Jonathan Searls Papers,   1812, 1967, and undated
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History

Biography:

Jonathan Searls, born in 1791, was a veteran of the War of 1812. A member of McClure’s New York Militia, he was wounded near Kingston, Canada and carried the bullet for the rest of his life.

In 1834, Jonathan and his brother, Samuel Searls (died 1867-1868), were induced to leave Erie County, New York State, and come to Michigan by George W. Barnes, who owned the property that would become Charlotte in Eaton County, Michigan. The brothers bought the property and 1835, began chopping a road through the forests from Bellevue to Charlotte.

Samuel married Mrs. Ruth Searls, who died from consumption in 1837. Her body was hauled to Bellevue for a coffin and funeral. Samuel’s sister, Julia, came from New York to keep house for him and his baby. Then, Jonathan brought his wife Sally to town. Nine of their eleven children grew to adulthood.

The Searls brothers were involved with building the first house in town in 1838. Jonathan was unbeatable in splitting wood for roofing and both brothers were champion woodcutters. At this point, a third brother, Stephen, was in town. He had been a master millwright in Erie County, New York, and a “Workman in wood with a broad axe.”

In 1838, a half-brother, Allen Searls, and his wife came to Charlotte. He helped to finish a tavern to be used as a court.

Jonathan was appointed postmaster in 1838 and served probably until 1841.

On December 18, 1841, Jonathan died and was buried on his farm, since a cemetery did not yet exist. Sally survived him until March 30, 1877, when she was nearly 80.

Their home had served as the first meeting house for church, a post office, courthouse, and tavern. The road on which the house was located was called Searls Road. (For more information, see the History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan.)

William Austin Burt, (1792-1858) was a Michigan politician who served as a member of the Legislative Council, 1826-1827, and as a Representative, 1854-1854, from Macomb County, Michigan. He surveyed land in Michigan and nationally, was appointed County Surveyor of Macomb County, 1831-1834, and U.S. Surveyor, 1833. Burt developed and perfected the solar compass for which he was unanimously awarded as Scott’s legacy medal in 1835 and further commendation in 1840. He led surveys in Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Upper Peninsula, where he discovered iron ore. (For further information see Michigan Biographies, v. 1, pp. 132-133.)