Founded in 1815 by Harvey Stewart
Farmhouse built in 1850 by Aura P. Stewart
History compiled by Robert Williams
This History of Stewart Farm was started in 1999 using the Abstract of Title provided to Robert and Susan Williams by the Crandall family. Additional information was added in response to research and interviews. We welcome any additions or corrections.
The paragraphs begining with a year are references to various events in history
and are provided to give the reader an historic context against which to view
the activities at the farm. The owners of Stewart Farm had no particular involvement
in most of those events.
North American Indians
The first inhabitants on the St. Clair River were, so far as was known, the American Indians. Along the river were the Hurons, Ottawas, Miamis, Illinois, Pottawatomies, Algonquins, Loups, Kickapoos, Santeurs, Ojibwas, Sacs, Menominees, Shawnees, Wyandotts and Chippewas. The Ottanamies (or Foxes) lived around Lake St. Clair.
The tribes had their own emblem. The owl, fish, eagle, bear, beaver and other symbols were used to distinguish the different tribes. They traveled on the river in canoes made of strips of birch bark sewn with thongs. Some canoes were twenty feet long and were paddled with great dexterity. Dug-outs were made by burning our logs. These Indian canoes could make 40 miles a day and fast canoes made eight miles per hour.
The earliest industry on the St. Clair River, especially in the Clay Township, St. Clair Flats area, was fur trading between the French and Indians. As early as 1615 Frenchmen had come to the shores of the St. Clair River to obtain the fine fur trapped by the Indian tribes.
The St. Clair River has had various names. The Indians called it "Otsi-Keta-Sippi." The book "When Michigan Was New" calls the river "Otsi-Sippi." When Dollier and Gallinee came up the river May 25th, 1670, the account of the journey writes of "The Streight."
It is true that Adrian Joliet had paddled his canoe along the shores in 1669, but unfortunately his maps were lost when his canoe overturned in the St. Lawrence River.
The second explorer of whom record remains was Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle who piloted the historic "Griffon," the first sailing vessel upon the western lakes, into our waters on August 12, 1679. LaSalle's expedition was to carry on the fur trade, but, the boat sunk while fully loaded with pelts.
At St. Clair, Patrick Sinclair bought furs and did a lively fur business with Detroit after it was settled in 1701.
1701 - Detroit has its origin in the French settlement Fort Pontchartrain established
on July 24 on the strait between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair by Sieur Antoine
de la Mothe Cadillac who needs to control the entrance to Lake Huron from Lake
Erie and thus control trade with the country of Louisiana (Louisiana Territory).
1719 - French explorer Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix travels up the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes, including the St. Clair River, and down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans.
1754 - The Albany Convention on June 19 assembles representatives of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the New England colonies in a meeting with chiefs of the Six (Iroquois) Nations in order to work out a joint plan of defense by Iroquois and British colonial forces against the advances of the French. Adopting a proposal by Benjamin Franklin, the convention issues a call July 10 for voluntary union of the 13 British colonies.
1756 - The French and Indian War brings English and French forces into conflict in a North American offshoot of the European "Seven Years' War."
1760 - Following in the footsteps of the earliest French explorers came the coureurs de bois and the voyageurs, rugged and intrepid, in the never ending search for furs, especially beaver pelts, for the beaver was king of the fashion world in French society. But in spite of the determination of Louis XIV to build a great colonial empire in America, one by one the French forts fell to the British. The "fleur de lis" flying over Fort St. Joseph (Port Huron) was replaced by the British flag in 1760.
1763 - Ottawa chief Pontiac leads tribesmen of the American Northwest in an uprising against Detroit and other British forts in an effort to drive the white settlers back east across the Alleghenies, but the Ottawa are deserted by their French allies in their siege of Detroit. France cedes to Britain her territories in Canada. A treaty recognizes the Mississippi as the boundary between the British colonies and the Louisiana Territory that France has ceded to Spain.
1766 - The Treaty of Oswego on July 24 ends Pontiac's 3-year rebellion.
