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Atlas Township
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Atlas Township 48438

Genesee County, Michigan

Atlas Township Genesee County, Michigan
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Atlas Township Population: 2000(7257) 1990(5551) Change(1706)

The founding father of Atlas was Judge Norman Davison who arrived in 1831 from Livingston County, New York. He cleared the land and built a house for his family near the river on the site where the Atlas Country Club now stands. He erected a sawmill in 1833 and a gristmill in 1836. The town was first known as Davisonville. In later years the name was changed from Davisonville to Atlas due to confusion with the mail between the town and the Davison Station on the Grand Trunk Railroad. For the next several years many more settlers came to the town. The first blacksmith, Enas Rockafellow, arrived in 1837. Fitch R. Tracy started a mercantile business in the late 1830's. Dr. Elbridge Gale started his practice in Atlas in 1837. Due to his interest in tanning, sheep were introduced to this area. With the coming of sheep, Oliver Palmer built a wool carding and stock dressing business. A woolen mill was erected next to the gristmill during the 1850's.

The first tavern appeared on the scene in 1840. Noah Hull, as a carpenter and millwright, helped build many of the businesses and houses after his arrive in 1846. Furniture for the town's people was made by the local cabinet maker, Mr. James Shields. Residents could have their shoes repaired or have new ones made by the shoemaker, James Lobban. There were many other settlers who contributed to the prosperity of Atlas. The town had many services to offer its residents. The first post office was started in 1837 with Norman Davison as the postmaster. The Atlas Post Office is considered one of the oldest in the state. Two churches served the community, Second Methodist Episcopal Church and Atlas Baptist Church. A library was organized in 1868 by thirteen pioneer ladies. With the increase of families coming to the area, a school was started in 1837.

By the turn of the century, Atlas was still a thriving town. Descendants of Dr. Gale owned a grocery store plus a tile and brickyard. The bricks were used in several of the buildings in the area. When the automobiles became popular, Clarence Leach started a gas station around 1915. A milk station was used until 1948 by the dairy farmers to handle the transportation of their products.

Through the years, the number of businesses has been depleted. A few are left today in Atlas. The town is mostly a residential area; however, travelers can still see some of the old buildings from the past.

ATLAS BAPTIST CHURCH - The church was organized on April 2, 1843, by some of the early pioneers. A wood frame building was built in 1855. It had a shed in the back used to shelter the horse drawn vehicles. A brick edifice was started in 1902 and completed by 1904. The bricks used for the church was supplied by the Gale Brick and Tile Yard. The church is still servicing the community.

ATLAS CEMETERY - Did you know that Atlas has a cemetery? The first person to be buried in it was Sarah G. (Davision) Mantor. She was the daughter of Norman Davison, and she died February 13, 1837, at the age of 29 years old. Norman Davison and his wife along with other earlier settlers have been laid to rest in this cemetery. The cemetery has not had a burial in several years.

ATLAS HOTEL - Mr. Lovel Hurd built the hotel in Atlas to serve the varied demands of the early travelers. A clean room and a decent meal could always be expected from his establishment. The large building had a ballroom on the second floor. An office, bar, and dining room occupied the first floor. A livery stable was operated in connection with the hotel. The building was located on the corner of Gale and Perry Road where the flag pole now stands.

EVANS BUILDING - Across the street from the hotel, Mr. Hurd bought the property and built a store on it. When the store burned down, he built the present building. A general store owned by Carole Gale, a descendent of Dr. Gale, was located in this structure during the early 1900's. At one time the post office was located in the front part of the store. Mr. Ralph Howes purchased the property in 1962. The building has been tumed into apartments.

GRANGE HALL - This building was first known as the Maccabee's Hall. It was an organization that helped local farmers. Then the Grangers took over the building. The Grangers were also an organization for farmers, and their meetings were held there. The Grange Hall was used by the community. It was used by the Atlas school for their Christmas program every year until approximately 1955. Dances, card parties, and other activities entertained the local residents. In 1971 Mr. Howes purchased the building.

ATLAS LADIES LIBRARY - On January 18, 1868, thirteen local ladies organized the Atlas Library. A room was rented out of the house of Mrs. H. E. Rockafellow until 1878. The first librarian was Mrs. Helen Lobban Burbank. The Grange offered the library space rent-free until a building was erected in 1881. The site for the library was a gift from Mrs. Palmer. The library closed its doors in the mid 1950's. The building has been renovated into apartments.

ATLAS MILL - Judge Norman Davison built the mill in 1836. It was in operation until 1942. During the early days of the settlement, the mill was used for other purposes. The lean-to of the mill was used as the first school in Atlas. The first post office was also located in the mill. On April 4, 1836, the first township meeting was held there. The mill was moved to Crossroads Village in 1975 and renovated.

ATLAS SCHOOL - A school was started in Atlas in 1837. It was held in the lean-to on the west side of the mill. The school was then moved to a one-room shanty that was left empty when Lewis Mantor moved away. In 1842 a schoolhouse was built next to where the Atlas Baptist Church now stands. This school was used for about 70 years. A brick school was built on Perry Road near Atlas Road. It served as the Atlas School until 1958 when the Atlas School District became a part of the Goodrich School District.

History information courtesy of Blake Westerby


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