This book deals with the genealogy of my grandmotherís families after their migration to the State of Michigan, specifically in Osceola and Ottawa counties. A page follows which shows the relationship of the families of Allen, Riggs, Nichols, Salton and Cilley.
The Allen and Riggs families are dealt with first in the book. The patriarch, John Riggs, was a Civil War veteran and one of the earliest settlers in Osceola County near the town of LeRoy. LeRoy and Lamont, the hamlet where the Nichols, Salton and Cilley settled, had in common that they started out as frontier, then turned into boom towns before becoming sleepy little communities. LeRoy grew up because of the lumber industry in Michigan and the railroads. Many people migrated up to the area from southern counties in Michigan to find work in the lumber camps, and LeRoy grew to a thriving community. The first industry there dealt with the lumber industry, and included lumber mills, blacksmiths, carriage and harness makers. Then were added general stores and saloons, a bank and funeral parlor, milliners and dress-makers. At this time there was a stage coach line going through town, and later the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. There also sprung up a grain mill, physicians, a lawyer, hardware store, jewelry store, and even hotels and boarding houses. When the lumbering began to die down, some of the residents employed in that industry began to drift away to other towns and occupations. Later, when it no longer became profitable to run the railroad through town in the early to mid 1900s, the town further shrunk. Later, US 131 was extended north, and did not include an exit to LeRoy, so it is now a little residential community with not much in the way of stores or industry.
Lamont, where the Nichols and Salton families were pioneers, has a similar tale to tell, although itís growth was due to itís location on the Grand River, and not the lumber industry. Early on, the town was known as Steeleís Landing, named after an early settler on the north bank in 1833, Harry Steele. In 1851, the village was platted, and renamed Middleville, as it was half way between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids. At this time, steam ships traveled up the river from Lake Michigan at Grand Haven to Grand Rapids, and this was an important stop along the line. There was a ferry crossing the river here, and for a short period of time between 1867 and 1878 a toll bridge. In 1855, Lamont Chubb of Grand Rapids, offered the city a road scraper if they would change the name of the town to Lamont, and they accepted his offer. The old Lamont had a grocery store, post office and a large button factory, where buttons were made from the pearl inside of clam shells from the river. When it came time to put an interurban railroad through from Grand Rapids to Grand Haven, Lamont decided that it didnít want the noisy railroad to go through their town, so it was built to go through Coopersville, where land had been donated for the railroad. After that time, people began traveling by rail instead of riverboat to Grand Haven, where there was a cross-lake ferry operation to Chicago and Milwaukee. Later, the building of the I-96 expressway from Grand Rapids to Muskegon further sealed the fate of Lamont, and it now a sleepy, residential community with only a couple of churches and a post office.
I have done much research and spent many hours in libraries researching these families, and I hope that this information is as accurate as it can possibly be. If you find corrections, or are in need of further documentation of a fact, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or visit my website at http://www.angelfire.com/mi/GatesDavisGene
My website also has a section which includes letters sent to Sarah Louise Allen from her father, brother and sisters, which you may find interesting.
Donated by Susan Gates Davis
Created: 28 June 2006