1769 - The Ottawa chief Pontiac is murdered by a Native American at Cahokia. Suspicions are rife that the British had him killed to prevent any repetition of the 1763-1766 rebellion.
In approximately 1780
(abstracted from "The Chronicle" Volume 3, Issue 3, Fall 1998)
Jacob Harsen was the original settler of Harsens Island. He was born in the
early 1700's in the area of New York state. In the 1760's he was located in
Albany New York working for the British Indian Department as a gunsmith. In
1764 Jacob Harsen married Alida Groesbeck, the daughter of William Groesbeck.
About 1766 there was Colonial resentment over British taxation policies, which
the Crown imposed to cover the cost of the recent conquest of French North America.
1770 - The Boston Massacre between colonists and British troops.
1773 - The Boston Tea Party.
1774 - The Quebec Act passed by Parliament June 22 extends the Province of Quebec south to the Ohio River and west to the Mississippi.
1775 - The American War of Independence begins April 19 at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
1776 - The Declaration of Independence signed July 4 in Philadelphia.
With the outbreak of the American Revolution, Harsen's views spelled trouble. He favored Colonial demands for greater independence from Crown dictates. Harsen became part of a fast growing group of New York-Dutch traders who were taking up residence in Detroit. There he met Garret Graveraet, a.k.a. Isaac Graveraet, a Silversmith. Their combined trades enhanced their skills in producing merchandise to be traded to the Indians. Sometime between 1778 and 1783 Jacob Harsen moved to an island in the delta of Lake St. Clair at the mouth of St. Clair river, to be known as Jacob's Island and later Harsens Island. He was the first white person to settle in this region. At this time there was a settlement of Chippewas and Mississaugas in the vicinity of Algonac. Harsen's later claim to the island stems from a deed granted by four Chippewa headman. The exact nature of the original transaction is not clear, although guns are reported to have been part of the deal. Graveraet married Harsen's oldest daughter, Sarah in about 1780.
1781 - The American Revolution ends on October 19.
1783 - Congress establishes the Dollar as the official currency of the New United States.
In 1783 the "Stars and Stripes" floated over Fort Gratiot. St. Clair County is unique in its historical background; it is one of few counties in Michigan over which there have flown the flags of three nations.
1789 - The French Revolution begins.
Garret Graveraet, a.k.a. Isaac Graveraet, died in 1789 and Sarah and her children,
including her daughter Mary (who would later own Stewart Farm), moved in with
Sarah's father, Jacob. Life was not easy on the island. Those who were too ill
for home remedies were transported by canoe to Detroit for treatment. Fur trading
became the main livelihood for the Harsen family. Harsen made three trips a
year to the trading post at
Chicago. The journey was difficult from the outset. It was necessary to first swim his horses across the St. Clair River. He would then return to the island and load his furs in a canoe and paddle back to the mainland and load the furs on his horses. At this point he was then ready to start his journey to Chicago. Jacob was a gunsmith, fur trader, farmer and skilled in other necessary trades of that day.
1790 - An act passed by congress forbids taking of lands from Indian tribes without congressional approval. Some states continue to take Indian lands without approval.
1793 - The hamlet of York (later to become known as Toronto) is founded following the site's purchase from the Mississauga Indians for provisions, blankets and other goods.
1794 - Eli Whitney patents his cotton gin. The French Convention names Napoleon Bonaparte commander of the Army.
1799 - George Washington dies at Mount Vernon.
1800 - The first accurate census shows that the United States has a population of 5.3 million.
Jacob Harsen died intestate (without a will) sometime between 1799 and 1802.
William Harsen, Jacob Harsen II, Francis Harsen and Catherine Harsen
Prior to 1822 the International boundary between Canada and the U.S. was in dispute. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War the North Channel had been the shipping channel but by the end of the war shipping was moved to the South Channel. The English argued that the earlier channel defined the border. In 1822 the South Channel was considered to the International Border. This allowed the Harsen family to lay claim to the Island before the Land Commission at Detroit. From Jacob Harsen's death until July 5, 1828 the property belonged to the heirs of Jacob Harsen, specifically William Harsen, Jacob Harsen II, Francis Harsen and Catherine Harsen. The family divided the estate into five lots with Lot 4 going to Mary Graveraet (Jacob Harsen's granddaughter from Jacob=s deceased daughter Sarah). Lot 4 contained approximately 640 acres. The current Stewart farm is 54 acres of that Lot 4.
