Biography of Isaac Gibbs
Kalamazoo County, MI Biographies



Kalamazoo County

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Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

Among the earliest settlers in the town of Oshtemo was Isaac Gibbs, who settled in the southeast corner of the town in the spring of 1833, having entered his land the fall before. He was born in Otsego Co., N. Y., in the town of Middlefield, on the 19th day of February, A.D. 1799. His father was a farmer, and with him Isaac remained until he was twenty-one years old, working on the farm summers and attending the district school winters. When he was twenty-eight years of age he married Miss Pheobe Waldorff, who was born in the town of Romulus, Seneca Co., N. Y., May 10,1806. When Mr. Gibbs started in life he had nothing but what nature had given him, a good constitution and energy: At the time of his marriage he had accumulated a few hundred dollars, which were invested in a small piece of land. This he sold, and in company with his brother Chester bought a farm in the town of Hume, county of Allegany. The farm was on the Genesee River, and was a part of the Indian reservation, on which the Indians were still living, although they had sold to the government. The brothers rafted an old carding mill down the river to the new farm. It was soon put up, and in it the newly married couple commenced bousckeeping, though there were no doors or windows. The brothers worked early and late, and soon had a large share of the farm improved. As above set forth, Mr. Gibbs came to Michigan in 1830. He was accompanied by his brothers, John and Chester. They landed in Detroit, and, with their packs on their backs, started out to find them a home. They went to Adrian, and from thence north towards Grand Rapids. On Gun Plains they made a selection, and started for Monroe to enter their land. As they were crossing Grand Prairie they met a Mr. Taft, who told them that they could do better in Oshtemo, and referred them to Mr. Harris, a colored man, who claimed to be the first settler in Genesee Prairie. Mr. Harris left his team in the field and went with the men he hoped to have for neighbors to show them the best land then for sale. They were so well pleased that they at once selected three eighty acre lots on section 25, in Oshtemo, and thirty one in Kalamazoo. Isaac and Chester had made the selection, leaving John under a tree, he having declared he would tramp. no more. They reported to him the selection they had made, and asked him to go and see it, but he deelined, saying that if it was good enough for them it was for him. They entered the land, which was all they had means to buy, and that fall John and Chester settled on the land, leaving Isaac behind, in New York, to settle up their business. During the winter of 1832 and 1833, Chester, who was unmarried, built a log house for Isaac, into which he took his family, June 3, 1833. The honse was erected on the one hundred and sixty acres, entered by Isaac and Chester, and now owned by Isaac's son, Marcus. The brothers at once commenced to break up and improve their land, and soon fields of waving grain took the place of the unbroken prairie and the wilderness. Their place was for years the free home of new-comers who were looking for homes, and who always found the latch-string in Gibbs' mansion hanging out. The three lots first bought were added to, until the brothers, at one time, owned one thousand acres. In 1840, Isaac and Chester, who both had families, divided up their lands, which was done in a few moments, and satisfactory to both. Mr. Gibbs was an active, energetic man and popular with his neighbors, who still speak of him as an enterprising, public-spirited man, respected by all. He took an active part in politics, but would never accept an office. He died Oct. 20, 1873, mourned by a large circle of friends. There were born to Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs four children, as follows: Mary, born Oct. 5, 1828, married to Horace Rawlson, and now living in Kalamazoo Esther, July 6, 1830, married to John L. L. Findley, died Dec. 13, 1861; Harriet, Dec. 14, 1831, married to Almond Ralston, and now residing in Oshtemo village; and Marcus, Aug. 10, 1845. He married Miss Irene Fitzsimmons, and is now living in Oshtemo village.

History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of its Men and Pioneers.
Everts & Abbott., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.