Norton Pomeroy and Jane Chipman
Kalamazoo County Pioneers
Favorable reports about the climate and resources in Michigan, along with low prices for cash payments, enticed many eastern families to buy land in Kalamazoo County. Two families that saw this as the way to a better life were Jabez Pomeroy of Lockport, New York and Hiram Boardman Chipman of Sunderland, Vermont. While Pomeroy used land purchases for speculation and profit, it was his son, Norton, who saw it as the beginning for his adult life. Chipman also saw value in the move to improve his family’s prospects, and his daughter Jane found that in her marriage to Norton Pomeroy.
Norton Pomeroy was born in 1823 in Lockport, New York. He grew up with his seven siblings working on the family farm and attending school. Pomeroy’s parents valued education. They saw that each of their children received an education beyond the schoolhouse by afterwards attending a teacher training college. Pomeroy taught, worked on the family farm, and enjoyed playing the fiddle at social gatherings. In 1845, after years of work to pay his way to Michigan, the 22-year-old Pomeroy prepared to move. His father, Jabez, had bought land in Kalamazoo’s Pavilion Township at a government sale in 1836 which he gave to his son. Pomeroy built a small house, started to clear the land, and began to farm in Sections 20 and 21. Described as an amiable person, Pomeroy established friendly relations with his neighbors. For a few years, Pomeroy returned to Lockport each fall to help his family with the harvest. The most common route taken to Michigan from Lockport was to take the Erie Canal to Buffalo, from there a steam to Detroit, then a carriage along what is today I-94. The trip, one way, averaged no more than seven days and cost about three dollars. When Pomeroy went back east, a neighbor, Italy Foster, was hired to harvest Pomeroy’s fall wheat and sell it at the mill. Pomeroy and Foster often helped each other with financial loans.
Between 1849-1853, Pomeroy sought to purchase more land. He added an adjoining 80 acres in Section 21 and bought an 80-acre tract of land in Section 22. During the time when he was buying land, Pomeroy did some teaching. Two letters asked him about teaching: his sister Sarah asks, in 1850, if he had “any scholars in grammar” and, regarding discipline, if he ever had to apply “Mr. Beech or Oak”; his cousin Cynthia asked in a letter from c. 1852, about his scholars and if he had closed his school. Money was needed to purchase land, and in the spring of 1851, help him prepare for married life with Jane Chipman. By 1853, this included the building of a new house and the couple’s first of eight children.
In 1866, Pomeroy retired and bought land closer to town in Sections 26, 27, and 35 of Kalamazoo Township. His original Pavilion farm was given to his second son Wardell who lived and worked the farm until around 1909. It was during the time between 1853 into 1865 that Norton performed many civic duties: township clerk 1853-1855, 1857-1862; assessor 1850; school inspector 1865; constable 1863, 1864. Living closer to town, Pomeroy began an association with the First Presbyterian Church. He was well known and respected in the community. A notice in an unnamed school publication, written in 1858, told of his generosity to a school, to which he gave some much needed materials.
Sadly, in 1870, his wife Jane died and was the first of the Pomerys to be buried in Mountain Home Cemetery. With young children to raise, Pomeroy did remarry. In 1872, he returned to Lockport to marry Mary E. (Byrne) Pomeroy, the widow of his brother Lewis Sherrill. Along with the two sons Mary already had, the couple added three more children of their own to the family. Family and church were how Pomeroy occupied his final years. For a long time, he had suffered from asthma, but in 1892 an attack of the “grip” weakened him. From the latter illness his strength steadily declined. He died on July 20, 1893. The farm was held by his wife, but worked by her sons; first Harry, then after his death, by Llewellyn, and finally by Arthur. Mary Pomeroy continued to live at the family home on Portage Rd. with her children until her death in 1925.
Norton Pomeroy’s Pavilion farm was sold in pieces after Wardell retired from farming sometime after 1909. As for the family’s second home, Norton stipulated in his will that upon the death of his wife, all his natural children and grandchildren were to receive a 1/10th share of land and $500. Not one of the children or grandchildren kept their land. Some was sold to individuals, but the greatest share was sold to the city. In 1928 the city platted two new suburban housing developments from that land; Pomeroy Park and Homecrest. The city also named one of the streets off Lovers Lane, just past the junction with Portage Road, Pomeroy Street.
