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Ranger Steve Mueller answers the call

By Judy Reed

Ranger Steve Mueller, local naturalist and columnist for the Post, passed away Thursday, June 16.

On Thursday, June 16, Steven Joel Mueller, 72, a local naturalist better known to readers as Ranger Steve, completed his circle of life and said goodbye to the earth he had so fondly nurtured and cared for.

Ranger Steve was a longtime contributor to the Post with his Nature Niche columns, opening the eyes of his readers to the wonders of nature and challenging us all to be better stewards of God’s creation.

EARLY LIFE

Steve’s fascination with nature began at an early age. In his column, The Making of a Naturalist, he revealed the beginnings of his interactions with wildlife.

“Before I was five, we found a turtle and placed it in a confined pen in the backyard. Maybe we were going to keep it as a pet. My mother discovered it missing and learned I released it. It wandered off to live free and happy. I do not recall if that was my intent or if I got it out of the pen and it escaped. We had a chameleon and a goldfish that died because they received inadequate care. Those were difficult lessons that were hardest on the animals. Proper care for life was developing…A squirrel entered and left a tree cavity. I climbed the tree and felt babies in the hollow. I dropped naked blind squirrels to my friend Jimmy who caught them. I planned to raise them but mom said no and to put them back in the nest. We did and hopefully the mother reared them. I was learning how to live with nature.”

He said that scientific inquiry began before age five. “I can recall the timeline because we moved to a new home after ours burned. I pushed a metal paper clip into an electric wall socket in our first house. I got a U-shaped burn on my thumb and it burned a paperclip shape into the wood floor. It was the first time I thought I died.”

Mueller grew up in Saginaw, and graduated from Arthur Hill High School. He was active in cub and boy scouts. Through Camp Rotary, he was exposed to nature and developed naturalist skills.  In 1958, his family took a trip out west to national parks. It was life changing for Steve. “We experienced bears in parks and fed deer salt from our hands…I was greatly impressed when I met a park ranger at Glacier National Park. It was then I decided I wanted to become a ranger,” he said.

PROFESSIONAL LIFE

This moth species, “Brilliant Virgin Tiger Moth,” or Grammia brillians, was discovered in Southern Utah by Ranger Steve Mueller. Courtesy photo.

Mueller held several different jobs related to the nature field over the years. He was a high school science teacher in Alpena, Michigan, Dry Ridge, Kentucky, and Kenosha, Wisconsin; and while teaching in Manistique in the 1980s, Mueller discovered a breeding colony of butterflies previously unknown in Michigan called the Northern Blue. He was also an urban forester for Dow Chemical in Midland; a state park ranger in Traverse City; a ranger/naturalist at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, the same place he later iscovered a new species of moth—the Brilliant Virgin Tiger Moth; a teacher at Jordan College in Cedar Springs; and did some adjunct college teaching at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University.

Many know him best as the director of Howard Christiansen Nature Center for over 20 years. When that temporarily closed in 2005, Lowell Schools hired him to direct the program at the Wittenbach/Wege Agri-Science Environmental Center. He retired from there in 2008 due to bone cancer. Besides those programs, Mueller has been President of the Grand Rapids Audubon Club, President for the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education, West Michigan Butterfly Association, and Grand Rapids Camera Club.

Ranger Steve won the Thomas Say Naturalist Award in 2015. Courtesy photo.

He has won many awards, including the prestigious Thomas Say Naturalist Award for Excellence in 2015. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by colleagues,” Mueller told the Post at the time. “Colleagues throughout my career mentored me and made it possible for me to excel. I have worked diligently to become competent in a broad spectrum of natural history subjects and to hone interpretive skills.”

FAMILY LIFE

Mueller met his future wife, Karen, at Bemidji University, when she was an undergraduate and he was a grad student. They spent time together while working in the Lutheran Campus Ministry there.

“Karen and I spoke personal wedding vows on Aug. 10, 1977 by Water Canyon Falls (in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah) and our official wedding was on Sept. 10, 1977,” wrote Mueller. “Twenty-three years later I discovered the new species at the site in August 2005. A Lepidopterists said I am likely the only person on Earth to discover a new species at the site where I previously spoke wedding vows.”

The couple had two children, Jenny Jo and Julianne. I asked them what it was like growing up with a naturalist for a dad. Karen laughed and said that by two-years old, Jenny Jo had learned 200 animal cards. “You could ask her to find a certain animal and she’d pull it out.”

