Bridgewater Township

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

It has been said that after the area was separated from Dexter it was called Hixon. In 1833, the people wanted a separate township and at the suggestion of George Howe named the township "Bnidgewater" after the village in Oneida county, New York.

Col. Daniel Hixon was the first settler. He stopped off at Tecumseh which had only two log cabins at the time. George Lazelle, T. Lazelle and E. Wheelock also came in 1829.

Bridgewater is a country of gentle farmland, beautiful rivers and streams and picturesque lakes -Joslin lake, Columbus lake, the expansion of the Raisin River and Iron Creek run through the area. It has a wealth of agricultural resources and 90 per cent of the township is devoted to farming.

At the first election in the township,George Howe was named supervisor; R. H. Heggie, township clerk; Norman L. Conklin, treasurer; and B. H. Norton, Justice of the Peace.

The question of erecting a town hall was discussed at the township board meeting April 2, 1855. On the building committee were Daniel Le Baron, D. W. Palmer, Norman Calhoun and W. H. Aulls. When they brought in their report on June 22, they were discharged. Another committee was appointed April 7, 1856. They were Norman Calhoun, Lewis Potts, Junius Short and Ransom Bradley. They were told to locate the town hall within a mile and a quarter of the geographical center of the township. A completion date was given-November, 1856. This was so the November meeting could be held in the new town hall. A sum of $250 was raised and added to the $300 already earmarked for the purpose.

On April 6, 1857, the board "voted that the town hail be opened for moral and scientific lectures, and for funerals."

In 1834, there was a four dollar bounty on every full grown wolf; all hogs weighing upwards of 40 pounds could be free commoners; and a lawful fence should be four and a half feet high. In the 1830s, it was the custom to mark cattle and horses. The owner had to register the mark used.

The first birth was that of Henrietta Hixon. The first marriage was that of Dennis Lancaster and Harriet Frederick. It was Daniel Hixon who built the first house of log and the first frame house was built by Daniel Brooks.

Norman Conklin was the first school teacher in the first district school built in 1834, and Jacob Gilbert erected the first sawmill on the "East Bend" of the Raisin in the same year. The first grist mill was built by Wm. W. Aunin in 1857.

The German Lutherans erected the first church with Rev. Mr. Foltz the pastor. The Taylor and the Morris sawmills existed up to 1870, when a fire destroyed both. A shoddy mill was established; but because of the difficulty in obtaining rags it was discontinued.

The Southern Washtenaw Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Co. had its office in Bridgewater with Junius Short, the president, and D. W. Palmer, secretary. In 1881 there were nine school districts in the township with 390 children attending.

In the early days Bridgewater was a station on the Detroit, Hilisdale and Indiana Railroad in the northeast corner of the township. The Presbyterian church was started about the year 1856, and Elder Powell used to go afoot from Bridgewater to Manchester, to preach in the early days.

St. James white frame church with its high steeple at the crossroads in the village is reminiscent of old country churches which dot the countryside in Vermont.

Bridgewater village is not incorporated. There is a post office in the grocery store of Russell Wilson and Mr. Wilson has been acting postmaster for about five years. Thirty have post office boxes. Clinton, Manchester and Saline rural mail carriers come into Bridgewater. The 1960 census showed the population to be slightly over 1,000.

This is primarily a good farming area with 90 per cent agricultural—general farming. Industries include the Regis Manufacturing Co. The plant manufactures fixtures for auto plants and employs from 15 to 20 men. Henry Marks is the plant manager. The Kiager Hatchery is also located on the Main Street (Austin Road).

Besides the general store, there is the Bridgewater Lumber Co., Braun Implement and Hardware and the Meadow Lane Golf Course. The nine hole course is located in the south central part of the township and owned by Glen Clark.

There are several large farms including the Hickory Farms, owned by a group of Detroit businessmen and operated by Don Decker. The farm specializes in quarter horses. Manchester Farms have an operation in Bridgewater township.

The township is divided into three school districts: Manchester, Saline Area, and Clinton Community.

The township officers are: Russell Hughes, supervisor; E. L. Blaisdell, clerk; Harold G. Bersuder, treasurer (more than 20 years) and Ted Parker and Norman Randall, trustees.

The assessed valuation of Bridgewater township is $2,192,525 and is equalized at $4,849,306.