Tammy's All Things History

Bringing the Past to Life!


19th Century

Research Notes: Ionia Township Organizers

These organizers met at Antoine Campau & Co (brother of Grand Rapids founder Louis Campau) home on April 6, 1835.

At the meeting:

Mr. Alfred Cornell: Moderator
W.B. Lincoln: Clerk
Samuel Dexter, Esq: swore in electors


Previously chosen by ballot as electors, these men were:

Erastus Yeomans: Supervisor
W.B. Lincoln: Township Clerk

Franklin Chubb
Gilbert Caswell
Henry V. Libabrt

Commissioners of Highways:
Phillip Bogue
John E. Morrison
Nathan Benjamin

Directors of the Poor:
Samuel Dexter
John McKelvey

Constable and Collector:
Asa Spencer

Daniel McKelvey

These electors agreed to have another meeting in 1836 at Antoine Campau & Co again in the township of Ionia. Township is now officially formed.

Ionia Timeline (March 1831-April 1837)

March 2, 1831– Legislature Act first to mention the creation of Ionia County.

March 7, 1834–Second Act states Ionia County also to be called Ionia Township. The first meeting to be scheduled is at Louis Genereaux’s home.

March 26, 1835–An amendment to the Act is passed that states citizens of Ionia will pay tax and meet at home of Samuel Dexter to elect officials and do business transactions ( township government).

April 6, 1835–First township meeting of elected officials at Antoine Campau & Co home. They set next meeting for 1836.

May 12, 1835–Special election held to elect commissioners and inspectors of schools.

March 24, 1836–Organization of Kent County completed. Ionia population nears 1000.

March 11, 1837–Ionia County and Ionia Township separate for voting purposes.

April 13, 1837–Elections held for county official seats.


Branch, Rev. E., History of Ionia County. University of Michigan, 1916, pp 48-52.



History on Saturday: Empire Mine State Park

Image result for gold mine


The California gold rush is an integral part of American history. In the 1850s, gold fever drove men and women by the hundreds of thousands to the land known now as California. Wealth distribution was not good at this time. Simply put, most Americans were poor, barely making it or just making it while the top percentage of people were well off or wealthy. Gold provided an opportunity for those seeking fortune and fame, a chance for a better life: a comfortable living, and a legacy to pass on to future generations.

It was, however, an illusion. Once folks arrived after packing up and taking the small amount of what they owned and traveling over treacherous and dangerous routes found little gold they sought. Even so, the migration help to secure land from foreign leaders and built a nation we know today.

Empire Mine State Park is a place where you can visit a real live gold mine set up to accommodate the thousands throng. Bring the family and spend a Saturday learning the history of the mine. The park offers, trails, areas for picnics, and a gift shop. There is something for everyone at this park. Check out their informative website here:

The Empire Mine State Park


Benjamin F Butler and the Mills


Benjamin F. Butler became obsessively interested in politics as soon as he was old enough to vote. His calling wasn’t the big political picture which to him was merely the recognition of the founding principles of how government should operate, but how much investment by the government into affairs of every state or legal proceeding by the Supreme Court affect every individual. His interest and political passion rested solely with the “condition and welfare of the citizen.” (1)

Butler was inspired by the political history of his day and used some of it to analyze, ponder and question. From the forming of government by the founding fathers through presidents that continued to lead the country through Western expansion, foreign relations, and war. Butler, in his memoir, describes his enthusiasm for democracy and the judiciary system that Alexander Hamilton created and nurtured. Butler admired Hamilton’s ideas and beliefs about equality for the citizenry and almost no interference by the Federal Government into personal affairs. Butler took Hamilton’s ideas further to proclaim just what was the Federal Government’s responsibility to protect the rights of citizens. All of Butler’s ideas revolved around equality. How much equality existed at the time? What were the issues of the day that influenced Butler to take a stand for the men, women, and children of the United States? As we examine Butler’s ideas and thoughts from his memoirs, I believe we can find some answers to these questions.