July 25, 1828
Mary Gravereat Stewart & Harvey Stewart
occupied the property for 34 years
owners for 21 years
(Mary Gravereat bio abstracted from "The Chronicle, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Summer 1996)
Mary Gravereat was Jacob Harsen=s granddaughter. When Jacob Harsen came to the island he brought with him Garret Graveraet, a.k.a. Isaac Graveraet, his son in law. The Harsen and Gravereat families were the first white settlers between Detroit and Mackinac. Graveraet died shortly after arriving, leaving his wife and four children, one of which was Mary Gravereat. A second tragedy struck a short time later when Harsen's oldest son, Bernard, was duck shooting near the house. He aimed and fired but the powder flashed in the pan of the flintlock but the gun did not fire. He turned and ran into the house to prime it again the but of the gun struck the door and discharged. Jacob Harsen's granddaughter Mary Gravereat, received a blast in her arm and although she was taken to a doctor in Detroit, the arm had to be amputated.
On August 3, 1802 there was another tragedy while Mrs. Harsen prepared beds on the floor for some visitors. Nearby stood Bernard Harsen and his sister the widow Gravereat. In the empty fireplace was a keg of gunpowder from which several pounds had been weighed out. It is speculated that some may have spilled on the hearth. A spark from one of the visitor's pipes or a candle set fire to it. The resulting explosion injured Bernard and Mary's mother so severely that they later died. The rest of the occupants of the house were not seriously harmed and recovered from their injuries.
1803 - The Louisiana Purchase doubles the size of the United States extending her western border to the Rocky Mountains. Chicago has its beginnings in Fort Dearborn, built by U.S. federal troops on Lake Michigan.
In 1814 Mary became the second wife of Harvey Stewart and they had six children, Garret G. Stewart, Captain Albert Stewart, Jane Stewart (married Capt. Daniel McQueen), Sarah Stewart (unmarried), Eliza Stewart (married Joseph Crable) & Harvey Stewart, Jr. Mary was also the grandmother of Captain Harvey Stewart.
The Stewart family occupied the 640 acre Lot 4 of the Jacob Harsen estate. The current Stewart Farm consists of 53.33 acres at the west end of Lot 4. Lot 4 extended as far East as Columbine Road and ran from the North Channel to Crispen Road. Today most of that land is owned by The Harsens Island Hunt Club and a Marina.
Harvey Stewart was born in Granville, Hampden, Massachusettes in 1780 to John Harvey Stewart and Tryphenia Stewart (Mills). Harvey married Roda Putnam in 1800 and had two sons, Aura P. Stewart and John H. Stewart. In 1804 Harvey operated a distillery and brewery in Canandaigua, New York, which failed after a short time.
1804 - The Louis and Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase territory seeks to determine whether the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean are linked by a river system and in the absence of any such water connection, to pioneer an overland route across the Rocky Mountains.
1805 - Michigan is made a territory separate from the Indiana Territory, with Detroit as its capital.
In 1805, he established his own business of distilling and brewing on what was called Mud Creek, in the town of Bristol, adjoining Canandaigua, New York. Following the birth of his son Aura Putnam Stewart, Mr. Stewart's wife, Roda Putnam's health began to decline and worsened as time passed.
1807 - A British Order in Council prohibits neutral nation ships from trading with France and her allies.
1808 - John Jacob Astor incorporates the American Fur Co. and barters firearms, "firewater" (whisky), and flannel with the Indians to obtain animal pelts, chiefly beaver for use in hats.
1809 - The Treaty of Fort Wayne negotiated by Gen. William Henry Harrison obtains 3 million acres of Indiana Territory Indian land for the United States.
