FHS President’s spring message

Remembering Mr. Edwin Roth

It is with heavy heart that I write my spring message.  Charter member of the West Central Michigan Historical Society, former President of the succeeding Fallasburg Historical Society, and lifetime champion of the cause of preservation, Edwin Roth passed away March 8Th at 98 years old.  To say Ed lived life to the fullest would be a vast understatement.  His spirit will of course live on, his legacy, one of many, Fallasburg Village today.

fallas ken headshot
FHS president Ken Tamke

Everyone who knew Ed Roth has a story.  His easy-going, self-effacing manner made you comfortable when you were around him, his sense of humor ever-present.  I believe we all marveled at his longevity in our individual quests to find the fountain of youth.  Ed’s answer was simple, eat right, live clean, and another nugget he shared with me last Christmas with a large smile, “Don’t go to Doctors”!  That was Ed.

I wasn’t around when Ed Roth staked the National Historic Site Marker at the John Wesley Fallas house which was undergoing a major restoration in the 1990’s.  I was around when Ed accepted the award from the Michigan Barn Preservation Network for “Barn of the Year,” 2014, recognizing the Fallasburg Historical Society’s work on the Tower Barn.  These projects, amongst so many others, we’re the labor of Ed Roth’s love, and he maintained a strong and steady hand in all of them.  Thank you, Edwin Roth!  You are irreplaceable!

Fallasburg Historical Society-Ed Roth Picture (1) resized

The clipping is from the FHS scrapbook’ circa 1990.

“I ran across some really great stuff,” said FHS president Ken Tamke. “Pretty much all newspaper clippings that chronicle the history of the West Central Michigan Historical Society from the mid-60s and then FHS through the late 90s.”

The historic district status was awarded in 1999.

Calvin College students tour Fallasburg pioneer village

Still in the firm grasp of winter cold, but on a bright and sunny day, the Calvin College History Department’s “Public History” class visited Fallasburg on January 17TH.  Professor Kate VanLiere’s students, as part of a month-long intensive study course stopped first at the Lowell Area Historical Museum to get a look at the inside workings of a small museum and a grand tour from Executive Director, Lisa Plank.  Then it was on to Fallasburg for a walking tour with yours truly and their outside look at our National Historic District.  The group of 30 briefly popped their heads in the door of the Schoolhouse, Misner House, and Fallas House.  With FHS’ small museums in hibernation for the winter, and each property unheated, it was actually colder inside than out.  Our brisk walk was appreciated and gave our visitors an overview of the entire Village from Fallas Barn to Covered Bridge.

Calvin College students
Calvin College students tour Fallasburg villlage.

FHS gets intern to assist in digital cataloging

For the third consecutive year, the Calvin College History Department has provided a student intern for the Winter/Spring term to assist FHS with our digital cataloging of documents, photographs, and artifacts.  Under the tutelage and mentorship of Lisa Plank at LAHM, this year’s intern, Grace Bolt, has focused on the treasures contained in the School.  Most remarkable have been the handwritten Attendance Ledgers which chronicle Fallasburg School students, school year by school year, back to the early 1900’s, all completed by the teacher of the day.  Grace has painstakingly recorded and photographed the logs.  She could now tell you, if you went to Fallasburg School, when you were absent, and what ailed, lots of Chicken Pox, Mumps, and Measles.  With a keen interest in Geography as well as History, tech-savvy Grace is working to create an online aerial view map of Fallasburg that highlights all its historic sites, buildings standing or not.



 Pictured above Mr. Ed Roth at Lowell Expo 2017 with daughter Jeanne Vandersloot, and FHS members Tracy Worthington and Al Rumbaugh.

Say Hello: 

 Fallasburg Historical Society, Table #129, at the Lowell Community Expo, Saturday, March 24, from 9AM – 3PM, Lowell High School.

 Come Visit:

 Fallasburg Village comes out of hibernation, Saturday, 11AM – 5PM & Sunday, 12PM – 5PM, May 5 & 6, the first weekend in May!  We’ll participate in the Tri-Rivers Museum Network’s, “Spring into the Past” event.  41 small local museums team up and open up-free of charge! 



About the feature photo: Mr. Ed Roth with Randy Mouw, Barncats Contractor who fixed the Tower Barn, accepting Barn of the Year award for 2014 from the Michigan Barn Preservation Network.