Lowell, Massachusetts, the Mills, and an Idea for Change

Lowell, Massachusetts in 1836 was the second city built in New England and the second largest one in the country where the whole town revolved around manufacturing. Men, women, and children labored every day in the mills. The most improved single water power source in the country at the time drove the machinery. Non-resident stockholders owned all capital from manufacturing in town.

Capital came from several large corporations. All manufacturing businesses operated precisely alike. Bells rang laborers in and out of the mills. Bells tolled to awaken laborers in town for work. They ate breakfast by candlelight. In the summer the evening dinner bell rang at 7 pm. They all got 30 minutes for dinner. Managers set the bells at the same time. I’m assuming this was to combat conflicts for people and wanting to know where they were supposed to be and what time they were supposed to be there. There was no electricity at this time. One manufacturing company could only employ men and women at a time. Meaning if they lost ours and wanted to work at another mill, they had to get a pass.

To get laborers for the mills, managers hired folks from out of state. They only hired the best class of citizens. Mill owners established regulations that made provisions for education to be provided for children and religious instruction as well. They created moral rules of behavior too. Homes were built to provide comfort to laborers at the cheapest rate possible. Each house had a matron in charge, and each person had to report in if they arrived home in the evening past 10 o’clock. Curfew bells wrung at nine. At the 10 o’clock the doors to homes were locked. Mill owners felt if laborers were paid and boarded well they would be content with their wages. All men, women, and children got paid once a month, on a Saturday for the previous month’s work. The workers were required to give up $.30 a month fee to support worship services. No one complained about this.

Three years earlier in 1833, President Jackson visited Lowell. All men and women working in the mills came out to see him. Every woman wore a parasol and was dressed in white muslin with a blue sash except for some wore a black sash: morning a former manager who had died. What else happened during the visit? Butler does not mention anything further. Why was it significant enough to get an entry into his memoir? What did President Jackson observe or not observe on that day?

Mill Work is not Ideal

Butler grew up with mill children. He liked everyone no matter what clothes they wore or what things they owned and he listened to their dreams and complaints. He saw their health deteriorate as the long hours of labor in the mills took its toll.
Mill life averaged about five years. Most quit after they could afford to. Young girls came from the country to work and help pay the mortgage. Men did too for the for the same reason or to save money and start a new business. No one came to Lowell to spend their whole work life at the mills.

An Outside Observer Creates an Opportunity for Change

Butler got to know a town physician very well. The physician told him that he believed a 13 1/2 hour work day, six days a week in the mill was too much for anyone working in the mills. Each worker got 30 minutes to eat their meals in such a rush the doctor explained was not enough for proper food digestion and counterproductive to the physical requirements in labor productivity of factory work. There wasn’t any heavy lifting involved, but running machines required constant attention. The doctor emphasized it was not hazardous but you needed to be out there and in good shape to work in the mills.

Butler Decides to Act

The situation with mill workers influenced Butler’s decision to seek his first political action and propose a law that would reduce daily work hours to 10 hours for anyone working in manufacturing. He gathered support for his idea and prepared for a fight. Mill managers disliked the idea. Arguments became so intense that close friends feared to talk about the concept with Butler at all. Mill managers threatened their mill workers if they were caught discussing it or attending meetings about it they would lose their job and would not find work in Lowell again.

The Issue

Butler listened to all sides of the argument: managers carried out the will of stockholders, stockholders reinvested some of their money and state programs but how could they compete with neighboring and other states when their mills ran on a 14-hour workday?

Questions to Ponder

Butler does not mention how working conditions affected women and child workers. Perhaps this will come up later in his memoir. He had to have thought about it. He grew up around mill children. He saw how tired folks were from the labor and disliked treatment of the managers and mill supervisors. He detested greedy corporations whom he felt lacked compassion from the working class. Butler thought he had to act. He had a calling to help people, and he knew he has the skill and talent to do just that.

