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Out of the attic: The great bank robbery of 1903

from The Making of a Town: A historical journey through Cedar Springs

The building at 43 N. Main Street once served has quite the history behind it. It was built in 1889 by Frank Fuller. The building started its life as a bank and was used as a bank for many years. Frank was a noted horse breeder here and abroad. However,  in May of 1900, Frank Fuller disappeared and at the same time, the assets of the bank disappeared as well.

The next owner of this bank was Fred Hubbard, who purchased the building and opened the Cedar Springs Exchange Bank.

Then, on February 13, 1903, the unthinkable happened in our small town.

The following article is from the Cedar Springs Clipper, February 13, 1903:

The building at 43 N. Main Street (southwest corner of Main and Elm Streets) was once the site of a bank that was robbed in 1903. Photo from the Cedar Springs Historical Society.


Vault was Opened by Two Charges of Nitro-Glycerine


A view of the inside of the bank. Photo from the Cedar Springs Historical Society.

The Cedar Springs Exchange Bank owned by Fred Hubbard was burglarized at about 1 o’clock, by the time clock, last Friday morning. They gained entrance with a chisel and tools at the front door of the office at the corner of the building. These tools were gotten by breaking into Munsell’s wagon shop. The robbers worked quietly and quickly, using nitro-glycerine in two charges on the outer and inner doors of the big vault. Both doors were torn from their hinges, the outer one being thrown several feet from its fastening, and the inner one torn all to pieces. There was nothing in the way of the heavy pieces, however, and the bank furniture was not damaged.

When the bank robbers left they did so hurriedly, leaving behind them in their haste a cigar box full of dimes which they removed from the vault, but which they dropped in their hurry to get away. Aside from this amount of money, there was very little cash in sight when Assistant Cashier Wright Nelson came to the bank at 7:15 that morning. Several persons, including Mrs. G. Aumond, who lived across the street from the bank, two young ladies in the house of W.H. Jones at the other end of the block, and Mrs. John Pollock who lives a block away, heard the explosion of the blasts. But none of them attempted to discover the cause. Every man in the town apparently slept through it all, even the guests at the Central Hotel, half a block away, being in entire ignorance of the robbery.

They first secured a horse and buggy from the barn of H. Miller and Son of the Cedar Springs Mill. The horse is a rangy fellow and great roadster. Dr. Annis, in driving into town passed this rig with two men at about 2:00 o’clock one mile south of the bank, and before 6 o’clock the horse was found hitched on West Fulton in Grand Rapids shivering in the cold, and taken care of by the police.

Sheriff Chapman was phoned and arrived on the 8:22 train. The sheriff’s force and all the detectives in Grand Rapids have been hard at work but are handicapped seriously by a total absence of any description of the men. That night two men boarded the train at Big Rapids with tickets for Rockford, and quietly stepped off the 9:22 southbound train at opposite side of the station here.

Conductor Long did not miss them until reaching Rockford and was informed by the brakeman.

It is evident that there were three or four on the job. Bankers and safe men pronounce it an extraordinary piece of work. But it is hard to believe that the two men driving the horse into Grand Rapids had the money in their possession. The loss to the bank and safe was covered by insurance in the Casualty Insurance Company three to one. No matter how much they stole, neither Mr. Hubbard, Cashier Herbert W. Wheeler or Assistant Cashier Wright Nelson have given out any figure as it is against the rules of insurance. Banker Hubbard, the owner, keeps simply enough cash on hand to meet daily demands, the balance being deposited in Grand Rapids. 

On the 8:22 train arrived Banker F.W. Johnson of Rockford and on the 8:57 train arrived Banker Bruce N. Kiester of Sparta with thousands of dollars and 9 o’clock the bank opened and was doing business and not a man in the whole village even thought of pulling out a cent, and it was very gratifying to Mr. Hubbard, the owner, that he has the confidence of the people. Fred Hubbard, owner of the bank, has been a private banker in the village for four years and has been a resident for 25 years. All depositors have the utmost confidence in Mr. Hubbard and business is going on as if nothing had happened. The insurance men have been here and will pay every cent lost.

