History of Irving Township, MI.
This township, known on the government survey as township 4 north, range 9 west, lies upon the northern boundary of the county, and has upon the north the Kent county line, upon the south Rutland township, upon the east Carlton, and upon the west Thornapple.
Within the limits of the township are 2 villages, 4 post-offices, 6 church buildings, and 12 district schools, so that, as concerns mail, religious, and educational facilities, the provision is abundantly ample. There are some manufactures at Irving and Freeport villages, but agriculture is of course the dependence, and, it may be added, a profitable one. The Thornappie River describes an eccentric crescent in the southwest corner of the township, across which also passes the Grand Rapids division of the Michigan Central Railroad, upon which Irving village is a station. The surface of the country is hilly, and offers many widereaching and pleasing natural prospects.
Upon a 40 acre lot in the southwest corner of section 33, A. E. Bull, a New Englander, made the pioneer settlement in Irving, and the first settlement likewise in Rutland, in which latter town, indeed, he had considerable land on section 5. It was mostly prairie-laud, and is to-day known as Bull’s Prairie. This tract Mr. Bull purchased as early as 1836, but he did not make any pronounced move towards settling upon it until some time in 1837, when he put up a cabin on the 40 acres in Irving, and entered vigorously upon the work of clearing, fencing, and cultivating his land. Mr. Bull was unmarried, and about the time he began work upon his place he engaged John Henyon to chop for him, and Henyon’s wife to keep house and provide the subsistence for his choppers, of whom he had at one time more than twenty. Though Mr. Bull remained a bachelor some years after his settlement in Irving, and though be was away from the township frequently, he continued to preserve his identity as a settler, and that he was in the strict acceptation of the term an active, hardy pioneer cannot be denied. He was, moreover, an industrious surveyor, and laid out many of the early roads in both Rutland and Irving. While still a resident of Rutland, whither he removed his house many years after his settlement in Irving, he died in 1865, during a visit to Massachusetts.
Until the spring of 1838, Mr. Bull was the solitary settler in Irving. At that time there came to the township William W. and Velorous Ingraham, two brothers, from New York, and upon section 34, where the Ingraham tavern afterwards stood, and yet stands, they built a log cabin, made a clearing, and by summer had matters in readiness for the reception of their grandfather, father, and brother, Amos, Frederick, and Orrin L. Ingraham, all of whom then made their appearance as members of the white settlement in Irving. Frederick Ingraham had bought a place on the hill just east of his son William’s farm, but all lived at first with William and his family, he being the only one of the sons married. While living there, Amos Ingraham died, Aug. 11, 1838, and was buried on the farm. He was a good man, and had been a soldier in the Revolutionary war.
Shortly after the State road through Irving was surveyed in 1844, William Ingraham determined to convert his house into a tavern, and by material additions made it a roomy framed structure, as it stands to-day, at the intersection of the two roads, near the town line, on section 34. He put up a sign, whereon was emblazoned the legend “Ingraham House,” and, although business was at first not remarkably brisk, by reason of delay in constructing the State road, the opening of the stage route between Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, via Hastings, in July, 1846, gave affairs an impetus, and, as the Ingraham House was at one time a point where the stage changed horses, it was then a bustling place of business. Ingrahtm relinquished the business of landlord to Silas Smith after the lapse of a few years. Smith was the last landlord the tavern knew, for after his departure the sign was taken down, and, although H. J. Kenfield and Orrin L. Ingraham, who occupied the house successively afterwards, occasionally entertained travelers, the tavern-stand ceased to be such when Smith left it. William W. Ingraham moved from Irving in 1865, and lives now near Battle Creek. Velorous, his brother, died in Irving, and Orrin L. lives in Virginia. Frederick Ingraham lived on his place, east of William’s, until his death, in December, 1848. He was by trade a blacksmith, and kept a shop near the Ingraham House, down to the time of his decease. The only representative of the family now in Irving is George W., a son of William, who lives on section 27.
During the year 1838 there also came to Irving Daniel Williams and his family, who made their home on section 19. Mr. Williams died in 1874, having a few years previous removed from the town. His son Charles lives near Irving village, on section 31.
