Poem written by Elisha P. Bosworth dated April 9, 1855 for Franklin E. Bosworth
Kind friends, if you'll please listen I'll tell you about the boys Who made that overland journey From Michigan to Illinois.
You recollect the snowstorm The day we cleared the port, It did its best to stop us But fortune cut it short. At noon we reached the plank road Then for the south-west away We steered in hopes of finding Down there a summer day. That night we stopped at Chambers And Joe built us a fire With such accomodations One need never to tire. Next noon we got to Nortons And sure as I am a sinner Says Ralph, "Lisp here they are human Let's stop and take some dinner." And so we did by jingo It didn't lack for spice For we had the girl for waiter Whom Richard thought so nice. The sky was darkly overcast By Squalls and sunshine parted When Uncle West bade us goodbye And for the depot started.
We went through Schoolcraft, Three Rivers,Constantine, Mottsville, Bristol Elkhart, Miswak, and the South Bend Where Ralph was like a pistol (off) From there I had to drive alone Through mud my slow way picking, And soon it got so awful bad that it nearly left me sticking.
I passed through many varied scenes Got frightened once by fire But found myself next morn unharmed Ready to wade the mire. Saturday night I reached the State Line And there stayed over Sunday Studied the catechism all day Took Illinois on Monday. For half the day there still was mud And once a snowbank frightful But after that the roads were good The weather quite delightful. Tuesday night found me safe home And all the people healthy They've corn and wheat and hay to spare Even those not counted wealthy.
Since then I've plowed and sowed some wheat And harrowed it in truly And should the weather still be fine It will be growing duly. We need a rain to sprout the grain And set the grass to growing To fill the bogs and please the frogs And keep the mills a going. I expect sometime next month to get A real Old Northeast blow. About the time our corn is up It'll cover it with snow. Please write when you expect a thaw And if it comes in season I'll make a fire to help you on Or else there'll be a reason. The nights are very frosty yet But folks are sowing oats I rather think you will wait a spell Lest they might want two coats. But then we will let the steel plows slide And get the ground all ready
For sowing on and dragging in Then we can take it steady. I guess that now I'd better stop So write as soon as maybe, And let me know how all get on From Grandpa to the baby. Goodnight: Give my respects to all Tell Mary to be nice And wipe her nose and keep it clean This writes your servant, Lish. while the settlement was Louis Campau and his dependents, a young-physician, Dr. Willson—a man whose name is held in singular'y affectionate remembrance—came to try his fortune at the Rapids, lie was fresh from the schools, and brought nothing with him but his youthful wisdom and gentlemanly manner; and these were his passport to public confidence, and resulted in perhaps the deepest and most affectionate respect ever felt for any person in the Valley. All concur in pronouncing Dr. Willson a gentleman. No single voice has ever claimed for him less than that he was the ideal nobleman—gentle, agreeable, sympathizing, generous, intelligent, manly. He came poor and empty-handed, without medicines or instruments. Mr. Campau liked the young man, and took him under his wing; bought for him a complete set of instruments and a stock of medicines. When the boxes came Willson fairly danced with delight. There was the young Esenlapins fairly launched into practice among a population of fifty persons. He died about twelve years afterwards, leaving a great blank—a dark, vacant spot in the Grand River Valley. The feellng with which the early settlers speak of him, shows how strong a hold he—the manly physician—had on the hearts of the people. May we have many more like him, and fewer of those soulless quacks, whose only object is to grow rich on the sufferings, or unnatural crime of the base, the ignorant or confiding.
It has been said that the basis of civilization is the blacksmith's anvil block. This much is certain : that man can make but little advance in the arts, or anything, that distinguishes savage from civilized life, without the labor and skill of that artisan. The superiority of the Philistines over the Jews is manifest in this : the Jews had no smiths. The United States, in their laudable endeavors to civilize the nomadic tribes on our frontiers, do not send the cabinet maker and jeweler, but the farmer and blacksmith.
The first who placed his anvil and bellows in the Grand River Valley, was A. D. W. Stout. His shop was at Grand Rapids, at the foot of Pearl street, where now stands the Opera House. There his bellows breathed its long-drawn sighs, and there he fashioned, first a fish-spear, and afterwards the many different articles demanded by the wants of the white man or the Indian. This Mr. Stout was afterwards one of the first settlers of Cannon. At the present writing (1876). he is living in Plainfield. Mr. Campau during this year put up some buildings ; built a pole-boat—the "Young Napoleon ; " and the same year the Indian Mill was built, on the creek that enters the Grand River in the north part of the city on the west side. Its site was some 60 rods from the mouth of the stream. It was a small concern ; just the cheap mill appropriate to the circumstances and time. It was of the old sash saw, flutter-wheel pattern, capable of cutiing 1,500 feet of boards in a day. The creek was dammed so as to make a pond ; and the stream being insufficient to run the mill continually, it was operated by the pond ; that is, when the pond was drawn down, stop until it was filled. The cheap run of stones put in that mill were a wonderful convenience to the inhabitants, as there was no chance for grinding elsewhere nearer than Gull Prairie. The, it is to be hoped, perpetual..
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