Ellen Baker is characterized after a real girl who settled with her family in Springville Township back in 1863. Actually, you could refer to her as the first female teenager in the township. At thirteen years of age when she arrived, she had many adventures to relate back to her grandmother in Ohio. Below are two such characterizations, letters of real events that she faced or heard about in her young life as a pioneer young lady in the “Big Woods” of Northern Michigan.
Letter 1: Dear Grandma, I have not seen you in over a year and much has gone on in my life. You have a new grandson, Howard Aaron. He was born this past summer on July 29. Lyman carries him around on his shoulders already. You would be surprised as how big Ly has become because of our journey up here to Michigan.
After we left you, it took us about two weeks to come by way of Toledo and through Ann Arbor. When we got to Newaygo we turned North on the newly made road. From there it took us about six more days to get here. All there was for miles on miles were huge trees on both sides of the Trail. Each day about noon, we had to move over so the stage could pass us. We would wave to the people going north. Then in the afternoon the stage going South would pass us and we would wave again. Pa was down sick the whole way. Lyman took over so Ma would not have to do everything herself. He rode on the lead Ox pulling the wagon while the rest of us walked next to it. Ma took care of Pa in the wagon and also little Leafy, who is two now. She is such a good baby who does not cry at all. At night we stayed under wagon on the blanket rolls. We heard wolves howling every night, but Ly kept the rifle next to him and we never even saw a wolf. Ma said they could see us, so she made sure none of us wandered too far from the wagon. The wagon never got stuck… (click to read the rest of the letter of their journey and first year in Springville Township.)
Letter 2: Dear Grandma, It is our third year here and lots has changed for the better. A man stayed here last night when the stage going to Traverse City stopped at our new house on State Road. He will be heading back South in a few days. But he said that he is from Ohio and that he would be glad to take a letter from me and get it to you. I was so excited to be able to write you again. Dad is 100% better and he and Ly are busy clearing the field to plant more crops. This year will be corn and potatoes. The potatoes grow so big here and are so good too. Ma makes potato soup for all the travelers who come through on the stage. Grandma, they stop at our house for the night. We get to see so many people and hear so many stories. And when Pa goes to Mr. Clark’s store in Sherman he brings back the funniest tales of what is happening all around us. I wanted to share some of those with you.
Pa told us all about Mr. Durbin who lived about a half mile from the State Road. He had been away from home at work late, and when he arrived at the turn off to his house from State Road. About half way to his house a tree had blown down, the top falling directly in his path. When he went around and reached the treetop he thought he could pick his way around it and tell when his foot felt the hard path again, as everyone knows when you step on the path there is no sounds of breaking twigs or crushing leaves. Well, he did not find the path. He kept going and soon found himself back to the State Road. He found where his path turned into the woods again… (click to read the rest of the letter of happenings during the first years of their life in Springville Township.)
Letter 3: Dear Momma, I hope you and Father are settled on your new farm by now. It was heartbreaking to watch your wagon head away from the home you and Father built and where I grew up the most. I pray for you all daily. Howard sends his love and says he prays for you also.
We are doing so wonderfully and I am such a joyful wife and mother. Howard has fixed the house beyond my expectations. A new stove right in the middle of the kitchen is the most modern one I have ever seen. You would love seeing your grandson, Walter, who just turned four, come in from the cold weather and settle with the dog next to the stove when it gives off its warm wood heat. Walter already follows his Father around as much as he is allowed to. Howard has not taken him trapping just yet, as his trapping lines stretch for over a hundred miles along the river. He now has six men working for him overseeing the traps. It is amazing how many animals they have trapped. Just last week he caught four brown bears…. (click to read the rest of the letter of the early married life of Ellen Baker Mesick during her first years of married life in Springville Township.)