Thursday, September 30, 2010

Early 1950s Car Accident

Grand River Avenue, also known at the time as US-16, was the main thoroughfare between Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit. In the early 1950s -- 1952 to be exact -- I-96 was probably only becoming a glint in someone's imagination since it would be another ten years before that highway would be christened. A small bit of trivia, when I-96 did open, US-16 ceased to exist -- both with signs and on maps. US-16 then became known only as Grand River Avenue.

But, back to why the title is what it is. While looking at reels and reels of microfilm, I would freely click my camera at the screen and later load all of these pictures into my laptop. That is when I would take the time to read the articles more thoroughly to see if there was information to be incorporated into The Fowlerville Chronicles.

The following article was published in The Fowlerville Review -- I didn't use it in the book but it certainly needed to be told once again. Here goes . . .

Duck in the Car; Accident on the Road~~Five persons were injured in a three-car collision late Sunday afternoon when a man tried to capture a pet duck, loose in his car, according to the Ingham County sheriff’s report.

The report showed that cars driven by John E. Morgan of Lansing, William Campbell of Detroit, and Dudley F. Scott of Howell, collided on US-16 about a half-mile east of Webberville.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, their two children, John E., 3, and David, 1, and Mary P. Simpson, 8, of Pontiac, were taken to the Edward W. Sparrow hospital, where all but John Morgan, Jr., were treated and released. John’s condition was given as “fairly good” Monday.

According to the officer’s report, Morgan tried to capture the duck and lost control of his car, which went over into another lane on the highway, colliding with the other two vehicles.

So there you have it . . . the moral of the story . . . if you travel with a pet duck, keep it caged!

Squint Shot 093010

Tomorrow the squint shots are going to take a different turn -- for the month of October I will be posting pictures of various old headstones in Greenwood Cemetery (another month will have shots from Mt. Olive) along with appropriate obituaries published in the local newspaper. But for today, this squint shot is of the sign posted as you enter the village from the west. Now for a quiz or to test how observant you are:
At which end of the village is there no longer a welcome sign because a sidewalk was installed this spring?
Give up?
The east end, and here are a couple pictures I took at the time. The first one is looking west from the St. Agnes Church parking lot. The second one shows where the sidewalk goes in front of the Niblack Funeral Home. Formerly, the welcome sign was posted at the east edge of this property.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cooper & Osborne

At the recent FBA (Fowlerville Business Association) Expo and Fun Fest, a fellow came up to me and asked if I had ever heard of a storefront called Cooper & Osborne. I had through my research for The Fowlerville Chronicles, but only could show evidence of the store through various directories listed in the late 1800s. While cataloguing the remaining research materials I gathered, this advertisement popped out at me. It was published in The Fowlerville Review in 1886. As you can see, this storefront dealt in everything from shoes to groceries. In later years, the Osborne name was not associated when it became Cooper Drug Store.

Squint Shot 092910

Yesterday's squint shot showed the welcome sign to the village at the north end of Fowlerville (across from the high school on North Grand Avenue). This sign is tacked onto one of the posts holding up the sign. And now that my curiosity is peaked, I will have to research and report about the Red Cedar River Watershed. The next time I am at the village office I'll be asking some questions.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Squint Shot 092810

One bright and sunny day, I got a bit curious about what signs were located at the four main entrances to the village. This sign is across North Grand Avenue from the high school. There is an incomplete boulevard driveway entrance to what was supposed to be a subdivision where I was able to turn into, snap the picture, and continue on my merry way.
This squint shot is my little respite from the historical portion of Fowlerville, but there is so much more to come. As I am posting squint shots, I am also going through all of my research I saved while compiling The Fowlerville Chronicles. That book is packed with information but there was so much more I couldn't find a spot for and I wanted to share it. So, in addition to the biography I am putting together of G.L. Adams, publisher and editor of The Fowlerville Review in the early years of this town, I am also using this website as a source for information.

Be sure to check back. There might be something from the early years, maybe from 1950 when Tomion's was so busy, or maybe from just a few years ago. You just will never know until you visit The Fowlerville Observer.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stage Coach Poster

When I was taking the squint shots of the little stonehouse at Six Corners, the owner of the building was present and we had a wonderful discussion about possible past history of the area. He had a print of this stage coach poster designating the route in 1856 from Detroit through Howell and beyond (the Plank Road was completed in 1853). I have to wonder if the drivers of these teams and wagons stopped in Fowlerville to refresh the horses and maybe even passengers.
It is a well-known fact Ralph Fowler worked hard to make the Grand River Trail a popular route, years earlier, by arranging for a lumber wagon to travel this trail on a weekly basis. There were planned stops in Howell, Fowlerville, what was to become Webberville (originally called Phelpstown), Williamston and so on to Lansing, with the express purpose of no man having to walk the route if at all possible.