The girls had this to say: “Growing up with a naturalist for a dad meant that our phone was always ringing with questions about our natural world, while we spent many days as a family hiking, camping, and enjoying Creation. He taught us young to love all creatures, that none were lesser or greater than others.  Whether plant or animal, all are ‘people.’  He taught us to think critically about the world.  And he taught us love.”

I also asked what he was most proud of. Jenny Jo and Karen told me about an international conference he went to, where they had trivia over dinner, mostly about butterflies. And the question came up, “Who is Steve Mueller?”

“There were many experts there, but he is the only one they singled out to recognize,” said Jenni Jo.

“He had a significant impact,” said Karen. “They might not know who Steve Mueller is, but they know who Ranger Steve is.”

They said he was once recognized by someone in Costa Rica. “It was just a random chance,” they said.

Ranger Steve leading a group at Howard Christensen Nature Center. Courtesy photo.

Surrounding his home, he established Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, a nature preserve for enhancing biodiversity and cultivating native species. The site is a hotspot for birds and butterflies. Rare federally threatened American Chestnut trees live in the sanctuary, including the largest one most people have seen. With the support of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, the sanctuary has recently acquired a conservation easement ensuring that the land cannot be developed.

Ranger Steve welcomed visitors who valued and respected the needs of plants and animals. Many local nature groups made regular field trips to the sanctuary, and college interns gained work experience under his guidance. The sanctuary not only provided purpose for his life but was essential medicine while combating Multiple Myeloma, as important as his chemotherapy treatments and bone marrow transplants.

People are still welcome to come to visit the sanctuary, as long as Karen is home. Just park in the driveway at 13010 Northland Drive and call 616-696-1753.

Ranger Steve had been battling multiple myeloma, for 25 years, and fought it bravely. He created a bucket list while on hospice and managed to complete each task. I asked if there was anything he had  wanted to accomplish, but didn’t get a chance to. What was his heart’s desire?

“His parting thought was that 1,000 lifetimes are inadequate to provide service for the benefit of others or for project completion, so carry on his efforts to ensure future generations inherit a sustainable planet. Make your actions for ‘we’ and not ‘me’ and you will enjoy a prosperous purpose and meaning for your life.”

Godspeed Ranger Steve. You were a great example of how to be a good steward of God’s creation..

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Goodbye Mr. Horowitz

Steve Horowitz with his horse, Isabel.

by Lois Allen

The heartbeat of Red Flannel Country skipped a beat with the passing of one of its most infamous residents, Steve Horowitz. It was unforeseen and unexpected.

Steve’s infectious enthusiasm was contagious. He approached life with a passion.  A Grand Rapids native, he furthered his education at Western Michigan University, eventually landing a teaching job at Cedar Springs schools. For two and a half decades, until his retirement, his passion for teaching was great. He educated literally hundreds of Cedar Springs children. His unconventional style for teaching made learning fun. His students loved him and many others wanted to be in his class. And it seemed that he remembered every single one of them. You couldn’t walk down Main Street without someone honking their horn in greeting with a wave for their former teacher. And he would know exactly who it was! “That’s so-and-so…They were in my class,” he’d say.

Adopted as a baby to a Jewish family, he was raised Jewish but ultimately embraced the Amish Community in his later years.

He adopted Cedar Springs as his—the people, the town, and all things Cedar Springs. Steve enjoyed nature and the beauty of it, which kept him trekking up to Mackinaw Island where he spent much of his time in the summer. He would write down and memorize all the people he encountered there. He never forgot your name. He would see the “special” part of you, and you would truly feel special when you were with him, because to Steve, you were.

You couldn’t know Steve without the experience of his hugs. Big hugs! After one, the faint smell of his aftershave would linger reminding you throughout the day that you had gotten a Horowitz hug. This reporter has had many Horowitz hugs and I could use one right now.

Steve made national headlines when he displayed a huge sign in his front yard asking for “Wife Wanted” which was featured in the Rockford Squire, The Cedar Springs Post, on Good Morning America and other news networks. Although he never found a wife, he had many friendships with women, as well as guys, but the longest relationship he had with a female was with his horse, Isabel. Don’t know the story on how this city-slicker ended up with a horse, but it’s not surprising as he was a bonified rescuer of animals in need. He was dedicated to her until the end of her horse life at a staggering 35 years old.

He kept Isabel while he resided in the big blue house on the hill next to Cedar Springs Public Schools. After she died, he sold the home, which was ultimately torn down. Later, he purchased the old school house in Coral where he lived with his many rescues. Len Allington and his wife, Kim, long-time friends, took those rescues and will do their best to find loving forever homes for them. Allington is also in the process, along with volunteers, to mount a special memorial event for him here in Cedar Springs.

