In my recent travels, I had the opportunity to visit Yorkville, located just off M89 between Augusta and Richland, to visit Daniel Wilson, Revolutionary War Veteran.
Most Revolutionary War Patriots buried in Michigan came to Michigan late in life either on a Pension or Land Grant. They mostly came in the 1830’s and 1840’s in order to begin a new life as a Michigan homesteader.
But not Captain Daniel Wilson. In 1834, at the age of 74, Wilson made the trek from New York to visit his daughter, Ursula. It just so happens Ursula and her husband, Tillotson Barnes, were the first settlers in Ross Township a year earlier. This settlement, at the outlet of Gull Lake, was named Yorkville by Tillotson. Tillotson built the first sawmill, grist mill, and tannery on his 80 acres on the south end of the lake,
Born in 1757, Daniel S. Wilson served in the Revolutionary War, in the state troops from Connecticut. Wilson had enlisted with the state militia in June 1776, a month before the Declaration of Independence was signed, and served under his uncle, Capt. Amos Wilson. He took part in the defense of New York City before being discharged on Dec. 25, 1776. He volunteered again in the summer of 1777, helping defend Westchester County and then taking part in the pivotal Battle of Saratoga, where an American general, one Benedict Arnold, earned the country’s admiration for the unexpected victory. After the war, he ran a grist mill and continued to serve in the militia, rising to the rank of captain. He applied for and received a pension for his service in 1833, after his wife, Sabra, and children Daniel, Sarah, Andrew and John had all died.
While visiting, Wilson developed an illness and passed away. Needing a place to bury his father in law, Tillotson created the first cemetery in Ross Township, to give Captain Wilson his final resting place. The cemetery is perched over Gull Lake, and provides a lovely view. Unfortunately for Barnes, he passed away in 1835 and is interred there as well.
Yorkville had a post office until 1939. It was a station on the Detroit, Toledo, & Milwaukee Railroad, which ran from Dundee, through Battle Creek, to Allegan. It started operation in the 1880’s, well past the death of Daniel Wilson. The nearest station, known as Richland Junction, was just west of Richland. With the demise of rail travel, it’s amazing that this railroad was active for so long. It ceased operation in the 1960’s.
Today, the Yorkville Cemetery is perched over Gull Lake. It affords Daniels, Tillotson, & the others buried here a spectacular view. A large, oak tree, probably 300 years old, shades a part of the cemetery, which is still active today.
Thank you for your service, Captain Daniel Wilson.