Squint Shot 092710

The last squint shot of the stonehouse at Six Corners is of the chimney at the back of the building -- surprise, surprise -- more stones! The shingles had all been stripped from the roof by the time I took this picture. Now new shingles grace the roof. At the back of the property there is a stone wall that had been overgrown and nearly hidden, but now the area has been cleaned up and gives a unique look to the backside of this triangular piece of land.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Squint Shot 092610

Today's squint shot is of a particular rock in the stonehouse at Six Corners. The stone can be found on the east side of the building, down toward the foundation.

This type of rock is normally referred to as "puddingstone." I headed to Wikipedia to get a good definition of what this is all about -- "Puddingstone," or "pudding stone," is a conglomerate rock made up of a mixture of different, irregular-sized grains and pebbles held together by a finer matrix, usually formed from quartz sand. The sedimentary rock is formed in river channels and may contain various minerals such as chromite, corundumm pplatinum, diamonds, gold, sapphire, and zircon. Its name is said to derive from a resemblance to Christmas pudding."
Tomorrow there will be one more squint shot of this building, then a few miscellaneous sign shots around Fowlerville, then the month of October will be dedicated to squint shots of headstones at the Greenwood Cemetery, as well as obituaries.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Three Months to Christmas

Just a friendly reminder . . . if you need any ideas for your Christmas gift-giving this year . . . I still have some copies of The Fowlerville Chronicles. The year has flown by so fast and we are only 3 months from that celebration. So, if you think a copy of this 425-page, nearly 600-picture, maps, and aerials book is something you would like to give, I would be happy to sign a copy to your recipient and even wrap it in beautiful Christmas paper! Just let me know.

Squint Shot 092510

At the east side of the stonehouse building at Six Corners, up near the peak, a light fixture used to be hooked into one of the stone settings. It is interesting how the 12 oblong stones are all about the same size and diameter. Were they found around here or did the designer need to go farther afield?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coughran School House

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few hours inside the Coughran School House, now located at the fairgrounds historical village. I learned quite a bit of trivia about the building itself, which I thought I would pass along here. The first picture shows the second school building used as Coughran School in 1908. A list of teachers inside the school shows classes began as early as 1854, but as stated in the history shown below, there was a building used before the one shown.
There were two entrances to the school; one for boys and one for girls. The teacher's desk was inside between the two doors, where a rope was extended from the school bell to his or her desk which was pulled to announced the beginning of the school day. The second picture, taken sometime in the 1950s, shows how the two entrances had been blocked off, and windows inserted, and one center door was used. The two previous entrances were now lined with hooks for outerwear. In later years, when the outhouses were no longer used and indoor plumbing provided, separate bathroom facilities could be found in each area for boys and girls. The front of the school house faced to the east and the back wall consisted of nearly all windows. As shown in this classroom picture, sometime in the early 1950s, students sat at their desks and would have been facing north. The light from the west windows would shine on their work papers, making lighting optional. (Note: If any of my wonderful readers recognize themselves in this picture, please let me know -- how fun would that be.) The school closed in 1962. I did not find any information that the building was used for any other purpose but I did hear a few anectodal stories that it was vacant for a very long time and even appeared a bit "scary" to a few. There were broken windows and creaky floors, overgrown weeds, and the inside was dark and gloomy.
So the building sat there until 1989 when the historic society took control of it, moved it through Fowlerville, and secured the wooden structure on a new cement block foundation. The shed on the south side of the building did not make the move. In my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles, you will find a picture of the building, secured on a flatbed, as it trailered through the main four corners. This last photograph, taken just a few days ago, shows the empty lot at the northwest corner of Chase Lake and Owosso roads. Finally, I did reproduce the "History of the Coughran Schoolhouse" for your reading pleasure. It is a wealth of information . . . enjoy.

