river.  In September, Harrison, Jim McCormick, Cyrus Cole and possibly John Billings and others cut a wagon road from the Bailey Mill to the corners of the four townships of Saugatuck, Ganges, Manlius, and Clyde. The Bailey Mill at Swan Creek was built through the winter of 1837-38, an earlier saw mill had been built in 1810 by Levi Loomis.

     When winter came, Harrison walked back to Detroit, and traveled on to Rochester to visit his family.  His sister Sophia Stillson, and two of her children returned to Michigan by wagon.  David had contracted to operate the saw mill at Swan Creek and harrison worked with him. He cleared his land in December, 1838 and built his log house.
Harrison's nephew, Alvin Stillson later wrote: "The first white man's house built in the township was erected by Uncle Harrison Hutchins on his farm. He built the body of rough logs and closed it up up with rough boards. The floor was made of rough green lumber laid on mud sills, as also was the floor above. A hole was left in the floor for the fire to be built on the ground, and another in the roof for the smoke to pass off." Harrison continued lumbering and working on road construction projects.

.....The first crops raised in Ganges were planted in by Harrison Hutchins and James Wadsworth. In the spring of 1838 Harrison brought three seedling peach trees from Allegan and set them out. The bore their first fruit in 1842.  In 1845 he built another house nearer the lake where good water could be obtained from a spring. This was a larger home, built into a bank with bed rooms on a second level, and there was a large fireplace for heating and cooking. It was to this house "down by the lake" that Harrison brought his bride Laura Carolina Hudson, following their marriage June 8, 1847.  Laura had come to Manlius Township to teach in the District No. 2 school which was a twelve foot square log shanty. It was the custom at that time for the teacher to take turns living with the families of the children who attended the school.  It was then that Laura became acquainted with Harrison Hutchins.
.....LAURA C. HUDSON, daughter of Milo Lee and Hannah (Rogers) Hudson of Hudson, Ohio.  Milo was born October 15, 1791, in Goshen, Conn., and was the son of David Hudson, born February 17, 1761.  The latter named gentleman is a descendant of the discoverer of the Hudson River, as is proved by the following: Hendrick Hudson, who discovered the Hudson River in 1609 and the Hudson Bay in 1610, named his youngest son David, who in turn named his youngest son David. Thus the name David was carried down for seven generations.  The grand-father of Mrs. Hutchins was the sixth of that line, being born in Blanford, Conn., February 17, 1761.

.....The paternal grandmother of  Mrs. Hutchins was Anna M. Norton, and after her marriage with David Hudson they resided in Goshen, Conn.  In 1799, they moved to Summit County, Ohio, with their six children, one child having died prior to their removal.  It was there where the City of Hudson was settled, in a one-roomed log house in the midst of an unbroken forest, that the eighth child was born, October 22, 1800, who was the first white child born in Summit County, Ohio. In 1805, another son, David was

added to the household. Our subjects wife was born afterward born in the same house, which was afterward sold to the noted John Brown. The house has since been carried away in pieces by tourists, who visited that historic place.
 
.....Mrs. Hutchins parents died when she was very young, and she was then taken into the home of her grandparents. Her grandfather was one of the patriots in the Revolutionary War and her great-aunt was the second wife of Ethan Allen.  Her grandfather, Constant Rogers, was a lineal descendant of John Rogers, the martyr of Smithfield.  Mrs. Hutchins taught the first school in the Union District.  The happy married life of our subject and his wife is shown forth in the following lines, which were written, and read at the fortieth anniversary of their marriage, by their daughter, Mrs. Emily H. Hafford, June 8, 1887.

