Read February 3, 1881

In recounting the deeds of the early settlement of my native county, and tracing from the dim and vague traditions of the past its history toward the sunlight of the present, I can not, of course, claim originality; others have labored, and I have entered into their labors.

For the records of the first settlement on and about the Huron River I am indebted to Rev. H. N. Bissell, of Mt. Clemens, and I will take the liberty to quote from him somewhat freely.

The settlement of Macomb County was made under compulsion. Messrs. Cottrell and Thorn, on the St. Clair River; Tucker, Lovelace, and Connor on the Huron or Clinton, and Mr. Leuth, of Grosse Pointe, were brought to the county captives by the Indians, and it was in their case, as in that of many others - the captives became the victors. They learned the Indian language, their habits of life and modes of warfare, and became acquainted with their weaknesses, and when difficulties between them arose, this knowledge was turned to the decided disadvantage of the Indians. Years of bondage could not quench the fires of liberty, and upon every favorable circumstance these fires burned afresh. The captives also knew of the most desirable points for settlement; and it was undoubtedly through their influence that settlers came to the wilds of Macomb.

William Tucker was probably the first white person speaking the English language ever brought into this region, who afterward settled within the county. He and a younger brother were taken captive by the Indians when he was eleven year old. The father of the boys was shot down while gathering the harvest in Virginia, and the boys were taken by the Indians, who were Chippewas, in their wanderings toward the land of the Great Lakes. In a hunting expedition to the lakes the younger brother with two Indians was lost by the upsetting of a canoe, and thus William was left to his captivity alone. At about eighteen years of age he escaped and returned to his home in Virginia, but soon returned to the wilderness, taking with him a young wife, Catherine Hazel. This was in the year 1773. He lived at the post of Detroit until the war of the revolution, when he joined the army and was employed as interpreter of the Indian language, and remained in this vocation to the close of the war. In the spring of 1784 he removed his family to the banks of the Huron River and erected his cabin on the site now occupied by the third and fourth generation of that name. A deed of land is now held by the Tucker family, signed by ten Indian chiefs, conveying to William Tucker six miles from the mouth of the Huron river on its north bank and three miles back from the stream. It bears the date of September 22d, 1780. As it was not confirmed by the British Governor of Canada, it proved valueless when this territory was wrenched from the British control.

From Report of the Pioneer Society
of the State of Michigan
Vol. IV 1881
Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co.,
State Printers
page 307

Early Macomb County Settlers
Return to Macomb County Page for further selections