Jane Chipman and Her Family
Jane Chipman was born in 1827 in Arlington, Vermont. While a young child, her father struggled to farm in soil weakened from excessive use. The family eventually moved from Arlington to Sunderland, Vermont to what they hoped would be better land and be closer to family. While still quite young, Jane went to live with an aunt and uncle in nearby Pownal where she worked in their seasonal hotel and store. The poor soil and soaring prices caused by the economic collapse of the 1830s encouraged her father, Hiram Boardman Chipman, to purchase land in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The Chipmans arrived in Kalamazoo probably late in March 1837. A letter the family received from a relative in mid-June told them of getting their letter sent on the 5th of April. To travel so quickly and early in the year, they must have used the Erie Canal and the steamer from Buffalo to Detroit. The whole journey could not have taken more than four weeks. The visit of a relative, who visited the family in 1841, wrote a letter that described the journey in reverse, telling the number of days and cost.
Based on a letter received in December 1838, the location of their farm was “Section 36 range 10 west and 3 south.” Beaver Creek flowed through the southern part of their land and a mill was built alongside the river. It was the mill that nearly crippled the family’s livelihood. Two letters told of a fever, common in Michigan, that made the family ill during the fall and winter of 1837. A nephew wrote in January 1838 that the illness was probably caused by the mill dam flooding the wooded area nearby and said the trees needed to be cleared. While other family members recovered, Hiram Chipman did not and died in September 1838.
Hiram’s wife Sally was left with five children, the last born shortly before Hiram’s death. She contacted family members back east for advice. Her husband’s brother, Azel, told her to keep the farm and keep the family together. A sister and brother-in-law, who owned the business where Jane had worked, wanted Jane to come and live with them. Sally did keep the farm and while the younger daughter, Adaline, wanted to go back east, Jane did not. Instead, she stayed in Pavilion and finished school and eventually, became a teacher. Her first teaching position was in the summer of 1841. Schools were not organized and there were few at that time, so it is possible through teaching that Jane met her future husband, Norton Pomeroy.
With the help of Sally’s brother, James Doyle, the Chipman family held on to their land. Over the years, Sally made a close friend of Richard Lawrence who lived in Climax Township. They married in 1847. Two years later, Sally, 45-46 years old, gave birth to a son. Lawrence had died sometime before the birth, and the child was named Hiram D. Chipman. Within a year, Sally died, and Jane became the head of the family. With help from their uncle, James Doyle, Jane ran the household and her oldest brother, Azel, took over the farm. After Jane married Pomeroy, in 1851, Adaline and Hiram D. came to live with them while the younger siblings went to live with other brothers. Burial for many of the family was in the cemeteries in Pavilion Township. Hiram Boardman and Sally were buried in McKain Cemetery and Azel in Boughton Cemetery.
Jane Chipman’s family’s land was sold in 1909. An advertisement was placed in the Kalamazoo Gazette for the sale of the “A. N. Chipman Farm.” Jane’s son, Wardell, was the executor of his uncle Azel’s estate and finalized the sale of the farm. There is a piece of land in Kalamazoo County that has kept the Chipman name. Milon Chipman, another of Jane’s brothers, had a great-grandson, John E. Chipman, who purchased 228 acres of land in Comstock Township, which was named the Chipman Preserve. Today it still holds that name but is held by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.
The Pomeroy Children, born to Jane:
- b. May 11, 1853, d. November 17, 1889
1 married Charles Oscar Cobb, October 18, 1877 (b. 1855, d. December 9, 1881) children: Sharley, b. April 1, 1882, d. March 24, 1951
2 married Hiram L. Lewis, February 13, 1884 (b. 1856, d. ?)
children: Norton Pomeroy, b. April 13, 1885, d. February 27, 1962
- b. December 14, 1855; died February 4, 1937
married Alice S. Woodard, October 26, 1881 (b. November 12, 1857, d. November 30, 1933) 1883: salesman for Smith and Woodard Windmill Co.
1889 became Smith and Pomeroy Windmill Co.
children: Harold Woodard, b. April 15, 1892, d. January 21, 1952
- June 27, 1857, d. June 15, 1924
married Eudora R. Sipley, November 28, 1883 (b. 1863, d. December 1937)
farmed his father’s original land into 1909, retired and moved into a house in town
1912: lived at 408 Vine St., salesman for the Kent Morris Co.
children: Percy Wardell, b. April 19, 1886, d. July 7, 1940
- b. March 20, 1859, d. February 6, 1953
1900-1910: lived and worked in Chicago, IL, church work
1912: secretary for the Kalamazoo Anti-Tuberculosis Society
1920-1953: lived in Pasadena, CA
- b. January 10, 1861, d. March 15, 1965
married Fred Harold Milham, October 28, 1885 (b. September 8, 1858, d. October 21, 1942)
1901: Fred became a clerk at Bryant Paper Co.,
1921: moved into town, 408 W. Vine St.
