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HISTORY


Historic Maps

Although Livingston County was laid out in 1833, the act to organize it was not passed until March 24, 1836. The act erecting the township of Howell, was approved the day previous. The territory included in the township by that act was the present townships of f Howell, Oceola, Deerfield, Handy, Cohoctah and Conway.

By an act of the State Legislature, approved March 6, 1838, this township was formed from Howell. Section 3, of an act to organize certain townships, reads as follows:

"All that portion of the county of Livingston designated by the United States survey as township number four north, of range number three east, be, and the same is hereby set off and organized into a separate township, by the name of Iena, and the first township-meeting therein shall be held at the house of Levi Parsons, in said township."

The inhabitants became dissatisfied with this name, because of its similarity to Ionia, and for other reasons, and by a special act, approved March 20, 1841, it was changed to Conway.

The surface may be described in general terms as of an undulating character, the rolling and more elevated portions being found on the eastern border. The major portion of the township, or perhaps three-fourths of it, was covered originally with a heavy growth of hardwood timber, termed by the early settlers "timbered openings."

The soil is of a rich loam, very productive, and the people are uniformly successful in the cultivation, of wheat, corn, fruits, and other field products.

Streams - Cedar River cuts the extreme southwest corner, while one or two small tributaries of the Shiawassee cross its northern and eastern borders.

The people are chiefly agriculturists. Well-improved farms and tasteful farm-buildings abound in every portion

It seems to be an unsettled question to whom can be ascribed the honor of making the first settlement in this township, priority being claimed for those men who composed the Parsons Company, and Robert Colborn.

Without undertaking to settle this unimportant matter, we give both statements as received; though from the fact that Mr. Colborn's name does not appear as a resident tax-payer upon the assessment roll of Howell for the year 1837, we venture the opinion that the Messrs. Parsons, Wait, Strong, and Fay Were the first to take up their permanent residence.

In the month of May, 1831, the brothers Frederick B. and Cecil D. Parsons--the former accompanied by his wife--left their homes in Franklin Co., Mass., and journeyed by stage to Troy, N.Y. From the latter city at passage was secured on board a canal-boat to Buffalo, thence by- lake steamer to Detroit, where they continued their journey by stage to Ann Arbor. They at last reached Webster, Washtenaw Co., Mich., on foot, where they joined their sister, Mrs. Israel Arms, who, with her husband, had settled in Michigan in 1826.

The brothers purchased land in Webster, and continued their residence there without thought of changing, until early in the summer of 1836, when, during the great rush of emigration to the new State, they were joined by their father, Levi Parsons, their brothers, Julius F. and Samuel F., their mother and two sisters, Waterman B. Fay, son-in-law of Levi Parsons, Timothy Wait, father-in-law of Julius F. Parsons, and Lorenzo K. Strong. Messrs. Wait and Strong were from Northampton, Hampshire Co., Mass. All the remainder from Franklin County, of the same State.

These people all came to Michigan with the purpose of making the Peninsular State their permanent home. As they wished to purchase quite a large tract of government land, situated where all could settle in the same neighborhood, and as no such opportunity presented itself in Washtenaw County, in June, 1836, Frederick B. Parsons, Cecil D. Parsons, Julius F. Parsons, Waterman B. Fay, Timothy Wait, and Lorenzo K. Strong started out on foot for the purpose of locating land in Livingston County. Arriving at Livingston Centre, they learned that desirable lands--not yet entered--were lying in township 4 north, of range 3 east, and that Charles P. Bush, who was then with Calvin Handy in township 3 north, of range 3 east, would act as their guide while exploring the woods.

They finally arrived at Mr. Handy's house, found Mr. Bush, and engaged his services for the next day. Mr. Handy had but just occupied his new dwelling,--a small log house,--and in consequence household articles were in some confusion. But Mrs. Handy, who, like other wives of the pioneers, was equal to the emergency, prepared lodgings for her visitors by spreading upon the ground, in the centre of the cabin, a bed; upon it these six stalwart men reclined their heads and shoulders, while their extremities swung around the circle, taking care of themselves.

The next morning two or three other land-lookers came up, who wished to accompany the first party in their operations, but Mr. Bush would not permit them without the consent of those who first engaged him. As there was much sharp practice in play in those days .

As a result of this first visit to the territory now known as Conway, the Messrs. Parsons and their friends concluded to purchase the lands situated upon sections 11, 13, and 14, which are more fully described in an accompanying list of original land-entries. Upon the 20th of June, 1836, their purchases, consisting of 840 acres, were entered upon the book in the land-office at Detroit.

