John Caldwell (Michigan politician)

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John Caldwell, Jr
John Caldwell.jpg
Born July 4, 1849
Ridgeway, New York
Died March 7, 1916
Manton, Michigan
Education Litchfield School
Occupation farmer, timberman,
state representative
Political party Republican

John Caldwell (July 4, 1849 – March 7, 1916) was a Republican member of the Michigan State House of Representatives from 1897 through 1900.[1][2][A] He represented the Wexford district comprising the counties of Wexford, Missaukee and Clare.[3][4] He was also a respected farmer and knowledgeable timberman of northern Michigan.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

John Caldwell was born at Ridgeway in Orleans County of New York state on the 4th day of July, 1849. His name given at birth was George Washington Caldwell [7] as he was born on the anniversary of national independence. His parents decided a year later to change it to 'John Jr' after his father's name.[8][9] He was the fifth in the family of eight boys and one girl,[6] seemingly breaking then the Irish tradition of the third 'born' son receiving the father's name [10] since this name change was an afterthought. He was the third surviving son, however, so could have inherited the name 'John' and suffix by default. The third and fourth sons died before they were 10 years old and do not show up on any census records.[8][9]

Caldwell's parents, John Caldwell Sr and Jane (Thompson) Caldwell, immigrated from Ireland and arrived separately in the state of New York in the early part of the nineteenth century. They were married in 1840. Their first born was James in 1841, being Caldwell's grandfather's name.[11]

Caldwell came with his parents to Litchfield township in Hillsdale county in 1856 from upper New York state by way of the Erie Canal.[6] He worked on his father's farm in the summers and attended school during the winters.[4] While his older brothers and his father were Civil War veterans,[12] he was too young to enlist during this time period of 1861 - 1865. When he was eighteen years old in the early part of 1868 he went to the woods of Tuscola County of the thumb area of Michigan for about two years in his first employment.[6] This was the beginning of his timber career where he learned the industry. In November 1869 Caldwell then went to Missaukee county in northern Michigan.[4] He was gainfully employed there for years as a land agent for George A. Mitchell and the Mitchell Brothers Company for timber development in Michigan and New Mexico. He was one of their key timber-men representatives.[13] He worked with lumberjacks that used logging wheels for hauling timber out of the woods.[6]

Wife of John Caldwell


John Caldwell obtained a homestead of 101 acres (0.41 km2) of government land in 1875 in Section 4 in Caldwell township of Missaukee County.[4][14] He later purchased an adjacent 40 acres (160,000 m2) land and a nearby 80-acre (320,000 m2) parcel.[1] These all contained old growth white pine timber that was of considerable value for the development of Michigan.[B][15][16] Much of this timber was used in the construction of Lake City, Manton, Cadillac and other northern Michigan towns.[17][18]

Caldwell and his older brother Thomas (1843–1882) were among some of the first settlers in Missaukee County, Michigan.[1][19][20] The township of Caldwell within Missaukee County is named in honor of these Caldwells.[21][C][22] Both were deeply involved in developing northern Michigan in the later part of the nineteenth century.[6][23][24][25] Thomas was the second son in the family after James. His middle name was "Thompson", their mother's maiden name, following the Irish naming practice.[10] Other Caldwell siblings were William, George, Charlie and Mary Jane.[9][26]

1920 - Frank (son of John Jr)
with his wife (Mary) and their son George


Caldwell is of Scotch-Irish descent. Caldwell's grandfather (James Jr) immigrated from northern Ireland in 1817 from Ulster in Antrim County (Ireland) with some of his ten children a year after his first wife Caroline (born 1778) died. They traveled on the ship Aeolus which sailed out of Derry and arrived in the port of New York, June 18, 1817. Caldwell's father (John Sr, b. 1805 d. 1872 Big Rapids) was one of those family members. He was an Irish day laborer[8][9] that worked on the Erie Canal. Other children of the family that immigrated were John Sr's sisters Eliza (born 1807) and Gertrude (born 1809). They first settled in Connecticut. Caldwell's grandfather lived to be 100 years old[27] and sired at least 24 children with three wives. The other wives of Caldwell's grandfather were Deborah and Margaret.

