Early History of Old State Road

Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road: Michigan's first designated state swamp land road.

Publication: Michigan Historical Review

Publication Date: 22-SEP-05

Author: Keenan, Hudson

COPYRIGHT 2005 Clarke Historical Library

The Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was the first continuous road into the heart of central Michigan. The route was north, up the peninsula divide from the settled districts of the south-central portion of the state into the wilderness of the northern Lower Peninsula. It was the first state road designated to be financed with provisions from the Swamp Land Act conveying federally owned swamp lands to the state of Michigan. The southern stretches of the road helped open land to farm settlement and remain in use today. Construction of some of the northern portion, however, illustrates a familiar pattern in nineteenth-century internal improvements: private interests often captured state-subsidized ventures and profited more than did the public. In this instance, the road angled across section lines on a route highly advantageous to its builders but awkward for permanent use. And within a few decades, portions of the road, having served the purpose of building private wealth, were abandoned.

Travel into the central and northern interior of the state in the mid-1800s was largely limited to the rivers where one could travel by canoe and raft. In his book Woodcraft, George Sears describes his walk across the Lower Peninsula in October 1845. From the time he left Saginaw until his arrival at a lumber camp a few miles from Muskegon, ten days elapsed. Sears described his trip as "through a strange wilderness, solitary and alone," as he encountered only forest creatures in his travels. (1) Even as late as the Civil War, the wilderness prevailed. Isaac A. Fancher gives us an example of the rigors of these early times in his history of central Michigan: volunteers gathered at Indian Mills (about fifty miles west of Saginaw), bade farewell, boarded a raft to carry them down the Chippewa River to Saginaw, and enlisted in the Union army. (2)

In 1850 Congress passed the Swamp Land Act, which transferred certain federal lands in eight states, including Michigan, to state control for disposal by sale. Under this act, the Michigan Land Office eventually received nearly six million acres of so-called swamp land. It was not until 1859, however, that the state provided for using these lands as a way to finance road building. By this time the need was greater than ever for better roads to open the way for settlers. On February 12, 1859, Act 117 of the Michigan Legislature was signed into law. (3) In the preamble to the legislation, the act's framers cited the need to construct roads and ditches (required to drain roads and farmlands) through the more unsettled parts of the state. Legislators deemed that the proceeds from the sale of swamp lands granted to the state by the federal government should be used to construct these roads and ditches.

Act 117 listed nine different state roads for construction, and the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was number one on the list. Furthermore, this act set up the machinery necessary to carry out construction; commissioners would be appointed, and among their duties would be the establishment of specifications for fights-of-way, bridges, and road surfaces.

One other important provision of the act concerned the letting of contracts. In this section, the act noted that a contractor might elect to take lands in lieu of cash payment for constructing a portion of a road. The law stipulated, however, that no more than an average of 640 acres could be awarded for building one mile of road. Another provision stated that the land granted to the contractor must be in the same county as the construction work he had performed.

Just three days after the passage of Act 117, another measure, Act 240, which authorized extending the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road to old Fort Mackinaw, received the legislature's support. (4) In the following years, however, construction never reached farther north than Houghton Lake. As a state swamp land road, it was thus destined to be the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road.

Why the writers of Act 117 chose Ionia as a starting point for the road to the north is not clear, but there are several possible reasons. First of all, since there was a state land office in Ionia, a road from there would be ideal for persons buying land and planning to move north into the central Lower Peninsula. Second, Ionia, which at the time was already a substantial community on the Grand River, was situated farther north than Lansing and thus closer to unsettled land. Choosing Ionia as the starting place for the road had another benefit that the people who drew up the act may not have fully understood. Had the road proceeded north from Lansing, builders would have encountered serious difficulties. In northern Clinton County, the wide glacial spillway now occupied by the Maple River would have been a major obstacle. Farther north in Gratiot County, the road would have had to be built across a glacial lake plain consisting of heavy clay loam soils. Building a road in those conditions would have required extensive drainage and filling, and even then the resulting road would have been subject to flooding at certain times of the year. Alternatively, a road running north from Ionia would follow the "backbone" of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, where there was a series of recessional moraines and ground moraines, along with stretches of outwash plain. Although this area was not without problems, the route offered relatively good year-round drainage and lighter soils, which made road construction much easier.

