A Pioneer History of Becker County

By Alvin H. Wilcox, published in Centennial Issue 1991.


The first settler in what is now Holmesville Township was Swan Olund, who settled on the southwest quarter of Section 6 on Jan. 9, 1871.

He was the only settler of that area until the fall of 1873, when J.B. Philips, William Pollard, H.A. Poor, and a man named Heath, arrived to take homesteads.

C.H. Whipple, Lewis Benson and A.H. Wentworth came here in the spring of 1874.  Wentworth died in July of the same year, and George Yourex took his land, later selling it to Robert Miller.

Others who came there were George Dorman, Joe Jachner, E.E. Johnson, W.J. Clyde, Charles Magney, Sivert Johnson and E.A. Wagner.

On March 19, 1989, the township of East Richwood was organized, but the name was soon changed to Holmesville to honor E.G. Holmes, prominent Detroit businessman.

The first township election was held at the house of George Dorman on the southeast quarter of Section 28, on the date above mentioned.  The following set of township officers were elected at the time: Chairman of board of supervisors, C.L. Bostwick; supervisors, George Dorman, Amund A, Momb; township clerk, Barney Meischner; treasurer, Ernest Wagner; assessor, William Pollard, justices of the peace, John P. Momb, Elizer Schisco, John Nelson; Constable, William Hilbrand.

William Pollard left the country before the time for making the assessment arrived and Ernest Wagner was appointed assessor in his place.

The first people to get married in Holmesville were Swan Olund and Emma Anderson, who were married on the 10th of May, 1878, by the Rev. John P. Nelson.

The first child born in the township was William Pollard, son of William and Sarah Pollard, who was born on the 16th day of January, 1874.

The first death in the township was that of A.H. Wentworth, who located on Section 28, southwest quarter, in March, 1874, and died on the 24th of July, 1874.

Thirty-six years ago, the Buffalo River and its connecting lakes through the township of Holmesville was a picturesque stretch of water.  Before the Richwood dam was built, there was at least seven feet between Buffalo Lake and Tamarack Lake, where it is now nearly all dead water.  At that time, Buffalo Lake was half a mile shorter, twenty rods narrower, and seven feet shallower than at the present time.

Between Buffalo Lake and the lake on Sections 8 and 17, there was a fine stream of water 40 rods long, 30 feet wide, and two feet deep, with a stony bed and beautiful banks timbered with oak, rock elm, maple, and basswood.  There was a good fording place then where the long high bridge now stands over eight or ten feet of water.

The outlet to Rock Lake was not more than four rods long and two rods wide and three feet deep, with low, well wooded banks, and was one of the loveliest spots in all this region of country.  Rock Lake was smaller by at least a hundred acres than at the present time.

Notwithstanding the large amount of water held back by the Richwood dam, and the large amount of land overflowed, it is doubtful if the back water ever reached Tamarack Lake, for that lake is a foot lower than it was thirty-six years ago.  At that, there was no outlet of open water to the lake, as a floating bog 100 rods wide, and covering an area of more than 100 acres, obstructed the outlet.  In walking over this bog, at the time, you would sink into the water and bog above your ankles at every step.  Now it is good hard meadow land.

A ditch was cut through this bog by James Campbell of the Richwood Sawmill for the purpose of floating out saw logs in 1882.

Thomas Jones, who had charge of this work, says: “We began work on the Tamarack Lake ditch about the 10th of May, 1882.  We began at the commencement of the open water in the Buffalo River a little south of the corner to Sections 23, 24, 25, and 26, and cut across the bog to the open water in Tamarack Lake, a distance of more than a quarter of a mile.  There were seven of us, and we cut the ditch ten feet wide, and four feet deep, which was the depth of the bog.  It only lowered the water two or three inches at the time.”

The water, however, continued slowly and steadily to fall for a long time, but never quite getting down the level of the Richwood mill-dam.

I am indebted to Mr. E. Rumery, formerly of Richwood, but now of Detroit, for much of the information in this article with reference to the early settlers.