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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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Car show draws crowds

The Cosplay Crusaders were a big hit at the museum car show last Saturday.

This car was shown in its original condition. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

The annual car show at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum was a huge success last Saturday, July 28, bringing in lots of vehicles and people to their biggest fundraising event of the year. 

“We made $5,000 this year, the best we’ve ever done,” said Sharon Jett, Director at the Museum.

Steve Quigley won best of show, with a 1987 Buick.

Special guests included the Cedar Springs Fire Department, and DJ JoJo Girard from radio station WFGR 98.7. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office also was on hand with one of their tactical vehicles.

Also on hand were the Cosplay Crusaders, as part of a fundraiser organized by Ryan Hess, 8, and Cub Scout pack 3220. Kids were excited to see Thor, the Black Panther, and the Dark Knight of Michigan with his bat bike. For a donation, anyone could sit in the bat bike. Proceeds raised will go to Howard Christensen Nature Center, as will the proceeds from the Cub Scouts beef stick sale, and Ryan’s pop can drive.

“It looks like we will be donating a little over $400 to the nature center,” said Dana Hess, Ryan’s mom.

“Everyone loved the superheroes and the cub scouts sold all their beef sticks,” noted Jett. She also said that Maranatha Baptist Church gave out almost 600 hot dog lunches and dozens of donuts. 

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CS Museum to feature bridal gowns in annual tour


Spring Into the Past Tour of Museums May 5 and 6

This 1940s style wedding dress, worn by Arlene (Shick) Wesche on her wedding day in 1950, will be on display at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum May 5 and 6. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Beachwear, bustles, and bridal gowns! A variety of timeless “Fashions Through the Ages” will be visible in the museums of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network during their annual “Spring Into the Past” tour May 5 and 6. 

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum, which is part of the Tri-River network, will feature bridal gowns and wedding attire from 1890, 1910, the 1940s, and the 1970s.

“Last year we featured clothing from different time periods,” said Museum Director Sharon Jett. “But when this new wedding dress came in, we thought it might be a good time to feature the wedding dresses we have.”

The dress Jett referred to is a beautiful 1940s era wedding dress donated by the Wesche family. It was worn by Arlene (Shick) Wesche when she said, “I do!” to the love her life, August (Bud) Wesche, on June 23, 1950, at the First Baptist Church in Cedar Springs. They resided in Cedar Springs for 64 years, where they raised four children, Daniel, Linda, Gregg, and Sandra. The dress became a family heirloom, and was worn by both of Arlene’s daughters and a sister-in-law as well.

This 1890s era wedding attire doubled as a dress that could also be worn to church. Post photo by J. Reed.

The museum will also be showing two wedding dresses from 1890, both black. One was worn by the grandmother of Mike Race, and the other is a simple dress which could also be worn to church. “If a family wasn’t especially wealthy, they often bought a dress that was dark so they could also wear it as their Sunday best,” noted Jett.

The 1910 dress being featured is white. “It is reminiscent of the type often wore at graduation, and they also often got married in it,” explained Jett.

A 1910 wedding dress (hanging) and a 1970s wedding dress are also part of the display. Post photo by J. Reed.

A wedding dress from the 1970s will also be on display.

The museums on the tour are as versatile as the fashions, located in former vintage meeting halls, homes, stores and depots in small communities throughout the Tri-River Network in Barry, Eaton, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties. All are eager to share the history of their community both past and present. 

During this annual event, all museums are open the same days and hours for visitor convenience. Scheduled tour hours are Saturday, May 5, from 11 am to 5 p.m., and Sunday, May 6, from 12 to 5 p.m. 

Informational booklets are available at any museum or download from commoncorners.com. A handy map is included so you can pick an area and tour several museums on the same day. (Ada’s Averill museum is closed in 2018 for expansion and renovations.) 

Museums are free, but donations are always welcome! Visit TriRiver on Facebook, too.

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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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Classic cars shine

By Tom Noreen & Judy Reed


The Cedar Springs Historical Society’s Summer Car Show was a great success last Saturday, July 29.  Over 100 cars were on display. This was the largest show ever for the Society, said Director Sharon Jett, and a main fundraiser for them. The car show helps the museum provide free family programs throughout the year.

Roger and Della Grongos’ 1964 Pontiac GTO was voted best in the show by fellow car owners. The top three winners out of the top 20 were Mike Bannister with his 1968 Camaro; Al Marlin with his 1976 Corvette; and Bob Jenema with his 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster.