Until June, 1842, there were no further accessions to the settlements in Irving. A. E. Bull, Daniel Williams, and the Ingrahams were the only settlers, and they were by no means near enough to each other to be more than distant neighbors. At the first town-meeting, in 1840, there were but 7 voters for the two townships, then called Irving. There were but 6 men to occupy the offices, and, as the official positions were to be 21 in number, the 6 were compelled to “double up” very briskly, as witness: Maj. Mott was chosen assessor, school inspector, justice of the peace, constable, and overseer of highways; Estes Rich was treasurer, assessor, school inspector, highway commissioner, and justice of the peace; A. E. Bull was clerk, school inspector, director of the poor, highway commissioner, and justice of the peace; and Frederick Ingraham was supervisor, director of the poor, highway commissioner, and overseer of highways. Fortunately for the holders, the offices were almost sinecures, since, in the nature of things, there could be but little to do in any of them, save, perhaps, such as were concerned with the highways, else their official tasks would have left them little leisure for labor on their own behalf. Even as to highways, there was at first not much labor or trouble. The character of the country was such that travel was easy through the oakopenings, and roads to almost any point were to be had withOut difficulty.
In the winter of 1841-42, Peter Cobb came from Wayne Co., Mich., where he had been living since 1836, and, as a result of his land-looking expedition, purchased a tract in section 27, and in June, 1842, moved upon it with his family and brother Adna. Upon that place Mr. Cobb has resided uninterruptedly ever since, and is therefore the oldest resident settler in Irving.
Following Mr. Cobb, in 1842, came Richard Newell Hanna, who had bought of one Green, a New Yorker, 520 acres on section 33, and 160 on section 28, upon which latter he made his own home, and soon afterwards parceled out his land on section 33 to incoming settlers. He died in 1855. His brother, J. C. Cobb, afterward married his widow, and still occupies the old Hanna farm. The first settler on section 33 was Joseph C. Freeman, who, in 1843, located upon a 40-acre lot, and while building his cabin lodged his family with William Ingraham. Section 33 was then an unbroken wilderness, and received no settler after Freeman until 1845, when Robert McClintock made a settlement. Freeman now lives in Middleville, and the widow of McClintock, aged eighty-four, resides in the same township.
William Cole located himself on section 27 in 1843, and in the year 1844 there was a considerable addition to the settlement. Isaac Hendershott, with his son J. J., was among the first, coming in the spring from New York, and making a land-purchase on the southeast corner of section 29. Early in the fall they returned to New York, and brought the rest of the family to the new home in Michigan. Isaac Hendershott’s widow, eighty-four years old, lives on the old homestead. J. J., her son, has a home on section 29. He married a daughter of Cohen Balch, who, in October, 1844, came from Vermont to Michigan and settled south of the river, on section 32, where he lived until his tragic death, in 1863. The circumstances of the tragedy may be thus told. Mr. Belch visited Grand Rapids, and made his temporary home at the Eagle Hotel, whereof one John Evans was landlord. Belch made some sport of the beefsteak set before him at supper, and remarked upon its extraordinary toughness, giving it as his laughing opinion that the animal from which the steak had been cut must have been a “breaker” referring, of course, to the hardened physical system of cattle used in breaking land. This and other similar jocose references a waiter promptly repeated to landlord Evans, and landlord Evans, swelling with rage at the thought that the delicacy of his beefsteak should be questioned, advanced quickly and wildly upon Mr. Balch while the latter still sat at the table, and, falling upon him, so beat, bruised, and maltreated him that from the injuries thus received Mr. Balch died within the ensuing forty-eight hours. Evans was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the State prison for three years, but before the expiration of his term he died.
In 1844, too, came William Barton, accompanied by his sons, Willard and Reuben, and his son-in-law, Massena Hopkins. In 1845, L. K. Powers, a settler in Johnstown township in 1840, located upon Section 32 in Irving. In the same year D. B. Pratt became a settler in the same section, south of the river, and then also John Texter and his fatherin-law, John Wagner, from Ohio, bought 160 acres on section 35, but made no permanent settlement until 1847, when they returned to the township after a brief absence in Ohio. Michael Strasbaugh accompanied them in 1847, but after a residence of two years in Irving removed to Canton, whither he was followed three years later by Wagner. In 1846, Geo. K. Beamer, of Western New York, bought of R. N. Hanna a farm on section 33, and that year Harmon Wilcox settled upon section 32. Elizur Lusk located land upon section 30 in 1844, but did not occupy it until a few years afterwards.
Until 1848 settlements in Irving were confined almost entirely to the vicinity of the southern town-line, while north of Peter Cobb’s the township had not been penetrated by the pioneer in any direction. About the year named there was a small colony of Indian farmers on section 6, where they had purchased government land and set about improving and cultivating it. Their attempts, like similar attempts by other redskins in other townships, resulted in the overwhelming conviction that whatever the noble red man might be fitted for he was assuredly not fitted to be a farmer, so after brief and disastrous experiments they gave up the task and returned to a nomadic and more congenial state of existence. In 1848, Sylvanus Travis moved to section 29, and in 1849, Wm. Moulton made a stand still farther north, upon section 23, where he bought a place of William Cole, the patentee. In 1849, Benjamin J. Trego, with a family of seven children, settled upon 160 acres on section 34, previously occupied by Q. H. Gorton, who had cleared about 20 acres. Of Mr. Trego’s children John and Benjamin J. are living on the old place, Wm, C. on the same section, and D. R. in Rutland. In 1849, J. M. ‘Walker settled on section 27, and in 1851 settlements in the northern part of the township began in earnest.
