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Dexter Horton


Dexter Horton, of Fenton, is a man whose fine personal qualities and character no less than his public services make him a worthy subject for the pen of the biographer. He was born at Groveland, Oakland County, this State, June 24, 1836, and his father, Henry Wisner Horton, was born at Owego, N.Y., May 31, 1797. The grandfather, Joseph Lee Horton, took to wife Hannah Todd, and he was of the seven generation from Barnabas Horton, who came over in the ship "Swallow", from Leicester, England, and landed at Hampton, Mass. In 1640 he built the first frame house in the eastern part of Long Island. He was a warm advocate of religious freedom and a man of deep and genuine piety.

Henry W. Horton was married at Canfield, N.J., January 31, 1819, to Adah Jennings, who died January 20, 1856. She was the mother of eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, two of whom died in early childhood, and one son, Emerson C., died at Richmond, Mo. It was in 1830 when the parents of our subject removed with three children from Royalton, Niagara County, N.Y., to 

Michigan, intending to settle in Genesee County, but on account of the terrible condition of the roads and the slow pace of his ox-team, he was greatly delayed and upon reaching Flint he learned that the land he had selected had been taken by John Todd, and he consequently located upon three hundred and sixty acres in what was then known as Pleasant Valley, Groveland Township, Oakland county. their he resided during the remainder of his life, and died fifty-four years after coming to Michigan. The township was organized in April, 1835, and he was in its first Clerk and afterward Supervisor, and was Justice of the Peace for twenty-two years.

On the 20th of September, 1856, the father of our subject was united in marriage with Mrs. Mary E. Losee, widow of Isaac J. Losee, who proved to him a faithful and devoted wife, who died in June, 1890. He died in 1886, at the age of eighty-eight and with him passed away the last of the early settlers of the township. He was one of the original stockholders who owned the Oakland Chronicle, one of the first newspapers in Michigan. He was an active Abolitionist before the war, and a Republican too the core, and ever took a firm stand against the use of and traffic in intoxicating liquors. The Methodist Episcopal Church of Groveland ever found in him and active worker, and he donated to its use a liberal portion of land for the erection of the church. The poor and the wayfarer ever found in his home a welcome, and every needy one was welcome too food and lodging. His was "the ministers’ home" for all itinerant preachers.

Maj. Horton was born in the log house built by his father, and was reared upon the farm, taking his early education in the district schools and afterward being sent at the age of fourteen to Albion College, but there his reputation for a mischief maker was so pronounced that his course was cut short. He was acknowledged too be a good student, and besides excelling in his studies, was well liked by teachers and pupils, but his irrepressible love for fun lead to his expulsion from the school. When he left college he was President of the Eclectic Society. Farming summers and teaching winters occupied his time until he reached his majority, and he then took up his residence in Fenton.

During the Presidential campaign of 1860, this young man took an active part in promoting the election of Abraham Lincoln, and after Lincoln’s inauguration, he applied for the office of Postmaster of this village, which he received, although his opponent had the endorsement of the member of Congress from this District.

From boyhood this young man was an active and shrewd worker in politics, voting first with the Whig party, but becoming a Republican upon the organization of that party. During the war he was one of the most interested workers in holding meetings and recruiting men throughout this region, and in 1863 joined the Light Horse Artillery of the Army of the Potomac, and in 1864 received an appointment from President Lincoln as Captain of the United States Volunteers, in which capacity he was with the armies of Tennessee and Georgia until the close of the war. He participated in the Atlanta campaign, marched with Sherman too the sea and took part in his subsequent campaigns in the Carolinas, being promoted for efficient and meritorious service to the rank of a Major. At the close of the war he was re-appointed Postmaster, but for political reasons was removed from this office by President Johnson. He was a delegate to the Soldiers’ Convention at Chicago that nominated Gen. Grant for the Presidency.

In 1867 Maj. Horton was appointed Assistant Sergeant-at Arms of the State Senate, and two years later he was the Representative in the State Legislature from this district and two years after received the nomination again, and came within thirty-one votes of being elected. When he first located at Fenton his capital consisted of two colts and fifteen bags of corn; he has been successful from year too year in business and for more than twenty years has successfully conducted a business in the line of agricultural implements, and is now one of the largest retail dealers in this part of the State, and since 1875 has been more or less interested in farming.

Maj. Horton was married in 1861, to Miss Lavinia Losee, a native of New York, who came with her parents to Michigan at an early day, and settled in Springfield, Oakland County. The five children who have blessed this union are : Glenn, who died at the age of five months; Mary A., who is now the wife of H. H. Rackham, an attorney of Detroit; Mabel F., who is the wife of Z. D. Patterson, an attorney and clerk in the Pension Department at Washington, D. C., Bryson D. and Myra, who are at home with their parents.

With various important interests of Genesee County Maj. Horton is closely identified. At the present time he is President of the Fenton Agricultural Society, Fenton Electric and Power Company, Genesee County Pioneer Society, Chief of the Fire Department, and Foreman in the Ancient Order of United Workmen. For fifteen years he was a member of the School board and its President twelve years. As President of the village he was the first man to issue a proclamation, calling the people together to take the necessary steps to observe Memorial Day. He was also the only President of the village who has ever vetoed measures and ordinances passed by the Council, giving his reasons in writing, and in each case his veto was sustained. He was the first Commander of Col. Fenton Post, G. A. R., holding the position seven years. A camp of Sons of Veterans has been organized in Fenton bearing his name. He was a delegate to the G. A. R. National Encampment at San Francisco, Cal., in 1886, and also at Boston in 1890, and is one of the most energetic and hardworking Grand Army men in this section of the State, talking for it, believing in it and working for it.



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

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