Mr. Simon Howe is credited as being the first settler in Heath Township and appeared in the year 1850. Mr. John Sadler, who was the grandfather of Mr. Fred Mason, purchased land in section 36 at an early date and moved on this land in 1851 with his three sons.
Some of our first settlers were immediately attracted by the available power sites, especially on Rabbit River in section 6 and also on Silver and Bear Creeks.
It is reported that purchases of fur were made from the Indians on the Rabbit River in Heath Township as early as 1828.
The early settlers were mostly grouped in the folllowing places: Rabbit River, now the village of Hamilton; Dunningville; Gilchrist Station in section 21; and Sawyerville in section 25 and 26. These places in the so-called early days were lumber towns. There was also a shingle mill in about the middle of section 20 and also in the northern part of section 33.
Gilchrist, in section 21, can now only be located by a good-sized sawdust pile which was the refuse of the saw mills.
Sawyerville has also entirely disappeared. During the lumbering period there was a railroad with wooden rails built from Sawyerville running to Dunningville, and thence to Kellogg & Sawyer landing on the Kalamazoo River in the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of section 32, right near the mouth of Bear Creek. there is no visible evidence today of this old railroad.
Dunningville was at one time a platted village and was laid out in 210 lots. The business directory in the year of 1870 listed several dealers as dealing in dry goods, groceries, hardware, glassware, crockery, etc., as well as a depot, post office, hotel, shingle and saw mill, and grain elevator.