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Martin Stockwell was born in 1818 in New York state. He didn’t go to school much when he was young because he worked on the family farm. When he was 17 years old, Martin decided he wanted to go to Michigan and have his own farm. His parents didn’t think it was a good idea, but they finally agreed. With $3.50 and some food his mother packed for him, Martin started walking west.

On his first day, Martin walked about 30 miles to Buffalo, NY and bought a ticket for a steamboat. The ticket cost him $2.50. It was expensive, but he wouldn’t have to walk around Lake Erie. When he got on the boat, Martin met the captain. The captain seemed very unfriendly and harsh at first, but became more friendly when he realized Martin had not run away from home. Martin told the captain he was going to see his uncle in Adrian, Michigan. The captain told Martin, “Don’t get off the boat in Detroit. You’ll have to walk almost 70 miles to Adrian from there. Get off the boat in Toledo. You’ll only have to walk about 30 miles from there.” Martin thanked the captain and got off the boat in Toledo.

In Toledo, he stayed one night on the floor of a tavern, a place for travelers to get something to eat and a place to sleep. The other men staying in the tavern told Martin he’d never make it to Adrian on foot. They said Michigan was too swampy to walk through and there were too many bugs and animals. Martin, however, knew he could make it. The next day he started walking toward Adrian. His travels were not easy. He walked a long way through marshes and swamps but soon he made it to his uncle’s house.

That summer, Martin stayed with his uncle and worked to earn some money to send home. Before the end of summer, he returned to New York with $48 (about $1,300 today). The following year, Martin returned to Michigan and purchased 40 acres of land in Adrian, Michigan. Eventually, Martin opened a cheese factory and had one of the most successful farms in the county.

Look Closer

This is a sketch of Martin's cheese factory. What do you see?

You can find this image in the Combination Atlas Map of Lenawee County, Michigan 1874.

Look Closer

This is a sketch of Martin's residence. What do you see?

You can find this image in the Combination Atlas Map of Lenawee County, Michigan 1874.

What Did I Learn? 

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I Wonder…

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