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Pioneers

Grand Traverse & Leelanaw Counties
by E. L. Sprague 1903 page 250-251

PIONEERS OF TRAVERSE CITY
and the Naming of Traverse City

The names of all who came to the new settlement in an early day have not been preserved.  Some remained only a short time and then returned to the places whence they came or wandered to other parts; others identified themselves with the interests of the community and became permanent citizens.

At the setting in of winter, in 1851, the following families are known to have been in the settlement: 
  • Michael Gay
  • John Lake
  • Henry Rutherford
  • Benjamin Austin
  • T. D. Hillery
  • William Voice
  • Seth Norris
  • Robert Pott
  • A Barnes family
  • A couple with Lowry surname
The following names of unmarried persons, residents at that time, have been preserved:
  • Henrietta Baxter later Mrs. J. K. Gunton
  • Catherine Carmichael sister to Flora and Mrs. Hillery or is Flora Mrs. Hillery? and later Mrs. H. D. Campbell
  • Flora Carmichael sister to Catherine
  • Dominic Dunn
  • William Rennie
  • Cuyler Germaine
  • Dougald Carmichael brother to Mrs. Hillery and Catherine
  • James K. Gunton
  • Richard Meagher
  • Francis Hannah (in charge of Hannah, Lay & Co. business)
  • D. C. Curtis (Foremen of Hannah, Lay & Co.)
  • Thomas Cutler (Engineer in charge of engine of the steam saw-mill that was to be built)
  • John B. Spencer (Getting saw-logs for the mill and time for building a dock, soon after to move to Elk Rapids
Thomas Cutler's family arrived the following year (1852).  Also arriving in 1852 is:
  • John Garland
  • 2 men by surname Evans (with families)
  • Henry D. Campbell, single
  • Thomas A. Hitchcock, single
  • R. McLellan, single
  • Hugh McGinnis, single
  • Dr. Charles Holton and wife (either fall of 1851 or spring 1852)
Know to arrive in 1853:
  • Dr. D. C. Goodale
Many of the person named came for the purpose of entering the employ of Hannah, Lay & Company, and most of them were, at one time or another, engaged in some capacity in the service of the firm.  Mr. Voice, who had been in the country before, contemplated, in connection with his partner, Luther Scofield, the building of a saw-mill at East Bay, a project which was soon after carried into successful execution.

The population of the settlement was yet small.  They were surrounded and shut in by an almost impenetrable wilderness.  But few improvements not demanded by the immediate exigencies of the lumber trade had been attempted.  Online ONE public road-- that from the head of the bay to Old Mission--had been opened.  (nothing South of the settlement)  This road had been made in fulfillment of an agreement between the inhabitants of the tow places, entered into, probably, at the raising of Boardman's saw-mill.  The people at Old Mission were pleased to have a mill so conveniently near, and all could see that connection of the settlements by means of a passable road would be a public advantage.  The inhabitants of each settlement, by coluntary contributions of labor, built the half of the road nearest themselves.1

ORIGIN OF THE NAME TRAVERSE CITY
Up to 1853 the post-office at Old Mission was the only one in a vast region of country around the bay.  In the winter of 1852-3, Mr. Lay, while in Washington, was successful in his efforts to get one established in the new settlement (Traverse City).  The name of the one at Old Mission was Grand Traverse.  The new settlement at the head of the bay was beginning to be known as Grand Traverse City. When Mr. Lay proposed the latter name for the new post-office, the clerk with whom he was transacting the business suggested that "Grand" be dropped, and it be called simply Traverse City, as the name would have less resemblance to that of the office at Old Mission, to which Mr. Lay acceded.  Thus originated the name Traverse City.  The mail was carried once a week, coming to Traverse city from Manistee.  Mr. Lay was the first contractor, his compensation being four hundred dollars per year.  At first the mail was carried by an Indian, called Old joe, in a pack upon his shoulders.  Before the expiraton of Mr. Lay's contract, however, the quantity of mail matter had so increased that a horse had to be employed.  Hugh McGinnis was then employed as carrier, who cut out a trail as far as Herring creek, the first move in road-making between Traverse City and the lake shore.


1. According to MapQuest it is 18 miles from downtown Traverse City to Old Mission taking 25 minutes to get there by car.  Imagine walking as was done for the most part in the 1850's.
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