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08-20-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

Member of Fruit Belt Carvers working on the carving “Symbol of Everything in Berrien County”… Do you know the carver? Have you visited the North Berrien Historical Museum to view the finished carving? If you have any information or memories of watching the carvers at work, or would like to view the carving, contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, North Berrien Historical Museum is open for private tours, Tuesday through Friday 10-4. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Reminiscing With Pearl Playford

EDITOR’S NOTE … the passing of longtime columnist Roy “Bud” Davis necessitates adding local history columns. Going forward our popular local history columnists, Pearl Playford, Dorothy Cannell, and Roy “Bud” Davis will rotate through a 3-week cycle. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 1959 One hundred years ago lumber was being shipped from Hartford down the Paw Paw River to St. Joseph and from there to New York City by way of the Great Lakes, Erie Canal and the Hudson River. It was, so far as known, the only cargo of lumber ever transported by the water route from Hartford to New York, although much of the lumber from Hartford’s first sawmills was sent down the river on barges to St. Joseph and there transferred to lumber schooners that plied the lakes before railroads penetrated Western Michigan. Much of Hartford’s early lumber went to Chicago and Milwaukee by that route. It was in 1859, according to an old newspaper clipping, that Fabius Miles, prominent early day settler in Northeast Hartford, took the cargo of lumber from his sawmill northeast of the village, down the river to St. Joseph. The river was much deeper in those early days and was unobstructed by dams. It provided water transportation to the St. Joseph harbor and Hartford’s supplies were brought back on barges that carried lumber down the stream. Several of Hartford’s early settlers, states the article, “came from the East by boat to St. Joseph and brought their household goods and other possessions up the river on scows. It was not until after the railroad was built in 1870 that navigation of the river was wholly abandoned and even after that date thousands of Hartford logs were floated downstream to mills at Watervliet.” Thursday, July 16, 1959 According to some writing some years ago by George K. Fox of Three Oaks, who made a study of the origin of names in Berrien County, the name “Paw Paw” is from a Carib dialect of the American Indian language. Mr. Fox, in his research, discovered that the name Paw Paw River first appeared on a map of the United States by H.S. Tanner dated 1829. It probably got its name from the wild fruit, which was found all through the region adjacent to the river. This seems probable as I can recall the many paw paw trees that grew along the river here in Watervliet. The trees are of the custard apple family and bear an oblong, yellowish fruit that resembles a banana in flavor. Anyway, Paw Paw seems to be a popular name and sometimes confusing. There are two Paw Paw lakes, Big and Little Paw Paw; there is the winding Paw Paw River; and Paw Paw village, the county seat of Van Buren County. I have known of instances where tourists, headed for Paw Paw Lake, have driven right on to Paw Paw village, 15 miles to the east of Watervliet, and upon their arrival there discovered to their dismay that they had missed the way to Paw Paw Lake resort and were obliged to turn back. In that case just too many Paw Paws. Paw Paw is also a favorite name for streets, not only in Watervliet but in other nearby communities as well. Watervliet has its Paw Paw Avenue, Benton Harbor has a Paw Paw Avenue and in Coloma it is Paw Paw Street. But Watervliet’s Paw Paw hasn’t always been known by that name. In fact it has had three names. Back in the early days when the community was a mere hamlet, the street was known as “Mill Street,” so called because of a small frame pulp mill located on the present site of the Watervliet Paper Company. Later on the name was changed to “Randall Mill,” appropriately named because of the eight families then residing on the street, four of them bore the surname of “Randall.” Those were the days when there were no paved streets, no sidewalks, no electricity, no city water and only one or two wells to furnish water for drinking and for household purposes. There were springs of water, however, that supplied clear, sparkling water, water far superior to that we now draw out of the faucets. Finally the street gained a name that has now become permanent, that of Paw Paw Avenue, and instead of eight houses there are 36 well-kept homes, two of which are apartment houses and all but two or three are home-owned. The name was given it no doubt because Paw Paw Lake is at the north and Paw Paw River is on the south.

