Welcome to Carleton, Michigan


Daniel A. Matthews, Will Carlton, the Flint & Pere Marquette, and the Canada and the Canada Southern Railways played important roles in Carleton history. Since before Daniel Matthews laid out and platted the land around and including Carleton in northern Monroe County about ten miles north of Monroe in 1872, agriculture has been a mainstay occupation of its citizens. After Daniel Matthews platted and laid out the village, it was named Carleton after well-known poet Will Carleton because according to George Lang in Pocket Road Map, Monroe County, Michigan, 1917, Dan Matthews admired Will Carleton’s poetry.

George Lang also wrote in Pocket Road Map that along with Daniel Matthews, Charles A. Kent helped lay out the original plat of the village consisting of 80 acres. Shortly after that Daniel Matthews and William Hickok added 80 more acres, and a few years later three more acres were added to the village. George Lang noted that  Carleton voted to incorporate on December 4, 1911, with a vote of 102 people for the incorporation and 24 against. The incorporation was confirmed at Lansing on  December 12, 1911.

Carleton’s location at the intersecting of the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad and the Canada and Canada Southern Railways helped the community to grow and become incorporated into a village in 1911. In 1877, five years after Daniel Matthews surveyed and platted land for Carleton settlers, some 300 citizens lived in the community. The 2010 Census showed a population of 2,346 people.  In the 21st Century, Carlton is still an agricultural community and supports several small businesses and restaurants.

Daniel Matthews, Land Developer, Develops Carleton

In 1872, Daniel C. Matthews, a land developer, surveyed and plotted land around Carleton and he bought 80 acres of land. He also served as railroad express agent after the Pere Marquette Railroad came through the village in 1874 and as village postmaster in 1877. Daniel Matthews also helped select the site of Lansing as Michigan’s state capital.[1]

Daniel was born in 1831 in New York, the son of George Washington Matthews and Hannah Maria Soule Matthews. U. S. Census records show that in 1850 Daniel lived in Meridian, Michigan with his parents and brother and sisters. In 1860, Daniel lived in Dearborn with his wife Rachel and nine-month-old son Frederick and in 1870 Daniel, Rachel, and Frederick lived in Ypsilanti. By 1880, Daniel, Rachel, and Frederick lived in Ash, Monroe County, where he worked as a hotel keeper and by 1885 Rachel had died and Daniel re-married Mattie Woodard and they lived in Carleton. In 1900, he and Mattie lived in Ash with their daughter Hazel, his aunt, and several boarders. He listed his occupation as hotel keeper. Daniel died November 4, 1901 in Ash, Monroe County Michigan, and he is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Railroads Criss-Cross Carleton

Railroads were the corporations of the Nineteenth Century and the imprint and impact of railroad ties helped develop southern Michigan and small villages like Carleton. The opening and expansion of the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad in the 1870s created railroad tracks through stands of virgin trees, lumber camps, and far-flung markets. The railroad opened up dense forests of virgin hardwoods to lumbering, and towns like Monroe to be distribution centers for wood and farm products like berries, fruits, and vegetables.

On November 13, 1873, the railroad line between Detroit and Toledo opened for business and Monroe County grew to the rhythm of the train whistle. The Chicago and Canada Southern line stretched diagonally in a southwestern direction through Monroe County and the village of Carleton formed where it crossed the Flint and Pere Marquette tracks. For many years, Carleton shipped hard wood timber and other products, prospering by railroad transportation.

The villages of Scofield and Maybee also sprang up as shipment centers for the area, and even the inland village of Dundee profited from its railroad connections.  These railroads created centers of trade tended to divert business from Monroe City, but as new railroad lines were opened, new factories and other businesses established and populations grew. There was enough business for everyone, with more and more people moving into Monroe County. Railroad trade attracted so many new businesses and so many people that in the fall of 1873, rent prices escalated and vacant houses were as scarce as castles between log cabins.[2]

Why Carleton? Will Carleton!


At the same time that railroads were creating Monroe County villages and stimulating more growth in Monroe, Will Carleton wrote poetry and articles for the Hillsdale Standard in Lenawee County. The fifth child of John Hancock and Celeste Smith Carleton, Will grew up on the family farm in Hudson, Michigan in rural Lenawee County. He went to school in a one room schoolhouse and continued on to Hillsdale College, while continuously contributing poems and stories to newspapers. After he graduated, Will forged a journalism career on newspapers in cities including Hillsdale, Chicago, Detroit, and New York.

