A DETAILED HISTORY OF WATROUSVILLE AND WESTERN TUSCOLA COUNTY
This paper is a composite of information compiled from several sources. Many people have lived and died at Watrousville, the ones we know most about are the ones who were in business and left some sort of legacy through newspaper articles or photographs. This information is subject to addition and correction. We welcome any historical information that can be added to make this more informative. Compiled by Al Gorashko of the Watrousville-Caro Area Historical Society. July 13, 2009 – any previous dated copy of this history is obsolete and possibly not correct.
Before the coming of the Europeans most of the Great Lakes area was wooded. Various Indian Tribes hunted and fished living in huts made of branches forming ribs and covered with bark. To move heavy loads they traveled by water using birch bark canoes. The French were the first Europeans to explore the Great Lakes. They claimed these lands for the King of France and named them Canada.
They also found the canoe the best way to move their supplies. Travel in the interior of Michigan was difficult because of hills, rivers and swamps, so the French built their settlements along the shores of the Great Lakes.
The lands around the Saginaw Bay were settled mostly by Chippewa Indians. The Chippewa’s told of a troublesome, warlike tribe called the Sauks who preceded them in possession of this land. Neighboring tribes fought fierce battles to drive them away. From this tribe the name Saginaw is derived. The early French explorers named the bay and river O Sauk E Non, meaning “Land of the Sauks.”
After the battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec with the English, the French ceded the lands south of the Great Lakes to the English. The English called these lands “America” named after an early explorer, Amerigo Vespucci.
Years later because of excessive taxation and the English interfering in their affairs, the English Colonists in America declared the declaration of Independence from the English in 1776. The “Sly fox” George Washington fought many skirmishes with the much stronger English Army. After the battles of Trenton and Princeton the Americans realized that they could do battle with the English. Many battles Occurred. The English lost the battle of Yorktown and the English Lord Cornwallis surrendered.
The Americans were now ready to become a nation. George Washington was elected the first president. The third president, President Thomas Jefferson, sensing a bargain, without the authorization of congress bought the Territory of Louisiana for $15 million dollars from Napoleon of France, thus doubling the size of the United States.
In 1812, James Madison was president when English allied with American Indians invaded America and burned the White House in Washington. Andrew Jackson beat the English at the battle of New Orleans. In 1814, it ended with a peace agreement. After the war of 1812 ended, there was a call for more Indian land to be opened for settlement.
The territories of Indiana and Michigan were now being settled. At the time they were considered as the “west,” as the Louisiana Territory was still uncharted and the California, Arizona, New Mexico, territories were, owned by Spain.
In the Michigan territory, only the lower part were settled by whites, in the north were woods and swamps, not a healthy place for white people because of mosquitoes General Lewis Cass was sent by the U.S. Government to negotiate with the Indians of the Michigan Territory for more of their land. The Saginaw treaty called for the Indians to move farther west. They were offered one thousand dollars of silver each year, forever; the use of a blacksmith; given utensils, cattle and help for farming. Also, sixteen Indian tracts were reserved along rivers in Northern Michigan, and other considerations.
In 1819, immediately after the signing, the Government sent out surveying parties to chart the land to sell. This angered the Indians who were told they could go anywhere they pleased and didn’t like the land being made into fenced parcels. Then, there were the settlers who didn’t like Indians going across their property.
The government surveyors divided the Michigan Peninsula into counties and each county into townships. They started from an East to West reference line that had been surveyed near the bottom of the Michigan territory. This is known as Baseline Road. The Eastern end of Baseline Road skirts the northern edge of the City of Detroit and is called Eight Mile Road. In the center of the state, a reference line going north was laid out. This is called Meridian Road. At our latitude, it is located just west of Midland, Michigan.
In what was to become Saginaw City, a log fort was built on a high bank above the Saginaw River at a place where the Fordney Hotel once stood on Saginaw’s West Side. The U.S. Soldiers abandoned it in 1823 because of mosquitoes and malaria. In the spring of 1824, the fort was sold to Samuel W. Dexter, who deeded the land to Saginaw County, where the Saginaw County Courthouse now stands.
A Territorial governor governed Michigan until 1837 when it became a state. At first, trapping was the only occupation. Around the Saginaw Valley were dense forests of pine, the Saginaw River and a system of river tributaries to float cut logs to saw mills.
After entrepreneurs from New York and the east found out how cheap wooded land could be bought from the government, they bought land and built sawmills along the Saginaw River. Many would become Lumber Barons in a few years. After the lands were cleared of trees, they were parceled out and sold for farming. Saginaw City, East Saginaw and Lower Saginaw (Bay City) were rapidly settled. Saginaw didn’t become a city until 1857 and East Saginaw followed in 1859.
In 1845, a group of 15 Germans from Bavaria settled on the Cass River to teach Christianity to the Indians. They called their settlement Frankenmuth, in German meaning: Courage of the Franconians.
Indians had several foot trails they used to get to various parts of the Michigan Peninsula. One such trail started from the Clinton River in Macomb County and continued north crossing the Cass River at a place that was named Tuscola, which was a few miles upriver from Frankenmuth.
The first purchase of land at Tuscola was in 1835. A small settlement sprang up there by 1840, and at the time it was called, “Worth.” In 1848, Tuscola consisted of 10 or 11 families, and had a dam, a sawmill, a tannery and the first bridge across the Cass River. It was platted in 1850. Tuscola was the mother of all towns in Tuscola County. It outranked the county by 10 years. The first settler was Ebenezer Davis and his daughter was the first child born in Tuscola County.
An Easterner, Townsend North had a contract with the State to build a bridge crossing the Cass River at a place called Bridgeport on the route between Flint and Saginaw. The state had lots of land, but little money. The bridge was built in 1848. For building the bridge, Townsend North was given a grant of 1,000 acres of land. Mr. North scouted along the Cass River, and a few miles farther up the Cass River from Tuscola, he put in the claim for the 1,000 acres. In 1849, Mr. North built a sawmill and platted a town he called “Vassar.” From the very beginning, Vassar prospered.
The Township that was to become Juniata was called Rogers Township and approved by the Michigan legislature on March 2, 1851. It was named after Levi Rogers the first settler in the township. Shortly after came two German families and about the same time William Jameson, Jonas Belknap, Ezra A. Belknap, John Freeman, S.H. Moore, Daniel Gorton Truman, and within the next two years Patrick McGlone, Ephraim Smith, Frank Fairman, Daniel Kinyon, King Allen, Hiram Gibbs, Lucius Marvin, James Wing, Henry S. Russell, William Law, Andrew Schultz, Nelson Vickory, William Fenner, Daniel E. Tonkrey, E. Miller and R.G. Black.
On April 7, 1851, the first Township meeting was held at the home of Levi Rogers and Township officers were elected.
