Thursday, June 30, 2011

1907 Japanese Beetles

It is claimed that nature always provides a remedy for every disease and a destroyer of every pest. It is now claimed that the Japanese ladybug beetle, imported into this country two years ago for the particular purpose, is proving an effective remedy for the San Jose scale and is destroying the pest to the satisfaction of fruit growers.

Interesting . . .

Does anyone remember a couple years back how bad the Japanese beetles had gotten? I thought I had heard it was a fairly new problem but it would appear these pests were brought in the states in 1907 -- over a hundred years ago. The above blurb was found in The Fowlerville Review, this being an opinion piece written by G.L. Adams, editor and publisher.

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In 1985, the three two-story building facing East Grand River in the southeast quadrant were photographed for the following year's 150 celebration in 1986. This picture was used in a special edition of the newspaper and I also used it in my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles. In 1985, Ruth's Resale used the first two buildings from the right and the bank was using the far left building.

One item of note, is the bank sign at the far right. When that was no longer needed, it was moved to the southwest corner as a welcome sign for the village. Tomorrow's squint shots will show 'then and now' pictures to wrap up this series of matching old with current day photographs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 History Bee

There is so much going on this coming weekend, you will want to be in the downtown area all day Sunday and Monday (oh, and Saturday afternoon at the cemetery). And then there's more -- at the fairgrounds, there will be a history bee run by our own Judy Recker. The particulars follow:

When -- July 3, 2011 at 1 pm. Registration begins at 12:45 pm.

Where -- Fowlerville Fairgrounds at the Coughran Schoolhouse in the historic village.

Who -- Open to ages 5 to 105. Age divisions will be based on the number and ages of participants.

What -- A variety of questions on the history of Fowlerville; using general knowledge and the Walking Tour brochure (or read under "Tour" from this site).

Win -- A fun time and prizes for all.

If you have spent any time reading and browsing this website, you should be right up there in knowledge to compete.

1899 Blackmer & Minto

In 1896, the Blackmer and Minto clothing store was opened in Fowlerville. A great deal is known about that store; much of which has been written about in this blog, in the local newspaper, and in my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles. But now I have come across a little tidbit published in The Fowlerville Review in 1899. It follows.

W.H. Force, who is managing the clothing store for Blackmer and Minto, at Webberville, spent last Sunday with his parents at this place.

The Force name has been quite prevalent in numerous articles in the local newspaper but this is the one and only time I've come across any mention of a branch of the clothing store in Webberville. If I do ever spot any more information, you can be assured I will include it on this website.

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In the continuing series of 'then and now' squint shots (through July 1st), I remembered this 1988 photograph of Utter's MensWear before the smoke damage occurred the following year from a fire in The Penny Pincher, located where Shear Image now operates out of. The storefront on the left doesn't look too different but the one on the right has definitely been changed. For your viewing comparisons:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1894 Removal of Bodies

Ten years after the new cemetery was formed and bodies were to be removed from the original cemetery, this article appeared in The Fowlerville Review:

The remains of several persons have been removed from the old to the new cemetery this week.

In some of the earlier articles, it was noted headstones were moved before remains, causing a great deal of confusion -- some of that still remaining as of today with multiple remains in the same plot.

But then it would appear more work was needed to be done when later in the news for 1894, I came across the following blurb in the local section:

Rufus Collins, of South Bend, Ind., has been at this place for the past few days attending to the removal of his parents from the old to the new cemetery. Mr. Collins spent his boyhood at this place but hardly knows the place in its present flourishing condition.