Later, during the same summer, the six men before mentioned again started out for the purpose of opening a road through from Livingston Centre to their new possessions, also to erect a house wherein some of them proposed to pass the winter. They brought with them an ox-team and wagon, provisions for a few days, and boards necessary for use in building, which were obtained at Place's mill, in Webster, Washtenaw Co.

Soon after leaving the Centre-now Howell their labor began; and at night they had progressed as far as John B. LaRowe's place of settlement on section 6, Howell township. The next day they gained two miles, cut out a road, bridged the creek, and encamped for the night near Sabin's Lake. On the third day they arrived at their destination, the northeast quarter of section 14, on land owned by Julius F. Parsons. Here, within six days, they completed what is claimed to have been the first dwelling erected in the township. This house was 18 by 24 feet in dimensions, covered with oak shingles, which were shaved upon the spot, and the floor laid with the boards brought from Washtenaw County. This house soon after became noted as the place of birth of the first child born in the township,--son of J. F. Parsons, born January, 1837. Within its walls was held the first religious meeting, and here the people assembled to hold their first township-meeting in April, 1838.

Our pioneers, having exhausted their stock of provisions, were compelled to return to Washtenaw County immediately after completing their house.

During the fall of 1836, Julius F. Parsons, his father, Levi Parsons, and their families, accompanied by Timothy Wait, Lorenzo K. Strong, and Waterman B. Fay, came on from Webster, Washtenaw Co., fully prepared to take up their residence here in the woods. Land was cleared upon the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 14, and wheat sown the same season.

Messrs. Wait and Strong were carpenters by trade; during the period last mentioned they, hauled lumber from Farmington, Oakland Co., and built, each for himself, small framed houses, which were completed in the spring of 1837. The one built by Mr. Strong burned down several years ago The other, after having withstood the ravages of time for forty years, finally succumbed to the same element, and disappeared 'mid fire and smoke in May, 1877. It was then owned and occupied by William Copeland, who received in payment for his loss the sum of $50 from the Livingston County Fire Insurance Company.

Robert Colborn, from Wayne Co., Mich., purchased 80 acres on the northwest part of the northwest fractional quarter of section 5, July 5, 1836. His son is authority for the statement that Mr. Colborn, Sr., and his family moved in and took up their residence on the county line in November of the same year; that the route followed by them was along what was then known as the Grand River road up into Shiawassee County, from whence they bore south, cutting out their own road, until reaching the place of their settlement; and that they were the first settlers in the township. As a distance of more than four and one-half miles on an air-line separated those in the Parsons settlement from the locality chosen by Mr. Colborn, the whole covered by dense forests, swamps, and tangled morasses, it is very possible that the latter should be in error in supposing himself the first settler, and that weeks should elapse ere he was aware of others being in the township. Mr.Colborn was a most worthy citizen. He raised up a large family, several of whom reside in the township at the present time.

Late in the fall of 1836, Frederick B. Parsons, the eldest son of Levi, came on and built a comfortable log dwelling upon his land, it being the northwest quarter of section 14. In March following, having sold out his possessions in Washtenaw County, he removed here, bringing in his family and household effects upon sleighs.

Ledyard S. Adams, from Genesee Co., N.Y., purchased the north half of section 36, May 10, 1836, but did not settle until April 1, 1837. He died in the spring of 1841, while holding the office of assessor.

Martin W. Randall, from Livingston Co., N.Y., whose journey to Michigan is fully described by Hon. Ralph Fowler, in historical sketches referring to the early settlement of Handy township, settled upon the west half of the southwest quarter of section 27, also, early in the spring of 1837.

Mr. Randall was a prominent citizen, and closely identified with the early history of Conway. He died in 1856, while serving as township treasurer.

John Coughran, from Genesee Co., N.Y., the first supervisor of Iena, settled upon the southeast quarter of section 25, May 31, 1837. He is still a resident of the township, honored and respected by all his fellow-townsmen.

Cecil D. Parsons joined his brothers and friends in the new settlement Aug. 21, 1837, and soon after began to fell the trees and make an improvement upon the beautiful farm where he at present resides. His house was completed and occupied December 11th of the same year.

Timothy Wait and Lorenzo K. Strong, after but a short residence here, removed to Lapeer County. Later still Julius F. Parsons also removed to the same county. Levi Parsons returned to the East, and finally died in the State of New York. Of those six men who came and erected the first house in the township, D. Parsons is the only resident survivor.