Caldwell married Martha Babock of Missaukee county on June 29, 1873.[28][29] She outlived her husband by 32 years and died in 1948 in their Manton home.[30] They had three children that grew to adulthood. They were Florence, Leona, and Frank. Their first child named Ida May died within a year. Florence married an Ed Huested and had one child named Lewis. Florence divorced Huested and Lewis then lived with his Caldwell grandparents in Manton.[31] She later married a George Whiting. Leona married a Burt Mow and they had five children. Frank, their only son, married a Mary Blue Kennedy and they had one child named George.[32] George ultimately inherited many of Martha's possessions and properties that were once owned by John Caldwell. He married a Lois Crawford of Manton and they had four daughters and one son.

His mother's tombstone

Caldwell's father died in Big Rapids of Mecosta County, Michigan, on Christmas eve in 1872 at the age of 67,[33] although some biographies on Caldwell say his father died when he was 65 years old and on December 26, 1872.[1][6]

Caldwell's mother (Jane Caldwell) died in Jonesville, Michigan of Hillsdale county in 1886 at the age of 67 [6] as is revealed on her tombstone in the Jonesville cemetery (pictured). She was able to get Civil War pension pay[34] due to her eldest son (Caldwell's brother) being killed in the Civil War, as well as her husband (Caldwell's father) being in the Civil War.[12]

Political career[edit]

John Caldwell was elected in 1897 on the Republican ticket as a representative for the state of Michigan.[1][4] Two years later he was reelected to the legislature[4] receiving 3,173 votes to 1,888 votes for Joseph Yarnell (Democratic People's Union silver certificate).[D]

The Escanaba Tribune reports in an article of June 1900 titled "The Tax Detective Here. Representative John Caldwell visits Escanaba in the interest of the Tax Commission"

The article even explains the authority he has from the state of Michigan:

Caldwell gave an assessment of Missakee County in 1900 to the state of Michigan legislature saying:

He then summarized the forest products and acreage involved with each of these products. The total acreage involved was 339,097 acres (1,372.28 km2).[36]

Caldwell took much interest in public matters and served Caldwell township as highway commissioner, township clerk, township treasurer, justice of the peace, township supervisor, and school board officer. He was involved with the township's educational interests and at times filled the school offices, which advanced the educational interests of the community. Caldwell was the county treasurer of Missaukee County for four years and supervisor for ten years.[4]

Caldwell was also involved with the laws concerning hunting deer in northern Michigan.[37]

Caldwell home in Manton 1913 postcard

Farming endeavors[edit]

John Caldwell and his wife were members of Missaukee Grange # 918 of the Patrons of Husbandry.[1] Caldwell was also the Master of Pomona Grange # 56 of Missaukee county in 1903 when it was organized.[38]

Caldwell originally acquired a Homestead of 101 acres (0.41 km2) of government land in Caldwell Township of Missaukee County in 1875.[39] He later added an adjacent 40 acres (160,000 m2). From this he cleared 80 acres (320,000 m2) of timber that was then worked in an agriculture enterprise.[4] Caldwell had a successful diversified system of farming with multiple substantial buildings for his goods and commonities.[6]

Retirement and death[edit]

John Caldwell's tombstone

Caldwell retired in 1909 and lived the last seven years of his life in Manton.[31] He built a house (pictured) 2 blocks east of downtown Manton on Main Street,[40] which still exists today some one hundred years later.

His daughter Leona and her husband took over the ownership of his homestead in Missaukee county which they continued to farm for many years.[41]

Caldwell was president of the village of Manton for one term. He often took a walk downtown to associate with the locals during his retirement.[42] Caldwell died March 7, 1916 at his home[42] and is buried at the Caldwell cemetery.[43][44][45]

Primary sources[edit]

  • Orleans County Vital Statistics, Orleans County, Town of Medina, State of New York.
  • 1901 Annual Report By Michigan Board of State Auditors. Original at University of Michigan.
  • A History of Northern Michigan and Its People by Lewis Publishing Company (1912), University of Michigan.
  • Michigan Biographies, 2 v. Lansing, Michigan Historical Commission, 1924, page 140, University of Michigan.
  • Biographical History of Northern Michigan by B. F. Bowen, 1905. "John Caldwell" - at University of Michigan.
  • United States Census for 1850 enumerated on September 23, town of Pendleton, New York, County of Niagara.
  • United States Census for 1860 enumerated on June 13, town of Litchfield, Michigan, county of Hillsdale and 1870 on June 22.
  • Michigan Manual published in 1899 by the State of Michigan. Original at Capital Area District Library, South Capitol, Lansing, Michigan.
  • Michigan Manual published in 1901 by the State of Michigan. Original at University of Michigan and at Capital Area District Library (above).