And then the village clerk, A.S. Hammil, posted the following notice in the paper:

Give This Your Attention~~All persons having interests in the old cemetery, in the village of Fowlerville, are hereby reminded of the fact that the Common Council of said village, on April 9 last, passed a resolution determining that said old cemetery had become a public nuisance and should be abated and removed, and ordered that all remains should be removed there from on or before the first day of October, 1894. The time for removing the same has now expired yet many remains are yet untouched. All persons interested should see to it that the remains of their friends are taken up and removed without delay as no extension of time, for that purpose, will be granted beyond December first, 1894. By order of the Common Council, A.S. Hammil, Village Clerk

The following year, this notice was posted in the newspaper:

Old Cemetery to be Vacated~~Proceedings are now commenced in the circuit court for vacating the old cemetery in this village, and removing the remaining bodies buried there. The village offers to give the owners of any lot in the old cemetery a lot in Greenwood cemetery, if they will remove the bodies buried there and deed the lot in the old cemetery to the village. If the friends of deceased persons now remaining buried in the old cemetery will avail themselves of this offer, they can have any lot of their choice in Greenwood cemetery. If they do not, the village will remove the remains, and reinter them on lots selected by the trustees of Greenwood cemetery. Those interested should at once avail themselves of this offer and reinter the remains of their friends on lots of their own choice and not leave to be removed by the hands of strangers hired for that purpose, and reinterred in places selected by officials.

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In 1995, the building which now houses Lucky's Pub was being renovated. Unfortunately, work was delayed due to the north wall starting to buckle and crumble. It was bad enough at one point, a portion of North Grand Avenue was blocked off. Following are 'then and now' squint shots:

Monday, June 27, 2011

1939 Village Well

I recently had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours talking with and listening to Dick Rudnicki. He was very gracious to come to the temporary museum and to bring some photographs that I can share with you. His father, Andy, worked in partnership from 1934 until 1942 as publisher and editor The Fowlerville Review.

The following pictures show the new village well put into operation in 1939 while Mr. Rudnicki was the village president. In the first picture, he is standing at the far left. In the second picture, from left to right, are Frank Chapman, Ernest Benjamin, Mr. Rudnicki, Dr. Hicks, and Lewis Birdsall. The last picture shows him taking a first drink off the newly-flowing well.

I believe Dick Rudnicki mentioned the buildings in the background of the second picture are of the old storage buildings used by Fowlerville Lumber Company.

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Someday I am going to get myself in trouble. Back in ca. 1902, a person could probably stand in the middle of the road for pretty much however long they wanted to without fear of being run over. Not in today's world, but I still try. As I crossed South Grand Avenue the other day, I made sure there were no cars coming and I did pause long enough to point and shoot; hoping it was somewhat focused.

Fortunately, the result was pretty accurate as far as the angle, just not all of the old hotel.

If you look closely in the center of the old photograph, there is a stage coach-style wagon parked in front of what was then the Lockwood Hotel. The buildings on the left side, as mentioned in yesterday's 'then and now' shots, are long gone. The 1902 picture is part of the "Walking Tour" you can read by clicking at the far right of the bar just below the header for this website. There will be a brochure, with abbreviated descriptions, available at the temporary museum in about a week. As a side note, I will also be conducting a guided tour of the 39 sites on Monday, July 4, at 10 am -- meet me on the southwest corner of the main four and we can walk it together. To see the entire tour, it is about a 1.5 miles-long walk, ending at the Lutheran church, which then means a few blocks to walk to get back to the beginning. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

1922 A.E. Cole

The following picture, taken in 1922, shows starting at the left, A.E. Cole's son-in-law Roy T. Sprague, daughter Ada Sprague, Arthur E. and Ruth Cole, and daughter Inez Cole. According to an article found in the Fowlerville News and Views, February 4, 2002, this family was vacationing in Florida at the time this picture was taken.

The first time I came across Judge Cole's name was around 1900 when he was listed in the business directory as "A.E. Cole, Attorney and Counselor at Law and Solicitor in Chancery. Office in Drew Block." "Chancery" -- there are a couple of definitions that probably fit him; 1) a record office for public archives or those of ecclesiastical, legal, or diplomatic proceedings, and 2) a court of equity in the American judicial system.