Special Guests this year were the State Police with their new cruiser that resembles the department’s iconic 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car. The Kent County Sheriff’s Department brought their Mobile Command Bus. The bus was open for display.

Meijer served a free hotdog lunch to the public again this year and coffee was generously provided by  the Cedar Springs Biggby Coffee Shop courtesy of owners Bob and Deb Garza.  The Cedar Springs High School FFA students sold donuts and helped folks as needed and Pat Patin provided lots of music. Nolan Patin, their youngest volunteer, did a silent auction as another little fund raiser.

Both Jett and volunteer DM White work about four or five months to get this show ready, and their efforts certainly paid off! Jett said that White contacted the MSP and Sheriff Department about coming and was pleased they said yes. “What makes it even better is the police officers are as excited about coming as we are about having them here!” she said.

“We are so grateful to the businesses and families who sponsor the show and our volunteers,” she added.

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Historical Society raises funds with car show

N-Car-show1It was like a throwback to another era seeing some of the old cars traveling the roads in town last Saturday. They were here for the Cedar Springs Historical Society’s annual car show, held last Saturday, July 30, in Morley Park.

N-Car-show2“The 2016 Summer Car Show was a wonderful success,” said Sharon Jett, Co-director at the museum. “We had 65 registered cars and more cars that did not register.”

Pat Patin filled the air with her fun oldies music and served as announcer. Marie and Nolan Patin did sand art with anyone interested in creating a little piece of art. The FFA students from Cedar Springs High School sold coffee and donuts as a fundraiser for their organization.

“Meijer Corporation brought their food bus in and served a free grilled hot dog lunch to the public,” added Jett. “They handed out hundreds of lunches and helped make our show fun for everyone.”

Behind the scenes they had many more people taking care of the museum visitors and even dealing with a plumbing disaster.

Ken Tuinstra won best of show with his 1955 Bel Air. They also named winners of the top 19 cars.

Jett said that this show is important for the money it helps raise to sustain operations without charging admission. So they are grateful to the many businesses that help sponsor the show and make it a success. “Without their generosity, this car show would not be able to support our family programs throughout the year. We are very grateful for their help,” she said.

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Rockford Museum board tours CS museum

N-MuseumBy Fred Gunnell, President, Cedar Springs Historical Society

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum recently provided a “Visitation Open House” for the Rockford Historical Museum Board of Directors and about 40 of their volunteer workers and friends. The meeting took place on the evening of April 7, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum.

The visitors were welcomed by Cedar’s Museum Director Sharon Jett, and several other Cedar board members. Refreshments were served and tours around the museum were provided by members Tanya Eldred, Sally Grayvold, Nancy Star, and Sharon Nielsen. D.M. White provided general information about the museum overall, as well as an extensive talk about our railroad display.

Terry Konkle, president of the Rockford Museum, gave an interesting presentation about what is happening at their new museum site, located in the old 63rd District Court building, in downtown Rockford. He indicated that they have now been at their new site for about three years. He spoke to me as his counterpart here at Cedar to ask about our ability to provide such a well organized and outstanding display of artifacts. I assured him many hands have taken part in the acquisitions of the historic items we have, and we have outstanding leadership from our directors Sharon Jett and Tanya Eldred. We also have a dedicated staff of board members who have provided many hours of work pulling what we have here together.

At any rate, a good time was had by all. I believe these events tend to bring communities together.

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum is open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, they will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., along with other museums in the Tri-River Historical Museum network.

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CS Historical Society receives award from city

Sharon Jett and Fred Gunnell, of the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, listen to Mayor Jerry Hall read the “Making a Difference” award proclamation. Photo courtesy of S. Wolfe.

Sharon Jett and Fred Gunnell, of the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, listen to Mayor Jerry Hall read the “Making a Difference” award proclamation. Photo courtesy of S. Wolfe.

Cedar Springs Mayor Jerry Hall presented the Cedar Springs Historical Society Representatives Fred Gunnell and Sharon Jett with the “Making a Difference Award” at the January City Council Meeting.

Hall cited the museum’s contribution to our community in maintaining our history.

Gunnell and Jett noted the many long hours of hard work put in by the volunteer board of the Historical Museum.

Jett also explained the Rockford Museum Board plans to hold their monthly meeting here in Cedar Springs to learn more details from our museum.