.....There were nine children born to Laura and Harrison in the house down by the lake:
.....Samuel, a son b. December 5, 1850, died at age 21.
.....May, the first daughter died before reaching maturity.
.....Edward, b. March 8, 1852, lived to become prominent in the development of the fruit industry in the county.
.....Henry Hudson, b. December 14, 1853, installed the first telephone system in the county. He wrote and published in local newspapers a series entitled, "Recollections of the Pioneers of Western Allegan County". Henry d. 1933.
.....David Milo, b. March 21, 1857, had three sons to carry on the family name.
.....Mary Almira, b. June 27, 1859m d. at age 15.
.....Emily. b. September 3, 1861, out lived them all.
.....Ira, b. February 15, 1862, was destined to build the first electric light and power plant in Fennville.
.....Sara, their youngest was b. April 24, 1865 and d. May 27, 1896 at age 31 without having married.
She attained a Ph. B at Kalamazoo College,  class of 1893. In Colorado 1894-96 Joint Ed. "Echos from the Fields"

.....From these children they had 15 grandchildren. During their childhood years, the children were compelled by their parents to work in the field or in the house, which was the general practice in the community at that time.  the children attended school in the Fennville district and later entered the preparatory department of Kalamazoo College.

     Harrison and Laura were active members of the community in which they lived.  They were concerned for the welfare of their neighbors.  Harrison would often make up a load of supplies for distribution to local widows or others in need and to the families of men who were away fighting during the Civil War.  He expanded his land holdings, planted one of the first commercial peach orchards in the community, and continued farming with the help of his sons.  Laura was a poet of considerable ability and related in verse many of the historical events of the pioneer era.  Many of her poems were of a religious nature; she was a Seventh Day Adventist who was most devout in her religious convictions.  Harrison was a Baptist; he built and supported the Baptist Church and parsonage located at the Grange Corners in Ganges Township which is on the NE corner of 122nd Av. and 66th St.  After his death title to the church property was conveyed to the church by his heirs.


.....The drifting snow during the winter proved to be a great annoyance to the Hutchins family at their house down by the lake.  It was difficult to keep the road open up to the highway.  In 1873 a large modern residence, photo left, was erected near the highway just south and west of where the first log cabin had stood. View House in 2008.

     Today his estate is made more valuable by the erection thereon of all the buildings which sub serve the purposes of an agriculturist.   The pride which he feels when viewing his broad acres is justifiable when we learn that his present standing in the farming community has been brought about solely by his own efforts, seconded by the wise judgment of his wife.

.....Harrison's pioneer life is well described in the following poem, written by his wife and read at an Old Settlers’ meeting in Allegan. a few years ago. It is only a small portion of the poem, and the sturdy youth referred to is her husband.
"No rushing cars in noisy haste
At fennville depot called,
No logs from out the pinery
To Fennville e'er were hauled.

"The Indian built his wigwam then
Beside the lake so fair,
And feasted on the shining bass,
The muskrat and the bear.

"The houses then in Allegan
Were numbered by the score,
Upon its public square, my friend
The pine trees numbered more.

To Fennville e'er were hauled
The unbroken green encased,
And where you now view verdant fields
There lay a wooded waste,

"Mccormick, the first pioneer,
The emerald surface broke,
And from his clayey chimney
First arose the white man's smoke.

"And next there came a sturdy youth
His future home to make,
And cut a path and built a house
Beside the shining lake.

"His step, so firm and buoyant then,
Is not a lithe today;
His forehead bald, his raven locks
Old time has turned to gray.

"As time rolled on new neighbors came,
A handful, three or four,
And while they much of hardship saw,
They'd courage to endure.

"O'er rooty road from Allegan
The oxen drew their food,
And pumpkin dumplings in those days
Were reckoned pretty good."
     Harrison Hutchins enjoyed the last decade of his life on the farm in Ganges.  In politics, he was a Republican.  He died at his home on the 18th day of June, 1893.  Laura survived him by more than a decade and died September 13, 1907, age 79.  The happy married life of Harrison and Laura Hutchins is shown forth in the following lines, which were written, and read at the fortieth anniversary of their marriage, by their daughter, Mrs. Emily H. Hafford, Jun 8, 1887:

 "Twas fifty years ago or more,
A youth with ernest, honest air,
Departed from the Empire State
And sought the Western forests fair.

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