Steve also founded the Horowitzonion Institute. Not sure what that is, but you can always Google it and see! One never needed TicTok when around him. He was one big, long TicTok video wherever he went. He was civic minded and would fight for causes he believed in.  This reporter accompanied him to many protests and fundraising events, and if he was there, it was a party! Steve had a great heart and worked every day to make the world around him a little better. 

His perpetual kindness affected others in a big way and will be a great loss (click here to read story).

He sent me a special text when my mother passed away, and it meant a lot to me. Click here to read.

Steve Abe Horowitz touched so many people in such a big way. The fact that he will never know how much is sad. It’s sad that he never really knew…

Read more about Steve Horowitz in his obituary, click here to view.

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Congratulations, graduates!

Cedar Springs High School and New Beginnings students graduated May 26. Photo by 
Karen Van Malsen.
Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools, Scott Smith, addressing the graduates. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

By Judy Reed

Hundreds of kids across northern Kent County stepped out into a brave new world the last couple of weeks, as they graduated high school. They are now getting ready to embark on a brand new journey, and we wish them all the best as they go out to make the world a better place. In the pages of the Post, we are featuring the highest honors students from four area high schools—Cedar Springs High School, Creative Technologies Academy, Algoma Christian, and Tri County High School. We also have class listings of all those that graduated from those schools.

Commencement for CTA’s 24 graduates was hosted at Red Hawk Stadium.
CTA Graduates toss their caps to celebrate.

Click link below to see some of the great students from our area.

Graduation2022.pdf

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Bridge work

The Main Street bridge over Cedar Creek will likely be closed into October. Photo from City of Cedar Springs Facebook page.

A lot of people have been complaining that it’s taken a long time to see any progress on the Cedar Creek bridge project. According to the City of Cedar Springs, the City’s contractors had to work through a number of complex water, sewer and fiberoptic problems before finally breaking asphalt on the Main St. bridge project, but it is now underway. 

“Due to these delays, this project is likely to stretch into October,” it says on the City’s Facebook page. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience this project is causing you. We are all looking forward to the new bridge being completed.”

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Free fishing, off-roading and state park entry

Residents and nonresidents can enjoy two days of free fishing without a license during “Three Free” Weekend. Get more details or find a local event at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Enjoy it all during Michigan’s “Three Free Weekend” June 11-12

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages everyone to take advantage of “Three Free Weekend,” Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12, two full days when residents and out-of-state visitors can grab a fishing rod, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks and boating access sites, all free of charge.

“We have three big reasons for you to enjoy some of Michigan’s best outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Whether you’re already an avid outdoors-person or someone just beginning to explore all the options, our ‘Three Free’ Weekend makes it easy to discover a new hobby, visit a new park or introduce friends to an outdoor experience you love.”

Michigan residents and nonresidents legally can ride 4,000 miles of designated routes and trails and the state’s six scramble areas without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit. VisitMichigan.gov/ORVinfofor ORV trail, safety and closure information. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

These two days include:

Free Fishing Weekend. Fish for all in-season species, all weekend long, without a license. All other fishing regulations apply. To get more details or find a local event, visit Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.

Free ORV Weekend. Legally ride 4,000 miles of designated routes and trails and the state’s six scramble areas without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit. Visit Michigan.gov/ORVinfo for the latest ORV trail, safety and closure information.

Free state park entry. To encourage people to pursue free fishing and other outdoor fun, the DNR waives the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks, 1,300 state-managed boating access sites and many other outdoor spaces. Learn more about all the Passport provides at Michigan.gov/RecreationPassport.

Free Fishing and Free ORV weekends each take place on back-to-back days twice a year, but the “Three Free Weekend” happens only in June.

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Four Red Hawks Compete at State Finals

Senior Alyssa Detweiller earns All-State honors in the High Jump.  Photo by Gary Detweiller

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks sent four athletes to the Division I State Track and Field Finals this past Saturday.  The Championship event was held a short trip down Northland Drive at Rockford High School. The meet featured hundreds of athletes from across the State who qualified in Regional competition two weeks ago.  Two of Cedar Springs’ qualifiers earned All-State honors (finishing in the top 8) with the other two narrowly missing top 8 finishes.   

