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Index to names found in this article.

 

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Jackson Hill Area

 

A Historical Sketch

 

Prepared for distribution by Trygg Lodge No.536 & Vasa Order of America

 

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Most of the historical notes which follow -- typed in 1943 -- were found among papers left by Euphemia  Lundborg Bedgood, who grew up on Jackson Hill. They have been updated here and there where it seemed  expedient and possible to do so, as will be noted. The scope of the material indicates a cooperative effort  both in the search for records and in the input of many interested and helpful "old-timers." Many others  have helped as well.

 

If we could talk with all whose forebears cast their lots in the Jackson Hill colony of the old First Ward and  were proud to call it home, we could go on writing forever. Surely this much will stimulate some lively  conversation...

 

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HISTORY OF THE JACKSON HILL DISTRICT, MUSKEGON

 

     The names "Jackson Hill" and "Kilgrubben" refer only to sections of the old First Ward, which is an  important historical part of Muskegon.

 

     The name "Kilgrubben" was applied in the rough days of the lumberjacks and river workers of the  booming company. The conditions to which it referred did not apply to the whole of the First Ward. The  majority of the citizens of that part of Muskegon were hard working and moral people making homes for  themselves and their children. The historical features of the old first ward are interesting, but not so well  known or talked about as the "Kilgrubben" dramatics.

 

Note -- The above seems to accept the explanation that violence sometimes occurred. "out in the grubs,"  and that a killing had even taken place. We have met with other versions of how the soubriquet  "Kilgrubben" came to be. There was in County Kerry, Ireland, a district and parish named Kilgobban.  Some early settlers on the Hill were Irish and Kilgrubben is thought to be a corruption of the name  Kilgobban. Another theory is that a worker was killed while blowing out stumps with dynamite to clear  the land of those grubs.

 

    While the origin of the name "Muskegon" is clouded in the mists of history, there are several  explanations of record. There is a 1741 account of the Ottawa and Algonquin Indian tribes traveling down  the Masticon River to Masticon Lake and camping near where the North Yards of the Chesapeake and Ohio  Railroad are.  Such travel is thought to have taken place each spring beginning in the 1500-1600's, with 20  to 30 persons to a canoe. They came for the fishing and the wild rice, returning northward and inland each  fall to harvest the furs abundant everywhere. There is the often recited tongue-in-cheek tale of the Indian  chief paddling along the lake and dropping his musket overboard (how COULD he have been so  careless?) and exclaiming "Muskie gone."

 

     The late Berry Wood, much respected and colorful teacher of Latin at Muskegon High School taught her  classes that Muskegon was an Indian name for "cranberry bog". Applying this example to a problem in  Latin translation, she said "But you don't say I'm going down to the cranberry bog to buy a new hat." You  must say 'I'm going to Muskegon to buy a new hat."'

 

     A map of survey done between 1817 and 1824 shows "Maskagon River." (E. B. 1979)

 

     The first attempt to lay claim to and hold land that later was in the first ward limits of the city was made  by a man named Taylor, in December, 1836. He built a shanty on land that is now the corner of Eastern  Avenue and Western Avenue, and. close to Ryerson Creek. It was Lot One, Section 19. Early in 1837 he  sold to Horace Wilcox, and in 1839, when the land was put on market by the government, Mr. Wilcox  made regular legal entry. It then became the property of Theodore Newell, who was the brother-in-law of  Mr. Wilcox. In 1837 Mr. Wilcox put up a small dwelling near the present corner of Pine Street and Western  Avenue.

 

     The legal formation of Muskegon Township was early in 1838, and the first election was ordered to be  held in the home of Newell and Wilcox in April. That election was held in the house that stood on land next  east of east of where the Datum Hardware later stood on Ottawa Street.

 

     In 1836 Martin Ryerson and Joseph Troutier had a fur trading post near where Ryerson Creek washed  into Muskegon Lake. About this time the Racine Boat Works was established, which later became a large  repair yard for lumber schooners.

 

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     In 1838 Newell and Wilcox began erecting a small sawmill on the land just west of the outlet of  Ryerson Creek and had lumber coming from it in 1839. They built a small boarding house for the use of  their workmen on  the place where the Nord Hotel later stood. In 1840, John Brooks cut timber above  Croton and floated logs down to the Flats, seven or eight miles up river, and sold them to Newell, who  brought them to Muskegon to be cut in the mill built in 1838-39. That was the beginning of what later  became the big operation of the Muskegon Booming Company, with ship -yards between Sumner Street  and the Muskegon River. 

 

     As logging and river driving became more organized in the 1850's, the section of the first ward near the  river became more settled and the population increased. On land later occupied by the Lumber and Fuel  Company, at the head of what we know as Eastern Avenue, Chauncey Davis, along with Theodore Newell  and A. D. Loomis formed the C. Davis and Company Mill. The company built a boarding house on the lot  where the first township election had been held. It was better known to older inhabitants of Muskegon as  the O'Harrow Place.

 

     In the boarding house built by Newell and Wilcox, the first Protestant church service in this community  was held by a Congregational minister. This was in October, 1840. His name was Wilcox, and he probably  was a relative of the Wilcox and Newell families here, as he was in Muskegon on a business trip and stayed  with them. Again, in 1843r when the boarding house was enlarged, and the mill was managed by Martin  Ryerson, the first service by a Methodist minister was held in the boarding house. The place was enlarged  again in 1853, and in 1862 became a hotel and was named the Washington House. Later it was called the  Marshall House, and again, the Warnick House, until it finally became the Nord Hotel of today. The large  addition on the east side, directly on Eastern Avenue, is comparatively new, having been built about 76  years ago.

 

     The first Muskegon school was a private one, held in the home of Charles Martin in the winter of 1848  and 1849. The Martin home was probably in the vicinity of the present Clay Avenue and Eastern Avenue or  near Pine Street, as all the earliest homes in Muskegon were below Pine Street. However, the exact records  of the early days of the township cannot be given, as the records were destroyed in the fire of August 1,  1874.

 

     The part of Muskegon which was later the first ward was included in the first plat made by Theodore  Newell in 1849. The west boundary started at the foot of what is Market Avenue and Water Street and ran  to what is now the corner of First Street and Muskegon Avenue.

 

     The settler of the 1840's and 1850's told of large groups of Indians camping along the lake east of  Ryerson Creek, and especially on the location where the railroad depot was built at Giddings and Ottawa  Street.

 

     The Muskegon River was not part of what we call the Jackson Hill District. but the operations on the  river played an important part in the lives of the people and the development of the district.

 

     In 1857, John Dibble ran the stage coach that came from Newaygo to Muskegon, using Newaygo Road  and Jackson Street. At that time, there were just two houses on the high ground above Ottawa Street -- one  at Prospect Street and Giddings, and one at Prospect and Jackson.

 

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     Directly after the Civil War, Dennis McCumber and his wife, Elizabeth came to the Hill district, settled  on Erickson Street, and Dennis McCumber worked in the lumber woods. They were the grandparents of  Mrs. George W. Childs and Mrs. Samuel Gregory. Samuel Gregory worked as a section hand (Track  Maintenance) for the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad in the 1890's.  He was the father of Mrs. Hiram  Field (Neva) and the uncle of George Childs. George W. Childs, father of the latter, lived on Prospect  Street and was employed by the Muskegon Booming Company, also before 1900.

 

     By 1864 the Muskegon Booming Company employed about 900 men (about one-half of the population  in Muskegon.) They installed the first electric generator for lighting so that repairs could go on all night  long. The company's first president was the same Chauncey Davis of C. Davis and Company Mill. The first  manager was Lyman Mason (of Lyman Building fame).

 

     Theodore Newell referred to above had the first wagon in Muskegon, having brought it here in 1839.

 

     Mr. Raymond O'Harrow became mill superintendent for Davis and Company in 1854 and was in charge  of the mill until Major Davis retired from the business in 1880. Mr. O'Harrow lived in the boarding house,  which later was his home. Mr. O'Harrow was also an alderman from the first ward for some time and later  was street commissioner. He died in August, 1889. Later Ray Squires and his family lived in the house.

 

     The next boost for the Jackson Hill or "Kilgrubbin" district was the building of the Wilson and Boyce  sawmill at the foot of Hall Street in 1867• Matthew Wilson, Jonathan Boyce and Oly Olson were the  company, but Mr. Olson withdrew about a year later. Many first ward people may recall the Olson family,  living on Erickson Street, and some of its members, Mrs. Hannah Bee, Mrs. Sophia Nelson, Dr. Ray Olson  of Muskegon Heights and two or three others. The Wilson Mill burned down after a boiler explosion on  August 1, 1891.

 

     The year 1870 was the big boom year in Muskegon. It was that year that Muskegon became a city and  elected its first mayor and other city officers. William Odell and Raymond O'Harrow were the first  aldermen from the first ward, and George Schwegler was constable.

 

     It was during the summer and fall of 1870, also, that the railroad was built through from Nunica and on  to Whitehall. The coming of that road, with through trains from Grand Rapids, settlements of workers, and  the erection of necessary buildings for the railroad company, was the beginning of many prosperous years  for the Jackson Hill district and the entire first ward. In order to get through, the railroad had to build a long  trestle over Ryerson Creek, east of where the Langeland Company was, and they had to cut through the hill  at Prospect Street. Prospect Street in 1870 was a high hill with sand like that at Lake Michigan Beach, and  it reached across Hall Street onto Ottawa Street, or Beaver Street, as it was then called. At that time the  Norwegian Lutheran Church was on the hilltop at Hall Street, and. because of the railroad, it was moved to  Yuba Street on the corner of Giddings. A school house was near the church and this also had to be moved.  It was set back to Jackson Street between Yuba and Erickson Streets. Many Jackson Hill children attended  that school.

