Elisha Rumsey

Elisha Rumsey is a hard historical figure to pin down. He was one of the founding fathers of Ann Arbor, coming to the site with John Allen in February of 1824. Prior to that time, the life of Rumsey is somewhat of a mystery. We do know that he was born in Sharon, Connecticut, not in the state of New York as most stories claim.(1) What is known about him stems from a smattering of personal accounts which may or may not be believed. These accounts give a sketchy picture of a man who was looking for an opportunity to escape the mistakes of his past and work toward a solid future.
Most records indicate that Rumsey met Allen in Detroit, but an account in the historical volume, Past and Present of Washtenaw County, Michigan has Cleveland as the meeting site for the pair.(4) It seems that Allen and Rumsey had common backgrounds. Allen was trying to shake off some bad debts he accrued in Virginia. Perhaps it was natural for the two to join forces in their quest of starting new lives. Whatever their reasons were in forming a partnership remains unknown. What is known is that the two men filed a claim in the Detroit Federal Land Office on February 24, 1824 for their newly found plot of land.(5) Rumsey was the less wealthy of the two, purchasing only 160 acres which was considerably less than Allen's 480 acres.

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