Senior Alyssa Detweiller ended her stellar High School career with a 6th place finish in the High Jump (5’4”) earning All-State honors.  Alyssa was the Conference and Regional Champion and is the Cedar Springs school record holder in the event.  Another Senior, Gabe White, also concluded his high school career on a high note with a 9th place finish in the Pole Vault.  Gabe is the two-time OK Gold Conference Champion in the event. Two underclassmen sent notice to the State that they will be forces to reckon with for the next two years.  Sophomore Taylor Diemond earned All-State honors with her vault of 11’6” to finish in 6th place in the Pole Vault.  Sophomore Dylan Lafontsee turned in a strong showing in the Long Jump narrowly missing All-State accolades by less than 6 inches.  Dylan’s jump of 20’3.75” earned him 14th place in a tightly contested competition. The team would like to thank all the Seniors for their contributions to the program over their careers and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.  

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Former Red Flannel Queen wins teen USA state title

Isabella Mosqueda, of Cedar Springs, is the new Miss Michigan Teen USA. Photo by Edwin Shaw Productions
Isabella Mosqueda was the 2019 Red Flannel Queen. 
Bella was the first contestant to be both Red Flannel Princess (2008) and Red Flannel Queen. 

Isabella Mosqueda, the 2019 Red Flannel Queen and a 2021 graduate of Cedar Springs High school, won the Miss Michigan Teen USA title last Saturday, May 28.

Isabella, who is the daughter of Catreal and Patrick Walters of Cedar Springs, competed against 39 girls for the coveted title. On Friday, she competed in an interview, and then later competed in the prelims, where she wore a fitness outfit, and then a beauty gown. On Saturday, she made the cut from 39 to 15 girls and then the cut from 15 to 6. Isabella was ecstatic when they announced her as the winner.

“Winning this title is so important to me because I know that I can meet so many people and make an impact on them,” she said.

Isabella will go on to compete at the national pageant in September. This next year she will be busy preparing for Miss Teen USA, doing events locally and across the state. “If I were to win Miss Teen USA I would continue being an advocate for people with invisible disabilities and use my following to bring to light other important issues,” Isabella told the Post.

Miss Michigan Teen USA Isabella Mosqueda on the left, and Miss Michigan USA Aria Hutchinson on the right.

If you’d like to help Isabella realize her dream, please contact Catreal Walters at sassycat2230@gmail.com to donate to this great cause.

Bella has just graduated from GRCC with her associates degree. She went through the early middle college program offered by Cedar Springs High School. She will be going to Wayne State University starting in the fall to major in biology for her undergraduate degree, and she will then go to medical school to become an anesthesiologist. She currently works at Butterworth Hospital lives in Cedar Springs.

You can follow Isabella on her social media on Instagram at MISSMITEENUSA and isabella.mosqueda.

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Remembering this Memorial Day

by Lois Allen

This coming weekend Americans look forward to a day off and the launch of summer when we celebrate Memorial Day. But the holiday is more than gathering together to barbecue and spend time with friends and family. It’s more than Memorial Day sales.

The Cedar Springs Post honors the holiday by remembering our heroes who traveled far from home to foreign countries to fight for the rights of people abroad and to secure democracy. Our center pages are filled with the names of our veterans who served but are no longer with us. We will never forget them, their service and their sacrifice. Each year, on this week, we salute them. We remember them. Click here to download this year’s tribute.

Often the paper also features a veteran from our area in appreciation of their service and in an effort for our readers to get to know them and thank them.

This year, The Post is featuring a young solider who fought on our soil to keep the states united in one union and to make sure that all men, women and children who lived here would be free. That young soldier does not rest here in Cedar Springs but on the East Coast in Pennsylvania. He was my great, great grandfather, John Dominique Vautier, born on November 25, 1843 in old Passyunk Township, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

At the tender age of 17, and with the permission of his mother, John Vautier (on my mother’s side) enlisted into the Union Army September 10, 1861.

According to writings included in a three year diary that followed his enlistment, it reads, “For the next three years John endured the honor and glory, the suffering, and pain of war. During this period John kept daily diaries from which later was used as notes for a book. The book is titled, “The Collective Works of John D. Vautier which included “The History Of The 88th Pennsylvania Volunteers In The War For The Union” as well as various newspaper articles and “The Unedited Personal Diary Of John D. Vautier”.

In the original hardcover bound copy of the hand-written version of private Vautier’s diary is a letter included, dated October of 1983, from the Department of the Army, U.S. Army History Institute that read, “This volume is a copy of the Civil War diary of John D. Vautier of the 88th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. The original diary was donated to the U.S. Army Military History Institute by his granddaughter [my aunt] Mrs. Ruth LeDuc on behalf of his descendants.