Roda died in 1810. At this time there was much talk about the new territory of Michigan and from the favorable reports received he was determined to see the new territory and seek a home. He decided to go west to Michigan and in the latter part of November 1810 disposed of his business, shouldered his pack, containing his clothes and he and his brother set out for Michigan. Upon arriving in Buffalo, New York, they found no vessel bound for Detroit so they decided to travel through Canada. Upon reaching Moravian Town, Ontario (then called Upper Canada) on the River Thames, contracted to fill a bill of ship timber and delivered the order to Malden, Ontario in 1811. He later leased a farm on the River Thames and put in a crop of wheat and rye.
1812 - The War of 1812 begins June 18 as Washington declares war, unaware that the British Orders in Council of 1807 were withdrawn June 16.
In 1812, Mr. Stewart, with six men, began to harvest the grain, when they were driven off by a band of Indians. In 1812, Mr. Stewart went to Detroit and was there when English General Brock took the town. After Commodore Perry's victory on Lake Erie the British troops prepared to evacuate Detroit. The citizens, fearing trouble with the Indians after the troops left, selected eight men, one of which was Mr. Stewart, to go and inform Commodore Perry of the situation at Detroit. They were questioned by Commodore Perry. After finding that they were acquainted with the country through which American General William Henry Harrison would have to march, he gave them a letter and sent them to General Harrison. General Harrison engaged them to be his guides up the Thames.
1813 - The Battle of Lake Erie ends in victory for an improvised U.S. squadron commanded by Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry who sends a message to General Harrison: "We have met the enemy and they are ours." The Battle of the Thames in Ontario reestablishes U.S. supremacy in the Northwest. Gen. Harrison defeats a British army under Henry A. Proctor whose Shawnee ally Tecumseh is killed.
Harvey Stewart witnessed the battle of the Thames and since he had seen the Indian Chief Tecumseh in Detroit it is believed that may have been the first to recognize Tecumseh dead on the field of battle.
1813 - The Treaty of Ghent December 24 ends the War of 1812.
1814 - Francis Scott Key's "The Star Spangled Banner" is published.
He returned to Detroit and in 1814, married Mary Graveraet, granddaughter of Jacob Harsen, the original settler of Harsens Island. He and his family remained in Detroit until the war ended in February 1815. The people in Detroit who had abandoned their homes on Harsens Island during the war now made preparations to return. In April 1815, Mr. Stewart moved his family and goods up to Harsens Island and took possession of the house and lands his wife had abandoned during the war.
1815 - The New York State legislature approves a plan to finance an Erie Canal. New Jersey grants the first state charter for an American railroad.
1816 - Cold weather persists through summer in much of the world's temperate zones, apparently as a result of dust in the air following an 1815 volcanic eruption. Frost occurs from Canada to Virginia every night from June 6 to June 9, laundry laid out to dry on the grass in Plymouth, Connecticut on June 10 is found frozen stiff, and frost kills crops.
1817 - The University of Michigan is founded.
1818 - The U.S. steamboat "Walk-in-the-Water" leaves Buffalo for Detroit October 10 with 100 passengers. 388 ton, 135 foot vessel is the first steamboat on Lake Erie.
That property consisted of Lot 4 (640 acres) of Jacob Harsen's estate. The property had been left to her by her grandfather Jacob Harsen. Harvey Stewart managed a distillery on the island. It was one of the first distilleries in Michigan and at one time during the War of 1812 served as a British fort. The whiskey produced at the distillery was used for trade with the Indians who brought furs and wild meat to Stewart's settlement. By 1818 when the first school was opened on the island there were still only three families on the island. Harvey had six children by Mary, his second wife, Garret G. Stewart, Captain Albert Stewart, Jane McQueen, Sarah Stewart, Eliza Crable and Harvey Stewart, Jr. Mary died in 1821. Harvey Stewart served as Justice of the Peace for thirty years. On May 22, 1822, he was appointed a County Commissioner by Territorial Governor Lewis Cass.