Within a month of the passage of Act 240, Governor Moses Wisner appointed H. H. LeRoy and J. W. Toms as swamp land road commissioners. They quickly arranged for a survey of the route, heading the survey party themselves. It took two months and seven days to survey the 212-mile route; the team arrived at the Straits of Mackinac on June 1, 1859. The field notes, which took up three rolls, each one eleven feet long (at two inches to the mile), contain an amazing number of details about the topographical features the group encountered. (5)

In a written report to the governor, the swamp land road commissioners emphasized that the Ionia to Mackinaw route was an ideal route to the north, following as it did the divide between Lakes Michigan and Huron. The report also asserted that contrary to popular belief, the lands to the north were not a mass of swamps and gravel ridges. Instead, this region held out excellent prospects for habitation and development. The commissioners further noted the presence of pinelands and large areas suitable for farming, which the road would help make accessible to lumbermen and settlers. (6)

The commissioners decided that six rods of right-of-way should be used for this road instead of the standard four rods of right-of-way used along section lines. Of these six rods, the center three were to be "grubbed" free of roots and stumps and cleared of logs. Except for bridges, culverts, and logways, the road was to be thirty feet wide. The traveled portion should be "turnpiked," (7) and where the ground was low and wet, the surface was to be four feet above the bottom of the adjacent ditches. Detailed bridge plans specified three types, depending on the crossing. All bridges were to be eighteen feet wide. The bridge deck was to be planked with ten-inch-thick pine, hemlock, or oak, and these planks were not to be wider than fifteen inches. (8)

On February 27, 1860, a little more than a year after Act 240's passage, the first contracts were let at a public auction in the village of Ionia. Darling & Murphy was awarded the first contract for a portion of the road near the Ionia County and Montcalm County line. The State Road Commissioner's office issued fourteen contracts to four different firms during 1860. (9) These contracts allowed for the extension of the road to near Sheridan in Montcalm County on a line corresponding to what is now state highway M-66.

The State Road Board was the governing body responsible for allocating monies from the sale of swamp land and approving procedures to build state roads. This board was headed by the governor, and members included the state treasurer, the auditor general, the secretary of state, and the state's road commissioner. This group soon found that the original act needed changes in order to facilitate implementation of its basic intent, and in 1861 Act 107 was passed to address this need. (10)

Act 107 stated more clearly how state swamp lands would be awarded in lieu of money for the construction of swamp land roads. Upon satisfactory completion of the work, or two miles on larger contracts, a payment or partial payment in land could be made, with the land valued at the minimum price set for swamp lands. The contractor could select lands ahead of time and have them held until he completed or partially completed his work. When construction was complete, the commissioner of the State Land Office would issue to the contractor a certificate of lands he had selected. This certificate entitled the contractor to patents for the land.

In the following year (1862), Act 26 instituted more changes. It allowed contractors to select lands in payment in counties other than those where the work was performed. Another feature of this act allowed surveyors to receive payments in the same way as building contractors. (11) The framework was in place for the eventual dispersal of thousands of acres of designated swamp lands in Michigan. The result would be access to new lands for many homesteaders and fortunes for a few entrepreneurs.

Although much work was completed on the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road in 1861, the Civil War soon slowed construction. No new contracts were let for more than three years after Frederick Hall of Ionia received one in February 1862 (the next contract that was issued was to Giles Gilbert for the road in Montcalm north of Stanton on October 17, 1865). In Hall's case the contract had to be extended beyond the original completion date. As nearly as can be determined, the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was finished as far as Stanton, the county seat of Montcalm County, in late 1863 or early 1864.

Jackson Alexander, a Civil War veteran from Elkhart, Indiana, who came to Isabella County in September 1866, wrote about conditions in that part of central Michigan soon after the war. (12) He was anxious to homestead, so he traveled with his wife and three children to southeastern Coldwater Township in Isabella County. Alexander's farm was located less than two miles from the future Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road, which would not be completed until five years after his arrival.