Through this generous donation, this important and informative historical source will be available to historians and researchers who come to the Institute. Civil War historians have long benefitted from studying John Vautier’s published history of the 88th Pennsylvania. Now they will also be able to study his actual wartime account. They will welcome this opportunity, and the Institute values the privilege of being the means for affording them access to the diary.

…On behalf of the Institute and of the many people who study our holdings, we express our gratitude for the generous donation of the Civil War diary of John Vautier, patriot-soldier of America.”

Signed, Richard J. Sommers, Archivist-Historian.

Following is an exert from the first few pages…

Philadelphia Sept. 13 1861

John writes; “War has been declared. Our armies are marshaled for the contest. President Lincoln has called for 300,000 men to sustain his authority to protect the old flag and the men of the North are leaving their homes….”

Striking Tents at Camp Stockley

Saturday, October 5, 1865  

“Went up in the morning to market with Mother then I went down to Gordyer’s and bought me a gun. I then came back bid Mother, Aunt Louise, Aunt Ann, Oliver and the rest of the Market people “good-bye” and proceeded out to camp. Received orders to strike tents. At the first tap of the base drum we prepared our tents. At the 2nd tap took up the pins and the 3rd tap they all came down at once.

We then fell in line and the head of the column were put in passenger [train] cars – but us poor Yankees in the rear had to foot it up the dusty old road – for there were an insufficient number of cars.

It was a dusty old tramp. Dust to the right of us – dust to the left of us and dust all over us and by the time we halted near the Pass. R R. Depot, we were a dusty old crowd we were.

We then fell in and proceeded by our Silver Cornet band of 24 pieces we marched down the Ridge Platoon front. Went down to Broad to Green St. ….3rd to Washington and there partook of a substantial meal at the Refreshment Saloon. Fell in again  and tramped out to the Depot and took the cars at 9:00 p.m. I bid farewell to Philadelphia and to my friends who had followed me to see me off.

The old engine puffed and snorted  and soon the Quaker City was left behind and all it contained.

Little did I think as the cars rattled light hearted me away that when I would see Philadelphia again that I would be 21 instead of 18 – and that I would have passed through a dozen scenes of frightful carnage and bloodshed and we came home sick and wounded and careworn – a solider by experience and not by profession only.”

Along with his gun as well as pen and paper, John would document every day and every battle he experienced and participated in. Included in this issue is a list of battles fought. Some won by the north or (Yankees) and some won by the south (Johnny Rebs). The events he captured onto the pages of his diary are sometimes benign giving the weather of the day and other events of being a soldier at war while other pages depict a bloody and horrific account that can only be described as disturbing at best.

This book has been reprinted and is also available online at several different web sites. We only have enough page space to highlight one battle… He was present and wrote about his account of the Battle at Gettysburg; one of the most documented and famous of battles in the Civil War. But each and every battle was bloody and violent with loss of life and limb. However, this battle at Gettysburg was simply too graphic to run. Something that could only forever remain in a young man’s memory despite any attempts to forget.

In this issue we are reprinting the account of the battle of Cold Harbor June, 1864.  Again, this is disturbing material, so be aware.

John Dominique Vautier and the 88th Pennsylvania Volunteers fight for the Union

John Dominique Vautier was born on November 25, 1843, in old Passynk Township, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a long-hip roof house, situated on the south side of Passyunk Avenue, just above where the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks cross the avenue. John was the youngest son of Peter Vautier and Sarah Young, he had two brothers, Charles and William and two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary Ann.

John’s family were truck farmers. When John was about 15 years old his work was to go to market with his mother, who had a stall at No. 84 Callowhill Market. John recalled how sleepy he was getting up between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM to go to market, but there was no help for it. When he was home his chores were milking the cow, carrying the coal, shutting the chicken house as well as other duties.

John’s earliest recollections were of attending the Baptist Church on Passyunk Avenue west of Broad Street, where his mother and father were members. As a young child John was resolved that he would join the church as soon as he was old enough. Throughout his life John was an active member of the church serving in many capacities.

In 1860 John’s father Peter Vautier took sick, and after an extended illness from congestion of the lungs died. John described his father as “a kind man, tall, smoother-faced, iron gray hair and 58 years old when he died.

As John describes, “I now come to the most eventful and exciting part of my life, my service as a soldier in the United States Army for the war for the Union. In 1860 the muttering of war resounded thru the country, and I well recollect the excitement that the firing on Fort Sumter caused in Philadelphia. I didn’t think much about the war just then, but as the war grew apace and the military spirit affected the boys and young men, I was a willing victim. I coaxed my mother to let me enlist, but she would not consent for some months.”

