Early settlement of the Montcalm County area by Native American is documented as far back as 8000 B.C. along the Flat River near Greenville . By 1800 A.D. more Europeans were arriving in the Great Lakes area crowding out the existing native populations. When the settlers arrived in this area in the late 1830's, there were only remnants of the Ottawa , Chippewa and Potawatomi Indian tribes who had ceded their lands under the Treaty of Washington in 1836.
Sawmills, shingle mills, planning mills were first powered by water from a mill or a creek. The sawmill cut logs into rough sawn logs, usually one inch thick and the width of the log. The planning mill cut the rough boards into the smooth standard sizes of that era. The shingle mill used rough cut blocks of wood to produce shingles from wood that was available. Shingles and shakes were used as roofing materials although shakes were mostly produced by hand. The preferred wood was cedar because of its resistance to moisture. Cedar shakes are still used as roofing materials.
Farming was a part of life beginning with the earliest settler in the county. These pioneers had to clear enough land around their cabins to raise crops to feed their families. More and more settlers came to live and cultivate the land many from Denmark and Germany . Gradually a farmer might acquire some cows and chickens. In later years there were frequent barn raisings where neighbors came to help a farmer build his barn. Flour and gristmills for grinding wheat and corn were built along rivers and streams.
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