DeVan Family History and Genealogy

Erastus N. DeVan

Erastus married Polly M. Stone.

"Polly was one of the first school teachers in Morgan and taught many youths and maidens to read and spell. Erastus and Polly lived in the log cabin on the banks of the Grand River. The log cabin had two rooms and a wide, deep fireplace.

Polly, their daughter, well remembered when her father used to drive in the horse hitched to the big log, while her mother would stand, broom in hand, ready to sweep up the embers that would fly when the log would fall into place."

Jefferson Gazette, July 19, 1935:


ROCK CREEK, July 15. - On the banks of Grand River in picturesque Riverdale, stands an old historic home occupied by one family continuously for 87 years. This was first known as the Erastus De Van home, and the family lived in a log house from 1848 until some time in the '50's, when the present house became the home of this family. Erastus De Van who married twice, his first wife's maiden name was Polly Stone, who lived in this vicinity. To this union were born two children, one girl died in youth, but many of us remember the late Polly De Van Smith, who was a great reader, and a talented member of The Travelers' Club for years.

Some years after Mr. De Van's first wife died he married Miss Ruth Weller of Vermont, and there were two children by this union, the late Nellie and Edwin De Van.

The direct descendants of these unions now living, are of the first union, Mrs. H. G. Kile of Rock Creek, the only child of Polly De Van Smith, and F. E. De Van and Mrs. Denny Greening of the second union, children of Edwin De Van. The son of Edwin De Van, F. E. De Van, now occupies the old homestead. His sister, Mrs. Greening, lives on the pleasant place on the top of the hill, on the south side of the road, just this side of the river, and their mother, Mrs. Belle DeVan, lives with her and is a bright, active woman of 88 years.

That Erastus De Van was blest with plenty of brains and good common sense is proven by what he accomplished. When he was first married he could neither read nor write, so his first wife taught him the rudiments of reading. His second wife began with his education where his first left off, getting him so far along in his education that he became interested in law, and became so well versed in this that he was admitted to the bar, becoming a full fledged lawyer, and he was noted for his shrewdness. He served as township trustee here for some time, the records show he was Justice of the Peace in 1851-1852, probably serving much longer*.

Mr. and Mrs. De Van were ardent anti-slavery people, Mr. De Van being president of the Underground Railroad Association, a hide-away for run-away slaves. That Mr. and Mrs. Erastus De Van were literary people is obvious by the people congregating around them, for frequent guests in their home were the Woodbury's, the Giddings, Judge Chafee and many more from Jefferson, names associated not only with the county's history, but the country's as well. Erastus De Van and Birdsey Watkins, first president of Rock Creek's bank, were close friends. Mr. and Mrs. De Van were not snobbish, but seemed to attract a fine class of people around them. The De Van home will always be regarded with interest, because of these fine associations, and it is gratifying that a direct descendent still occupies this historic home, and not only are all the descendants respected but Belle De Van, widow of Edwin De Van is loved and respected by all who know her in town.

Webmaster's note: This article is reproduced as originally written. There seems to be many variations in the spelling of the DeVan name. With one exception, the name is spelled incorrectly in this article. Erastus spelled his name "DeVan"; others spelled it "Devan" or "Divan."

*Erastus was elected to the Justice of the Peace office three times: In 1849, 1852, and 1858. He also served as township clerk in 1851.

**Webmaster's note: Grandmother Jenny DeVan, wife of F.E. DeVan, continued to live in the old house through the 1950s and into the 1960s, making the total lifespan of the house over 110 years.

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