“In July 1861, The Battle of Bull Run was fought, and the papers were full of the horror of the sufferings of the wounded on the battlefield. My mother gave me the paper to read, and said to me I don’t think you will want to go to the war after reading all that. After I read it all, I said “Mother, now I must go, the country needs the service of every young man now, and I resumed my importance until she gave a reluctant consent. I may say here that if my mother had kept me home I should never have forgiven her, as I look upon the next three years of my life as the most important, because given to the support of the Government when support was the only thing I could give. I was little pass 17, and my mother had the right to keep me home.”

“Having now gained permission, I cast about to get into a good company, and hearing about a company of Christian volunteers, composed of young men from various churches, I search them out and resolved to join them. There was one company at Franklin and Buttonwood Streets N.W. Corner, 2nd floor, being recruited by Captain Moore, to be assigned to the Cameron Light Guard Regiment, Col. G. P. McLean. September 10, 1861, I enlisted.”

For the next three years John endured the honor and glory, the suffering, and the pain of war. During this period John kept daily diaries from which he later used as notes for this book. John was wounded by shrapnel from artillery fire during the battle of Cold Harbor. In June 1864 he was sent to an army hospital in Philadelphia, where he was able to see his family and friends. He returned to his regiment where he remained until September 18, 1864 when he was mustered out of Uncle Sam’s service.

Later on, John traveled around visiting many Civil War sites. He would give magic lantern lectures on the war to many different groups. He served on the Gettysburg Monument Committee with General Wagner, Colonel Beath, General Gile and Colonel G.E. Wagner. Also, John met General Sheridan and shook his hand. In 1892 John went to Washington then to Alexandria to the reunion of the 88th Regiment. The next day John gave an oration at the Soldier’s Cemetery, which was published in the newspapers. After that he participated in a Grand Army Parade of over 75,000 men in line, where he carried the flag of the 88th Regiment. Then finally on September 26, 1894, after many years of labor writing the book, John received the first installment of 200 books of the History of the 88th Regiment. This book cost him over $1,000.00 for the 500 printed copies, but the boys of the regiment were delighted with the book.

John Vautier died on April 30, 1912 at the age of 68 years, 5 months and 5 days.

Battle of Cold Harbor

Chapter XXIII

From Cold Harbor to Petersburg: June 1 to 16, 1864

June came in hot, dry and dusty: the sun scorching hot, the country dry and the roads dusty. The Army of the Potomac was in the woods and thickets around Cold Harbor, within two hours’ march of the Confederate capital, gradually feeling its way toward the enemy.

At nine a.m., on the 1st the brigade cautiously advanced towards Richmond, the batteries shelling the woods in front; in reply, the Confederate cannon opened a quick fire, their projectiles tearing through the trees over the swaying lines of men, as they very carefully pushed towards the enemy’s position. Upon passing through a thick strip of timber their lines were in plain view, not a thousand yards distant, heavy columns of infantry moving in rear of their breastworks towards our left. About noon the confederate skirmishers made a break for the regiment, but were easily repulsed, and at three o’clock the brigade advanced again, stopping every few hundred yards to throw up breastworks.

The mortality of battle and the sickness incident to so continuous and severe a campaign had told fearfully on the ranks of the regiment, scarcely 150 men being present. Every day some comrades fell in battle, little noted by the world, but greatly missed by their companions as well as by the loved ones at home, and yet the handful of survivors – a mere fragment of a regiment-marched and fought, wondering who next would fill a soldier’s grave or be carried to the hospital disabled and incapacitated from making a living in the future.

On June 2nd we built more works, with traverses for protection from cross-fire; the enemy’s artillery taking the line in flank and his sharp-shooters in front, it dangerous to raise the head higher than the works. A member of the 11th Pennsylvania, while jesting with some of our boys, incautiously looked over the cap log, when a rifle-ball pierced his brain and he fell back dead. Orders to move were expected at any moment, and not wishing to leave the body lying there, his comrades dug a shallow trench and buried him, and within a half-hour were sitting on his grave, speculating as to who would be the next to fall. The boys left the dead soldier, not alone in his glory, for there where hundreds of new-made graves in the trail of the arm, occupied by the boys in blue,-

Lying so silent by night and by day,

Sleeping the years of their manhood away.