 

     The entrance of the railroad in 1870 started the rapid building up of the Jackson Hill district, which in  general terms meant all the district back from Ottawa Street on the higher ground at Prospect, Yuba and all  other streets back from the lake front.

 

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     The first depot was a large brown house which had been the residence of George Arms. The records of  the time said it was on "Bridge" Street, and train schedules listed trains arriving and departing from the  "Bridge" Street Depot. Probably this referred to the road to North Muskegon, still called by old timers, the  North Muskegon "bridge." From a record of the railroad property, the location seems to have been on what  is known as Bank Street, and between Cross and Butler Streets.

 

     One noticeable feature in the early days was the number of "hotels" as they were called, and also  boarding houses. Starting at Eastern Avenue was the Washington House, mentioned before, then the  Steiner House, and the Denmark Hotel, which was owned and operated by Peter Damm, who had a livery  stable in connection. There was the Globe Hotel, north of the railroad on the corner of Giddings Street, in  later years the store of Clark Duncan. On the south side of the tracks at Giddings Street, on the corner  where the Marcoux Drug Store was later located, was the Clifton Hotel. Grossman's boarding place was at  Sumner and Ottawa, and there were numerous other boarding houses at Jackson Street and other nearby  locations.

 

     In 1883 a bridge was erected over Ryerson Creek at Wood Avenue.

 

   The old hay and wood market which had been authorized by the city in August, 1886, located on the  triangle of land at Eastern Avenue, Cedar Street and Ottawa Street, was another well known institution in  the first ward. Originally Clay Avenue ended at Cedar Street, and the land of the market site extended over  to the west end of Prospect Street. Ryerson Hills Company had buildings on it and part of it was owned by  N. Steiner of the Steiner House, Travel to the eastern part of town was down Western Avenue to Eastern  and Ottawa, or down Clay Avenue to Prospect and then up the hill, or around to Ottawa. In 1882, property  owners had petitioned to have Ottawa Street extended to connect with Clay Avenue, but no action was  taken. Again in September, 1884, another petition asked for the opening, as travel on Western Avenue was  getting too heavy. Finally, in August, 1886, it was ordered done, and the market was established, and in  1887 scales were placed there. Few people know that in the 1860's a soap factory was on that property,  which was built and operated by Julius Borksch, father of Mrs. Charles Disney. This burned in 1873. A  farmers' market was opened on the site of the old city hay market it September, 1921.

 

     Muskegon's first fire department was a hand outfit, located in a building at the foot of Sumner Street at  the railway tracks. There was a wooden tank for water storage at the corner of Wood and Jackson.

 

     In September, 1887, the fire committee of the Muskegon city council made a report in favor of building  a hose house on Jackson Street, at Yuba, as soon as practicable. At a council meeting held June 29, 1889,  there was a warm discussion about that hose house. It was the limit of time to approve the budget for the  year, and an attempt to add $10,000 to the figures in order to build, equip and maintain a hose house in the  first ward, failed, even when only $5,200 was requested to make a start. The aldermen from the first ward  were Lyman G. Willis and Emil Ellifson. They voted against the budget. The hose house was built the  following year, in 1890. The first crew was composed of Charles Morey, captain, Willis Baldwin, driver,  John Shields, Arnt Ellifson, Nick O'Neil and Philip Schnorbach. Morey and Baldwin were full paid men,  the others part paid. This was the system in early years, to keep down expenses. Arnt Ellifson was later an  alderman and became mayor in 1915. Charles Morey was later Chief of Police.  Philip Schnorback was  active in politics and was city recorder for several years

 

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and postmaster for two terms. Incidentally, the old hand drawn horsecart which the volunteer firemen used  was housed at Western Avenue and Hall Street. 

 

     May 1, 1889, the name of Newaygo Road, which started at Wood Avenue, was by city ordinance  changed to Jackson Street. 

 

     Also in May, 1889, it was recommended that electric lights be placed at corners of Jackson, Octavious  and Marshall Streets, and also one on Western Avenue near Ryerson Creek. In July, 1889, steps were taken  to have a water main on Giddings Street to Erickson and thence east to Jackson. In September, 1889, the  city asked that Giddings Street be graded to the alley between Prospect and Yuba and the street committee  was given more time to look into the necessity for a sidewalk on the west side of Jackson Street from  Ottawa to Yuba Street.

 

     The 1880's brought a feature which tied the Jackson Hill district into closer relation with the rest of the  city. The street cars were put into operation in 1882, and horses and mules hauled people from the first  terminal at Giddings and Ottawa and later from Little Chief Street (now Marquette Avenue) to a point  where the Muskegon country Club now is. The cars were small and the mules slow, but it was better than  walking in heat, cold or rain over the wooden sidewalks. It also was more convenient and cheaper for  people arriving or departing on trains. The horse cars were replaced by electric cars in 1890, and the old car  barn was made into an ice house.

 

     In 1887 the now Muskegon, Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad began through service to and from  Grand Rapids at Ottawa Street Depot. In 1887, a cedar block pavement was laid on Ottawa Street,  replacing the old sand, sawdust and bark street which in wet weather was almost impassable.

 

     In the 1860's, following the Civil War and beginning especially with the arrival of the railroad, Ottawa  Street became like the main street of a village or small town. All travel by wagons, buggies or on foot had  to pass through the first ward, going to or from the country north, and Ottawa Street was the main roadway.  Starting from the corner of Eastern Avenue, where the Steiner House stood and next to it the Denmark  Hotel, buildings on both sides soon made quite a business center, reaching to Jackson Street. Across from  the Denmark Hotel, was the Schnorback Grocery and the home of the family. In 1880, beside the  Schnorbach store was William Boyer's store. Edward Boyce, John Castenholz, Jr. and Martin Birch had  meat markets. 

 

     John Grossman had a boarding house and saloon at the corner of Sumner Street; George Schwegler had  the Clifton House and saloon at Giddings Street and John Salter a boarding house near Giddings. in  addition to the European and Globe Hotels formerly mentioned, wan a Toronto House at 201 Ottawa Street  in 1887, In 1887, among the grocers were Peter Holthe, John Johnson and Company, Louis Vincent and V  B. Smith, on Ottawa Street. W. I. McKenzie was at 57 Jackson Street, and H. B. Langley at 48 Newaygo  Road.  In August, 1889, A H. Shields opened a grocery store at 22 Giddings Street.  

 

     It may surprise people, but only two saloons were listed in the Jackson Hill or Kilgrubbin district in  1875 and 1876. One was on Ottawa Street between Hall and Giddings and the other on Jackson Street at  the corner of Prospect. Liquor was also sold in the hotels, however. in 1880, five places were listed as  selling liquor, including the hotels, in 1887, there were six.

 

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     In 1887 other places that made Ottawa Street a busy business section were two barber shops; two boot  and shoe makers, 0, Hagberg and J. M. Taggart; a cigar maker, F. Simmon Simmons; Ray Squires'   confectionery store; Carol Moore's drug store at 103 Ottawa Street; Conrad Ochs and Nels Damm,  meat markets; Mrs. Page, laundry;  Dr, H. 0. Brown had an office on Ottawa Street; F. W. Westbrook had a  blacksmith shop near the car barn, and Firman and Goss a lumberyard and place to make railroad ties  opposite the sax shops; C. Monson had a bakery at 43 Jackson Street and Mrs. Cockburn a boarding house  on Prospect Street.

 

     On the lake front across from the depot at Giddings Street was the lime works of E. N. Latimer. on  Eastern Avenue across Prospect and next to the railroad, James Bredin had a shop where he built stairs.  Also along the railroad at the corner of Webster was the planing mill of Simmons Manufacturing Company,  with a big lumber yard. They manufactured boxes, besides planing lumber in car lots. Here also vas the  Langeland Manufacturing Company.

 

     Another industry located along the railroad track near the Simmons Planing Mill was an oil depot for  the Standard Oil Company. It was built there in August, 1885. The oil was brought here in tank cars and  then barreled and delivered to local trade and to dealers in neighboring towns. The depot was afterward  established at Laketon Avenue and Park Street. For several years in the early days, Mathieson's Wood Yard  was at the corner of Cedar Street and Clay Avenue- The name corner was later occupied by Sam Woodard's  blacksmith shop, which was removed in 1937. The Muskegon Rag and Metal Company has been on the  opposite corner for many years.

 

     The first modern factory in the ward was the Independent Stamp Works followed by the Howe Chain  Company in the same building and the Clarke Sanding Machine Company, This building is on Clay  Avenue, east of Ryerson Creek.

 

     It was always maintained that Muskegon River was not navigable by steam power craft. In 1893, the  firm of Hall and Appleton, who had a blacksmith shop on the bank of Ryerson Creek, built a flat-bottomed  craft for use, on the river, but as to its success, history does not say.

 

     The old city market at Cedar Street and Eastern Avenue and Ottawa was discontinued in 1935 and the  land leased-to an oil company. With the removal of the market to East Webster Avenue, it went just beyond  the limits of the first ward. The site of the present market rivaled in notoriety the old Canterbury, which  formerly was E. of the Jackson Street settlement, but          when torn down in 1934,was in the 1100 block on  Marquette Avenue, The Canterbury had a reputation because of the rough and rowdy men from the woods  and log drives, but there were places on East Webster, on Water Street and North Terrace Street- that  rivaled it, but did not get so much police attention and publicity. Another place was Nan Lincoln's on the  corner of Jackson and Prospect.

