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04-05-2018 Tri-City Area History


The Paw Paw River Journal

EDITOR’S NOTE: This installment of the Paw Paw River Journal was previously published in the April 17, 2003 issue of the Tri-City Record.

Life & death of a hero Wind sighs through the huge maples that shade Hartford’s Pioneer Cemetery. Located on the west side, right across from Gala-T-Inn Restaurant, it contains many of Hartford’s pioneers who are sleeping the Big Sleep. One of the most interesting, Francis DeLong. His monument states that he was born in 1759 and died in 1862. That means he lived 103 years! This is remarkable in itself, but even more interesting is the fact that he is Hartford’s only Revolutionary War veteran. It was on a warm spring morning in 1862 that Francis DeLong was laid to rest in that cemetery. The funeral procession wound out of Hartford on the Indian trail that headed toward Watervliet. Imagine Hartford on that day in the early years of the Civil War. Main Street had only a couple of stores and the Rassette House hotel where PNC Bank now stands. Dr. Milton Palmer’s house, on the north side, 11 W. Main Street last occupied by the office of Attorney Doug MacKinder. Just west, an apple orchard. Dr. Palmer said he hoped all the kids in Hartford stole his fruit… it might cut down on the flu and cold cases he treated. Trees shaded the dirt street, which was covered with “horse apples” that emitted the pungent smell of ammonia. The railroad would not come through Hartford’s west side for another nine years. Francis DeLong was born in North Carolina and orphaned at an early age. He lived with an aunt, and when the Revolution came along, he enlisted. Weapons were scarce and each soldier was expected to bring his own rifle. So Francis “liberated” the family musket and ran away for the glamorous life of a soldier in the Continental Army. Only trouble was he was captured by the British after five months, and thereafter spent several years trying to return to his home. Along with other prisoners, he labored for five years in Jamaica and was finally given the chance to enlist in the British army. He turned out to be too short for their requirements, so he was released and made his way back to the U.S., where he settled in New York State and married. His sons moved to Michigan to homestead near Hartford, but Francis and his wife stayed behind. Then in their old age (he was 95, she 93) they became so lonesome that they moved out to the family farm northwest of Hartford. When Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter, the old veteran was 102. He said that if they would only take him, he would fight again. Then the next year he passed on. He was such a colorful local character and had become so famous that Squire Cenius Engle (a self-educated lawyer) got together a contingent of young men just drafted for the war. One of DeLong’s sons operated a carpenter and blacksmith shop on South Center Street. He made a fine walnut coffin for his father, and they hauled his body on a farm wagon out to the cemetery west of town. The group of new soldiers had just been sworn into the United States Army. In uniform, ready to leave for the war, they stood at “parade rest” under the shade of huge maples while the old soldier was returned to the soil… an impressive scene. Squire Engle said, “We are consigning to his grave in the presence of the young soldiers, one of the last of the Revolutionary heroes who fought for the liberty that was secured to us by such loyal souls as Francis DeLong.” Then he read a short poem: “Soldier, rest thee from a hundred years of toil; Rest thee; nobly didst thou fight for freedom’s soil – We’ll go forth and battle for our country’s cause, Until all traitors shall obey our Union’s laws.” Incidentally, those young soldiers did go into battle… and many more from the Hartford area. Undoubtedly inspired by the example of Hartford’s only Revolutionary War hero, they went into the Belly of the War Beast with enthusiasm. Many did not return. And about a year after that, Cenius Engle himself went to war. His career as a soldier was cut short by sad news from the Hartford home front. His young wife fell gravely ill, and the infant son she had borne died. Thus Cenius was sent home on compassionate leave and never returned to the front. He did live a long life as one of Hartford’s leading citizens. And Francis Delong was afterwards honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution with a fine monument that can still be seen in Hartford’s Pioneer Cemetery. Years later, out on the family farm, a plow turned up something solid in back of the house. Dug up, it turned out to be Francis DeLong’s original headstone… with dates still legible. All golden threads, woven into the tapestry of our lives along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News Story Hour Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Toddlers and preschoolers are invited to hear a story, make a craft and sing a song with Miss Amy. There is no sign-up or fee required. It is asked that all children be supervised by an adult during Story Hour. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Still Life” by Louise Penny. Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club regularly meets every other Thursday and is always looking for new members. Call 468-3431 with questions on any of these activities.

Watervliet District Library News “National Library Week” April 8 – 14, 2018 Writing History: Monday, Apr 9, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. presented by best-selling author, Rosanne Bittner. Bittner has written more than 35 historical romance novels set in the American Old West. Spend the evening with our local celebrity in this informal “Q & A” session about the life of a writer. Navigating the keyboard: Thursday, Apr 12, 9 – 10 a.m. Let us help you get up-to-snuff with your tech at our Beginning Computer Class; sign-up required. In Stitches Knitting Group: Apr 13, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Second Friday of every month, bring your needles and come on down! Limited supplies available; beginners are welcome. Third Monday Book Club: Apr 16, 7 – 8 p.m. “Goodbye, Vitamin” by Rachel Khong. Great books, fabulous conversations! Ask for your copy at the desk. Money Smart Art: April – Special stuff for kids. Pick up some library “bucks” at the desk and spend them on our art supplies; create something just for fun! Teen Table Projects: April – Celebrate Poetry Month by writing in some books! Take a page from one of our recycle-bound books and cross off everything but your very own poem! Zachary – the read to me dog: Every Saturday through the spring – 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Come meet Zachary – a certified therapy hypoallergenic labradoodle, has a Good Canine Citizen Certificate and is a member of the American Kennel Club, loves to be read to by kids. Story Hour: Wed at 10:30 a.m. & Thu at 1:30 p.m. Show-and-tell, stories and crafts for children ages 3 – 5 and their families. Sign up to share this structured literacy program with your preschooler! 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.