Until 1852, the only roads were lumbermen’s supply and logging roads, very serviceable in the winter, but almost impossible in the spring and summer. In 1852, stock was sold for the building of a plank toll-road between Watrousville and East Saginaw. The Watrousville toll station was one mile west of the village at Higgins Road. Mr. Watson Suther was the gatekeeper. The next one was at Carr’s Corners (M-81 & Vassar Rds.) and the next was at Reese. The toll was 1 cent per mile. Eventually, the State took it over and made it a state highway.
Daniel G. Wilder, born in 1824, an easterner from Massachusetts taught school two years in Genesee County and one year at Vassar. In 1849, while teaching at Vassar, he bought 120 acres of land on a United States Government land grant at the Northwest corner of Section 15 (part of the site of present day Watrousville) in what was called Rogers Township and in 1837 renamed Juniata; He gave up teaching in Vassar and moved to his 120 acres. He was single and lived in a log shanty on a logging road across from the present Methodist Church (Later the shanty was used as the first school in Watrousville).
On June 12, 1853, at the age of 29, he married Louisa Pratt of Genesee County and they had a daughter.
He later sold 40 acres to Josiah Armstrong in 1866 who in turn sold it in 1868 to Richard C. Burtis who in 1879-80 built the finest Second Empire (Victorian) style house in the Thumb region. It is located at 2163 Ringle Road, Watrousville.
Another Easterner, Patrick McGlone from New York came to Michigan and settled in Oakland County on a 160-acre farm. He then came to Vassar in July of 1950. He bought 160 acres from the government at the Southeast corner of Section 9 of Rogers Township and left. In 1851, he returned with his family on his land and commenced the work of clearing up a farm. They were the first permanent settlers of what was to become Watrousville. His farm in Section 9 was located at a logging road intersection at the corners of Section 9, 10, 15, and 16, where he built a log cabin for his family. They had four daughters and a son. The road intersection was called “McGlone’s Corners.” At the time, lumbering was going on in the thumb and lumbermen, settlers and prospectors seeking pine or farming land coming from Saginaw were passing through McGlone’s Corners. It was one day’s journey out of Saginaw. Mr. McGlone was literally compelled to make a tavern out of his log-house, as there was no place nearby where travelers could stay.
Aaron Watrous, an Easterner from Connecticut who had been in the mercantile business in Ohio came to the new and wild county of Juniata in October of 1852 with a crew of men looking for timber to cut. He and McGlone became good friends and McGlone convinced Watrous into settling at McGlone’s Corners. Watrous bought eight acres from Daniel Wilder and built a steam sawmill near the Southeast corner of the McGlones Corners intersection. He also built a log boarding house with a stock of goods to sell and opened a store on the same site. Thus, this became established as a center for trade in the area. The roadway (Ringle) alongside, became known as Mill Street.
Another early settler of Juniata Township was Fayazae Miller who was a native of Vermont. In the fall of 1851, he moved with his family, consisting of his wife, four boys and two girls to Tuscola County and settled in section 11 near the site of Watrousville. They remained at Patrick McGlones for four weeks while building a shanty of lumber brought from Vassar. Mr. Miller died in the spring of 1861. His children are: Mrs. Charles R. Sheldon, of Caro; Charles of Kansas; Nelson of Juniata Township; Dana of Kansas; And Mrs. Thomas Rutherford of Juniata Township. One son Lemuel died.
The first school in the township was organized on December 17, 1852. The first school meeting was held in May 1853 at the house of Patrick McGlone. The first school classes were held in the summer of 1853 and taught by Miss Ellen E. Miller and later by Mrs. Charles R. Selden. School was very irregular until the year 1854. The building used was a low log shanty, built by D.G. Wilder who lived in it until he built his house. It stood opposite the site of the M.E. Church.
Other early settlers were the King Allen family. King Allen’s parents were Ezekiel and Parnell Shattuck Allen of Suffield, Connecticut and later Blandford, Massachusetts. King married Sarah Madison Wright about 1824. They came to the Juniata Area about 1851 and bought 160 acres near McGlones’s Corners. They had a large family of eight boys and eight girls. They intermarried with the Heath, Gibbs, Coller and Terry families of Watrousville and Tuscola County. King Allen died at the age of 84 and is buried at the Hickory Island Cemetery of Wisner Township.
In 1920, Austa Allen Terry of Detroit, a daughter of King Allen, came to visit relatives in Tuscola County. The Tuscola County Advertiser interviewed her about her remembrances of Watrousville as a child. In her own words she relates: “I am the last with my brother, Wright Allen, now of Portland, Oregon, of a party of pioneers who came to Tuscola County in 1851, from Williamsfield, Ashabula County, Ohio. There were 15 of us and we came in three covered wagons, regular prairie schooners – Father, Mother, my sisters and brothers, grandmother Parnell Allen, also my aunt, Harriett Wean. My father, King Allen bought 160 acres and settled one mile from Watrousville, we stayed at Patrick McGlone’s log cabin while father built a long, low shanty for we were a large family eight boys and eight girls, and we spent the happiest days there of any of our lives.” “I remember the great crane for kettles to hang on in front of the rude fireplace and the oven of stones in which our bread and johnny cakes were baked, fit for kings. Often we went to sleep listening to the howl of the wolves at the edge of our ‘clearing’ but never afraid – pioneer children never knew fear. We went berrying with the Indian Children – leaping from log to log in a tangled thicket, happy as the day is long.” “father sawed and hewed logs and made rough boards and built the first school house in Juniata – and it has always been called the ‘Allen school’ in his memory, altho now it has changed from the little log building to a modern brick, with late appliances. Father went to Flint for the window sash and glass. Flint was our nearest trading point and post office. In 1853, our first session of school was held with Miss Harriett Miller as teacher.
How proud we were of our school! There were 14 scholars, six from our family and the rest from the Russells, McGolones and Ephraim Smiths. Once at some holiday time ‘teacher’ had no presents to give us, but she had some pretty paper and she wrote a verse for each of us on a slip and gave it to us – I have that slip yet – a treasure indeed.”
“That same year I remember great excitement over the big road to be opened through the woods. It was surveyed and ‘slashed’ and everyone turned out to help, for in the spring and most of the summer, it was almost impossible to get anywhere over the rough trails.” “Father kept our teams on the trails most of the time to pack in provisions for us. We had plenty of meat for the Indians (brought) us nice fat venison, bear steak, (which is beef steak only much nicer) and fish from the streams. No selected file of fare at a New York hotel could equal those meals cooked by mother – and we were not troubled by poor appetites either.”
