Thanks to Scott Kuykendall for this piece.
IN SEARCH OF FOGO
What or who is Fogo? I know this may be an odd question and I am sure your mind is trying to process these four letters either as an acronym or an abbreviation. These four letters are actually a part of our township’s history. I found these four letters in a very obscure document while conducting research on our county.
The Martin Public Library and the Allegan County Historical Society have joined together to answer the question “What or who is Fogo?” Over the next few months, we will be making a journey around the Township of Martin searching for Fogo, and along the way, we will discover and explore the history of Martin Township since its inception in 1836.
If you already know the answer, PLEASE DO NOT POST IT! Let us not ruin the suspense of this historic journey for the rest of the history travelers. So, let us jump in our time machine and hop through time and across our township to learn about the people, places and interesting facts that make our community such a fantastic place to live today.
Our time machine brings us to September of 1865. Our journey starts right after the end of the Civil War. Martin Township’s boys are just now starting to come home from the war. We are just outside of Martin Corners (current Village of Martin) and we start walking north on the plank road (The plank road is located on what is 10th Street today.) It is a toll road and while it is being used, a charge of two cents a mile is made for a wagon or carriage drawn by two horses, and one cent a mile for every sled or sleigh drawn. If more than two horses are used, an additional charge of three-quarters of a cent per mile for each additional animal is levied. A toll of one cent per mile is made for a vehicle drawn by one horse, as well as for a horse and rider. Tolls of one-half cent a mile are levied for every score of sheep, swine or “neat cattle.” Since we are walking, we will not need to pay the toll. That is a good thing. I forgot to bring any money with me.
As we walk north on the road, we are only able to see farm land and trees for as far as the eye can see. We walk past the farm land and residences of William Russell on the left and David Wylie on the right until we get to section 19 of the township and the beautiful 180 acre farm and house built and owned by Andrew Templeton. He emigrated from Scotland and joined his cousins here in Martin Township to start his new life. His farm eventually became known as one of the finest in the Township. He built many of the structures in the township, was a leader in the Presbyterian faith and an office holder in the Republican Party. (His house still stands today.)
Since we have not seen any signs of Fogo, we depart the Templeton house and continue north on the plank road passing through sections 17 and 18 of the township. While we walk through these two sections, we pass by the Samuel Eldred farm, the Wilder farm, and the Isaac Harding and David Brown farms and then we see the 310 acre farm and residence of William F. Harden in section seven. (On what is today’s 120th Avenue.) Mr. Harden moved here from New York and he is known as one of the most successful farmers in the township. The Hon. William Harden is very active in politics serving as the Township Supervisor for twelve years and currently representing the area in the State House of Representatives.
But then we see a small building in section seven along the plank road. (North of what is today’s 120th Avenue.) Is that Fogo? Let us go look closer. No, it is not Fogo, but it is the No. 3 school located right across the plank road from the J. C. Wheeler farm. This is one of seven schoolhouses that were in the township during this time. It is fun to think how far our school system has come since John McVean taught the first school group at district No. 2 in Martin Corners in 1842.
But we need to remember why we are here. We are looking for Fogo. Let us hop back in to our time machine and transport ourselves to another time and place in the township. In our time machine we enter Section 32, Monteith Station, 1895. Will we find Fogo there?