The settlement of this town is peculiar. A colony of eleven well-educated men in 1838 selected this town as their place of residence. One of their number, Barton Johnson, came ahead as an explorer. The rest soon followed with their families. Their names were: Philo Bears, Barton Johnson, Benjamin Botsford, John Austin, Wm. R. Davis, John Barlow, Alexander Dean, Sabin Johnson, Thomas Addison, Anson Ensign and Iram Barney.
They located their lands contiguous to each other. They organized the town and resided several years alone - a happy, social and moral community. They had enough for fraternity, enough for society, and enough for a school. They were at home in each other's houses, and prided themselves in each other's good name and character. But the intruding stranger would come in, among whom we have gathered the following:
Rice Austin, Loren Austin, Philo Austin, Nelson Miles, Chauncey Parker, Philip Becker, Henry Barlow, David Haynes, John Carlyle, Horace Colby, James Kingin, Jacob Snyder, Morgan Hunting, George Shank, Joseph Davis, Amasa  Squiers, Wm. H. Myers, Alman Thompson, Horton Rounds, Nathan Rounds, William Rounds, Lenas B. White, Alfred Stilwell, Calvin Thompson.
Perhaps some others were of as ear1y a date as some of these.
Of the original company:
Philo Bears, who organized the band in Washtenaw county, stayed about ten years, and went to Grand Traverse, where he died.
Alexander Dean was an enterprising farmer, and a good man. He died in 1871--aged 78 years.
Barton Johnson has been a leading official man, and still graces the town with his living presence.
Sabin Johnson, after living like a good citizen in Courtland until about 1860, moved to Rockford, where he died, three or four years after.
Sabin Johnson, Jr., followed in the footsteps of his worthy father; and died about '54.  A good, upright man.
Thomas Addison, having lived the life of a good man, died in 1875, aged 67 years.
Benjamin Botsford became insane and died in the poor house.
Anson Ensign died in 1854, aged 49.
Iram Barnes lives in Nelson.
Wm. R. Davis lives just on the line in Oakfield. Those, who, in that region don't know him, don't know much.
John Barlow was accidentally shot at Plainfield.
Mrs. Barton Johnson was the first white woman in town.
It is a little doubtful who taught the first school. It is claimed for three - John Davis, John Austin and Emily Dean.
Miss Dean kept a school for a time in a shanty. She was followed by Amanda Loomis and Harriet Patrick. Miss Dean is the wife of John Austin of Courtland. Miss Loomis is in San Francisco. Miss Patrick died about 1870.
The pioneer preacher was the otherwise mentioned James Ballard. About the same time the zealous young Methodist preacher, Frieze, came among the people and made this town a part of his mission.
In 1866, the town was the scene of a fiendish murder, which excited the community at the time. One Durfee, who had been living in Ohio, had a paramour, with whom he had lived some years. He came with her and her child to Grand Rapids, where he hired a livery team, and they went on a ride in the rural towns. Having come into a secluded place by the side of one of the lakes in Courtland, he strangled her with a rope, dragged her into the bushes, left the child near a house; returned the team, and disappeared. The child was found nearly famished; the murdered woman discovered; the case skillfully worked up; Durfee tracked out, arrested, tried, and sent to prison, where he is said to have died. Durfee was a fiend; and marked as such. The child is adopted into a worthy family in the town; and thinks himself their son. The name of his foster parents will not here be given, as we do not wish to dispel the illusion of the boy, whose good fortune it was that his mother was murdered.
The town was organized in 1839. Supervisor, Philo Bears; Clerk, Thomas Addison; Treasurer, David Haines; Justice, ,John Austin.
It was customary in the early settlement, at first to unite several townships and organize them as a town. One and another would soon be set off. Courtland was shorn of all its dependencies, and reduced to its present limits in 1846. In 1848, by a legislative blunder, it was reorganized with Oakfield, under the name of Wabesis. Its status was restored by the next Legislature.
From the cemetery and other sources we glean of those who have passed away:
Mary, wife of Joseph Haynes, died in 1857, aged 91.
Noel Stewart, died in 1847, aged 60.
Lucy. mother of Philo Bears, died in 1841.
Dr. Ezra Chaffee, died in 1853: aged 66.
Annanias Worden, died in 1861, aged 71-father of Commodore Worden, of Monitor fame. His venerable widow is in Grand Rapids.
Alexander Dean, died in 1871, aged 78.
Sabin Johnson, Jr., died in 1854.
John Carlyle, died 1874.
Wm. Carlyle, died in 1856, aged 51.
James Kingin, died in 1873, aged 69.
Morgan Hunting, died in 1868, aged 63.
Amasa Squires, died in 1860, aged 65.
First settled by a fraternal colony, Courtland has not lost the character they first gave her. With little fir the historian to say, it is a good town; as respectable as though she had had twenty murders instead of one. Therefore don't think yourselves slighted because little is said.