In that year John E. Archer, who had married in Ohio the daughter of Isaac H. Huyck, killed in the Mexican war, moved upon 160 acres, in section 13 of Irving, belonging to Huyck’s widow under a soldier’s land-warrant. The widow herself came out in 1852, and still lives in the town.. When Archer settled upon section 13, in 1851, there was nobody north of him. West were S. W. Chase, Thomas McConnell, and John Tauey. With Archer came also H. G. Jones, who settled upon section 12, and Foster Sisson on section 14. Sisson’s widow married Una Bare, and Peter Wibert, who came from Ohio in 1860, married Archer’s widow, and lives now on the old Huyck place.
It was in 1851 that the considerable German settlement now in the northeastern portion of Irving was founded. Conrad Beeler and Charles, his brother, who had been living in Ohio since 1833, came to Irving, and located land not only for themselves, but for Jacob Schmelicher as well, who made a settlement in 1854. After that John Reuter, Gottlieb Nagler, and other Germans followed into the neighborhood. The members of this German community are thrifty farmers, and support a church now endowed with a flourishing membership of 40. A. H. Bates, H. G. Wood, and Silas Wood were among the settlers in Irving in 1851; Patrick Ryan in 1853, upon a place formerly occupied by James McNutt; James Brew in 1854; W. C. and E. L. Gott and Thomas Lucas in 1855; A. J. Gott and John Hammond in 1856; Henry Kohler in 1857, upon a place earlier improved by Samuel Gibbs; Miles Engle (who moved with his father to Nicitigan in 1835) in 1858, on a place first settled by his stepfather, Wm Boden, whose wife is still living in the town at the age of eighty-five; and J. R. Johnson in 1859, on a farm earlier owned by David Hall.
FIRST BIRTH AND DEATH
The first born in Irving, among the white settlers, was George W., son of William W. Ingraham, the date of whose birth was Dec. 5, 1839, and the place the old Ingraham house. George Ingraham still lives in Irving, on section 27. The first death in the white settlement was that of Amos, father of Frederick and grandfather of William W. Ingraham. He died Aug. 11, 1838, and was buried on William Ingraham’s place, whence his body was removed some years later to the cemetery laid out in that neighborhood in 1846. The first burial in that cemetery occurred Jan. 1, 1847, when the wife of William Cole was laid to rest. In that cemetery lie now the remains of one Revolutionary soldier, Amos Ingrabam; of two soldiers of the war of 1812, Robert MeClintock and Isaac Hendershott; of one soldier of the Mexican war, James Darling; and three soldiers of the war of 1861-65, James Travis, Henry Wing, and Jasper Lusk.
ORGANIZATION AND OFFICERS
Under a legislative act approved April 17, 1839, township 3 north, range 9 west, previously a part of Yankee Springs, and township 4, range 9, then belonging to Thornapple, were set apart as one township, and called Irving in accordance with the request of A. E. Bull, who, being an ardent admirer of Washington Irving’s works, wished thus to honor that author. By an act approved March 16, 1847, township 3 was set off and named Rutland, leaving to Irving the territory it now occupies.
The first township-meeting was held at the house of A. E. Bull, April 6, 1840, when Frederick Ingraham was chosen moderator, A. E. Bull poll-clerk, and Estes Rich, A. E. Bull, Major Mott, and William W. Ingraham inspectors of elect.ion. A. full list of the town officials elected at the first meeting, the total number of votes being but seven, is as follows: Supervisor, Frederick Ingraham; Clerk, A. E. Bull; Treasurer, Estes Rich; Assessors, Estes Rich, Maj. Mott, William W. Ingraham; Collector, Maj. Mott; School Inspectors, A. E. Bull, Estes Rich, Maj. Mott; Directors of the Poor, Frederick Ingraham, A. E. Bull; Highway Commissioners, Frederick Ingraham, Estes Rich, A. E. Bull; Justices of the Peace, Estes Rich, Maj. Mott, A. E. Bull; Constables, D. P. Ingraham, Maj. Mott; Overseers of Highways, Maj. Mott in road district No. 1, composed of town 3, and Frederick Ingraharn in road district No. 2, composed of town 4.
