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Celebrating the founding of Cedar Springs

Founders Day event March 15-18

By Judy Reed

 

When was the last time you saw a bear on Main Street? Heard wolves and cougars growling at the door of your log cabin home just off the beaten path? Imagine groves of hardwood trees and a path cutting through them that we now call Main Street, and a log cabin near a creek that served as a pioneer’s hotel.

The photo shows the village of Cedar Springs from the corner of Main and Muskegon Streets, looking north, about 1871, the year it was officially incorporated as a village by the state legislature. According to the Cedar Springs Story, the white frame building on the left was Black’s first store, and on the right is O’Dell’s Blacksmith shop, with his wagon shop just north of that. Rising behind them is the spire of the Methodist church, which was built in 1871. This photo was on a 1907 postcard, which said it was Cedar Springs, about 30 years ago.

The photo shows the village of Cedar Springs from the corner of Main and Muskegon Streets, looking north, about 1871, the year it was officially incorporated as a village by the state legislature. According to the Cedar Springs Story, the white frame building on the left was Black’s first store, and on the right is O’Dell’s Blacksmith shop, with his wagon shop just north of that. Rising behind them is the spire of the Methodist church, which was built in 1871. This photo was on a 1907 postcard, which said it was Cedar Springs, about 30 years ago.

According to the Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, Ora Lewis related (in 1965) that when his grandfather, Dennis Lewis, lived in Grand Rapids, he heard of a place far north called Cedar Springs. He took the road that led to Laphamville (Rockford) and then traveled through groves of thick trees to get here. Near the road by the creek was a tavern with provisions (on the property where the firebarn is) and close by were some Cedar trees and a large spring, giving the town its name. It was probably owned by John and Lydia Smith, who settled here in 1851, according to The History of Kent County, by Dillenback and Leavitt, 1870. He ran a sawmill for a time and kept the post office in the mill. Their home was a log cabin in the forest, and also served as a hotel. The book relates that the hotel was well patronized, since one year Mrs. Smith cooked up 1,000 pounds of pork between February 12 and May 1.

John and Lydia Smith are just a couple of the people who are important to the history of Cedar Springs, which was made up of parts of Solon and Nelson Townships, and officially recognized by the state legislature as a village, in March 1871.

The Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the pioneers who had the foresight to settle here, with a Founders Day Weekend, March 16-18. This year will mark 142 years of the official existence of Cedar Springs, thought it has unofficially been around much longer.

The weekend will kick off Saturday, March 16, with the Lions Club pancake breakfast. Other activities include pioneer Crafts for kids at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, a dance extravaganza at The Kent Theatre, a Founders Day concert and barbecue, a play at the Kent, and a historic storytelling time on Monday. There will be a big tent set up for the concert and barbecue at Main and Ash Streets, so no need to worry about the weather! It will even be heated if necessary. Food and drink will be available to purchase. The meat is being grilled by local grillers, and specialty beer and hard cider will be available in a limited quantity, along with soft drinks, water and coffee.

See ad below for a schedule of events, and watch next week’s Post for more info! You can also follow the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and this event on their Facebook page.

 

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