Who Was Warren Named After

Who was Warren of Warren Michigan?

Abel Warren was a pioneer christian circuit precher and war hero who became particularly beloved to the early pioneers and was held in very high esteem so much so that the area near the future village of Warren was called Abe’s circuit or Warren’s circuit.  The area was later named Aba Township and on March 26, 1839 it was renamed Warren Township.

“I have fought a good fight.  I have finished my course.  I have kept the faith.” Thus reads the stone of the pioneer Christian preacher and war hero who married more of Warren’s pioneers and spoke at more of their burials than any other person.  He was Rev Abel Warren born August 3, 1789 and died Sept 5, 1862.  His great grandfather came across on the Mayflower.  His Grandfather Gideon Warren was a Lieutenant in the French and Indian Wars, joining in 1748.  “He was one of Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys” in Vermont.  He became a Colonel of the 5th Vermont Regiment in the Revolutionary War.  He was wounded in the battle of Ticonderoga.

Abel Warren enlisted and served his country as a soldier in 1812 holding the rank of Sergeant.  He was seriously wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Queenstown Heights.  Having near death experiences in the war and as a British prisoner made him aware of the value of life.  He became a Christian in 1817 and joined the Methodist church.  In 1824 he and his wife Sarah became some of the first pioneers in Macomb County settling just north of Warren.  He became a deacon and later an elder in the church and was the first man to preach in Macomb County, and
 “no doubt preached at more funerals and married more couples than any other man in the county of Macomb, as when well he was always ready at a moment’s call for either, frequently leaving the hayfield and going ten or fifteen miles to attend a funeral”, on foot as horses in those days were very scarce.  “As a pioneer local preacher, he was abundant in labors, traveling on foot at times twenty-four miles on the Sabbath and preaching three times, and that after a hard week’s work on the farm, and preaching as regularly as any stationed, preacher, and spending most of the winters in special revival work, in Macomb, St Clair and Oakland Counties, in which hundreds were converted, thus helping to lay the basis on which rests the magnificent, moral and social superstructure of this beautiful region of country.”  From the History of Macomb County. Leeson 1882.

“He was genial and sympathetic, could weep with those that wept, or rejoice and smile with the cheerful and happy, and thus was a welcome guest, either at the wedding festival, and the sick-bed or funeral obsequies.  He had nine children, four sons and five daughters.”  Two of his sons entered the ministry a third has an important position in the church.  Abel Warren had settled in Macomb County even before Warren Township was settled.  The area was all wilderness and abounded in wildlife. While pausing in the woods for a moment of prayer and some local wolves started howling so he held prayer meeting with them.  “One Sabbath evening, while passing through the woods over an Indian trail, he saw just ahead of him a huge bear.  The animal seemed inclined to dispute the right of way; without apparent fear, the traveler picked up a stick, saying, ‘If you be good, I will, but otherwise we will try titles.’  The bear stepped aside and the Elder pushed forward on his journey.”   From the History of Macomb County. Leeson 1882.

“The first religious service in the county was held by the Rev Abel Warren who preached

a funeral discourse in the township of Almont.”  History of Lapeer County p 20.

“The first or second sermon ever delivered in Lapeer County was preached by “old Father Abel Warren,” as he was familiarly called.  Mr. Warren belonged to the M. E. Church and was the pioneer preacher of a large track of wilderness, embracing this and several adjoining counties.  He must have been a man of many sterling qualities of brain and heart, judging from the success of his heroic labors and the affectionate remembrance in which he is still held by the surviving pioneers.”  History of Lapeer County p 33.

“Rev Abel Warren, of precious memory, was the first minister to find his way to this town, and probably preached the first sermon in town.  For several years did this noble veteran of the cross visit the people of the town from his home some twenty miles away in the town of Washington.  It is safe to say that no minister since that time has had the love and esteem of this people more than did this faithful and devoted man.  In the year 1855 he was preacher in charge on the circuit, which was nearly the last of his ministerial labors. He has long since passed to his reward, and his memory is precious with those who knew him.”  History of Lapeer County p 101.