The supervisors, clerks, treasurers, and justices of the peace elected annually from 1841 to 1880 are herewith named:
1841, F. Ingraham; 1842-43, Estes Rich; 1844, F. Ingraham; 1845, Peter Cobb; 1846, J. W. Stebbins; 1847-48, G. K. Beamer; 1849, Coben Batch, Jr.; 1850, no reoord; 1851, Cohen Balch; 1852, no record; 1853, G. K. Beamer; 1854, R. N. Hanna; 1855, Coben Balch; 1856, Peter Cobb; 1857, L. K. Powers; 1858, P. Cobb; 1859, J. W. Torr; 1860, O. L. Ingraham; 1861-62, J. M. Walker; 1863-64, J. C. Henna; 1865-66, P. Cobb; 1867-68, J. J. Hendershott; 1869, N. M. Hinckley; 1870, J. L. Hendershott: 1871-72, P. Cobb; 1873-76, A. J. Walker; 1877-78, A. Matthews; 1879, A. J. Gott.
1841-42, Maj. Mott; 1843, F. Ingraham; 1844, Charles Kellogg; 1845, Adna Cobb; 1846, A. E. Bull; 1847, I. Hendershott; 1843, A. E. Bull; 1849, J. M. Darling; 1850, no record; 1851, T. S. Hills; 1852, no record; 1853, I. Hendershott; 1854, J. L. Hendershott; 1855, J. M. Walker; 1856, B. J. Hendershott; 1857, S. M. Smith; 1858, A. J. Walker; 1859, A. G. Eggleston; 1860, J. M. Walker; 1861, A. G. Eggleston; 1862, A. J. Walker; 1863-65, D. D. Darling; 1866, S. M. Smith; 1867-68, H. W. Reid; 1869, G. W. Ingraham; 1870-72, A. J. Walker; 1873, R. A. Fuller; 1874, M. F. Jordan; 1875, Charles Judd; 1876, R. Woolcott; 1877-79, R. H. Billingsley.
1841, Estes Rich; 1842, F. Ingraham; 1843-44, Daniel Williams; 1845-46, I. Hendershott; 1847, W. W. Ingraham; 1848, I. Hendershott; 1849, Peter Cobb; 1850, no record; 1851, John Norton; 1852, no record; 1953, Jacob Jordan; 1854-58, John Norton; 1859, J. L. Sisson; 1860, Z. D. Hinkley; 1861, B. J. Hendershott; 1862, H. Sisson; 1863, S. Travis; 1864-65, A. J. Gott; 1866, W. M. Wood; 1867, W. H. Johnson; 1868, P. H. Segar; 1869, W. H. Johnson; 1870-71, J. L. Sisson; 1872, O. Matthews; 1873, J. Trego; 1874, J. J. Trego; 1875, A. J. Gott; 1876-77, J. C. Henna; 1878, P. Cobb; 1879, J. Trego.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE
1843, W. W. Ingraham; 1842, Maj. Mott; 1843, F. Ingraham; 1844, Estes Rich; 1845, Peter Cobb; 1846, P. B. Pratt; 1847, I. Hendershott; 1848, R. N. Hanna; 1849, Peter Cobb; 1850, no record; 1851, D. B. Pratt; 1852, no record; 1853, John Norton; 1854, G. K. Beamer; 1855, Peter Cobb; 1856, J. W. T. Orr; 1857, J. S. Magoon; 1858, O. Yerenton; 1859, P. Cobb; 1860, S. W. Chase; 1861, A. Hubbard; 1862, E. H. Mosier; 1863, M. C. Cranston; 1864, Z. D. Hinckley; 1865, J. C. Henna; 1866, M. D. Burr; 1867, L. B. Hills; 1868, Stephen Travis; 1869, J. M. Wood; 1870, P. H. Segar; 1871, L. B. Hills; 1872, A. J. Gott; 1873, Asahel Hubbard; 1874, Allen Matthews; 1875, John Reuter; 1876, J. Hendershott; 1877, William Gibbs; 1878, H. C. Peckham; 1879, I. Cunningham.
THE POLL-LIST OF 1844
At the annual election in 1844 votes were east by W. B. Seymour, Samuel Hopkins, S. B. Hopkins, William W. Ingraham, Charles Kellogg, V. D. Ingraham, Henry King, J. C. Freeman, Ira Shipman, M. W. Henyon, R. N. Hanna, Estes Rich, Peter Cobb, C. H. Brewer, George B. Manchester, David Rork, Daniel Williams, Frederick Ingrabam.
