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D. G. Colwell

Every enterprise for the upbuilding of Fenton, finds an earnest helper and promoter in the Hon. Mr. Colwell, whose excellent judgment and business capacity have made him prominent, and given him an influence among his fellow-citizens which is of great value. He has shown his faith in the future of Fenton by investing largely in various lines of business here, and his efforts have ever been for the promotion of its true prosperity. He was born in Seneca, Ontario County, N. Y., March 14, 1825, and his parents, David and Hannah A (Gilbert) Colwell, were both natives of New York. The father was a manufacturer of woolen goods who came to Michigan in 1838, and spent the remainder of his days in Livingston County. He was born January 21, 1800, and died May 25, 1885.

On the 2d of January, 1840, the log house which he had built upon coming here was destroyed by fire, and with it almost everything he possessed, and he and his family were obliged to live in a dilapidated shanty in the woods in the dead of winter. He was a man of high standing in the community and held various township offices. His good wife who was some three years younger that he, died July 11, 1885. Five of their eight children are now living. D. G. was eldest of the family, and was thirteen years old when his parents came to Michigan, and most of his schooling was taken prior to that time. He began life for himself at the age of twenty-one, renting a farm in Tyrone Township, Livingston County, which he farmed on shares, and during the third year he bought forty acres of land to which he added from time to time until he had two hundred and eighty-five acres, and here he made his home for seventeen years, and made his first abode in a small shanty.

In June, 1866, Mr. Colwell removed to Fenton, where he had built a brick house, the brick for which he had manufactured himself. He intended at that time to retire from active business, but he soon became interested in grain and wool, and entered into partnership with Mr. E. M. Adams, with who he continued in business for thirteen years. Besides dealing in grain and wool, they operated a mill, doing business under the firm name of Colwell & Adams. In March, 1880, the partnership was dissolved, Mr. Colwell taking the mill, and Mr. Adams the grain elevator. Our subject at once rebuilt the mill and increased its capacity from seventy-five to two hundred barrels and has since increased it again too two hundred and fifty barrels and he still carries it on, it being a complete roller mill.

Mr. Colwell was married in 1846 to Phoebe Larned, who was born in Barrington Township, Yates County, N.Y., and is a daughter of Henry and Maria (Bailey) Larned, both New Yorkers by birth, who came hither in the year 1830 and settled on the line between Oakland and Livingston Counties, where she died about the year 1882, and he in 1887. The four children born to this couple are: David H., John P., William D. and Daniel H. The eldest son entered the army in 1864, although very young, and died at Mt. Sterling, Ky.; William is deceased; John has assisted his father upon the farm, while Daniel is at home and is now attending school.

Our subject has been a frequent delegate to various Democratic conventions, and was Supervisor of Tyrone for three years. In 1864 he was elected to represent his district in the State Legislature, and while thus in office he was placed upon two important committees, one of them being on election. He has been Assessor of the village of Fenton and prominent in various ways, having built several store-buildings, besides the Opera House, which was dedicated February 1, 1870. He has a large amount of money invested in his milling business, having a full roller process there in, and except what is retailed about the neighborhood, he ships a good part of his product too New England, and also considerable too Africa. A sawmill is also one of his enterprises, and his land comprises five hundred and sixty acres, most of which is under the charge of his son John. This fine tract of land except one hundred and twenty acres adjoins the corporation of Fenton, and it is all in one body. The Masonic order has counted him a member for some thirty years, and his wife is actively connected with the Presbyterian Church. A large amount of stock of the Fenton Agricultural Association is held by him and he aids all movements which commend themselves to his judgment.



1892 Portrait & Biographical Album of Genesee, Lapeer & Tuscola Counties, Chapman Bros.

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