 

     The Jackson Hill district contributed many well. known characters in public life and civic activities.  "Uncle" Dan Moriarity, who came in the late 1860's, had extensive land holdings east of Jackson between.  Charles and Marshall, land east of Newaygo Road beyond Langley Street and a large farm south of the  limits. Moriarity Street was named for him. This street was part of what is now Marquette Avenue. From  Ottawa, Street to the jog in the road near Wood, where the old Froebel School was, constituted Little Chief  Street. From then east, it was Moriarity Street, until by city ordinance the two streets became one, named  Marquette Avenue. The origin of the name "Little Chief" Street is clothed in 

 

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mystery, but it was doubtless named for some Indian. brave or his son who lived on or near the place.  Uncle Dan operated the Forest City House on Pine Street. It stood on the south corner of the alley between  Western and Clay Avenues. The hotel was destroyed in the fire of August 1, 1874, and Moriarity suffered a great loss. He went into business selling jewelry and Merchandise and conducted an auction store and  was city auctioneer for years. He was a member of the city council about 1872 and 73 and was acting  mayor in part of his service. He was city recorder from 1874 to 1877.

 

     Mortimer, or "Mort" Averill, as everybody called him, was another of the early day live wares of  Muskegon. In 1860, he was a partner in insurance business with 0. A. Doane, another Jackson Street  resident. Mort Averill is probably best remembered as Sealer of Weights, with his office at the old hay  scales on the market site. He was an expert with a cud of tobacco. In his late years he lived in a home on  the corner of Jackson and Wood where the Froebel School now stands.

 

     Originally, the first ward limits extended from Getty Street on the east along Apple to Pine and down  Pine to Western Avenue, and then to the outlet of Ryerson Creek. N. P. Nelson was alderman from the first  ward in 1880 and served two years, then going into business with Martin Birch. (Martin Birch was the well  known butcher of the first ward. His son, Walter, was the father of Martin Birch, ,well known as a singer,  later in the Service. Other sons of Martin Birch, Sr. were Chris, Walter and Julius).

 

     N. P. Nelson was at one time street commissioners was sheriff, and also county treasurer. His second  wife, a member of the Holthe family was still living in 1943. Speaking of the Holthes, recalls that Nelius  Holthe was a supervisor for two years and Peter was an alderman and active in political work. 

 

     Another live man in city affairs was "Billy" Moore, ex-railroad engineer. The Moore Shoe Store was  well known. Martin Birch, Emil and Arnt Ellifson, Lyman Willis, Hans Hansen, a grocer on Ottawa Street,  Nick O"Neil Albert Damm and others took an active part in working for the interests of the first ward and  the city. Arnt Ellifson was the second mayor from the first ward in the days of the common council. John  H. Shields and Peter Damm were aldermen in 1887-1888. Wright Richards was a Jackson Hill resident and  at one time was an alderman from the district. (See Jackson, Ave. Congregational Church section.)

 

Peter Damm and Albert R. Damm (Contributed by Rolland Damm – 1979)

 

     Peter Damm came to this country from Denmark about 1850 as a very young man and worked in the  lumber woods. After cutting a farm out of forest at Holton, where he had raised horses and grown general  crops, he started a livery stable in Muskegon about 1860. He later built and operated the Danmark Hotel  next to the Steiner House north of Eastern Avenue on Ottawa Street. He then built a brick veneer building  Just north of the hotel, which housed the "carriage room" for the livery service and mortician office, with  two rental store units to the north and four residence flats above. Behind this building, facing East Western  Avenue, he built a large residence. The livery barn, facing on East Western, was large and complete and  included a blacksmith shop and living quarters for the employees above. Electric lights and intercom  telephones were added about 1900. Peter Dam served on the first Muskegon County Highway Commission  and he was a local city alderman as stated above. He died about 1912 at age 72. 

 

     Albert R. Damm, his son, born in 1872 at Holton, moved to Muskegon at eight years, attending local   schools and business college. In 1892 he was employed by

 

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Peterson and Chapel Hardware, who had rented  one of Peter Datum's stores at 24 Ottawa Street.  The other  store was occupied by a drug store.) Albert Damm was well known as an athlete, playing baseball, football,  basketball, track, as well as wrestling and boxing. He served as first ward alderman several terms, and later  on the Charter Commission when Muskegon became a Commission-Manager city. He was an early  Chamber of Commerce worker. He married Margaret Davis, a local school teacher and had two sons --  Rolland and Russell, who later entered the hardware business. In 1893 Albert R. Damm bought out  Chapel's interest in the hardware store where he worked, and a year later bought out Peterson's interest. The  business became Damm. Hardware in 1895.

 

     Damm Hardware was liquidated in 1967 because of the change in traffic flow off Ottawa Street to the  Seaway Expressway. The building had been added to several times. The older two-story brick front section  was razed to give entrance drive for the County Building Annex, now known as the Harris Building at 635  Ottawa Street, in which are housed the Muskegon County Library, the Michigan State University  Cooperative Extension Services and the Workers' Compensation Hearing Room.

 

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     Among the pioneer settlers out Jackson Street was Thomas Haw and his family. In later years, Charles  L. Gunn, who had been in the general offices of the old Chicago and West Michigan railway, settled east of  the limits and bought and sold tracts of land which have been developed to form an important addition to  the community.

 

     In the earlier days, there were other types and. characters, two of whom may be mentioned. here. A  familiar figure in the 1880's and until 1892 was Indian Bill. His name was William Wasaw, and he lived in  a shack out near the river. He was full blooded Indian and said to be the last one here. He had. the Indian  appetite for liquor and in his later years it was a sad sight to see a small, part-Indian boy trying to guide him  along the streets and get him back to his shack. The little fellow was called his grandson, the child of Indian  Bill's daughter. A son, Ben Wasaw, died in the European Hotel on February 22, 1890. Indian Bill was  killed by an electric car near the west corner of Terrace Street and Western Avenue in November, 1892.

 

     Another character, possibly the last of the roaring lumber days, was Spanish Lou. She lived in a one  room shack at the corner of Water Street and Western Avenue where the machine shops of the Continental  now stand. Old time merchants said. she had come from a good family somewhere in Illinois and had been  well educated. Through some associates in her home town she had been led to drink liquor and had become  a slave to drink. It was a familiar sight to see Spanish Lou, thin and wrinkled in her old age, going down  Clay Avenue, the bedraggled feathers in her hat nodding at every step, to the store of Hans Hansen, who  invariably greeted her with, "What is it today, Lou" and gave her whatever food she asked from his  grocery. Why she was called Spanish Lou was never explained. It was thought that she had been taught  Spanish as part of her early education. In her shack and wherever she went in the last years of her life, she  had from one to four or five dogs with her.

 

      It would take too much time to mention all the well known and active people of the Jackson Hill  district, but special mention must be made of the. late Martin E. A. Aamodt, who was elected to the  Muskegon Board of Education in 1925 and was active in school affairs until his death in 1934. He was also  active in affairs of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Mr. Aamodt came here in 1885 and for a time  worked for the Chicago and West Michigan Railway

 

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and the Booming Company. In 1887 he was a clerk for W. I.  McKenzie in his grocery on Jackson Street,  and in 1893 started his own store where the Benson Drug Company now stands, at Erickson and Jackson  Street. He was succeeded on the Board of Education by Clarence Arneberg, another Jackson Hill resident.

 

     James L. Smith, a former mayor of Muskegon peddled milk as a boy to many of the early families on  the hill. He states that at that time Ottawa Street was quite thickly populated by Norwegians, Germans and Americans, with a few Irish families. On Prospect Street, west of Giddings, were the homes of E. R. Ford,  and. the Cockburn and Homingson families, with two or three others. There were only a few houses  scattered along Prospect to the east, that is; toward what is now Jackson Street. A widow, Mrs. Herrick,  owned considerable acreage at the corner of Jackson Street and Prospect, and on the eastern corner was the  dive of Nan Lincoln. Louis Lange and his family lived at the corner of Prospect Street and Little Chief  Street, now Marquette Avenue. Members of this family were afterward. prominent in Muskegon. Max  Lange was at one time city assessor and alderman and was engaged in the insurance business. Herman 0.  Lange became the son-in-law of John Torrent.

 

     Proceeding further up the hill -- at the corner of Yuba and what is now Marquette were the Laflin home  and the home of the William McCallums. The Harnau family located near Jackson Street after the big fire  destroyed their home on Pine Street. William Boyer, of the old time grocery firm of Ford and Boyer, lived  on Octavius Street. The home of Walter I. McKenzie was at the corner of Octavius and Jackson, and  William Cummings lived across the street. Freeborn Joslin had a fine home on Jackson Street in the early  70's. Samuel Joslin and O.A. Doane were early residents of Jackson Street. Further up the street near the  Doane home lived the D. S. Joslin family, and a family named Starks lived near Getty Street. The Trafford and the Thomas Haw families were early residents of this district. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry  Bennett at the junction of Wood and Octavius was considered to be "out in the woods." Bert Bennett was a  grandson of this couple, and Former Probate Judge Thatcher and former representative T. Thomas Thatcher  were also grandsons.