“Did you know that Samual Sherman was the first white man to build a house in Caro: Well he was, and the house he built is upon what is the Atwood homestead on the hill – the building yet stands, altho it has been framed over into a barn.” “My sister Charlotte, was the first white child born in Tuscola County. She was born on November 24, 1851 and died the 24th of the following March. William Law’s death was the first in the county and our little Charlotte’s the second. Hiram Gibbs, Hiram Allen, Elisha Gibbs and my father, each purchased 160 acres of land adjoining a wildwood of farms – and they hewed out their own roads in true pioneer style. After 1853, the county was settled quite rapidly, and among the earliest settlers were Elijah and Daniel Kenyon.” “The Indians about 200 of them used to go to Bay City each year for their land pay from the government and they received, old and young, if only a day old, $35 apiece and two blankets. This, I think continued for 35 years.”
“I do not mean to say that nowadays, folks are not neighborly enough, that friendships are not so lasting as in pioneer days, but I remember that nothing seemed too much for one neighbor to do for another, to offer to pay was unheard of, to accept would have been a breach of pioneer faith. ‘There was more laughing and less sighing’. We worked together to make the country what it is today with charity and good will to all. I have lived to see the result – from shanties, beautiful farm homes, from a wilderness, smooth, finely tilled rich farms where once bears, wolves and lynx prowled and where the pretty deer came in daytime to peer at us from leafy shelter.”
“I was married to Samuel Terry April 14, 1859 at Elisha Gibb’s home and my husband died January 7, 1896. I have seen two great wars settled.
Sometimes when I hear what a board, a common little board costs now my memory goes back to the day of ‘clearing up’ – the finest basswood, pine and oak logs burned in order to raise crops – what would they bring now. Sam Stuck had the first sawmill near Wahjamega and he sawed lumber very cheaply – 20 boards then for what one would cost now.” “I was ten years old when we came to Michigan, I am now 80 years old – what changes – now the desert blossoms like the rose and my last days are happily spent with my son Reed and my daughter Sadie who look after my every comfort. I am glad to see all these wonders. We are a long lived family – my father was 84 years old at the time of his death and had not lost one of his teeth – that’s remarkable isn’t it?”
And bright-eyed little Mrs. Terry bustled out of The Advertiser office where her son’s automobile was waiting. “You see, I have to keep up with the times,” she said.
On the subject of Indians, a Chippewa, Algonquain Indian who was friendly with the white settlers became a legend in the Thumb area. His name was Indian Dave Stocker and he claimed that he was present when the 1819 treaty between the Indians and the U.S. Government was signed. It has been said that he was an Indian Chief. In his younger days, he and members of his tribe roamed the Saginaw Valley selling hides, baskets, hampers, whittled toys, ginseng, fish and game to the settlers. “Black Smallpox” wiped out most of his family including his first and second wife. He was mostly known in the eastern Saginaw Valley all the way from Otter lake and on up into the tip of the thumb. In his wondering, he was accompanied by his oldest son, John who always walked respectfully behind him according to the ancient custom. Local boys were delighted when Indian Dave came around for he made them bows and arrows and showed them how to trap animals. Dave often shared a meal with a white family. Often leaving a freshly killed animal in return for their hospitality. He shunned modern conveniences like beds preferring to sleep on a hard floor behind a stove or outdoors on the ground. He became a Christian. While sleeping outdoors during a snowstorm on one occasion, rolled up in his blanket. He placed a sharp stick into the ground next to himself, the reason being, so the Lord could find him should he die during the night, while buried under a fresh snowfall.
It is said that Indian Dave was found dead, by his son in a shanty, where Dave lived in the woods of the John Hickey farm at 1918 Merry Road, Fairgrove. The date was May 26, 1909. The story goes that Dave was 109 years old.
He is buried at the Wisner Township Cemetery on M-25. There is a marker there.
A single level frame building was built by King Allen on the site of the present red-brick school building now used as the Township offices. It has always been called the Allen School, after its builder. When the school building was completed, D.G. Wilder was hired to teach two months in the winter for $52.00, and Miss Carline Stoddard was engaged to teach for four months in the summer for $40.00.
Following are the names of the first pupils attending school: Sarah, Arvilla and Eliza McGlone; George, Charles and Abraham Pettingill; Nancy, John and Dallas Streeter; Jennie and James King; George Smith; Mary, Sally, Albert and Emily Schultz; Martha Huntly; Lemuel Gamble; Jonathan, Charles, Salmon, Simons, Nelson and Dana Miller; and Anna Morrell.
In 1875, this building became too small and in 1889, a two-story brick building was erected at the present site just north of the Main/mill street intersection. It was built by Benson Haskins of East Saginaw
It went from the kindergarten to the 10th grade. In the early 1940s, the upper grade students began going to the Caro School. Because of roof problems in 1944 and the expense to repair them, it was decided to remove the second story. It now only went to the 6th grade. The school was closed in 1960. The Juniata Township moved their offices from the old Aaron Watrous store building to the one-room brick school building.
In the same year of 1852, farther upstream on the Cass River, the Village of Centerville (now called Caro) began. Because there already was another Centerville in Michigan, on December 30, 1868 by a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors, they changed the name to Cairo. Due to a typographical error in the paper sent to the capital , the i was left out of Cairo and the village has been Caro ever since.
When Aaron Watrous came to McGlone’s Corners, and built his saw and grist mills Mr. Asa Benjamin (A.B.) Weaver was employed to be in charge of operations. He was born in Blandford, Hampden County, Mass. in 1812 and lived on his father’s farm. At the age of twenty, he moved to the old town of Saybrook, Conn., now Chester and was engaged in mechanical pursuits for five years. He married Miss Phoebe Watrous and soon after moved to Portage County, Ohio where he engaged in farming for five years. He moved to Ashtabula County, Ohio and again took up his trade for nine years. He came to Michigan and took charge of a sawmill on the Saginaw River for two years and then came to Watrousville where he worked for Aaron Watrous. The surrounding country was at this time a dense wilderness. He ground grain for many people who became the most wealthy and influential citizens of the county. After working four years in the mills at Watrousville, in 1856 he settled on a farm where he resides. His only children are Richard Sherman (R.S.) and Charles Asa Weaver both located near his homestead.
The son, Richard Sherman Weaver, was born August 24, 1840 in Saybrook (now Chester) Middlsex County, CT. He was 14 years old when he came to Watrousville with his parents in 1855. He taught school at Vassar, MI and clerked in a Store there for 3 ½ years. In 1862, he started a general store at Watrousville and was a postmaster. On October 12, 1862, he married Fidelia Wood. At first, they lived over the store. In a few years they moved to the new house that they built that stands on Ringle Road just north of the village (Today, the house still stands) He continued in that business until 1879 when he bought a 120 acre farm on the western edge of the village. He became a highly respected leader in the community – sort of a “village squire.” He was president of the Tuscola County Farmer’s Fire Insurance Company and Secretary-Treasurer of the Vassar Fair. He had a very pleasing voice and would occasionally join in the singing during the weekly choir practice held in the parlor with his daughter, Lottie at the piano.
