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New book to tell history of Cedar Springs

The Cedar Springs Historical Society is working on a new book to tell the history of Cedar Springs in both word and photos, some never seen before. Sharon Jett, Director at the Museum, has shared some of the pages with us, which we will share with you over the next couple of weeks. Sharon said she hopes the book will be released in the next few months.

The Smith’s cabin was like the one pictured here.

Today the flowing well has been restored.

John & Lydia Smith Stage Coach Stop 

Solon Township

John and Lydia (Proper) Smith are believed to be the first settlers in the village of Cedar Springs, Kent Co. Michigan.

Research has shown that Mr. and Mrs. Smith came to Cedar Springs in 1851 where they opened a sawmill for a time and kept the post office in the sawmill in Nelson Twp. In 1852 they bought 700 acres in Solon Twp. Section 24.

The History of Grand Rapids and Kent Co, 1918 states that “they experienced all the privations of the pioneer life.” Years later their son Coridon Smith stated that they “settled at the limits of the village of Cedar Springs and prepared to hew out a home from the wilderness. His first operations were necessarily in the lumber business for the nature of the country at that time made it impossible engaging in farming.” (Huge pine forests and cedar swamps covered the area.)

In 1852 the nearest settlement was Laphamville (now known as Rockford) about seven miles to the south. The road to Cedar Springs was an old Native American trail that had barely become a path wide enough for wagons to travel over.

The Smiths settled on the Cedar Creek at the north end of what is now the town of Cedar Springs. The area was covered with beautiful old cedar trees and the flowing spring was a great convenience next to their home. The Smiths listed themselves as farmers in the 1860 census but they also were Inn keepers. The History of Grand Rapids and Kent Co. 1918 says “Their home was a log cabin in the forest and for a long time was the pioneer’s hotel, and liberally patronized. One year, dating from February 12 to May 1, Mrs. Smith cooked 1,000 pounds of pork.” A stagecoach passed through the area as well as many pioneer families seeking their own new homesteads.

The Smiths also sold a few provisions to travelers.

It is believed the name for our town, Cedar Springs, came from travelers describing the Smiths location as being by the cedar trees and fresh flowing spring, “Cedar Springs.”

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