 

     About 1873, Samuel R. Sanford. built a shingle mill on the bayou at the mouth of Four Mile Creek.  Later Fred B. Peck came from New York State and purchased an interest in the mill and managed the  business for nine or ten years before his death. He was a half brother of S. B. Peck, the pioneer merchant  and fruit grower for whom Peck Street was named. The late John W, Kent purchased the Peck interest in  the mill, which he operated in association with Mr. Sanford, whose name replaced that of Mr. Peck as the  designation of the Bayou. However, "Peck's Bayou" was a familiar phrase to my childhood. It has also been  referred to as Sanford's Bayou.

 

     Some residents of the Hill district may remember the story of gold. being found near Ryerson Creek  nearly fifty years ago. It was a fact and was the result of a boy's stirring up a bonfire. In the 1890's, the  creek spread out to form quite a pond above and below the old bridge at Wood Street. In winter it was a  favorite place for skating, and the skaters built fires, using the many stumps along the banks that had been  left after timber was cut off. On New Year's Eve, 1894, Willie Peterson, son of Christ Peterson, living at 55  Erickson Street, went out to skate, and in trying to get more glaze into a stump that had been set afire  earlier,

 

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he took a stick and poked. under the stump and broke the edges. Some hard. round pieces of metal started  rolling out, and he called to one of the boys standing by to see the "washers." The boy was a Carlson, 17  years old, and he saw that they were not washers, and started. picking them up, so young Peterson picked,  too. They each had an equal amount. Mr. Peterson took the pieces his son found to the Union National  Bank, where it was found that they were gold pieces. There had been 30, and they were $20 gold pieces. It  was determined by C. T. Hills that the gold was part of a large amount that had been hidden by a man  named Ted Boyce during Civil War times. The money found by the boys was covered with green mould.  Mr. Hills had been executor for the Estate of Boyce for a time and had knowledge of his affairs.

 

     Iver Anderson, in 1911-12 (and for many more years) was operating a grocery store on Jackson near  Wood. Harold Mosier, then about eight years old, recalls watching Iver at the end of the day walk home to  his house on Cross Street holding a gun for protection. Ahead of him walked his Collie "Churn" with the  day's profits in a money bag held between his jaws. In the same order, the trip back to the grocery was  made each morning. A sidelight on the times -- the Collie was later shot by a disgruntled. or jealous person,  precipitating a real scrap.

 

     Iver Anderson's granddaughter, Virginia, Mrs. Stan Jastrzemski, recalls the big barn her grandfather had  next to the grocery, where the whole family gathered every Sunday. There was a piano in the barn, which  her Aunt Iva played by ear. Her uncles wrote skits, which the whole family acted in. Her grandmother had  always prepared food for everyone and the family had great times together.

 

     Iver Anderson stood 6 feet, 4 inches and weighed 250 pounds. He had. served as deputy sheriff for 11  years and had also had employment as a mail carrier.

 

     Conrad Anderson, a son, later had a grocery business across the street. The Froebel School was being  built on his father's grocery site.

 

     Axel Anderson, brother of Iver, carried on a grocery business also -first at Jackson and Alva Street and  later at Jackson and McLaren.

 

CHURCHES

 

THE FIRST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH

 

     The First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Yuba and Giddings Street, is one of the oldest churches in the  city. In 1852 there was a colony of Norwegian Lutherans living in the First Ward and religious services  were held once a month by a minister doing missionary work here and north around Whitehall. The church  was organized August 12, 1864 by the Rev. J. Nesse at the home of Jacob Olsen on Ottawa Street with  Rev. Hattlestad of Milwaukee assisting. It was called the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.  Steps were taken to build a church on the brow of the hill at Hall and Prospect Streets, but due to the effects  of the Civil War, the progress was slow and it was 1867 before the small church was ready. It was served  by visiting pastors from the synodical body until 1869, when a Rev. Mr. Bergh took up the pastorate. As  stated before, in the summer of 1870 it was necessary to move the church because the Chicago and West  Michigan Lakeshore Railroad was entering Muskegon and it was necessary to cut through the hill on which

 

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the church stood. The church was then located at the corner of Yuba and Giddings Streets, where the  building still remains.

 

     The original building was 50 by 30 feet in size and cost $2200. It was dedicated September 12, 1869.  The first congregation was composed of Norwegians, Swedes and Danes, but in 1870, when the church had  to move, the Danish and Swedish members withdrew to form churches of their own.

 

     Among those interested in the organization of the church were Ole Hopper-stead, Ole Olsen, Lars  Larson, Jens Anderson, Thorsen Anderson, John Thompson, Jacob Olsen and Julius B. Nelson. Later  members were Nelius Holthe, Martin Thompson, Ole Johnson, Louie Hammer, Erick Erickson, N. P.  Nelson, Henry Brustad, Andrew Hopperstead and Martin Aamodt.

 

     The Sunday School was instituted in 1867 and the ladies Aid in 1870. The constitution was revised later,  and the congregation incorporated under the present name of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, and  the first business meeting under this name was held June 15, 1915. In 1923, during the pastorate of Rev. A.  M. Rusten, a branch Sunday School organization was formed. at Muskegon Heights, which was the nucleus  for the present Bethlehem Lutheran Church there. On October 4, 1929, fire destroyed the roof and one  corner of the church, as well as the entire organ. Services were held in the Vanderlaan School until repairs  were finished in January, 1930.

 

     In 1935 Rev. Edward Risty of Chicago became pastor of the church. During his ministry the  congregation held their 75th anniversary Jubilee and also cleared their mortgage and became free of debt.  Rev. Risty was especially interested in the Sunday School and work with young people. His death occurred  during his ministry -- July 30, 1941. For some time services were conducted by Rev. A. J. Grady of the  Muskegon Rescue Mission. In June, 1942, Rev. Walter Olson of Superior, Wisconsin, took over the  pastorate. It was with his help that the congregation purchased and developed the Stony Lake Bible Camp  west of New Era. In 1949, as the congregation was growing fast and facilities were becoming inadequate, a  new site was purchased on Marquette Avenue, Gunn Street and Leonard Avenue. Pastor Olson resigned in  October, 1949, but while he was still in Muskegon, a new home mission church was organized in 1947--- called the Immanuel Lutheran Church, which is located in East Muskegon.

 

     In November, 1949, Rev. Albin L. Fortney, who had served as a chaplain during World War II, was  installed. The need for a new building had been evident for some time and. immediately after his arrival,  "renewed efforts to revive the building program took place.." A wooden cross was erected on the parcel of  land that had been purchased in 1949. However, the land was found to be inadequate for the church's needs.  Pastor Fortney and. the Building Committee secured the site of the present lovely church building on the  Whitehall Road from Perry Giles, with the first service being held on Easter Sunday, 1955.  During the year  of construction, through the generosity of Mr. Giles, services were held each Sunday at the Curvecrest  Roller Rink adjoining the church property.

 

     Pastor Fortney resigned in 1955 and Rev. L. 0. Anderson followed as an Interim Pastor. With the  constant growth of the congregation in the new location, the help of another pastor was needed.. The  services of his son, Rev. William Humlie were added and his father accepted the title of Co-Pastor and.  Associate Pastor. (Humlie was the family name used in Norway.)

 

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     Rev. Homer Marsh joined the congregation in 1967, and Pastor Humlie resigned in 1968. Associate  Pastor N. S. Magelssen served from 1970 to 1974. Pastor Marsh resigned in 1977 for reasons of poor  health. Rev. Gary Hanson of Shelby became pastor in 1977 and remains in this post.

 

     The congregation has grown to number 686. (Update—Mrs. C. Edgar Miller)

 

MISSION COVENANT CHURCH   (Once called the Swedish Mission Church and now Evangelical Covenant Church)

 

     The activities of the Swedish Mission Friends in Muskegon date back to 1875, but there are no official  records before the organization of the church on June 7, 1881. They met at the homes of various families  previous to this, and the Rev. C. A. Bork had a preaching service in 1876. On April l3, 1881, the first  Mission meeting was held, and the English Congregational Church was rented for this purpose. The Rev.  A. Hallner and Mr. C. A. Julin of Chicago were the speakers. From then on, meetings were held regularly,  first in the home of Mr. Ehnroot on Prospect Street and later in a house on ".Halstead" Street. Mr. Carl  Wikman in "History of the Mission Covenant Church" prepared for its 75th anniversary (1956), writes as  follows: "In July, 1882, Rev. J. P. Lindell came  to be the pastor, and this brought about such an increase in  attendance that it became difficult to hold services in the homes. In spite of the meager assets of the church  members, a decision was made in December, 1883 to build a church. This building on the corner of Yuba  and Giddings Streets, was completed the following year. It was built entirely by volunteer labor, the only  money being spent for material and equipment--a remarkable achievement in view of the fact that these  men worked up to twelve hours a day, six days a week." This small, plain, one-story frame building was in  use until 1916. The Sunday School was organized in May, 1884 and the Linnea Society or ladies Aid was  also organized in that year.

 

     The early pastors best remembered are the Rev. C. A. Bjornbom, Rev. J. A. Gustafson, Rev. P. A.  Strom, Rev Robert Peterson, the Rev. Andrew Anderson and Rev. A. J. Ostling.

 

     Special mention should be made of the Rev. Nels Nordberg, who became the pastor in 1904 and served  for 21 years, when he resigned because American born children, speaking only English were Increasing in  number. He felt he could not serve successfully in their language. The Rev. Nels Nordberg resided on  Jackson Hill and died December 6, 1942.  

