Perry Township is located in southwestern Shiawassee County in Central Michigan. Perry Township surrounds both the City of Perry and the Village of Morrice and is located centrally between Lansing and Flint on I-69. For more information, see the links provided.
The First Settlement In Perry Township
The first settlement in Perry Township was by Josiah Purdy in the fall of 1836. Upon the north half of his land now stands the Village of Morrice. Purdy built a log cabin, which was the first built in the township by a white man. It stood just east of the present Morrice Elementary School.
An Indian trail passed near the door of his cabin, and over it at times, long lines of Indians passed. They were at first totally oblivious to the presence of Purdy’s cabin, but gradually became acquainted with him, and eventually became quite friendly. Occasionally, they would stop in during a storm and spend the night. They would sleep on the floor and it was not uncommon to find the floor almost solidly covered with them. They often left suddenly without explanation leaving their guns standing in the corner of the room, and be absent for weeks at a time. Purdy never touched their guns, or allowed anyone else to interfere with them, and thus gained their confidence.
In the spring of 1836, Purdy plowed a small piece of ground for a garden, which is thought to be the first land ever plowed in the township. Mrs. Purdy (Diantha) died in 1866 and Mr. Purdy died in 1868. They are buried in Perry Township’s Roselawn Cemetery.
Morrice Historical Information
Morrice is located in Perry Township. As already mentioned, the first settlement in the township was made by Josiah Purdy in the fall of 1836.
Several settlers came to this area about the same time in 1837, one of them being William Morrice, of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His brothers, John, George, and Alexander came the next year. The Village of Morrice took its name from the Morrice family. William Morrice died in 1873 and is buried in Roselawn cemetery.
Morrice was platted in 1877 by Isaac Gale. At the time the Chicago and Port Huron Railroad was finally completed, Gale was a vice-president of the company, which probably accounts for the establishment of the depot at Morrice, the first in the township. Gale had ownership of a portion of the land that had originally been settled by Josiah Purdy.
By 1880, Morrice had a population of 250, and a flour mill, stave and heading factory, two hotels, a hardware, implement store, a drug store, and a general store. The flour mill was built in 1877 by B. F. Rann, and the sawmill in the same year by Henry Horton. The stave and heading factory, built by J. F. Schultz in 1879, employed about 14 men and boys. The businessmen of the township contributed six hundred dollars to the proprietor of the flour mill, one thousand dollars to Schultz, and three hundred dollars to Horton, as inducements to establish their businesses in Morrice.
The Sager House was built by C. W. Sager in 1878 and was a well-furnished and commodious hotel. The first store was opened by Frederick Cummins. The first post office was a small wooden building in 1876. The first depot was in the sawmill, where one corner was boarded up for use in 1877.
Morrice was incorporated as a Village in November, 1884, and the first election was held on December 8 of that year, with twenty-three being the total number of votes cast. Elected were President, Dr. Henry P. Halsted; Clerk, J. W. Steadman; Treasurer, D. J. Holmes; Assessor, John A. Morrice; Trustees, B. F. Rann, Senaca Gale, Daniel Waters, Thomas Jones, B. F. Grout, and Henry Horton. Expenses of running the village for the first year were $223. Charles Tyler was the first Postmaster.
Hinckley School House
The Hinkley School (currently at Roselawn Cemetery) is listed on the State of Michigan’s Register of Historical Sites. The Michigan Historical Commission verified its historical significance as the site of rural education for nearly 90 years and that it has architectural significance as a vernacular school building with Greek Revival styling.
Charles Locke built a log schoolhouse about 1840 that was moved to the present site in 1846 when a new district was formed. John Hinkley, landowner, deeded land for the school and in 1851 a frame schoolhouse was built for $330. It was also used for church services. Early teachers were paid $120 for 17 weeks of teaching. In 1865-66 there were 75 pupils enrolled ages ranging from 5 to 19 years. In 1880 they began having 3 year terms a year and long vacations during the summer months. There were old-fashioned desks for large scholars and benches for little folks. It cost $132 to support the school for one year. In 1945 the school was consolidated with Perry Schools and closed.
Roselawn Cemetery consists of a historical “Old Section”, the “Cooper Section”, and the “New Section.” The “Old Section” and “Cooper Section” is on the south side of Ellsworth Road and the “New Section” is located on the north side of Ellsworth Road. The south side of Roselawn is approximately 7.95 acres and the north side is approximately 16.88 acres.
Mr. Hinkley realized the need for a cemetery so he gave a parcel of land, 11×13 rods, directly across from the Hinkley Schoolhouse (currently known as the Old Section). Today, towering above Mr. Hinkley’s last resting place is a beautiful Scottish granite monument. The freight cost from Scotland was $800 in 1895. Later the Cooper family donated what is known as the “Cooper Section”.
There are 4,326 graves in the “Old Section, 1,428 graves in the “Cooper Section” and 3,516 graves in the “New Section” that has been surveyed. There is over 10 acres that has not been developed into a surveyed part of the cemetery.