Charles Sherman Weaver, The son of Richard Sherman Weaver, was born in Watrousville on January 05, 1871. He remembers when the Budington and the Arnold (Exchange) hotels were prosperous when he was just a kid. He worked as a printer’s helper for a while. He got a Bachelor of Science degree from the U of M in 1889. His first teaching job was at the Honsinger School one mile west of Fairgrove. Later, at a one-room schoolhouse at Watrousville for $31 per month. He became a school superintendent at Cass City for $65 per month. He made an X-Ray machine from parts ordered by mail and experimented with X-Ray pictures during the years 1902-03. This was the first X-Ray machine in Tuscola County.
Note: The Watrousville museum has a photo that shows an apparatus, written on the photo is: the first X-Ray in Tuscola County. Yes, Mr. Charles Weaver did make an X-Ray apparatus, as there are X-Ray pictures to prove it. However, the photo is not of X-ray Apparatus. The photo appears to be a wireless telegraph transmitting and receiving station using a spark-gap transmitter and a coherer detector as a receiver. This in the days before the vacuum tube for radio was invented in 1906. This educator from a small out-of-the-way village was experimenting with equipment that the greatest minds in the world had conceived at that time. This gives testimony to the type of people that settled in Watrousville. (Al Gorashko)
Mr. Weaver took a position as school superintendent in St. Clair. He was so well liked by the Cass City students that they didn’t want him to go. He married Lela Marie Randell of Watrousville on February 23, 1901. Shortly later, He accepted a position with the YMCA in Kansas City. Then later transferred to the YMCA at Akron, Ohio. He retired in the 1930s. and built homes in Detroit until 1937 and returned to Watrousville. He stopped driving in 1959 and lived on income from his leased 120-acre farm and Social Security.
Charles Asa Weaver, the other son of, Asa Benjamin Weaver, was born in 1847 in Charleston, Portage County, OH and came to Watrousville with his parents in 1855. He married Mary Jane Weaver daughter of John and Mary Jane Walton after 1880. He probably worked in the general store on Main Street (M-81) started by his brother and possibly owned it later. It burned many years ago. Their children are, Walton Weaver and Anna Weaver. Charles Asa died in 1918 and is buried at Riverside Cemetery at Vassar.
Willis Farnum came into the area about 1845. He was a carpenter and built several homes around Watrousville. He had three daughters, Fern, Beatrice, Nota and two sons, Frank and Russell. Russell would marry and have four daughters and four sons. One of his sons, Billie S. who was to bring the sleepy village of Watrousville to everybody’s attention. Billie S. Farnum was born in Saginaw in 1916 and raised in Watrousville. He graduated from Vassar High school in 1933. In the 1930s, he was in the CCCs and later was involved in Auto Union activities in Pontiac. He became a high-ranking member of the Democratic Party. He became the Michigan Secretary of State from 1957 to 1960 and later, Michigan Auditor General 1961 to 1965. He died in Lansing in 1979 and is entombed in the Deepdale Memorial Park mausoleum. A Michigan government building in Lansing, Michigan is named after him.
Richard C. Burtis was born in near Troy N.Y. in 1824 and when he was quite young moved with his parents to Hoosick Falls, N.Y., where his father died when he was five years old. His mother and the family moved around New York State finally returning to Troy in 1838. He then accepted a job in a grocery store where he remained for three years. He went to Ithica, N.Y. and learned the shoemaker’s trade, remaining there for 3 ½ years. He worked at his trade in nearly all of the eastern cities for the following fifteen years. In 1855, he came to Michigan on a hunting expedition and two years later in 1857, he came to stay, locating in Watrousville. He engaged in the shoemaker trade until 1862. His brother died and he took an interest with his sister in a General Store which continued about seven years, when he took the entire stock and conducted it alone for about thirteen years. He married Miss Flora A. Chabb of Nankin, Wayne County Michigan in 1868. During the years 1879-80 he built one of the finest Victorian style homes in the thumb of Michigan, located about ¼ mile south of Watrousville. Mr. Burtis served as postmaster of Watrousville for four years. He retired in 1882. He sold his Victorian house to Byron Cole in 1901.
About 1856, Watrousville boasted two hotels, The Buddington house, and the Exchange Hotel. There is no information about when the hotels were built. The Buddington House was located on the southwest corner of the Main, Mill street intersection. The following is taken from an ad in the October 6, 1870 Caro Newspaper: “In Having been connected with the Buddington Hotel establishment for nine years Mr. Will P. Buddington has taken possession of it.” In 1872, Mr. A.W. Webster was the proprietor.
Mr. Arnold was the proprietor of the Exchange Hotel located on the south side of Main Street between 2nd and 3rd streets.
Stages leave daily for Saginaw and Pine Run and on Thursday’s for Unionville and Sebewaing.
In 1858, Patrick McGlone built a home on Main Street (M-81) that he used as a hotel and was called the “Juniata House.” It was built in the Greek Revival style that was popular in the 1850s. He operated it for fourteen years. He sold it to Eugene W. Leonard who had a store nearby on Main Street. E. W. Leonard’s daughter, Marguerite never married and resided there until her death in 1986. She taught piano and after the death of her parents lived a frugal life on rental income from the inherited farm adjacent to the house. Though her income was meager, she actually donated a bigger percentage of her income to the Watrousville M.E. Church than other more-wealthier members did. She was born in the house to the immediate west and lived across the road for a while apparently before her parents bought the Greek Revival style home from Patrick McGlone. She raised her nephew Donald Leonard in the house. In 2002, the house was donated by Donald Leonard to the Watrousville-Caro Area Historical Society. They are in the process of restoring it.
In March of 1860, Aaron Watrous obtained the entire Northeast corner of Section 16 from the State of Michigan for $160. On May 7, 1860, he platted out the streets of a town on the south side of Main Street. He named it Watrousville. The north side of Main Street apparently owned by Patrick McGlone was also platted, but never developed.
As the woods were being depleted, people started farming. Getting grain ground required a long, time-consuming trip to a larger settlement, so Aaron Watrous built a mill for grinding grain.