Prior to the first township-meeting, which was held at the house of Levi Parsons, April 2, 1838, H. Hoyt and William N. Hoyt had settled upon section 29; Stephen Dailey, upon section 25; Lee Nutt, upon sections 35 and 36; Joseph Alexander, upon section 20; and John Bush upon 35.

It is stated that seventeen voters were present at the first township-meeting, which probably included all the legal voters then residing in the township. A few additional names appeared as resident tax-payers upon Iena's first assessment roll, dated May 9, 1838, which will be found upon a succeeding page. The first marriage was celebrated Aug. 19, 1838, and the following copy of the marriage license explains itself:

"This may certify that Amos Colborn, of Iena, hath applied to me for a marriage license, and that marriage is intended between the said Amos, and Hannah Alexander, of the same place; and after a careful examination of the said Amos, as to the legality of the intended marriage, and finding it to be lawful, I do by these presents grant him this license.

Given under my hand this 17th day of August, 1838.

"Married by me, Aug 19, 1838, Mr. Amos Colborn to Miss Hannah Alexander, both of the town of Iena, Livingston Co., Mich.

In December, 1838, Warren G. Grant applied for and received a license "to keep a public-house, and to sell spirituous liquors at his house on the-Trail road, for one year from and after the 31st of December, 1838." Lee Nutt was also an early tavern-keeper, and was first granted a license by the township board Feb. 6, 1841. This was renewed during the years to 1844, inclusive. The usual fee paid for tavern license was $1.25 per year.

Among other settlers who were here during the year 1838, and not already mentioned, were John Martin, Thomas Martin, Reuben Wood, Warren G. Grant, Chauncey Yaples, Marcus Munn, and Samuel Ball. The following account of the settlement of Warren G. Grant and his family, furnished by his son, Hon. Elisha W. Grant, affords a fair illustration of the way and the difficulties attendant upon pioneer life in this region at that period.

"Early in February, 1838, Warren G. Grant exchanged his farm in the township of Livonia, Wayne Co., Mich.,-- where he had resided for eight years, coming from Massachusetts in 1830,--for lands situated in Livingston County. Soon after the exchange which was made with Rufus Beach--he made a journey to Conway, or, as it was then called, Howell. He traveled to Livingston Centre by stage, which was then operated by Allen C. Weston, "As the Centre was the terminus of the stage-route, he proceeded on foot to John B. Fowler's residence, in Handy, who went with him and showed him his land. On the next day Ralph and John B. Fowler, Harvey Metcalf, Lee Nutt, Elijah Gaston, John Bush, and Calvin Handy, with an ox-team and sled, on which was placed some marsh hay, and provisions for the men, went up to Mr. Grant's new location to prepare another home for a new settler.

All went to work with a will, and before night set in, the logs were cut and hauled, and the wooden walls of a shanty, 16 by 20 feet, were ready for the roof, which Elijah Gaston agreed to put in place for a few dollars of wildcat money. This roof was made of basswood logs, split in halves, then hollowed out with an axe the entire length. The first tier was laid close together, with the bark side down. The second covered the joints of the first, by being placed with the bark side up, thus dispensing entirely with beams, rafters, roof-boards, shingles or nails, and making a water-proof roof. According to the contract with Mr. Gaston, about three feet of one end was left open for the chimney,--yet to be built,--and for the passage of smoke until that time.

"Having accomplished this much, Mr. Grant returned to Wayne County and made due preparations for the removal of his family to their new home. He purchased a pair of half-broken steers, four years old, a light cart, into which was loaded a sugar-kettle, grindstone, and a few smaller articles. With two-horse teams and wagons to carry the family, household goods, provisions, etc., they started about the second week in April, 1838, for Livingston County. Arriving at Elijah Gaston's, the party stayed all night. The next morning the teamsters were paid, and then started on their return to Wayne County. During the same morning the steers were again hitched to the cart, a few articles were placed therein, and driving besides them two cows, the male members of the family went forward to their new shanty, then distant four miles.

"It was found without doors, floors, windows, or chinking.

Their cattle were driven to the pasture, a small swamp some thirty rods west of the shanty, where the wild grass had already grown to the height of some six or seven inches.

"The house was soon made in a habitable condition. The crevices were chinked, split slabs of basswood laid for floors, and a door and a cupboard made from one of the packing-boxes. The door was hung on wooden hinges, had a wooden latch, and scarcely more than a dozen nails were used in its construction. An opening was made for a six lighted window, which, with the opening in the roof, afforded the necessary light.

