Ronald, Michigan was first broken into in the spring of 1837, by George Younger and Joshua Shepard. Shepard's location is now the county poor farm. He did not survive but a short time.
He left a widow and three sons - William, Chauncey and Norman, who remained on the farm and cleared it up. Samuel Yates had before (1835) settled south of the town line, locating part of his farm in Ronald. Shepard's farm was near the south line.
In the autumn of 1837, came the Rev. John Van Vleck and William Wood, who pushed further north; Van Vleck locating where now is the village of Palo, and Wood on Sec. 19.
In the winter following, the father of' Van Vleck came on to look; looked, saw and approved, and the next summer moved on with his family. The family consisted o f Mathew Van Vleck, his wife, three sons, John, Albert and Peter, and two daughters Catherine and Sarah. The entire family are still living; the old patriarch is happy, seeing his sons and daughters all around him, enjoying the good things of the world, and the respect of tile community of which they and he were the pioneers. The family secured an abundant supply of land, and has held on upon it.
They had no neighbors for several years; and a journey through the "tangled wilderness” to the abodes of civilization was no trifle. The old gentleman and his wife, on the shady side of 80, in their cozy home in Palo, are abiding their time.
Intellect is still clear, and though the departure is at hand, conscious of a life well spent, and proud of the family they have reared, they look not back with regret, and have no fears of being forgotten. The hoary head, which is the crown of a life well spent, has always its veneration, and we reverently take off our hat to the venerable old man and woman, peacefully finishing life's wearying pilgrimage. We do not say “live forever," for it is our hope, in peaceful and honored old age, to lie down with our fathers." So, when the time comes, When "the wheel is broken at the cistern," and the pulses of life beat without emotion, we hope that loving hands will lay you away where the angel of the resurrection will find you.
Be yours a peaceful old age awhile longer, while intellect holds sway, and while life has its charms. When these fail, it is sweet to rest. Who wishes to live, a human nobody - a shattered lantern, in which no light is burning? Benedicite!
Moralizing on old age, we have strayed from Ronald.
Catharine Van Vleck married George D. Tasker, and now survives as his widow. Their marriage was the first event of the kind in the town. At the rural wedding, an immense wild turkey was a part of the feast; whether served in ancient Spanish style, like the  peacock at Don Pedro's feast, "all dressed in fire and feather," tradition does not say. That the fiddler came from Ionia, with his old violin, to start the rural swains and country lasses into hilarious dance, is not supposable - for her brother was a minister; the dance was under the churches prescription; and the violin was banned, excommunicated and abhorred. It had not yet won its place in the churches and Christian homes, for the good reason that it had kept bad company. Young reader, beware, and take a lesson from the violin. If you are found in low company, you will not find yourself in higher.  No, they did not have a violin; but the young dominie cracked many a sly joke, that exploded in hilarious laughter, Why, let alone the dominie for waking up a wedding party. Now they are much like other genial people; but in time past they were just like a bottle of champagne – still and long visages until the cork was taken out. Then, though long-visaged still, there was an explosive effervescence. We don’t say it was in this case; only that this was dominical in nature; a fact which proves that grace cannot altogether conquer human nature.
In 1838, Alanson Snow (since dead) came, with a large family, and 1ocated in the middle of the town. His father-in-law Pangborn, was brought on with them. He was a Revolutionary War  Soldier; kept alive, as was said, to draw his pension, much longer than there is any sense or propriety in living; alive long years after all the show of intellect had disappeared, and almost all signs of even life; dying, at last, over one hundred years old, from mere lack of any oil in the exhausted lamp. To live so is dreadful. Death, thou art not “the king or terrors” to a good old age. Thy presence is welcome, as bringing a peaceful rest. Why sometimes forget to come when life is a weariness and a curse?

Of senses bereft,
And all that is dear,
The little that's left
Is out of its sphere.
O, is them not sadness
In an old man's doom!
And say, is it madness
That welcomes the tomb?