 

     Soon after Rev. Nordberg came to Muskegon, it was decided to build a new and larger church in a  different location, and a lot at the corner of Clay Avenue and Second Street, next to the old Armory, was  purchased. However, this lot was sold May, 1914, and the church was built in its present location at First  Street and Muskegon Avenue and was completed in April, 1917. Among the pioneers of the Swedish  Mission Church were Mr. and Mrs. John Appel, (He was a tailor.), A. Backstrom, John Rudin, John  Lindberg, Gust Peterson, Peter Beckquist P. Bergren, C. Lundberg, Malcolm Peterson and Peter Klang.

 

     Some people will remember the amusing incidents regarding the old water pail that stood in the  vestibule of the old Swedish church, providing for the thirst of Sunday School and church goers. Motions  were made at a number of business meetings to do away with the unsanitary drinking accommodations, but  not until September 8, 1911, was that motion carried.

 

     The late Ebba Bedker, popular Muskegon High School teacher, wrote for the 75th anniversary  publication in 1956 a page entitled GOING WAY BACK, as follows:

 

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"A church history such as ours is a composite of so much joy and sorrow, success and failure, tragedy and  hilarity, solemnity and absurdity, that no cold record can recreate it. Recalling old experiences may cause  both laughter and tears.  

 

     For who can forget the various evangelistic campaigns? — the  Skogsberg meetings, when the church  proved too small, and, we moved to the Lutheran Church? Meetings with the old Zion  Church, and later  the united campaigns in the tabernacle in the same location -- the northeast corner of Clay and Third -under  Honeywell and Spooner? In those days people on the streets were heard humming or singing "Brighten the  Corner Where You Are." No one who was there will forget the Lintz meetings, when the great crowds  forced us to move to the Armory, and the choir marched in each evening singing "When The Saints Go  Matching In."

 

     And the semi—annual mission meetings! What preaching! What singing! Remember when people stood  outside the open windows to listen, the church filled to capacity? Some sat on the windowsills, but interest  was so keen that a boy falling out during a sermon was scarcely noticed.

 

     Social activity in the church is no recent innovation. The Monday evening Sewing Society (for men and  women) is historic. Picnics loom large in memory, maybe because not so common as today. Remember the  thunder and lightening and rain at Bay Mills, when clothes were stained red from wet cushions in the boat  that brought us there and we had to compete with frightened horses for shelter in the old barn? Remember  when the church honored with a party every couple celebrating a silver anniversary? And the festive Young  People's parties for every couple that married? Remember the debate on the relative merits of the dish rag  and dust cloth by teams captained by Carl Wikman and Paul Anderson? The energetic activities of the Reds  and the Blues in fund raising for the new church are amusing and amazing.

 

     Although they are scarcely mentioned in the official minutes, we can't ignore the women, active in every  way: entertaining visiting ministers; providing meals on mission—meeting Sundays for families coming  from a distance — even from Lakeside or Lower Town; doing needle work at Ladies Aid to be sold at  auction; coming with pail and scrub brush to clean the church. Who can forget Mrs. Nyberg and Mrs.  Wikman teaching the ABC's in Swedish to the little children, for of course, Swedish had to be learned in  order to read the Bible. (In this connection we recall the testimony of several members after Honeywell  meetings that they had never before realized that souls could be saved in English!) 

 

     We have seen changed standards, too. The story is told when the organist appeared with a bit of talcum  on her face, Rev. Gustafson escorted her outside and instructed her to wash her face before she might play.

 

     Remember gathering around the stove in the old Kilgruben church? And the steam rising from coats  drying nearby?

 

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     The wit and humor, the holy indignation, the calm peace, the ability to organize and to meditate, the  leadership, the faithfulness -- all gifts meshing together like gears, oiled with Christian love, caused the  sometimes squeaking wheels to turn and work of God and His church to progress. It is wonderful to have  had a part in it!"

 

     Mrs. Robert Carlson (Gloria) recalls traveling, as a little girl, by bus from Lakeside to Jackson Hill to  take guitar lessons from Mrs. Nels Nordberg, who taught piano, guitar and voice.

 

     The lovely bell tones heard each day just before noon and again at 5:15 p.m. in downtown Muskegon  come from the Carillon of the Evangelical Covenant Church.  The Carillon was dedicated about 1963 in  memory of Mrs. Robert A. Johnson (Frances) and Mr. Robert L. Appel, both of whom died as the result of  an automobile accident June 3, 1962.

 

     The church has now purchased a good sized tract of land at the corner of Henry Street and Forest Park  Road. with a view to building. Plans have progressed to the extent that a master planning commission has  been appointed.

 

     The present pastor is Daniel Seagren, with a congregation of 316.

 

JACKSON AVENUE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

 

     Addie M. Pattenger Clock (Mrs. Thomas Clock, Sr.--1979) grew up on Marquette Avenue. She recalls  her mother telling how her maternal grandfather, William Trafford, a very devout man, invited the  neighborhood children into his home on Sunday afternoons for Bible stories. His young congregation grew  to such a number that they needed more room, and he realized the need for a Sunday School. His church  downtown, the Congregational had been organized for many years, and he and Mr.-Wright Richards sought  the help of that congregation, and of the neighbors on Jackson Hill, to build a church and Sunday School.  Progress was made, and the Jackson Avenue Congregational Church became a reality about 1906. Mr.  Joseph Skinner, the first Sunday School Superintendent, was later her uncle as was Mr. Wright Richards.

 

     Mrs. Clock recalls the Children's Choir, Christmas and Easter programs, and the great fun of box socials  where prettily decorated boxes containing very tasteful lunches prepared by the girls and their mothers  were auctioned off, with the hope that the highest bidder would be some favorite boy to share the lunch  with.

 

     For the teenagers there was the Christian Endeavor program, where she held the office of secretary for  two years. Upon being married, Mrs. Clock joined her husband's downtown church, the Berean Church. 

 

     Now known as the Orchard View Congregational Church, its present building at 2175 Marquette  Avenue was constructed in 1963.

 

     The parish serves 100 families, with Pastor Rodney Wetzig officiating.

 

OUR LADY OF GRACE CHURCH

 

     The changes brought about by the passing years made a change in the leading nationalities in the  population of Jackson Hill. About 1920 there was a large

 

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group of Italians living there who felt the need for a church. A priest was assigned to take up the work of  organizing the parish and in the spring of 1924 the Sweitzer brick house and the lot at the corner of Jackson  and Charles Streets were purchased for $7,000. The Sweitzer house, which was formerly owned by Peter  and Emma Dalson is still standing today. This 12 room house was remodeled into a church. Father William  Ducey was the first pastor and by 1928 there were 100 families as parishioners. The church bought several  acres at the corner of Jackson and Getty Streets to be the site of a new church. Father Ducey was succeeded  by Fathers James Kinney, Harold Bolton and Francis Flynn. Although Italians are still in the majority, other  nationalities continue to affiliate with Our Lady of Grace Church.

 

     Father Terry Stewart is now in charge of the parish. The new church was completed in 1942 at 788  Marquette Avenue, and there are 438 families attending the church. The church also houses the Father  Marquette School which services children from pre-school through Second Grade.

 

THE RAILROAD

 

     The railway repair shops located in the first ward played a most important part in its development. In  1868, Muskegon was rapidly becoming one of Michigan's lumbering centers, on her way to being hailed  "Lumber Queen of the World." However, she had only two means of transportation, water and the horse,  but there were few roads through the -woods, and travel was slow. The only railroad anywhere near  Muskegon on Muskegon River Basin was operating from Detroit to Grand Haven and was called. the  Detroit, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee railroad. It later was known as the Grand Trunk Line. Its trains  started from Detroit and passed through Grand Rapids, Ferrysburg and Grand Haven, and at the latter point  passengers detrained to take a boat to Milwaukee. Passengers bound for Muskegon detrained at Ferrysburg  and journeyed by stage coach to Muskegon. For a long time the stage coach was a rugged lumbar wagon  with board seats. Later a regular stage coach was organized, but the weather usually determined what time  the passengers would reach Muskegon. Muskegon, however, determined to have a railroad of its own, and  in this determination was forged one of the first links of the Pere Marquette system in Michigan. Michigan  business men formed a company to build a railroad to Ferrysburg. L. G. Mason was president, F. A. Nims,  secretary and attorney, and they, together with Mayor Davis and S. R. Sanford comprised the Board of  Directors. The first train from Muskegon to Ferrysburg ran on December 22, 1869.

 

     The repair shops located in the First Ward were those of the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad  Company, which came into being when the Chicago and Michigan Lakeshore Railroad was sold at  foreclosure sale in December, 1878, and reorganized as the C and W A. !t is at that juncture that Muskegon  enters the picture. The first president of the C and WM was George Kimball, grandfather of George  Kimball, the coal dealer. Mr. Kimball was acting for the Boston millionaire, Nathaniel Thayer, who was  investing very heavily in Muskegon, purchasing the L.C. Monroe lumber Mills, which then became the  Thayer Mills, and later the Brinen Company.

 

     The old building on Ottawa Street once used by Celery Growers Cooperative Company (celery loaders)  was the first general office of the C and WM. It had been one of Muskegon’s early mansions, called the  Arms House. It was bought by Mr. Kimball. A. M. Nicholls was General Fr. Agent and

 

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Assistant General Manager. H. Park was the auditor, W. B. Brown, Assistant Treasurer, G. A. Magoon,  paymaster and George McNutt, Assistant Superintendent. Incidentally, Mr. Kimball was the first railroad  president of his day to have an official car, and Howard Bend, a Grand Army of the Republic veteran was  the first cook on this car, which was also used. as a pay car. All of Jackson Hill's Fourth of July  celebrations were held in the old office building. A large flag pole was erected opposite the south end of the  building. The pole was used as a greased pole to see who could climb the highest.

