Biography of William F. Dutton



Clinton County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

William F. Dutton was born in Chenango Co., N. Y., June 23, 1812, and is a true specimen of the American pioneer. A man of iron constitution, with nerves and sinews of steel, he never knew the meaning of the words fatigue" and "fail." With him to will was to do. Before his never tiring arm the forests disappeared from farm after farm, until but few men can say they have cleared as much land as he. His father and mother, Robert and Sarah (Fowler) Button, were early settlers in Chenango County, having settled on their farm when it was entirely new. When William was fifteen years old he engaged with the Merehant line as a driver on the Erie Canal. Until he was twenty two we find him each summer on the canal in the different roles of driver, deck-hand, steersman, and captain, while in the winter he worked in the lumber-woods of Steuben County getting out ship timber.

On the 18th day of August, 1836, he was joined in marriage to Miss Mary Young, daughter of Joseph and Ellen (Pray) Young, who was born Sept. 5, 1819. Her parents were Massachusetts people and emigrated to Cayuga Co., N. Y., when that county was new, and where for years her father was a drover. He died in Brutus township, same county. In August, 1836, Mr. and Mrs. Button started for Michigan, going to Buffalo, where they shipped themselves and team for Toledo, from whence they drove to Cass County, following the Chicago road. For a time he worked land on shares on Prairie Ronde. Prior to this Mr. Button had been to Michigan and had made a pedestrian trip over a good deal of the southern part of the State. He walked from Detroit to White Pigeon in three days; thence to Kalamazoo, where he worked on the first bridge across the Kalamazoo River; thence by Indian trail and wagon-road to Grand Rapids, making sixty-five miles in one day. Near the Rapids he entered one hundred and twenty acres of land, which he sold without going on to it.

After working land in Cass County three years he came to Westphalia and bought one hundred and sixty acres of wild land, to which there was no road of any description, and on which he in ten days built a log house, into which they moved when there were no doors or windows, and but a portion being floored. Their fire was built against the logs in one corner of the room, the smoke escaping through a hole in the roof. This was their first home, and they have never enjoyed life better than in those days. On this farm they remained six years, clearing forty acres, setting out an orchard, and putting up a frame barn. They then traded for one hundred and sixty acres of wild land in Cass County. They reached the new farm with but five dollars in money, and a house to build and winter before them. But nothing ever daunted Mr. Dutton, and we soon find him with a comfortable log house, a frame barn, young orchard, and forty acres cleared. After four years spent on the Cass County farm, suffering repeated attacks of the ague, he again sold out, and in the township of Riley, Clinton Co., he bought one hundred and sixty acres of wild land, which under his labor and management became one of the fine farms of Clinton County, with fine buildings, orchards, and highly cultivated fields.

In 1874 he again sold out and then came to Watertown, and bought one hundred and fifty five acres of land, mostly cleared, and on which he has built fine buildings, and where he intends to spend the remainder of his days, believing that he has done his share as a pioneer.

In politics Mr. Button is an ardent Republican; was- one term supervisor in Westphalia, and has held other minor offices.

Their children are as follows: Ella N., born Jan. 8, 1837; deceased. Harriet, born Dec. 31, 1838; married to George Green, and now living near Detroit. Ann Eliza, born Oct. 23, 1842. William Abner, born June 22, 1845; enlisted in Company B, Eighth Michigan Infantry, and killed June 2, 1864, at Cold Harbor, falling thus early in life a sacrifice upon the altar of his country's liberty. Jane, born May 2, 1849; died Aug. 18,, 1852.

History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Their Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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