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08-22-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

1949 Coloma Flood… Background sign: “Watervliet Township Public Pier and Bath House Free Parking Lot for Bathers”. Anyone with information on the boy or location should contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330,, or stop by Tues. – Fri. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The tumblers of the universe

The tumblers of the universe clicked into place for me in the summer of 1924. That’s when I was born. My folks owned and operated the Hartford greenhouses right there on Linden Street. My dad, Lee Davis, had lived on a mint farm near Bangor for several years. He left Bangor high school in the 10th grade to work on the farm. He wanted his own business and was determined to get it. They grew peppermint, harvested it, and distilled the oil from leaves. It paid well, and he spent long days… saved his money. One day he walked into Hartford and started looking for property. He found a nice piece on Linden Street and negotiated with the lady who owned it. They agreed upon a price and he was thereafter the proud owner of almost one-third of a block. He built two greenhouses and an office in front… over the office his living quarters. We still have some flowering bushes around our home that he ordered for Mrs. Mortimer. She probably wanted to give him some business… and she did love blooming things. I can imagine it was hard for him at first. My mom, Edith Merrill, lived out south of Simpson’s woods just beyond the village limits, southeast side of Hartford. Her family rented a farm there. They had homesteaded first in Texas, then in Idaho, before coming to Michigan. Her dad heard of a land speculation deal in northern Michigan. But they only got as far as Hartford, where they settled. Edith was a young single girl. She would walk into town to shop, and joined a new orchestra just being formed by a “music man” who had come to town with that in mind. She played the guitar and mandolin. We understand she had first been taught by a young ranch hand who worked for her dad in Idaho. But we don’t really know the story on that. We also don’t know how my folks met. But I can speculate… probably Lee Davis saw this attractive young lady walking by his greenhouses and wondered how he could get acquainted with her. Well, how about that new orchestra just being formed? I don’t think my dad was that musical. But he gave it the old try, first on the violin. That didn’t work out. So he switched to the cornet and became a member of that new music group practicing regularly in the town hall. I can remember when I was but a wee nipper he still had that cornet, which is a version of a trumpet. He would sit in the office on quiet days and practice. My young ears were not that skilled, but it almost seemed to me that he would never make first chair in the New York Symphony. If that was his strategy, it worked. Soon they were walking to practice together and then he would walk her home to the farm afterwards. And thus it was that romance bloomed. They were married in the spring of 1915, and thereafter moved into his living quarters over the office. He soon had the rest of the house built onto that and they set up housekeeping in it. 1918… we were at war and my mom was expecting her first child. A lot of shortages including coal… which my dad needed desperately to heat the greenhouses. He would go down to the freight yard, and with permission sweep up the coal dust left in the cars after they were emptied. And somehow they made it. But all was not well with my mom’s first pregnancy. She was a small woman and cesarean sections were unheard of at the time. My brother did not make it… he died at birth. My mom said the snow was so deep she could just see the tips of the horses’ ears above the snow banks as she looked out the window from her sickbed. It was so cold, and the snow so deep my baby brother could not be buried. He lay in the little stone mausoleum up in Maple Hill Cemetery until it thawed. That building is still there. Not far from it is our family plot where my folks are buried, and my baby brother. Just on the other side of our family monument, my sister Wilma and brother-in-law Ron rest eternally. It still seems strange to me… I have a brother, a baby brother who is older than I. But I don’t have him. He is there with my folks. Every year when I was a kid we would go up to Maple Hill, and my dad would plant geraniums around the family monument. Red geraniums and one white one in front of the little stone that just says “Babe”. We still keep that tradition, and I hope far into the future our kids will do the same. I have a sense of the continuation of the family. Somehow I think part of our future elsewhere is in being remembered by the people who are still here in this life. Every year when Memorial Day comes around, we go to one of the local greenhouses to buy plants. Part of them for flowerbeds around our house. But we also put geraniums on the final resting place of our family, here at Maple Hill in Hartford, and at Bangor’s Arlington Cemetery where my dad’s family members are buried. You see, there is a connection. Somehow we are all still together. We are part of the whole universe… past, present, and future. There is a name for it, “Indra’s Net”. Look it up! We are all golden threads, and we are constantly being woven into The Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Public Library News

The Coloma Public Library would like to thank numerous patrons who donated change to their Dinosaur collector. Book Club The Coloma Public Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Word is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz. New members are always welcome. Newspaper archive Past issues of the Coloma Courier (November 1899-1969), Watervliet Record (1890-October 1984) and Tri-City Record (1984-2010) are available for searching and browsing on the library’s website. Check out their home page at Learn your history The Coloma Public Library offers Ancestry Library Edition, an online database with genealogical records dating back as far as the 1400s. Library patrons can access census data, birth, marriage, death, and military records for free using the database within the Library. DIY car repair Save money by repairing your own vehicle. The Coloma Public Library provides free access to Auto Repair Source, an online service with repair information including diagrams, step-by-step instructions, service alerts, and recalls. Thousands of domestic and import vehicles are included.

Watervliet District Library News

Thanks to all the families who participated in the Summer Reading Program. Thanks to the young readers that have read over 946 hours! Pinteresting Monday, Aug. 26, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Arts & Crafts for grown-ups – this week: Button Bouquet. Special Book Sale Aug. 26–31 All books, movies, and audio during this week are “buy one get one free”. Third Monday Book Club Sept. 16, 7 – 8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversation! Ask for a copy at the desk. This month: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Yoga Mondays 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesdays 7 – 8 p.m.; Fridays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.; Chair Yoga – Wednesdays 6 – 6:30 p.m. Call the library at 463-6382 with inquiries on any activity.


