Oliver Bristol – 1787-1854

Oliver Bristol was born January 27, 1787 in Killingworth, Connecticut to Bezaleel III and Mary (Redfield) Bristol.  He was the seventh child and fourth son. 

At an as yet undetermined date but prior to 1812, Oliver and his older brother, Bezaleel IV, moved to the area of Riga/Churchville, New York in what is now Monroe County. He married Eunice Adams daughter of Thomas and Mary Adams.  Eunice was born January 17, 1797 in Peru, Massachusetts and died August 16, 1820 in Riga, New York at the age of 23.  She is buried in the Riga Cemetery, Riga, New York.

Bad business investments led Oliver and brother, Bezaleel, to move to Michigan.  Family histories reflect dates ranging from 1828 to 1832.  It is most likely that they came in 1828 but did not complete the purchase of the land they were working until 1830 and 1831.  On October 6, 1830, Oliver completed the purchase of 80 acres in Section 27.  His distant cousin, Jonathan Sleeper purchased the 80 acres across the road in Section 28.  To call it a road is probably a bit of a stretch.  It was only cut through the forest the previous summer (1827).  These properties were located on the south side of the north branch of the Clinton River.  In 1831, to replace his log cabin, Oliver constructed the first frame house in Lapeer County.  After considerable renovations and additions, this house still stands at 805 South Main Street. 

Sometime in late 1832 or early 1833, Oliver suffered a broken leg.  During his recovery, a bear killed one of his cows.  Oliver, even though not completely healed, went hunting.  When near the present location of the First Congregational Church, he spotted a bear.  He shot the bear and knocked it down but did not kill it.  When it began to get up, Oliver started to beat a hasty retreat but was hindered by his bad leg.  He realized that he would have to reload or become bear food.  He hastily reloaded as quickly as he could but had not withdrawn the ram rod when the bear rose up to attack him.  He pointed the musket into the bear’s open mouth and fired; finally killing the bear.  The street running along the west side of the Congregational Church is named for the Bristol family.

In 1834, the territorial government was working on obtaining statehood.  One of the requirements for statehood was to have the state surveyed and local government units established.  The Lapeer County survey was finally completed in 1834 after 12 years. (Lapeer County, at that time was much larger than today.  It included parts of Genesee, Tuscola, and Sanilac Counties.).  The township, at that time included the current Almont, Imlay and part of Goodland townships.  On March 7, a meeting was held at Daniel Black’s tavern (Booze figures heavily in the early history of Almont) to hold elections.  Only thirteen votes were cast.  Though records of the township were destroyed in a fire on March 29, 1842, surviving participants recalled that Oliver Bristol was elected supervisor and justice of the peace, Jonathan Sleeper clerk, Daniel Black treasurer, Nicholas Richardson and Elisha Webster assessors, and James Deneen highway commissioner.  

Based on currently existing information, Oliver Bristol was first married to Eunice Adams but had no children that survived infancy.  Eunice died in New York and was never in Michigan.  He may have been married a second time in New York and had children who came with him to Almont, however, no specifics are known about this possible marriage and children.  It is not known if Oliver and Almira were ever married but no children were produced by this possible union.  The continued use of the Bristol name after Oliver’s death, lends credence to them having been married. Oliver died on December 12, 1854 and was buried in the Goodrich Cemetery on Kidder Road in Bruce Township.

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