In 1871, Will published a poem called Betsy and I Are Out, an ironic story of divorce and in 1872, Over the Hill to the Poor House, possibly his most famous poem. Over the Hill to the Poor House spotlights the struggle for survival of aging people in Nineteenth Century America with no resources and no help. This poem published by Harper’s Weekly, catapulted him into national prominence and established him as a national literary figure. It also inspired Daniel Matthews to name the village he platted after Will Carleton.

Will Carleton moved to Boston in 1878 and married Anne Goodell. In 1882, they moved to New York City, but he continued to be involved with his college fraternity and his boyhood home and friends. In 1907, he returned to Hudson as a literary figure, his poems quoted across America. In 1919, the Michigan legislature passed a law requiring teachers to teach at least one of his poems in school and officially naming October 21, his birthday, as Will Carleton Day in Michigan.

Other places christened in Will Carleton’s honor include a school in Hillsdale called Will Carleton Academy, a section of M-99 in Hillsdale called Will Carleton Road, and for Carleton, Michigan, probably the most important christening. The village of Carleton is named after Will Carleton, with the road on its northern border separating Monroe and Wayne counties named Will Carleton Road. Will Carleton is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn. But according to George Lang, Carleton is the only town in the United States named after Will Carleton.

George Lang also listed some interesting facts about Carleton in his 1917 Pocket Road Map, Monroe County, Michigan.  He wrote that Will Carleton actually visited Carleton two times. He first came to Carleton in June 1908, and made a return visit on June 28, 1909.

 Some  Historic Carleton Businesses and Business People

Joseph Allan Doty, Sr., born February 19, 1856 in Grafton, Monroe County, Michigan operated the Standard Ohio Station in Carleton for 26 years until his retirement.  He died on April 23, 1942, and he is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Charles William Ohlemacher was born in 1864 and died on November 9, 1950 in Carleton. He was a merchant and Carleton resident for 63 years. He is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Dr. Elmer Jeremy Potter, born in Ash Township on January 16, 1851 on the Potter homestead,. He married Elva Haley on December 21, 1871 and they had five children. Jeremy Potter graduated with a medical degree from an Ohio medical college, but after several years practice, he gave up medicine and returned to Carleton where he established a jewelry business. Dr. Potter died December 31, 1911 and he is buried in Carleton Cemetery. He wrote a memoir of his life which he titled Memorandum of Events from 1851 to 1911, transpiring in the life of E.J. Potter M.D., detailing life in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.



Photos courtesy of Grace Schuon-Leidt, former Carleton resident

Here is a list of historic Carleton businesses. a-few-carleton-businesses

Here is a list of some Carleton businesses , 1917-2017.  carleton-businesses-1917-2017

Carleton Contributors

Floyd Leverne Barnum was born June 6, 1879 in Ash Township and he spent his life farming the farm where he was born. On March 22, 1909, he married Miss Mable Deppen at Carleton and they had three children.  Only his daughter Alberta, Mrs. Montoe Kahlbaum, survived into adulthood. Floyd served as a supervisor of Ash Township in 1924,1925, and 1926. He died on March 18 1936 and he is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

James “Jacob” Boyle’s short life spotlighted the dangers of rural life. Born about 1851, he was the son of Charles and Anna Boyle of Ash Township. The Monroe Commercial of October 13, 1859, reported the James went hunting on a Monday morning and didn’t return on Monday night. His friends searched the woods for him and found him dead, killed by a falling tree. “Whether the appearance were that he died immediately from the blow we have not be able to learn,” the Commercial concluded. James is buried in St. Patricks Cemetery #1, Carleton.

Elmina Rose LuckeElimina Rose Lucke, born on December 6, 1889 in Ash Township, Monroe County, established models for International Social Work practices and several firsts for women. Earning a BA degree from Oberlin College in 1912, in 1919 she founded and directed the Detroit International Institute. In 1922, Columbia University accepted her as the first woman accepted for doctoral study in the field of International Law and Relations. After she graduated from Columbia in 1927, Dr. Lucke helped found a high school in Carleton, Michigan, her home town, and she later taught at the Teachers College of Columbia University for nearly 20 years. She helped organize and served on the board of the American Council for Nationalities Service.

In 1947, the YWCA of America asked Dr. Lucke to go to India to help develop a social work training program for young women. In India, she met and became close friends with Mahatma Gandhi and he opened doors for her work, including establishing the first graduate school of social work in India at the University of New Delhi. Later as part of the United Nations Technical Assistance Program, she established a national social work education program in Pakistan.