1822 - Clay Township (Harsens Island, Algonac and area) was first organized under the name of Plainfield Township.
1825 - The Erie Canal opens to link the Great Lakes with the Hudson River and the Atlantic. The time required to move freight from the Midwest to the Atlantic falls to 10 days, down from 30 days and freight rates drop from $100 per ton to $5. New York becomes the Atlantic port for the Midwest, and the canal makes boom towns of Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago.
On April 20, 1827 Harvey Stewart was appointed Master of Chancery in and for the territory of Michigan by Governor Cass. He served as Clay Township Supervisor (its first) from 1828 to 1833 during which time Clay Township include a part to the West which today is Ira Township.
1828 - Plainfield Township name changed to Clay Township because there already was a Plainfield Township in Allegan County.
1830 - The Indian Removal Act signed by President Jackson provides for the general removal of Indians to lands west of the Mississippi. The U.S. population reaches 12.9 million.
1830 - Clay Township population was 240.
1832 - The first steamboat on Lake Michigan reaches Fort Dearborn (Chicago).
1833 - Two-by-four house construction is invented to revolutionize U.S. residential construction. It replaces conventional barn type heavy beam framing with handy-sized precut lumber and cheap mass-produced nails and allows amateurs to put up their own houses.
1834 - Weekly steamboat service begins between Buffalo and Fort Dearborn (Chicago).
1836 - The Alamo at San Antonio falls to Mexican Gen. Santa Anna.
1837 - Michigan is admitted to the Union as the 26th state. Ira Township was formed by taking the western part of Clay Township.
1838 - The AUnderground Railway@ is organized by U.S. abolitionists to transport Southern slaves to Canada.
1841 - William Henry Harrison (to whom Harvey Stewart had served as guide during
the War of 1812) takes office as President of the United States.
Mr. Stewart again served as Clay Township Supervisor in 1842. During these periods the population of Clay Township, including Algonac and the Islands, was about 300-400 residents. Harvey Stewart died Oct. 25, 1857 and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Algonac.
June 14, 1849
Aura Putnam Stewart
owner for 17 years
Born about 1804 near the town of Bristol, adjoining Canandaigua, New York to Harvey Stewart and Roda Putnam Stewart. Following his birth his mother's health began to decline and worsened as time passed. She died in 1810. That year there was much talk about the new territory of Michigan his father decided to go west to Michigan.
His father moved to Detroit served as a guide to American General William Henry Harrison during the war of 1812. In the winter of 1814 his father married Mary Graveraet, granddaughter of Jacob Harsen, the original settler of Harsens Island. The war of 1812 ended in February 1815. The people in Detroit who had abandoned their homes on Harsens Island during the war now made preparations to return. In April 1815, the Stewart family moved to Harsens Island and took possession of the house and lands Aura's step mother had abandoned during the war. Lot 4 of Jacob Harsen I land grant had been left to her by her grandfather Jacob Harsen. Harvey sent for his sons in New York and Aura P. Stewart, along with his brother John H. Stewart, arrived on Harsens Island in November 1815. Later John became a Master and Captain on the Great Lakes, married Maria Harsen, Francis Harsen=s daughter, and had a son, W.W. Stewart, who also became a Captain on the Great Lakes. Aura married Lucy P. (d. 1897), daughter of Alexander Harrow. It is unknown at this time whether they had any children. None were listed on the Stewart family trees on file at the Algonac Public Library. The 1860 census lists Aura P. Stewart, age 56, Garrett Stewart, age 39, and his son Nathaniel Stewart, age 9 as residing in the same household. Nathaniel later owned this farm. The 1860 census also lists Lucy Stewart as residing with D. McGregor in a different household. Aura voted in the first election ever held in St. Clair County. His exposure during his early days left him subject to chronic diseases starting around age 40.
1844 - Wells, Fargo & Co. has its beginnings in an express service between Buffalo and Detroit started by Henry Wells.