Traveling up the state road from Ionia to Schafer's Tavern north of Stanton, the Alexanders experienced few difficulties. This was as far as the road had been completed, and thus it was the "jumping-off place" into the forested tracks that led farther north. Alexander recalled going for many miles through pinewoods where there was no clearing. The trail was marked by an occasional blazed tree and wound in every possible direction to avoid the giants of the forest. The travelers left Schafer's Tavern at noon and finally arrived at the Pine River in Isabella County--a distance of about twelve miles--just as darkness fell. They made camp at this location and soon after daybreak loaded up their gear to continue the journey. After traveling a short distance, however, they came to a sudden halt when one of the wagon wheels collapsed. Unable to repair the wheel, Alexander walked seven miles to get help from a settler who rented him a wagon so he and his family could reach their destination. (13)

During a subsequent journey, Alexander and his wife were on a woodland trail only five miles from their claim when their wagon, which was loaded with household goods, tipped over. On this occasion, H. A. Bruebaker, the "original homesteader" in the area, helped the couple out, as he did so often in those early years of settlement. Bruebaker loaned Alexander his wagon so that he could retrieve his goods. Alexander recalled that it was well after dark when he and his wife made their way slowly through the forest. They were met by Bruebaker, carrying a lantern and a basket of food to see them through the last leg of their journey. (14)

Veterans such as Alexander were looking for a forty- or eighty-acre tract on which they could settle. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, sought to acquire land that could be exploited because of its timber. They saw an opportunity to build roads and ditches and then select payment for this work in profitable timbered acreage.

By the middle of the 1860s, swamp land roads were under construction in many places, particularly in the northern two-thirds of Michigan. Problems arose when unscrupulous contractors did not perform their tasks to specifications. There was a move to tighten up the administration of the program by creating the office of State Swamp Land Road Commissioner in 1865. Charged with awarding contracts, the commissioner would also have to see that the work met the criteria set forth in those contracts. Most important, the commissioner's warrant had to be secured before funds or land could be received for the completed work. (15) These changes did not, however, prevent a well-connected businessman from using his wealth and political connections to ensure that road construction would benefit primarily himself and his associates.

Detroit lawyer and lumberman Edmund Hall would play a leading role as the construction of the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road moved into Isabella County. Well-connected politically, Hall was responsible for building more of this road, some thirty-seven miles, than any other contractor. Hall was born in New York State in 1819 and died at the age of eighty-one, having accumulated a fortune from his timber operations, principally in Clare and Isabella counties, although he never resided in outstate Michigan. (16) Records show that in Isabella County alone Hall's holdings eventually totaled more than fourteen square miles of timberland.

Western Isabella County is the watershed of the Chippewa River, a watercourse capable of floating logs. Hall had chosen a well-positioned site on the river for his camp. As it turned out, this camp was about three miles east of the original Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road survey. Hall recognized that he might be able to acquire additional timberland if he built a portion of the state road in Isabella County. As he thought about it, however, it occurred to Hall that it would be even more advantageous to him if the route were shifted closer to his camp.

In 1867 Hall persuaded Lansing authorities to authorize a change in the route so that the road would pass near his lumber camp. Some settlers in the vicinity of what would become Sherman City along the line of the original survey learned of this change and were not pleased. They had moved to this location because they believed that the road would pass near their homesteads. The settlers sent one of their number, Thomas Burgess, to Lansing to protest the change. Fred Kent, an early pioneer from Sherman City, recalled Burgess's efforts many years later m 1914. He wrote: "But Edmund Hall had money. Burgess liked money but he hardly knew what it looked like since coming to Sherman, and so, his old neighbors say, he was tempted and fell." (17)

So the new alignment started with a new survey and a new local State Swamp Land Road Commissioner. The post was given to William Broomfield, one of the first settlers in the township that bears his name in western Isabella County. He immediately set about arranging for the survey work. Under Broomfield's supervision, E. W. Palmer of Westville in Montcalm County surveyed the new route in Isabella and Clare counties during November and December 1867. The twenty-seven-mile stretch of route relocation started, interestingly enough, on the north edge of Broomfield's farm in Section 31, T14N, R6W, on the Isabella County line. Broomfield ensured that his farm would not be affected when the new construction began the following year. Contracts were let on fourteen miles of road in Montcalm and Isabella counties following the original survey line to Broomfield's farm and then seven miles on the new survey line to Hall's camp on the Chippewa River. The contractors--not unexpectedly--were Hall and his associate, the lumberman E. L. Gray. It was nearly the middle of 1869 before the road was completed as far as the Chippewa, although Hall finished the bridge across the river by the fall of 1868. (18) Hall's lumber camp would now have road connections to the south. The camp was just a half mile off the new road, and, more importantly to Hall, he could now receive valuable swamp lands in exchange for its construction.

