10-01-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

A Tom Thumb Wedding pageant inspired by the 1863 wedding of General Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton) and Lavinia Warren. Are you one of the students in this play? Perhaps you were in another school play. Contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, info@northberrienhistory.org. 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

Thursday, August 6, 1959 Paw Paw Lake, largest and one of the most beautiful inland lakes of Berrien County, has a history that goes back to the early days when all the surrounding country was practically a wilderness. “In those early days Paw Paw Lake was a favorite spot of the Indians. The dusky redskins roamed the shores, fished from quiet, cool, deep waters, hunted deer in the woods near its banks and sought game of all kinds near its shores,” so reads an early account. Paw Paw Lake covers about 1,200 acres, is about 3-1/2 miles in length, 1-1/2 miles across at its widest point and a half mile at its narrowest point. It has a shoreline of 10 miles. It had its beginning as a summer resort more than 70 years ago and how many thousands of vacationists have since enjoyed its beauty and attractions no one knows, but probably no other spot in Berrien County is so well known to vacationing millions of Chicago than our own Paw Paw Lake. By the late 1890s and early 1900s Paw Paw Lake, during the summer months, was a mecca for thousands upon thousands of Chicago vacationists. They came by boat to St. Joe, then by train to Watervliet and thence by bus to the lake. An interurban made regular trips between Benton Harbor and Watervliet and it, too, brought crowds to the resort. So great were the crowds that the Pere Marquette (now the C & O) ran extra trains to accommodate the crowds. Many of the city people owned summer homes at the various resorts and spent the season here, while others only came for weekends and stayed in hotels and boarding houses, of which there were several. L.P. Husen, Hartford jeweler, is credited with building the first cottage at the lake. It was located at the east end of the lake, known as Smith’s Landing, but now named Fairview Beach. It was Husen who really started the resort and it was in 1887. Shortly after Mr. Husen built his cottage, other Hartford businessmen recognized the beauty and charm of the lake and they too, built cottages. Then two families from Chicago, named Benn and Ball, followed with summer homes and then Benton Harborites began invading the lake. In 1895, Mr. Husen saw further possibilities of Paw Paw Lake as a resort and purchased a piece of land on the south side of the lake from Mrs. J. Brooks, and Beechwood Point had its beginnings. It was the first addition to be platted into lots and it grew rapidly with many of the finer homes being built there. Mr. Husen, himself, owned a cottage there and lived there until his death. Mr. Husen also is remembered as having built the first dancing pavilion at the lake, which he operated for ten years, then sold it to Michael Zimay. It burned shortly after that and a pavilion was built on a high hill a short distance from the lake by Charles Cushing of Chicago. It was since converted into the Country Club. The land where Forest Beach is located was first owned by William Abernethy, who sold it to Ira Allen, who developed it into one of the leading landings at the lake. A pavilion and skating rink were built by Frank Ollinger, who operated it until it was destroyed by fire. Edgewater Beach, between Beechwood Point and Forest Beach, was purchased, platted and developed by Captain Lyman Fletus, who also owned two of the early day boats. The boats carrying passengers were called steamers, and the Margaret, Elite, Gypsy and Forest Beach were the most popular. The largest was the Margaret, owned by Mr. Fletus. There were also two large riverboats used for transportation on the river, which had been dredged and cleaned out; a depot was in the back of Hutchins drug store. The first automobile to carry passengers at the lake is believed to have been owned by E.E. Evans, who owned a summer home at Smith’s Landing, and the late Byron L. Peirce, of Watervliet. The first autobus was a six-wheel vehicle with five seats and owned by Evans. With the advent of the automobile and with paved highways leading in all directions, the Paw Paw Lake resort is not the same as it was 50 or 60 years ago. Many city folks do, however, own summer homes there and some have become permanent residents. But despite changing conditions in living conditions, Paw Paw Lake will never change, but will always remain one of the section’s beauty spots.

Coloma Library News Register to vote online Do you need to register to vote online? If you aren’t sure how, your friendly Coloma Library staff can help. Get “Counted” Help support the Coloma Public Library by completing the Census today! While supplies last, families that go to the library to complete the 2020 Census can choose a gift card or stuffed backpack. For anyone that has already done their civic duty, there is something for them too! Simply stop by the Library and put your name in a drawing. All offers are while supplies last. Free online tutoring Tutor.com provides online tutoring, homework help, and test preparation for kindergarten through 12th grade, 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. Job searching and resume help The library can help anyone looking for a job. They offer access to one-on-one job tutors who can help with resume advice, job searching, interview tips and more. Little Free Carts The Little Free Carts are still outside for patrons who want to browse and select materials without going into the building. On rainy days, the carts are in the lobby which remains open. Staff can be reached at readcoloma@gmail.com, 269-468-3431, or a message through Facebook.

Watervliet Library News Hope Thomas, singer, songwriter and guitarist, will perform a virtual concert of eclectic folk & jazz tunes, Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. Hopie Jo’s performance can be accessed through the library’s Facebook page. The library will begin rolling out a new schedule of take-and-make treasures, beginning the first week of October. The Packet Projects are free weekly craft kits available for pick-up in the library or curbside, each week of the month designed for a specific age group. Toddler kits will be available the first week of each month; kits for elementary aged kids will be made available the second week; third week kits are designed for teens; and the last week will feature Pinteresting, Crafts for Adults. Supplies are limited; sign-up is recommended. Contact the library at 269-463-6382, info@wdlib.org or by Facebook message. “Story Time in a Bag” kits are now ready to check out for your own at-home story hour. Each kit contains a story book and characters, puppets or plush toys. Crafts can be included, upon request. Book Bundles, (non-fiction books, free worksheets and fun science experiments), are also ready for check-out. Subjects available are: space, the human body, sharks, bees, weather, flying machines, owls, and dinosaurs. The library is also pleased to now have two mobile hot-spots to share. The hot-spots offer home WiFi; perfect for u