This story is an excerpt from the book by the Cedar Springs Historical Society titled The Making of a town: a journey through Cedar Springs 1857-1970. The book talks about many of the buildings here in town and gives some history. If you’d like to pick up a copy, they are for sale at The Cedar Springs Historical Museum (open Wednesdays 10-5); the Cedar Springs Public Library; and Cedar Springs City Hall.

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The Post travels to the Bahamas

The Post traveled with the Passarelli/Malon family over Christmas break on a cruise to the Bahamas. They visited Princess Cays and Nassau and had a great time.

Thanks so much for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows. If you forget the Post, please do not photoshop it into the photo. Just take it with you next time!

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Hometown Hero

Samuel Jacob Blanchard

Marine Pvt. Samuel Jacob Blanchard, of Cedar Springs, graduated in December from boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, with platoon 1100, after 13 weeks of training.

Pvt. Blanchard is currently at Camp Geiger in North Carolina for military combat training. Next he will go to Fort Lee in Virginia for MOS training as a bulk fuel specialist.

Sam is a 2019 graduate of Cedar Springs High School. His parents are Mark Blanchard, of the City of Cedar Springs, and Lisa Blanchard, of Rockford.

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FFA wraps up busy 2019

By FFA reporter Casey Fisk and FFA President Dylan McConnon

The summer of 2019 started as a struggle for many FFA members after long time Advisor, Mr. Larry Reyburn retired, with over 30 years of service to Cedar Springs Public Schools. During this absence, leadership for the club was carried out by the Cedar Springs Alumni Association and Friends. Alumni meetings were held monthly to work with students on projects such as Land Lab, Livestock Judging, and Officer Training Camp. The Alumni Association worked with the Administration at the High School to ensure that the program would continue to be able to provide opportunity for students in the absence of an Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources instructor. After an arduous interview process that included input from both the student body and Administration, the Cedar Springs Public School District was pleased to announce Mr. Brent Willett as the new Ag teacher and FFA Advisor. This could not have come at a better time, as the Officers were headed to a state leadership training camp just three days later. After a successful camp, chapter officers began planning fall activities for the upcoming academic year.

The first order of business for the chapter was the Kent County Youth Fair. Members ran the agriculture adventure barn, an initiative by the KCYF board to teach the community about agricultural industries. After planning several events, the barn was a huge hit seeing as many as 500 participants daily. But fall community events did not stop there. Agriculture Olympics kicked off the school year with events such as milk chugging, hay bale tossing, and the all time favorite pitchfork toss. State officers Haili Gusa and Devin Haywood were also in attendance to represent the remainder of the state. The overall podium included Mr. Garret Migoski, Mr. Gavin Spicer, and Ms. Casey Fisk. 

It was a successful kickoff and a fun start to 2019.

Fall traditions in the FFA didn’t stop with Ag Olympics. Drive Your Tractor to School Day (DYTTSD) ran on the morning of September 20th. Tractors of all shapes and sizes traveled miles to get to campus in time for breakfast provided by the CSHS kitchen staff. After school, reporter Casey Fisk took photos and participants paraded through campus with a police escort generously provided by the Kent County Police Department. Dozens of tractors participated along with a guest appearance by Mrs.Hilyard and Mrs.Marrow on the CSHS gator. It was a fantastic turnout and another safe and fun display of agriculture in Cedar Springs. 

The FFA annual Harvest Day exposes 2nd graders in the district to agriculture, often for the first time. This year was no exception. Kids enjoyed animals brought in by members as well as large agricultural equipment provided by Nutrien Ag, apples provided by Hart Farms, and a corn maze Created by Mr. Willetts Ag and Natural Resources class. 

The FFA continued tradition in the Cedar Springs Red Flannel festival as well as the annual trip to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. 10 members attended with two chaperones where they attended sessions by motivational speakers and industry leaders. Members met students from all 50 states and 4 territories of the United States and toured the Apache Sprayer Plant just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. 

New for November this year was the Michigan FFA Broiler Contest. Students learned about animal nutrition and health by raising twenty five birds in order to compete in the contest. Bryant Maley, Seth Almas, Isabel Wood, and Sam Rusche of the Animal Science class took the birds to Munsell’s Poultry Processing in Fowlerville Michigan to watch their birds be processed and then be evaluated on the carcass and record keeping of the group. FFA officers Casey Fisk and Gideon McConnon also raised birds for the contest. 

