Delta Township History
In the northeast corner of Eaton County lies Delta Township. The settlement of this township presents a more romantic history than any other. A greater variety of pioneer experiences, perhaps more privatizations and hardships, more wanderings in the wilderness, and more loneliness and again more dense crowding into scarcely habitable homes. Thirty-six purchases of government were recorded in 1836, most did not set in Delta Township. Delta had be entered by four different routes each through dense woods and interminable swamps. The routes came by the north from DeWitt, by the east from Howell, by the west from Eagle, by the south from Eaton Rapids, Bellevue, and Vermontville. In March of 1836 a mail route was established from Jackson to Ionia later the route was discontinued due to impassable roads.
Erastus S. Ingersoll purchased eight-hundred acres in 1835 and settled here in 1836 and constructed a water-powered sawmill. A gristmill was added, and in 1840 a resident wrote that people came from twenty miles around to have their flour made. Thirty-six purchases of government were recorded in 1836, most did not settle in Delta Township. On delta river drive in 1839, residents of Delta Mills built their first school. A one-room wood frame structure, it could seat sixty-five. A school modeled after Oberlin college was chartered as the “Grand River Theological Seminary,” but never opened. Platted as Grand River City in 1841, the village was commonly called Delta Mills after the township and main industry. The mill operated into the twentieth century.On June 11, 1841. A village plat was laid out extending from the grand river to the turnpike. This was given the aspiring name of Grand River City but, the name failed of general adoption. It had remained “Delta Mills” for many years. In a very early day Whitney Jones established a store here after purchasing a considerable portion of the “plat.” Since he became supervisor here and a prominent man in the county.
- The first settler Erastus Ingersoll
- The first dwelling Erastus Ingersolls’ log cabin
- The first improvements Erastus Ingersolls’ dam and sawmill
- The first hotel established by E.S. Ingersoll
- The first postmaster was E.S. Ingersoll
- The first election was held 1838
- The first minister of the gospel was Rev. E.P. Ingersoll
- The first child born was a girl in 1838
- The first church was organized in 1851
- The first prominent pastor was Rev. Wm. P. Esler.
- The first schoolhouse, built in 1839. The first school teacher was Ms. Sally Chadwick
- First marriage was in 1838 of Addison Hayden and Mary Chadwick.
When riding past the broad acres, the fertile fields, the immense barns, the elegant homes of today it is difficult to imagine the privations of the pioneers upon these same acres eighty years ago.