 

     In 1881 the repair works in the North Yards consisted of an engine house, commonly known as a round  house, with 18 stalls for engines; a machine shop 80 by 150 feet; car -hop 250 by 72 feet; paint shop, 162  by 50 feet; blacksmith's shop, 40 by 70 feet; brass foundry and tin shop,  24 by 40 feet; an oil room and a  supply store.

 

     The works were kept in full blast, with about 150 men employed. For the month of August, 1881,  probably a fair average month, the number of men in each department and their monthly payroll was: 62  machinists and helpers, $2,536,26; 24 blacksmiths,  $893.37; 48 in carpenter shop, $2,063.65; 13 in paint  shop, $608.67; Total, 147 men with a payroll of $6,101.95.  Besides this may be reckoned a dozen men  employed as wipers. The total amount paid out this month for repair shops, engines and, bridge men was  $15,817.33.  Therefore the annual outlay for wages was not far short of $200,000, which sum was chiefly  spent in Muskegon and did its part in the up building of Muskegon's status. The average day's work was 10 and 12 hours, Wages were from .90 to 2.75 per day. Very few men made over $2.00 a day.

 

     The repair shops in the north yards were commenced in 1875 and were added to from time to time, two  buildings being added in 1881.

 

     The late Thomas Crowthers, for over 50 years a resident of Jackson Hill, used to tell about building  engines in the old C and WM shops. He was a boiler maker and he laid out and cut all the boiler steel by  hand, and drove rivets by hand.  George Hanson was the last Chicago and West Michigan switchman of the  Muskegon yards.  He retired about 1939 after 41 years of service.  From 1891-1898 he was a painter  at C  and WM.

 

     For many years, including 1893, Seymour Wright was telegraph operator for the Chicago and West  Michigan Railroad.  He -lived on Prospect Street and then on Ottawa Street.  Ottawa Street home still  stands just west of the Pet Shop.  Later his son Fred Wright held the same position, but by the time Fred  retired in the Spring of 1950, the railroad had become the Pere Marquette.  Upon Fred’s retirement, a  railroad. executive in the General Motors Building in Detroit –M.M. Cronk -- wrote him in part as follows:

 

     "How many years since…..we used to meet in the old office where your good father had to bundle his

     feet in warm overshoes to escape the  discomfort of the rigorous winter breezes that, came in the

     cracks in  the sides of the building!"

 

     Incidentally, after street cars to Muskegon and it was necessary to build the open trailers, the first one was built in Muskegon, in the C and WM coach shop at the North yards.

 

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     In 1899, the Chicago West Michigan consolidated with the Pere Marquette Railroad.

 

      The old round house was destroyed by fire about Midnight, May 22, 1905-The engines were in the  round house and only one could be gotten out. J. N. Chubb, engine inspector at the yards detected the fire.  Engine #225 was standing near the place where the fire started, with steam up, and he jumped in and drove  her out through flame and smoke. A switchman jumped on a nearby switch engine and by screeching of the  engine whistle soon brought the fire department and most of the men inhabitants of the hill to the scene.  John Gannon, Captain of Hose Company #4, was seriously burned when a cornice fell on him. It was a  mass of heated tar, which covered his face. David McKinley General Foreman of the shops was in  Chicago at the time. The debris was cleared away by Foreman Frederick Kantleher and a large force of men.  The intensity of the fire was shown by the fact that all the belle and brass work on the locomotives was  melted. Although General Master Mechanic W. L, Kellog of Grand Rapids recommended a brick building  to replace the old shed, only a wooden house was built.

 

     On Sunday, June 20, 1909, all the car shops were destroyed by fire. The fire alarm was turned in at 2: 00   p.m. and as the fire wagons were drown by horses, it was four minutes before the nearest fire company,   Hose Company #5, Yuba and Jackson Streets, reached the scene. From the first there was no hope of saving   the shops, and after the fire spread from the woodworking plant, all effort was concentrated on preventing   the fire from spreading. Fire Chief Belfy stated that had the wind been from the north instead of the south,   all the property in the first ward would have been swept away. Only the high wind saved the surrounding   district.               Employees of the shops rushed to the scene, many in their Sunday clothes, and worked hard to   save the buildings, helping pull cars out of the shops, There was only one switch engine with steam up at   the time the alarm sounded. This was at the north .end of the yard. It was rushed to the coach and car shops,   where it began pulling cars out of the shops. Another train from the north, with Locomotive #202 on it   came  in at this time. It was quickly uncoupled from the train and put into service saving cars. This was   considered the biggest fire in Muskegon since the Pine Street fire of 1891. The buildings that burned   covered nearly three acres, leaving a mass of charred wood and burnt and twisted steel and rows of freight   car trucks with the wood burned off. The estimated, fire loss was $160,000. The buildings burned were the coach shop, -paint shop. car shop, boiler room and wood working plant. The number of freight cars burned   were 88; six coaches were burned, and the lumber loss was nearly 2OO,OOO feet. The fire department-   lost from 5 to 800 feet of hose and the railroad about 500 feet, the burned shops One, hundred freight cars   and three coaches were taken from the burned shops and saved.

 

     Nearly 200 men, a large majority of residents of the first ward, were thrown out of employment. The   Pere Marquette had been contemplating moving the shops. from Muskegon for a long time, and the burning   down of the shops gave opportunity to locate them elsewhere. The Muskegon Chamber of Commerce   attempted to influence the railroad to rebuild the shops. One argument was that the Pere Marquette would   have to have the shops here in order to hold the Land. By removing them, they would lose title.  This land  was deeded to the Chicago and Lakeshore Railroad in 1873 by 'Wesley F. Wood and James R. Sanford, and   others on condition it be used as a site for a car and coach repairing industry and a manufacturing plant.   The title was transferred to the Chicago and West Michigan Railway and to the Pere Marquette Railway as   the roads were organized.

 

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     Alderman Ellifson of the first ward, which was mainly affected, urged the plan of a popular   subscription. He stated that all the residents of the first ward would be willing to contribute to such a fund   to the utmost extent of their financial abilities. But the shops were never rebuilt. The work crew was   reduced to less than 25 men in Muskegon, and the shops later called the Wyoming shops moved to a   location just out of Grand Rapids.

 

     Fred J. Kantlehner was made general foreman in 1909 and during the four years following, the number  was increased to 90 men and the payroll from $1000 a month to over $5000. In June, 1913, there was a  walkout of skilled men and the force was again reduced and payrolls cut to a low figure.

 

     In round terms, there are about 150 men employed out of the North Yards (1943) including all types of  work, engineers, switchmen, brakemen, section hands and so forth. The North yards in 1943 consisted of a  switchyards, round house and an emergency repair car department, together with the office which was  located in one of the first ward's oldest buildings.

 

     The late John Romans should be mentioned in connection with the railway, as he was for years engineer  with the old Chicago and West Michigan and also with the Pere Marquette. Mr. Romans was a popular  figure in Muskegon, and. especially on Jackson Hill, where he made his home for years. He was a  Muskegon Justice of the Peace, with offices in the city hall for many years, and later he served as city  commissioner, which office he held at the time of his death on December 29, 1942.

 

     All the names of men from Jackson Hill and the First Ward who were employed at the North Yards, are  of course, too numerous to mention. I recall Matthew Gallagher, one of our own good neighbors and L. S.  Ransom, for many years, yard clerk and yard master, who lost an arm as a switchman in the old pin and  link days.

 

     The Pere Marquette Railroad became the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad about 1947. There are 35 on  the present payroll.

 

     The subject of early transportation would not be complete without a review of the early establishment of  bus travel.

 

JACKSON STREET BUS LINE--(Contributed by Ann Thunfors--1979)

 

     Early in the spring of 1915, after studying the location around Jackson Hill and the Marquette area and  realizing that the people in this area must all walk down to Ottawa Street in order to reach the street car line  to get downtown, Mr. John Thunfors purchased a used Model T open delivery truck and adapted two rows  of seats, one on each side, with side curtains for inclement weather and began the Jackson Street Bus Line.  The run was from Getty Street down Jackson Hill to Ottawa, downtown to the square fronting the old post  office building. This was a half hour run. The fare was five cents. As the number of passengers increased, a  neighbor approached Mr. Thunfors and offered to help him finance a larger chassis in that no buses were  being manufactured at that time. So he purchased a chassis from the Nash Motor Company and built his  first bus body. This also had side seats. The business grew steadily and he purchased a second chassis and  built another bus body. The bus line runs were from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., then he would. work on  repairs half of the night and would even repair tires on the kitchen floor. At that time, he had two other  drivers beside himself, Gideon Nelson, his brother-in-law and Harvey Rohde.

 

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     In the meantime, other small bus lines were starting up in various parts of Muskegon. Mr. Hancock had  a run on Beidler Street. Mr. Thunfors then purchased an old truck from the Christy Bakery Company. This  truck had over 100,000 miles on it. Mr. Thunfors dismantled the entire truck and cleaned up each piece  with the intention of using it for spare parts, but when he saw the exceptional condition of this motor and  parts, he contacted the White Motor Company, who sent a representative to Muskegon who also examined  all the parts. When he saw the excellent condition of the parts, he contacted his company and gave Mr.  Thunfors full credit for the truck and all of the parts so they could put it back on display. Mr. Thunfors  applied this credit to another bus chassis and now he had four runs on fifteen minute intervals. He was now  in position to expand even more so he purchased the Beidler Street run from Mr. Hancock.