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Out of the attic


N-Out-of-attic-Old-photo-73-S-Main-webBy Judy Reed

The Post recently received an old photo from reader Jennifer Bell. She said that her family has lived in Cedar Springs for many years, and that her grandfather, Orville Moore, recently passed away. Before he died, he passed on quite a few old photos to Jennifer’s sister. One of them is of a building they think is 73 S. Main, where there is currently a pet grooming shop. Jennifer said all she knew was that back when the photo was taken, a woman named Rose ran the store.

“We’re not exactly sure her exact relation to us but it’s pretty neat for us to have a photo this old and thought we would share,” she said.

73 S. Main Street today is the home to Peacock Pet Parlor.

73 S. Main Street today is the home to Peacock Pet Parlor.

We passed this photo on Sharon Jett at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, and she agreed that the building looks like 73 S. Main. She directed us to page 211 in the Cedar Springs Story by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, which lists three millinery shops in the building from 1885-1931. From 1908 to 1931, it was run by a Mrs. Rose Dorman, which could be the Rose that Jennifer mentioned.

We thank Jennifer for sending us the photo, and Sharon, of the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, for helping us with the information.

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Helping with history

Nolan Patin, 13, is shown here dressed as a turn of the century newspaper boy for the Cedar Springs Historical Museum’s recent Candlelight Tour. Photo courtesy of the CS Historical Museum.

Nolan Patin, 13, is shown here dressed as a turn of the century newspaper boy for the Cedar Springs Historical Museum’s recent Candlelight Tour. Photo courtesy of the CS Historical Museum.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum has a new unofficial program director, who has a passion for history, which is not unusual. What is unusual is that he is only 13 years old and yet harbors more passion for his work and is better at communicating it than many adults.

Nolan Patin, 13, the son of Jeff and Cindy Patin, of Algoma Township, has been working with the museum for the last year or so. He started by creating the haunted schoolhouse the museum has done for Halloween the last two years.

Nolan said that it all started last year, when his aunt spoke with him and his brother about being on their pirate float. “She also wanted input on a haunted house, and I brought up my ideas,” he explained. “It was a big hit and we did it again this year.”

After that event, Nolan was hooked. He’s been helping out with various tasks and events ever since.

“He’s been a real blessing,” remarked Sharon Jett, of the Cedar Springs Historical Society. “To have him approach us, on his own, about wanting to do these things, is really something.” Jett said he took the haunted house idea and created everything for it. He also was recently a newspaper boy on their Victorian candlelight tour after the Christmas tree lighting. “He was so into it,” said Jett. “His enthusiasm is wonderful. He’s extremely creative.”

Nolan Patin created a small Christmas light display set to music in front of his home at 2207 15 Mile Road. Those who visit it may leave a donation for the CS Museum if they wish. For more homes on our Tour of Lights, visit page 9.

Nolan Patin created a small Christmas light display set to music in front of his home at 2207 15 Mile Road. Those who visit it may leave a donation for the CS Museum if they wish. For more homes on our Tour of Lights, visit page 9.

Nolan is being homeschooled this year, and goes to the museum on Wednesdays to help anywhere he’s needed. Jett said he has been helping index the funeral home books, and has helped in getting the schoolhouse ready for tours.

“He’s polite and kind-hearted,” noted Jett. “It’s hard to get people who want to help, especially younger people.”

Nolan said that he has a lot of interest in the history and being around the people there, and helping them with their tasks. He noted that he also likes helping with events, bringing different ideas to people, and doing research.

However, Nolan is also helping out the museum in another way. For the second year in a row, he has created a Christmas light show set to music, in front of the Patin home at 2207 15 Mile, one block west of Algoma. And he set up a donation box for the museum. “I have a huge passion for Christmas,” he remarked. “I love Christmas.” He fell in love with light shows after seeing one in Grand Haven. “I thought, I have to have that in my yard,” he explained.

After looking up on YouTube how to create one, he realized the expense involved. So when he raised his 4H animals and sold them, he used that money to buy the necessary supplies to create the light show, which he programmed himself. It runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily. It is a smaller but fun show, with 4,000 lights set to three popular songs. You can pull into the driveway to watch and listen, just tune your radio to 103.5. You can also leave a donation in the box for the museum if you like. Nolan said that those donations would be used toward the haunted schoolhouse for next year.

He said that what they really want, is for more people to come through the museum when they have those special events. “We do a lot of work for them,” he explained.

Nolan also encourages younger people to become a junior member of the museum and help out. “There is always a need for us,” he said.


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