June 3, 1864, was a beautiful day, one that would been much enjoyed if our Southern friends had let us alone; but they were most disagreeable people, and consequently made our lives very unhappy, pitching cannon-balls at us in the most reckless manner. *John Keller said that they ought to be arrested, and volunteered to send Jim Hague, John Williams, and Boocock over to bring them in; but the proposition was vetoed, though Charley McKnight said he would lead the gang.

On June 5, we marched from Bethesda Church to Cold Harbor, being placed in reserve behind the 18th Corps, and remaining here until the 11th, when the brigade moved to near Bottom Bridge, on the Chickahominy. Crossed that stream and formed line of battle at White Oak Swamp on the 13th, at which place the enemy made a fierce attack, but was shaken off at all points. While under this fire the regiment suffered an irreparable loss in the death of its leader, Captain George B. Rhoads, who was killed by a single shot or shell. He was one of the bravest officers in the service, greatly beloved, and his untimely death was regretted by every man in the regiment. He doubtless had a presentiment of his fate, as for some days prior to his death he often read his Bible and gently rebuked any one using profane language in his presence. When Comrades Wallace and Street raised his bleeding body, they found his Testament in his pocket. With sad hearts the boys dug a shallow trench, and tenderly laid to rest the mortal remains of as brave a soldier as ever followed the colors through this terrible war.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,

Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;

But he lay, like a warrior taking his rest,

With his martial cloak around him.

  • During one of these intermittent ball matches at Cold Harbor the writer received an ugly gash in the hand from a fragment of shell, and had all the glory there is in bleeding for one’s country without much physical harm, as probably his feelings were hurt more than his hand. If he has not done so before, he desires to apologize now to the too-confiding comrades who generously intrusted him with about a score of canteens to fill with pure water, and who lost them in his rapid change of base to the friendly shelter of the breastworks, after the shell overtook him. If there is any blame to be scored against anybody for this loss, he wants it chalked to the account of the bad man on the other side of the line who sent the shell, and not against him. He probably forgot to gratefully thank his messmates for their sympathetic advice to “keep a stiff upper lip,” and other like comforting expressions which were possibly not rightly appreciated at the time. At any rate, these thanks can go with the regrets for the tins, and will probably square the account.

On June 7, our old comrades composing the 9th New York bid the brigade farewell and left for the quieter and more congenial scenes in Gotham, their three years’ service having expired. The 9th (83d of the line) was an exceptionally good regiment and had a record for reliability second to none. It entered the campaign on May 4 with 515 men, and had lost 257 killed and wounded, 98 going home under command of Colonel Chalmers and the recruits being transferred to the 97th. Colonel Moesch was killed the Wilderness and buried under the supervision of Chaplain Roe. In 1887, Captain George A. Hussey, the historian of the 9th, had his body removed and reinterred at Fredericksburg, his memory being perpetuated by an elegant and appropriate monument erected by his comrades. When his remains were disinterred there were found in the grave one pair of boots in pieces, some fragment of cloth, the buttons from his uniform, and the bullet that killed him, which had been placed under his head. Truly, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

With the action at White Oak Swamp ended this stage of the campaign, the army now being transferred to the vicinity of Petersburg. During the forty days from the 5th of May to the close of the campaign on the Chickahominy the stubborn, steady and sanguinary charter of the fighting had been unprecedented in the history of this country. In that time Grant had lost in killed, wounded and missing upward of 54,000 of his bravest soldiers, and Lee over 32,000. Such havoc is appalling and has often been remarked that this loss was useless, that the army might have been safely and speedily conveyed south of the James without the sacrifice of a single life. The writer [John Vautier] wishes to express his humble opinion on this point, being satisfied that it is worth as much as any other, and if the reader does not like it he can form one of his own; that opinion is, that General Grant pursued the correct and only route and adopted the surest means of ending the rebellion. Richmond was not the true objective of the Union army. So long as Lee’s army remained intact, the fall of Richmond, important as it was, would not have ended the war. That army, therefore, was the true objective, and if it could be destroyed or its power of resistance seriously impaired by heavy and continuous hammering, the solution of this difficult problem would be easily reached. Of course the frightful loss of life is sad to contemplate, and no one feels that more keenly than the soldier who marched and fought in this dreadful contest, and who mournfully buried so many gallant comrades wherever the lines were formed. But war means mangled bodies and gaping wounds, ruined homesteads and blighted households, hospitals filled with the sick and wounded; nevertheless, it had to be fought out; the bitter cup had to be drained even to the very dregs, and then the fratricidal contest ceased. When General Grant assumed command he bent all his energies to the destruction of Lee’s army, and he fought it out on that line, though it took all summer and winter, too.