In 1849 Aura Stewart purchased 1/12 (53 acres) of his parent's Lot 4 (640 acres) for $425. That 53.33 acres is still intact as the current "Stewart Farm." About 1850 Aura began construction of a house on the site using the 1833 invention, two-by-four type framing. The house was designed in the Mid 19th Century Greek Revival style. Later owners expanded the residence which still stands today. The 1850 Census lists Aura P. Stewart, age 46, residing in a household with Margaret Biddle or Bullee, age 33, along with her 6 children, ages up to 14 years old.
1851 - The Erie Railroad reaches Lake Erie thereby completing the first New York City to the Great Lakes railroad connection.
1852 - The first through train from the East reaches Chicago by way of the Michigan Southern Railroad.
1855 - The Sault St. Marie River Ship Canal opens to link Lake Huron and Lake Superior and to make the Great Lakes a Hugh inland waterway navigable by large ships. This gives the world access to the vast iron ore deposits of northern Michigan and Minnesota. The Cleveland Mining Co. ships the first load of ore from Lake Superior via the ASoo@ Canal. The first train crosses the new suspension bridge at the Niagara Gorge. Michigan State University is founded.
Aura P. Stewart served as Clay Township Supervisor from 1857-59. The 1860 census lists Aura P. Stewart, age 56, Garrett Stewart, age 39, and his son Nathaniel Stewart, age 9 as residing in the same household. Nathaniel later owned this farm. The 1860 census also lists Lucy Stewart as residing with D. McGregor in a different household.
1860 - Clay Township population was 1,037.
1860 - Abraham Lincoln elected to office of President of the United States.
1861 - The Civil War begins.
1864 - 1868 G.G. Stewart was Clay Township Supervisor.
1865 - The Civil War ends.
In his later years, while residing in Algonac, Aura wrote his memoirs which he contributed to the Marine City Gazette and were published in 1876. At that time he was thought to be the oldest emigrant resident of St. Clair County. In his memoirs Aura P. Stewart wrote:
For many years, I saw but little of Michigan, except that portion bordering on the shore Lake and River St. Clair. I came from an inland and thickly settled district, and had seen no flowing water save brooks and rivulets; I had seen no forests but in the distance, and though but a boy twelve years of age I could not but feel impressed with the wild beauty of my new home. The dense and almost impenetrable forests, the magnificent River St. Clair, the countless number of every variety of waterfowl flying over my head or resting and sporting on the bosom of the beautiful waters, the howling of the wolves at night, the constantly passing and repassing canoes of the strange looking Indians, their stealthy tread through the woods and their unintelligible shouts as they passed each other, and, last but not least, the merry songs of the French voyageurs toiling at the oar, propelling their boats swiftly over blue waters -- these were new scenes to me, and called forth my wonder and delight. . . I have witnessed the improvements made in the county of St. Clair; flourishing towns have sprung up, and a large portion of our older settlers have become wealthy; all have shared in the conveniences of modern improvements and comforts, but yet, for my own part, I could enjoy no greater pleasure that for a short time to see Michigan as I saw it in 1815, wild and romantic as it then was; to traverse its dense forests, to paddle my canoe over its waters, surrounded by game of every description on river, lake and shore; and at night, while partaking of a supper of game taken through the day, hear the howling of the wolves, the hooting owls and other voices of the night. Fancy ofttimes leads me back to the dear old primitive days, and then I am a boy again. Alas, the vision lingers not! I am an old man with increasing infirmities, and nothing is left to me but the memories of the past.
The full text of those memoirs were published in AHistory of St. Clair County, Michigan@ published in Chicago by A.T. Andreas & Co. 1883. Copies are available in the Clay/Algonac Public Library, The Clay/Algonac Historical Society and at The Readers Cove Library on Harsens Island. To avoid possible confusion for future researchers I will mention here that Aura=s brother John H. Stewart had a son John H. Stewart who had a son Aura P. Stewart, born 1870. That Aura P. Stewart had a business in Algonac in the 1900's.