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Michigan Genealogy: Sources & Resources By Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Commercial 2005, ISBN 0-8063-1755-8
  • Encyclopedia of Michigan By Beth Blenz by Somerset Publishers (1990), ISBN 0-403-09973-0. Original at University of Michigan.



  1. ^ According to the "Michigan Manual" published 1899 by the State of Michigan, John Caldwell served as state representative for Wexford. He was elected to the House of 1897-98 and re-elected to the house of 1899-1900. He was a Republican and a farmer. According to the "Michigan Manual" of 1895-1896 he was preceded by H Frank Campbell a Republican. According to the "Michigan Manual" of 1901 he was succeeded by Dennis Orville a Republican. Originals at University of Michigan.
  2. ^ Pamphlets on Forestry in Michigan 1898, pp. 4-5, map of white pine forest distribution in the Lower Peninsula in the nineteenth century on page 6. Pamphlets on Forestry in Michigan 1900, p. 36 One of the most important sources of wealth and prosperity to Michigan has been it abundant forests. Pamphlets on Forestry in Michigan 1906, pp. 33-40, 83, 101, 102, 147-149, 169, 178-179. Original manuals at the University of California.
  3. ^ The township was previously called Quilna and changed by Michigan law no. 308 to "Caldwell" on March 14, 1873. General Acts and Joint and Concurrent Resolutions of the Legislature of Michigan State, published 1873 by Michigan state, pp. 20, 44, 202, 212. The bill to change the name of Quilna Township to Caldwell was introduced by State Senator William H. C. Mitchell. Original at University of Michigan.
  4. ^ According to the "Michigan Manual" of 1899-1900, John Caldwell served as state representative for the Wexford district. He was elected to the House of 1897-98 and then re-elected to the house of 1899-1900. Original of the "Michigan Manual" at the Capital Area District Library, Lansing, Michigan and at Library of Michigan.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bowen, page 686.
  2. ^ Journal By Michigan, page 5, House of Representatives, Legislature confirmation of 1899 - 1900 published 1899 by Michigan Legislature. Original at University of Michigan.
  3. ^ 1901 Annual Report, p. 173, shows expenses of Representative John Caldwell paid to him for services rendered.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Michigan Legislative Manual" of 1899-1900, p. 633, Biographical sketches compiled by Secretary of State Justus S. Stearns.
  5. ^ Michigan Biographies, 2 v. Lansing, Michigan Historical Commission, 1924, p. 140
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bowen, page 685.
  7. ^ Orleans County Vital Statistics as the seventh entry under the letter "C"
  8. ^ a b c 1850 Census.
  9. ^ a b c d 1860 Census.
  10. ^ a b Names for Children
  11. ^ East Shelby Cemetery (aka Grinnell or Dow), Town of Barre, Orleans County, New York. James Caldwell's son John Caldwell "Sr" (born ca. 1805) is from his first wife Jane who died in Ireland in 1816.
  12. ^ a b Caldwell's oldest brother James served in the 18th Michigan Infantry COMPANY G Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. James was killed in the war in the greatest maritime disaster in U. S. history. Thomas was in the 7th Michigan Infantry COMPANY F Archived 7 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Caldwell's father was in the 11th Michigan Infantry COMPANY B Archived 6 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine..
  13. ^ "New Industry / Largest Sawmilling Plant in the Southwest to be Erected Here". Arizona weekly journal-miner. Prescott, Arizonia. December 11, 1901. 
  14. ^ Acres 101.47, Document No. 22451, Application number 3763. Date issued 20 October 1875 signed by President Ulysses S. Grant. Township then was called Quilna.
  15. ^ History of Missaukee County from the Lake City Area Chamber of Commerce Archived 20 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ McGinnis, p. 21
