|Birth: ||Dec. 22, 1808|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Dec. 11, 1888|
William R. Churchill was born at LeRoy, New York, December 22, 1808, and died at Portland, Mich., December 11, 1888, being nearly 80 years of age. In his youth he had only the advantages of a common school education, but he improved them to his utmost ability. He was brought up as a farmer, and when Michigan was admitted as a State into the Union Mr. Churchill joined the tide of emigrants from the old States and came to Michigan in the spring of 1837. His first stopping place was at Jackson, for a short time only, and then packing his household goods in a canoe, with his little family came down Grand river to Portland, arriving here during the early fall of that year. At that time, no roads had yet been opened in this part of the State. The numerous Indian trails were sufficient for persons on horseback, but the Grand and Looking-glass rivers were the principal highways for the transportation of personal property. On his arrival here he secured 160 acres of land on section two of what is now Danby. As settlers were constantly moving in, he opened a small store in the embryo village of Portland, and was so successful that from time to time it was necessary to enlarge his accommodations until he became known at Detroit and New York as one of the most reliable merchants in this portion of the State. His capital at the beginning was quite limited, but the business principles by which he was governed, and from which he never deviated, increased his popularity and insured a degree of success not usually enjoyed by men under more favorable circumstances. He caused to be erected several substantial buildings, including the present residence of his family, which at the distance of a quarter of a century has no superior in the village. He was eminently a self-made man, and had that confidence in himself that imparted courage and enterprise which insured success. In this respect, his example is worthy of emulation by all who knew him. In politics he was a democrat, and tenacious of his opinions; but he cheerfully accorded to others of a different school that freedom of opinion which he claimed for himself. In religious faith he was a Presbyterian; but when that church in Portland was merged in the Congregational church, he cast in his lot with others, and remained in that communion until his death. For about twenty of the last years of his life his health steadily declined, causing him to retire from business cares, and almost imperceptibly he glided down the declivity of life and peacefully passed away.
He was a pleasant companion, ever ready to speak of the experiences of pioneer times, the privations of which he shared in common with others in the settlement of this village. The most prominent points of his character were the strength of an iron will, connected with energy and untiring industry, and all governed by adherence to principles of honor and strict integrity. He left a widow and three children to enjoy the fortune acquired while in the strength of mature manhood.
Source: History of Ionia County, Michigan: her people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens, and genealogical records of many of the old families. By Elam E. Branch; Published by B.F. Bowen & Co., 1916.
Source 1880 U.S. Census Portland, Michigan. The Churchill's resided at 113 Bridge St. Portland, Michigan.
Obituary published in the Portland Observer, Dec. 19 1888:
Last week we made a brief mention of the death of our fellow townsman, Wm. R. Churchill, but for want of time, it was then impossible to give an extended obituary:
William Rumsey Churchill was born in Batavia, N.Y., December 22, 1808, so that he would have been 80 years of age had he lived till the 22d inst.
In the spring of 1837 he came to Jackson, with his wife and one child (now Mrs. Chas. Maynard) where they resided but a short time, in the summer of that same year
coming to Portland, where he had ever since resided. The journey from Jackson to Portland was made by way of Grand river in a canoe, purchased of the Indians.
Soon after coming to Portland Mr. Churchill purchased a farm near Portland, but did not do much farming, but soon after opened a store and traded with the Indians and the few white people who were in here.
Philo Bouge had the first store here and Mr. Churchill’s was the second one. He continued in business for many years, and accumulated quite a competency for those days.
Mr. Churchill had been in poor health for many years previous to his death, and while it was expected at any time, when death did come it was so sudden that he
died while sitting in his easy chair.
Mr. Churchill was a member of the old Presbyterian church of Portland; but when the church consolidated with the Congregational church he became a member of that society and continued such up to the time of his death.
Mr. Churchill had very few intimate friends, but he was a sociable man in his home, a warm friend, a kind and indulgent father and loving husband.
The funeral services were held at his late residence on Thursday afternoon last, the house being filled with relatives of the family, many old residents
being present. The services were conducted by the Rev. Keyes, assisted by the Rev. Hallenbeck. Mr. Churchill leaves a wife and four children – Mrs. C. H. Maynard, J. H. Churchill, and Mrs. Frank Sprout of Portland, and Mrs. Carrie Woolworth of Indianapolis.
The older settlers of this vicinity are rapidly passing to their last home and it is a matter of but a few years when those who cut out homes in the dense forests about Portland will all be numbered with the dead.
Josiah Churchill (1784 - 1853)
Charlotte Rumsey Churchill (1787 - 1826)
Frances Fidelia Bushnell Churchill (1816 - 1846)
Anna Knox Churchill (1829 - 1901)
Emily Maria Churchill (1837 - 1853)*
Adalaide Caroline Churchill (1843 - 1862)*
James Henry Churchill (1844 - 1916)*
Helen Churchill (1850 - 1853)*
Harriette Anna Churchill (1852 - 1853)*
Anna Florence Churchill (1854 - 1859)*
William Rumsey Churchill (1860 - 1861)*
Emma May Churchill Sprout (1863 - 1923)*
William Rumsey Churchill (1808 - 1888)
James M. Churchill (1810 - 1885)*
Charlotte Rumsey Churchill VanEps (1813 - 1848)*
Josiah Churchill (1818 - 1818)*
Albert Churchill (1842 - 1913)**
Plot: E 89 OS
Created by: Marilynn Johnson
Record added: Apr 07, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35624336