This picture must have been taken some time in the late 1800s. It is facing south. You can see the Hotel in the 1930s picture had been renovated. (picture at bottom)

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The town of Matherton was founded by Asaph Mather in 1842-1843 when he bought a half interest of land with Norton Beckwith. Mather was a practical Mill-right and had in view building a mill on Fish Creek, but James R. Langdon a Land-Speculator owned the water-power. Mather and Beckwith bargained with Langdon for 40 acres that included the required mill sight and which also included half of 24 eighty-acre lots and the three men became partners in the bargain.

The firm named Beckwith and Co. began the improvements of Matherton. Langdon, Beckwith and Mather cleared 10 acres on Section 24 (North Plains, Ionia County) where Asaph Mather resided and put up a log house.

The three men threw up a damn across Fish Creek and built a saw-mill which was completed in 1843.

The product of the saw-mill was pine lumber and found its chief market in Chicago where it was transported on rafts by way of the Maple River into the Grand River from there into Lake Michigan and on down to Chicago a trip of about 245 miles.

In 1845 there were only a few shanties in Matherton for the mill hands. The Mather family didn't move from Ionia and become permanent residents of Matherton until later years.

In 1846 Mather became sole owner of the village site and mill properties.

In 1849 Mather made an addition of a gristmill which was fitted with two runs of stone.

The same year Dr. W. Z. Blanchard set up a trading establishment near the gristmill and sent his son Hirem to run it. Dr. William Mather; brother to Asaph; moved to Matherton in 1849 also to begin the practice of medicine

In 1850 the Matherton Post office was established. Asaph Mather was appointed Postmaster and the mail came once a week from Lyons. Mather's son carried it on horseback. The post office was setup in the gristmill. (Other Postmasters were: L.J. Lemert, N. P. Johnson. (Years later Frieda Jeffries was postmaster for many years.)

On May 22, 1851 Asaph Mather platted the village of Matherton which was described on record as lying on Section 24 "Commencing at a point where the Highway intersects. The county line on the east side of the county running east from Fish Creek bridge, (Near Mather's gristmill on Section 24 thence along said county line north 3 degrees west seven *chains and fifty *links, south 30 degrees, 40 minutes east, 80 chains and 46 and 8/10th links. North seven degrees east nine chains 15 and 1/2 links to the place of the beginning.

In 1851 the lumbering interests at Matherton were considerable and all of Mather's businesses were running to full capacity until 1854 when Hubbardston (two miles to the north) came into existence and cut off northern trade to Matherton administrating a serious blow to the businesses there.

In 1853 Joseph Brown built the stone store in Matherton and not long after that Morse Advent and Mr. Brinkerhoff started a third trading post there. 

In 1854 Marcus Smith built a tavern at Matherton and also sold goods in one end of it.

In 1865 Asaph Mather, Isaac Smith and Fremont built a woolen mill at Matherton with the use of steam power. They manufactured woolen clothing, yarn, etc. This gave employment to about a dozen people. This enterprise also gave excellent promise of beneficial results, but 4 years later it failed to pay off and in 1869-1870 was discontinued.

In 1865 J. T. Irish started a foundry and sash and blind factory, but it was lost to fire in 1872. Fire also took the gristmill in 1880. It was owned by Irish at that time and called Irish, Tooker & Co. He bought it from Mather in 1867.

In 1872 Asaph and Vernon Mather anticipated railway advantages and erected a steam driven sawmill. But the railroad never came and the mill was not as valuable as it might have been. In the summer of 1880 the sawmill was transported northward.

At its best Matherton was a thriving country village. It supported 3 stores, 2 mills and other minor industries. However circumstances operated against it and the town slowly disintegrate.

Religions in Matherton

This picture of Matherton was taken some time in the 1930s. This picture was taken facing north. The far building is of course a Texaco gas-staion, the large white building was the hotel, later to become the Lebanon Township Hall, and the stone building was the General Store. In the beginning the town of Matherton was down Stoudt Road, a road running west about 75 feet on the other side of the stone store. The town burned down and was resituated here along Hubbardston Road


History of North Plains Township

History of Lebanon Township

East Plains Cemetery Clinton County Michigan

Photos of all gravestones in alphabetical order


Unit of length, equal to 22 yards, which is the length of a cricket pitch. Each chain made up of 100 links. There are 10 chains to the furlong. Not seen much these days, but still seen on not-so-old maps etc.
Unit of length, there being 100 links to a chain. Virtually never seen.

Most of the information was taken from The History of Clinton County and The History of Ionia County published in 1880.

Genealogy Index Page

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