children: Gertrude Ethel, b. June 29, 1897, d. March 12, 1995
Elbert Gray, b. August 28, 1893, d. November 29, 1950
Donald Pomeroy, b. December 13, 1894, d. August 11, 1918
Philip Carol, b. June 22, 1896, d. August 7, 1985
- October 15, 1862, d. May 9, 1927
married Robert Eli Miham, October 4, 1888 (b. 1854, d. February 21, 1931)
1919: moved closer to town, 917 Egleston Ave.
children: Robert Lester, b. May 3, 1891, d. February 25, 1971
Clinton Pomeroy, b. January 20, 1893, d. 1961
- b. October 14, 1864, d. July 16, 1960
married Samuel Scott Buckley, November 2, 1893 (b. April 9, 1869, d. August 21, 1953)
briefly lived in Kalamazoo, then moved to Syracuse, New York
children: Orphia Louise, b. February 13, 1895, d. November 5, 1983
Kenneth Pomeroy, b. August 28, 1896, d, September 27, 1987
- b. December 6, 1866, d. September 23, 1867
Pomeroy Children born to Mary: Sons of Lewis Sherrill
- b. April 30, 1865, d. January 27, 1915
farmed Norton’s estate after his death
remains were shipped to Lockport for burial near his father
- b. July 9, 1867, d. September 3, 1931
attended University of Michigan, earned a degree in engineering
Children of Norton and Mary:
- b. December 12, 1872, d. August 6, 1873
- b. February 24, 1874, d. April 17, 1961
1 married Mary E. Thackery, October 29, 1909 (b. June 29, 1842, d. February 9, 1925)
lived in Cooper Twp.
children: Mary Thackery, b. September 9, 1912, d. April 30, 1974
2 married Letitia M. Steelman, October 4, 1928 (b. October 25, 1881, d. June 30, 1956)
- b. November 10, 1876, December 13, 1968
attended University of Michigan, earned her teaching credentials
1902-1910: taught in the Kalamazoo area
1911: assistant librarian at Western State Normal School
married Stephen Prentis Cobb, October 17, 1911 (b. July 7, 1878, d. October 14, 1960)
children: Stephen Prentis Cobb, Jr., b. December 29, 1918, d. December 18, 2015)
- b. November 30, 1880, September 1927
1898: graduated from Kalamazoo High School
attended Kalamazoo College for teaching credentials
1906-1927: taught at Kalamazoo High School
The Children of Hiram Boardman and Sally Doyle Chipman
- b. October 14, 1827, d. February 11, 1870
married Norton Pomeroy spring of 1851
children: see Norton Pomeroy above
- b. December 3, 1830, d. April 27, 1903
1840-1847: left Kalamazoo to live back east 1840-1847
married Winfield S. Sutherland, April 17, 1860 (b. April 28, 1815, d. September 14, 1886)
lived in Kalamazoo until 1864, then moved to Iowa and later, South Dakota
children: Wells Smith Sutherland, b. April 29, 1861, d. June 2, 1928
Fred D. Sutherland, born July 4, 1864, died 1942
- b. November 21, 1831, d. September 29, 1908
married Asenath Isaacs, March 31, 1860 (b. February 11, 1834, d. August 6,1918)
lived on the family farm until his death
- b. October 25, 1833, d. January 3, 1915
1860 working in Kansas as a clerk for National Geological Survey
married Emma Halstead Andruss, 1877 (b. March 1835, d. April 19, 1901)
- b. July 20, 1836, d. June 30, 1914
married Ervilla Hallock, June 18, 1859 (b. May 27, 1836, d. January 14, 1920)
moved to Calhoun Count, horse breeder
children: Deo Clifton, born March 20, 1860, d. April 11, 1929
born January 4, 1838, d. April 17, 1891
married Bell Mina Yates, c. 1863 (b. January 24, 1834, d. January 7, 1908)
moved to Tekonsha, Calhoun County, MI to farm
children: Deforest E., born September 19, 1864, d. ?
Harry D., born April 29, 1866, d. February 2, 1936
Clarence W., born August 18, 1867, d. April 28, 1931
Ray A., born November 27, 1868, d. 1932
Jennie E., born 1872, d. December 16, 1959
Child of Sally and Richard Lawrence:
born December 6, 1849, d. January 22, 1890
married: Agnes Graham (b. 10-1-1848, d. 2-19-1933) April 10, 1879
farmed land in Climax, Twp.
children: George A., born 1-29-1880, d. 3-8-1948
Article written by Brent Coates, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, January 2023