Coloma Library News Library service updates

Coloma Public Library returned to Curbside service effective July 31. The library will additionally provide service by-appointment for patrons who need to briefly use a computer, use fax or printing services, or check out materials. Appointments will be accepted for the same day only. The hours are Monday – Friday, 12 – 6 p.m. with Saturdays Curbside only, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Please call staff at 269-468-3431 or email for more information. Get Counted backpacks The library has a free stuffed backpack as well as some gift cards to local shops to give away to families that make an appointment to complete the census at the Coloma Public Library. This is ongoing until they run out of backpacks and gift cards. Free online tutoring In support of their families, the Coloma Public Library now offers provides online academic tutoring, homework help, and test preparation for kindergarten through 12th grade students, plus early college students, and adult learners. Any Coloma Public Library card holder can connect with an expert tutor in a safe and secure online classroom. Call at 269-468-3431 for more information. Little Free Cart Weather permitting, the Little Free Carts are still outside for patrons who want to browse and select materials without coming into the building.

Watervliet Library news Guessing contest

Back to School supplies: Guess the number of school supplies in the package to win it! The contest will run from Monday, Aug. 24 through Friday, Aug. 28. Guesses can be made through the library’s Facebook page by Friday at 5 p.m., where the package photo can be viewed. Zoom program on UFOs Watervliet District Library has scheduled a program presented by William Konkolesky, the state director of Michigan’s Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), entitled “Best Recent UFOs”, Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. The event will be held live, via Zoom, and is at no cost to the public. Pinteresting Pinteresting, the adult crafting program, is back. The August craft is Fairy Garden Homes. Sign-up is required; supplies are limited. Packages containing a variety of creative supplies to complete the project can be picked up at the library the last week of the month. Call the library at to register. Hours The library is open for appointments Monday – Saturday 10-2, and Wednesday evening 4-7. Curbside pick up is available for all of the above hours plus 4-8 on Wednesdays. Requests can be made through Facebook, email ( or phone, 269-463-6382.