So much for the overland campaign.

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Motorcyclist hurt in crash

This motorcycle was struck by a Dodge Ram pickup truck Monday. Courtesy photo.

A 37-year-old man from Saint Louis, Michigan was seriously injured Monday when his motorcycle was struck by another vehicle.

The crash occurred Monday, May 16, on Bluewater Hwy (M-21) near Hayes Rd in Ionia County, in the village of Muir.
Michigan State Police said that preliminary investigation revealed that a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by a 36-year-old male from Muir was driving eastbound on East Bluewater Hwy (M-21). The driver was attempting to turn left into a business when he struck a 2007 Honda Motorcycle which was traveling westbound on East Bluewater Hwy (M-21). The driver of the Honda Motorcycle was wearing a helmet and suffered serious injuries.  He was transported to a local hospital by Aero Med. The driver of the 2006 Dodge Ram pickup truck did not suffer any injuries.
The Michigan State Police continues to investigate this crash. Troopers were assisted by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Life Ambulance, Aero Med, Lyons-Muir Fire Department, and Ionia County Central Dispatch.

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Man dies in Sparta crash

Photo of the Tatroe family. Brandon Tatroe was killed in a two-car crash last Saturday. Photo from gofundme page.
Scene of the crash at Sparta Avenue and Ball Creek. Photo by 13 on your side.

A 27-year-old Greenville man, who was originally from Sparta, died last Saturday in a crash at Sparta Avenue and Ball Creek in Sparta Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred just after 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. Police said that a Ford Escape, driven by 27-year-old Brandon Tatroe, stopped at Sparta Ave and Ball Creek and then pulled out in front of a northbound Jeep Cherokee, which resulted in the crash.  Mr. Tatroe died as a result of his injuries.  

His wife, Courtney Tatroe, 28, was a passenger in the Escape, and suffered injuries, but is in stable condition.  Their children—a one-month-old and a 2-year-old–were in the rear seat of the Escape. The 2-year-old reportedly has a broken leg, and the one-month-old escaped with no injuries.  All passengers in the Escape were transported to a local hospital.

Gabriel Brown, 20, from Sparta was the driver of the Jeep, and Arieanna Johnson, a 21-year-old female from Muskegon, was his passenger. Both suffered serious injuries and were transported to a local hospital.  
The crash remains under investigation by the KCSO Traffic Unit.

A gofundme has been set up for the Tatroe family by Courtney’s mother, Brenda.

“My daughter is a widow at 28 years old, with two young babies to raise in honor of their father. Any financial help for funeral expenses, medical expenses, and other expenses would help her with the heavy burden that she now carries,” it reads in the description.

To visit the gofundme page and to donate, visit https://gofund.me/29da2f36.

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Big Serve event shows big love

City Impact and Frost Creek Church left church walls behind last Sunday morning served together on the streets of Cedar Springs instead in an event they called the Big Serve.

According to the City Impact Facebook page, people from the two organizations formed teams and went out and repaired decks, trailer skirting, windows, painted trailers, and more. 

Crews also picked up trash all over the city, and the Grocery Garage did a pop-up shop that served 40 families with food. 

Teams also did projects at Mission Point and Creative Technologies Academy.

City Impact Disciple Builders has many more projects around the city to be done, so if you would like to be involved call 616-843-2438.

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Fire destroys family home

This home in Solon Township was destroyed by fire Tuesday. Photo from Solon Fire facebook page.

By Judy Reed

An early morning fire on Tuesday, April 27, destroyed the home of a Solon Township family.

Firefighters responded to the scene on Sunset View about 6:30 a.m.

They were assisted by Algoma, Alpine, Cedar Springs, Courtland, Kent City, Rockford Ambulance, and Sand Lake Fire Departments. 

Fire Chief Rich Hays was out of town, so we were unable to get details on what may have caused the fire.

If you would like to help the Verdi family, who lost everything in the fire, you can visit a gofundme page that has been set up for them, or drop off donations to Ensley Real Estate at 71 N. Main St in Cedar Springs.

Go fund me at https://gofund.me/d2ee0f92

Needed:

  • Womans XL in shirts, large in leggings woman’s shoes size 7
  • Mens med in shirts 34/30 in pants
  • Mens shoe size 11
  • Teen male – mens med shirts,
  • Teen mens med in shorts
  • Teen, shoes mens 11
  • Preteen male – kids 16/18 shirts, boys XL in pants
  • Preteen shoes mens 8

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union

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