THE POLL-LIST OF 1848
This list included the names of A. E. Bull, James McNutt, Daniel Williams, Morris Germond, Frederick Ingraham, Massena Hopkins, Velorous Ingraham, Joseph C. Freeman, L. K. Powers, D. B. Pratt, Joseph McClintock, Willard Barton, L. C. Baich, George N. Cooley, Owen Henry, J. S. McClintock, William Barton, John Texter, Michael Strausbaugh, Q. H. Gorton, John Norton, R. N. Hanna, William W. Ingraham, Harmon Wilcox, Peter Cobb, Coben Balch, Geo. K. Beamer. William Cole, John J. Hendershott, and Isaac Hendershott.
JURORS IN 1841
In May, 1841, the grand jurors drawn were Frederick Ingraham, Maj. Mott, and the petit jurors Estes Rich and William W. Ingraham.
In 1840 the road-tax aggregated an assessment of four hundred and sixty-nine and a quarter days, of which sixtyseven and a half days were worked out on the highways. The same record sets forth that “$97.75 were received from the county treasurer, and let the same out in jobs.”
In 1840, A. E. Bull (who surveyed many of Irving’s early roads) surveyed a road commencing “at the corners of sections 12 and 13, in town 3 north, range 10 west, and sections 7 and 18, in town 3 north, range 9 west, near Maj. Mott’s house; thence due east on the section-line 75 rods to a stake; thence north 45° east 34 rods; thence north 55° east 218 rods; thence north 47° east 41 rods to the southeast corner of A. E. Bull’s land; thence north 47° east 56 rods to the north-and-south State road.” This was the first survey recorded in the township.
Oct. 12, 1840, there was a survey of a road commencing at a point in the section-line 136 rods east of the corners of sections 4, 5, 8, and 9, in town 3 north, range 9 west, running thence on the aforesaid section-line 136 rods to the aforesaid corners; thence north 45° west 78 rods; thence north 66° west 27 rods; thence north 77° west 34 rods, there to intersect a road leading from A. E. Bull’s to Maj. Mott’s.
That portion of the State road (“passing from Battle Creek by way of Hastings, to where the Kalamazoo and Grand River road crosses the county-line between the counties of Kent and Barry”) lying in Irving was surveyed March 8, 1844. This road was, however, not opened as a stage-route until July 1, 1846, when Eleman I. Knappen, of Hastings, put on a line of stages between Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, and carried the mail. Knappen was a brisk, stirring sort of man, and urged the completion of the road upon the cit.izens of Hastings with a good deal of energy. When questioned as to the kind of a road he expected to make, he caused a little astonishment and some ridicule by averring that it would be a road over which he would “trot clear through,” for roads on which a pair of horses could trot were exceedingly rare in that country and in those days. That part of the road passing through Irving was well-nigh a natural highway, since the oak-openings were open enough to afford vehicles ready access almost any direction.
In 1841 the road assessment in district No. 1 was two hundred and eighteen and a half days, of which but twentyfive and a half days were worked, and in district No. 2, where the assessment was one hundred and twenty and a half days, the work done amounted to but nine and a half days.
The township treasurer’s report, rendered March 22, 1842, recited his assets as follows:
Notes for road purposes $29
Received of the county treasurer 7.50
Amount of taxes received in township orders (not any money received) 44.51
On the 10th of June, 1844, G. B. Manchester and Chas. Kellogg, school inspectors of Irving township, issued a notice to Estes Rich that school district No. 1 had been formed of the southeast, southwest, and northwest quarters of section 3, the northeast, northwest, and southwest quarters of section 10, the whole of sections 9, 4, and 5, the northeast and northwest quarters of section 8, and the east half of section 6, in town 3 north, range 9 west, and sections 33 and 32, the east half of section 31, the south half of section 29, and the south half of section 28, in town 4 north, range 9 west. The first meeting in said district was directed to be held June 22d, at the house of N. W. Henyon.
District No. 2, organized August 31, 1844, included portions of Irving and Thornapple, and was called a fractional district in Irving. May 17, 1844, “district No. 1, of Irving and Yankee Springs,” was formed, and Oct.. 8, 1845, district No. 2 was reorganized as a whole district in Irving. The order of organizing other districts is thus given: No. 3, Dec. 14, 1850; No. 4, in 1852; No. 5, April 29, 1854; No. 6, April 29, 1854; No. 7, Dec. 17, 1859; No. 8, May 31, 1860; No. 9, in July, 1862; No. 10, April 21, 1866; No. 11, Feb. 5, 1870; No. 12, Nov. 12, 1870. Although district No. 1 was organized, as has been seen, more than a year before district No. 2 was formed, the latter was the first to leave a school-house, which was built, in 1846, on section 33.