Mail came from Saginaw via Bridgeport, Frankenmuth, Tuscola, and Vassar. Prior to 1856, the people of Watrousville and vicinity had their mail delivered by private conveyance from Vassar. Uniting together for that purpose they employed a messenger who came on foot or horseback once a week, usually on Saturday or Sunday, and was paid one-dollar for the trip. Chauncy Furman was the carrier most of the time. In 1856, a mail route was established from Vassar to Sebewaing by way of Watrousville. Mr. Furman being the contractor and a post office was established in Watrousville with Aaron Watrous as postmaster. In 1861, B.A. Wood became postmaster. The following persons have held the office, viz: Henry Wilber; R.C. Burtis; Geo. Rogers; B.A. Wood, a second term; John Walton; J.A. Hamilton; Richard S. Weaver, and again, B.A. Wood. The last post office was attached to the E.W. Leonard store. Mr. Leonard was the last postmaster. The post office closed September 14, 1935
About the year 1856, a class of the United Methodist Church was organized at Watrousville. Services were held regularly at the schoolhouse until the building of their house of worship. At the quarterly conference held at Vassar, February 18, 1865, the following persons were elected trustees of the church at Watrousville, viz: William King, James Simonds, Elisha Kenyon, Farris Stillson, and Philip Davis; the corporation to be described and known as the trustees of the First Methodist Society of Watrousville. In 1871, a church building was erected under the pastorate of Rev. J.B. Russell. It is a convenient and commodious structure and built with excellent taste. Its dimensions on the ground are 36×60 feet, and its seating capacity about 100. It was dedicated in October of 1873. The present membership of the church is thirty-eight. The pastor at the present time is Rev. W.J. Bailey. The trustees of the society are: E. Higgins, G. Kile, E.B. Rose, R.S. Weaver, Wm. Eckley, A. Stafford, and W. Walton. A prosperous Sunday-school numbering eighty-members is connected with the church. In addition, a class meets at the Belknap schoolhouse in the southwest part of the town, supplied by Rev. Mr. White, of Vassar, services being held every Sunday. It burned in 1937 and was rebuilt in 1938.
In 1857, the name of the township was changed by act of the legislature, from Rogers to Juniata.
It is estimated that Watrousville’s first newspaper, the “Watrousville Democrat, on Main Street, published its first issue on May 23rd of 1860. Mr. J.B. Teneyck, was the Editor and Proprietor, Some of the businesses advertising are: A. Davidson, Groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes, crockery, Etc.; A. Burdick, Dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes, Provisions, Etc.; Steam Flouring Mills, A. Watrous, Proprietor, Watrousville Steam Saw Mill, lumber of all kinds, large or small quantities, A. Watrous; John Walton, Wagon and Carriage Maker, O.W. Leonard, Surveyor; T. Baldwin, Notary Public, Township clerk for the town of Juniata; R.D. Black M.D., Physician and Surgeon; D.M. Black, Notary Public, Watrousville; J.R, Pattee, Carpenter, Joiner and Architect; Watrousville Hotel, Corner of Main and Mill Streets, A. Coggeshall, Proprietor; and Juniata House, P. McGlone, Proprietor.
In 1878, a Michigan Central railroad track was laid running between Vassar and Caro. It by-passed Watrousville. It is said that the Watrousville citizens didn’t want the railroad to go through their town, so a citizen who lived almost one-mile south of town gave the right of way to the railroad company. The small community of Wahjamega a few miles up the road, also had a station.
Note: seeing that Watrousville is on a meandering ridge, if there were a train station in the village, the train would have to climb a grade each time it passed through Watrousville, requiring extra steam. My guess is that the Michigan Central Railroad preferred their tracks on level ground. Al Gorashko. At the Station site was also an elevator, a log loading dock and some houses. With the railroad depot nearby, many of the wealthier citizens occasionally traveled to Saginaw, Bay City and Detroit for shopping
Many generations of Coles have lived in or near Watrousville starting with:
John M. Cole, (1832-1919), who was born at Cole’s Creek in Columbia County, Pa. The early part of his life was spent working on his father’s farm and working in grist and sawmills. He married Miss Ann Koons of Luzern County in 1857. With his wife, and daughter, Ella D. (1861-1946), they came to Watrousville in 1862 where they built a log cabin. Later built a home on 80 acres of farm land about one mile north of Watrousville on the N/W corner of Ringle and Dixon roads, where sons Garret (1858-1873, Charlie (1861-1865) William (1868-1954), Edwin (1870-1954) were born. Garret and Charley died young.
In 1874, they built a handsome residence in Watrousville on the north side of Highway M-81 on the western edge of the village. Their children were all educated in Watrousville.
In 1885, Ella went on the National Music School of Detroit and graduated in 1893. Edwin went to the University of the State of Michigan and graduated with a Master of Science degree in 1894. William apparently farmed their 200 acres. None of them married. They were an educated and musical family and brought much culture to Watrousville. John M. Cole’s wife, Ann died in 1910 and John M. died in 1919. They are buried in the Watrousville Cemetery. Ella D. Cole died in 1946 and her brothers William and Edwin in 1954. They are buried in Caro’s Indianfields Cemetery.
A cousin, Byron Cole (1851-1929) a builder/farmer, also from Pennsylvania Married Miss Josephine York (1854-1927) of Virginia, and about the early 1870s they came to Watrousville and settled about one mile north of the village. They had three children, Claude A. (1877-1960), Maurice (1880-1956) and Harold (1886-1922)
In 1897, the son, Claude graduated from the Watrousville school. In 1904, he married Mary Elizabeth (Bessie) Robinson (1881-1985) who was the daughter of George M. Robinson of Watrousville. They lived in the old homestead north of Watrousville and farmed. They had five children; they are Neil A., Clarence J., Maurine Rose, Geroldine Elizabeth, and John (Jack) C.
In August of 1919, The State Savings Bank of Caro opened a branch in Watrousville. It was in the basement of the Greek Revival style house behind the Watrousville Market. A Miss Shoop was the first cashier followed by Claude Cole. The bank was closed in 1936.
Maurice and Harold Cole Homesteaded some land in Alberta, Canada. Maurice came back to Watrousville in 1912 and married Miss Meda Butts at Metamora, Michigan in the same year. They had no children.
Harold Cole stayed in Canada, married Alice Baines and they had five children. It is said that he passed away during a trip in the U.S. in 1922.
In 1901, Byron and Ann Cole bought the beautiful, Victorian style home built by R.C Burtis on Ringle road a ¼ mile south of the village.
Byron Cole died in 1929 and was buried at the Indian Fields Cemetery at Caro. In 1930, His son Maurice bought the Victorian Style Burtis house on Ringle Road. Maurice died in 1956 and is buried at the Caro Cemetery. In 1971, the house was bought by a widow, Victoria Bessinger of Detroit who passed away in ????? It was sold to a Mr. Elmer Barge. Today, it is owned by Kara O’Berry.
Claude A. Cole died in 1960 and is buried at the Caro Cemetery. Of his children, Neil A. Cole (1905-1991) became a pipe-fitter; he married Elizabeth K. in Caro. They had four daughters and a son that died shortly after birth. Clarence J. Cole (1906-1985) He became a farmer and married Mary E. Frate and had two daughters. Rose Maurine (1909-still living) became a nurse and Married John L. Gornik, they had a son and a daughter. Geroldine (1911-1987) became a secretary and married Russell E. Glaspie. They had a daughter and two sons.
