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Clare County’s first township was not Grant, Sheridan, nor Surrey Township, it was Three Lakes Township. According to Forrest Meek in Michigan’s Timber Battleground (1976) in “January of 1869, unknown to the [Michigan] Legislature . . . Joseph Bucher, William Crawford and James Green met and organized a township called ‘Three Lakes’ in Clare County.” The Isabella County Board of Supervisors approved the detachment and thereafter, Joseph Bucher was appointed Supervisor. The new township continued for about one year. Unfortunately the Michigan Legislature had detached eastern Clare County from Isabella County in March of 1869, thereby nullifying the detachment of the Isabella County Board of Supervisors.
The real Grant Township was established by a detachment by the Midland County Board of Supervisors and that detachment allowed for the organization of Grant and Sheridan Townships in March of 1870. One year later Surrey Township was organized. The entity known as Three Lakes Township included what is today Grant Township (except 40 acres), Hatton Township, Hayes Township, and Frost Township (except 6 Sections).
Clare County historian Tom Sellers located the Justice Docket of the Township of Three Lakes and it is presently preserved at the Clare County Historical Museum. It does not contain the ‘official minutes’ of Three Lakes Township, but it does contain the Justice of the Peace docket reports of Grant Township beginning with the case of T.H. Hinchman & Sons v Wright E. Fierst and Henry Travidick, July 19, 1871, E.D. Wheaton, Justice of the Peace.
This writer suspects that the Justice Docket was ordered by the officials of Three Lakes Township and by the time it arrived, Three Lakes Township did not exist and so the Justice Docket was utilized for another purpose. In any event, the Three Lakes Township Justice Docket is not a lost piece of Clare County history, it just isn’t what one would expect it to be!
Note: The ‘three lakes’ were Perch, Arnold, and Bass; and then with the construction of a dam ‘three lakes’ was combined into one lake, known today as Five Lakes. Perhaps this one lake should be renamed Three Lakes since the still existing South Lake and Gut Lake are the other two lakes which made up the original Five Lakes. And even the name Three Lakes would be a misnomer since numerically speaking the one lake existing today does not make three lakes much less five lakes!
A series of 10 or more articles of items lost to Clare County history. The thought for this series came about on reading in my deceased Aunt Harriett’s papers that the Grand Haven Christian School in the 700 block of Columbus Street, my alma mater for 1st and 2nd grades, at one time had and was displaying a piece of wood from the White House which was burned by the British in the War of 1812. By the 1950’s this historical item was lost. Where did it go? Similarly in Clare County historical items have been ‘lost’ (and some found) – an antique shotgun, one or more flags, a silver-plate communion set, a hotel register, a painting, Clare County’s first township book, a ship’s logbook, wood cuts of famous composers, a film, etc.
If, on reading one of these articles you, the reader, might know or have a solid lead as to where the missing Clare County historical item might be found, please contact the Clare County Historical Society. Thank you.
by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society