Squint Shot 092410

The shingles have since been replaced on the stonehouse at Six Corners, but this gives a view of the crumbling shingles. And also a close-up of some of the stonework. It was very interesting to wander around the building checking out all of the different sizes and shapes of the stones used to create this look. Even the corner pieces create a fairly sharp edge.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Squint Shot 092310

Back outside of the stonehouse at Six Corners, I took a picture of one of the old windows. The glass has waves in it, blurry when looking from the inside outward. The owner mentioned he would probably be installing better windows at some point, and the other day, I noticed some additional work is being done. Be sure to check out the progress on the building as you pass by it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Squint Shot 092210

After taking yesterday's squint shot of wood paneling on the walls, this is what the ceiling looks like before work was being done. The ceiling covered up a roof with numerous ways weather could find its way in. At some point, the owner is thinking a vaulted ceiling might work well in this building. Seems like a great improvement, especially once the cracks are sealed by the new roofing.
I have to wonder, also, how old this little stone house might be. According to an early plat map, "Fleming was established in 1836, located in corners of section 17, 18, 19, & 20, with post office. A ghost town now referred to as Six Corners." In the following map, "store" is written just above the rectangle that would indicate the stone house.
Once the Plank Road had been established, there were toll houses about every 7 to 8 miles from Detroit to Lansing. In my book The Fowlerville Chronicles, I show a picture of what one of the toll houses would have looked like, as well as other information on toll charges and two locations by Fowlerville, but I have wondered if this stone house may have served that purpose also at one time.A couple other points of interest on this map, it would appear a school was directly to the house's west side, a Methodist parsonage was located diagonally to the east, and among other property owners, E.D. Drew had a house south of the six corners. In Fowlerville, the building at the northeast corner was referred to as the "Drew Block" in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s where E.D. Drew ran a "cash store."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Squint Shot 092110

We have stepped inside the little stonehouse at Six Corners. This funky, old paneling was probably installed sometime in the 1960s. As this building is being refurbished, I wonder will this be preserved or find its way to the trash bin? I wonder too what this covered up. The next couple of days will show squints shots of other portions inside the building.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Squint Shot 092010

On the east side of the little stone house (formerly a gas station in the mid-1960s -- see the squint shot article a couple days ago), located at Six Corners on Grand River, a locked door sits amongst the selectively-placed stones in concrete. It is interesting to known how the corner of the building was decorated with large stones, possibly cut with squared edges, and then what appears to be sandstone alternating between. Gives a nice effect, in my opinion.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is It a Tractor or a Motorcycle

Squint Shot 091910

If you check back to yesterday's squint shots (one current and one from 1966) you will see this front peak, with the stones worked in a circle at the top. A light is at the center -- not sure whether it works or not at this point. The day I took these pictures, the roof shingles were being scraped off in preparation for a new covering.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Squint Shot 091810

This little stone building faces north on the south side of Grand River Avenue, at Six Corners halfway between Fowlerville and Howell. This picture and for the next few days were taken before the roof was redone. I had a chance to talk with the current owner and he provided me with a picture of how this building looked in 1966, as well as an article about "Smiling George." The first portion of the article follows:
There's a "closed today" sign on the small stone service station which stands at the spot commonly called Six Corners on Grand River between Howell and Fowlerville. "Smiling George" Murphy, operator there for the past seven years, closed rather suddenly in early October for health reasons.
Murphy runs one of the few small gas stations left around the country side, sells regular gas a few centsa gallon cheaper and, naturally, appreciates his customers.
It isn't exactly a high pressure, hard sell operation.
In fact, it's one of those places where you can't buy tires, batteries, car washes, grease jobs or oil changes.
But you can get gas, oil, and occasionally a loaf of bread or a carton of milk.
The article continues with Mr. Murphy's health issues. The article was published on December 7, 1966. And now that building stands empty.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Squint Shot 091710

The building we have been looking at the last couple of days is being engulfed by weeds all around it. The steps are hardly visible and the porch is being covered. Now that we have looked closely at this empty building, we are going to move onto another building at Six Corners. It is also empty, but in the process of being refurbished. Check back tomorrow to see what is happening to the little stone building.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Family Fall Fest

On Saturday the 18th, I will be at the Coughran School in the Historic Village at the fairgrounds from 9 am until noon. I would love to have you come spend some time with me in this restored schoolhouse. I have to leave at noon that day for another chance to do a book signing (this time at Bridget Gallagher's Halfway to St. Paddy's Day party), but will head back the fairgrounds around 2:15 pm.

Starting at 3 pm in the schoolhouse, a "history bee" will be held -- oh, and guess what -- they will be using my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles, as part of their reference material! I am so excited. The winner of the history bee will receive a copy of my book.

Part of the reason I will be heading back to the fairgrounds is because I, along with Cindy Salfate, will be moderating the competition. Afterwards, there will be pictures taken all 'round and possibly even posted next week. How much fun! If the winner is agreeable, you will see that picture a few days from now.

For now, though, be sure to mark your calendar for the Family Fall Fest, held from the 17 through the 19. Oh, and let's hope for some wonderful fall weather!

