Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Jonathan Searls Papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Jonathan Searls Papers,
Creator: Searls, Jonathan, 1791-1841.
Inclusive dates: 1812, 1967, and undated
Extent: .5 cubic ft. (in 1 box)
The papers include biographical materials, financial records, correspondence, legal documents, miscellaneous, poetry, sketches and drawings, and material relating to the Michigan Soldiers' Monument Association, William Austin Burt, and a company of Iowa Militia.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

No Acc#

Access Restrictions:

Jonathan Searls Papers are open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Jonathan Searls Papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is chronological, then by type of material.



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.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection included biographical materials, financial records, correspondence, legal documents, miscellaneous, poetry, sketches and drawings, and material related to the Michigan Soldiers’ Monument Association, William Austin Burt, and a company of Iowa Militia, 1839. The collection is organized chronologically and then by types of materials. The materials relating to William Austin Burt are filed at the end of the collection.

Subject Terms

    • Searls, Jonathan, 1791-1841.
    • Searls, Samuel, died 1867-1868.
    • Burt, William Austin, 1792-1858.
    • Michigan Soldiers' Monument Association.
    • Roads--Michigan.
    • Charlotte (Mich.)--History.
    • Eaton County (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Jonathan Searls Papers are open for research. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Biographical Materials, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Bills and Payments Received, 1812-1840
    Box   1 F   3
    Correspondence, 1812-1840
    Box   1 F   4
    Legal Documents, 1812-1840
    Box   1 F   5
    Company of Iowa Militia, 1839; Michigan Soldiers' Monument Association, 1867, 1839; 1867
    Box   1 F   6
    Bills and Payments Received, 1841-1849
    Box   1 F   7
    Correspondence, 1841-1849
    Box   1 F   8
    Legal Documents, 1841-1849
    Box   1 F   9
    Bills and Documents Received, 1850-1854
    Box   1 F   10
    Correspondence, 1850-1856
    Box   1 F   11
    Legal Documents, 1850-1856
    Box   1 F   12
    Bills and Payments Received, 1857-1872
    Box   1 F   13
    Correspondence, 1857-1867
    Box   1 F   14
    Legal Documents, 1857-1867
    Box   1 F   15
    Correspondence, 1866-1872
    Box   1 F   16
    Legal Documents, 1866-1888
    Box   1 F   17
    Bills and Payments Received, 1866-1888
    Box   1 F   18
    Correspondence, 1878-1898
    Box   1 F   19
    Bills and Payments Received, undated
    Box   1 F   20
    Correspondence, undated
    Box   1 F   21
    Miscellaneous, undated
    Box   1 F   22
    Poetry, undated
    Box   1 F   23
    Sketches and Drawings, undated
    Box   1 F   24
    William Austin Burt, 1895, 1920