The Sleeper Family – The Beginnings – Coming to Almont

Jonathan Sleeper, the second person to settle in Almont, was born on February 7, 1806 in Compton, Quebec, Canada.  His parents were Josiah Sleeper and Lucinda Graves.  Josiah was born on July 14, 1772 in Sandown, Rockingham, New Hampshire.  He married Lucinda on January 20, 1796 in Poplin (now Fremont), New Hampshire.  Lucinda was born on October 9, 1773 in Leominster, Worchester, Massachusetts.

After their marriage, Josiah and Lucinda moved from New Hampshire to Vermont, back to New Hampshire and then to Compton, Quebec, Canada.  During these movements, Josiah and Lucinda would have six children (three boys and three girls) with Jonathan being the youngest. 

On October 20, 1808, Lucinda died.  The location is not known but is probably in Quebec, Canada.

Josiah married for a second time, probably in Compton.  He married Anna Ward, no later than 1818.  Anna was born on March 10, 1776 in Compton, Quebec, Canada.    About this same time, daughter Sophia, met and married Elijah Sanborn.  Elijah was born September 17, 1791 in Vermont.  Their first child, Daniel, was born May 16, 1817 in Canada. 

Sometime before 1819, Josiah and Anna moved to Murray, Orleans, New York.  Their only son, David, was born there on May 8, 1819.  Their grown children also moved to the western counties of New York at about this same time. 

In May 1820, youngest daughter, Lydia Graves, married John Eggleston Walden in Ontario County, New York.  John was born June 27, 1796 in Ontario County, New York. 

Sometime in the late 1820’s, Josiah and Anna with David moved, to Washington, Macomb, Michigan. Also during the late 1820’s, Benjamin got married to Betsey Freeman and they settled in Brockport, Monroe, New York.  Betsey was born on April 9, 1810 in New York.  Benjamin and Betsey would have their first child, Daniel, on August 16, 1830 in Brockport.  By 1830, John Walden and Lydia had moved from Canandiaque to Bloomfield, New York.

In 1830, Jonathan was living in Monroe County, New York.  He had married Catherine Elrich and they had a son, Oscar W. Sleeper, born about 1830 in New York.  On November 23, 1830, Jonathan purchased 80 acres of land in Section 28 of what is now the Village of Almont, Almont Township, Lapeer County.  The property is located within the village about a half mile south of the four-corners on the east side of Van Dyke,  He constructed a log cabin just out of the flood plain and south of the Clinton River.  Portions of that cabin were incorporated into the central section of the house which is now located at 702 South Main Street.  This makes this home the oldest structure in Almont Township and Lapeer County.  Given that he purchased the property in November, it is likely that Catherine and Oscar stayed with Jonathan’s parents in Washington while he built the cabin.

Jonathan Sleeper House as Renovated

Elijah Sanborn also visited the area in 1830 and purchased property in Section 34 on June 26, 1830.  Section 34 is on the east side of Van Dyke Road between Hough and Bordman Roads.  However, Elijah did not build on the property until 1831.  Technically, this means that Sophia and not Jonathan was the first Sleeper to own property in Almont Township.

On July 9 1832, John Eggleston Walden purchased property in Section 9 (near the Deneens).  On the same day, he also bought property in Section 32 of Mayfield Township.  After constructing a cabin and outbuildings, John moved Lydia and their six children to the farm.  At the time of the move, Lydia was pregnant with their seventh child.  John Wallace Walden was born in Almont on December 3, 1832.

Unfortunately, John Walden died on August 10, 1833, leaving Lydia with seven children and a farm to run.  It was shortly after John’s death that Josiah, Anna and half-brother David moved from Washington to Almont.  Local histories have this occurring in 1834 but more likely it occurred in late 1833.  The move was not good for the elder Sleepers.  Step-mother Anna Ward Sleeper died on Feb 7, 1835 and Josiah died on April 22, 1835.  In 1834, Benjamin and Betsey moved to Almont.  The exact location of their property is not now known.  In the early 1850’s – 1852 or 1853 – Benjamin bought property in what is now Goodland Township.   At that time, Goodland Township was a part of Imlay Township and it was part of Almont Township until 1850.  Most of the land in Goodland had been purchased by logging companies and few individual had purchased property there.  Benjamin and Betsey did not move to Goodland Township until sometime in the 1860’s.  They remained there until their deaths.  Both Benjamin and Betsey died of the “grippe”.  “Grippe” is the old-fashioned term for “influence.” – the “flu”  Benjamin died first on March 14, 1892 and Betsey joined him four days later on May 18th.  They are buried in Ferguson Cemetery in Almont.

In 1835, but no later than 1836, Lydia married Elijah Clark Bostick, MD.  They would have four children in the next four years – including a set of twins.  They would reside in Almont until Lydia’s death on December 12, 1874.  Elijah would die in Detroit on May 15, 1880.  Lydia and both her husbands were buried in the Goodrich Cemetery on Kidder Road in Bruce Township, Macomb County, Michigan.

Half-brother David married Phebe Mathews on February 1, 1841 in Almont.  Phebe was born in 1822 in Trumbull County, Ohio to John Mathews and Martha Hazen Deneen Mathews (James Deneen’s oldest sister).  The Mathews moved from Trumbull County to Almont about 1836.

Jonathan moved from Almont to Commerce Township, Oakland County about 1852.  His son Oscar was living next door.  Jonathan died on September 30, 1862 in Commerce Township and was buried in the Commerce Village Burying Ground.  His wife Catherine died in September 1873 in Benona Township, Oceana County, Michigan.  Her burial location is not known.

Phebe Mathews Sleeper passed away on October 7, 1886.  Hopefully she was able to attend her youngest child’s, (Grace Edith Sleeper) wedding, which occurred in 1886.  Her husband, David, passed away on February 10, 1900 in Almont.  They are buried in the Ferguson Cemetery in Almont. Elijah Sanborn passed away on November 20, 1869 in Lapeer County.  Sophia Sleeper Sanborn died December 8, 1882 in Goodland Township, Lapeer County, Michigan.  At the time of her death, Sophia was probably living with her brother Benjamin.

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