100 years ago – 1918 Saturday will be “Red Letter Day” for the war effort. Show your patriotism and purchase a “Win the War Bond.” See George Friday, chairman of the committee for further information. A new department of the Friday Bros. canning factory was put into operation as the machinery began the canning of pork and beans. Deals in Real Estate: Jacob S. Masters has purchased the Ralph Williams property in the north end of Coloma. Perry Johnson has purchased the Peter Umphrey property north of the P.M. depot. William Hocker has purchased the Thomas Mather lot on Church Street and James Kibler has purchased the Elmer Kremer lot on Church Street that was recently purchased by W.F. Enders. 60 years ago – 1958 Clyde Koob of East Logan Street captured pictures in dramatic sequence during the blaze that destroyed the parsonage home of Rev. and Mrs. Rex H. Lahr in Bainbridge. The Chamber of Commerce will share in several radio broadcasts. The aim will be at locating jobs for the area’s unemployed. Also, the Chamber is getting merchant’s views on staying open till 9 p.m. on Friday or Saturday evenings. 30 years ago – 1988 Roy Leedy, 97, was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the French government for his services during the First World War in France. Presenting the certificate is Coloma American Legion V.P. Andy Sipla. Greg Ryan added another state title to his list. He won the Junior Mr. Michigan state bodybuilding championship. Next, he will compete in the Mr. Junior USA championship. DAR Essay Winner is Betsy Kaucher, an AWARE student. Her teacher is Mrs. Nancy Hemingway. Board of Education approved a contract with BND Industrial Consultants. They will inspect and manage asbestos in the Coloma schools to meet the new federal regulations. The cost will be $14,000. 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.; Tue, Wed & Thu, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1918 Thousands of dollars worth of damage resulted about Hartford from a hail storm which broke all local records. The ground was covered with hail to a depth of an inch, while many hailstones weighing more than an ounce were picked up. The heaviest loss in the village occurred at the L.E. Davis Greenhouse on Linden Street. There was constant crashing of glass while the storm lasted, and more than half of the glass in the big greenhouse was shattered. 75 years ago – 1943 The Hartford volunteer fire department took time out from the recent 3-a-day grass fire alarms and conducted election of officers. William N. Smith, chief of the department for several years, was again endorsed. Officers elected were: Harold Walker, captain; Clarence Root, first lieutenant; W.N. Smith, secretary and treasurer. Harry Hough, appointed head of neighborhood clubs, has selected his staff which will be in charge of salvage and bond campaigns. Walter Markillie is serving as chairman of bond sales; E.M. Smith, salvage chairman; and Mrs. Cecle Conolly, chairman of waste salvage. 50 years ago – 1968 Persons interested in working on this year’s Blossom Parade float will meet at the First Savings Association. Theme of the float this year is the Boston Tea Party. The Stitch and Chat Club will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Mrs. Lester Shaul, president, says the group was organized by neighbors of the Shafer Lake school with members gathered to sew for each other and for the needy. Money earned from making rugs was contributed to the Shafer Lake school until the building burned. Since then contributions are made to the Retarded school at Bangor, and the youth camp, Red Cross, cancer and other charities. Peter R. Sinclair was recently promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in ceremonies at the army military police school Fort Gordon, GA. Lt. Sinclair was editor of the Day Spring prior to enlisting in the army. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408

NEWS FROM THE WATERVLIET RECORD Mrs. B.C. Hope and son arrived here from Ashville, North Carolina, where they have been spending the winter. Mr. Hope came here recently to take the position of superintendent of construction at the Watervliet Paper Company mills. The Watervliet Co-Operative Creamery Company started operating the new steam pump, recently installed to furnish water for the plant. Allen Woodruff, local real estate broker, closed a deal on one of the largest farm sales that has been made in this section in months. The property is the J.K. Weber farm, consisting of 63 acres and largely set out to fruit. The purchaser is Steven Hobyak of Detroit, who is moving here with his family 60 years ago – 1958 Midshipman Otto J. Helweg, who will graduate from U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD has been invited to remain at the Naval Academy to assist with Plebes Summer. When rank assignments were posted for the last quarter, Helweg was awarded three stripes, signifying the rank of Commander in the Corps. He was made Battalion Supply Officer and assigned to the Regimental Staff. George M. Wolfram, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Wolfram of Watervliet, graduated from recruit training at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL. 30 years ago – 1988 Shannon Dorstewitz, Watervliet, was a guest of William Woods College in Fulton, MO. The college spotlighted its equestrian science program to high school juniors and seniors. More than 70 prospective students and their families from 20 states toured the campus including the stables and arenas and attended the annual William Woods Spring Horse Show, a student competition. Three students from Watervliet Junior High School have been named local winners in the 19th annual America & Me Essay Contest, sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance Group. Rebeka L. Harris, first; Aaron Lane Berkholz, second; and Sanjay Reddy Ravi, third all three received award certificates for their achievement. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382


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