When I began working at the museum my perception of Almont’s earliest pioneers was that they were rugged individualists who came to the wilderness to establish their homesteads without the help of family or friends. I could not have been more wrong.
Almont’s first settler, James Deneen, came in 1828. He was followed to the Almont/Imlay City area by three brothers and two sisters with their husband in the next twelve years. One of his brothers-in-law, William Boles, had two brothers follow him to Almont.
The Bristol brothers, Oliver and Bezaleel, came in 1830 but also had a brother who came to Macomb County.
Almont’s third settler, Jonathan Sleeper, has a complicated story. His sister Sophia and her husband, Elijah Sanborn, settled in Oakland County—probably Addison Township—in 1824. In 1826, Jonathan’s father, stepmother, and half-brother, David, moved to Washington Township in Macomb County. In early June 1830, Elijah Sanborn bought property in Almont Township but he did not move to Almont until the following year. On June 30 that year, Jonathan’s cousins, Benjamin Taggart and David Ingalls, also bought property in Almont. Like their cousin, Elijah Sanborn, they did not immediately move to Almont. Jonathan came in November 1830.
In 1832, Jonathan Sleeper’s brother-in-law, John Walden, came to Almont. Unfortunately, he was the first white person to die in Lapeer County. About 1835, Walden’s brother-in-law, Calvin S. Clark, and three of his sons moved to Berlin Township, St. Clair County. Calvin’s sons would have 21 children who grew up in Almont, Dryden and Imlay City.
Jonathan Sleeper’s brother Benjamin came to Almont in 1834, the same year that his father, stepmother and half-brother moved from Washington to Almont.
Elisha Webster came to the Romeo area about 1826 with his brothers, Noah and Milton, and a sister. He bought property in Almont in 1829, built his home in 1831 and sawmill in 1834. He moved to Almont in late 1832 or early 1833.
John Hopkin came directly to Almont from Scotland in 1833. He came because his wife’s sister, Agnes Hunter McKay, came with her husband, William McKay (McKay Road), to northern Bruce Township—the Scotch Settlement area about 1828.
Truman Bishop bought property in Bruce Township on the south side of Bordman Road in 1833 and came to Almont in 1836. His brother, Jesse, came to central Macomb County in 1832. When Truman came to the property on Bordman Road, two other brothers, Luman and Lyman, settled near Jesse.
In 1834, six Hough brothers and cousins came to Almont. Four more Hough families came within the next six years and settled in and around Almont.
William Allen came from Wales, New York in 1822 to Washington. In 1827, he and his son helped cut the road to Almont. His brothers-in-law, Samuel Johnson (1834) and Hiram Hoyt (1835), followed him and settled in Almont.
In the mid to late 1830s, multiple families of Wilcoxes, Churchills, and Goetchius (Gutchess) came to Almont.
David Ingalls might be the most connected person to come to Almont. He bought his property in 1830 and came in 1831 to build a cabin, outbuildings, and clear about six acres of land. He didn’t move here from New York until 1836. David’s wife was Betsey Taggart who was probably Benjamin Taggart’s sister. His mother was Ruth Sleeper, who was Jonathan Sleeper’s aunt. His grandmother was a Sanborn related to Elijah Sanborn. His son married a Hough and his daughters married Bristols.
David Cochrane with his ten children (several of them married adults) came from Scotland to Michigan in 1839 and then to Almont in 1841.
Six Mair brothers came from Scotland —three in 1841, two in 1848 and the youngest about 1854.
Agness Wallace Stephens and her younger brother, William Wallace, came to the Metamora area about 1845. William moved to the farm on Hough Road about 1850.
I have done very little research on the Scotch Settlement area located southeast of Almont. However, on several occasions I have seen the names of Almont pioneer families as the maiden names of other pioneer’s grandmothers in Scotland. How or if these people are related to our earliest settlers is still to be determined.
The above listing is by no means complete but it does indicate that Almont started with many established family relationships. From 1860 to 1950, Almont’s population was constant at 2,000 people, which was typical of rural farm communities. If you did not inherit the farm or marry someone who did inherit a farm, you left the community. As a result through marriages, the pioneer families became more and more interconnected. So, in 1949, when my mother told my father to “not say anything about anyone because they are all related,” she was right.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s Homecoming book, “Remembrances of Almont 2020”can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.