President Dylan McConnon wrapped up November by participating in the Farm Bureau Discussion Meet. There, participants compete in constructive discussions about ag related issues and are judged on their input and conversation steering abilities. “It was neat to hear others’ views on problems we see all the time,” said McConnon. Topics discussed included suicide rates among struggling agriculturalists, issues with increasingly severe weather events, and anti-agricultural bullying on social media. McConnon was the state alternate for region 4. Later, he attended the Farm Bureau state annual meeting with advisor Mr. Willett where policy in agriculture was discussed. 

The FFA capped off 2019 with their annual Christmas party organized by member Madison Skelonc. Members enjoyed fellowship and the age old classic “A Christmas Story” while eating holiday food. 

All in all, the fall of 2019 began with uncertainty but ended with a promising future.

2020 is off to a great start with Cedar Springs representing district contests such as Parliamentary Procedure, Creed Speaking, Job Interview, and Demonstration at the end of January. Additionally, the chapter has received over $1,000 in grants from the Michigan FFA Glassbrook Endowment and the CHS Foundation. Exciting things are happening at Cedar Springs Public Schools as we work to create a bright future for agricultural, career, and technical success. For more updates and information on the happenings of the CSHS FFA, follow us on Facebook @cedarspringsffa.

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Lady Red Hawks look to get back on track

Cedar Springs Girls Basketball started the 2019-20 season on a tear.  They look to get back on track as they have recently dropped three games in their toughest stretch of the schedule.

Traveling to FH Northern, on January 10th, in their first game after a long Christmas Break the ladies fell behind 14-2 early in the first quarter and were playing catch up from there.  

Cedar battled back cutting to one point 25-26 at the end of the third quarter.  The Red Hawks had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth but could not convert on three open looks in one possession.

Final Score on the night was 27-34. Junior Maggie Prins led the Red Hawks with a double-double, 11 points and 11 rebounds.  Junior Arianna Rau pulled down 8 rebounds.

Junior Arianna Rau goes up strong in the paint against FH Northern. Photo by Dennis Buttermore.

The ladies were back on the road Tuesday, January 14th when they traveled to FH Central.  

After trading baskets to a 9-9 score midway through the opening quarter, FHC scored the last 5 points unanswered for a 5 point lead at the end of one, 9-14.  Prins scored all 7 of her points in a second period that saw the Red Hawks close the gap on the Rangers for a halftime score of 21-24.

FHC got hot in the third quarter and had the ladies down 14 points at the end of the third period.  As always, these ladies battled back and closed the lead to 4 points late in the fourth quarter, however the lead was to much to overcome and the Red Hawks fell, 39-48.

Rau produced a double-double of her own scoring 11 points and 10 rebounds.  She was followed in scoring by junior Avery Sparling with 10 points.

Red Hawk junior Abby Buttermore goes up for 2 points against Kent City. Photo by Dennis Buttermore.

Cedar Springs hosted #2 Kent City on Saturday, January 18 in front a great crowd.  The Red Hawks battled evenly with the Eagles for a 7-7 score at the end of the first period. Rau had a big first half scoring 8 of her team high 13 points.

Kent City got hot behind the arc in the second period building a 13-point lead heading into the locker room at halftime.  

But Cedar would again battle back cutting Kent City’s lead to 4 points at the end of the third, 34-38. Three points by Prins and Junior Kaelyn Colclasure, as well as a short jumper by Sparling spurred the Red Hawks.

The teams battled throughout the fourth quarter, but the Red hawks could never get the lead. Final score was 46-51.

Rau produced her second double-double in as many games scoring 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sparling  and Colclasure followed with 10 and 8 points, respectively. Darrah Miller hauled in 10 rebounds on the night.

The Lady Red Hawks are back in action at home this week when they battle Northview Tuesday (1-21) and will play Lowell on Friday evening.  

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Varsity Cheer team placed third in tough competition

Varisty Competitive Cheer taam at the Cougar Spirit Invitational.