1. Benjamin F. Butler, Butler’s Book: Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major General Benjamin  F. Butler : A Review of His Legal, Political, and Military Career (Boston: A.M. Thayer & Co., 1892), 85-92.



George Eastman: Creator of Kodak Film

George Eastman is the man behind the creation of the Kodak film business. Kodak is a household name but not any name for familiar to George as he made the name up. Why didn’t George name it after himself? Maybe he thought his invention would not go far and he wanted to save himself some embarrassment. Not only did the business do well but George made more money than he could have imagined. To celebrate his success, he donated money to some of his favorite organizations where he felt the extra finances would be a welcomed blessing.

George was born in Waterville, New York on July 12, 1854. At the time, the western half of the United States was still primarily frontier. So, living on the East Coast and in New York was not too bad. Life was busy there, and the newspaper brought the political gossip of the day. George’s parents were well off. His father was in charge of a business college in Rochester. His mother stayed home caring for George who was the baby of the family. No doubt the two sisters older than him helped out nurturing and caring for George.

When George reached age 7, his father died. His mother rented rooms in the home to earn income and keep her family going. George loved going to school in Rochester but felt his mother needed him at home more. In 1877, at the age of 23, George found work as a bookkeeper. He earned good money and saved what he could to invest in his hobby as an amateur photographer. During a trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan, George spilled photographic chemicals and ruined his clothes. He needed a better way to travel with his photography supplies and thought about what he could do.

The first thing George did was try photography using dry plates instead of wet ones. This new technique took the messy spill able chemical away during photo processing. He then created a coating machine to apply gelatin to a dry plate and the device he used for this he patented in England in 1879 and the United States in 1880. After selling his English patent, he opened a shop in his hometown to manufacture his plate. He eventually replaced the glass with paper. When someone developed film, they could pull the paper away, and the remaining product was a negative copy.

George, along with another man named William Walker, took the product one step further by creating a roll, forming a more extended portion of the film and a holder for storage. The holder could fit any camera at the time. Sometime later others came along to create a similar product using the technology used by workers in Eastman’s manufacturing plant. A lawsuit ensued with George having to pay the suing party a large sum of money. It did not deter him, however. He continued to work to improve his product. In 1888, George created a Camera he named Kodak. This camera allowed ordinary folks to take photos and send them to the manufacturing plant for processing. It was easy to use and affordable. George marketed his product on simplicity and convenience. By 1892 George founded Eastman Kodak Company where his film products could be mass produced.

George continued to improve his product and to reinvent his business. He was a driven man not only for money and prestige but also he looked for ways to give back to society. George was a job creator. He treated employees well and assisted other inventors. George provided products used in Hollywood and world war. George never married. Perhaps he never found the time to find a suitor. Maybe his world gave him joy nothing else could. George ended his own life after pondering his accomplishments. He did this because he felt he had completed his work on earth and there wasn’t anything else for him to do. His rest was to be his final rest.

What would George think of his product now where so many have depended on his technology? Even today with all of the digital technology available there are those out there was still love to process film and enjoy the products that George created over 100 years ago.

The George Eastman Museum 


Family Life of Benjamin F. Bulter

Young Benjamin F. Butler

Image result for benjamin f butlerIn 1839, Benjamin F. Butler met a man named Fisher Aimes Hildreth. Fisher lived in the next town over from Lowell where Ben lived in Massachusetts. Ben and Fisher connected immediately and developed a life-long relationship. That same year Fisher invited Ben to his family Thanksgiving meal. It was there, Ben, met Fisher’s daughter, Sarah. According to Ben, Sarah was attractive, educated, and intelligent and, she had a passion for acting. In fact, she appeared in plays in New York and Boston. Ben showed a curiosity for a romantic relationship with Sarah but she was not interested in giving up her career to accompany a small town lawyer just starting out (1).

