02-01-2018 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Brother against brother On a cold day in 1863, my great-grandfather, Jeremiah M.H. Davis, kissed his wife goodbye, told his son to take care of his mom and stay on the farm until he could get back. And he went off to fight in the bloodiest war we have ever been in! Their farm was near Malone, NY, and I don’t know if he was drafted, or if he enlisted. Anyway he went to war with the 98th New York Volunteers. The worst kind of fight is when family members turn on each other. And that is just what we did back in the middle 1800s… 1861 to be exact. We call it the Civil War (it really wasn’t very civil!), but people down south call it The War Between the States. To perhaps over simplify, the quarrel was about two things: states’ rights and freeing the slaves. In the South, cotton was king, and it was harvested by free labor… black slaves who had been shipped over from Africa. The Southern Sates believed it was their right to decide their own future, and if they wanted to keep slaves, they could do it! They also had other quarrels with our federal government, but that is beside the point here. Was Jeremiah cruel to his family? Or was it something he could not avoid? We’ll never know now. The war was going badly for the North, and as one of my friends put it, we seemed to lose most of the battles until we finally won the war! He worked hard and rose through the ranks. Our troops marched into battle with drums and flags flying. It was a game to shoot at the color sergeant and see the flag fall! As men were shot carrying the flag, others were promoted, and thus Jeremiah finally became Color Sergeant. Yes, he was wounded, but he recovered and went back into battle. He was given a battlefield promotion to 2nd lieutenant at the end of the war, and I have his commission framed. While this was going on, his son, my grandfather Silas, who was 14 and big for his age, worked the farm. But his heart wasn’t in it. One day he took the team and wagon into town for supplies. He tied up at the rail in front of the general store, and slipped around the corner where there was an enlistment office. He stood before the recruiting sergeant and said, “I want to enlist!” “How old are you, son?” “Eighteen.” “Well,” the sergeant said, “You’re just the kind of a strong young man we’re looking for!” And he shoved the enlistment form across the desk… then he asked for the young man’s name. When Silas told him, the sergeant snatched the paper back and said, “Son, your mother came in here the other day, and told me that you would try to enlist… If I took you, she would come back and skin me alive! So you’d better go and take care of the farm!” Silas did that, and happy the day when they saw coming down the road their husband and father. Limping, but free to head the family once more! And Silas grew up there and married a beautiful dark-eyed girl. We believe she was part Native American, but cannot confirm that. Her folks paid for painting lessons when she was a girl, and bought her a melodeon… a sort of piano that had to be pumped like an organ. We still have that in our family. I don’t know why, but my grandpa Silas sold the farm and brought the whole family and their belongings to Wisconsin, where they settled in a little cross-roads frontier town called Rush Lake. Silas went into business with a general store, and my dad (the youngest of three boys) told me many stories of the days of his childhood. He was born in 1886, the year our greatest woman poet, Emily Dickinson, died. It was just ten years after the Battle of the Little Big Horn Mountains where Custer got his everlastings. It was also just five years after Wyatt Earp and his deputies shot it out with the bad guys at The OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. So really my generation is just one past the frontier days of America. My dad said that oil lamps were a new thing, and one girl he walked to school with said, “My folks got some of those new-fangled oil lamps, and how they do make the rafters shine!” Guess they had been using candles before that. And the kids used to hang around the store evenings. What else was there to do? He helped unpack supplies as they came in… He said one time a tobacco company shipped them a wooden box of plug tobacco. Inside was a nice mantle clock… a gift from the company. It was here in Rush Lake that Jeremiah and his wife lived out their years. I have a picture of them. He is sitting in his Grand Army of the Republic uniform, and she is standing beside him with one arm missing. She got infection from a cut and it turned into blood poisoning. So she lost the arm. Winters were cold up there in Wisconsin. My dad’s bedroom was upstairs, and the house was heated by one Round Oak stove in the living room. When he woke up on a winter’s morning, there would be a ring of frost on the quilt he had tucked around his head. The railroad had just come through Rush Lake, so they would go down to the station just to see the big locomotives. He said one day a local salesman stepped off the train. He had been on a selling trip, and he said to the small group of onlookers, “Well, boys, I just came through Ohio, and now I know where all the Smiths come from! We went by a factory, and on the side in big letters, it said Smith Manufacturing Company.” And that was the way life was in the little storybook frontier town of Rush Lake, Wisconsin, back in pioneer days.

Gray School 1954

Watervliet District Library News In Stitches Knitting Group Friday, Feb 9, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Second Friday of every month… sit & sip, chat & knit. Limited supplies are available for beginners, too! Third Monday Book Club Monday, Feb. 19, 7-8 p.m. Little Bee by Chris Cleave Adult Reading Program thru March 3 This year’s theme is: Solve it@Your Library. Anyone 18 years and older is invited to warm up those brain cells with winter reading. Teen Table Projects: February Blind date with a book: Take a chance on book-romance and enter our prize drawing. The lucky winner will receive a bag of Snickers minis! Library Garden Park Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory! Bricks are $75, 13 characters, 2 lines. Pick up a form at the library.

Coloma Library News Read with Spirit Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Children may sign up for a 15-minute slot by stopping in at the front desk or calling the library at 468-3431. Reading to therapy dogs is a fun way for children to build reading confidence and fluency. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Calling local artists… Fandom Fest Logo Competition The library is looking for local artists interested in submitting artwork for the Fandom Fest Logo Competition. Fandom Fest is a comic-con type event hosted by local libraries that will take place on Saturday, June 9 at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College. The winner of the Logo Competition will have their artwork featured in all Fandom Fest advertising and may even have their design put on a t-shirt. For more information, stop-in at the library or call 468-3431.


