Page images
PDF
EPUB

name was mentioned by friends and the press for one of the new judgeships, but he refrained from resorting to the prevailing methods of securing office. Mr. Patterson was a member of the Michigan Bar Association and the Calhoun County Bar Association of which he was president for several years.

He was an enthusiastic member of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society since 1886 and contributed many valuable articles to its volumes. He spent several years on the paper “Marshall Men and Measures in State and National History” which was delivered before the Society in January 1909. In this paper he gives Isaac E. Crary the credit of having introduced at the first Constitutional Convention the three great measures which produced the school system which we have and of having expanded and perfected this system in 1850 until it was able to provide for the free school system of today. He places John D. Pierce, to whom many historians have given the credit of the system, after Crary, giving him the place of organizer of the system. According to Mr. Patterson, Marshall gave the Fugitive Slave law its deathblow and hastened the Civil War. The affair of Crosswhite a fugitive slave from Kentucky, who resisted the efforts of his former owner to detain him, the popular sentiment which it aroused and the open demonstrations of the citizens of Marshall in 1847 resulted in Kentucky drawing up resolutions and presenting them to Congress demanding the Fugitive Slave law of 1850. The strengthening of this law aroused more sympathy for the oppressed and lead to the organization of a new National party opposed to slavery. The Republican party Under the Oaks at Jackson, Mich., showed much spirit and took a prominent part in this new movement.

Mr. Patterson not only contributed from his pen to the Pioneer Society but was successful in obtaining from Mrs. Belona Crary Frink, former widow of Isaac E. Crary, the oil portrait of that gentleman, and presented it to the Society. Mr. Patterson was highly respected by all and his influence was widespread. He left a widow and two sons, Rev. George Leo Patterson and Dr. Frank Patterson.

THEODORE E. POTTER

BY REV. WILLIAM PUTNAM

Theodore E. Potter died at his home in Lansing, October 25th, 1910, aged 78 years, 8 months.

Probably most of you have known him as a member of this Society. I feel it a great honor to tell you of a long, active, busy, useful and honored life like his. My purpose is simply to present an outline from his birth to the time of his death. He was born in Saline, Washte. naw county, and with his father and his family he came to Eaton County when twelve years of age. His father settled on a farm where Potterville is now located, and which is named after him. When Theodore was fourteen his father died and his portion of parental duty was to aid in the sustenance of the family. This was before Lansing was located, and with his ox-team he helped to bring the material for many of the first buildings in Lansing.

At twenty he left his home and with others went with his ox-team and entered the western wilderness in search of gold in California. They were six months in crossing the plains. That journey was intensely full of tragic incidents and dangers of the desert, wild animals and wilder Indians. After reaching Sacramento he went to the gold fields where he remained five years. This was in 1852. In 1857 he returned to Michigan and remained one or two years. But inducements were strong in Minnesota where lands were just opening up for settlement. On reaching there he almost immediately engaged in conflict with the Indians. The Spirit Lake Settlement massacre had just taken place but he was there to see twenty of the Indians hanged. For three years he was constantly engaged in fighting and in a siege of one of the towns he organized a company of mounted men and drove away the Indians. He constantly went on expeditions against them either as first lieutenant or captain, and finally in command of the mounted men, and at last subdued the Indians and expelled them from the State. A large number of the men requested him to raise a company of men for the Civil War. It took him just four days to recruit the number, take command and join the regiment that was sent to Tennessee, where he was on duty until peace was declared. This was the 11th Minnesota regiment. At the close of the Civil War he returned home for the purpose of improving the farm, two miles out of Garden City, Minnesota. But this was the year of the grasshoppers and the crops were destroyed. Dis

Read at annual meeting, June, 1911.

couraged, Mr. Potter brought the family back to Potterville, where they remained until 1891 coming then to Lansing.

One incident which happened after he came to Michigan must not pass unnoticed. At the time he went to Minnesota to dispose of his home and farm, desperadoes were at work in the country-the James boys and the three Young boys together with a guide. This guide went to Mr. Potter's farm pretending to buy up grasshopper infected farms. Upon leaving he said to Mr. Potter, “You will hear from us again." Mr. Potter did, and they also heard from Mr. Potter. They were followed over the country and the gang scattered, one part going one way and the other part another. Mr. Potter headed a company of men after the James boys but they had crossed the Missouri river so they returned and joined the other band of men. They followed the other gang of desperadoes and wounded three, then captured them.

Mr. Potter returned to Michigan in 1891. In 1901 he was elected commander of the Grand Army post in Lansing. We were very intimate the last ten years of his life. Nine years ago an incident took place that I must record. Mr. Potter was deeply interested in the production of his life history, not theoretically but practically. He had written in pencil short notes of his life and many stirring events, these he brought to me for completion under his supervision. This was continued at intervals for three years, and in writing that autobiography in which I had part would probably fill three hundred ordinary pages and type of book. These incidents took place all after the bank robber incident.