Historian George  Fuller in his book Historic Michigan states that Rev Abel Warren settled in Shelby in the summer of 1824 and lived there for thirty nine years.  “Being a local preacher, he made his own appointments, and was at liberty to respond to any call he might receive, where the people desired his services, and such was the demand for them that there was hardly a settlement in eastern Michigan where he was not called at times to preach, either on the Sabbath, or at the funeral of some departed friend.  I doubt that if there has ever been another minister in Michigan so universally respected and beloved by all classes, and people of all creeds, as was Abel Warren, during the thirty-nine years of his life work in Michigan.”

Rev Abel Warren was the first minister of Dryden Methodist Church 1856.   Family records.

He was the first man licensed to preach in the State of Michigan. From the History of Macomb County. Leeson 1882.

Rev Abel Warren was a circuit rider who traveled around Macomb County preaching the story of Jesus, marrying many pioneers, speaking at many pioneer funerals and helping to start several churches.  He became known as Elder Warren.  His warm personality made him many friends.  He ministered to the spiritual needs of Warren’s early settlers. (from Leeson's History of Macomb County-1882)   It is believed he was instrumental in the formation of the first Methodist church of Warren in which his son was one of the earliest pastors.  This was the first church of any denomination formed in Warren.

It is highly possible that Warren was named after this well traveled and well loved man.

Abel became the first supervisor of Shelby Township.  History of Shelby Township.

Abel Warren was well loved and spoken very well of in several historical references. He  preached about Jesus in many places around Macomb County and Warren.  Barns sometimes had to be used as there were no other buildings big enough where people could meet.  He may have performed more marriages than any other local pioneer preacher.  His certificates read By me (signed) Abel Warren  Minister of the Gospel.

He was instrumental in establishing the Romeo Academy.  History of Macomb County  302.

He helped establish the first Methodist Episcopal society in 1842  History of Macomb County 360.

Abel Warren “was the pioneer of Methodism in this county.”  History of Macomb County  366.

He was town clerk  1827-28  History of Macomb County   718.

He even had a flower named after him the “Elder Abel Warren”. University or Michigan


Historian Wesley Arnold located some of his descendants and they feel that since he was so well respected in the area and that family legends are such that it is very likely that the citizens wanted to honor him by naming the township after him.  First by calling it Aba’s  (Many of the pioneers spoke different languages and Aba was a mispronouncement of Abel’s circuit) then later by calling it Warren’s circuit which got shortened to Warren.

The other Warren never set foot in Warren and had died 64 years earlier. This person was Dr Joseph Warren born in Roxbury, Mass. 11 June, 1741; died in Charlestown, Mass., 17 June, 1775 in the battle of  The Battle of Bunker Hill in the United States Revolutionary War for Independence.

Joseph Warren graduated from Harvard College in 1759; practicee medicine beginning in 1764.  He wrote newspaper essays during the Stamp Act Crisis.  He delivered orations on the anniversaries of the Boston Massacre at the risk of his own life.  When Samual Adams left to attend the first Continental Congress in 1774 Warren assumed leadership of the cause in Boston. On 18 April, observing the movements of the British troops, Dr. Warren dispatched William Dawes, and Paul Revere to sound the alarm to the American people.  He was chosen as president Provincial congress, and thus became chief executive officer of Massachusetts under this provisional government.

A resolution Broadside dated April 23, 1775, the very day Warren succeeded John Hancock as President of the Provincial Congress. "Resolved, that the following establishment of forces now immediately to be raised for the Recovery and Preservation of our undoubted Rights and Liberties, be as follows…" Boldly signed Jos: Warren, President P. T.

On 14 June he was chosen second major-general of tile Massachusetts forces. On the 16th he presided over the Provincial congress.  The next day upon hearing that the British troops had landed at Charlestown, he rode over to Bunker Hill. As he was rallying the militia, he was struck in the head by a musket-ball and instantly kilted. 

 Both of these Warrens were war heroes and had honorable lives and both deserve to be remembered.  But which one was actually the one they  named the Township after is not important.  We think that Harold Stilwell favored Able but a big problem in history is that people fail to write it down.  We know that the pioneers admired the local Abel Warren.  We are reasonably sure that they for the most part did not even know about Joseph Warren.  His name may have been just picked off a list of deserving candidates from the Revolutionary war.  So let’s honor both of them.  There is room to do this.  So the Warren name honors two great men both named Warren.  And it honors a great pioneer family.  It is the right thing to do and it is what the pioneers themselves would have wanted. 





















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