100 years ago – 1918 Battalion Sergeant Major Kenneth Dodd writes from Camp Custer to his mother. “Camp Custer has as good a hospital as has the University of Michigan. We are also well fed and clothed. Headquarters absolutely deny the story of the freezing to death of any guards. Quit your worrying.” 60 years ago – 1958 Rainbow girls were installed in the Masonic hall. Mrs. Dorothy Hansen is the Mother Advisor. Coloma school district voters discuss the school consolidation issue. Electors will ballot at their own respective school. Polls open at 7 a.m. The Boyer A and B home extension club voted to combine. Mrs. Evelyn Miller gave a lesson on looking your best. Mrs. Dominic Stoffle was hostess. Coloma Chamber of Commerce officers were pleased to see 23 members attend the meeting held at the Wil-O-Paw Inn. Roger Carter, re-elected president, greeted newcomers. 30 years ago – 1988 Queen candidates include: Susan Phillips, Tracy Eubanks, Kerry Keleher, Rhonda Leedy, Cindy Lowell, Jennifer Krause, Christina Nord, Rebecca Chapman, Patricia Walter, Shannon Kaeding, Judith Schrieber, Amy Randall and Kim Momany. Chairmen are Mrs. Joyce Tutton and Mr. Jim Polashak. North Berrien Adult and Community Education has scheduled a CPR class. It will be held at Coloma High School. The Caribbean will be featured at Sarett Nature Center when Bob and Kathy Kubasiak present “Sailing to the Bahamas.” The Township Board approved the Knights of Columbus “Tootsie Rolls” sale. Funds go toward programs for the mentally handicapped. Also, Supervisor Rodney Krieger reported that the request by the North Berrien Historical Society to construct a museum has again been denied.

Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library, from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon. & Fri., 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tues., Wed. & Thurs. 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; and Sat., 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 468-3431


100 years ago – 1918 The heroic effects of twenty neighbors who fought a stubborn blaze with snow and water saved the residence of Mrs. Mable Stoodt, at her farm four miles south of Hartford, from destruction by fire. The fire originated in an attic where a tile chimney passed to the roof, and is believed to have been caused by squirrels that invaded the attic and built their nests. Old Sol came smiling over the eastern horizon this morning, coating his warm rays upon this section of Michigan for the first time in days and promising a temporary respite from the prolonged blizzard which has paralyzed traffic and business for more than a fortnight. 75 years ago – 1943 With winter weather again sending the thermometer down to zero and whitening the earth with a fresh covering of snow, the robins that jumped the gun were fooled by last week’s touch of spring are receiving a cold reception in the usually hospitable Hartford. Teachers and students at the Hartford school are back on regular hours this week after the three-day rationing registration period kept the instructors busy afternoons and evenings and pupils were given afternoon vacation from classes. Registrants for ration book number two in Hartford totaled 3,679. 50 years ago – 1968 Ronald Wilcoxson, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wilcoxson is aboard the USS Enterprise, which was sent recently to stand by off the coast of Korea, when the USS Pueblo was captured by the Koreans. Sp-4 George Hogue, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Hogue, is now stationed at Fort Carson, CO. He was previously serving in Vietnam with the 196th Inf. Brigade. Sp-4 Donald L. Haney is spending a leave with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. Haney after spending a year with the Army in Vietnam. Haney will report to Fort Dix, NJ, following his leave and expects to go to Germany. Rodney Winkel, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arden Winkel, has been awarded a $250 scholarships by the Gerber Baby Foods fund for his leadership potential and academic record. Winkel is majoring in horticulture at Michigan State.

Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon., Tues., & Wed., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri., 10-5 p.m.; and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 621-3408


90 years ago – 1928 Forty-two of the hundred students enrolled in Albion College last semester were cited for having secondary honors which consisted of having 10 or more hours of A work, with no mark under B. With secondary honors is Louisa Rogers of Watervliet. Wilford Clark sustained a fractured right wrist on Feb. 10, 1928 when he got his arm caught in the winder on the new paper machine at the paper mill. His injuries were attended by Dr. J.W. Gunn. Carmody Bros. have just installed in their drug store a new Valerian soda fountain. The fountain has capacity for 40 gallons with all modern equipment, including iceless refrigeration. 60 years ago – 1958 Miss Jeannine Danneffel, Watervliet, currently a senior at Emmanuel Missionary College, was recently made managing editor of the school paper, The Student Movement. Miss Danneffel is a candidate for a B.S. degree in elementary education. Jack Turner, EN 2, U.S. Navy, arrived in Watervliet on Dec. 28, 1957, to spend a 30-day leave with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Burrell Turner. On the completion of his leave, he will be assigned to shore duty at Annapolis, Maryland. Mr. and Mrs. Harry B. Knapp are the proud parents of their baby girl, born Jan. 7, 1958 and weighed 9 pounds 1/2 ounce. 30 years ago – 1988 Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Steven G. Baumeister, Watervliet, has graduated from Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. During the six weeks of training, the airman studied the Air Force mission, organization and customs and received special training in human relations. Navy Seaman Patricia J. Wurn, Watervliet, has completed recruit training at Recruit Training Command, Orland, Florida. During Wurn’s eight week training cycle, she studied general military subjects designed to prepare her for further academic and on-the-job training in one of the Navy’s 85 basic fields. Caroline Denise Sells, Watervliet, has received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Univ. of Michigan.

Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library from the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon. & Wed., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tues., Thurs. & Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 463-6382


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