Insight into the workings of this acquisition can be found in the "State of Michigan Plat Book of Swamp Lands Covering Central Michigan." (19) The reader may recall that the contractor for a state swamp land road could select lands in advance to be held from the general sale pending completion of the terms of his contract. In this book, penciled in on the margins along with a date, is the following notation: "Edmund Hall, applies for these lands when they come on the market on his contract." Blocks are circled with lines to notations, and each forty-acre parcel is labeled "EH." (20) Hall designated acreage in April, May, and June 1868 in anticipation of his completion of the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road to the Chippewa River.

In what became Gilmore Township in northern Isabella County, Hall designated forty-nine forty-acre parcels at the going rate of $1.25 an acre. This would amount to $2,450 for slightly more than three square miles of designated swamp land. He also selected additional lands in other townships. Large contractors like Hall probably took the maximum of 640 acres of swamp land for each mile of road they built. They also had the option of taking cash for construction contracts completed. The average cost of constructing a mile of the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was approximately $1,200, an amount that varied considerably depending on topography and the number of watercourses traversed during construction.

Using these acquisitions and other land that he purchased, Hall managed to operate his lumber camp on the Chippewa River for nearly twenty years. According to local historian Walter Russell, in 1892 Hall sold most of his land and all of his equipment to McGeorge Bundy and Gale Lumber Company for $110,000. (21)

The Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road now reached as far as the Chippewa River. The revised 1867 route continued north some twenty miles to near Bear Lake in Clare County, a point that joined the line of the original survey. One might expect that the next contracts would be let along this line, but that was not what happened. Edmund Hall became aware of a new development that would make it advantageous for him to request another route change.

In the late 1860s the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad was surveying the route across Clare County in order to extend its tracks from Saginaw to Ludington. Hall examined this new route with great interest. The railroad would cross the south branch of the Tobacco River, making the site an excellent location for a mill town. With his timber holdings in mind, along with potential land acquisitions, Hall planned his moves. Railroad officials chose the name Farwell for the new village (the surname of a railroad superintendent's father-in-law). Along with some other businessmen, Hall formed the Farwell Land Company and platted the village in 1870. According to most accounts, Hall was the key figure in having the village declared the county seat. (22) At about the same time, Hall was pursuing a new request in Lansing for another change in the route of the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road. Houghton Lake could be reached just as easily by angling the state road to Farwell and thence to the north from the Chippewa River in Isabella County.

Hall sent his relatives to the area in order to further this endeavor and advance his interests. Henry Woodruff, George Hitchcock, and Josiah Littlefield took up residence in Farwell and were active in business and governmental affairs. Of the three, Littlefield had the most lasting influence on the community, and he also wrote an autobiography. (23)

In the summer of 1870, Hall's brother-in-law, George Hitchcock, surveyed a new route north from the Chippewa River, revising the one that had been completed in 1868. The 1870 survey was finished in July, and in that same month four contracts for construction were let to extend the road some forty miles to the Muskegon River in Clare County. (24)

The same general route was again surveyed by Edmund Hall's nephew, Josiah Littlefield, the following summer. It appears that the earlier survey had been a hasty effort just to get something on paper so that construction could begin. Littlefield's autobiography does not address this issue directly, but it indicates a degree of urgency on Hall's part to push the road as far as Farwell. Both surveys are on file in the state archives, so a comparison can be made: the 1871 survey reflects the actual line of the road, whereas the 1870 survey missed the eventual location of Farwell by three-quarters of a mile to the west. (25)

Littlefield relates that he worked with the local State Road Commissioner, William Broomfield, as they ran the 1871 survey to four miles north of Farwell, the end of Hall's contract. Littlefield describes the extension of the survey north from that point in the summer of 1871:

   I was also called on to make this survey through to Houghton

   Lake. Mr. S. C. Hall of Muskegon had this contract of about

   thirty-six miles. This survey was made under the supervision of

   the same commissioner, Mr. Broomfield. It was the practice in

   making these surveys to avoid steep grades as much as possible

   so there was quite a good deal of angling to get around them. But

   after we had gone, in this way, for about seven miles north of

   Farwell, Mr. Broomfield decided to follow the section line one

   mile west of the town line, which we did clear through to the

   Muskegon River in the northern part of Summerfield Township

   of Clare County. From here on we were obliged to do some

   angling, but they were mostly long stretches to Houghton Lake.