The Cedar Springs High School Competitive Cheer team faced its toughest competition of the season on January 18th at the Cougar Spirit Invitational at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan. The Varsity team earned third place by executing three solid performances and earning a combined round three score of 749.86. The JV squad performed well during round one and two, but were forced to drop from the competition due to an injury.

Coach Anne Olszewski was very proud of her team, “The girls handled a competition on the east side of the state with some jitters but I am pleased with them. It’s just time to clean the rounds. We are still in the top 10 for Division Two in the state and need to shave off at least one place in the standings to get to State Finals in March. They have it in them! How bad do we want it? 7 seniors. 7 leaders! We have January and February to find out!”

The lady Red Hawks will close out the month of January with the West Catholic Invitational on January 24th and the Cedar Springs Invitational on Monday, January 27th at 6pm. This is only one of two opportunities for the community to support this talented group of female athletes on their home turf. Mark your calendars! Let’s fill the stands and show some Red Hawk Pride for Team 2020!

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Squirrel Colors

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Does your family have specific recognizable gene characteristics? I have two dimples that my brothers and dad also possess. One is on my cheek and the other is on the side of my stomach. My dad and brothers have those dimples but they are on the opposite side of their bodies. Their hair parts on the left side of the head like it does for most men. My hair naturally parts on the right side. These are genetically inherited characteristics. 

Jackie Gage said that this cute little red “dwarf” squirrel has been coming to her home in Cedar Springs for at least a couple months. She said it was hard to get a picture of him because he was so fast and flighty but her granddaughter Brenda Reed finally got a photo. Jackie doesn’t think he’s a baby squirrel because he’s never gotten any bigger than the 6 inches or so he is now. “He chases the big squirrels up trees and across the yard and is quite aggressive,” she said. “I’ve named him Brat because he is one!” Photo by Brenda Reed.

I figure the two characters of dimples and hair part must be encoded on a chromosome that experienced a form of genetic inversion or possible crossover. Understanding of genetics has advanced remarkably since I took genetics in college. Now my focus is on butterfly genetics where genome sequencing is used to study similarities, differences, and development of new species in progress. I listen to scientists explain their research at conferences to demonstrate how genetic drift occurs in wild populations. I can best address squirrel genetics by attempting to overview gene inheritance for butterflies where my understanding is more complete.

Gene Drift character is more evident for some species than others. A plant group known as wild buckwheat is experiencing active speciation among individuals that look virtually identical. They have become genetically and reproductively isolated into different species even though they look the same. There is a group of blue butterflies that require buckwheat plants for larval food plants and the butterfly populations have separated into new genetically isolated species that look nearly identical. They do not interbreed with each other and each requires its own specific new species of buckwheat. This new species development in progress is being tested.

For field biologists like me to determine the species of blue buckwheat butterfly, it is necessary to determine the species of buckwheat plant the caterpillar requires. Another way is for scientists to examine gene sequencing of mitochondrial DNA and RNA. It is necessary to end this crash course in genetics without adding pages of detail. I expect readers have heard of the Human Genome Project and if not Google it for a brief paragraph introduction. To address squirrel color inheritance we will leave genetic species development. 

Kathy Bremmer, of Cedar Springs, said this two-toned squirrel has been visiting their feeders for a week or so. She said she did some research on the Internet but couldn’t find another one just like it. Ranger Steve says in the article here it could be an albinism mutation.

Frequently squirrels express genetic variation within their own species much like people do. Three common squirrel species in our area are the red, gray, and fox squirrels. Red squirrels are small with red fur and white bellies. The fox squirrels have rusty red fox-colored fur and tails with reddish bellies but some have red tinted black fur. The gray squirrels have gray fur and tails, with white bellies. They also have genetically distinct black individuals. The squirrel color phases are not significantly different from hair color variations in people.

The black-haired squirrel color is the result of a recessive gene that it must receive from both parent donors. If the squirrel gets a fox-colored hair gene and black-hair gene, the offspring will have fox-colored fur. Two fox-colored genes result in fox-colored individuals. Two black-hair genes create a squirrel having a black color.

Pictures of the color variant and “dwarf” squirrel sent to the paper are due to genetics that I cannot adequately identify. There are multiple possibilities to explain what has occurred. Dwarfism can occur in other species much like it does in people but they should have short limbs. The two small squirrels that have not become normal sized over a period of months could indicate a dwarf gene mutation. There are two half-sized red squirrels that are not dwarfs in our yard. They will grow. Squirrels commonly bear young in late fall or winter. 

