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"A Pedigree Partly Indian, Partly Batavian"

    Van Tassel Biographical Sketches

James M. Van Tassel

James M. Van Tassel, Probate Judge of Tuscola County, was born in Huron County, Ohio, September 22, 1844, and is the son of Otis H. and Sara J. (Waldron) Van Tassel, both natives of New York. The childhood days of our subject were mostly passed in the village of East Townsend, where he received a good common-school education. During his youth the shadow of war hovered over our nation and scarcely had he attained manhood when the threatened calamity fell upon the country. The Rebellion awakened all the patriotism of Judge Van Tassel's nature, and before he was twenty years old, he enlisted November 23, 1863, in Company B, Third Ohio Cavalry, which became an integral part of the Army of the Cumberland.

The Judge participated in all the engagements of his regiment until he was wounded August 20, 1864, on Kilpatrick's raid around Atlanta, a ball striking him directly between the eyes and destroying one eye, as it had to be removed in order to get the ball which had glanced in behind. He was granted a furlough of ninety days which he passed at home returning to the hospital at Cincinnati. On April 11, 1865 he was honorably discharged at Camp Denison, and returned to Huron County, with a record of which he and his might well be proud. In the fall of 1865 he went to West Virginia, but only sojourned there about six months, returning thence to Huron County.

Judge Van Tassel dates his arrival in Michigan from 1868 and he first located in Lapeer County, where he operated as a farmer. Next he removed to Tuscola County and for a short period lived in Kingston, then returned to the Buckeye State but after passing one year there, he located permanently in Tuscola County. During his residence in Lapeer County he was married September 22, 1868, to Miss Etta Van Tassel, the daughter of Henry H. and Sophia (Palmer) Van Tassel. Mrs. Van Tassel was born in the State of New York and when quite young accompanied her parents to Michigan, where she grew to womanhood under the parental roof. The Judge and his extimable wife are the parents of four children, viz: J. Henry, who was born April 2, 1872; Otis M., August 19, 1875; Claude E., July 13, 1877; and Bertha, May 21, 1883. The eldest son was graduated from the Caro High School with the Class of '91 and contemplates taking a law course in the State University at Ann Arbor.

Officially, the Judge has served the community in various ways. For four years he was Clerk of Kingston Township, and also served as Postmaster in Kingston, then called Newberry, about seven years-from 1872 to 1879. At that time he was engaged in the mercantile business. In 1884 he was elected County Treasurer and held the position two terms until, in 1888, he was elected Probate Judge. Socially he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he is District Deputy. As might naturally be expected, he is closely connected with the Grand Army of the Republic, of which he is now Past Commander, and has held various offices in the encampment. His character is unimpeachable and the interest he has taken at all times in public enterprises of an educational or moral value, stamps him as a man of excellent judgment and great intelligence. Since taking up his residence in Caro, by his upright, honorable course he has proved a great addition to its citizenship, and has become thoroughly identified with its interests. His judicial ability is of a superior order and his decisions show a well-balanced intellect. His share in the success of the Union cause in the late war was no inconsiderable one and his name will ever be held in affectionate remembrance by the people of Caro and the residents of Michigan, where patriotism is known.

Portrait and biographical record of Genesee, Lapeer and Tuscola Counties, Michigan : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state and of the presidents of the United States.
Chicago: Chapman Bros., 1892, pgs. 324-325

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