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Ch. 02 : Isaac Lowing

Lowing Family History

Updated by Bruce Sheridan Lowing

Chapter 2: Isaac Lowing

Isaac was the third son and eighth child of William and Ann Haight Lowing. He was born January 28, 1794 at Danby, Vermont. When he was three years old the family moved to Peru, New York. He rode on the bouncy wagons most of the way. He attended school at Peru. Isaac was with the brothers, when they lost the raft of logs down the Ausable Chasm. He moved back to Danby with his mother when this loss of logs, and other business losses forced her to give up her sawmill and other property at Peru.

In 1812, he went to live with his sister Susannah in Tinmouth, Vermont. Susannah had married Stephen Lampman. While there he met Stephen's sister, Lavina, whom he married in the spring of 1814. Isaac and Lavina moved to Hoosick, New York, a village bordering Vermont. William Riley, their oldest son, was born in Hoosick. In the spring of 1816, the family moved to East Gainesville, New York, near the home of Isaac's oldest brother, James. Isaac purchased land from the "Old White Woman", who had married an Indian Chief and became owner of this land at his death. It was very poor soil and Isaac was able to eke out only a meager existence for himself and his growing family. He worked for other farmers and in a pottery factory to keep the family from suffering real hunger. To raise money to pay taxes he shaved shingles, which he sold to other homesteaders. He assisted others in cutting timber, worked in the fields at mowing time, learned to make bricks, and yet all this work did little to alleviate their poverty. Eight more children were born while they were at East Gainesville.

Isaac was unable to give his children but scanty education, especially the boys, as he needed their aid as soon as they were tall enough to work. They became winter month students, which was a common practice at that time.

In the early 1830's the Michigan Land and Timber Speculation craze hit New York State. Every one that could raise money left for Michigan and bought land or timber, either for homes or speculation. In 1836, Isaac's son, Stephen, at nineteen, walked to the Grand River Valley, and purchased eighty acres of land in Georgetown. He worked in Grand Haven and earned enough money to pay for most of the land. He built a cabin, and then in the spring of 1838, he walked back to New York, and gave glowing accounts of the fine prospects for the whole family in Michigan that his brother Holden returned with him in 1841. By then Stephen had married and his wife and infant accompanied him along with two pair of oxen and household goods. In the spring of 1842, the Isaac came alone by way of the Lakes. He purchased land south of Stephen's and with the help of his son Holden, began to chop out another home and farm.

They built a log cabin, large enough to accommodate the big family, and during the fast winter, Isaac, Holden and Frank Bosworth, who had taken up land nearby, lived in this new cabin. Isaac was then 48 years old. The land was densely covered with timber. Isaac, having much experience, began to chop out another farm; hoping to have a garden spot and some fences built before the family arrived. Another son, Isaac, arrived in the spring of 1843. So the father had help all that summer.

The family arrived October 18th, 1843. James brought the three sisters and his mother Lavina around the lakes and up the Grand River on a steamer to Stephen's place. The Lake trip had taken them fifteen days, and a storm raged the whole distance. It was late when they arrived at Stephen's and as the family was tired, he persuaded them to stay all night, rather than cross the woods in the dark. They moved out the few pieces of furniture and laid their feather beds on the floor. In the middle of the night Ruth, Stephen's wife was taken with the pains of childbirth, so the children were awakened, dressed, and a man was asked to guide them to their father's home about one mile away. The man carried pine knots that he lighted to assist them in keeping the narrow path through the dense woods. In crossing a creek on a log, Elizabeth who was only ten years old lost her balance and fell in. In the excitement of getting her out the man dropped the pine knot in the water, and they had to finish the journey in the dark. With the man in front they held on to him and each other, and fairly felt their way along. The children never forgot that night trip to their new home in Michigan.

The winter of 1843-44 was one of the hardest the pioneers ever had to face in Michigan. Winter came early and it was known as the "Winter of Storms". Snow was so deep that most of the settlers lacked food for themselves as well as their animals. The hogs that had not been killed for food, had wandered away, and either fended for themselves or starved. The men cut down trees, and dug paths to them so that their cattle might reach this meager food. The cold was so severe that most of the people could not keep warm in their poorly constructed homes, and there were many colds and much sickness.

That spring Franklin Bosworth and our Grandfather Isaac walked to Ada where they each purchased a pig, which were mere skeletons but the best they could find. They began by driving them, and ended by carrying them. When Isaac arrived home with his it fell over and died either from starvation or exhaustion.

The next ten or fifteen years Isaac spent in clearing his land and bettering his conditions. In 1847, the long proposed State road that was to pass in front of their home became an actuality. It was little better than the logging trails that were beginning to be built through the area, but it did connect with other laid out roads, and was the beginning of a road-connection between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids.

In 1845, a schoolhouse was built, and became Georgetown No. 1, later known as the Canada Hill School. Isaac and his sons helped in the construction of this building. Miss Ann Evarts was the first teacher in this frame building that had cost $112 to build. In 1845, there were only 133 people in Georgetown so one can know there was not a large enrollment of children in this school.

The State Road was often almost impassible, and for years it was called "Mud Highway" or "Mud Street Road".

Isaac never gained wealth, but he lived comfortably, and as his circumstances improved he added a room or two to his cabin. In this place he lived until his wife died in 1868. He was 74, at the time and Holden built a room on his home for his father, and here he died at the age of 82 in the year of 1876.

Isaac and his wife Lavina are buried in the old cemetery that adjoined Holden's Farm, at the north end of the now so-called Grange Hall Road.

Isaac Lowing left the largest number of descendants of any of William and Anna Haight Lowing's children. They are scattered all over the United States.

Isaac loved to read and kept himself posted on the current issues of the day. Lavina could not read or write and was very sensitive about not being able to do so. She loved to have her husband read to her and absorbed everything so that she never let any one know that she did not read the item herself. When Holden or Franklin kept the Post Offices in their homes she loved to go there in order to distribute the mail. She learned to recognize the names by sight, and would hand out the mail as accurately as anyone. Whenever she made a mistake she always covered by saying "My eyesight isn't what it used to be". She taught her daughter to become capable and experienced pioneer women. She was proud of all her sons and said every one of them had the makings of first-class lawyers. She smoked a pipe, as did many of the pioneer women of that day. Her children greatly admired her capabilities, and felt their traits of ambition, courage, integrity, demand for education and the better things of life were inherited from her.

Isaac and Lavina Lowing are the father and mother of all the Michigan Lowing descendants. We will continue with their nine children.

  1. William R. Lowing (68) 1815
  2. Stephen L. Lowing (69) 1817
  3. James O. Lowing (70) 1819
  4. Holden C. Lowing (42) 1821
  5. Isaac N. Lowing (71) 1823
  6. Mary Lowing Bosworth (43) 1825
  7. Ulysses Lowing (72) (deceased) 1827
  8. Cordelia Lowing Spears (73) 1830
  9. Elizabeth Lowing Bosworth (74) 1833

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