The odd white and reddish-brown squirrel is more difficult to explain. It is not an albino. Albinos are individuals that do not inherit a gene for color pigment. Perhaps an albinism mutation occurred during early embryo development. Albinism is surprisingly frequent in squirrels. I have a picture on our wall of an albino red squirrel photographed at the Howard Christensen Nature Center. My in-laws had one in their Minnesota yard and I have heard of many others. Albinos lack eye pigment and have pink eyes. 

The two-toned squirrel pictured is caused by genetic variation caused in a manner I cannot readily explain but I could elaborate with detailed possibilities. Many nature niche mysteries continue to intrigue us so simply enjoy.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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A new pastor in town

Jon Huizenga of Rise Up Church

Jonathan Huizenga is originally from California but found his way to Grand Rapids, Mich. to attend Calvin College and later Calvin Theological Seminary. While he was at Calvin, he met his wife Sam (Joyce) and today they have four married children and five grandchildren.

Jon and Sam started coming to Cedar Springs about a year ago. They started coming because there was a growing sense amongst the regional Christian Reformed Churches that God wanted the ministry of Pioneer CRC (now closed) to carry forward.  Jon responded favorably when he was asked by the regional churches to plant this new church in Cedar Springs, now known as Rise Up.

Jon has a lot of good experience starting new churches. After graduating from Calvin Seminary in 1987, he was called to plant a new church in Jacksonville, Fla. where he stayed until the year 2000. After Jacksonville, they move to Rockford, Mich., where they planted another new church called River Rock. Jon was the senior pastor at River Rock for 18 years. In 2019, Jon began the work of planting a third church—Rise Up.

You may recognize Jon’s picture because he spends considerable time all around town. In fact, you may have already spotted him hanging out in one of our coffee shops, always ready to enjoy a conversation with someone new. Or, maybe you’ve chatted with him at a school function. Or, maybe you’ve rubbed shoulders with him at one of our town planning meetings.  

Jon and Sam now live in Cedar Springs after building a new house on Dio Drive. They wanted to live in town so they could be close to the people they love and serve.  

I hope you get a chance to meet Jon. If you do, you’ll discover that he loves meeting new people. If you have time to chat, I hope you have a chance to hear the beautiful vision he has of gathering all the people of Cedar Springs into a community that reflects the deep compassion and unconditional love of Jesus.  

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Rise Up Church holds grand opening

Pastor Jon Huizenga closes the service with a blessing. Courtesy photo.

The weather kept them guessing but Sunday, January 12 turned out to be a fine day for a grand opening of a new church in Cedar Springs named Rise Up Church.

Volunteer offers one more snack for the road. Courtesy photo.

“It was a wonderful day,” said Dave Van Harten, of Cedar Springs, a “launch team” participant who has been helping to develop the new church since early last year.

Rise Up Church has been holding weekly launch team gatherings, monthly invitation events, and monthly community engagement activities since early last year in order to invite people to get involved and to discern how they might join the city and the city’s people in helpful ways.

Launch team Dave Van Harten interacting with attendees. Courtesy photo.

Sunday’s grand opening at Cedar Springs Middle School at the corner 16 Mile and Northland Drive marked the beginning of every-Sunday worship services for the new church. Worship services will now be weekly at 10 a.m. at the school. Pastor Jon Huizenga invites Cedar Springs area residents to “come and help us become a community of love in the name of Jesus, in and with and among all the people of Cedar Springs.”

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The Post travels to Shipshewana

Rose and Jerry Bowman of Cedar Springs went to see the internationally known Irish tenor singer Danny O’Donnell in Shipshewana, Indiana over the Christmas holidays. 

“Danny put on a very thoughtful and long two part production of old time favorite songs and Christmas songs,” wrote Jerry. “After the end of the show Danny was very thoughtful to meet with us for a Post newspaper picture showing his warm personality with a kiss on my wife’s cheek!”

That sounds like a fun! Thank you for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows. If you forget the Post, please do not photoshop it into the photo. Just take it with you next time!

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