For many early years until 1869, Elkland Township controlled the governmental business aspects of the land to the south. In that year, a few early settlers including David M. Houghton, asked for a separate organization and a name.
The Tuscola County Board of Supervisors met at Centerville (now Caro) at the store of Farley Craw to divide the lands and christen the new township. When the issue of a name came up, Mr. Farley looked at his stove and noticed that Vesta No. was stamped on it's door. This was a common stove brand in those days. He suggested that the words be reversed to form the name Novesta, and that name was adopted so the story goes. Mr. Houghton was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to organize the Township of Novesta and act as the Township Clerk.
The first town meeting was held at the residence of Levi K. Bridges located three miles south of Cass City on April 5, 1869. $500 was raised for highway purposes; $250 for a contingent fund and $250 for school purposes. A settlement of $1150 of general tax monies and $343.11 of school money was effected between Elkland and the new Novesta Township. A total of 15 votes were cast at that first meeting.
Early township settlers were: Levi K. Bridges in Section 10 and Rueben A. Moshier in Section 36. The township advanced slowly for a time. for at the annual meeting in 1874, only 30 voters were recorded. On August 28, 1869, school inspectors of Kingston and Novesta including Reuben Moshier, Charles Hardy and David M. Houghton met and organized a fractional school district and a log school house was erected on the the southwest corner of Section 36 of Novesta Township. This was the first organized school in Novesta.
In 1870, the first bridge was built across the Cass River so that the Novesta settlers might reach Cass City without raft or fording the stream. This greatly helped the development of the township. The structure was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1882. The new bridge was carried away by a flood.
In the Forest Fire of 1871, Novesta suffered greatly. All the settlers in the northern part of the township headed to the river for safety. Again in 1881, the township was swept by fire destroying nearly all the crops and at least one-half of the buildings. The following spring and summer of 1882, an influx of hardy settlers came to the township and were not easily discouraged.
The Pontiac, Oxford and Northern Railroad opened a rail line in 1883 through the western part of the township. At that time, the railroad gave the name of Bruce (the name of a local family) to the depot stop and a year later, Arthur Newton, who founded the village and gave it the name Deford. No exact reason was given for this name other than Mr. Newton had a friend with the last name of Deford. It is said that the original pronunciation was Da-ford but is now Dee-ford.
The small village is platted into blocks and lots south of Bruce St. but to the north it is not. Main St. was placed where it is now because the lay of the land was much higher and Bruce St. turned into quagmire during the spring and wet weather. The railroad brought business and growth to the small community. Novesta Township and Deford began to grow with agriculture and related business being the main economy. In the early 1880's, Amuel Frutchey, a local general store owner began bartering oats, wheat and beans for groceries. He soon found that handling beans and grain created another business oppurtunity. In 1895 along with two other partners, Mr. Frutchey bought the elevator business owned by A.G. Berney in Cass City. Soon after, a elevator and bank business was started in Deford near the rail line. This area was known as the Market Center.
In 1933, after mearging and changing names many times, the business was reorganized into the Frutchey Bean Company. The company was recognized worldwide for it's marketing of white or navy beans. Farming had become so important that by 1919, the Farmer's Home Journal book, "How To Do Things" reported that there were 84 working farms in the township.
Another small community in the township was called Novesta or Novesta Corners. Located at the corners where Sections 30 and 31 of Evergreen and 25 and 36 of Novesta meet near Deckerville Rd., a crossroads village grew in the early days. Most of it including the sawmill, Baptist church, one general store, blacksmith shop and a few houses were on the Novesta side of Lampton Rd. On the Evergreen side was the Gleaner Hall, store, post office and more houses. The post office operated from August 25, 1874 and closed July 31, 1905. John D. McCaughna was one of the store owners.
On June 5, 1905 a strong storm turned into cyclone and destroyed many buildings in the township including the Free Will Baptist Church at Novesta. It was rebuilt the same year. With the lack of a railroad and the coming of good roads, Novesta or Novesta Corners soon became a ghost town with the exception of the Baptist Church. The first school in the township was built in 1869 near the corner where Crawford and Gilford Roads meet now. This small log cabin was used until 1881 when the "Great Fire" destroyed it.
On January 22, 1878, a special meeting was called to purchase one acre of land being what is now the northeast corner of Deckerville and Crawford Roads. On May 16, 1878, it was decided that a frame school house sized 18' x 24' be built by Charles Wheeton for the sum of $30.00 for construction only.
Over the years, there were five other country schools within the township. Their names were Paul, Quick, Ferguson, Brown, and Deford. Many children learned the "three R's" in these buildings. On October 25,1954 the voters of seven school districts including Kingston 4 and 6; Novesta 1,3,4, and 6; and Wells 5, voted to organize into a Rural Agricultural School District. A new Board of Education was elected and on January 18, 1955, the new board hired Mr. R.S. Gerganoff of Ypsilanti as their architect to prepare plans for a new school building to be located near Novesta's District # 4 building at Deford. On March 14, 1955, a $125,000.00 bond issue was approved by the voters of the school districts involved. On January 1, 1957 the new building was ready for students. The first principal was Mr. Harry Volz with Mrs. Leola Retherford, Mrs. Norma Kelly, Mrs. Vera Hoadley, Miss Harriet Warner, Mrs. Hattie Klea, and Mrs. Geraldine Coleman being the teachers.
The Deford State Game area has become a popular recreational addition to the township. It was established in February, 1942 for the purpose of offering hunting for the people of Detroit, Pontiac, and Flint. By 2005, there was 1426 acres of State Game Land in Novesta Township. It has spread into Wells, Kingston, and Ellington Townships with a long range goal of 18,730 acres. (Excerpts taken from: The Way it Was, The Cass City Area, 1845-1995 by the Cass City Historical Society; The History of Evergreen Township by Jason A. Kitchen; The History & Memories of Novesta Township by Tyler R. Perry; Michigan Place Names by Walter Romig; The Farm Journal's How To Do Things, 1919.) Interesting books about Novesta Township and Deford is the novel "THE OLD MAN and the BOY" by Emil Joseph Amberboy. Available at the Rawson Memorial Library in Cass City, Michigtan and online at www. trafford.com/06-2256, this book is a reflection of Mr. Amberboy's boyhood memories of Deford and Novesta Township during the 1930's and 1940's. The History & Memories of Novesta Township by Tyler R. Perry in 2005 available at the Rawson Memorial Library.