Oliver C. Earl

OLIVER C. EARL. In a log house on the banks of Lake Angelus, Pontiac township, Oakland County, in the year 1835 lived an old-time Methodist preacher, Oliver Earl, and his estimable wife, Elizabeth (Williams) Earl. They were of sturdy English stock, coming to this State from Niagara County, New York, in 1834.

Coming to this country at so early a date, the trials, privations, but at the same time veritable pleasures, were an actual experience to them. Indians were common, and were frequent and welcome visitors. On one occasion, however, Old Pinch, a traveling Indian, came to the Earl home and being much filled with fire water, his abusive tongue and uncouth manners irritated the Elder, who ordered him out. On his refusal, he was promised a beating if he did not go. As the savage still remained, the expounder of the truth brought out his lash and beat severely the back of Old Pinch, who doggedly stood and took it. At last with a whoop and a run he left the cabin, took to the woods and was never seen again. The women and children lived in fear for a long time lest the Indians might avenge the deed, but the Elder justified his act in his own mind, fearing no more to attack an Indian than he did the devil whenever an opportunity presented itself.

In 1836 the Earls took up a piece of land from the government on the Sashabaw plains, Independence township, where they lived to good old age. Elder Earl preached in the neighboring school houses, also in the Sashabaw Church, which was later built, and preached at the first burial service at the Sashabaw Cemetery. He married the young folks, blessed the children, counseled with the elders, made his life a testimony of his belief, buried the dead, and in fact was a man who gave his best time and thought for the welfare of others. His wife Elizabeth was a close companion in the pioneer struggles. To them were born nine children, of whom three are living: Mrs. Phoebe Stockwell, 86 years of age; Mrs. William Walker, aged 70; and Oliver C. Earl, aged 65, the subject of our sketch. "Aunt Phoebe," as Mrs. Stockwell is familiarly called, is well known in many parts of the county and is a remarkable woman for her age. She claims two accomplishments,--walking and mending,--and in either she sets a pattern for the rising generation. Mrs. Walker has never had the health her sister has enjoyed. She and her good husband, who is now past 80, have hospitable opened their doors for the best families as well as the stranger and have been moving figures in the occurrences of their day and vicinity. William Walker, as millwright, has helped the fortunes of the county in no small way, in drafting and building mills, and even now at his advanced age can shape a boat to please the eye of an artist.

The subject of our sketch was born on the banks of Lake Angelus, Pontiac township, December 24, 1835. He proved himself a lusty Christmas gift and like the proverbial preacher's son has ever been alive to fun. In fact many of the neighborhood pranks were attributed to "Clark," as he was familiarly called. Born near a beautiful lake, he always loved the water, and when he came to buy a farm for a home he chose along the lakes, the home farm being nearly surrounded by large and small bodies of water. He received a fair education, but like that of many a man it would have been meager enough if it had stopped with what he had learned in school. He worked at millwright carpenter work and farming, and when he married in 1865 a farm home seemed the best thing.

His wife, Harriet (Windiate) Earl, was born on a farm in Waterford township, September 22, 1842; both of her parents were from England, and their ancestors had been farmers for many generations. Her parents located on the homestead in 1836 on the banks of Silver Lake, Waterford township, her father vowing before he left England that he would have a fish pond on his farm. True to his purpose he settled in the lake region of Oakland County; for while this county was over 500 lakes, yet no more beautiful ones are found than in Waterloo (sic) and West Bloomfield townships. Her father, John Windiate, was a bailiff in England and being a man of wealth was able to buy this homestead with its fruits, vines, flowers, bees, the lakes and some fields under high cultivation, among which he settled his homesick wife and family. These surroundings, not common in those days, reminded them of the mother country and helped to heal some of those broken heartstrings. They were people of worth, the mother, Harriet (Elliott) Windiate, being a friend to all and a woman of much ability. They were the parents of eight children, of whom Mary, wife of Dr. A. W. Riker Fenton, is the oldest living; Alfred, a thorough farmer of Waterford township; John, who owns the old homestead,--a worthy example of an English farmer; Harriet, wife of our subject; Frances, widow of the late John Stewart; and Anna, wife of Hon. Peter Voorheis, one of Westford's (sic) [Waterford's] (sic) representative men.

To Mr. and Mrs. Oliver C. Earl were born three children: Mary, Blanche W. and Oliver. Mary, born in Waterford, February 22, 1866, married W. V. Heidt, who is in the United States postal service at Detroit, Michigan. He takes a warm interest in local military affairs and is never happier than when drilling the boys. His father was an officer in the Civil War. His mother comes from the prosperous and enterprising German family of Rhoems, of Detroit, Michigan. They have one son, Oliver H., who is twelve years of age. Blanche W., born November 24, 1868, married Jayno W. Adams and has one daughter,--Dorothy Earl. They live on the home farm. Mr. Adams is the present supervisor of Waterford township. He was born in Grand Blanc, Genesee County, Michigan, and comes from an English line. Oliver, the youngest child of our subject and wife, a son of much promise, was born September 6, 1873. Spending his early days on the farm, he at last entered the Pontiac High School, from which he was graduated in 1890. The same fall he entered the dental department of the University of Michigan. Two weeks from the time he entered the University, he was brought home a corpse. Appendicitis with an unsuccessful operation by the skilled surgeons of the University brought the feared results. So hopes that were bright as possible were suddenly blighted so far as this world was concerned; but Christian hopes are of a different nature and these parents with wonderful fortitude said "All is well."

Mr. and Mrs. Earl spend most of their time at their home in Pontiac, but during the summers have a cottage on the Island, a part of the homestead, where they enjoy the scenes of their earlier life.

Last Reviewed: 10/29/2020 MR