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General History


The Township of Convis was settled in 1835, and organized in 1837. It is rather a broken tract of land, but excels as a wheat and fruit growing region. In the north-east part of the town are situated Ackley, Lane, and Allcott Lakes.

 Sanford Chaffee, who came in the forepart of 1835, and settled on section 3, was the first settler. He was followed by Ebenezer Naramore, James Lane, who came direct from England, and Paul Moss, in the fall of the same Year. Lane and Moss located on section 26, and Naramore on 25 and 36. Daniel Bearrs was the next settler, locating on section 24, in the spring of 1836. Wm Newman came soon after, and settled on section 23. The families of Asahel Howkins, from Saratoga Co., N.Y., on section 34, and that of Gilbert King, from Marshall township, where the King family had settled about one year previous to this time, came to their places in Convis, in May, 1836. The King family is considerably scattered. Gilbert, who, together with his father, Jacob King, settled in Marshall in 1834, removed at an early day to Ionia County, where he died about a year since; Seneca H., his brother, now lives in the same county, and Joh, another brother, is one of the leading farmers of Convis, where he settled in 1848. Mr. Hawkins and family still occupy the old homestead. Mr. King’s daughter, Ann, now Mrs. Holcomb, of Ionia County, was the first white child born in town; and Asahel M. Hawkins, born in October 1836, was the first male child. He now resides in Convis.

This same year came also T.J. Van Gieson, Jasper Hayward, Ganville Stowe, Philander Brooks, Geo. Bentley, who bought the place of Gilbert Kin, Elisha and Hiram Brace, Jesse and Wessel Smith.

The year 1836 witnessed quite large accessions to their numbers; and as the year 1837 approached, they began to talk of organizing into a township by themselves. Those who came in 1837 were Wm. Kenyon, Levi Rowley, Ira H. Ellsworth, Leonard Cleveland, Simeon Bardon, Nathan Chidester, Leach S. Loomis, Oel B. Austin, now of Pennfield, Levi Eaton, and Allen Matteson. Their first election took place in the spring of 1837, at the home of James Lane, known at that time as the “Half-way House.” The officers elected were as follows: Supervisor—Elisha Brace; Town Clerk—T.J. Van Gieson; Treasurer—Levi Rowley; Justices—Elisha, Brace, Sanford Chaffee, Asahel Hawkins, and Daniels Bearrs; Highway Commisioners—Hiram Brace, Ira H. Elsworth, and Daniel Bearrs; Assessors—Asahel Hawkins, Ira H. Ellsworth, and Daniel Bearrs. As for Constables, it is not remembered who they were, as there was but one summons served during the first year.

Gen. Ezra Convis, being a member of the Legislature at this time, introduced the bill organizing this township; but while the matter was pending, he met with an accident which caused his death, and the matter was taken up by another member, who suggested that the town take the name of Convis, in honor of the member who introduced the bill.

Asahel Hawkins kept the first post office established in town, which was the office in North Marshall removed into Convis. The first school was taught by Miss Farrar, a sister-in-law to Randall Hobart and Wm. A. Sweet, who taught in an old log school house on the corner near Mr. Hawkins’ house.

Those who came between 1836 and 1840 were, Ezra Brackett, who came in 1838, settling on Section 34, where he still resides; Nye and Clark Chandler, Miner Porter, Sidney Safford, Morgan L. Rood, and Anson Ackley. Of the old settlers till left in town, there are James Lane, Geo Moss, Asahel Hawkins, Nahan Chidester, Jesse Smith, Ezra Brackett, Miner Porter, and Wm Kenyon. Wm Goss came as early at 1839, or 1840, as is still living in the north-west corner of the town, on section 7. R.B. White, on section 27, also came at an early day. Ira Andrus and James Walkinshaw came as early as 1849, or 1850.
 The first death which occurred in town is thought to have been that of the wife of one of the Braces. And the first marriage, that of Geo. Moss and Miss Clara Matteson.

