On Sunday afternoon I got in a ride to Homer, getting 51 miles out of it. Homer is at the opposite end of Calhoun County from my home, but it’s not really 51 miles away. I got some extra miles by making a detour to the above house south of Marshall. This house was a destination because Solon P. Davis once owned the land here.
Until a few days ago I had never heard of Davis. He is not listed in LeRoy Barnett’s roster of Michigan militia men during the Black Hawk war, and I haven’t found anything in the on-line county histories about his having served. But he is mentioned in an 1888 history of Homer. This little book is easily missed because it’s not a county history. But it was produced in the style of some of the earliest Michigan and Indiana county histories from the early 1870s, and contains the same type of information.
The Black Hawk activity is described as follows (on page 10):
Among the number were Barnes Kennedy, Dr. Hayes, Geo. Ketchum, Reuben White, Solon P. Davis, John Vickery, and David Vance. The little command was ordered to Prairie Ronde with a week’s rations in their knapsacks and there to remain for further orders The orders were complied with and after a week’s stay at Prairie Ronde with no scalps captured, and no prospects of an opportunity to wage war on Black Hawk, all were discharged and sent home. Of these thirteen volunteers sent out from Marshall in May, 1832, to battle with the forces of the great Indian chief, Barnes Kennedy is the only one now living.
Of those names, Hayes and Ketchum are important names in early Marshall history. I’ve already blogged about Hayes several times, including one entry during a previous election year (“Black Hawk and John McCain“). I had also known about Barnes Kennedy. Some of his descendents still live in the area, and until about ten years ago a barn he had built (I presume) was still standing. He is a likely source of the information in the Homer history. Reuben White isn’t listed in Barnett’s roster, but there is a mention of his service in one of the county histories. I’ve taken photos of a house in Convis Township that he built later in life. (I’ve written in “Reuben White again” about how while taking photos I got yelled at by the owner who wanted to know what I was doing, which led to the two of us having a good conversation ).
But Davis, Vickery and Vance were all new names to me. Of the three, the only one for whom I’ve found any kind of paper trail so far is Davis. He had been the first purchaser of the quarter-section that the above farmhouse stands on. Whether he ever lived and farmed there himself, I don’t know. It was the only Michigan land he bought from the government, though.
It was enough of a connection to get me to ride there to see it. Destinations like that have a way of taking me on roads I’ve never ridden before so it was worthwhile for that, too.
YTD mileage: 1323.5