March 25 • 09:21 PM

Friend comes to rescue with a copy of treasured book

September 02, 2009
My book, "Almont The Tale of Then and Now," written by Hildamae Bowman, finally succumb- ed to the ravages of our terrible storm early Sunday morning August 9th, as did many other precious belongings.

Jim Wade came to my rescue and gave me one of his books. He happened to have two copies. Thank you again, Jim. To us 'old-timers' that book is priceless. Perhaps to some of the younger generation it will become more so as time marches on.

Hildamae writes of Glaciers in Michigan in her opening "Early History" of the book. Quote: "The glaciers gave us an accumulation of gravel as we have near Oxford. Our rolling countryside was sculpted by the glaciers. An example of this is what my parents called, "The Hogsback." If you drive one mile south of Almont to Hough Road, go west on Hough Road, cross Rochester Road and cont-inue west to Havens Road. Turn south on Havens Road and you can see the hills and valleys left by the glacier. Another place is on Ridge Road from Armada to Richmond. This ridge was once the north shore of Lake Erie."

Michigan was almost an unknown region in 1810. Its population was 4,762. Congress knew little about the inner part of this new territory and voted to hire a surveyor to map out the counties and townships. In 1822 Joseph Wampler, a surveyor from Ohio, contracted to survey what is now about 80

townships embracing Saginaw, Tuscola, Huron, Sanilac, St. Clair, Lapeer and Genesee counties. After surveying about 24 townships, he finally abandoned the job. The horses could not get through the swamps which were so badly infested with mosquitoes that the packmen were nearly stung to death. They were forced to turn back.

In January of 1834, Harvey Parkes, who assist- ed in laying out the county site of Lapeer County, undertook to complete Wampler's job, who said Michigan was a horrid place, that only mosquitoes, bull frogs and Indians could live there.

It was a hard and tor-tuous winter. Parkes intend-ed to use pack horses but had to send them back to Romeo. The packmen could sometimes make but three miles a day, sinking to their knees in soft, spongy soil. At night they would lay down poles and pile hemlock boughs on them to keep out of the water while they slept. The survey was finally completed in 1835.

In spite of the surveyor's reports, pioneers came to Michigan. The following is taken in part from "A Short History" by Dr. Wm. B. Hamilton.

The first trace that can be found of the opening of Almont Township was in 1827 when Wm Allen and his son, G. W. Allen and James Thorington cut a road through the wilderness northward near the present main street of Almont to the pineries beyond.

The first purchase of land in the township was made in the spring of 1828 by Lydia Chamberlin on what is now the corner of Shoemaker and Webster Roads.

The first birth among white settlers was that of Anna Deneen, daughter of James Deneen in 1830.

Of course, long before the white man came to this territory the red man was here. Indians played an important part in Almont history.

I am sure we all appreciate what the pioneers endured. As I sit on Carol's deck and look down and beyond to our farm pond and The Shack, I think back to when it was a marshy pasture with three springs from which the cows drank. Red was able to see what it could become for his family to enjoy.

— Country Cousin

Gertie Brooks, of Almont, has been a columnist for the Tri-City Times for over three decades now. Gertie's style of reliving days long past in her writing make her one of the Times' most popular columnists.
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