That attractive division of Antrim county known as Forest Home township has as one of its representative citizens and leading farmers the subject of this sketch, who has been a resident of the county since 1887 and who was formerly one of the prominent business men of Bellaire, the county seat.
Mr. Hemstreet is a native son of the Wolverine state, having been born where the city of Flint now stands, Genesee county, on the 1st of January, 1840. He is a son of Alonzo and Mary (Jenkins) Hemstreet, both of whom were born and reared in the state of New York, the respective families having been founded in America in the colonial era. The father of the subject was born in Essex county, New York, in the year 1805, and he died at Stanton, Montcalm county, Michigan, in 1884. His first wife, the mother of our subject, was born in the year 1813, and her death occurred when he was a child of but eight years, as she was summoned into eternal rest on the 4th of May, 1848. She was the mother of eight children, namely : Henry, Harmon, Harriet, H. M., Josephine, Halzy, Helena, Helen and Cynthia. The father was a carpenter and joiner by trade and followed this vocation during the greater portion of his active life, though he was for some time employed in a grist mill. He married a second time, and of this union were born two children, George and Irwin.
H. M. Hemstreet was reared in Genesee county and secured a common-school education, while he early learned the valuable lessons of industry, having been dependent upon his own resources from his youth. Soon after attaining his legal majority he made his way to the West, remaining in the state of Kansas until 1866, this being prior to the advent of railroads in that section, while the state was much disrupted and turbulent by reason of the troubles incidental to the Civil war, this having been the most debatable ground in the Union at that time, as history records. After his return to Michigan Mr. Hemstreet located in Bay City, where he conducted a harness shop for nearly twelve years, having earlier learned the trade of harness making. After retiring from this enterprise he conducted a dairy business about two years, and also served three terms as register of deeds of Bay county, his preferment indicating the high esteem in which he was held in the community. In 1884 he made a trip to the West and Southwest, visiting the states of Kansas and Texas and finally remaining in Nebraska, where he was engaged in the harness business until 1887, when he returned to Michigan and took up his residence in Antrim county, locating in the county seat, the city of Bellaire, where he engaged in the grocery business, in which he continued for twelve years, building up a most prosperous enterprise and becoming one of the influential and popular business men of the county. He was succeeded by his brother, who still carries on the business. Upon retiring from the mercantile business Mr. Hemstreet took up his residence on his present fine farm, which is eligibly located two and one-half miles northwest of Bellaire, in section 14, Forest Home township. The estate comprises one hundred and ten acres of most fertile and arable land, and ninety acres have been made available for cultivation, while fifteen acres of good timber still remain on the place, and thirty acres are devoted to orchard purposes. Mr. Hemstreet raises all kinds of fruit adapted to the soil and climate and this department of his farming enterprise is an important and profitable one, the products including the best varieties of apples, pairs, cherries, peaches and plums, while he also raises a considerable quantity of the small fruits each season. In his orchard are more than three thousand trees, including fifteen hundred apple and seven hundred peach trees. The subject takes great pride in his farm and has made it one of the model places of this section of the state, the improvements being- of the best, including good buildings, while scrupulous care is given to keeping everything about the place in repair and good order. The same energy and progressive spirit which insured success to Mr. Hemstreet in mercantile affairs have conserved his prosperity as a gentleman farmer, and he may properly feel that his lines are now cast in pleasant places.
As a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican party our subject has taken an active part in the promotion of its cause in a local sense, and has been called upon to serve in various positions of trust and responsibility. While a resident of Bay county he was register of deeds, as has been already noted, and in Antrim county he has been justice of the peace for the past twelve years; was for two years incumbent of the position of treasurer of Forest Home township, and for an equal period served as village treasurer of Bellaire, while for the past six years he has been coroner, always proving faithful to the duties of his office and ever gaining the commendation of the people. His wife is a valued member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and fraternally he is affiliated with the Grange of his township. Mr. Hemstreet is a man of marked energy and activity, though he has been somewhat handicapped in a physical way, since, as the result of disease, his left leg was amputated near the hip joint when he was a lad of eleven years.
In 1866 Mr. Hemstreet was united in marriage to Miss Emma Wilbur, and to this union were born three children, Frank, who is a partner in the work and management of the home farm; Arthur, who is a carpenter by trade and a resident of Bay City, and Clarence, who resides in Augres, Michigan. In 1896 Mr. Hemstreet was united in marriage to Mrs. Harriet Doud, sister of Andrew J. Dole, of whom mention is made elsewhere in this work, and she presides most graciously over the attractive family home.
Source: Biographical history of northern Michigan containing biographies of prominent citizens; Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1905.