Sarah Butler

Image result for benjamin f butler

As time went on Sarah acquired popularity and stardom for her work. Ben, worked his way into a successful law office, and the two continued to stay in contact with one another. In May of 1844, after a long courtship, they married. Ben brought Sarah to his home in Lowell, and there they lived until she passed away from “an untimely death” in 1877 (2).

Ben and Sarah’s Children

Together Ben and Sarah created a good sized family: a girl named Blanche, and three sons: Paul, who died at age four, Paul II, and Ben-Israel. Ben-Israel decided to follow his father’s footsteps and enter into public service. He was appointed to West Point, graduated with honors and commissioned Lieutenant. Ben, proud of his son’s accomplishments encouraged Ben-Israel to take command and lead a “regiment of colored troops stationed on the Plains [so that] he might have, in addition to his instructions at the academy, the knowledge of the movement and care of the troops in actual service.” The significance of his decision by Ben Butler was that he wanted his son to acquire some military experience working as a volunteer and not someone who earned rank from being nobility (3).


After completing his military service, Ben-Israel planned to join in partnership with his father Benjamin’s law practice. But as Benjamin writes in his memoir, “I had hoped to lean upon him in my declining years, to take my place in that profession which I love and honor. ‘Man proposes. God disposes.'” Ben-Israel’s unexpected sudden death ended any chance of a father- son career dream for both of them. Ben’s daughter married a Civil War General, Adelbert Ames and raised a family while Paul sought a business career upon his graduation from Harvard. Ben, impressed with Paul’s accomplishment at a prestigious university, felt his choice of school would impact Paul favorably later in life if he desired to enter into politics (4).

A Valued Relationship

Throughout Ben Butler’s military and political career, Sarah, his wife, proved to be one of his staunchest supporters. She advised him from time to time. Her intelligence and education were a great asset to Ben. It allowed him to view his world not only from a humanitarian perspective but also that of a woman. Sarah related to Ben on a different level, but she never interfered and trusted Ben’s final judgment. When Ben experienced political strife and controversy, she remained by his side with poise and dignity (5).

Value of Family

Benjamin F. Butler’s credited his success as a lawyer, veteran, and political figure to the strong family support system he created with his wife, Sarah. He also credits his family upbringing as inspiration and passion for a lifetime of civil service to others. We can interpret his decisions and actions in his life through his experiences and thoughts about them.


1. Benjamin F. Butler, Butler’s Book: Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major General Benj F. Butler : A Review of His Legal, Political, and Military Career (Boston: A.M. Thayer & Co., 1892),78-79.

2. 79.

3. 80-89.

4. 80-81.

5. 85.



Merry Christmas 2016

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas holiday in whatever way shape or form is possible. I like this time of year because I can spend quality time with family and friends. I enjoy the old traditions and look forward to making new ones.

This year I came across an American Civil War Christmas poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( 1807-1882 ). I thought it would be fun to share. I can relate to it because of the many Christmas holidays I spent away from my family and only doom and gloom surrounded me. Those were difficult times to get through. Still, through it all, I managed to enjoy some of those holidays. Here is the poem. Enjoy!



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Photo credit Wikipedia


Christmas Bells

    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.” (1)


  1. Reference for poem and additional information can be found at



Belding Gets a New Newspaper

Belding Home News, June 19, 1879. Courtesy of the Alvah N. Belding Library-Belding, Michigan.

On June 19, 1879, E. Mudge & L.E. Kendall published volume one, issue one of the Belding Home News newspaper. The proprietors/editors of the paper stated on the front page that the paper aimed to provide a one-stop source of information for Belding and the surrounding towns and counties. This information was meant to enrich the lives of all of these residents. They also explained that they created the paper without affiliation with any political party or religion. Newspapers up until this time were commonly owned and published by political party or their affiliates. With just 600 early subscribers as an investment, the editors dreamed that even though the paper started out small with any luck, it would grow larger and more prosperous.

The first business printed in the press was the meeting “held at the school-house” to plan a 4th of July celebration. On the committee sat folks from Belding, Orleans, Otisco, Grattan, Eureka, and Smyrna. Ladies present at the meeting provided refreshments. They discussed a charity dinner also to be held during the celebration to benefit the Belding Cornet Band. The food was to be provided by folks attending (1).