The same year came Lafayette Church, now a minister in Gratiot County. He made some improvements and went away.
So also came and went J. J. Foote.
In 1839, Stephen and Wellington Page settled in the town, where they held prominent place among the good citizens; they now reside in Ionia.
Eli Soule came in 1840, but left for other parts. Wm. Jennings came in 1842. He now is in Ionia.
Joseph L. Freeman and family were added in '43, and the same year Daniel Dodge. His sons say he was not that Dodge whose epitaph –

"He dodged the good,
But never dodged the evil;
He dodged his best and all he could,
But could not dodge the devil,"—

has become classic. No, He was not that Dodge, but another man of another family. That Dodge was Dr. Dodge, of Thomaston Maine, and this epitaph, composed by himself, was truly expressive of the character of the old reprobate. The Ronald Dodge was another sort of man; and among his sons were two lawyers, one doctor, one editor, and two teachers.
No old bach., like the Dr. Dodge of Thomaston, or such a man, ever raised such a family. Two of his boys – the twins – look so much alike, especially Elvander, that they scarcely know themselves apart.
1845 brought the Mosier family, Geo. Sessions and Phineas Hutchins. Sessions went away after a few years, and as a consequence, was killed by the caving n of a mine in California; a warning to such a desert as Ronald.
Alpheus Hawley came in ’46 – a man who was death on bears, wolves and muskrats, as well as a successful farmer, and valued citizen.
He is still resident. His tribute to his country was two sons, who died in the war.

Slowly the town filled up. In 1846, at the time of its organization, there were 26 voters. At the organization Wm. Jennings had the honor of being the first supervisor.
 In 1845, that “Mother in Israel," Mrs. Dodge, organized a Sunday school. This woman died at the residence of her son, in Ionia, in 1872. The pioneer school was kept by John
Van Vleck - only 5 or 6 scholars.
About 1854, Albert Van Vleck, thinking it was too bad for the people to go to Ionia for their matches and tobacco, opened a little store, where he kept those articles; also, calico, sugar, etc. Soon around the store centered the blacksmith, shoemaker, carpenter, etc. This decided that there was the place for the church, the school-house, and the et ceteras of a country center, and the pretty village of Palo is the result. In honor of the victory at Palo Alto, it received its name; a name suggested by Van Vleck, and given by acclamation, when the news of that victory first came.
Palo is now a snug country center. Here the Baptists and Methodists have their churches; and here they have several manufacturing concerns, and the usual complement of stores, doctors, mechanics, etc., of a thriving country village. The place has no natural advantages, but is what man made it.
Ronald has its traditions. It once had a magistrate - a justice or an esquire - not learned indeed in the law, but fertile in resources. This dignitary was called upon to weld two into one, which he did to his own and their satisfaction. To his own, for he had been sadly in need of a dollar to send to Ionia for whisky and tobacco; to theirs, for a life of blissful union was now begun. But earthly bliss is often evanescent: Ere twenty days had elapsed, the married couple presented themselves against again at the justice’s house. "We cannot live together," said Obadiah. “I won't live with him," said his charming Sophia. “Can’t you unmarry us? “said both together. The justice pondered, and scratched his judicial head; he took down the “statutes," searched them, and ruminated deep and long. He found no law to authorize the deed. He thought again--" What man has done he may undo; this is common sense, and should be law." 'Rising from his magisterial chair, he said: " Obadiah and Sophia, stand up, and take each other by the hand; do you solemnly promise to separate, and bother each other no more! " Answer of both: “You Bet on that.” “Then 1 unmarry you - get along with you - you couple of greenies; associate with owls and porcupines; only get out of my sight - git! “And they “got" incontinently and  instanter.
Another dim tradition is one, in which the Rev. Van Vleck, a horse, a deer, a fire-brand and a pair of scissors are mixed up. But whether it was that Van Vleck, riding along an
Indian trail, saw a deer; and having snatched the remnants of a pole from a burning  brush-pile, mounted his horse, pursued, overtook and knocked down the deer with the blazing brand, and then cut his throat with a pair of scissors; or that deer, riding a pair of scissors, chased Van Vleck, knocked him down with a horse, and cut his throat with a firebrand, or, that a horse, riding a firebrand, pursued a pair of scissors, knocked them down with Van Vleck, and cut their throat with a deer, is quite uncertain; antecedent probability is in favor of the first way of stating it; but the tradition is mixed.
This much is sure-some such event did happen.