 

     About five or six years had now passed and he saw the possibility of starting a run to and from Fremont,  so he contacted Lote Morningstar and together they purchased an eight passenger sedan and had two runs,  one in the morning and one in the evening.

 

     The various runs in Muskegon were running well and as he now owned the Beidler Street run also, he  began a transfer system from Jackson to Beidler.

 

      The Street Car Company in Muskegon and the City Commission during all this time were attempting to   restrict him in every possible way because of the competition, his fare price and the beginning of the  transfer system.

 

     With the increase of bus systems in other parts of town and the City Commission both attempting to  squeeze him out, he finally sold out in 1925. At that time he had nine or ten coaches which he sold to  Peoples Transport System owned by Mr. Matt Britzen.

 

     It is interesting to note, that during two or three difficult times with the City Commission all of his  Jackson Street passengers, filled the buses and rode back and forth, back and. forth with him, in protest of  the City Commission’s actions to try and run him out of business.

 

     Also, you might be interested in knowing that back in those days, so few automobiles were running  there was no such thing as drivers' licenses, nor liability insurances. The drivers had-chauffeurs' licenses  only.

 

     Beatrice Anderson reports that she was Mr. Thunfors' first passenger. Following her tonsillectomy at  Hackley Hospital at the age of eight years, her -father prevailed upon Mr. Thunfors to transport him and the  patient back to their home. She recalls the ride in a black vehicle fitted with narrow side seats facing the  aisle. The next morning Mr. Thunfors began his public bus runs.

 

     The Ryerson Creek Valley has had an important place in the development of an industry that has meant   much to Muskegon. About 80 years ago, it was found that the land along the creek was well adapted to   celery growing. In 1913, there was a mile of celery beds in the creek valley and hundreds of families   obtained a living from the celery fields that lined the creek.

 

THE FROEBEL SCHOOL

 

     Up until around 1940, the Jackson Hill district was considered almost entirely Scandinavian. As a rule,  the Scandinavians have a high regard for

 

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education, and those on Jackson Hill were no exception. They wanted education for their American  children. Many of the parents themselves had received little formal education in their native lands, which  fact, however, does not mean that they were not possessed of considerable intelligence. Some of the  Scandinavian immigrants had been well educated in their own countries and in their own languages. But  there was little distinction made between the lettered and the unlettered, as far as their offspring were  concerned. Childish disputes brought out the childish epithets of "dumb Swedes" and. "white-headed  Swedes"--platinum blondes were not rated as highly then as later. The teachers of those early days had a  great opportunity and a great responsibility in making Americans of the children of those immigrants and  the parents as well. They seem to have performed the task most capably.

 

     There must have been many problems and amusing occurrences. I recall an incident in our own home,  which my mother told me. My brother, Gustave in his first school year, came home very early one  February 22, saying that he did not have to go to school because it was washing day. I don’t know  whether Washington's birthday came on Monday that year or not. Washday was an important day in the  household, but mother hardly expected the school authorities to give any thought to the matter. Finally, it  was explained to her by an American neighbor, probably Mrs. Frank B. Alford, who lived next door. But  we as children learned the meaning of Washington and Lincoln's birthdays, the fourth of July and other  American holidays; our parents learned. their meaning also. The men of the hill became naturalized  American citizens, with few, if any, exceptions. Women did not have the vote in those days, and probably  the Scandinavian men were just as hard to convince, when the time came, that women were entitled to the  ballot. In fact, they were probably harder to convince.

 

     As the schools on Jackson Street and Erickson Street became inadequate, the children were sent to  another school on the site of the old Froebel School. This first school was not called the Froebel School,  however. I have not been able to learn when the old Froebel School was built. It is said that it was used for  46 years before it was abandoned.

 

     A former Hill resident, Beatrice Anderson, remembers the Harvest Festivals held on the Froebel School  grounds. Most Households had backyard gardens, and at the Festivals were displayed their home-canned  foods and garden produce. Prizes were awarded for the best in all categories, and the young people  provided entertainment in music and group dancing.

 

     As the present school was completed in 1930, it can then be estimated that the old Froebel was built  approximately in 1884. Whether the familiar Froebel kindergarten was built at the same time, I do not  know. This was called Froebel kindergarten, named for the great educator, because it was the first paid  kindergarten in the state of Michigan. Miss Alice Wheeler, later Mrs. Mills, will be remembered. by many  as having been the principal there for many years.

 

     Mrs. Delbert Garman, formerly Miss Letta Arneberg, states that her brother, Louis Arneberg, first  attended the old Froebel for his second grade. Mrs. Jessie Albert, a former principal of the Froebel School  recalled how Carl Camm, Fred Iverson, John Milke and Alfred Andrews had told her of the impressive  exercises that were held when they took possession of the new school; the children marched around it,  carrying flags,

 

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and singing as they entered. Among the principals of the Froebel grade school were a Miss Griffiths, Mrs.  McCarthy, Miss Bessie Pollock, Miss Grace Davis, Miss Evelyn Hunter, Miss Marjorie Kinnan and., of  course, Mrs. Albert, who was its principal some years before the new school was built. For some years after  the children left it, the old. Froebel was used as a city training school for teachers.

 

     The present Froebel School is located on Jackson at Wood. It was completed in 1930 and was  considered to be a splendid modern building, serving the community in every possible way. Mrs. Albert,  who served as the principal for many years stated that one of the outstanding characteristics of Jackson  Hill was the loyalty of its residents for their district as well as for their school. She had the opportunity to  observe with amusement, and with the sympathy and understanding which was one of her characteristics,  the concern which rippled some of the community when Italians joined it; and the deeper concern of both  when Black people moved in. Jackson Hill is no longer Swede Hill. It has become metropolitan, if not  cosmopolitan. All the situations, as this change began to take place, were met harmoniously, in the  American way. A large share of the credit went to the Froebel School and, to Mrs. Albert, whose influence  as an educator was felt in many phases of the civic life of the Hill.

 

     As I recollect, when I was in the fourth grade, we were given library cards and urged to take books out  of the Hackley Library. That was a long way for children to go, but I made it regularly. My mother learned  to read English from the children's books that I brought home. When Harold L. Wheeler became the  Muskegon librarian, he established a branch library in the Aamodt Building on Jackson Hill, beginning  with 7000 volumes. This branch was moved to the new Froebel when it was opened, with Mrs. Cora  Jackson as librarian. This was the only adult branch library in Muskegon at that time. It was used by the  children during school hours and by grown-ups and young people from four o'clock until nine. There was a  large circulation among the adults.

 

     Froebel School, presently in 1979, has 200 elementary school pupils. There have also been organized G.  E. D. Adult Education classes, with an enrollment of 125. The branch library is still being put to good use  and also for adults.

 

MARGUETTE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

     This fine educational facility for the handicapped, including special education features, located. at 480  Bennett Street, was built at a cost of over $1,180,000, and was dedicated. in 1957. It represents the  culmination of years of planning, beginning with a two-room building, erected in 1918 in another part of the county. In the 1920's the Board  of Education "acquired a portion of the present site made famous in an almost forgotten  era by a lumberjack hotel." (Undoubtedly the Canterbury House mentioned earlier in this  sketch.)

 

     Playground space was added through the efforts of the Muskegon Progress and Development Fund  personnel.

 

     Built for a capacity of 600, the school now serves between 425 and 450 children. The special education  wing is used by students from throughout the county.

 

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YOUTH PROGRAMS (Contributed by Mr. Harold Mosier -- 1979)

 

     When Harold- Mosier became a Boy Scout in 1914, there were three troops in the city, of which Jackson  Hill Troop #18 was one, with Merritt Lamb as Scout Master. Harold Mosier became Master of Troop 18 in  1924. The troop had 72 members. No boy could. join unless his father also became involved., so there was  a large active group in the Scouters' Association. Among the fathers involved were Gus and Hubbell  Lundborg, Clarence Arneberg, Harold Mosier (as Master), Alfred Andrews, Carol Johnson, Ernie Seastrom  -- to name a few. Such was the excellent leadership and discipline that on one or two occasions when some  youth had gotten into trouble with the law, there was the choice of a hitch in a reform school or   membership in Troop 18. Scouting under these conditions was considered really therapeutic. 

 

     Troop 18 remained. active for many years and performed in a patriotic manner during World War II,  salvaging waste paper and other materials and selling Liberty Bonds.

 

     The Sea Scouts had also been organized later in the same manner. They were given a sailboat -- the  Yankee Clipper -- by the Coast Guard for use in Muskegon Lake only. In 1933 the Kiwanis Club  promised a trip to the World’s Fair in Chicago to the Scout Troop winning a contest concerning many  phases of nature. Troop #18 won, but all were surprised and disappointed when the trip was called off.  Some of the Scouts were also Sea Scouts. They asked permission -to sail the Yankee Clipper to Chicago,  but this was refused. The boat had been given them for Muskegon Lake only. There were older Sea Scouts  who decided to make the trip independently. Lawrence Carlson had the sailboat "Sonya," named for the  grandmother who had given it to him. Carlson, 21, and Glen Smith, 24, together with Ray Anderson,  successfully sailed the Sonya to Chicago. When it was time to return, the weather had turned rough.  Anderson decided. to return to Muskegon via bus. The Sonya needed a crew of three, and Carlson's cousin,  Frank York, a Chicagoan, filled in. Off South Haven the weather worsened and the Sonya capsized. York  stayed with the floating wreckage but the others started. to swim the five to six miles to shore. Smith, a  strong swimmer, made it in a state of complete exhaustion. York was found and hospitalized temporarily.  Carlson's body was later washed ashore at Gary.