Roy T. Sprague and his wife, Ada, were involved with the Ford Garage by 1917, although earlier Mr. Sprague worked for the telephone company as lines were being installed in the village.

Inez Cole was a teacher in the area.

As time permits, I will post articles on A.E. Cole's career as there is a slew of information on the cases he worked.

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The following two shots have basically nothing in common but they are the same view, just 98 years apart from each other.

In 1913, 'Merchant Day' was being celebrated and the streets were lined with cars and shoppers. Looking northwest from about the corner of Church Street and South Grand Avenue, the old photograph shows all of the buildings -- some one-story and most two-story -- that no longer exist. The two-story buildings at the left side of the picture were the last to be removed when additional parking was needed for Frank's Foodliner.

The current-day photograph shows open spaces, a parking lot, and what used to be a gas and service station at the southwest corner of South Grand and West Grand River. Something you wouldn't have seen in 1913 -- even if you could have looked through the buildings -- would be the back end of the old Ford garage. The Ford garage was completed in 1917 by Roy T. Sprague. Currently, a store marketing indoor gardening products is at the front of the building (where the flag is) and Jeffrey's Automotive operates at the rear of the building.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1943 Basketball Team

One of the wonderful parts of having the temporary museum displaying items on loan from various village residents -- both former and present -- pictures such as the following available for viewing. This is the 1943 Fowlerville High School basketball team, with John Munn and H.T. Smith flanking the group of players including the team manager, Kenneth Nelson (in the suit).

If you head to the museum, located for a short time more in the old hotel across from Curtis Grocery housed in The Treasure Chest, you can see this picture for real as well as the class composite for 1943.

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Yesterday's 'then and now' squint shots showed a very similar but closer picture of the 'old hotel' from 1980 and today. Heading back in time another 40 years, here is the Hotel Sumner as it looked ca. 1942. A barber shop used to be about where you can see the sign for 'meals, rooms, beer, lunches.'

Friday, June 24, 2011

1907 F.N. Rounsville

The Rounsville name was highly associated with the Fowlerville area during the late 1800s and into the early 1900s -- grain elevators, coal business, real estate, active businessmen. But it would appear, like with many residents of Fowlerville, Lansing had a draw that took many people to the big city.

And that included one of the Rounsville men -- F.N. to be exact -- who moved to Lansing in 1907. Since the address was given in the article shown below, I decided to do a little investigating. Google makes that very easy.

I typed in the address -- 1017 North Capitol Avenue -- and found that the house no longer exists, but a very large Lutheran church now stands in that address location. I was hoping to possibly see what this fine $6,000 house might have looked like, but to no luck.

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In 1980, the 'old hotel' was known as Ye Olde Hotel where you could get 'liquor' as the sign indicates. There was also a Chapman Realty Company, a flower shop, a small sign that reiterates 'rooms, beer,' parking meters, and a portico across the front of the building. Awnings over the south portion at the ground level also gave the building a different look.

Now it houses a photography studio, hair salon, an empty storefront which used to serve coffee, and The Treasure Chest, a secondhand store similar but not as crowded as Ruth's Resale which closed a few years ago.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

Just a quick reminder -- I will be speaking at the Fowlerville Library this evening, at 6 pm, on some of the not-so-innocent events in this area in the late 1800s. You do have to sign up to attend -- would love to see you there.

Plus, there is a fun give-away just for coming!

1877 Six Corners

Six Corners, also known as Fleming, halfway between Fowlerville and Howell, was the subject of a couple of articles I found in The Fowlerville Review, published in 1877.  At one time, Fleming had a post office, various storefronts, and was, no doubt, a stopping point for many travelers working their way east or west on Grand River Avenue.

In 1877 . . .

Mr. Geo. Fox, who since last fall has been running a grocery at Six Corners, has moved back to the village and will run a grocery in connection with Ferguson's candy store.

