Biography of Jacob Lemon
Kalamazoo County, MI Biographies



Kalamazoo County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

JACOB LEMON was born in Little Britain, Orange Co., N. Y., April 8, 1815, and was the fifth of eleven children. His father, Samuel Lemon, owned a small farm, which he cultivated when he was not working at his trade,—that of a stonemason. In 1831 he bought fifty acres of wild land in Chemung Co., N. Y., and moved his famlly upon it, putting them into a shingle shanty. He then started for Orange County to get his goods, when, hearing that the man-ofwar in which one of his sons had made a long voyage was lying in the harbor at New York, he took passage in a sloop for the city to see him. On the trip he was knocked overboard by a boom and drowned. His untimely death left his wife in straitened circumstances, with seven children at home, Jacob, then a lad of sixteen, being thc eldest. Thus Jacob found himself the head of a large family. But he was no straüger to toil. At the age of eight years his father had put him in the cotton-factory of Horace Caprou & Co., which was the first one built in the State, and was located on the Wallkill, in the village of Waldron. Here he worked two years. Previous to this he had attended school but a few weeks, hence his educational idvantages were very limited. After leaving the factory he worked on a farm by the month, tnrning his wages over to his parents. After the death of his father he cut the logs and built a log house on the farm, into which he moved his mother and family. The farm was all new, and Mr. Lemon had to work out by the day and month to provide the family with food, many a time carrying home on his back across the mountain the flour he had earned through the day. He remained on the farm until he had improved thirty acres, and had the family well provided for. On the 23d day of April, 1835, with but two dollars and fifty cents in his pocket, and a linen knapsack containing a suit of home-made clothes and one shirt, he, with three others, of about the same age, started on foot for Michigan. On the way they lived on crackers and bologna, paying sixpence for their lodging. At Dunkirk thcy took deckpassage for Detroit, paying one dollar and fifty cents fare. To enable himself to get through, Mr. Lemon borrowed of Robert Cassidy, the rich boy of the party (who had forty dollars), two dollars and a half. From Detroit they tramped through to Livingston County, where they stayed a few days, and then went on farther west. In Shiawassec County they halted; and hearing that there was but little to do in the new country, and having no friends, as had his companions, Mn Lemon resolved to turn his steps towards Ann Arbor, where he had been told work could be had. On parting with his friends he let them have his rifle, which they were to leave at Mr. Parshell’s, where he agreed to have the money he had borrowed by the next 4th of July; and he kept his word, though to do so he walked seventy-five miles, only to find that the boys had sold his rifle and gone back to New York. Thirty years after, Mr. Lemon mct Mr. Cassidy, and paid to him the two dollars and a half, with interest. While looking around Ann Arbor he one day met Slanson Holcomb, of whom he inquired for work. Mr. Holcomb replied that he was forty miles from home, and knew no one who wanted help but himself. A bargain was soon made, by which he agreed to work for eleven dollars per month, and to report the next Monday. For Mr. Holcomb he worked until the 1st of July, receiving twenty dollars. This was more than his wages, but Mr. Holcomb told him he had earned it, and to keep it. This was the first money he earned in Michigan. Mr. Lemon still remembers, with grateful feelings, Mr. Holcomb and his family, who treated him with great kindness. In the fill of 1835, Mr. Lemon bought of the government forty acres of land near Grass Lake, in Jackson County. This he sold the following year. In December, 1835, with a letter of recommendation from Wm. B. Thompson, of Ann Arbor, he went to Detroit, and obtained a situation with a stage-route company, and with a coach and four drove to Chicago, then a small village, and was placed on the route from Chicago to Little Calumet. Two months afterwards he was put in charge of the route from Chicago to Michigan City, and had full charge of the company’s business and property. He held the position eighteen months. In 1836 his mother came with her family to Michigan, and settled in Scio, Washtcnaw County, where they remained a short time, and then moved into Livingston County, where Mrs. Lemon died in 1854. In 1838, Mr. Lemon quit the stage-route, and with his young wife and their goods, in a horse “jumper,” moved into Lake Co., Ind. The following spring he entered, in Lake County, two hundred and forty acres of land, paying part to the man who took the deed, and who was to give him a deed when he paid the balance. Through sickness he failed to raise the money, and lost the land and what he had paid. The summer of 1840 he passed in Springfield and Rushvillc, Ill., driving stage. Of his wages he saved one hundred and twenty-five dollars, with which he came to Brady township, in Kalamazoo County, where he intended to buy land. Not finding any at once, lie loaned his money and lost all but five dollars. In the fall of 1841 he bought of the Widow Watkins her claim upon the south half of the northwest quarter of section 25 in Brady, and built a small log house on it, doing all the work himself. Into this he moved his family on the 22d of November of that year. The land coming into market in the spring of 1843, lie pre-empted it, the preemption money to be paid within one year. In May of that year, with but seven dollars in his pocket, he set out on foot for Peru, Ill., where he took deck-passage on a steamer bound for St. Louis. From St. Louis he went to Burlington, Ia., where he worked four months for ten dollars per month. This would not pay for hjs land, and the following October found him again sailing down the Mississippi, and bringing up in New Orleans nearly out of money. He soon found employment driving a public hack; drove but a week, when he was taken sick. Three weeks’ sickness found him without a cent, and in debt for his board. Three weeks was then spent in a fruitless search for work. He was about giving up in despair, when he one day met a German, who referred him to a Mr. Burgess, a Frenchman, who was proprietor of one of the finest liverybarns in the city. After a few days of anxious waiting, Mr. Burgess gave him a hack to drive, Mr. Lemon to have one-third of the net proceeds. The bnsiness proved lucrative, and the following May, with money enough to pay for his land, he returned to Michigan. The farm thus bought and paid for has been improved and added to, until Mr. Lemon now owns four hundred and thirteen acres of beautiful land; finely improved, with a large and elegant house and many and well arranged outbuildings. In politics, Mr. Lemon is a Republican, and has served on the Board of Supervisors, although living in a strong Democratic township. During the war of the Rebellion no one in Brady gave his money more freely or supported the government more cheerfully. He is a professor of religion, although not now a member of any orthodox church. He married Miss Annie Spicer, Jan. 1, 1838. She was born April 28, 1822; daughter of Win, and Lydia Spicer. She died Feb. 11, 1847. Their union was blessed with four children, viz., Almina, born Sept. 14, 1839, died Jan. 31, 1852; Lydia, Oct. 18, 1841, died July 18, 1847; Mary Jane, July 18, 1843; and Arnie, Jan. 6, 1847. Mr. Lemon married, Oct. 18, 1847, Miss Hannah Spicer (Sister of his first wife), who was born May 13, 1827. There have been born to them the following children: Nora, born Dec. 11, 1848; James N., Sept. 8, 1850, died Feb. 10, 1852; Sarah, Sept. 6, 1852; George, Sept. 29, 1854, died Aug. 8, 1857; Frank E., Nov. 1, 1856, died Feb. 1, 1866; Ida and Eva, Oct. 25, 1858,-Ida died in March, 1860; John, Oct. 3, 1860, died Sept. 7, 1869; Charles, June 3, 1863; Fred, March 20, 1865; Sanford, Feb. 19, 1867; and Frank R., March 14, 1870.

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.