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
State and received a very limited education,
as when quite young he was engaged in lumbering on the St. Lawrence
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
Hutchins was one of a
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
added to the
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
in pieces by tourists, who visited that historic place.
|.....LAURA C. HUDSON, daughter of Milo Lee and Hannah
(Rogers) Hudson of Hudson, Ohio. Milo
1791, in Goshen, Conn., and was the son of David
February 17, 1761. The latter named gentleman is a descendant
of the discoverer of the Hudson River, as is proved by the following:
Hudson, who discovered the Hudson River
1609 and the Hudson Bay in 1610, named his youngest son David, who in
turn named his youngest son
Thus the name David was carried down for seven generations. The grand-father of Mrs. Hutchins was the
of that line, being born in Blanford,
.....The paternal grandmother
of Mrs. Hutchins was Anna M. Norton, and after her marriage with
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
eighth child was born, October 22, 1800, who was the first white child
Summit County, Ohio. In 1805, another son,
.....Harrison's pioneer life
is well described in
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.
Hutchins parents died when she was
very young, and she was then taken into the home of her grandparents.
was one of the patriots in the Revolutionary War and her great-aunt was
second wife of Ethan Allen. Her
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,
written, and read at the fortieth anniversary of their marriage, by
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
.....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
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.
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
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.
estate is made more
valuable by the
erection thereon of all the buildings which sub serve the purposes of
agriculturist. The pride which he
when viewing his broad acres is justifiable when we learn that his
standing in the farming community has been brought about solely by his
efforts, seconded by the wise judgment of his wife.
"No rushing cars in noisy
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
The unbroken green encased,
And where you now view verdant fields
There lay a wooded waste,
"Mccormick, the first
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
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.
-- The lines continue --