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A Brand NewSettlement Named Newark

Lucius Lyon was Michigan Territory'srepresentative to the U. S.House of Representatives in 1833 when land at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River went on sale at the land office inWhite Pigeon. He knew the land well having surveyed most of Allegan Countyand received news of events from three correspondents. The letter written bySaugatuck founder William G. Butler has been reprinted in the book TheLetters of William G. Butler. Pertinent excerpts from the other two lettersare printed below. They offer insights into the land mania that was prevalentat the time as well as the fine opinion that others had of the site that wouldbecome Saugatuck. The first letter to be written was from Thomas Fitzgerald thelighthouse keeper at St. Joseph.

St. Joseph, M.T. Dec. 18, 1833 Hon. Lucius Lyon,

DearSir,

In my letter of last week I informed youthat the village at the mouth of Kalamazoo would be called "Newport"but Mr. Griffith has since returned from the Land Sale at White Pigeon, andinforms me that the proprietors, consisting of Messrs. Mason, Hoffman of Niles,Butler and himself had agreed upon Newark, as its permanent name, andthat the plat would be recorded by that name. I mention this moreparticularly from a belief that you will feel disposed to get a Mail Boatestablished from thence to Bronson, and also to this place. That Newark is destined ere long to become a place ofconsiderable importance I have no doubt, the land in that vicinity soldremarkably high, and for many miles up the Kalamazooand Rabbit Rivers. Nearly all the lands on theborders of those excellent streams have already been purchased and measuresadopted for opening the necessary roads. Settlements will be formed, mills,warehouses, stores, mechanic, shops, taverns, dwelling houses, etc., etc., will spring up as if by magic. Perhaps you may be half wayinclined to suspect me of being somewhat interested in Newark -- not at all --I have not the good fortune to have any interest there either directly or indirectlynor do I much expect to have, but poverty only prevents me...

 

YourSincere Friend Thomas Fitzgerald

 

The second letter in the Lyon letter file in the Clements Library, Ann Arbor, is from WilliamG. Butler, dated December 20, 1833, and mailed at White Pigeon. The thirdconcerning the same event is from H. H. Comstock, founder of Otsego in AlleganCounty, who owned the mouth of the river and would later ask such a high pricefrom those seeking a mill site that Singapore would be built nearly a mile upriver.Lyon was a lifelong bachelor.

Detroit December 25th 1833

Friend Lyon

I wish you Merry Christmas and if I was to wish you anything more thatI thought would make you the happiest fellow in the world it would be as good awife as I have got. I have just returned from the land sale and before givingyou a history of that event I want to return to you my thanks for the messageyou sent me in regard to the sale. A considerable amount of land was sold andthat about the mouth of the River extraordinary high, it got from $2.25 to $12.per acres those fractions you esteemed valuable I hadthe good luck to secure, the mouth of the River for $2.26 per acre the restselling from $4 to $10 & $12. Mr. Butler set out 5/8 of his fraction for$1,500 to Messrs. Griffith, Mason & Hoffman who are all calculating tocommence operation in the spring so that you will perceive our River will soonhave business & enterprise equal to any one and I apprise that frompersonal experience I am satisfied it is the best site in the Territoryexcepting Grand River. Whatever can get into the mouth can go up to Foster's (atpresent-day Otsego ] and indeed I must say I wasmore disappointed in the river and its excellent quality of bottom lands. Agood country after all the misrepresentations that have been made than anysection of the Territory I have seen from the beginning to the end the countryis good and in four years St. Joseph will be in the background. MessrsGriffith, Butler & Hoffman requested me to ask of you to make an applicationto the Post office Department for a Post office to be located at Newark {the name theyhave given to the place}. I assume it is necessary to make the application atsuch time in order to procure one when they will want one when I presume willbe next summer... [there follows a detailed requestthat the mail go directly to Otsego without going through Gull Prairie and hecloses] I hope to hear from you soon please tell me what you are doing. Howyou like Washingtonand what the prospects are of you picking up as wife this winter. .

Yours sincerely,

H.H. Comstock