We will follow the fortune and the fate of a few more of the pioneers of Ronald.
Alfred Van Vleck always lived at Palo. There he is as happy as 1,000 acres of prime land, flocks, herds, money in the bank, and a good name, can make him.
George Younger, was art industrious, hard-working Scotchman; an honest and sober man.  He has paid the debt of nature.
Wm. Wood, lived in Ronald but a few years; removed to Otisco, where he built a mill.  He died at Saranac, about 1871.
Benjamin F. Pew, who should have been mentioned as coming in about 1840, has alternated between Ronald and California He was a “patriot” in the McKenzie war in Canada; was a prisoner at Quebec. Released, he concluded to let the Canadians do their own patriotism. He has since thrived by attending to his own business as a merchant at Palo. He has been a mighty hunter.
Wm. Jennings, left Ronald; but left behind the regret that he chose Ionia. He labored for the good of the community, and had a strong hold on their respect, which he had worthily won. He is now a merchant at Ionia.
Ronald was organized as a town in 1845. Its first officers were:
William Jennings, Supervisor; William J. Clark, Clerk; Royal Howell, Treasurer; John Ransom, Parley Eaton, Chauncey Goodwin, Joseph L. Freeman, Justices.

The Baptist Church at Palo was organized March 181h, 1846, with twelve members - seven men and five women. About three hundred have since been admitted by letter or profession. The Rev. John Van Vleck, who was one of the constituent members, was the first pastor, and has served, in all, seventeen years in that capacity.
This church way the first in Ronald; and for several years the only religious society in town. Its growth has been steady and healthy; and a quiet, yet powerful influence for good has gone out from it during all the years of its existence. It has a good frame meeting house - built about 1860. It has now a membership of over 150 persons, and is, under the leadership of its present pastor, Rev. H. A. Rose, likely to continue a prosperous ant1 useful religious society. J. V. C.

The following communication is left to tell the story of Methodism in this region. It is given in the language of the writer. We only wish we had such reports from all the churches as we get from Ronald:

Palo Methodist Episcopal Church

This church consists of three Classes: the Palo, West Bushnell and South Ronald Classes, having a total full membership of one hundred and forty; probationers, twenty.
The present pastor, Rev. Burton S. Mills, receives a salary of $800, and parsonage, $100 - $900. The parsonage was built in l858. In the years 1869-70, a church building, 36 by 60 feet, was erected and furnished with a bell, organ, carpet and furnace, at a total cost of $4,500, and dedicated, free of debt, August, 1870.
Since that time sheds have been built containing ten stalls, and costing $500.
The West Bushnell Class have a neat little chapel nearly completed, costing about $1,500, which they expect to dedicate, free of debt, before the close of the present year.
The first organization within our present limits was the Class at Long Plains, in the year 1846, organized by the preachers in charge of either the Ionia or Lyons Circuit - Revs. F. A. Blades and - Comfort. This is the present South Ronald Class, and some of the original members are still living and members of the Class.
In 1854, the Michigan Annual Conference organized the Matherton Circuit, consisting of this and several other Classes. In 1856, Palo Class was added, and in 1861-2 these had increased to ten Classes. In 1862, Palo Circuit was formed, and in 1870, consisted of five Classes, two of which in that year were set off to Bloomer Circuit, leaving the charge consisting of the three Classes as they exist at the present time, the oldest being the original "Long Plains Class" of 1846.                           A. E. HALBERT.
Palo, Nov. 4th, 1875.