A painful accident occurred on Sunday last near Fleming to Mrs. Alice Halleck and Mrs. Helen Blane as they were returning from Howell to this place.  The seat which they occupied in the rear end of an open buggy was capsized in such a manner as to throw both of the ladies out backward.  They were taken to a house near by and medical aid summoned.  Dr. Defendorf responded to the summons and found that, although their injuries were severe, they were not dangerous.  The ladies are able to be about now and will doubtless soon fully recover.  Mrs. Ransom Converse, of this village, also sustains severe injuries received in the same manner on Saturday.

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In 1978, a devastating fire occurred in Frank's IGA store on South Grand Avenue. The building was destroyed and by the following year, this old photograph shows what replaced it. That building still stands and is now Curtis Grocery.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Map at Museum

There's a new addition on display to the museum -- thanks to Hank Vaupel from Handy Township -- a 1911 map of Livingston County. We have hung it on the wall as it is quite large. There's a plastic sheet over it so don't hesitate getting up close and personal with the map, looking over how this county appeared in the early 1900s. Also, today and next Wednesday, there will be a table at the farmer's market where some of the same items for sale at the museum will be available -- t-shirts, travel mugs, ceramic mugs, and tote bags. Be sure to get your memoriabilia before they are all gone!

1917 Baseball Player Walt Tomion

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an e-mail from a grandson of Samuel Walter Tomion, and he provided the following picture:

According to the e-mail, this picture was taken ca. 1917-18 when Mr. Tomion was 18 or 19, and, While attending Alma College, Walt was the catcher on Alma's baseball team and was considered an exceptionally talented ballplayer. I've been told a lot of people in Fowlerville actually thought that my grandfather was good enough to pursue a professional career in baseball after graduating from Alma, if he so desired. By the way, Charlie Gehringer (9 years younger than my grandfather) did go pro from Fowlerville and was a good friend of his.

I got curious if I could find another picture of Mr. Tomion so I headed to a site,, and found the following picture of him on a page regarding his service in the military:

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There have been at least two buildings on the site where the depot is located at the railroad tracks -- the current building which is now used as an office and a wooden building that burned in the early 1900s. On the current building, it would appear also there have been at least a couple different roofs -- the current one, where the ends are more squared off, and then the one shown in the older photograph, ca. 1954.

The two biggest changes that are noticeable are the water tank is gone as well as the portico. The roof of the tank actually caught fire, buckling into the tank, resulting in the removal of this water tank. The portico was removed a few years after this picture was taken as it was deemed too close to the tracks for the passing trains.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1899 Old Maids

The Fowlerville Review would keep a running list of articles showcasing performances and meetings to be held in the Bell opera house. One such show included local ladies having fun singing and playing musical instruments. Did they perform to a full house?
The next week it was reported:
The old maids convention, held at the Bell opera house on Friday evening, was a hummer and developed some wonderful local talent. Some pretty sharp repartee was indulged in, much to the delight of the large audience.

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If you check out yesterday's 'then and now' squint shots, you will see a ca. 1957 photograph of the northeast quadrant looking westward and a current day one.

After I had taken yesterday's squint shot, I walked farther eastward on East Grand River and looked back to take a similar shot of a ca. 1923 photograph. As with the previous photographs, it is almost difficult to tell these are the same blocks, except for the skyline shown. So many things have changed -- especially from 1923 until current -- with storefronts, telephone and light poles, trees, even the roadway.

Oh, and the guy talking on his cell phone in front of the red brick building -- certainly different from 90 years ago!

Monday, June 20, 2011

1906 Heading West

Heading west seemed to be a popular thing to do for many of the residents of the village; even as early as shortly after the area was settled by Ralph Fowler.

Fred Curtis, who went out west prospecting a few weeks ago, has purchased an improved farm of 160 acres near Deering, N.D. He also purchased with the farm a quantity of farm implement and stock and Mrs. Curtis expects to join him there in a few days. A couple months later, Mrs. Fred Curtis has gone to Dakota to join her husband who recently purchased a farm there.