   At this point we made a junction with the Traverse City Road....


      This trip gave me a vivid idea of the vastness of the virgin

   pine timber in the State at that time. And now, as I look back

   and think of those days it gives me a feeling of loneliness when

   I look around and see not one of those beautiful and splendid

   living creatures left. They have all been swept away. There are

   no more forest companions, and we are indeed lonely. (26)

S. C. Hall held most of the contracts for building the road in central and northern Clare County. S. C. Hall and Edmund Hall teamed up to build one of the final sections of the road in Missaukee County. S. C. Hall was from Muskegon, where the city directory listed him as a "pine land dealer." He eventually acquired fifteen thousand acres of pineland in Clare, Roscommon, and Missaukee counties, much of it from state swamp land road contracts. (27)

The Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was connected to the Midland Grand Traverse Bay State Road just west of Houghton Lake at Reedsburg in Missaukee County in late 1872, marking the end point of construction. A total of $127,999 had been expended on the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road through September 30, 1876. (28) The records do not indicate that any more roads were built under the name "Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road," or "Ionia, Houghton Lake, and Mackinac State Road," so the project never extended beyond Houghton Lake toward Mackinac.

The importance of the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road peaked in the years 1873 to 1885, particularly in the northern counties. Settlers and lumberjacks with wagons and teams traversed the road through the developing countryside. Comings and goings along the state road were regularly reported in the Farwell Register. A February 7, 1887, extract tells of a pioneer's trek north: "A covered wagon containing a family and household goods, including a stove with pipe elevated through [the] covering overhead passed through this place for the woods on Tuesday. Considering the condition of the roads at this time, that family could give a rich experience in roughing it." Two weeks later, this note appeared: "Pete Olson of this place has a blacksmith shop on wheels. He started northward on the State Road towards the Gerrish and Hazelton Railroad on Tuesday with his outfit intending to visit lumber camps along the road. He has 70 horses to shoe at the railroad camps. Here is enterprise for you." (29)

Without a doubt the most unusual piece of equipment to travel the state road did so in January 1878. A small locomotive destined for use on the Gerrish and Hazelton Logging Railroad, situated some fifteen miles to the northwest near the present-day village of Temple, was shipped to Farwell on a flatcar over the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad. On a cold winter morning steam was "gotten up," and the engine started northward on the state road at the west end of the village. It was accompanied by a force of men with levers and teams pulling wagons loaded with water and wood. A crowd assembled to watch, and the Farwell Register later reported the proceedings: "The sight was curious and novel, a railroad engine puffing through the tall pines, vomiting fire and smoke and startling the astonished woodsmen along the route." The reason for the unusual trip up the state road was the experience gained from getting the first locomotive on location two years before. It had been transported to Evart, some twenty miles west of Farwell, on the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad. The locomotive was then loaded on a raft and poled, with considerable difficulty, up the Muskegon River to the site of logging operations. Having almost lost the engine in the river on that occasion, the firm decided to use the state road the second time around. (30)

To the south in Montcalm County, the state road's function was changing. An agrarian landscape was developing; geographic townships were becoming named political townships, with town halls and governmental functions. Township roads were being built along section lines. Soon the state road was integrated as just one road among many within the emerging pattern of local roads. Much of Clare County, however, never developed a network of section-line roads, as its sandy soil could not support a high density of farmers. For this reason, the state road has been a main road, retaining its identity throughout the years.