The school inspectors’ records make no reference to appointments of teachers previous to April 18, 1853, when it appears Martha P. Balch and Eliza J. Dennis were employed May 4, 1853. Martha Messer was given a certificate, and November 5th, the same year, A. D. Rork, Sarah Wooley, and Lucy Archer were appointed. Among later teachers (to November, 1857) appear the names of Mary E. Strasbaugh, Thomas Coyle, Amelia Smith, and Enieline Henyon.
The offical school report for 1879 presents the following statisics:
Number of districts 12
scholars of school age 527
Average attendance 438
Value of property $5900
Teachers’ wages $1392
The school directors for 1879 were C. T. Barton, I. M. Cunningham, R. Billingsley, John Fighter, T. C. Alverson, N. Yearington, J. Teeple, Farrel Burns, Emanuel Bergy, William Mugridge, H. Wilcox, and W. Calkins.
The first post-office established in Irving was one of the results of the opening of the stage route between Battle Creek and Grand Bapids via Hastings, July 1, 1846. It was located at the house of A. E. Bull (who was appointed postmaster), and called Irving. In 1847 the office was transferred to R. N. Hanna, and in the same year G. K. Beamer, being appointed deputy, kept the mail at his house, and in 1848 was himself appointed postmaster. He was succeeded in 1855 by L. K. Powers, who retained the office at his house until 1865, when it was removed to Irving village, and Asabel Hubbard was appointed his successor. In 1869 the office passed into the possession of F. L. Blake, the present incumbent.
NORTH IRVING POST-OFFICE
was established in 1858, when Peter Cobb was appointed postmaster, and as such he has remained continuously to the present.
was established in 1867, and named as a compliment to Millard Fillmore. D. D. Darling, the present postmaster, has been in charge of the office from the first.
has existed since 1878, when the present postmaster, Samuel Roush, was appointed.
North Irving, Fillmore, and Freeport receive each a daily mail over the route from Hastings to Lowell, in Kent County.
The history of the medical profession in Irving may be recited briefly in the statement that the first physician to locate in Irving village was E. N. Rosencrans, who remained hut a year. He was followed by Dr. S. Robinson; then came Dr. L. B. Haskins for a short stay, and in 1878 arrived Dr. J. Lamoreux, the on]y physician now practicing in the village. In Freeport, Dr. H. C. Peekham opened an office in 1878, and closed it in 1879, when Dr. L. E. Haskins, now the only physician there, occupied the field.
THE IRVING METHODIST CLASS
The pioneer religious organization of Irving was the Irving Methodist Episcopal class, organized in 1847, at the school-house on section 33, by William Sprague, presiding elder. The class was in Hastings Circuit, on which Rev. T. B. Sprague was the preacher. The members of the class were Peter Cobb (leader), Hannah Cobb, J. W. Bradley, Sarah Bradley, Polly Bradley, Julia Ingraham, Syivonus Travis, Zilpha Travis, Lydia Ingraham, Eleanor Rich, and Rosamond Ingraham. At first there was preaching once in four weeks, and for about fifteen years, while the class remained on the Hastings Circuit, opportunities for public worship were not more frequent. Upon the transfer, however, of the class to the Irving Circuit, services were held fortnightly, and such has been the measure to the present time. The Irving Circuit includes now two points in Irving, one in Yankee Springs, and two in Rutland, and is in charge of Rev. John McAllister. The Irving class, with a present membership of 30, has enjoyed regular services uninterruptedly since 1847, and since that time Peter Cobb has been continuously the class-leader.
ZION METHODIST EPISCOPAL (GERMAN) CHURCH
A German Methodist Episcopal class was organized about 1858 at the school-house on section 14, and included the families of Jacob Schmelicher, Conrad Beeler, and John Renter, Conrad Beeler being the class-leader. There was preaching once in three weeks by supplies from Grand Rapids. In 1860 a church was built on section 2, and, although it was not fully completed until 1869, it was occupied from 1860 forward. Rev. Mr. Bertrand, of Grand Rapids, was the first pastor after the occupation of the new church, and since him the pastors have been Rev. Messrs. Y-ahrhaus, Behrens, Grille, Buttenbaum, Mains, Herzog, Weber, Mattae, Schutnp, Kern, and Heidemyer, the latter being now the pastor, and preaching once a week. After Conrad Bee]er, the class-leader was John Renter, and in 1869, Gottleib Nagler, the present leader, was appointed. The membership is now 42; the trustees are Conrad Beeler, August Gush, Jacob Schmelicher, Sr., Jacob Schmelicher, Jr, Gotticib Nagler, John Timm, and Ernst Gush.