October 8, 1866
owner for seven years
purchased for $900
Aura P. Stewart=s half brother, Garrett G. Stewart married Charlotte Kendrick. Charlotte=s mother, Mary Ann (Montgomery) Kendrick, remarried Mr. Siddons to become Mary Siddons. The 1850 census and 1860 census do not list any Siddons= in the township. The 1870 census lists James M. Sidons, age 68 (b. England) residing with Mary A. Sidons, age 74 (b. Nova Scotia). The 1880 census does not show any Sidons= in the township.
1867 - The British North America Act unites Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Dominion of Canada. The U.S. purchases Alaska. More than half of all U.S. working people are employed on farms.
1869 - The Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads join up in Utah to allow the first nationwide travel from New York to San Francisco.
1871 - The Chicago Fire destroys 3.5 square miles of the city and sparks from Chicago burn over a million acres of Michigan and Wisconsin timberland.
October 13, 1873
Cassius M. Stewart & Nathaniel Stewart
joint owners for 11 years
purchased Stewart Farm for $1300
Cassius M. Stewart and Nathaniel Stewart (b. 1851) were grandsons of Mary Siddons and sons of Garrett G. Stewart (half brother of Aura P.), a son of Harvey Stewart and Mary Graveraet Stewart.
1873 - G.G. Stewart again serves as Clay Township Supervisor
1875 - Alexander Graham Bell pioneers the electric telephone.
A Clay Township plat map dated 1876 shows that G.G. Stewart, C.M. Stewart, N.L. Stewart and W.K. Stewart still owned much acreage along Stewart Rd. in Section 4 of the original Jacob Harsen I land grant.
1879 - Thomas Edison invents the incandescent light bulb.
February 13, 1884
Sole owner for an additional 37 years.
Cassius Stewart passed full ownership to Nathaniel Stewart for $400
This 37 years of ownership along with his 11 years under joint ownership with his brother Cassius makes Nathaniel the owner of Stewart Farm for more than 47 years.
Nathaniel married Louise Abrams, daughter of John Abrams and Mary Fish. The year is unknown.
1895 - Marconi pioneers wireless telegraphy.
1903 - Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first sustained manned flight in a controlled gasoline - powered aircraft.
1906 - The first radio broadcast of voice and music.
1914 - 1918 World War I
1919 - U.S. physicist makes a rocket and predicts the development of rockets that will eventually break free of the earth=s gravitational pull.
January 5, 1921
Stephen and Katherine Mehl
owners for 29 years
purchased Stewart Farm for $2500
There is no relationship between the Mehl family and the Stewarts. During their time at the farm the Mehls had a dairy farm. The building currently labeled AIcehouse@ was, back then, used as a milkhouse. To keep the milk cool ground water was circulated through the box in the corner where the milk was stored. Mr. Mehl also sold ice which he cut from the channel during the winter and sold during the summer. It was stored in a separate Icehouse which had been located West of the house. That icehouse burned down.
1939 - NBC televises the opening ceremonies of the New York Worlds Fair to 200 experimental receivers set up in the metropolitan area.
1939 - 1945 World War II
Stephen and Katherine raised three children on the farm. Matthew, Mary and Stephen. Matthew had a son Dale who in 2004 still lives on Harsens Island with his wife. Dale had two children. His son Eric, Eric=s wife and their two children also currently live on the island.
John and Margaret Crandall
and John Lynn
The family held ownership for 49 years
purchased Stewart Farm for $15,000
The Crandalls moved from Washington, D.C. about August of 1950 and purchased the farm under a land contract with the Mehls. The contract included six cows. John Lynn, listed as the third owner of record was Margaret Crandall=s uncle. He never lived at the farm, but, was a resident of the island.
1950 - 1953 The Korean War
The Mehl=s issued a Warranty Deed to the Crandalls May 4, 1955.
June 29, 1955
John and Margaret Crandall
John Lynn passes full ownership to John and Margaret Crandall.