One reason for the disappearance of parts of the state road is that, in contrast to present state highways, the swamp land state roads were built and then left to each township to maintain. No attempt was made to coordinate a through travel route, so road conditions varied from place to place. Just fifteen years after the completion of the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road in Isabella County, the Sherman Township Commissioner of Highways considered the bridge across the Chippewa River on the state road to be "unsafe," although it remained in use until 1901. At that point, a steel span replaced the wooden structure. (31)

The Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was abandoned in substantial portions of Isabella County where it angled across sections. This extensive diagonal rerouting was unique to Isabella County. In Ionia, Montcalm, and Clare counties (and to a lesser extent Missaukee County), the road generally followed section lines and remains a part of these counties' road systems today.

More than half of the original 27.1 miles of state road has disappeared from the map of Isabella County. The entire road appeared in the 1899 Plat Book of Isabella County, but the 1915 plat book reveals ten missing miles of road. (32) Furthermore, several miles of road in Gilmore Township in the 1915 plat book were indicated with dashed lines and were apparently little used. Eventually, a total of 14.8 miles of the original state road ceased to exist in Isabella County.

Searches of available records in the townships have not turned up any formal closing of the state road. At the Isabella County Register of Deeds office, the original right-of-way does not even appear in the index to the tract on which the road cut diagonally across a section of land. (33)

It appears that the state road was phased out as section-line roads were built and people settled along those roads, taking up landownership following the rectangular survey system. The angled road made for irregular fields, and the same destination could be reached along the section lines. Lack of maintenance by the townships and the landowners' desire to shut off sections of the road all probably played a part in its closing.

I first became interested in the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road in 1957. Wondering what could be seen of the abandoned and little-used sections of this road, I made numerous field trips to search out locations using old maps and then take pictures of what I found.

Not far from William Broom field's farm, just east of Hall's Lake, is an original section of the state road. Early specifications had mentioned the use of logways across marshes, and here exposed at a swampy crossing were timbers bare of any soil covering. The road has since been widened and raised, however, and there is no evidence today of its original state.

Near the present-day junction of Rolland Road and the state road, a fence line extended southwest along a trace of the state road running toward Indian Creek. Today, the fence is long gone, and what was a field is now covered with trees and shrubs.

Bridge sites are easy to locate, such as along the Coldwater River south of Littlefield Lake. At this site, fill extends onto the floodplain and the bridge abutments are still present. In general, in places where the road ascended a hill a cut was made, and where it passed through a marsh fill was needed; so in these places the original traces of the road can sometimes be found. Short segments of the original road in such spots often end abruptly in open farmlands. These locations can be determined by comparing present-day aerial photographs with maps from the time of the state road's existence.

In 1957 several houses that were failing into ruin stood in the middle of Sections 16 and 21 of Gilmore Township, along an abandoned stretch of the state road. In one of these structures I found a wall papered with a 1905 edition of the Detroit Times. It was only a few years after 1905 that this section of the road was abandoned. Time has taken most of these relics, leaving at best a fieldstone foundation or an enduring clump of lilacs.

At the present time (2005), the section most characteristic of the original state road is the short half-mile segment, which is still in use, that runs diagonally across Section 31 of Gilmore Township southwest of Little field Lake. It has recently been marked with historical signs by the Isabella County Road Commission.

The Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road was an important transportation artery in the early history of central Michigan. Lumbermen saw an opportunity to acquire timber, and farmers saw the opportunity to homestead. In many ways the road created possibilities for both. Considering the many centuries this area stood virtually untouched, a century and a quarter is a short time to go from a track in the forest wilderness to a populated landscape with roads on almost every section line.

(1) George W. Sears, Woocraft (New York: Forest and Stream, 1884); reprinted in Michigan History Magazine 15 (1931): 634-44.

(2) Isaac A. Fancher, Past and Present of Isabella County, Michigan (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen, 1911), 313-14.

(3) Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan Passed at the Regular Session of 1859 (Lansing: Hosmer & Kerr, 1860), 310-18.

(4) Ibid., 876.

(5) "Plats and Profiles of the Ionia via Houghton Lake to the Straits of Mackinaw State Road, 1859," RG-58-17, box 220, State Archives, Lansing, Mich.

(6) The Ionia via Houghton Lake to the Straits of Mackinaw State Road Commissioners Report, in Governor Moses Wisner Papers (Roads), 1859, State Archives, Lansing.