100 years ago – 1919 Local phone rates have been reduced. A 1-party residence telephone rate is $1.50. A 4-party residence telephone rate is $1.25. The two-party line has been done away with. Scott’s Pharmacy and Grant & Son’s Store robbed. Burglars made off with a large amount of goods. It is believed they were looking for bonds as the safe was opened and contents spilled on the floor. Night watchman Frick believes they gained entrance when he stepped away for ten minutes. 60 years ago – 1959 Two European exchange students arrived at Camp Warren. Ilse Kleist of Hamburg, Germany and Herndrik Lutterveld of Kesteren, Netherlands will be in the Coloma High School senior class. A fire of mysterious origin badly damaged the interior of the Coloma Coal Co. office. A truck parked next to the building also received extensive damage. Patricia Ann Oberle will open her new dance studio, “Patrice School of Dance.” It is located at the corner of Paw Paw and Center streets. Classes will be offered in tap, ballet, toe and acrobatics. Pat graduated from Benton Harbor last June and studies dance under Billie Jacobson. 30 years ago – 1989 Joan Polaskey has been hired as principal for St. Joseph Catholic Elementary. She was also an 8th grade graduate of the school. Her teaching years have been with the Kalamazoo Diocese, Watervliet and Coloma schools. We Asked You… “What should the primary function of the City Coordinator be?” Rebecca Faultersack says, “To provide open communication with the community.” Vi Shafer International Dancers entertained in the USA Tent at the Berrien County Youth Fair. They performed a medley from their recent European tour. Tri-City Record Subscription Rates: 1 year – Berrien and Van Buren County, $13.00; outside the state of Michigan, $18.00. 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 – 1919 A business deal that will have an important bearing on Hartford’s industrial development was consummated yesterday when S.M. Carpp sold his canning factory and equipment in the northeast part of the village to a new company to be incorporated for $50,000 under the name of the Hartford Canning Company. All of the stock in the new enterprise will be owned by S.M. Carpp of Hartford, Dalton Carpp of Bangor and John Bruggink of Waldo, Wisconsin. Chief among the plans of the new company is the erection of a complete new factory in Hartford, the site for which has not been definitely selected. Work on the new factory building will begin in fall and will be completed in early 1920. 75 years ago – 1944 The Distinguished Flying Cross has been awarded to 1st Lieutenant Richard Warren Olds, 25, of Hartford, pilot on the B-17 Flying Fortress “Bugs Bunny Jr.” for his outstanding contribution to the success of the 8th Air Force attacks on key targets in Germany and Nazi Europe. A member of the bombardment division recently cited by the President for the historic England-Africa shuttle attack to the Messerchmitt plant at Regensburg, Germany last summer, Lt. Olds has taken part in some of the longest missions flown by the group. The Hartford Art Study class met at the home of Mrs. George Shepard on Pollywog Road. Mrs. George Chamberlin gave the lesson for the day. 50 years ago – 1969 Hartford firefighters now can fill tanks for their air packs with a new compressor the department has just acquired. Several large storage tanks will be added to the unit to speed filling of the air pack tanks. A new A&P supermarket opens at Hartford today. The new store is much larger than the one it replaces a block east on Main Street. Store manager Boyd Hover has been with A&P since 1932 and manager of the Hartford store since 1938. The new supermarket will feature fresh meats in a department headed by Richard Waite. Produce department head will be William Carter. Dr. W.S. Hinckley celebrated his 101st birthday at a family dinner Friday night. Still active, Dr. Hinckley is Michigan’s oldest practicing dentist. 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


90 years ago – 1929 Prosper J. Hunt, former Watervliet boy located in Florida for a number of years, has been transferred to chief engineer of the Jacksonville Traction Company. For several years he has been located at Winterhaven with the Water, Electricity & Light Company. A.A. Howard of the Record staff arrived home from his western trip. He was gone just a month and traveled 5,000 miles by rail and auto. He visited Cheyenne and various other points in Wyoming, Yellowstone Park, Denver, Colorado Springs, Manitou and Cripple Creek, Colorado. Over one hundred men, aided by the Watervliet and Coloma fire departments, battled a grass fire in the Willis & Woolcott Duchess orchard in North Watervliet Wednesday afternoon. 60 years ago – 1959 WHS Class of ’39 held a reunion Aug. 15 even through the deluge of rain Saturday evening. Twenty-nine attended the twenty-year reunion. Fourteen classmates and two teachers, their husbands and wives, enjoyed a cocktail hour and delicious steak dinner at the Club Rocadero. Sonie Rogers Sloan weds Richard Fisher Saturday August 15. Baskets of white gladioli, white carnations and white tapers in seven branched candelabra decorated the altar of the First Methodist Church, Watervliet. The Watervliet Civic Garden Club met at Hays Park on Aug. 12 for a potluck picnic. There were ten members and three guests present. Mrs. Milton Scherer gave a lesson on corsage making. 30 years ago – 1989 Sixteen students graduated from the Licensed Practical Nurse program at Lake Michigan College August 11. They received their nursing pins and certificates of achievement after successfully completing the one-year program at LMC. Among those to graduate was Elizabeth Doom of Watervliet. Communications & Music of Watervliet won the fifth-place ribbon for the best business display in their commercial building. 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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