Self-guided Family History Tour of Northern Michigan
Reviewed August 10, 2010
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1. Glen Arbor, Leelanau County where the George William Fuller and family and many neighbors arrived in November 1863 onboard the Buckeye from St. Lawrence County, New York. A companion ship The Water Witch sunk during a storm in Lake Huron with all aboard lost.
2. Fuller Lake northwest of Lake Ann, Benzie County. The lake is probably named for George William Fuller who settled on section 15 in 1863. Fuller Lake is now part of a golf course with exclusive homesites on its shores. References to this family's residence in Michigan often mention Almira. In 1877 Almira had a population of 350. The village was 14 miles west of Traverse City and 16 miles north of Frankfort. Mostly a farming area, it offered waterpower for a sawmill and one gristmill. Stages went from Almira to Traverse City and Glen Arbor. Mail came three times a week. Reverend Elihu Linkletter was the postmaster. Almira had a church, general store and stage stop, shoemaker, and blacksmith shop in addition to the mills. The Almira school still remained in 1953. The cemetery is all that is left of the village today. George William, Charity (Mansfield) & Noah Fuller are buried in West Almira Cemetery. Also buried here is Sally (Rogers) Mansfield, an aunt of Charity Mansfield. Probably also in this cemetery without stones, are buried Amasa and Electa Mansfield (though an old stone marked "Mother Mansfield" may be Electa's) and other relatives who also died in Almira, Benzie County, Michigan.
William Rufus Fuller established his first homestead in Benzie County about 1867 in section 3, Almira Township and sold it in 1872 to his brother Sanford Fuller. He then moved to Springfield Township, Kalkaska County. He married his first wife, Carrie Carolyn Stoll at Almira in 1879, she and her parents having been residents of the area from at least 1870.
3. Garfield Township, section 6 where George William Fuller died at the home of his son, Sanford Amasa Fuller. Look for Barney Road, probably named after George’s son-in-law, Robert Barney or his father Joseph Barney who was also in section 6.
4. Traverse City, site of 2009 Fuller-Button family reunion. Residence of many family members, past and present. Burials at Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens, 3575 Veterans Blvd. include Robert and Gladys (Ely) Fuller, Raymond Alfred and Mary Lillian (Colburn) Fuller, Franklin Joseph and Lena Agatha (Button) Corpe. Burials at Oakwood Cemetery on E. 8th St. of too many family members to list, include the Barneys, the Sanford Fullers, Eva Pearl (Besaw) (Button/Button) Fuller, Clarence Wallis Button, Cora (Linkletter) Button, Winefred (Linkletter) Button and Win's daughter, Ruth (Jenne/Button) Hyde and James Robert Button (who was husband to the both Cora and Winifred).
5. Acme where about 1890, before her marriage, Maryette Eveline Button was employed in a woolen mill.
6. Mabel (Whitewater Township, Grand Traverse County) where George Humphrey, step-father of James Ambrose Button settled about 1858 and where J.A.’s sons, James Robert Button and Charles Leonard Button resided in 1954. The village, originally the site of George Humphrey’s 40-acre farm, is now a ghost town. The land was covered by a heavy stand of hard maple trees and was operated as a sugar bush for many years. A portable mill moved into the area about 1892. The first commercial building was built by the mill owner. The store building was later to be the post office which was established when the railroad came. The rails cut diagonally across the old Humphrey farm. There was a stage from Barker Creek to Acme and Mabel residents could either walk to Williamsburg for mail or go to Barker Creek. With the coming of the mails, the post office was established and a sidetrack was built. Logs, ties, lumber, poles and potatoes were shipped from Mable in vast numbers.
While the first practical mill was erected by Warren Hastings (not a known relative), there was an earlier mill which was not very successful. James A. Button, decided to do a little mill work and utilize the power of a tiny creek which flows across the present site of M-72. Unfamiliar with mill construction or engineering, the Button mill was not a great success. After the structure was completed it was discovered that there was not sufficient power to operate it and Button dug a channel from another nearby stream to divert additional power but it was not found to be practical. The old earthworks from the enterprise were still visible in 1954 near the railroad grade and the ditch which was made to run the two small streams together was still partially there. William Earl Button (called Earl) was a well-driller for the village of Mabel. The highlight of the life of Mable was when the newspapers of the midwest carried a single paragraph story on the drilling of an unusual well near the general store. The well, still flowing a steady stream in 1954, was 70 feet deep and, at the time it was first drilled, had a 45 foot waterhead. Water from the first flow shot into the air higher than the store and the flow was estimated at 202,677 gallons a day or enough to supply the needs of a village of 4,000 persons. At that time it was believed to be the largest water flow in Michigan coming from a 2-inch pipe. In 1971, Royce Button resided on the old Humphrey farm.