John and Margaret brought up five children on the farm, Judy, Donna, Jackie, John & Robert. At various times the property was used as a farm for wheat, soy beans and sweet corn, a dairy farm, a sheep farm in the late 70's and early 80's, and eventually an airport, Crandall Field. There had been a grove of apple trees South of the road at the west end of the property. Those trees were lost in a heavy wind in 1959. In 1981 an oil company drilled for oil on the property. That work took place near the west property line about a thousand feet South of the road. They didn=t find any oil but they did strike natural gas. They capped the well and moved out within a few weeks of the start of drilling. The disturbance of that area still shows itself in 2004 in the form of patches of fragmite growth. The large barn East of the house fell down in 1982. In later years John worked at Chrysler in Warren. He was an avid CB radio operator and pilot.
1955 - The first IBM business computer is shipped.
1961 - The first manned space flight circles the earth.
1963 - President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
1964 - 1973 Vietnam War
1969 - The first man walks on the moon.
In 2004 Judy, now Mrs. Vern Jessup, and Donna, now Mrs. Ronald Crispen, still resided on Harsens Island. In addition Judy=s son Rod Jessup still lives on the island with his wife Cheri and their children.
July 23, 1999
Robert & Susan Williams
Robert was born in Detroit in 1947 and lived in Berkley his whole life. He went to the University of Michigan School of Architecture, graduating in 1970. Susan was born in Detroit in 1951 and lived in Berkley, Michigan all her life. She went to school at the University of Michigan - Flint and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. Robert and Susan met in May of 1973 and got married that October. Robert started his own architectural practice in 1974 specializing in industrial building design. They had four children, Rheyn K.L., Starr C.K., Sky B.T.and Hale S.C.. They loved to travel and opened a travel agency with some friends in 1980. Some of their favorite family vacations were their visits to Ferry Beach Unitarian Summer Camp near Saco, Maine and Camp Michigania, Walloon Lake, Michigan. In 1999 they accepted and invitation from Bob's lifelong friend, Mary Robertson, to bring the family to Harsens Island for the weekend to stay at her cottage on Petosky St. Bob had visited the island for a few hours once when he was a young boy and Sue and Bob had been on the island for a few hours and had at the time talked about what a great place it was. While discussing plans for the weekend visit with Mary she told Bob about the farm for sale on Stewart Road and as details about the property were discussed in the following days, Bob and Sue fell in love with it sight unseen. On June 19, 1999 they came to the island with the kids, toured the island and visited the farm. It was perfect; the farm had 54 acres of marsh, woods and open field, a 150 year old four bedroom farmhouse and there was canal leading out to the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. To top it all off half the island was a Natural Resources Wildlife Preserve, the island looked just like their favorite part of Maine and it was only an hour's drive from their home in Berkley. They couldn't imagine a more perfect arrangement. Within an hour of their first sight of the farm they made an offer to purchase. The next day the offer was accepted. They collected all of their financial resources and closed on the purchase of the farm just five weeks later on July 23. It was a dream come true.
In 1999 the Williamses began to restore the house. The poor condition of some of the outbuildings required the removal of some and the renovation of others. During 2000 and 2001 the pantry was restored and the first floor shower room worked on. In the summer of 2002 the back half of the chicken coop and a shed to the East of it were removed. They had been in complete collapse since the purchase of the property. To the South side of the slab where that shed had been were found some very old wood beams on the ground, being used as a floor. This may be the site of a very early outbuilding. In January 2003 a barn and log room addition were begun on the West side of the existing residence. The logs for this room were purchased in London, Ontario, prepared and erected there, then dismantled, shipped to the island in the Spring and re-erected. During the Spring of 2003 the roof of the ice house was removed, it too had been in collapse prior to 1999. During the Winter of 2003 the roof of the old garage collapsed during a heavy snow fall. The structure was unable to be saved and the garage was removed for safety. Some of the lumber was saved for use in finishing the new barn. Also during the winter of 2003 Hale's, Star's and Rheyn's bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom were restored. In the Spring of 2004 work on the front porch, dining room and Sky;s bedroom was completed. On May 30, 2004 a dedication was held recognizing Stewart Farm as a Michigan Historical Site. Members of Stewart, Mehl, Crandall and Williams families attended the event.
( for now anyway )