In 1837, Dwight & Hutchinson, failing to see any signs of village growth (for none of the lot-purchasers seemed disposed to make improvements), induced Cyprian S. Hooker, of Oakland Co., Mich., by the donation of some land, to come out (o Saranac and build a saw-mill. He began the erection of the mill in 1837 upon the site now occupied by the Saranac Mills, but, apparently in no hurry to complete it, allowed the business of construction to drag along until some time in 1841 when the mill was called for the first time to do active duty.
Not long after Hooker's arrival at Saranac, Jerry Stocking, also of Oakland County, put in an appearance for the purpose of setting up a furniture-manufactory. Hooker agreed to give him water-power if ho would dig a race, and Stocking, accordingly, accepting the proposition, finished the job in due time, and then assisted Hooker in building the mill or labored for him otherwise. Both Hooker and Stocking took matters easily, and, as Hooker made a house of entertainment of his log cabin, he gathered a sufficiency of ..... to keep him from worrying over the situation or from feeling the need of undue haste in the matter of the mill. When the mill was started Hooker brushed up his energies and urged the business briskly forward, while Stocking, equally energetic, set up a small lathe in the mill, and, between making a little furniture and working for Hooker, managed to keep from rusting.
In 1846, Hooker and Stocking concluded they had experimented in Saranac quite long enough and moved away, whereupon the mill-property was purchased by Ami Chipman and Samuel Wilson. Meanwhile, the village had failed to make any strides forward, although, in 1842, Richard Vesper moved up from section 24 and made a settlement upon the place that has ever since been his home.
About 1844, Stephen Denny, a Frenchman, and a man named Powers opened a blacksmith-shop on the west side of the creek, but in 1846, when Hooker and Stocking gave up and retired, Denny concluded that Saranac was doomed to oblivion, and he too made off for other scenes. His sentiments were "Hooker gone, Saranac gone; no much now. All gone to ze devil; I go too."
The first goods sold in the place wore kept by Hooker in a corner of his log cabin, but the first recognized store was one opened by Ammon Wilson, of New York State, who, in response to an invitation from his brother, Samuel Wilson, of the firm of Chipman & Wilson, the millers, brought a stock of goods to Saranac in 1847 and put them into a board shanty on the bank of the creek, where Jerry Stocking had lived. That was his store until he could put up a better one on the corner east of him, and until the winter of 1850—51 he was the only trader in the place.
Up to that time Saranac had struggled but feebly for existence, and at its best, to 1847, had been little better than a cross-roads; but, with the advent of Ammon Wilson's store and the introduction of steam navigation upon the Grand River, a slight show of activity set in, and the place slowly but surely increased in strength and vitality. In 1847, Ammon Wilson built a warehouse upon the rivers bank and proposed to do something in the way of wheat-shipments, but the house was scarcely finished before it was burned to the ground. Daniel Ball, of Grand Rapids, took hold, however, of the wheat business, and forwarded a considerable quantity of that staple from Saranac to Grand Rapids.
Of course the village received through these trade developments a healthful impetus, and the town began to be peopled. Samuel Wilson opened a tavern in 1847 on "Spencer's Corner," and kept it until 1853. In 1854, Ammon Wilson built the Wilson Hotel, on Weier's Corner, but did not remain its landlord very long, although the house was known for a long time afterwards as Wilson's Hotel. To the year 1851 the village was called " Saranac," but in that year, as will be presently shown, it was christened " Boston" and for the first time formally platted. There was, it seems, some informality in the titles issued by Dwight & Hutchinson to purchasers of village lots, by reason of a lack of proper formal record of the plat, and when Dwight & Hutchinson failed there ensued a good deal of litigation over disputed titles, and in the end some of the purchasers and holders of lots found themselves ousted and put to a loss of not only purchase-money, but of improvements as well.
more about our history