The following information was gleaned from History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties, Michigan with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of their Prominent Men and Pioneers, Philadelphia: D. W. Ensign & Co. 1880:
Comfort Ranney, my 2nd great-grandfather, was born in Boston, Summit County, Ohio, on February 7, 1838. Sometime around 1865, he, along with his brother-in-law, Willis Leach, D. F. Sheldon, and O. A. Clark moved to Clinton County, Michigan and purchased 200 acres of timbered land and erected a steam saw-mill, and engaged quite extensively and successfully in the manufacturing of lumber for three years. In 1868, Sheldon, Ranney, and Leach purchased several hundred acres of wild lands in the south part of Saginaw and Gratiot Counties, to which the moved their mill. In 1869, Leach and Ranney purchased the interest of Sheldon. From then until January 1872, the mill property and lumber was destroyed by fire three times. Yet they "still prosecuted the work with a will and energy worthy of success." During this time, they also erected a large custom flouring-mill at Bath. From 1874 until Willis Leach's death in 1880, Comfort managed the lumber and mill interests. After Leach's death, he "retired" to his farm there in Clinton County and devoted his time to improving his farm and rearing "fine stock."
Willis Leach was born May 23, 1831, also in Summit County, Ohio. (I would be interested to know if Comfort and Willis were childhood friends, in addition to being brothers-in-law.) He first married Mary Ranney (Comfort's sister) and had four children. After her death, he married Sophia Ranney, the sister of his first wife and Comfort. They had eight children. Willis moved to Duplain, Clinton County, Michigan, in January 1865. His failing health was the reason he left the mills in Ranney's capable hands.
Comfort's father, my 3rd great-grandfather, Luther B. Ranney, was a farmer. Farming seemed to have a particular fascination for him, - almost inherent, - as he continued at the occupation until he was way up in age. At the advanced age of 71, he managed a large farm and continued to lead in many of the demanding physical activities required by the work.
Luther's father and Comfort's grandfather, also named Comfort, was a native of Connecticut. He emigrated to Ohio and purchased eighty acres of land at government prices. He engaged in ship-building, putting afloat the first boats of considerable tonnage built at that place. A few years later, he sold his land, closed out his business, and moved to Summit County, Ohio, where he passed the remainder of his life.
As with my Ranney ancestors, many of my Tapley, Drake, Schwalls, and Page ancestors either were farmers or worked with wood in some way. I will cover those in another post.