Sharon Township

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

By an act approved April 12, 1827, this, then unorganized and unnamed township was attached to and formed part of the township of Dexter. A committee of the Congress of 1818, sent to the Territory of Michigan to examine it for soldiers' bounty land, reported that the Territory of Michigan was worthless for agricultural purposes. By 1830, this township had no inhabitants save the wandering Indians who fished the Raisin River.

In 1832 and 1833 the township was rapidly settled and this beautiful tract of land needed a name. Those who came from Amenia and Romulus, New York wanted the area named for their old towns; while pioneers knew that "Sharon" was the loveliest name among ten thousand, and that the name of their home in Connecticut ought to be given to this, the home of their adoption. All of these views were sent to the Legislative Council.

The story is told that Dr. Amariah Conklin was mounted on a horse by his father, and sent out with a "Sharon" petition up into Berks and Annabil settlement on his first electioneering tour. Since that time the doctor achieved great success as a physician, but he never did a better day's ride than when he killed those Amenia and Romulus petitions.

The name was adopted March 7, 1834 and approved by Governor George Porter.

June 22, 1830, Lewis C. Kellam, of Pike county, Pennsylvania, located the first lot of land in the township and Daniel F. Luce, a government surveyor located the second lot of land. Afterwards this formed a part of the farm of Amasa Gillett.

In the spring of 1831, Ira Annabel, Amos Bullard, John Bessey, M. Burk, David Cook, Edward Campbell, James Harlow Fellows, R. L. Fellows, Joseph Gilbert, Francis Gillett, Henry and Gilbert Row and J. R. Sloat made the first visit to the township and made it their home. David Sloat is credited with building the first home.

These first settlers were so happy with the township that they sang its praises and others followed. The town was organized in the spring of 1834, and the first election was held in the frame school house at Row's corners, which had been built the previous year. Lewis Allen was the first supervisor.

The sawmill had been built by Amasa Gillett and B. F. Burnett on the extreme northerly bend of the Raisin about 1834, and obtained its power from a mill race. The construction of this mill was the beginning of Sharon Hollow. A grist mill was started at the same time. Buckwheat flour from the grist mill became famous as it poured forth from the grinding mechanism powered by the churning waters as they spilled over the dam nearby. It was believed that the mill was put up in 1834 by a Mr. George Kirkwood in whose family the mill remained until purchased by the late Henry Ford in 1927.

With the passing of the old grist mill, much of the tradition handed down in the pioneer community, which has retained much flavor of days gone by, faded from the scene. The A. T. Kirkwoods, son of the probable builders, and his sons George, were familiar figures to farmers for many miles around.

Ashley Parks, the first village blacksmith, arrived in 1834. David J. Sloat erected the first house.

Richardson and Temple opened the first store in the township and later it was owned by Nathaniel Ambrose who made additions and added a tavern.

The first child born in the township was Minerva Bullard, born September 3, 1833. The first death was in the same year, 1833, when David J. Sloat, the builder of the first house was laid to rest.

Miss Myra Winchester was the first school teacher in the township. The school house was a frame building, but had neither lathe or plaster.

The early settlers of Sharon were not exposed to the numerous difficulties which surrounded those of the neighboring townships. While over 50 per cent of the settlers in Manchester and Bridgewater were suffering from fever and ague, not more than 10 per cent of the Sharon people were ill.