100 years ago – 1920 Notice to village water users: The Village Board of Health advises the boiling of all water. The water is unfit for drinking purposes – Spencer D. Guy, Village Health Officer. Notice to fruit growers: I am loading mixed cars – Apples, Pears, Plums – nearly every day. A. E. Barker Phone 46J, Pitcher House Services at the Congregational Church were well attended. A duet was sung as well as a dramatic reading. Welcome to everybody. 60 years ago – 1960 Authorization has been given by the Post Office to establish a fourth rural route. The three rural routes shall be revised. Growth is seen in the Coloma Heights and Paw Paw Lake areas. Mr. and Mrs. Ted Soulard and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Fitz spent a day in Chicago attending the “Captain Stubby and His Buccaneers” show. Mrs. Soulard was interviewed on the program. The beautiful lawn at the Howard Walther home was the scene of the Walther reunion. The co-operative dinner was attended by 81 relatives. The Courier has received the Michigan 1960 Official Highway Map. Drop by to pick up a copy. 30 years ago – 1990 School opens for the new year. Bus routes remain the same. Hot lunch prices are $1.20 per day. Milk can be purchased separately for 20 cents. Thank You! Dairy Queen, Coloma Frozen Foods and Monte Package Company for buying our 1990 blue ribbon lambs – Jeff & Nicole Ginter and Kara & Kim Schmuhl. Jim and Wanda Hembree were entertained by friends and family in honor of their 40th anniversary. Jim and Wanda own Hembree Trailer Sales, Red Arrow Highway. Airman Jimmy D. Young Jr. has graduated from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He is a 1989 graduate of Coloma High School. Bingo will be held at the FOP Lodge every Thursday evening. BINGO! Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Special Access Services are Mon-Fri 12-6; Curbside Service, Sat 10-2. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 Hartford has lost its opera house and the fact has given impetus to a proposal to erect a community building to provide a club room for the use of Hartford’s social organizations, an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1,000 to 1,200 people, a community banquet hall and kitchen and a gymnasium; all to be dedicated as a war memorial to Hartford’s veterans. G.H. Tyrrell has taken the initiative in launching the project. The opera house block was recently sold to Kaye Auto Sales and the lower floor has already been converted into a Buick sales room and service station. The Rush Lake Catholic Church – the oldest landmark in this section of Michigan – is to be the scene of an Indian picnic when members of the Pokagon band will stage a day of festivities to augment the fund they have been raising to repair the ancient edifice. 75 years ago – 1945 The war ended Tuesday night and Hartford didn’t know quite what to do about it. The atmosphere in the village was a perfect stage setting to receive news of peace, warm mid-summer sun floated lazily through the barely moving leaves of the trees on village streets at suppertime when radios brought words that the Japanese government had accepted Allied surrender terms. The first physical rejoicing came from the children of the village. They tied tin cans to their bicycles, blew whistles and shouted. The village council joined with the township board Monday night in approving use of the second floor of the town hall as a youth center. Permission to hold dances and roller skating parties there was requested by the Community Education Council. A municipal mystery developed this week when a search for the village charter failed to reveal any trace of it. A thorough examination of the village safe in the town hall and its contents yielded a stack of books and sheaves of paper, but no charter. Maybe Hartford never had a charter, but Lightner and Cupp think so. 50 years ago – 1970 All Hartford school offices will be open next week for registration of new students. The first three grades will be registered at the south school. Kindergarten, 4th, 5th and 6th grade pupils will be registered at the north grade school, 7th through 12th will enroll at the high school. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. The library will be closed through September 2. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 Printed Sept. 5, 1930: “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Of course it does. But fair amount of work and the wrong type of play can give the same results. Don’t lose sight of this fact either. Recreation is essential to human happiness, health and welfare. But in these days of highly commercialized attractions one should give some thought to the manner in which the leisure hours are spent. This is perhaps too infrequently done. While the radio, for example, is one of the most fascinating modern amusements, it scarcely pays night after night to sit up until the small hours, trying to ‘get’ hither, thither and yon. It would be more sensible to shut off the current at a more reasonable hour and get ‘sleep’. Gale Patterson, a graduate of the Watervliet high school in 1930, entered the Parsons Business College in Kalamazoo. 60 years ago – 1960 The Watervliet Blue Sox won a rousing 11-0 victory on Aug. 20, 1960 when they defeated the Three Oaks Merchants. Jim Bale pitched the Sox’ seventh victory of the season. The Paw Paw Lake Mobile Home Park has recently been a scene of scientific activity. Members of the Southwest Chapter of the Archeological Society have found there, numerous artifacts used by the Poleo Indians whom are recognized as having lived in Berrien County years ago. Lois Goff, owner of the mobile park, is now in possession of the survey sheet sent to her by the Southwest Chapter. Charles Lull III won the reserve championship with the hog he raised as a 4-H project for the Berrien County Youth Fair. The Chester White and Yorkshires cross tipped the scales at 250 pounds. 30 years ago – 1990 The precious baby girl, Diane Ahena, was born to Mr. and Mrs. R. Scott Austin, Watervliet, on Aug. 21, 1990 and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Army Specialist James E. McGee has arrived for duty at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. McGee is an Infantryman. The specialist is a 1987 graduate of WHS. Senator Henry Gast announced a $10,000 grant has been awarded to the Watervliet Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The DDA will use the grant to stabilize the bank along Mill Creek, provide more extensive fish habitat structures, and improve angler access. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Access hours by appt: Mon-Sat 10-2, Wed 4-7 and Curbside service: Mon–Fri 10–2, Wed 4–8 and Sat 12–2 Phone: 269-463-6382


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News from the Coloma Courier 100 years ago – 1924 The dates for the Mutual Morgan Chautauqua have been set. Tickets are now being sold. Postmaster Martin Kilmark informs of an earlier train stop to Co


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