Claude’s wife Mary Elizabeth Bessie lived a great, long life dying at the age of 104 in 1985.
John C. (Jack) Cole (1919-2008), joined the US Navy in 1939. On December 7, 1941, without a declaration of war, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; he was wounded and survived the attack. In 1946, he married Marie Hogan (1923-2004) from Reese in March of 1946. They lived in the old homestead north of Watrousville and later bought the John M. Cole Homestead on M-81 and began to raise a family. Their children are: Katherine, John M., Carol, and Maureen. The son John served in the Navy. He later died of an accidental choking in Saginaw. Jack had been a Township Supervisor and past president of the Watrousville-Caro Area Historical Society.
His wife Marie Cole, was also a past president of the Historical Society and with her encyclopedic mind, knew about everyone and everything in Watrousville. She passed away in 2004. Her funeral procession was almost a mile long.
Another fellow who worked for Aaron Watrous at his saw and grain mill was George Robinson. He also homesteaded 100 acres three and one-half miles south of Watrousville in 1884. He possibly operated the Robinson General Store on the northwest corner of the Watrousville Main-Mill street intersection in the early 1900s. One of his children, Mary E. Robinson (Bessie) (1881-1986) began her education at the Tappen School, a first through seventh grade facility near the intersection of Dixon and Kirk roads. She began the eighth grade walking each day to the Watrousville School. In 1898, she was one of three students to graduate from the school. For a while, she lived in Bay City and returned in 1904 to marry Claude Cole, a grandson of early pioneer John M. Cole. They settled on a farm one-mile north of Watrousville where they lived a life of farming.
Around the 1880s was the George N. Robinson Store, he was the father ??? to Mrs. Claude Cole.
Between 1860 and January 25, 1864 Aaron Watrous built a structure on lot 1 of block 8. that is now the ground floor of the Watrous General store on the Southwest corner of Main and Second Streets. He sold it to David Philbrick for $300. It was originally built as a one-floor building. It is suggested that the Philbricks added a west wing, a second story to the main structure and remodeled the front of the main building in the Greek Revival style. Such a hypothesis receives support from the fact that Philbrick’s name written in pencil along with the correct dates is still visible in several places in the interior upstairs. The Philbricks operated it as a general store. Mr. Philbrick had been a postmaster while operating the store. He died December 10, 1867. By 1875, the store become a furniture store operated by Mrs. Philbrick. In 1882, the Juniata Township bought the building to use as a township hall. They used the old Watrous store building until 1960 when they moved the Township offices to the red-brick school house on Ringle Road, after the school closed, due to students now being bussed to Caro schools.
At about the same time that Aaron Watrous built the store, he also built a house on the Southeast corner of 2nd and Main Streets. It is not known if he lived in it, but the 1875 map of Watrousville shows Mrs. Philbrick owning it.
The Watrousville cemetery was platted in 1859. It may have been platted when the village was platted. The land was bought from Patrick McGlone. He passed away on June 20, 1865, he was 84 years old. Aaron Watrous died on February 1, 1868 they are both buried in the cemetery. Many early Watrousville settlers are buried there including two from the war of 1812, 13 Civil War Veterans and some from later wars.
In 1864, the “Lincoln pole” was put up in front of the Watrous store. The civil war was being waged and the northern troops were driving the enemy back, and Lincoln, the great leader, was campaigning for his second term as president. Watrousville people, determined to show their loyalty to Lincoln and the cause for which he stood decided to elect a Lincoln flagpole. The pole was red cedar, about 87 feet high and was taken from a forest 1½ miles north of Watrousville. A maul fashioned in memory of Lincoln’s rail splitting days was fixed to the top of the pole.
Mrs. Mary Jane Walton the wife of John Walton, wagon and carriage maker, offered her services in making a 35 star flag. It is 5 x 8 feet, of strong woolen material and was stitched by hand in a manner that shows the work of a fine seamstress. It was always displayed on gala occasions, but in later years, its value as a relic was recognized and so it was carefully stored away. It was last displayed at the dedication of the new courthouse in Caro in 1933. John and Mary Jane Walton were married in England and came to Watrousville in 1860. The Walton family has been prominent in county affairs for many years. One son, William Walton, became county clerk, and his son Joseph Walton, served as county register of deeds. The Watrousville pioneers had two other children, Mrs. Mary Jane Weaver who died at Watrousville in 1928 and Mrs. Eliza Davison. The Watrousville Caro Area Historical Society now has possession of the flag and it is so fragile that it is no longer displayed.
At a later time when the building was used as a Township Hall, a Democratic Township board decided this 80-foot pole was dangerous, so it was lowered. The red cedar pole was found to be in perfect condition, so Republicans and Veterans of the Civil War raised it once again. Years later about 1904 the pole began to lean towards the road about ten feet and a “Bee” was held. A delegation of men, as follows, worked with shovels and brains to place the pole again in an upright position: Undersheriff James Kirk, Supervisor William E. Higgins, T.A. Harmon, Lawerence Moore, Richard Harpham, Clark Wilber, George N. Robinson, Anthony Coleman, M.J. Toohey, Benson Viccary, G.A. stoddard, T.J. Miller, Quinn Hughes, Frank Rutherford, and George Honsinger.
Earth was excavated at the base, the 70-foot pole was pulled back into an upright position and two cedar posts were attached along the base of the flagpole. Then, the base of the pole and the attached posts were incased in concrete to a depth of seven feet.
In 1928, a concrete foundation slab was placed at the base of the pole. Written in the cement were the words: “For Abe Lincoln – 1864.”
Probably in the 1980s, the base of the flagpole apparently became deteriorated and was within the highway right of way. It was moved with the help of Society member Robert Capling and his Detroit Edison Company line crew to a hole in the ground closer to the Watrous store building Museum.
On June 14, 2005, a terrible windstorm caused the pole to break at ground level where it leaned against the Watrous building. The lower-base part of the pole was encased into a metal drain tile and again buried in the same spot where it still stands today. This work was done by Society members: Bob Gray and his tractor, Cal Jewett, Al Gorashko aided by JoAnn Gray, Marsha Jewett and Esther Gorashko.