 

     The Jackson Hill Youth Programs produced Navy Commander Tom Andrews, Army General Gerald  Brown, and Platoon Sergeants Glen Smith and Gerald Ames, all active militarily curing World War II.  Ames was credited with having saved the lives of his outfit through the use of the heliograph system of  semaphore code, using mirrors, which he had learned in the scouting program on Jackson Hill.

 

CONTINENTAL AIRPORT AND DEVELOPMENT

 

     An event which took place in 1926 was the forerunner of greater things for Jackson Hill district,  although what happened. in 1943 was not dreamed of. In the spring of 1926, the Continental Motors  Corporation cleared and leveled. a 160 acres field north of Getty Street and. Jackson Avenue. In July, the  field was dedicated as an airport, and a squadron of 11 military planes landed. there for the dedication. A  hanger had been erected, and the Continental had- the field for the plane which they used in service  between Detroit and Muskegon. The airport development had cost about $125,000. About 10,000 people  were at the dedication.

 

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     In July, 1928, the first mail sent by plane from Muskegon went from the Continental airport. In May,   1929, a Ford Motor plane with 15 passengers landed there.  The field was used by mail planes and others  until the county built the airport in Norton Township. The Continental sold their plane, and the field was  finally abandoned as an airport.

 

     In April, 1942, it was announced that the Continental Aviation and Engineering Corporation expected  to be producing a high power aircraft engine and would build a huge plant to provide for manufacture, in  July, 1942, the foundations were practically completed, and, in August contractors moved in equipment,  preparing to put up. buildings.

 

     The Pere Marquette Railroad laid a spur from the north yards across Ottawa Street, past the old Sanford   Bayou and Peck Shingle Mill location, and. to the hill where buildings were going up. In October, Ernest  W. Krueger was given the contract to lay 8,200 feet of water main to supply city water to the huge plant.

 

     During World War II, a force of several hundred men and women were employed in one of the largest  factory plants in Muskegon, on a spot which 60 years before had been a barren hill overlooking Muskegon   River and the Booming Company sorting grounds.

 

     In the 1960’s they became part of Ryan Aeronautical Corporation and later part of Teledyne,  Incorporated.  They are currently known as Teledyne Continental Motors – General Products Divisions and  manufacture tank engines, spare parts and aircraft engine crank shafts.

 

NORTH END CIVIC ASSOCIATION

 

     Some time before the first World War, the interest of the men in Jackson Hill in their community  resulted in the formation of a men’s organization called the First Ward Association.  In July, 1914, they  offered to the city a ball park bordering on Ottawa Street beyond Bayou Street, and in February, 1915,  started a campaign for dollar contributions to the park.  An amended constitution was adopted on March 3,  1924, and it became known later as the North End Civic Association.  Among the presidents of the  organization were John Romans, Arnt Ellifson, Elmer Benson, Walter Blake and Gustave Lundborg.  Mr.  Blake also served as secretary, and Charles Oberg was secretary for some years.  Among the many  members were Mr. Nash and Albert Damm of Ottawa Street and Mr. Nord.

 

     The North End Civic Association worked hard for the new Froebel School, assisted by Mr. Aamodt,  who was a member, and finally obtained it.  The Association was instrumental in having the street car line  extended up Marquette Avenue.  I am not certain if they managed to get the bus line up Marquette later, but  Jackson Hill had the second bus line in Muskegon, beginning in 1916 or 1917, and run by Mr. Thunfors  and Mr. Nelson.

 

     The North End Civic Association secured sidewalks on Getty Street across the creek and also across the  Wood Street bridge.  They succeeded in getting the city to pave several streets on the hill, including  Octavious and Ottawa.  They secured the retaining wall on the west side of  Jackson Street between   Prospect and Ottawa Streets.  They engineered many and varied improvements on Jackson Hill, and the  community became knit together as never before. The confidence in the association was so great that often  problems entirely outside 

 

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their province, which could not be handled, were presented. Attendance at the meetings was large, and at   one time the association had 430 members.

 

     Great things have been done on Jackson Hill in the past. One task from the past, however, remains  uncompleted as of 1943. Mrs. Albert is the one who called attention to it. The site of the old Froebel School  is now Aamodt Park, dedicated to Martin Aamodt. Mr. Aamodt's life, said Mrs. Albert, was typical of  Jackson Hill. He came to this country as a youth, went to night school to learn the English language,  worked in the sawmills for a time, and then in a store, until he could establish his own business. He was a  staunch member of his church and was always interested and active in education and civic welfare.  

 

     Around 1943, the 'Park" was in a state of neglect, overrun with weeds and abandoned. It was Mrs.  Albert's suggestion that if the city would have it mowed and see that water was obtainable there, the men of  Jackson Hill would do whatever was necessary to make the place a fitting memorial to Mr. Aamodt and at  the same time, a memorial to hundreds of others, whose obscure but good, lives contributed- to the building  up of Jackson Hill and the First Ward.

 

     Now, in 1979, Aamodt Park is watered and mowed and kept up by the City of Muskegon. A part of it is  called a Tot Lot, with playground equipment used extensively by the very young. Ryerson Playground,  down the hill from the present Froebel site is used by older persons.

 

HOUSING PROJECT, 1943

 

     The action of the Federal government in acquiring 40 acres of the old. Forest Home Cemetery at Nested  Street on Marquette for a housing project recalled events of some 50 years earlier in connection with that  part of the Jackson Hill district. In 1890 there was agitation to close the Oakwood and Evergreen  Cemeteries to further use, because the city had grown up to and- around them, although when located there,  it was believed that they would always be outside the city. Factories were being built along the railroad on  Nims Street and on Irwin across from Oakwood. It was decided to locate a tract of land. that would be  where the city limits would not grow up to it. In August, 1891, the Board of Public Works advertised for a  tract of land not less than 160 nor more than 320 acres. The result was the purchase of 160 acres, out in the  wilderness near the old Newaygo Road. It was sold to the city by S. R. Sanford, A. F. Temple and others  for $5,500. There was a fine stand of trees on it, but they were cut down and used for firewood. In 1892,  sale of lots in Oakwood was stopped, and the intention was to begin using the new place and gradually  transfer Oakwood burials to Jackson Hill. There was much protest, because the place could not be reached  in winter and it was hot, dry and dusty in summer, as the road to it was over the -Bolt Highway, through the  county farm property, and north through sand or through the city, down Ottawa and out Jackson and  Newaygo Road. The people in the first ward and on Jackson Hill also protested about the location. Only 24  lots were sold, and less than a dozen burials made. The place was abandoned, although the city retained  title.

 

     In 1920, the Continental Motors Corporation made a proposition to the city to trade the Forest Home site  for a tract in Norton township, next to the Heights Cemetery, as a place for a Muskegon cemetery. The  Continental

 

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at that time had plans prepared for development of property east of the city, on a large scale, with roomy  home lots, playgrounds and parks. The City Commission decided by a four to three vote to make the trade,  but later rescinded the action. There was an industrial slump in 1921, and nothing more was 6-one until  1923, when the Continental again made a proposition for trade, but the Commission was divided, and  nothing came of it. In 1920-1923, the city paid an assessment of $2600 for a highway out of Jackson Street.

 

     Forty acres of the old tract are now included in the city limits (1943) for the new housing project of the  government.

 

HOUSING PROJECT-~As of 1979)

 

     According to the office of Urban Renewal, a total of approximately S4,000,000 has been spent in the  Jackson Hill area.. This funding has been 3/4 federal funds and 1/4 local, and covers all phases of work to  date -the demolition of over 200 old buildings, the refurbishing of from 175 to 200 old but usable buildings,  establishment of the Ryerson Playground (below the hill from the present Froebel School), all underground  installations, necessary resurfacing and new streets. It also includes construction costs of 15 new single  family dwellings.

 

     Much more building is anticipated, particularly of single family units, with the possibility of some  multiple dwelling construction.

 

     In the early 1960's an extensive change in the area took place with the condemnation of all buildings on  Prospect Street and the vacation of the street itself, together with cross streets involved, to make way for  the Expressway complex, which was completed in two or three years.

 

JACKSON HILL REUNIONS

 

     Concurrent with the country's celebration of its Bicentennial year, a committee formed to call together  former or related residents of the Jackson Hill area for a reunion picnic. Three women -- Ethel Hagen  Pierce, Florence Rousseau Shedd and Frances Hill Bosch started the ball rolling. Other women, as well as  men --notably, Mason Archer, Harold Mosier and Howard Hagen, quickly became involved, resulting in  the Jackson Hill Reunion Committee.  In compiling a list, certain workers even rode up and down streets,  recalling who had lived there, or whose parents or grandparents had lived.  The response to an invitation  was great and now -- in the fourth year, 1100 have been invited.

 

     Attendance fees at the potluck pay for ham and coffee, with a residue for other charges and postage.

 

     Chairmen for the event have been: 1976 Mason Archer

1977 Harold. Mosier

1978 Louis Martinez

1979 Howard Hagen

 

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