"The tall oaks towered directly over this cabin; and their branches could be seen swaying back and forth through the opening during the first night of its occupation. On the succeeding day trees that stood in dangerous proximity were felled, a yard was built of poles in which to keep their stock, the floor was completed, and some stones gathered for the construction of a chimney, which was not finished until the logs forming the walls of the house were burned nearly through by the fires used in cooking."

This cabin was situated on the "Trail road," near the centre of the east half of the northwest quarter of section 33, and afforded accommodations for the first tavern and the first post-office kept in the township, Warren G. Grant being mine host and postmaster. The Cedar post-office was established about 1840.

The "Trail road" was the first highway opened in the township, and followed an Indian trail running along the north bank of the Cedar River. It was opened sufficiently for the passage of teams and wagons as early as the spring of 1837, by Erastus Ingersoll, of Farmington, who was then engaged in forming a settlement at a point called "Grand River City,"--now Delta,--some seven miles below the present city of Lansing.

At the time of Warren G. Grant's settlement on section 33, his nearest neighbor on the east was Elijah Gaston,--who lived four miles distant. To Pine Lake, where lived their nearest neighbors on the west side, it was twenty-one miles. Howell, thirteen miles away, was the nearest post-office.

Mr. Elisha W. Grant relates that the first school attended by him was taught by Michael Handy, in the winter of 1839 and '40, in a small log shanty, situated upon the northeast corner of section 11, in the township of Handy, and distant more than four miles from his home, three miles of which lay through the Woods, where his only guide was blazed trees. He was obliged to leave home at daylight in the morning, returning after dark at night. He continued this attendance until the school was closed on account of the illness of the teacher.

Among later pioneers, who settled prior, to 1842, were Benjamin W. Lawrence, Hiram Wetherell, Charles Thompson, Ezekiel H. Sabin, Bentley Sabin, Graham N. Barker, Levi H. Bigelow, Gaius C. Fuller, Hiram Rust, Eli Balch, Daniel C. House, William Wilkins, Henry Snyder, Joseph A. Ball, Ruel Randall, William Hinman, John Hill, Delsey Benjamin, Earl Camp, Losson Gordon, Edgar Purdy, Derastus Hinman, and Phineas Silsby, a blacksmith and soldier of 1812. The names of many other early residents will be found among the lists of land-entries, township officers, etc., to which the reader is referred.


Historic Maps
1.conway1865-small
Conway Township 1865 Plat Map

2.1915plat-combo-small
Conway Township Approx. 1960 Plat Map

Name Location Use

Benjamin

Corner of Sherwood & Fowlerville

Now used by Fowlerville community schools as class room in warm weather to show 4 & 5 grades country school customs; Tom Lound, 6673 Fleming Rd., Fowlerville, MI 48836, letter of 3 Dec. 1992 Ph: 95170 223-9356

Cole

Corner of North Fowlerville & Sober Roads

Betty Iago (Smyth)

Conway

Fowlerville Rd. near Town Hall

Winifred Boyd, teacher.

Coughran

1 Mi. N. & 1 mi. W. of Boyd School, Corner of Owosso & Chase Lake Rd.

Fractional. Built 1882. Now at Fowlerville Historical Village, 11/12/92, Thomas Lound; Lila Han 10/26/93- went to rural school (which one?) 4908 W. Dewey Rd., Owosso, Mi 48867; School Calendars, her mother was a Boyd-went to Coughran School

Grant

Corner Miller & Grant Roads

Fractional; Clip from Fowlerville News & views sent by Dorothea Greer 9/10/94; Betty Yago ( Smyth ) taught 1955 - 1958; Kindergarten thru 4 th grades - 2 districts

Sixteen

 

Contact Tom Lound Who suggested Clayton Klein, 9350 N. Gregory Rd., Fowlerville Rd., Fowlerville 48836 went to 16 school & owns the co. who published Mrs. Tennis book ( See Coughran School)

Haner

 

Not far from home of Winifred Boyd, who may have taught there.