The 7th Day Adventist Church was organized in fall of 1865 by Elders L.D. Van Horn and D.M. Canright with thirty-seven members. It was formally organized for incorporation February 27, 1866, when at a meeting of persons who had signed articles of association for the purpose of forming a religious society to be known as the society of Seventh Day Adventists of Watrousville. The following persons were elected trustees, viz: Zephanisin Wilber, Andrew J. Rogers and John Walton. Services were held in the schoolhouse until 1869, when a neat, plain church edifice was erected in the village of Watrousville, with a seating capacity of about one-hundred. Services are held every Saturday, with occasional preaching by Elder Wm. Ostrander and others. The present membership is about thirty-two. The Sabbath school has about twenty-seven members. The trustees of the church are: A. Hatch, C.W. Hartson and Calvin Jewett. The church was located at the end of Third Street. When it was no longer used as a church building, it was used for making brooms. Eventually the building was moved to Fairgrove.
In 1866, the first Tuscola County Fair was held at Watrousville for the next five years. Eight acres were leased from the McGlone heirs about a ½ mile north of Watrousville. The first fair was on October 4th and 5th of 1866. The second fair was held on October 1st and 2nd of 1867. The third fair was September 29th and 30th of 1868. The forth fair was held October 7th and 8th of 1869. In 1870, the fair board purchased 12 acres one mile north of Watrousville for $700. The 5th fair was held there in 1871. The sixth fair was in October of 1872. After the 1875 fair, It was moved to Vassar in 1883. due to the influence of Vassar’s, Townsend North.
During the village hay-day about 1870-80, Watrousville had four doctors. They were: Russell D. Black M.D.; Richard Morris M.D.; John Maurer M.D. and, Dr. Handy. They were located in a building on the northeast corner of the Main-Mill Road intersection.
Russell D. Black M.D. was born February 14, 1815 in Broome County, N.Y. During his boyhood, his father came west to Geanga County, Ohio. About 1818 he completed his medical education in Cincinnati. For about three years, he practiced medicine at Russell, Geanga County. The practice of medicine in those days was no joke, entailing as it did many a weary tramp through the forests on foot. Dr. Black has been a member of the board of health twenty-eight years, Justice of the Peace twenty-four years and supervisor, two. He married Eliza Streeter in 1857and they have two children, a son and a daughter. The son is now reading medicine and proposes to adopt his father’s profession.
Richard Morris M.D. was born in the Limerick, Ireland in 1847, and came with his parents to America when less than a year old. The settled near London, Ontario Canada, where Richard lived until about 1870. He received his medical education at the Toronto School of Medicine and the University of Buffalo. He graduated from the latter institution in 1870, and soon after came to Michigan and located in Watrousville, where he practiced his profession. He was married in 1871 to Miss Josephine Jilson, a woman of Scotch descent, whose birthplace was Elmira, N.Y. They had two sons.
The Watrousville map dated 1875 shows the Exchange Hotel that was on south side of Main Street between first and Second Streets. The proprietor was a Mr. Arnold. Eventually it closed. The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1881. They bought the old Exchange Hotel Building and began remodeling it for a church; lumber and material were donated by farmer members. William Borland donated the large bell and they all donated their work. Until the church building was completed in 1896, they met in the Maccabee Hall. The church was dedicated on January 13, 1897. The church closed in 1906. It was then used as a storage shed for thrashing machines and engines. In 1912, it was purchased by George Robinson Jr. and Michael Toohey who began to remodel it into a hardware store. Mr. Toohey would live in part of the building. Later it ceased to be a hardware store and was torn down.
Daniel Wilder lost his first wife and married again on April 20, 1875 to a local woman, Maggie D, Ricker. He was 51 years old and Maggie was 28 years old. They had a daughter Grace Wilder who was born in 1876 (During her young life she became a minor celebrity as an opera singer, played, and taught the piano.) They built a house on Main Street a few hundred yards east of the Main-Mill street intersection. Daniel had been admitted to the bar in Livingston County some years before. He was elected as the County Treasurer; he served as a judge, justice of the peace, and school inspector in Juniata Township. He died November 7, 1885. He is buried in the Watrousville Cemetery.
As soon as Caro began to be settled, it became a thriving village. Being on the Cass River to float logs to the mills helped the economy. Later, a dam provided electrical power. It had a newspaper “The Centerville Advertiser.” In the 1868 Advertiser, it has Watrousville merchants advertising their wares. Some of the following are: R.C. Weaver, dress goods; F.A. Leasia, groceries and dress goods; R.C. Burtis & Co., dry goods, groceries, hardware, glass, paints, drugs and medicines. In 1870, was added the Ellsworth store featuring, Dry goods, clothing, hats and caps. In 1885, Watrousville merchants opened stores in Caro. There was F.G. Watrous general store, Watrous Bros. Jewelers and F.O. Watrous, Hardware.
1873, was the peak year for lumber. By 1879, lumbering practically ceased. As the area became a farming community, Watrousville had four blacksmith shops, a foundry, and several livery stables for horse and buggy travelers.
In the Michigan State Gazetteer of 1875 reports R.D. Black as the physician; T.H. Bakerville as the M.E. Pastor; W.P. Buddinton, hotel owner and express agent; Aaron Burdick, grocery and livery stable owner; R.C. Burtis, general store; Mrs. Campbell, millner and dressmaker; J.D. Dennis, homeopathic physician; Edwin Hardy, blacksmith and wagon maker and Charles Jarvis, builder.
Other professional and business men list in the Gazetteer at this time are: Laidlow Brothers, foundrymen; Richard Morris, physician; Mrs. D.G. Fhilbrick, cabinetware and millinery; Mrs. Nellie Rogers, millinery and fancy goods; Richard Ross, hotel proprietor; William Schriver, saw
and grist mill; Arnold Stafford, blacksmith; Peter Stevens, boot and shoemaker; R.S. Weaver, general store; D.G. Wilder, general store; and B.A. Wood, boot and shoemaker. Also in the town were a barbershop, tin factory, cider mill and coffin makers shop.
After World War I, Watrousville’s prosperity began to decline. It was not located on a river, was by-passed by the railroad and with the lumbering gone and taking people with it. Businesses began moving to Caro. The coming of the automobile helped in its decline making it easier for people to travel farther to larger nearby cities for a greater variety of goods and services.
In the early 1900s, behind the existing Watrousville Market was a store built by ???? Farnum for Edward Hardy. Was it the Edward Hardy Store? About the store, a source tells me the history of owners was: Ed Hardy Jr., Ed hardy Sr., Cecil Stone, Alex Clouse, Bob Stoddard, and William Subriski.
Mr. Michael Toohey, born in Bruce County, Canada, November 21, 1880, came to Watrousville from Ellington Township where his father, Patrick, born in Ireland had settled after migrating from Bruce County, Canada. As a young man in Canada, Michael was involved in canal building. On July 20, 1908, in Caro, he married Edith W. Carlson who was a trained nurse. She was referred to as Minnie.
