Assembled for the Michigan Historical Commission, this collection of sketches of some 2,000 of Michigan’s distinguished sons from the arenas of the legislature, the courts, and education was conceived as an expansion of the 1888 publication, Early History of Michigan with Biographies of State Officers, Members of Congress, Judges and Legislators. What is perhaps most genealogically interesting about this assemblage of elected and appointed officials is that even though Michigan achieved statehood as early as 1837, the overwhelming majority of the subjects of this volume were born in another state, with New York, Pennsylvania, the New England states, and the Province of Ontario in the ascendancy. Thus the volume could just as easily have been titled “Prominent Michiganders from Other Places.”
While space does not permit us to name all of the personalities sketched here, it will serve some purpose to convey an idea of the scope of the essays themselves. Most of them are nowhere as extensive as that of Lewis Cass, the one-time Michigan governor and U.S. presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 1848; nor as short as that of William Burke, about whom we learn only that he held two offices during the 1830s. More typical is the following sketch of Jeremiah Clark: “Representative from Oakland County, Michigan, 1839 and 1841. Was born in the State of Vermont, Sept. 19, 1790. When young he removed with his father to Madison County, N.Y. As a young man he was interested in the manufacture of salt for several years in Onondaga County, then at Albany, filled contracts on public works for the State. He came to Detroit in 1831, where he controlled a bakery and grocery for several years. He removed to a farm in Independence, Oakland County. In 1838 he built a grist mill at Clarkston. He served as Supervisor, Justice, and County Judge. He died at Syracuse, N.Y., Aug. 29, 1847.”
As the above sketch illustrates, Michigan Biographies is full of genealogical and biographical details which will enable the researcher to trace the movements of several thousand Michigan subjects, while linking them to many thousands of persons, places and dates before they achieved prominence in their adopted state.
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