July 21 • 09:34 PM

Fearless pioneers live on in Capac

June 27, 2007
Before statehood the Michigan Territory—as it was called then—was an area inhabited only along its great shores and connecting rivers. Few men ventured into the interior, and those that did were sometimes never heard from again. The land was hostile and unforgiving to all who would tread upon it.

The year 1824 found James and Anna Savage in Penfield Township near Rochester, New York. With 13 children and land prices soaring in this more developed area, they decided that for the family to grow and prosper they would need to pull up stakes and find a new place that could provide for their ambitions and desires.

James was the son of Henry Savage, an immigrant from Ireland and survivor of the New York Militia who gallantly fought for our independence from the Crown. Having both been born during the tumultuous times of the Revolutionary War, James and Anna had no fear of the unknown. Hardship was nothing new to them and it would not hinder any aspirations they had.

With the younger children in tow and Anna heavy with child, the 55-year-old James and his family headed out in search of a new life, something many men much younger were hesitant to attempt.

Upon their arrival in Michigan they found a domain devoid of any interference from man. The forests were so thick that they resembled a wall rather than independent trees. Meadows of native grasses and clover lay before them. Each step forward through the woods was a monumental task as briars, vines and thorns grabbed and tore flesh and clothing as if to guard itself from the invasion of the settlers.

Food was plentiful, for the passenger pigeons' flight overhead proved an easy opportunity to flail a stick and bring down the birds. They were so numerous that the sky would darken with them. Berries and small animals were also food sources, with the occasional deer or turkey that James would shoot with the heavy flintlock musket that he lugged with him.

With their final arrival in present-day Almont, the family settled in and were soon joined by other relatives. Their final move was to Berlin Township, Section 4.

Young John Savage, 8 years-old at the time of the journey, was so enthralled by the adventure that he left home as soon as he was able and set out on his own quest for the unknown. He supported himself by working in lumber camps as a sawyer. He soon met Sarah Ann Sears, whom he wed. They then settled down in Berlin Township also and produced seven children. These children were to become a vital part of a society that flourished in the village of Capac. The perseverance of their forefathers was instilled in them and is evident in their descendants even today.

Almon, the eldest, served with distinction in the 5th Infantry, Company C in the Civil War. He married Maria Curvin and lived in Sanilac County after the war.

Sister Irene married Tom Glazier of Almont. After his passing she married his brother William.

Hannah, the third child, married Norvell Francis Churchill and they settled on a farm in Section 29 in Berlin Township, a mile and a half west of Allenton.

John H. Savage stayed on the family farm and married Harriet Smith, also of Berlin Township. Several years later he and Harriet were overcome with a sense of adventure and relocated to Tennessee. Their time in that state was short-lived and costly. They lost three of their children to an epidemic of cholera. They returned to the family farm in Michigan.

Mary was to wed Charles Steenburgh and the couple had five children.

John Savage and his wife Harriet Smith.
George Lionel Savage married Ida Flavia Cornell and had four children. Ida was a longtime correspondent and reporter for the Capac Journal, covering Locke Bridge, Allenton and Berlin Township. She and husband George farmed in Section 3, Berlin Township.

Jane Ann, the youngest, married Jason Lee Moore and had two children.

After the premature death of their mother Sarah in 1864, the children's father John married Margaret Gardner Leggett, a widow. She was to give him a step-daughter, Lucy, who married Asa Beal.

The significance of the Savage family is monumental. Their contributions to Capac came in the form of farmers, teachers and doctors. Many of the descendants of John and Anna Savage still walk among us and carry the names of Glassford, Wilson, Henry, Hubbard, Harrison, Metcalf, Sharrard and Seidell. They represent the dedication of a true community spirit and are the mortar for a society that still flourishes 150 years later.


Noble Hunter Diary

June 24, 1883

I tended shop til eleven this morning. I went to Sunday school at noon and was obligated to remain there til nearly three on account of the rain. I called on Dell this evening and we went to church.

I won't receive a letter from her this week but will see her Friday evening.

June 27, 1883

Rain again today. I dressed a beef this evening.

I guess Dell meant what she said when she told me she would not write this week.

June 29, 1883

I went to the schoolhouse this evening to witness graduation exercises. I met Dell there and in accompanying her to the depot I had a strange experience. Through some mismanagement she had two escorts. I tried hard to be number one and succeeded.

Articles from the

Capac Journal

Sept. 27, 1901

Eggs, 13 cents dozen.

Butter, 14 cents lb.

Wheat, 66 cents bushel

Corn, 65 cents bushel

December 10, 1920

Michael Kennedy, late of Company B, 132nd Infantry, was found dead in bed at Onaway last Friday. His home was in Emmett Township.

Email Doug Hunter at

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