Ingham County takes its name from Samuel Delucenna Ingham, a Quaker, paper manufacturer and Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson from 1829-1831. Ingham was born September 16th, 1779, and served as a U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania before his appointment. During his tenure he attempted, without success, to broker peace between the feuding Jackson and Nichols Biddle, President of the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson loathed and mistrusted banks vehemently. Jackson also decried paper currency, while appointing a former, and future, paper manufacturer Secretary of Treasury.
Several Michigan counties were created by an act of territorial legislation dated October 29, 1829, five years before the first European settler, John Davis, moved into Ingham County, and eight years before statehood. Ingham, along with Van Buren, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun and Eaton were all members of Jacksonâ€™s cabinet. These counties are known as the Cabinet Counties. Jackson County is named after the then Commander-in-Chief.
The same year as the act, 1829, Secretary of War and former Senator from Tennessee John Henry Eaton, a widower of 11 years, married his second wife Margaret Oâ€™Neill Timberlake. Eaton was longtime friends with Margaret and her husband John Bowie Timberlake, who died at sea in 1828. Jackson, a friend and mentor to Eaton encouraged the pairing and swift nuptials. Margaretâ€™s parents were successful hotel/tavern keepers whose establishment was a favorite for D.C. elites. She was formally educated, artistic and grew up in the midst of powerful political figures.
Controversy soon arose when Margaret Eaton was excluded from social gatherings. Rumors floated she and John were together before her first husbandâ€™s passing, and that she was too familiar with several other men. A group of D.C. wives led by Floride Calhoun, wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, vociferously opposed her participation or attendance at social functions. Ingham is reported to have called Margaret â€œimpudent and insolent.â€ This growing rift split the cabinet. This scandal, known as the Petticoat Affair, resulted in the resignation of the entire cabinet except Postmaster General William T. Barry.
After their resignations, Ingham and Eaton exchanged tempestuous notes. Eaton challenged Ingham to a duel. Ingham declined and when Jackson heard this told Eaton â€œIf he wonâ€™t fight, you must kill him.â€ Stalked by Eaton and his three companions Ingham gathered an armed escort and fled Washington after sundown. He then returned to paper manufacturing and died in 1860. Neither Ingham nor Eaton ever saw the counties named in their honor.
David Votta â€“ When not working as the Local History Librarian/Archivist for the Capital Area District Library, David serves on more committees, boards and commissions than he would like to think about.