He was very devoted to the Grand Army of the Republic. He was intensely loyal and patriotic and interested especially in the increase of the Grand Army of the Republic in this city. By his personal efforts he succeeded in adding by reinstatement nearly 200 of our old soldiers. He received the highest commendation from Commander Vincent, as the most active and successful recruiter in the United States. He publicly made this statement and honored him very highly.

From Mr. Potter's writings I learned three predominent characteristics; one, his remarkable memory. All of his life, incidents connected with it, places, dates, persons, he recalled to memory. He said he had never written a dairy or memorandum of any ind. It astonished me to know that one could go through so much and remember everything.

The second characteristic, I should say, was his tenacity of purpose. He never gave up anything and saw that it was executed. I never saw him have a failure, in matters of his patriotic endeavors. For years he was a voluntary instructor in patriotism for the State.

He spent time and no small amount of money to enlist the youth of the State in patriotic matters such as giving prizes for the best essays on patriotie subjects by pupils of the public schools.

The third characteristic I think, was his temperament, his always calm, always friendly, always ready to meet a friend, always winning the respect and regard of all who knew him. He never showed the slightest indignation, ill-will, bad temper and never hatred of those who did not agree with him. He would argue his point calmly and deliberately and usually at the close take the person by the hand.

He was governed by two rules—“If you have anything good to say about anyone say it at once, if anything bad wait twenty-four hours and you will be glad that you have not said it”; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Mr. Potter was a member of the Military Order of Loyal Legion of the United States, which met in their Memorial Hall at Detroit and pronounced a eulogy on the brave veteran. Captain Potter was married in 1858 to Miss De Graff of Battle Creek, Michigan and their five children were born to them in their Garden City home, and thirteen grandchildren survive him. The eulogy recounts his brave and efficient military service and pays a glowing tribute to his manly character.

On the morning of the twenty-fourth of October, 1910, he telephoned me to come to his office. I spent all the morning making plans for future work for maintaining the interests of the Grand Army of the Republic throughout the State. We discussed and talked until noon. I learned afterwards that he went home to dinner, and then went to the office but not feeling well, again returned home. He said to his family, “I am not feeling well, I will lie down; I shall soon be better.” and would not have a doctor. He lay down on the couch and simply went to sleep, the sleep without an awakening until the last Resurrection Day.

DR. CARL LUDWIG ROMINGER

BY DR. A. C. LANE

Dr. Carl Ludwig Rominger, who died April 27th, 1907, at Ann Arbor, had been State geologist of Michigan for a longer time than any other. He was born at Schnaitheim, on the Brenz River, Würtemburg, December 31, 1820, and was the son of Ludwig and Johanna Dorothea (Hoecklin). He worked and studied four years in a drug store, and in the fall of 1839 went to the University of Tubingen where he received his degree as M. D. in 1842. While Dr. Rominger was in the university he obtained two prizes, one for a paper on the circulation of sap in plants, the second (1845) for a map of the neighborhood of Tübingen. The motto he chose in competition for the latter was as follows: "Only through detailed investigation does it become possible to establish general laws.” This is a characteristic motto which might be applied to all his scientific work, which is characterized by careful and thorough investigation of details. The report of the faculty upon his work praised its detailed and exhaustive character, its thorough and assured mastery of even the most difficult points. The minor criticism they make that the paper was so weighed down with instructive observations that a clearer picture of the whole was not given, might also perhaps be applied to his later work. In the award of the prize his home is given as Waiblingen, a considerable town not far from Stuttgart.

From 1815-1818 he had a grant of 400 gulden yearly for geological travels and thus he had a chance to see Germany, Bohemia, the Tyrol, Switzerland and the northern part of France and Belgium, and published some short notes of his observations in the (Leonhard's) Geological Year Book.

He was assistant in the chemical laboratory under C. Greulin. About this time the movement for freeing Germany, in which Karl Schurz took so prominent a part, was agitating the country. Dr. Rominger sympathized with the young fellows and (as he told me) frankly expressed it to the Minister of the Interior who agreed to his proposition to continue his travel stipend another year, with the understanding that he would go to America and not come back. This interruption to his geological studies was regretted afterwards by Dr. Rominger, for he came to this country not quite fully equipped, in his own estimation, to continue in the geological line, and moreover he landed in New York, after a fifty days trip in a sailing vessel from Bremen, with practically no knowledge of English, so that he could neither understand nor be understood. To the day of his death German was his mother tongue. In consequence he had to fall back on his profession as a physician, practicing among the German settlers.

He had geologized up the Hudson and across to Buffalo, and finally found himself at Cincinnati where the collection for paleontologists is famous. Here he lived for some months practicing his profession, but really more interested always in geology and especially in fossils, and quite poor. The temptation to dabble in Cincinnati mud and clay for fossils was too much for the good of his practice even in days when antisepsis was not the medical fad. He did not stay many months but went to Chillicothe where he remained eleven years.

By 1854 he had got ahead enough to marry, at Tübingen (Nov. 30th) Frederica Mayer, by whom he had a son, Dr. Louis Rominger of Louisville, Ky., and two daughters, Louise and Marie. In 1860 he changed his residence to Ann Arbor and there obtained a much better income

« PreviousContinue »