Isaac Berry, Sr.

Pictures Courtesy of Judy (Jackson) Caldwell & Raymond Pointer 

Isaac Berry, Sr. was a runaway slave from Palmyra, Missouri. He married Lucy Esther Millard in Ontario, Canada in 1859. He was 27, and she was 18. They remained in Canada for 18 years where six of their eight children were born. After coming to Michigan in 1877 with the Todd Family, they settled in Mecosta County, Morton Township. The area is now known as School Section Lake Veterans Park. The children of Isaac and Lucy Berry were William Albert (Jun. 27, 1860); Isaac, Jr. (Feb. 22, 1862); Mary Clarissa (Feb. 22, 1864); Louis Harvey, (May 1866); Benjamin Nelson (February 1868); Lucy Jane, (Nov. 11, 1871); Malinda Dianne (Apr 1878); and John Henry I. (Nov. 8, 1882).

Raymond Pointer, Jr. said that he recalls his Great Grandmother Mary (Kate) Berry-Pointer saying that she was eight years old when they lived in Detroit. At the time the city extended as far north as the New Center Area. The rest was a swamp. There were strip farms running north up to the boundary. When you subtract the year of her birth, 1864 from the year of their arrival in Mecosta in 1877, the remainder is 13. She either was 12 or 13, or there was some amount of time (at least five years) spent in Michigan before they came to Mecosta.

After coming to Michigan two more children were born, Malinda and John. Isaac and Lucy, after settling down on the 80 acres began the task of clearing the land and constructing the necessary buildings to house livestock and other farm animals. Isaac also started an orchard, sending away different kinds of fruit, then doing his own grafting and making his own grafting wax. Some of the apple trees he planted remain in the park area today, along with the big cedars at the end of the lane. 

He also set aside two acres of the original 80 for a schoolhouse. The first one built was made of logs where Lucy (Millard) Berry, Isaac's wife became the first teacher. Later a framed school was built and still stands at that location. Mr. Berry was also a blacksmith doing all the necessary repairs needed in the neighborhood. He forged a pair of skates and sled runners; making bob-sleds and sleighs for winter travel. Isaac was a beekeeper, and honey became a part of their diet replacing sugar for cooking and preserving.

After Isaac and Lucy cleared the land they made the beach now enjoyed at School Section Lake Park. they called it 'Pleasant View." Two bathhouses were built so people could change their clothing for swimming. Boats were made for renting and pleasure. People came from near and far to enjoy the works of Isaac and Lucy's hands. Their property was sold in 1929 to Mecosta County for $8,000. The family today regrets the loss and still thinks of it as their heritage.




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