EAST IRVING CONGRATIONAL CHURCH
Jan. 12, 1868, Rev. S. H. Smith organized a Wesleyan Methodist class in the school-house on section 14. The members were Philip Segar, Steward; William Moulton, Leader; Mary Moulton, Eliza Fowler, Daniel Sparks, Francis Ruckle, Anna Jones, Mary Slocum, and B. Eckert. Revs. Richards, Bliss, Selleck, Ross, and Jones were the ministers who succeeded Mr. Smith until the summer of 1877. At that time, the project of building a church being agitated, William Moulton essayed to push the matter forward, and upon his individual responsibility undertook the task of putting up the edifice, trusting to the support of the members of the class as the work went on. He was, however, disappointed in this expectation, and, receiving no aid from that quarter, found himself with an unfinished house of worship on his hands. In this emergency he determined to organize a Congregational Church, provided the Congregational Union would supply the funds necessary for the completion of the building, and, this being pledged, the East Irving Congregational Church was straightway organized by Rev. J. B. Jones (previously pastor of the Wesleyan class) with 18 members. Jacob Wolf and George Coulter, now deacons, were chosen in 1877. Rev. Mr. Jones is still the pastor, and the pastor likewise of the Congregational Church at Freeport. The membership is now about 20.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF IRVING
A Methodist Episcopal class was organized at Irving village in 1868 by Rev. S. P. Hewitt, the then preacher on the Irving Circuit. George Brown, chosen first class-leader, continued to serve as such until 1879, when he was succeeded by Frank Campbell, the present leader.
Following Hewitt, the pastors were Revs. Marsh, Parker, Hayes, Browning, Whitmore, and John J. McAllister, who is now on the circuit. Worship was held in the village school-house until 1877, when the present handsome brick church edifice was erected, at a cost of $3000. The trustees are Enoch Sylvester, John Texter, Frank Campbell, Harmon Wilcox, William Cridler. William Cridler is superintendent of the Sunday-school.
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF IRVING
The first public religious services in Irving village were held about 1854, by Rev. Mr. Waldo, a Congregationalist, in a building put up by L. B. Hill, for a chair-factory, and subsequently used for a grist-mill. About that time and subsequently, Rev. Mr. Tapley, a Wesleyan Methodist, Rev. Mr. Osborne, a Baptist, and Rev. Mr. Kidder, a Congregationalist, held occasional services in the village.
Previous to 1870 the pastors of the Presbyterian Church at Hastings used to preach in Irving once in two weeks, but in the year mentioned the minister of that church concluded to confine his labors to Hastings, whereupon the Presbyterians at and near Irving requested Rev. D. B. Campbell to organize a church there, and to become the pastor. He was commissioned a home missionary Oct. 1, 1810, and Jan. 1, 1871, with Rev. T. D. Marsh and Ruling Elders J. P. Roberts and Richard Young, effected the desired organization at Irving. The members numbered 16, and until April 20, 1877, the church prospered more or less, but at that time it was resolved to dissolve the organization with a view to the formation of a Congregational Church.
On the 13th of the ensuing May, accordingly, Rev. Levi Warren, of Grand Rapids, superintendent of Home Missions for the American Missionary Society, preached in the Irving school-house preparatory to the organization of a Congregational Church, and on that occasion F. L. Blake, G. K. Beamer, and A. E. Bull, were appointed a committee to call for an ecclesiastical council. May 20th a confession of faith was adopted, and May 25th the organization was completed by the admission of members, as follows: F. L. Blake, Mary E. Blake, Patience Teeple, Lucy C. Teeple, Mrs. Saloma Bierce, and Mary E. Hendershott, from the Wesleyan Methodist Church; J. J. Hendershott, Martha Hendershott, Nancy J. Dudley, Eliza J. Lee, James C. Hanna, Lucena Hanna, George K. Beamer, A. E. Bull, Anna J. Beamer, Lydia Ann Bull, D. B. Pratt, Violetta L. Gardner, Isabella Campbell, Marietta Campbell, and Euphemia M. Hoyt, from the Presbyterian Church; Emma M. Campbell, from the Protestant Episcopal Church; and Mary T. Gibbs, Catharine T. Hendershott, W. S. Gibbs, H. J. Dudley, Mrs. Clara Dow, Miss Lizzie J. Nash, Mrs. Alice M. Dudley, and Miss Minnie Lee on profession. A. E. Bull, F. L. Blake, and G. K. Beamer were chosen deacons, and April 9, 1878, the church joined the Grand River Conference. The church building now in use was built at the cost of $4000, and finished in September, 1878. The first services therein were at a meeting of the Sundayschool, September 8th, on which occasion the first prayer was offered by G. K. Beamer, and on September 22d, Rev. W. S. Bugbey preached the first sermon, the edifice being dedicated on the 19th of the following November. Rev. Mr. Moore preached as supply until the engagement of Rev. W. S. Bugbey, the present pastor, who preached also at Middleville. The Irving Church has now a membership of 30. The deacons are G. K. Beamer, F. L. Blake, and J. C. Hanna. The Sunday school is in charge of G. K. Beamer, assisted by five teachers, and has an average attendance of 40.