The following statement, compiled from the assessment roll of the township of Howell,--which assessment was made in May, 1837, -- shows the number and names of the resident tax-payers in township 4 north, of range 3 east, at that period; also a description of their lands and their valuation:

  Acres Valuation

Ledyard S. Adams, northeast quarter and northwest quarter of section 36

320

$960

Waterman R. Fay, west half of northwest quarter of section 13

80

240

Julius F. Parsons, southwest quarter of southeast quarter of section 11, and northeast quarter of section 14

200

600

Frederick B. Parsons, northwest quarter of section 14

160

480

Martin W. Randall, west half of southwest quarter of section 27

80

240

Lorenzo K. Strong, southeast quarter of section 14

160

480

Timothy Wait, east half of northwest quarter of section 13

80

240


parsons

lbigelow
1838 Resident List
Those reported as resident tax-payers of Iena, May 9, 1838, were as follows:

Name Section Acres

Valuation of
Real Estate

Frederick B. Parsons 14 158 $632
Julius F. Parsons 14, 11 197 788
Lorenzo K. Strong 14 158½ 634
Cecil D. Parsons 13 156 620
Waterman B. Fay 13 79¼ 317
Timothy Wait 13 82¼ 329
Joseph Alexander 20 160 640
John Martin 7 120 480
Thomas Martin 7, 18 120 480
Robert Colborn 5 89 356
Henry H. Hoyt 29 80 320
William N. Hoyt 29 100 400
John Coughran 25 160 640
Ledyard S. Adams 36 240 960
Reuben Wood 36 80 320
Warren G. Grant 33 160 640
Chauncey Valdes 36 40 160
Marcus Munn 23 80 320
Samuel Ball 23 160 640
John Bush 35 20 80
Stephen Dailey 25 160 634
Lee Nutt 35, 36 100 394


The assessed valuation of the real and personal estate of the township for this period was $78,950. The taxes levied amounted to the sum of $616.27, of which $214.96 were for State and county purposes.


1844 Resident List
The resident tax-payers of the township, as shown by the assessment rolls of 1844

Name Sec.  Name Sec.
Benjamin P. Sherman 1, 2 Earl Camp 34
G. C. Fuller 1, 2 Warren G. Grant 33
Isaac Seymour 13, 18 Morgan M. Randall 33
Amasa G. House 10 Martin W. Randall 27
John Leddy 10 Elias Converse 25
Hosea Root 14 Hiram Wetherell  25
Charles Thompson 5 Hiram Rust 24
John J. Brown 20 Losson Gordon 24
William N. Hoyt 29 Philetus S. Gordon 24
Samuel Young (colored) 30 Henry Thomas 25
Orrin Morse 20 Levi H. Bigelow 23
Hiram-Parsons 4 Henry Snyder 22
Cyrus Barker 33 Henry Dixon 33
Thurston Simmons 34 Bentley Sabin  23, 22
David Bush 35 Delsey Benjamin 22, 23
Morris Richmond 33 Thomas Dailey    4
Orrin Rhodes 33 Eri Wetherell   35


sherman
In 1845

 Name Sec.  Name Sec.
John R. Mason 35 George Hayner Personal
Nathan Stage 28 Elijah Root Personal
Josiah B. Taylor 22 Dennis Meban 25
Stephen Jackson 27 William B. Converse Personal
Eleazer Slocum 25 Levi Parsons Personal
Edgar Purdy 13 A. B. Bogert 22


In 1846

Name Sec. Name Sec.
Jacob C. Brown 27 Humphrey Slocum 25
William Sabin  22 John G. Grant 33
Samuel F. Parsons 14 Lucius Randall  33
Joseph Whitaker 13 John H. Morse 20
Marshall Slocum 25 Benjamin D. Morse 21
Allen Slocum 25 William H. Kennedy 29
Huntington Kennedy 29 Jacob Sherman 10
Earl Miner 35 Amos Colborn 4
Thomas Newton 33 Porter Carpenter 9
Darius Grace Personal Eli S. Balch 11
Patrick Donahoe 10 M. Hawkins Personal
John Powell Personal    


In 1847

Name Sec.  Name Sec.
Graham N. Barker Personal Ezra A. Miner 35
Albion Brown 29 Gilford Randall   33
Joseph A. Ball Personal E. H. Sabin 24
Henry M. Case 26 William Slocum 25
George Camp 33 Daniel Sherwood 27
Charles Chase 35 Phineas Silsby 33
Martin Carpenter 9 Moses Sayles 13
James Colborn Personal Sylvester Tanner 34
Elisha W. Grant 33 Homer Watkins 26
Derastus Hinman 4    


In 1848

 Name Sec.  Name Sec.
David Stage 29 Thomas L. Hancock 17
Michael Miller 34 Lansing Knickerbocker 17
Daniel Simmons 34 Stephen Mills 19
William Miner 35 William Spinks 22
William R. Phillips Personal Thomas Dailey 4
Lyman Jackson Personal    

 

Conway Township
P.O. Box 1157
8015 N. Fowlerville Road
Fowlerville Michigan 48836
Phone: 517-223-0358
Fax: 517-223-0533
Waveville