Pioneering Families
... with Roots in Madison County

Index to

Betsey Warrick Gridley

HIRAM GRIDLEY. Scant justice would be done to those who have made Eaton County what it is to-day were we to omit from this volume an epitome of the life of Hiram Gridley. He is now numbered among the Independent farmers of Kalamo Township, although he is as well known by his connection with saw and grist milling as he is as an agriculturist. The handsome property upon which he resides consists of three hundred and sixty acres on section 21, through which Herring Creek flows. A water ram carries the water to the barns, five in number, and all the latest improved machinery and modern conveniences are to be found about the estate. A large sugar grove and fruitful orchard add much to the beauty of the property and greatly increase its value.

Curtis Gridley, grandfather of Hiram, was a native of Connecticut and an early settler in Cortland County, N. Y., where his son Reuben was born. The latter followed his sire's example in taking up farm work and he also ran saw and grist mills and a distillery. In 1834 he came to Calhoun County, this State, and entered land near Homer where he spent the remnant of his days. His father also died there. Reuben Gridley married Olive Herring, a native of Cortland County, N.Y., and she too died at Homer. Her father came to this State many years ago and died in Barry County. It will thus be seen that Hiram Gridley is closely connected with several pioneer workers in this part our great commonwealth, and we find upon inquiry that  he began his own work here some time before he had reached his majority.

The gentlemen of whom we write is the first-born of eleven children and opened his eyes to the light in Cortland County, N.Y., February 5, 1816. During his boyhood and early youth he enjoyed the school privileges that were then know in the section and, like other lads, learned how to bear a hand in the work that was being done by his father. He sawed lumber when but sixteen years old and also gained much practical knowledge of farming. When eighteen he came hither with his parents and remained with them on the far near Homer, Calhoun County, until 1845. He then came to Eaton County with a capital of $1,000 and bought the land upon which he is living. It was a heavily timbered tract upon which not a stick had been cut, and there were but four houses then standing between Bellevue and Vermontville. He began with eighty acres of land, to which he has added as fast as possible, and which showed marked improvement from time to time. So much timber stood in this country and so little value was placed upon it that he sold walnut for $8 per M. He brought fifty swarms of bees with him and was a successful apiarist. He carries on stock-raising as well as ordinary farming, and has high grades of domestic animals, his flock of sheep being over five hundred.

In 1852 Mr. Gridley put up a steam sawmill which he ran about ten years. He then sold it and it was moved to Vermontville where it stills stands. Two years after engaging in this enterprise with his brother Reuben, they built the first stream gristmill in this vicinity and did a large custom business, running four stones. They made money in this way, but sold the mill during the war, and it too was moved to Vermontville and is now running there. After disposing of that business Mr. Gridley gave his exclusive attention to farming for a few years, but finally put up his present sawmill, which is run by steam, having an engine of forty-horse power, and cuts one thousand feet per hour. It must not be supposed that Mr. Gridley's success has come from good luck. On the contrary, it has been gained at the expense of deep thought, earnest consideration of ways and means and unflagging industry.

In Potter County, Pa., August 23, 1840, the solemn ceremony that united the lives and fortunes of Hiram Gridley and Betsey Warrick took place. The bride was the sixth child  born to Thomas and Phebe (Lyon) Warrick, both of whom were born in Connecticut. In that State both Grandfather Warrick and Grandfather Lyons lived and died. Thence Mrs. Gridley's father removed to Madison County, N.Y., where he was engaged in milling, and where he died when but forty-nine years old. His widow subsequently came West and died in Eaton County when eighty-six years old. She was a conscientious Christian and belonged to the Baptist Church. Mrs. Gridley was born in Madison County, N. Y., September 3, 1819, and reared on a farm there. She received an excellent education and when nineteen years old began teaching in the vicinity of her home. After a short time she went to Potter County, Pa., where she was similarly engaged until her marriage.

The family of our subject and his amiable wife numbered eight children, but two of whom are now with their parents. Mary was formerly the wife of H. Davis, but is now deceased; Ella married George Hyden and lives in the village of Kalamo; Estella is the wife of John Webber and their home is in Otoe County, Neb.; Isadore died in California; Eoline is still a member of her parents' household; Elbert is association with his father in carrying on the home farm and sawmill; Jane died in 1880; Walter lived but a few years.

Mr. Gridley long since decided that the Democratic platform incorporated the best principles of governmental polity, and he therefore conscientiously supports it and has aided the party by serving as a delegate to county conventions. He served as Township Treasurer four years and for a long period was Commissioner of Highways. No man in the township has taken a deeper interest in the well-being of the people than Hiram Gridley, and none are more highly spoken of or better deserving of commendation. One of the chief ways in which he has elevated the standard of society is his temperance work, what has been earnest and unremitting. He is now a demitted member of the Independent Order of Good Templars. He organized lodges of that order here and did much good thereby, saving many from further progress on the downward career that would otherwise have ended in a drunkard's grave.

Source: Portrait and Biographic Album of Barry and Eaton Counties, Mich., Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County and the Presidents of the United States and Governors of the State. Chapman Bros: 1891, 202-205.



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