Squint Shot 091610

With my handy-dandy zoom camera, I was able to focus in closer from yesterday's squint shot to look at the trim on the building at Six Corners that continues to sit empty. Trim similar to the quarter pieces on the posts can be seen around Fowlerville on the older homes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Squint Shot 091510

After taking a picture of the west side of the building at Six Corners that may have been a church at one time, I headed around to the east side. There are two matching doors, that could well date back to the 1980s, but they are two different colors. The trim on the building is interesting, and is probably older than the doors. There is a great deal of potential for this building but unfortunately it sits empty.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Handy Township Presentation

The Handy Township offices are now in possession of a copy of The Fowlerville Chronicles. This evening, I was given the opportunity to speak for a few moments on how Handy Township and the village of Fowlerville are so inter-related in the history pages of this book.

At one time, in the not too distant past, both governmental agencies were housed in the same building at the corner of North Grand Avenue and Power Street. This building also served as the location for the fire department before the 1960s. As I sat for a few minutes waiting for the meeting to begin, I looked a little closer at some of the brickwork (which can be seen behind Dr. Hank Vaupel, Township Supervisor, and I) along the north and west walls of the building. The west wall in particular shows evidence of a larger opening, where newer bricks have been added to accommodate a large window. As one of the trustees mentioned, the council room used to be a bay for the fire truck.So, as I sat there waiting for my turn, I thought back to all of the articles I read (some of which I included in the book) of the changes made in this building. In the 1920s, a "ladies rest room" was somewhere in the first floor -- not too far from the library. So many functions and events were held in this three-story building, and I just sat soaking it all in thinking of what to say to the council.

When my turn came, I had two purposes to fulfill; first off to present the copy for the township's library, and the second, to thank Bill Call for his encouragement early on as the seed of thought grew about turning all of this information into book form. Bill wasn't there, unfortunately, but I truly hope the word is passed along to him how much I have appreciated that he saw the value in my work.

It continues to be quite a ride . . .

Squint Shot 091410

Another building at Six Corners (formerly known as Fleming), about half way between Fowlerville and Howell, is an empty building. From my understanding, this was a church at one time, with steeple that has not been on the building since the late 1970s or early 1980s. The building is on the south side of the road, with some windows boarded-up, and really no access to it at present. Directly across the street, to the north, is the Fleming School which has been showcased the last few days as squint shots -- check them out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Squint Shot 091310

This is the school bell at the top of the Fleming School building. It is closer to the south end of the schoolhouse. The morning I took this picture, the air was crisp and clear, the clouds magnificant, and a soft breeze was blowing -- I kind of hoped it would be enough to make the bell sound off. At least a little bit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Squint Shot 091210

Yesterday's squint shot showed the west front window of the Fleming School building. Today's shows a portion of the front door -- the trim above the door was also used on the window. The school has been beautifully restored and is now used as a learning center. As you drive by this building in Six Corners on Grand River Avenue, take a minute to check it out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Squint Shot 091110

Just to the west of the front entrance of the Fleming School building is this window. The trimwork is something I have never noticed before. The glass, reflecting the sky and clouds, wavered as I moved around working at getting this shot. It was a beautiful summer day to wander around this building.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The village has decided to dismantle the old building in the northeast quadrant behind Butler Gun. As of Thursday afternoon, the metal sheeting had been removed and all of this rough-sawn cedar was visible. I had the opportunity to wander inside and all around the outside of the building as work continued, and found so many interesting things to photograph. I took a ton of pictures and will plan on posting those as squint shots in the future. That future is now getting into the first of the year, with so many other pictures already lined up; i.e., headstones and information in October, aerials in November, miscellaneous and Christmas scenes in December. I also had a chance to stroll through the two-story red house at the corner of East Grand River and South Collins. A couple of days ago it was empty -- by the time I post the squint shots, it might be occupied.

The above building's history is flavored by being a fur trading post in the early 1900s. Will Sidell and Son owned it for a time and some of the older residents may remember delivering skins to this building. In my research for The Fowlerville Chronicles, I came across a few interesting articles and will plan on posting those when I post all of the pictures I took.

The house mentioned above was inhabited by Nellie Glenn and her husband, Dr. Glenn, for many years. I also came across numerous articles on them and will post that information with pictures of the house.

I have such a huge collection of articles and information stored in my laptop from my research -- so much that could not be included in the book -- but it will be included with many of the upcoming squint shots.

For now, you might just want to take a drive through the parking lot behind Save-On to see the progress of the building as it disappears. I'll head back there over the next few days to take pictures and will post those accordingly.

Busy Weekend

There is absolutely no reason to be bored this weekend (well, and next weekend too, but that will be another post).