THE FREEPORT CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
was organized May 27, 1877, by Rev. I. B. Jones, with 21 members. P. H. Segar and J. H. Adams were chosen deacons, and are still in office. The church now occupied was begun in 1877, dedicated July 27, 1879, and cost $2500. The trustees are P. H. Segar, J. H. Adams, and Marcus B. Childs. The church membership is 28.
THE FREEPORT UNITED BRETHREN CLASS
now worshiping in the Methodist Episcopal church, was organized by Rev. Mr. Lane, in 1877, as a revival of a United Brethren class, which had been worshiping in the neighborhood. There were S members, of whom Freeman Fish, the present class-leader, was then chosen leader. There are now 24 members. Rev. Mr. Stimpson, on the Bowne Circuit, preaches once a fortnight.
THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF FREEPORT
was organized in the summer of 1878 with but 6 members, and since then has not grown very materially in strength. There is preaching every Sunday by Rev. F. I. Bell, of Bowne Centre. Elisha Jennings is the classleader. The trustees are Elisha Jennings, Mrs. Susan Jennings, John Freeland, Geo. Salsbury, J. A. D. Vore, and Mrs. J. A. D. Vore.
IRVING GRANGE, No. 52
was organized Aug. 13, 1873, with 18 members. J. J. Hendershott was chosen first Master, and served through ’73, ’74, and ’75, followed in order by John Campbell, J. C. Hanna, and Isaac Cunningham to 1819, when he was again elected. The chief officers at present are J. J. Hendershott, M.; J. C. Hanna, Sec.; B. B. Travis, O., Allen Matthews, L.; Wm. A. Moore, Chaplain; James Brew, Treas. The membership is now 23. Regular sessions are held in Grange Hall, at Irving.
In 1832, L. B. Hills, of New York, settled in Wayne Co., Mich., and in 1849 bought six 80-acre lots on the Thornapple River, in Irving township, where Irving village now stands. The fine water-power at that point induced him to make the purchase, and in July, 1849, he let the contract for building a dam. In 1851 he put up a sawmill and himself carried it on. Then too came William Gibbs, a blacksmith, and presently Mr. Hills made a bold push forward by the erection upon the river in 1853 of two buildings, intended respectively for a chair factory and a foundry. These latter projects, however, were not carried out, and in October, 1854, Asahel Hubbard, coming to the place, purchased a half-interest in the water-power, and, in conjunction with Hills, converted the proposed chair-factory into a grist-mill, with two run of stone. Hills & Hubbard were the mill proprietors for a few years after that, when Hills disposed of his interest to Jeremiah Hendershott. In 1871, Hubbard & Hendershott erected the mill now carried on at Irving by Gardner, Campbell & Co. It contains five run of stone, represents an investment of upwards of $30,000, and is accounted one of the finest mills in Michigan. Its capacity is about 150 barrels of flour daily, and, besides doing a large business in custom-work, it ships a great deal of flour to Europe as well as to the New England markets.
Irving village was surveyed by L. B. Hills in 1859, but when the water-power and milling interests passed to the control of Mr. Hubbard the place came to be known as Hubbardville, and as such is popularly known even now, although the post-office and railway-station have always been known as Irving.
Mr. Hubbard opened the first village store in a portion of his residence in 1859, but the first full-stocked general store was the one opened in 1861 by F. L. Blake, and still kept by him. In 1865 the post-office at Power’s, east of the village, was transferred to Irving; in 1868 the railway now passing through the place was completed.
In 1874 there was a promising prospect that the Kalamazoo, Lowell and North Michigan Railroad would be completed, and, indeed, the grading of a major portion of the route was assured. The line crossed the northeastern corner of Irving township, on section 1, where M. S. and Samuel Roush owned land upon which they conceived the project of laying out a town, and so, in November, 1874, they platted the present village of Freeport. The only business enterprise there at that time was M. S. Roush’s saw-mill, which was at once reinforced by a store building erected by Reigler & Roush, who built also a second one, and leased it to J. H. Herrington. Although the railway enterprise failed to culminate, Freeport pushed forward, and, still hoping for a railway at no distant day, is a smart village, containing three stores, two churches, the handle and rake-factory of Job Cheesbrough, where sixteen people find employment, a wagon-shop, hotel, etc.