7. Whitewater Township, Grand Traverse County. James Ambrose Button homesteaded in 1860 - 1862 near Elk Lake in section 2 of Whitewater Township. Also in 1860, German Button, possibly a cousin of J.A.’s was also in Whitewater Township. German Button’s parents, Roswell and Abigail (Buck) Button were neighbors of the George Humphrey family in Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1850. German Button came to Michigan, originally in Traverse City, then Whitewater Township about the same time as James A. Button. German Button served in the Civil War and returned. He had a fairly good farm, but after ten years left, for the family was ill with fever and ague much of the time, caused, he thought, by stagnant mill pond nearby. In 1874 German Button took up a homestead in Echo Township, Antrim County and moved his family there.
In the diary of James Ambrose Button on August 20, 1892 reads, "German Button spent the night" offering further speculation they they were known relatives.
7. Williamsburg, (also Whitewater Township) Grand Traverse County, the village where many of the Buttons retired and are buried. In Williamsburg Cemetery (sometimes called the Old Cemetery) are buried James Ambrose and Phebe Jane (Thompson) Button, George and Joanna (Thompson/ Button) Humphrey, and Mary [or Margaret] (Haton) Button the first wife of German Button. In Circle Hill Cemetery in Williamsburg (sometimes called the new cemetery) is buried Charles Leonard and Bertha (Arno) Button, and Royce Button.
8. Echo Township, Antrim County, residence from 1874 to 1908 (his death) and burial place of German Button. In 1890 the village of Echo had a post office, store, sawmill, and gristmill.
9. Springfield Township, Kalkaska County, residence from about 1872 of the William Rufus Fuller family. At first the family lived in a log cabin on the homestead on Ingersoll Road at Long Lake (sometimes called Fuller Lake). William built the first frame barn in Springfield Township about 1876. It was still standing, "76" carved into the peak until about 2003 when it was torn down. William Fuller's first wife Carrie Caroline (Stoll) Fuller died in Springfield Township in 1881 on the same day she gave birth to Raymond Alfred Fuller.
In 1891 William Rufus Fuller married Maryette Evelina Button in Williamsburg and brought her to the same farm where were born George Ambrose (1891), Grover Button (1893), William Orange (1894), Lucius Leroy (1896), Robert Pingree (1898), and Cora Viola (1900, died 1901). Shortly after 1900, the family moved from the Long Lake homestead to another farm in section seven. Raymond Fuller continued to farm the original homestead. At William R. and Maryetta’s new farm were born Henry Howard (1902), Lottie Mae (1905), Sanford Alonzo (1908 who died at 10 days of erysipelas), and Truman Lester Fuller (1911 who died at 5 years of age of spinal menengitis).
William Rufus Fuller died 1914 of cancer of the stomach. In 1924, Lottie Mae Fuller married Virgil Merrill Benedict at her mother’s home. Maryette remained on the farm with her son Robert until her remarriage 1930 to Moses Wagner. Robert married Gladys Ely, also in 1930 and they raised their family on the same farm.
10. Kalkaska, Kalkaska County seat. The Fuller children attended high school and normal school here, living in boarding homes.
11. Fife Lake, Grand Traverse County. Because of its proximity to Springfield Township, the Fuller family attended and were active in the Fife Lake Grange during the lifetime of William Rufus Fuller. In 1930 Maryette (Button) Fuller married Moses Wagner, a Fife Lake hardware store worker and former partner in the City Hotel. They settled in the village of Fife Lake. Moses Wagner died here March 1945 and Maryette died the following December. They are both buried in Fife Lake cemetery next to their previous spouses, Maryette’s stone giving her Fuller name. Also buried at Fife Lake cemetery are Truman Lester Fuller (1911-1916); George and Emily (Inman) Fuller; and at least one paternal aunt of William R. Fuller, Mary (Mansfield) McCrea and her husband Peter Wesley McCrea, a Civil War veteran. Another aunt, Maria E. (Mansfield) Lake and her husband Horace Lake may also be buried here without stones. Also buried at Fife Lake are George Ambrose Fuller and second wife Emily (Inman) Fuller and their eldest son, Earl Inman Fuller.
The Raymond Alfred Fuller family also later resided in Fife Lake. Here Ray served on the board of review and for several years was treasurer of Fife Lake Methodist Church to which he belonged for 50 years. He also was a past noble grand of IOOF Lodge 359 of Fife Lake and had served as lodge treasurer.
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