The paper published various types of announcements in the local section of the newspaper. These included basic things such as the status of R. M. Wilson who had been, “suffering from fever,” a new church erected at Palmer station, as well as the return of DR. G. Conner from Pennsylvania. Another was the mention of Mrs. L. E. Knedall who had “been sick for several weeks with pleurisy” and Dr. C. of Greenville the attending physician. This information was useful to know if you needed a doctor who could treat lung illnesses in the late 19th century. Another mention was the concern Belding residents had over the recent competition in “wool-buying” that had been economically successful in the nearby town of Ionia. The city of Belding wanted in on the action (2).

Ashley Grove held a Strawberry Festival and the proceeds paid for a new church organ. A familiar name in the local section was that of Levi Broas who built a new addition to his farmhouse at the head of Broas street and that “those who know Mr. Broas’ way of doing things will anticipate a fine thing in style and finish.” News of a recent tragedy announced that a young man named Miller whose parents hailed from Fallasbourg, ” was accidentally shot a few days since” and that his internment had been “the Sunday past.” He had been working away from home when the accident occurred (3).

Some more positive news states that Belding had a Literary Club and well-known Elocutionist (a literary reader) Miss Georgia Gates performed some classical readings for a small party of guests who were impressed and well entertained. Also, an announcement mentioned was the successful Strawberry and Ice Cream Festival run by the Ladies Mite Society of The Christian Church that included such festivities as Croquet. Guests had been encouraged “to stay as long as they please.” They had invited everyone to attend (4).

Two gentlemen by the names of Professor J.H. Pixley and S. M. Grannis who were known all over the state to be excellent musicians entertained the “Beldingites.” On the farm of H.H. Belding and maintained by Mr. S. Case the paper announced, that the from the cattle raised there farmers produced cream in the “Cooley Creamer”, and then directly shipped the cream to Chicago at the price of twenty cents per pound. This was a good business exchange for the town and worth noting (5).

Advertisements in the paper show that the city provided transportation in town by way of a horse-car. This car connected folks with the D.L. & N.R.R. and brought mail to and from the town (6).

The first new newspaper in Belding shows the attitudes folks had about their town and how they felt about community. Sharing good and bad news surely brightened folks’ days when they read the information presented there. Even though there is no newspaper today for the city of Belding, the town still shares information through social networks online and by word of mouth. They continue to show support for their fellow citizens and ensuring everyone is included in the town activities which are created to enrich lives and bring prosperity.


1. E. Mudge and L.E.Kendall, eds. Belding Home News, (Belding, 1879), 1.

2. Ibid, 2.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.; The History of Jasper County, Missouri: Including a Condensed History of the State, a Complete History of Carthage and Joplin, Other Towns and Townships … (Mills & Company, Des Moines, Iowa, 1883), 287. Accessed November 12, 2016). This page lists Georgia Gates living in Carthage Missouri that proves she did indeed exist.

5. Ibid, 3.

6. Ibid.


President Lincoln Addresses Two Critical Issues in 1863

President Abraham Lincoln

During the Civil War and in the summer of 1863 the fighting between the Northern and Southern parts of the United States was closing in on a climax of death and destruction. At the time President Lincoln faced two particular problems with the situation. First, how to end slavery and second how to keep the ranks of the Union Army from becoming depleted. After considerable thought, he chose a solution for both problems: an emancipation proclamation and a wartime draft.

Emancipation Proclamation

The proclamation itself focused solely on ending slavery by making it illegal in the United States. It did not give enslaved Blacks the full freedom that White Americans enjoyed. One reason for this is that Lincoln favored buying time for the South to come to terms with the new law,  and to gradually allow Black slaves an opportunity to choose a life for themselves once freed. Both Northern and Southern Americans had conflicting views on slavery as a whole, but the majority of all cared little for slaves once free and even disliked their assimilation into American society even more. Perhaps Lincoln felt by allowing a slow progression of this adaptation, a change that might prove easier to adapt to for all.

