Beal City, Michigan
Nottawa & Deerfield Townships
Isabella County, Michigan
Some of my paternal ancestors lived near Beal City, Isabella County, Michigan. Persons in bold lived near Beal City:
Beal City is located in Nottawa Township, Isabella County, Michigan about 8 miles northwest of Mount Pleasant. Deerfield Township is just south of Nottawa Township and residents there often did business in Beal City.
Legislatively, Isabella County was formed in 1831, and named in honor of Queen Isabella who sponsored Christopher Columbus. It was not organized until 1859. The first white settlers arrived in 1854 as a road was made northward from Gratiot county.
In an 1855 government treaty, much of the county's land was ceded to the remnants of Indian tribes scattered throughout Clinton, Saginaw and Gratiot counties. Other county land was not made available for sale until 1863. Initially about 1600 mostly Chippewa Indians lived on the reservation. By 1876 that number shrank to 600 and to 300 by 1896. As J. E. Day relates at the 1896 annual meeting of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Indians were often tricked into selling their land to white settlers:
"... They [the Indians] were divided by the agent or commissioner into two classes, called "competent" and "not so competent," those of the first class being at once initiated into the mysteries of full citizenship, including the power to sell or mortgage the portion of land which had been the gift of the government, and to be outwitted and defrauded by the white at his will. Those of the second class could not alienate their claims without consent of the commissioner, and as a result those of the less class were the longest stayers. ... Often some speculator would agree with an Indian who had not been granted his allotment, to make his selection and sell to the speculator at a nominal sum, perhaps not a tenth of its value; sometimes, too, by a convenient change of Indian names, the same party could select land more than once, to the benefit of a waiting white."
Nottawa Township, originally called Nottaway, was named for Chief Not-to-way, a well-respected Chippewa Indian leader. The township was formed in 1875 and Mike McGihon was the first white settler in 1869. In 1884, the township was still part of the Chippewa Indian reservation. Beal City is named after Nicholas Beal, who built the first general store there in 1881.
Settlers in the southern portion of Isabella County generally came from New York and Ohio. Those in the northern part were generally from Canada. The great majority of settlers in Nottawa Township were Germans from Westphalia, Clinton County, Michigan, about 50 miles due south.
My great-grandfather Joseph Voisin arrived in the area from Ontario, Canada after 1879. He was a farmer and a musician who played at Indian dances. My great-grandparents Lawrence and Louisa (Schneider) Rademacher arrived probably about 1894. Lawrence was born and raised in Westphalia, Michigan.
My great great-grandparents Jacob and Margaret (Pohl) Yuncker arrived in the area in 1881, having lived for several years in Westphalia.
-- Mike Voisin
--Weber, Ben, Beal City Michigan Area Centennial 1875-1975 (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan: Enterprise Printers, Inc., 1975).
--Day, J. E., Sketch of the Settlement and Growth of Isabella County (Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, 1896), 19:324-327. Available at the Isabella County section of the MIGenWeb <http://www.rootsweb.com/~miisabel/isabella.html> (July 13, 2003).
Contact: Mike Voisin