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Historical farm honored with new sign

By Judy Reed

Now days it’s not easy to find a piece of land that has been in the same family for 50 years—let alone 100. Or in the case of one Nelson Township family, over 150 years.

That’s right—the farm at 13383 Shaner Avenue has been in the Hale family almost 155 years, giving it the designation of a sesquicentennial farm. The family was honored with a new centennial sign acknowledging the farm’s status earlier this spring.

The original homestead.

According to the family and historical records, the original 40 acres were bought by Henry Walter Hale, age 30, of New York, in 1865 in Nelson Township from Robert Sinclair. Hale had just finished serving several months in the Civil War. He moved here with his wife, Mary, and two children, Harriet and Frederick. He died in 1924 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

According to Lorie Ostrom, a descendant who currently lives on the original farm, Fred and Hattie were each given 20 acres. Hattie lived in a little house on the corner of 16 Mile and Shaner for many years.  Meanwhile, Fred married Freelove Townes and had three children – Grace, Charlie and Glenn.  Glenn was born in 1896, and married Margaret Wassenaar (1908-2001), and had one son, Robert (Bob) Hale. Bob and his wife, Beverly live just up the road from the original homestead.

Bob and Bev Hale. Bob is the great-grandson of Henry Walter Hale, the original owner of the farm.

Bob has many memories of the farm, and it was noted in the records they submitted to the state. He noted that according to records, his great-grandfather, Henry Walter Hale, cleared the land and started farming it. “During that time, buildings were constructed by the community. Also, my grandmother’s family lived across the road,” he said.

He also spoke about his growing up years. “We owned 80 acres across from the 40-acre homestead, which had a large barn and housed our dairy operation. The original 40 acres was comprised of the old farmhouse, 110-year-old barn, corn crib, granary, three hen houses, and a Michigan cellar. Chickens were raised and eggs sold locally to businesses and families,” Bob recalled.

Bob’s father Glenn passed away in 1968. In 1969, he and his mother decided they would build a new home on the other side of the road, since the old homestead had no insulation and was heated with wood and fuel oil, and had no basement. But before they could complete the move, a tornado struck the new house, damaging it along with cars and a 40-foot by 60-foot barn, making them unrepairable. Instead, he had to rebuild. Buildings on the original homestead received structural damage also. 

In 2002, they decided to clean up the original homestead property. “Trees were removed, structures burned, and a new house was built on the site,” explained Bob. He added that the old barn needed a lot of work but was repaired.

He said that his mother, Margaret, was a 4H-leader for over 35 years, and he was involved with the 4H program for 10 years, and he and his wife were involved when their grandchildren had projects. He said Margaret was also involved in the Cedar Springs Women’s Club.

Sharon Jett, of the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, remembers Bob’s mother, Margaret, telling her the story of how she came to Cedar Springs. 

“Margaret told me she was living in Bitely as a young woman and got hired as a teacher here in Cedar Springs.

Her father took her through the woods to the railroad tracks, gave her a light and told her to flag down the train when she saw it coming. It was night and he left her there alone.

“She was very frightened, at that time there were wolves and bears in the area, and she did what her father told her to do. She was so afraid the train wouldn’t stop and she didn’t know if she could find her way home. The train did stop to pick her up and her life in Cedar Springs began. I’ll never forget her telling me that story,” recalled Jett.

Andrew the dog, who was killed in a drive-by shooting.

Lori Ostrom added a few things that Grandpa Bob has told her. For instance, Grandma Margaret Hale was known as the egg lady of Cedar springs back in the 1950’s.  And, there was also a dog named Andrew, who met an untimely end. “He was really Glenn Hale’s dog but Grandpa Hale adopted it until it was randomly shot in a drive by shooting. Yes, even back in the 1950’s there were mean people,” she remarked.

“Grandpa tells another story about another family dog that bit him in the britches – and he had to have stitches!” she said.  

Lori went on to explain how the original tradition of farming is carried down to today. “Henry Walter Hale is the one who cleared all the land for farming; they farmed corn, wheat, oats, spelt, hay, 17 cattle and many horses; about the 1940’s when they got a tractor, they no longer had horses. Today the family tradition is to do a large family garden that we plant Memorial Day Weekend and share the bounty.

