Alpena Argus-Pioneer

May, 1911 

Pioneer Settlers of Alpena County


Albert Bates was born in Wolford township, Granville County, Ontario, March 16, 1850.  He lived with his father, went to school and worked the farm until he was 20 years of age.

In Nov. 1870, he arrived in Alpena on the old steamer "ALPENA".  He worked in the lumber woods for years and on drives in the spring for various parties, and as he was an industrious worker, he was never out of employment when he was able to work.

In the course of time he bought two or three farms, and disposed of them at a fair profit until he acquired the present farm [where he died on May 30, 1911]  in Green Township, comprising the W 1/2 of the S.E. 1/4 of Sec 24, and N.E. 1/4 of the S.E. 1/4 of Sec. 24, and the east 1/2 of the N.E. 1/4  of Sec. 25.  All in T.30, N.R. 4 E. where his widow and family reside.

On Dec. 31, 1881, he married Miss Matilda Van Dusen, Deacon Spratt performing the ceremony.

When Mr. Bates first came to his present farm, he built a shanty 14x16 and shingled it with scoops.  At that time his nearest neighbor was Charles Davis, three miles distant.  The nearest trading point was Alpena, Mr. Davis having a team would bring Mr. Bates' provisions as far as his place and from there Mr. Bates would tote them home through the woods to his shanty.  In those days, the settlers by turn brought the mail from Alpena.  Mr. Bates sais: "Except  when preparing the meals, my scoop-roof-pioneer shanty was a very lonely abode."

The summer previous to his marriage, Mr. Bates built a comfortable hewed log house 18x24, and to this dwelling via the winding trail Mr. and Mrs. Bates made their wedding tour.  Outside a small clearing the forest monarchs held undisputed and steadfast purpose and possession.  Weak hearts would have turned back.  The occupants of the pioneer log cabin came to win a home.  Altho' blessed with health and strength they realized that much hardship and privation must be endured before they could look out upon broad fields of golden grain.  Faithfully they labored on, and, by years of toil  and self sacrifice, forced the forest to yield their cherished dream.

Of livestock; 3 work horses and two colts, cattle - 32 head, shorthorn and Durham, part of them throughbred.  Berkshire hogs, 12 -- 105 Shropshire sheep, fowls -- Barred Rocks.  Fruit, Apple orchard -- one and a half acres.  The trees bear well and were set out 35 years ago.  A few plums, all of which are in bearing.  The farm is well equipped with modern implements and under good cultivation.  Mr. Bates is a prosperous farmer and everything about his premises are neat and tidy.  He has a well fitted gardenspot and raises an abundance of garden truck.  The farm produces good crops of all kinds adapted to this climate.


(The sketch above of Mr. and Mrs. Bates of Green Township, Alpena County was written last May, prior to the death of Mr. Bates and mailed to the Argus-Pioneer, with the photograph from which to have a cut made to be published with the biographical sketch.  As the photo did not reach us to be published before the announcement of Mr. Bates' death, which occurred May 30, 1911, the matter was laid aside until the writer of the sketch requested us to publish it with the explanations of the cause of delay). 

Mrs. Matilda Bates died at the home of her son Sam Bates, Sept. 7, 1939 and the body was taken to Spratt Mich. for burial.  The Spratt cemetery is across the road from their old home.


Note: While I was growing up I always knew the Bates farm as Wirgau's.  The Wirgau girl went to school in my sister Kathy's class.  My dad recently told me that Myrtle Bates was the woman I always knew as Mrs. Collins.  She married Fred Collins who owned the Herron Feed store in Emerson for many years, and their son, Richard ("Dick") Collins was the Alpena D.A. for many years in the 1960's.  My dad told me that they farmed the old Bates farm for several years, but due to the changing agriculture in the area, the farm was never as successful as it had been during Mr. Bates' life.  Fred and Myrtle Collins lived in the stone house across M-65 from the intersection of Beaver Lake Road and the old Beaver Lake School. - Nelson Herron, March, 2003.


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Herron Genealogy


Note: This article was contained in the package of materials from my aunt Ardellia Herron's term paper for professor Dain's History 414 class in December, 1967.  I have attempted to put the most logical order to the material from photocopy of the original article, which was apparently on three separate pieces of paper.  Its typing and grammar are not characteristic of my aunt's work, and it appears to have been made many years before my aunt submitted the paper.  Only the part about Mrs. Bates' death appears to have been typed by my aunt.  It appears as if someone in the intervening years between 1911 and 1967 had a copy of the newspaper and typed the article out.  Personally, I have not seen my aunt's original term paper or the Argus archive. 

Note: the original paper is in the archives of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.  It may be referenced as:

Herron, Ardellia M., History of Spratt, 1967, Central Michigan University Student Term Papers, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.