Convis did nobly in the war for the Union, both in men and means, and tighter with the rest of the towns in the county, did all and even more, in some instances, than was required of them.

 -1869 Directory of Calhoun County by E.G. Rust

Civil Governmental History
The first annual town-meeting in Convis was held on April 3, 1837, at the house of James Lane. The number of voters is unknown, but a full ticket was chosen, as follows: Supervisor, Elisha Brace; Town Clerk, Thomas L. Van Geisen; Assessors, Ashel Hawkins, Daniel Beers, and Ira H. Ellsworth; Highway Commissioners, Hiram Brace, George W. Bentley, and O. B. Austin; Directors of the Poor, Harvey Parkhurst and E. N. Naramore; Collector and Treasurer, Levi Rowley; and Constables, Levi Rowley and Harvey Parkhurst. Among present town officers are—Supervisor, Alvin L. Ford; Town Clerk, Thomas Templeton; Treasurer, Robert E. Cornhurst; Superintendent of Schools, Charles P. Chidster; School Inspector, Ira O. Eaton; and Justices, James Haggett, Thomas Moor, B. M. Templeton, and Alvin L. Ford.

 Fifty-five votes were cast in 1840. The highest number cast at a town election was two hundred and twenty-one. At the general election of 1876 the vote was two hundred and fifty-five.

 The following have held the offices of supervisor and town clerk in Convis:
 
  • Supervisors.---1837-39, Elisha Brace; 1840, Leach T. Loomis; 1841, Leon Cleveland; 1842-1843, Leach T. Loomis; 1844, Jasper Haywood; 1845-46, John T. Ellis; 1847-48, William R. Carpenter; 1849-50, John T. Ellis; 1851, Joseph Haywood; 1852, Asahel Hawkins; 1853, John T. Ellis; 1854, Robert Hueston; 1855-56, John T. Ellis; 1857-59, Joseph Bentley; 1860, John T. Ellis; 1861-64, Joseph Bentley; 1865-77 James Walkinshaw; 1877, A.L. Ford.

  • Town Clerks.---1837, T.L. Van Geisen; 1838, Nathan Chidster; 1839, Asahel Hawkins; 1840-42, O. B. Austin; 1843, Reuben B. White; 1843-44, Philo Callender; 1845-46, R. B. White; 1847-48, Asahel Hawkins; 1849, James Lane; 1850-52, Ira Andrus; 1853-56, R. B. White; 1861, O. B. Austin; 1862, Asahel Hawkins; 1863, O. B. Austin; 1864, L. F. Brown; 1865-68, R. B. White; 1869, Ira Andrus; 1870, S A. Randall; 1871, Ira Andrus; 1872, A.R. Upright; 1873-77, Thomas Templeton.
James Walkinshaw was elected in 1876 as representative to the State legislature.


Statistics---from census of 1874

  • Population.---Total population, 941: males, 519; females, 422.

  • Livestock.---Horses, one year and over, 406, mules, 4; work oxen, 29; milch cows, 459; neat cattle, one year old and over, other than oxen and cows 514; swine, over six months, 814; sheep, over six months, 4761; sheep sheared 1873, 6000.

Wheat in the ground May, 1874, 2708 acres; wheat harvest 1873, 2624 acres; corn harvested 1873, 1208 acres; wheat raised 1873, 33,878 bushes; corn raised 1873, 75,130 bushels; other grain raised 1873, 21,070 bushels; potatoes raised 1873, 13,225 bushels; hay cut 1873, 1,581 tons; wool sheared 1873, 27,056 pounds; pork marketed 1873, 99,143 pounds; butter made, 43,690 pounds; fruit dried for market, 6,100 pounds; cider made, 453 barrels; orchards, 408 acres; apples raised 1873, 15,206 bushels; peaches 1873, 8 bushels, pears 1873, 104 bushels; plums 1873, 29 bushels; cherries 1873, 232 bushels; currants and gooseberries 1873, 192 bushels; melons and garden vegetables 1873, 311 bushels.

-History of Calhoun County, compiled by E.E. Rust 1879
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