The mission of the Champion Historical Society is maintain open membership, advance local historical knowledge, preserve historical artifacts and information, and promote the longevity of the Society.
Champion’s First Families
Between 1806 and 1828, there were only four families, and some Indians, living in the township. One reason why Champion was so slow in developing compared to the other townships in the county was Henry Champion’s desire to make as much money for his land as possible. For thirty years, few settlers were willing to pay his asking price.
The first family to settle in Champion was the Rutans, who moved here from Pennsylvania. The family of four lived on a farm, belonging to the Presbyterian Church, and Mr. Rutan was described as being good and honest.
Next came the Andrew Donaldson family who lived in Champion for twenty years on a farm next to the Rutans. When Donaldson’s children ultimately moved to Parkman, he moved there too.
In 1812, John Chambers moved here from Pennsylvania and worked a farm not far from John Rutan and Andrew Donaldson. John and his wife had seven children; several of whom remained in Champion.
The last of Champion’s first families during this time period were the Woodrows. William Woodrow came from Pennsylvania in 1807, cleared land, and then built his home, a cabin, smaller than most garages today. The 15×25 foot home, which was only twelve feet high, was made of logs and had split oak timber as flooring. Interestingly, the chimney was built of straw, split sticks and mortar. The chimney itself caught fire often.
The Woodrows’ trip here had to have been difficult. Mrs. Woodrow, holding her two year old son, rode a horse whose saddle bags contained a few household articles. William walked and herded two cows on his trip to Champion. His knapsack contained a few possessions as well as his six month old son. Their furniture and other belongings would be sent for later.
After they arrived, one story relates that Mrs. Woodrow needed to make a new pair of pants for her husband. Because she had no scissors, she looked for something to cut the fabric. She laid out the material, marked out the pattern, and took an axe to the material. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.
- Credit Champion Times, circa 2005