(7) As used in this article, "turnpiked" means that the traveled surface was crowned and smoothed.

(8) "Plats and Profiles," map 214, State Archives, Lansing.

(9) "Records, State Roads, July 7, 1859, to March 26, 1873," vol. 5, RG-57-31-A, in ibid.

(10) Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan Passed at the Regular Session of 1861 (Lansing: John Kerr & Son, 1862), 140.

(11) Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan Passed at the Extra Session of 1862 (Lansing: John Kerr & Son, 1862), 56.

(12) Portrait and Biographical Album of Isabella County, Michigan (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1884), 382-83.

(13) Ibid.

(14) Ibid.

(15) For an excellent overview of Michigan's swamp lands, see LeRoy Barnett, "Roads, Railroads, and Recreation," Michigan History 72 (July-August 1988): 28-34.

(16) For additional biographical information about Edmund Hall, see Silas Farmer, The History of Detroit and Michigan (Detroit: S. Farmer & Co., 1889), 2: 1120.

(17) Isabella County Enterprise, July 24, 1914, 1.

(18) "Records, State Roads, July 7, 1859, to March 26, 1873," 237.

(19) "State of Michigan Plat Book of Swamp Lands Covering Central Michigan," vol. 9, RG-57-41, folder R6-VII S1-4, State Archives, Lansing.

(20) Forty-acre parcels were the smallest legal subdivision for designated swamp lands. This was my conclusion from studying the notes and plats of the original survey of the state of Michigan by the United States Surveyor General's office.

(21) Walter Russell had in his possession a letter from William F. Bundy confirming this family purchase from Edmund Hall. William F. Bundy was an assistant United States Secretary of State in the 1960s. Russell is now deceased, but he shared this information with me in the early 1960s.

(22) Forrest B. Meek, Michigan's Timber Battleground: A History of Clare County, 1764-1900 (Clare, Mich.: Bicentennial Historical Committee, 1976), 35, 93, 158.

(23) In 1959 I visited Josiah Littlefield's daughter, Hazel Littlefield Smith, to inquire about her father's role in building the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road. Smith produced an autobiographical manuscript Littlefield had written that includes information on the Farwell area as well as the state road. The Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, has J. L. Littlefield's papers, which may contain a copy of this manuscript.

(24) "Records, State Roads, July 7, 1859, to March 26, 1873," 335.

(25) Ionia, Houghton Lake, and Mackinaw State Road (Surveys, 1870-71), RG-60-8, State Archives, Lansing.

(26) This quotation was taken directly from Josiah Littlefield's autobiographical manuscript. An edited form of this document, titled Josiah Littlefield, Lumberman-Conservationist: An Autobiography, was privately published in 1972. Hazel Littlefield Smith's editing eliminated the quotation given here, but the printed version tells of his work on the state road.

(27) F. A. Barnard, American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men, Michigan Volume (Cincinnati, Ohio: Western Biographical Publishing Co., 1878), 5-47.

(28) "Sundry Indexes Relating to State Road Contracts, Statements of Payments-State Swamp Land Roads," vol. 6, RG 56-31-A, State Archives, Lansing.

(29) Farwell Register. This weekly newspaper and its files are no longer in existence. Two nearby papers that often quoted stories from this paper were the Evart Review in Evart, and the Isabella County, Enterprise, located in Mt. Pleasant. It is from these sources that the two quotations are taken.

(30) Hudson Keenan, "America's First Successful Logging Railroad," Michigan History 44 (Fall 1960): 292-302.

(31) Sherman Township, Isabella County, retained complete records of the early township road and bridge work, including the construction of section-line roads. I was able to examine these record books at the township hall in 1957.

(32) C. M. Foote, Plat Book of Isabella County, Michigan (Minneapolis: C. M. Foote Publishing Co., 1899); Isabella County 4-H Council, Land Atlas and Plat Book, Isabella County, Michigan (Rockford, Ill.: Rockford Map Publishers, 1915).

(33) I found just the original 1859 survey and the revision of 1876 for the Ionia and Houghton Lake State Road recorded in the Isabella County Register of Deeds office.

Hudson Keenan is a retired Mt. Pleasant High School instructor and a native of Isabella County, Michigan.