The original barn and outbuildings.
The barn today.

“Some of the photos show the barn in the background and this is the barn that is still standing on our property today.

“The original homestead house, and additions are also pictured – but this, and many of the outbuildings were burned down by the volunteer fire fighters in a controlled burn. We are so thankful they were willing to work hard to save the old barn!” she remarked.

“Every Memorial Day weekend we go to Elmwood Cemetery in Cedar Springs and plant flowers on all the family grave markers.  It is a tradition, and now that we are older, we often bombard Grandpa Hale to tell us more stories about the old days and family connections,” said Lori.

Lori’s brother, Fred Myers, now lives in the house across the street from the old homestead. He is the family tree expert and has found many of the records dating back to the original purchase of the property. 

The Post thanks Fred, Lori, and Bob for all records and photos they passed along. Congratulations on being designated a sesquicentennial farm!

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C-Birth-RussellKelli Destrampe, Jeremi Russell and sister McKenzie of Cedar Springs welcomed Jeremiah into the world on October 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. He weighed 5 pounds, 15.6 ounces and was 19 inches long. Proud grandparents are Beverly Hale, Deb Bauer, Ted Russell. Great-grandparents are Beverly Bowyer, Larry and Sally Boarts.

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More sunflowers

AWE-Sunflower-OstromWe received two more sunflower entries this week. One was from Lori Ostrom, of Nelson Township. Grandma Hale and Harlee are standing next to the sunflowers in their garden, with the tallest reaching 11 feet 6 inches.

Marjorie Merritt, of the Village of Sand Lake, also sent us photos of the sunflowers in their garden. She said that this year, she didn’t even plant any sunflowers—they just came up on their own! Her tallest one also reached 11 feet 6 inches.

AWE-Sunflower-MerrittThanks to both Lori and Marjorie for sharing their sunflowers with us!

Do you have the tallest sunflower in the area? Send your photo to news@cedarspringspost.com, with “sunflower” in the subject line. Give us a little bit of info about the sunflower, your name and where you live, and we will print it as space allows.


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Update on vintage photo of yesteryear

By Judy Reed

Last week, we printed an old photo given to us by Lori Ostrom. She said it was on an old postcard that belonged to her great-grandmother Margaret Hale. We guessed it was a celebration of some kind around or before the turn of the century.  It turned out we were right.
We got a call from Sue Harrison, one of the authors of the Cedar Springs Story, and she explained that this photo was taken during a Beucus Hardware Day. Harrison said that while working on the book, Margaret Hale called her and told her she had a photo she might want to use, and it turned out to be the very one her great-granddaughter sent to us.
In fact, the photo is on page 17 of the book, in the section on Early Township Settlement, because it went with a story that Della Wightman, of Nelson Township, was telling about harvesting wheat, and when they got their first grain binder.
According to “The Cedar Springs Story,” by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, it was in 1889 that John Beucus and his brother Tom opened a hardware store at 59 S. Main (at Ash St.) “They opened the store with the purchase of mortgaged stock that could have been packed in a two-horse wagon,” the book said. It went on to describe a fine store there at the corner of Main and Ash in 1900. The brothers carried hardware, cook stoves, and the “celebrated” Crescent bicycles, with sales totaling $25,000 per year.
Della Wightman told how her husband, Glenn, and his dad used to go out into the fields and harvest the grain with a cradle. “Then one time, the Beucus brothers had a big day in town. They brought in two flatcar loads of kitchen cabinets, grain binders, and mowing machines. Then they had a regular ‘Fourth of July’ downtown with parades, picnic dinners, and all kinds of contests,” she said. That perfectly describes what it looks like in the photo.
She also noted that the Beucus brothers sold the whole two carloads of items, with her husband buying a grain binder, kitchen cabinet and a steel range.
Thanks, so much, Sue, for the info!
In later years, the Beucus building was owned by Tom and Sonya Cronkright, and housed Pioneer Pharmacy, and then NAPA and other businesses after it was renovated. The building was at least 119 years old when it burned down in 2009.

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