Draft Poster

The wartime draft allowed an unlimited supply of able-bodied men, either age between 25 and 35 or between ages of 35 and 45 depending on their marital status, to serve in the Union Army by way of a lottery system. The lottery system was a recruitment tool used to draft individuals and not just sweep any and all men that qualified. It was meant to be a fair system. However, if you were wealthy you could get out of the draft by paying a bit of cash. This was hardly fair to those of lower income classes who never stood one chance to dodge the draft. Many folks in New York also perceived this solution as particularly federally intrusive to their lives. It  increased focus on slavery politically as three groups vied for their attention on the national stage: the New York Democrats which included Irish migrant workers, Republicans who remained neutral on the topic of slavery and Abolitionists who vigorously rallied the public support for the end of slavery with marches and speeches.  Finally, it incited anger with the White male working population who felt the law was tipped unfairly toward them by favoring Blacks and immigrants to whom the draft law did not even apply.

Political Cartoon depicting effect of Draft Riot and Emancipation Proclamation

These groups clashed in July with deadly consequences. On the 13th, the day of the draft lottery, violence erupted, as tempers grew out of control. Working class men began attacking the very people they felt the federal government aimed to support in the draft. They attacked Irish immigrant workers naive of the American justice system. They attacked Blacks: women, children and elderly. These victims were easy targets and could not defend themselves because they did not have the same right within the law as White Americans. Another reason rioters targeted African Americans was because of their progression toward upward mobility. For example, they destroyed a black-owned orphanage, a  business created for the sole purpose of Blacks helping Blacks. These institutions’ did not interfere with White society, so why was this threatening? Perhaps the upward mobility by free or freed Blacks was a threat politically to Democrats and a reason for them to publicly protest the Republicans and the government itself.

Lincolns two solutions did affect the United States significantly, but it did not unify the nation, as he had desired. To quell the riot and fighting federal troops were ordered in to control crowds, establish curfew and authority and, bring order to the city. The draft stayed, and the anger and rage lingered on for years to come. Tensions increased between ethnic groups and whites. Now the country was not only divided by north and south but between race and ethnicity as well.

Some White citizens did support African Americans and came to their defense to try and fight back against or protect them from violence. However, there were too few of these groups to make a difference. No one directed their attention to the political systems in place that seems to incite further racial problems between different ethnicity in New York at the time.

The Draft Riots remains a spot of contention within the history of the United States as a nation. What has yet to be determined is why the nation focused more on the government to end the war and bring peace and less focus on ending racial tensions and bringing the nation together racially and ethnically.


References used:

The New York City Draft Riots of 1863

New York Draft Riots

Four Days of Fire: The New York City Draft Riots

Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments by Michael T. Meier



African-American Woman Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman, First African American Pilot - GPN-2004-00027.jpg
Bessie Coleman, via Wikipedia.

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) defied Jim Crow laws and racism towards Blacks early in the 20th century by becoming the first African-American female aviator. Despite the fact that she grew up poor, she sought out the opportunity to make her dreams come true. With the help of a mentor and the inspiration of her brothers, she ventured overseas to France to obtain flight training. France at the time did not discriminate against Blacks but welcomed them into its society and schools. There Bessie not only completed her training but gained fame and prestige as a fully qualified and talented airplane pilot, who performed stunts at air shows. This recognition influenced other African American women to realize they too could defy oppression by White society and seek opportunities previously closed to women of their race. Bessie’s success and others contributed not only to the Women’s Movement and but also to the Equal Rights Movement for years to come because of her belief in optimism and perseverance.

Unfortunately, Bessie would not live to see the changes inspired by her contributions of African-American firsts. She died on April 30, 1926, at her final air show. Her legacy continues to this day through the recognition and adoration by modern female African American aviators.


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