Fred Wilkinson also purchased a farm only a short distance from Mr. Curtis and will also make that his future home. These popular young people have a host of friends who will deeply regret their removal from among us, but will heartily join in wishing them future happiness and success.

Dr. O.C. Carr and wife left on Monday for Colorado, where they hope Mrs. Carr will be benefitted in health from a change in the climate. They are not sure where they will locate, as they will seek the altitude most agreeable to her and the length of time they will remain depends upon the benefit derived. And then a few months later, A letter received last week by D.C. Carr from his son, Dr. O.C. Carr, of Florence, Colorado, states that Mrs. Carr is beginning to improve in the high altitude and is now gaining strength and expects to move a little farther up the mountains in a few days.

Wyoming seemed to have some draw with, Charles Defendorf, who has been visiting his parents, Dr. B. Defendorf and wife here this week, left on Wednesday for Wyoming, where he expects to make his future home, for a time at least.

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Looking westward on Grand River Avenue from about Second Street . . . . . . . and looking at both the 'then' and the 'now' pictures there doesn't appear to be anything the same! So much has changed in the ~50 years since the old picture was taken.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

1880 Gott Family

While doing research, I would come across references made to Gott's Bridge but could never find any information where it was -- I would read about repairs being made or of it even being replaced -- but no luck of where.  So I thought I would just put out this information for anyone interested.

In an 1880 issue of The Fowlerville Review, the following article referenced John Gott:

Mr. John Gott, of Gowen, formerly a resident of this vicinity, met with an accident which resulted in his death.  On Tuesday, Nov. 7 he was cutting down a tree in the woods when it suddenly split and fell upon him, injuring him so that he died about three o'clock in the afternoon.  He had been blind for about five years past, and owing to that fact, was unable to get out of the way of the tree.

And then, a recent acquaintance supplied me with the following picture of William Gott:
On the back of the photograph, in a cursive script that looked rather halting as it was written (with the mispellings) was, William Gott, Senior, Fowlerville, Michigan.  Taken in England in July 1881.  Coppied by G.D. Trowbridge of Fowlerville in the Somer of 1900.  This is the coppy taken in Fowlerville.

An earlier picture of William Gott follows:
On the back, William Gott and Peter Stevens taken in War time.  This is retaken and enlarged from one that was taken when they first enlisted in February 1863.  William Gott then was 19 years old.

William Gott was shown in a directory for Civil War veterans as coming from Handy Township, and Enlisted in company B, First Sharpshooters, Feb. 12, 1863, at Handy, for 3 years, age 19.  Mustered March 31, 1863.  Missing in action at Petersburg, Va., July 30, 1864.  Mustered out at Delaney House, D.C., July 28, 1865.  Present residence, Fowlerville, Mich.

So, with all of this information at hand, the Gotts must have lived in Handy Township, but where?

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Today's 'then and now' squint shots show the northeast quadrant, looking westward from about the corner of East Grand River and South Second Street. In particular, on the right hand side of the old photograph, it is interesting to note the long one-story storefront housing Detroit Edison, a restaurant, and a millinery. In today's Fowlerville, one-third of it is Save-On and the east third is the Bloated Goat.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1953 Laraine Jones

In 2008, the Fowlerville News and Views published the following article and picture:
At the time I was working on The Fowlerville Chronicles, I kept coming back to this portrait -- what a beautiful woman.  Ultimately, I didn't put this in the book but always kept it to sometime add to this website.  Before seeing this article, I didn't know there was a dance school here in Fowlerville before Maria's School of Dance. 

This has me thinking this village is very lucky to have such dedication to the arts.  And on a side note, Fowlerville's early history, particularly in the early 1900s, it was reported, W.H. Peek is conducting a dancing school in the Bell opera house.

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In 1975, the Launderama building was battered with bricks as a wall came crumbling down from the building just south of it. Thirty-some years later, the one-story building is still used for cleaning clothes.