Saturday, September 11, from 11 am until 4 pm, head to the Fowlerville School campus to attend the Fowlerville Business Association Expo and Fun Fest -- there will be a classic car show, the Fowlerville Fire Department will have activities, concessions, local businesses will be there with booths to show off their products and services, and all sorts of other fun events. Oh, and including I'll have copies of The Fowlerville Chronicles available for purchase.

That evening, from 5 to 7 pm, you can get a wonderful spaghetti dinner at Maple Grove Airport, provided by the Fowlerville Rotary Club. Other events will be going on during the afternoon if you can tear yourself away from the above expo.

Sunday morning, September 12, back to Maple Grove Airport, for the best breakfast in a hundred mile radius -- thanks again to the Fowlerville Rotary Club. This is the 59th Annual Dawn Patrol Fly-in. If the weather cooperates, there could be upwards to 500 airplanes lining the airstrip. Breakfast will be served from 7 to 11 am -- all you can eat pancakes, biscuits and sausage, eggs and bacon, ham/egg/cheese scramble, donuts, coffee, milk, and juice. It is just the usual awesome feast! Oh, and can you guess? I'll have the book available for purchase again.

I hope to see you this weekend.

Squint Shot 091010

As I wandered toward the front of the Fleming School building, this sign caught my attention. I love how, when the building was repainted, the raised letters were not replaced but painted in such a way those letters are readable. So often, restoring is so much better than replacing (in my humble opinion). This school was in use until the late 1950s -- is there anyone out there that remembers attending this school?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Squint Shot 090910

Yesterday's squint shot showed the historical marker for this building -- formerly the Fleming School. This view is the west exposure as the building faces Grand River Avenue. The day I stopped by to take pictures, there was no one around, but hopefully one day I can get inside and take some pictures. The building has been beautifully restored.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Squint Shot 090810

In my travels one day in late summer, I parked my truck and wandered around the Fleming School, found at what is now known as Six Corners. At one time, this little burg, then known as Fleming, had a post office but is now a collection of a few businesses, a couple of empty buildings, and three roads that intersect. Over the next few days of squint shots, pictures will be shown of this school building that has been refurbished and now used as a learning center.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Signing at Curtis Grocery

I am so looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning from 10 am to noon at Curtis Grocery in the coffee nook at the front of the store. I'll have a notebook full of extraneous materials and articles showing some of my process while compiling the book -- and, of course, the finished product for sale. Looking forward to seeing you.

Update on Squint Shot 081810

A week or so back numerous squint shots showed the inside and outside of Curtis Grocery shortly after its grand opening. One shot, shown August 18, 2010, showed the lovely pillars at the help desk. At that time, the diamonds were blank . . . but now they have the "CG" with cherries, similar to the shirts yours truly has embroidered on all of the polo shirts and smocks for the employees. It is a nice addition, in my opinion. Part of the reason I have updated a squint shot is to remind everyone -- please, please show up tomorrow morning from 10 am until noon to check out my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles. Or at least have a cup of coffee with me and reminisce. See you there.

Squint Shot 090710

Today is our last squint shot at the State Farm Insurance property. This shows the southeast corner post as well part of the south part of the wrought-iron fence encompassing the front yard. As I looked closely at the iron, each piece is slightly different -- weather-worn or individually made? This is not a cookie-cutter fence, making it one of our treasures in this village.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Squint Shot 090610

As with yesterday's squint shots of the porch posts, two pictures are shown. This time the front gate is showcased. The wrought-iron fence and gate openings encompass the entire front yard, to the sidewalk. For many years the gates were closed, but now with State Farm Insurance using this former home, the gates stand wide open.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Job Interviews

With school starting this week, let's hope all the bus driving positions were filled! This "guest squint shot" was taken by Drew Prosch-Jensen -- thank you, Drew.

If anyone would like to submit photographs taken in and around Fowlerville, please feel free to contact me and maybe your own personal squint shot will show up on The Fowlerville Observer.

Squint Shot 090510

After my tour inside the State Farm Insurance offices on East Grand River, I stepped out to the front porch and looked upward. The corner posts caught my eye. These posts support a high-ceilinged portico over the porch. Various nails and hooks can be seen were, no doubt, items such as Christmas lights may have been hung. The porch itself is large and makes my mind wander how often the former residents (when it was used as someone's home) may have enjoyed a warm summer evening, sipping on cool iced tea, watching the traffic go by and talking with neighbors.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Squint Shot 090410

Yesterday's squint shot showed some wood trim in a bay window in the State Farm offices; today's shows some additional trim. This style of capping the corners with a square piece was very popular in earlier years, making it unnecessary to miter the corners. Previous squint shots in the Harmon Building, the old Bell Opera House, and above the Handy Township offices have shown how this technique was widely used.