Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, August 18, 2013 pg. 5

These next few weeks we are going back to the beginnings of Albion history as we approach the Festival of the Forks season. In the early 1830s pioneers would purchase land from the U.S. Land Office in New York State for "out West," which included the Albion area. Our first pioneers did not settle here at "The Forks" however, but rather at Waterburgh.

Waterburgh was located west of Albion along the Territorial Road, present-day Michigan Avenue about a mile east of 24 Mile Road. A sawmill was erected there along the Kalamazoo River in 1837 by Reuben Abbott (1797-1869), and Daniel Rossiter (1797-1837). It was the only mill erected in Sheridan Township. The logs for the structure came from the farm of Rufus Burr located a mile or so to the northeast. After Rossiter died in late 1837, Abbott operated the mill solo for a few years. This business ventured failed and Abbott lost heavily in the effort. The structure later burned. There are supposedly foundation rocks of this mill in the waters today even after many years.

It was at the Waterburgh Tavern that the first mail for "the Forks" was delivered. In 1838, Jesse Crowell received permission to relocate the Waterburgh post office into Albion, although the Waterburgh post office continued in operation until 1843.

Our subject, Daniel Rossiter, was originally from New Haven County, Connecticut. There are numerous Rossiters from that area that show up in genealogical charts, particularly from the communities of Guilford and East Haven. Daniel purchased 96 acres of land in Section 30 of Sheridan Township on June 26, 1832 from the U.S. Land Office in Monroe County, New York State where the document said he was living at the time. After he moved to Waterburgh in 1835 he made additional purchases from the government, including 80 acres of land in Section 20 on July 16, 1835, (he is shown as living in Calhoun County at that time) and an additional 40 acres on September 9, 1835. He also purchased 80 acres of land in northern Sheridan Township in Section 5 on October 20, 1835. Rossiter's holdings eventually totaled 430 acres. His farm was located just west of the Abbott (later Reuben Emery) farm where the Waterburgh Post Office was located. He apparently was quite well-to-do, and there even was an oil painting portrait made of him.

When the first Annual Meeting of Sheridan Township was held at Abbott's Tavern at Waterburgh on April 5, 1836, Daniel Rossiter was chosen as a clerk for the meeting. He was thereby elected as a Justice of the Peace in Sheridan Township, and as a Commissioner of Highways.

Daniel Rossiter died on November 29, 1837 at the young age of 39 years, 1 month, and 21 days. He is buried in the Marengo Village Cemetery. Following his death, his wife Harriet married pioneer Reuben Emery (1819-1863) in 1840. Reuben purchased the Abbott Tavern in 1844 and their farm was a landmark for many years. Alas, Harriet died in 1845 at the young age of 32, and was interred next to her first husband Daniel Rossiter in nearby Marengo. Reuben is interred in Riverside Cemetery in Albion.

Before he passed away however, Daniel wrote a four-page letter to his (unnamed in the letter) brother dated October 15, 1836, about life in the new territory. This letter was recently acquired by this writer from Dr. James Cornelius, Curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. It had apparently originated from a manuscripts antique dealer in the east many years ago. In the letter Daniel mentions New Haven County, Connecticut twice. Daniel mentions that "Maj. Chidsey" was to forward the letter for him to his brother there in CT. The Chidsey name was an old one in East Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the tombstone of Daniel Rossiter in Marengo Village Cemetery. TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.

Tombstone of Daniel Rossiter, Marengo Village Cemetery


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