A driveway is now located where the crumbling bricks fell from the two-story building, to be used by residents occupying the upstairs apartment. Yesterday's squint shots showed two windows at the front of the red brick building. Currently this building is up for rent since Maria's School of Dance moved a year ago.

Friday, June 17, 2011

1905 S.T. Blackmer New Store

S.T. Blackmer now occupies the fine new double store just erected for him by Mrs. W.J. Miner, which is probably the finest exclusive clothing store in this part of the state, and with the new showcases and clothing store furniture, enables him to display his large stock of clothing and shoes to the best advantage to himself and customers.  He has built up a fine business during the years he has been located here and may be justly proud of his success.

When I was working on The Fowlerville Chronicles, I spoke with a few people around town, looking for anecdotal memories and possibly pictures.  Frank and Ann Utter, previous owners of the men's and ladies clothing store in town, which was owned for many years by the Blackmer's, offered up a couple of pictures for me to use in the book. 

At the time, it was estimated these were taken around 1906.  I came across the above article that was published in The Fowlerville Review in late 1905 with mention made of new showcases and furniture.  I'm thinking we were pretty close on dating these photographs; they follow: 

The following week an article reported on the grand opening:

S.T. Blackmer gave an opening day in his new store last Saturday. The store was tastefully decorated with flowers and an orchestra consisting of Prof. VonRichter, W. Drew, and Nellie Gardner discoursed some very fine music during the day and evening.  A fine sourvenir in the shape of a beautiful calendar was distributed to those who attended.  A large number of Mr. Blackmer's customers and friends also called to congratulate him upon the growth of his business which called for the elegant new quarters he now occupies and to hope that his success might continue.

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Although I've been doing a 'then and now' series of squint shots lately, every now and again I notice something on the buildings worth noting.  We will get back to the other series soon.  Today I just wanted to show a couple of close-ups of the upper windows on the red brick building on the northwest corner of East Grand River and North Second Street.  This building used to house Maria's School of Dance up until a year ago. 

I started looking at the treatment over the windows and began to wonder what the larger stones on each side of the curved bricks may possibly have been at one time.  They may have always had this bumpy effect or maybe a carved look has worn away from time and weather. 

Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

1897 Red Cedar Chunk of Wood

O.F. Showers has a piece of red cedar, cut from a part of a tree below the ground, planted by J.P. Bush, Mrs. Shower's father, in Linden Township, over 65 years ago.  G.D. Hamilton will polish and engrave it and it will be kept as a curiosity.

The Bush family were some of the very early settlers in this area, various landowners while also holding some important positions in shaping the governmental make-up.  The short article shown above, published in The Fowlerville Review, was of interest to me for two reasons -- the Bush name, but also the fact this piece of prized wood was going to be saved and engraved. 

Since G.D. Hamilton was a furniture maker, oh, how I wonder whatever happened to that chunk of wood.  Did it end up as trim for a piece of furniture and did the person owning it know the history behind it?  Does it even still exist, tucked away somewhere in someone's attic or basement?

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Early in my research for my book, The Fowlerville Chronicles, I found a reference to a Mormon Church located in the Fowlerville area.  Under the year 1868, I added the information, "One such case (referring to religious services) was from the years 1840 to 1842, apostles of the Mormon Church would hold meetings in a house known as the "Mormon Schoolhouse."  As other religions began to flourish though, the 13 families of the Mormon Church eventually relocated in Nauvoo, Illinois, with other families of the same persuasion."

At the time I was working on the book, I never thought about where they may have met.  But, recently, while speaking with a friend here in the area, she mentioned the old Mormon church, south of town, being used as a house now.  Of course . . . and you know the rest of the story . . . I had to take the long way home to go find this building.

So, for today, instead of a 'then and now' set of pictures, I have three pictures showing the north side, east exposure, and south side of the old Mormon church now being used as a house.  Enjoy . . .