Dr. Lucke returned to America to more recognition and awards. Oberlin College awarded her a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for “building of friendships between people and peoples.” In 1985, she published her book, Unforgettable Memories, A Collection of Letters in India.” In 1986, she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.  She died on October 31, 1987, and she is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

The Newcomb Doctor Dynasty

Dr. Darwin E. Newcomb was born on February 1, 1848, in London, Monroe County, MichiganAfter attending Michigan University, he graduated with the class of 1884 in the Detroit Medical College, and practiced as a physician and surgeon in Carlton. He married Emma Z. DuPaul and they had five children:  Blanche, Stanley, Ralph, Charles, and Elizabeth. Dr. Darwin Newcomb is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Dr. Stanley NewcombDr. Darwin Newcomb’s son, Stanley was born in 1877. He graduated from Monroe High School and graduated from the Detroit College of Medicine, his father’s Alma Mater, in 1904 with an M.D. degree. He practiced medicine in Ida, Michigan and served as health officer of Raisinville Township. He married Julia R. Snell and they had two children. He served as a private in Company M, 31st Michigan Volunteer Infantry between 1898-1899. He is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Dr. Elizabeth NewcombElizabeth Naomi Newcomb was born in April 1885, the youngest daughter of Dr. Darwin Newcomb and his wife, Emma Z. DuPaul.  She earned a medical degree and is listed in the 1940 United States Federal Census as a Medical Doctor and a widow. She died on December 7, 1942 and she is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Sidney and Robert Woodward

Sidney Ellen Reid Woodward. Sidney was born on February 14, 1842, in Delaware County, Ohio, and moved to Monroe County with her parents. She married Robert R. Woodward of Monroe on November 9, 1861.

Sidney told her descendants stories of her childhood in the woods of Monroe County, describing the nightly howling of wolves outside the cabin. If people had to go out at night, they carried burning pine knots to keep the wolves away, but their eyes gleamed in the darkness. Robert recalled one time an Indian visited the cabin while his father was gone. His mother hustled her children up into the loft where they crouched silent and still while the Indian prowled below and his mother stood holding a loaded shotgun. Eventually, the Indian left the cabin and disappeared into the woods. Robert died on June 3, 1921 and he is buried in Carleton Cemetery. Sidney died on December 26, 1926, and she is buried in Carleton Cemetery with Robert.

A Few Veterans in Carleton Cemeteries

(I changed the list of veterans in Carleton Cemeteries to a PDF because the list was 14 pages long in the blog format and I wanted to make the blog a little shorter to read. I also wanted to say that I in no way intended for this list to be a list of Monroe County veterans or even a complete list of Carleton veterans.  It just struck me as I was researching for this article how many veterans are buried in Monroe County cemeteries and how much we owe them.  I wanted to honor them by printing their names. A very unhappy gentleman complained because I didn’t include all of the Monroe County Veterans listed on the memorials.  Of course I can’t in this short article and that wasn’t my purpose. I just want to highlight as many veterans from Carleton and Monroe County as I can. Sincerely, Kathy Warnes)

A Few Veterans in Carleton Cemeteries     a-few-veterans-buried-in-carleton-cemeteries



[1] The Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory of 1877 lists Daniel as D.A. Mathews, while his genealogical records list him as Daniel C. Matthews.

[2] History of Monroe County Michigan, Volume 2. John McClelland Buckley. Books on Demand, 2013. Pp. 238-240.

9 thoughts on “Welcome to Carleton, Michigan

  1. Not bad, but some has be for gotten, like Cecil F Jackson who made his home with his Grand father and mother on Sigler Rd, Carleton, also he was my first cuz, he had married Miss Doris Smith, he was killed in China WWII Feb 22,

    Gilbert W. Jackson


    1. Gilbert, I forgot to tell you: I stated that the list is just SOME Carleton veterans. If you and others are willing to email me your veterans, I am more than glad to publish other lists. Kathy


  2. Nancy Kraus

    My relative rode a bicycle for miles drawing all the tracts of land in 1901 & who owned the property in Monroe County. George Lang , I have this huge map framed. Love it.


    1. Nancy, I love it too. I was thrilled when Bill Saul from Monroe showed me a copy of it. I knew it would make a wonderful backdrop for a Monroe County and Monroe history story blog. Sincerely, Kathy


      1. i didn’t know that! if you could email me some information about him i would love to write an article about him or if you would like to write it I’ll post it on the blog. He sounds like an interesting person. Riding a bicycle around the county and mapping it, that’s really something. Kathy


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