  17. ^ Lake City area history Archived 20 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ History of Wexford County, Michigan: Embracing a Concise Review of Its Early History By John H. Wheeler, pp. 252 - 264, 279, 304, 320 - 324, 329, 339 - 341, 371; Published 1903 by B.F. Bowen. Original at the University of Michigan.
  19. ^ A History of Northern Michigan and Its People by Lewis Publishing Company 1912, p. 427. Original at the University of Michigan.
  20. ^ Encyclopedia of Michigan By Beth Blenz, p. 201, by Somerset Publishers (1990), ISBN 0-403-09973-0.
  21. ^ Public and Local Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan By the Department of State, p. 149, published 1872. Original at University of Michigan.
  22. ^ The American Counties: Origins of County Names, Dates of Creation by Joseph Nathan Kane, pp. 5, 13, 35, Published 1983 by Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-1558-3
  23. ^ 1906 Missaukee County - patron's reference directory[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Public and Local Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan By the Department of State, p. 147, published 1872. Original at University of Michigan
  25. ^ Michigan History By Michigan Historical Commission, p. 51. Published 1990 by Michigan Department of State. Original at the University of Virginia
  26. ^ Census for 1870 enumerated on June 22nd, township of Litchfield, Michigan, county of Hillsdale, shows William, George, Charlie, and Mary Jane.
  27. ^ Records of the Town of Barre, Orleans County, New York; East Shelby Cemetery
  28. ^ Department of Vital Statistics of Missaukee county, Michigan, Caldwell township. Record # 7 in book 1 shows John as 23 and Martha as 15.
  29. ^ Missaukee County Marriage Index 1871 to 1879 Archived 6 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ Obituary of Martha Caldwell in the Manton Tribune of November 12, 1948
  31. ^ a b Thirteenth Census of the United States of 1910 shows living in Cedar Creek Township of Wexford County, Village of Manton, Michigan w/ grandson Lewis Huested.
  32. ^ Census for 1920 enumerated on January 3rd, village of Manton, Michigan, County of Wexford, township of Cedar Creek. Newspaper article March 27, 1941, of The Tribune Record of Manton, Michigan. Obituary March 28th, same newspaper.
  33. ^ Genealogy Death Indexing System - John Caldwell, father to John Jr.. Vital Statics of Mecosta County has recorded as December 24, 1872.
  34. ^ List of Civil War Pensioners in 1883 Archived 20 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ a b Escanaba Tribune article dated June 15, 1900.
  36. ^ Proceedings By Michigan State Tax Commission, page 74 published 1900 by the Michigan State Tax Commission. Original at the University of Michigan
  37. ^ Annual Report of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan By Michigan Attorney General's Office published 1911, p. 277. Original at the University of Michigan
  38. ^ per Michigan State Grange history records. Roland Winter, Historian of Missaukee County Grange.
  39. ^ Final Certificate No. 2245, Homestead Application No. 3768 recorded at the Land office in Traverse City, Michigan, August 18, 1875. Sec 4, Township 23N, Range 8W
  40. ^ County Recorder of Wexford County, Michigan, record of Deeds shows he purchased the lot in 1908. Records show it took a year to build the house.
  41. ^ Census for 1920 enumerated on January 3rd, county of Missaukee, township of Caldwell, shows the Mows owning homestead. Frank owned the 80-acre (320,000 m2) parcel.
  42. ^ a b Newspaper article in the Cadillac Evening News on March 7, 1916 WELL KNOWN MANTON MAN DIES SUDDENLY
  43. ^ Obituary from Manton Tribune dated March 11, 1916. Obituary from Cadillac Evening News dated March 13, 1916.
  44. ^ Caldwell cemetery location
  45. ^ Caldwell Township Cemetery, Missaukee County, MI By Cadillac Area Genealogical Society by Kinseeker Publishers 1996, ISBN 0-940133-90-3

External links[edit]

Preceded by
H Frank Campbell
Michigan State Representative of District of Wexford for Wexford, Missaukee and Clare Counties
1897– 1900
Succeeded by
Dennis Orville