In 1912, Michael Toohey went into the hardware store business with George Robinson Jr. after they had purchased the defunct Presbyterian Church building and remodeled it into a store. A few years later for some reason the hardware store was out of business and during the war years of WW I, Michael got a job on a bridge construction job on the Hudson River. He returned to Watrousville in 1926 and built a one-story general store and gas station on the Southeast corner of the M-81/Ringle Road intersection. Later, he added a portion on the eastside and added a second floor to the white frame building. His wife Edith W. died in 1933. About 1949 he married Katherine Mollenoux a retired schoolteacher from Detroit and they lived on the southwest corner of M-81 and 3rd Street in Watrousville. In 1960, Michael retired and sold the General store to Charles Gunsell who renamed it Gunsell’s General Store. Michael’s 2nd wife Katherine Toohey died on August 7, 1963 and Michael Toohey died on November 20, 1967. They are buried in the Sacred Heart Cemetery at Caro.
In July of 1951, Watrousville celebrated its Centennial. A Centennial Committee was organized with Jack C. Cole as Chairman, Tom Karpovich as secretary and Charles Gunsell as treasurer. Saturday July 28th was designated as Centennial Day and Sunday July 29th 1951 was designated as Homecoming Day. Also, held was a beard growing contest. A parade was held on Saturday with three high school bands from Vassar, Fairgrove and Elkton, and an array of floats. Frank E. Dalaba and his horse, Gladys who pulled Frank’s buggy were well known in the area. Frank announced that his horse “Gladys” would not participate in the parade. “It’s on account of her nervous disposition” he said.
Early Watrousville citizens, William Higgins, 83 and Grace Wilder Harris, 76 were chosen as King and Queen. Luncheon was served at the M.E. Church. In the evening there was dancing under the stars. On Sunday, a special service was held at the Methodist Church, and in the afternoon, a picnic-basket lunch with music was held on the schoolhouse lawn.
The last two stores were the Gunsell’s General Store and the Stoddard store. After Charles Gunsell operated his store for two years it was sold to Renny Gammon, who ran it for about ten years, then in 1968, he sold it to??? Frank. It was open for two years and it closed for good soon after.
Wendell “Bob” Stoddard was born at Millington in 1908. He married Cassie Kilbourne in 1928. He and his wife moved to Watrousville in the 1940’s where they operated the Stoddard Market. (On M-81 between Ringle and first streets.) The store also sold gasoline. (The following may not be correct) The store was built by ED Hardy Jr. Then operated by Ed Hardy Sr. It had several owners, Cecil Stone, Alex Clouse, Bob Stoddard and William Zubriskie. In store advertising, Wm Zubriskie referred to his store as located in, beautiful, downtown Watrousville. As automobiles became more plentiful, probably due to a lack of business the store closed and stood empty for years. Recently, it was bought and torn down to be replaced by a larger, more modern drive-thru party store. That too closed for lack of business. As of now, June of 2008 it is open again.
Bob Stoddard died in 2007. He is buried at Vassar’s Riverside Cemetery.
Another recent business was Hill’s Orchard with a market on top of a hill at the southwest corner of M-81 and Fenner Roads. R. Lester “Mike” Hill was born in 1902 in the Grand Rapids area. He married Leona May Ames at Sparta, Michigan in 1932. In 1933, they purchased 40 acres on Highway M-81 a mile east of Watrousville and started a fruit farm. They expanded it into 250 acres calling it, “Hill’s Orchard”, selling apples, cherries, peaches, plums, nuts and Christmas trees. He retired from the business in 1970, but continued living at the farm. He was one of the founders of the Watrousville-Caro Area Historical Society. His wife, Leona passed away. He married Marian Frances Shubel in 1978. He died at the Tuscola County Care Facility on March 4, 1991. He was 88 years old.
They say that when talking to a Watrousville native, to never say anything derogatory about a local person. The reason being that almost everyone around Watrousville is related generations ago either by blood or by marriage. To give an example: Dr. Russell D. Black married Eliza Streeter. Their daughter Lillian Corintha married Willis Farnum and they had three daughters and two sons and as they married, more family names came into the fold. Willis Farnum’s grandson, Bruce, was delivered by his grandfather Dr. Black.
In 1970, R.L.”Mike” and Leona Hill of Watrousville and Dorr and Gladys Wiltse of Caro discussed the possibility of finding some place where artifacts and records of the area could be preserved. The empty Watrous store building owned by the Township came to mind. A committee was formed to draft a set of by-laws. An organizational meeting was called for on September 12, 1972. The by-laws were accepted and officers elected. Dorr Wiltse was the first president. On the same night, the Watrousville-Caro Area Historical Society was granted a 99-year lease by the Juniata Township to use the old store building as a museum. The Society started with 148 charter members. In addition to the Hills and Wiltses they are: John C. and Marie Cole, Victoria Bettinger, Harry E. Schubel, Harry and Helene Smit, Doug C. and Blanch Gallery, Andrew and Bea Grabowski, Donald J. Kanicki, John M. and Margaret S. Gee, Mary Warren, Edgar Winchell, Marguerite Leonard, Tom Gunsell, Dorothy J. Parsell, Glenn and Anna Eastham and many others too numerous to mention.
Many nearby roads have been named after Watrousville Area citizens, for example: Handy, Wilder, Higgins, Hardy, Fenner, Enos, Fenner, Sheridan, Vickory, etc.
Some descendents still live in the area; they are John C. Coles, the Albert Arnolds, the Farnums, the Hoards, the Nagys, Tom Gunsell, Etc.
Today Watrousville is a bedroom community with people working elsewhere like Caro, Saginaw, Bay City and Flint. No longer do locals marry each other, join in fraternal organizations and entertaining at each other’s homes with poetry, music and feasting. Those days are gone forever.
——————————————————————————————-In 1883, in the following sections had the following property owners:
Daniel Gorton, June 10, 1850
Hannah McGlone, July 6, 1850
Erastus Marr, April 30, 1852
Asa Stoddard, Jan. 19, 1852
Jacob Winchell, Nov. 20, 1850
Clarissia Webster, Sept. 20, 1850
Noah Felt, April 5, 1852
Darius Hodges, Sept. 19, 1851
Ezra Healy Dec. 8, 1851
D.G. Wilder, Mar. 16, 1850
Thomas Chapman, Oct. 9, 1850
James B. Tongeray, Jan. 13, 1850
Henry Pettingill, Sept. 20, 1852
Thomas Wisner, Oct. 14, 1852
Henry Pettingill, Apr. 30, 1853
Aaron Watrous Jr., May 10, 1850
J. Briggs, May 4, 1851
James Gotham, Sept. 15, 1851
S. Andrews, Sept. 15, 1851
Lot Wilder, Oct. 27, 1852
F.H. Rickert, Oct. 4, 1853
Aaron Watrous, Jan. 15, 1859
Lot Wilder, Dec. 19, 1853
D.R. Sortwell, Dec. 30, 1853