Lewis Emery

Lewis was a woolen manufacturer. In 1843 he came to Jonesville and erected a carding mill. Doing well, in 1847 he opened Emery's Mills one mile east of Hillsdale in the area where State Road now runs. Lewis was a successful businessman, but his special place in the history of our county is because of events that took place on his land. It was there that two national crises were reflected by events in Hillsdale County.

In 1862, after the Union army failed to win a victory in any of the early battles of the Civil War, President Lincoln called for more volunteers for the military. Henry Waldron was charged with finding the soldiers for the 18th Michigan Regiment. Young men, happy to leave the drudgery of farm work and with visions of the glories of war, answered his call. Lewis volunteered the use of his land for training the regiment, and the men went into encampment to learn how to be soldiers. The camp was called Camp Woodbury after Col. Dwight A. Woodbury, who had organized the 4th Michigan. It was located at the top of the hill to the east of the current entrance to Lewis Emery Park. 

The 92 acres that would become Lewis Emery Park were a swampland until the 1930s. In an effort to end the Depression, the government set up public works projects that would employ the out-of-work men. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) eventually offered construction jobs to almost one-third of the nation's unemployed. In Hillsdale, the swamp was turned into park land and rearing ponds for trout for anyone to enjoy. 


JoAnne P. Miller