From; ­Gratiot County, Historical, Biographical, Statistical, by Willard D. Tucker, Saginaw, Mi. 1913.




page 1224




(census of 1910)


Hamilton Township …………………………………………………………….. 855


(Hamilton shows the lowest population of any township, except for Ithaca, without Ithaca village.)




page 1331

Davison-Peet – Murder-Suicide.


            A double murder and suicide – a triple butchery – which shocked the people of Gratiot County beyond the power of expression, occurred in Hamilton Township, March 7, 1910, in the home of Julius Peet, three miles east of Sickles.  Mr. Peet, his two young daughters, Lillian and Lena, and their brother Glen, constituted the family, and living with them was William Davison, his wife, who was another daughter of Mr. Peet, and their little child, nine months old.  It was said that the parties had frequent disagreements, many quarrels occurring between them; that Mr. Peet was of a quiet, peaceable nature, but that Davison was inclined to be quarrelsome.  In the afternoon of the day mentioned the three children of Mr. Peet wee way at a neighbor’s, and for that reason there is no positive knowledge as to what led up to the tragedy on that afternoon, which was only discovered when the two young daughters came home along about four o’clock.  The dead bodies of Davison and is wife and Mr. Peet was the sight with which they were confronted when they entered the home.

            The girls ran screaming from the house, giving the alarm to the neighbors who hastened to the scene.  Mr. Peet was found sitting dead in his chair, holding a newspaper in his hands, and with the back of is head crushed in as by a blow with the but of a gun or some other equally heavy weapon.  On the floor by the cook stove in a pool of blood lay Mrs. Davison, quite dead.  A horrible gash in her throat, taken in connection with the blood on the floor, formed conclusive evidence of the cause and manner of her death.  Further investigation reveled the dead body of Davison lying on the floor in the adjoining bedroom with his head blown to pieces by the discharge of a gun which lay by his side. 



The stock of the gun was broken, which circumstance seemed to point to the conclusion that Davison had used the butt of the gun to murder his father-in-law, Mr. Peet.


page 1332


            In the cradle sleeping peacefully was the babe, unharmed.  The presumption was that a quarrel had taken place and that Davison, in a rage, had seized the gun and struck his father-in-law a death-blow; then, with a razor and after a terrific struggle had cut his wife’s throat.  The appearance of the rooms indicated a fierce and prolonged struggle.  After their fiendish double murder Davison evidently concluded that the best thing he could do for himself and for the world would be to end his own life. So taking the gun and placing the muzzle in his mouth he kicked the trigger and ushered himself into eternity; the last act in the frightful drama, so far as this earth is concerned.  But what a lamentable ending of the lives of three intelligent human beings, all of one family, and all happening within the space of only a few minutes.  And what a heart-breaking memory for those left behind.


(My maternal grandmother, Emma (Aldrich) Bare, told of her husband, my grandfather Fred. W. Bare, who lived in section 3 of Hamilton, being asked to join a posse comprised of neighbors to go and look for the alleged murderer. – Dale Cratsenburg)




page 1341

Moonlight Hunting Story


            Here’s an “airly day” hunting story told by John L. Ringle, now living a retired life in the little Village of Sickels, but for more than 40 years a farmer on section 17, Hamilton.  I give it mainly in his own words so that if anybody questions it, or any port of it they will know who to jump on to about it.  I have all I want to do to defend my own stories.

            Mr. Ringle says, “It was in the fall of 1864.  My uncle, John Muffly, and cousin, Jacob Muffly, came up to our house one bright moonlight night in October to go coon hunting.  We started out about nine o’clock in the evening, taking two dogs and a westerly course from our place.  One dog was a hound and the other a little shaggy fellow.  My cousin had his gun with him.  We had gone only about 80 rods when the dogs treed a wildcat.  He stopped about 30 feet up, and my cousin fired at him, just grazing his hide and causing him to jump from the tree.  Away went cat and dogs, and pretty soon we herd a faint barking from ‘Shaggy’, apparently about a mile away.  But the distance was only a few rods for we soon found that the wildcat and the little dog were in a hollow log, holding an interview; which accounted for the faint and distant sound of Shaggy’s voice.  We chopped a hole at the proper place in the log, and shot Mr. Cat as he lay in the hollow.

            “Going on westward about 80 rods the dogs put another wildcat up a tree – a large dead oak.  The cat lay in the forks of the tree, and we could see his eyes shine.  A lucky sot took him between those shining eyes, and finished cat number two.  We then resumed our westerly course, crossing the line between Hamilton and North Star Townships, then after a while turning southward and crossing the road running east from North Star Village, only the village was not yet on the map.  About half a mile further on the dogs treed a coon up a large oak stub about hour feet in diameter.  Quite an undertaking to chop down a tree of that size, but it dame down at last and we caught a very fine, large coon.

            “Then taking a southeasterly direction we crossed the line again into Hamilton.  By this time the moon had got pretty low, so Uncle took part of the game and started for home.  Cousin and I went on east quite a distance.  When all at once Shaggy set up such a terrible barking, and making such a fuss we thought he had encountered a porcupine.  Running to where the commotion was going on we found that we had a bear in a standing hollow tree that had an opening near its roots.  ‘B-r-r-r woof woof’ said the bear as he expostulated with the dogs.  I confess that I was somewhat afraid, as I did not know what a bear might do when he got excited.  The moon had gone down and as we could not get at the bear with the gun we concluded to light a fire to see to get some chunks to stop up the hole in the tree and then get our bear at our leisure.  But when the fire blazed up and bear caught sight of it out he came and away he went, with the dogs after him, while we stood thinking what fools we were not to have found some chunks without starting a fire. 

Then all of a sudden,


page 1342


before we fairly got our wits about us, out came another bear running right by us and away into the darkness.  Then we thought we were bigger fools than ever.

            “Then we went home, and thus ended our moonlight night[s adventures in the wilds of Gratiot 45 years ago.  There is nothing left but tradition of wildcats, raccoons or bears in Gratiot County, exception occasionally a true story of experiences, such as the one I have related.  I could tell more of them, all equally true, but this will be sufficient.”


Copyright © 2001 Dale Cratsenburg.  All rights reserved.


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