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Mr. Edwin Roth

Edwin Christian Roth, the founding member of the Fallasburg Historical Society,  passed away on March 8, 2018

Members of the FHS express deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Roth.

Edwin Roth
Edwin Christian Roth

Full obituary

Roth, Edwin Christian Age 98, passed away on March 8, 2018. He is survived by his 3 children, Steven & Barbara Roth, Jeanne Vandersloot, Nancy & Michael Moore, sisters-in-law June Roth and Phyllis Petersen, grandchildren Aaron & Barb Roth, Aletha & John VanValkenburg, Ryan & Renae Roth, Kyle Roth, Trenton & Jessica Roth, Nicholas & Missy Vandersloot, Nathan & Beth Moore and Brett & Melanie Moore and 18 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Doris June Roth, her parents Arthur and Ila Edmonds, his parents Godfrey and Rose Roth, son-in law Glenn Vandersloot and brothers Fred, Alfred, Rudy, Walter and sister June Houser.

Visitation will be at Roth-Gerst Chapel at 305 N Hudson, Lowell on Friday March 16 from 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm. The funeral service will be at the First United Methodist Church at 621 E Main, Lowell on Saturday March 17 at 11:00 am with visitation one hour before the service at the church. Rev. Brad Brillhart officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Lowell FFA, Fallasburg Historical Society, Lowell Historical Society or Lowell Arts.

His parents came from Switzerland in 1909 and met on the boat immigrating to America, and settled in Michigan. Ed was born August 20, 1919 on the original family farm in the Clarksville area. His parents later bought the farm north of Lowell and packed up all the children and belongings and went by horses pulling sledded wagons to the new family farm. Ed then grew up on the dairy farm north of Lowell and began helping to milk the cows at age 11.

The family only spoke Swiss and learned English while attending the one room country school. There was no electricity at that time. Food was grown on the farm with fruit and nut trees, a large garden, chickens and other farm animals along with the dairy cattle for milk production. Fields were plowed with horse-drawn equipment. He took a short-course semester at Michigan State University  (MSU) after high school graduation and learned many skills, especially welding, as he ended up repairing items for neighbors and creating whatever he needed for the farm, such as wagons and tractor accessories. He saw the installation of electricity and phone service in later years to the farm. He also has witnessed the greatest time span of technology growth in America during his years of living with farming by hand and horses to huge computer driven tractors.

He met his future wife Doris at the Ramona Park skating rink in Grand Rapids. His introducing line to her was he thought she needed some help skating better. Life on a farm in those days only allowed dating on a Saturday night if all chores were completed. Ed and his brother Rudy ran the farm after their parents retired and moved to Lowell. Ed and Doris married in 1946. When the main barn burned, Ed and Rudy divided the cows and Ed and Doris moved to the adjacent farm 1/2 mile north and farmed with Holstein dairy cows for 50 years. They bought this farm in 1949 and over the years added more acreage from the original 80 to 267 acres. Having knee problems from hand milking, he built the first milking parlor in Ionia County where the milking person stands up instead of kneeling.

He designed and built his own barns from wood sawed from the farm woodlands. He retired from milking in 1981 but continued to help with tractor work into his 90’s as his son Steven had taken over the farm. He cut his own firewood until age 95. He loved to travel and attended the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and several other world fairs and attended almost every National Farm Bureau convention after he retired. He was the oldest Farm Bureau member in Ionia County joining the organization in 1947 for 71 years. Ed and Doris traveled a good portion of the world, with his favorite destination being Switzerland, where he visited many relatives with 4 trips there, and has hosted various Swiss family members in his home also. He was very proud of his full Swiss heritage and still spoke fluent Swiss.

He had a great sense of humor and always had a joke or two to make people laugh. He and Doris were founding members of the Fallasburg Historical Society and he was a member and supporter of the Lowell Historical Society, the Lowell Arts, the Tri-Rivers Historical Society and the FFA program.

“We deeply Sympathize with the family,” FHS spokesperson said.




Tri-River museum network meetings


2/20/2018 Lyons/Muir

3/20/2018 Graan

4/17/2018 Eaton Rapids, Michigan

5/15/2018 Edmore, Pine Forest

Printing Display @Schuler Books

6/14/18 Sunfield, WelchMuseum

7/17/2018 Belding – Annual Luncheon

8/21/2019 Portland

9/18/2108 Byron Center

10/16/2018 Middleville, Barry County

11/13/2018 Cedar Springs


Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Groundhog Day

This is a great Groundhog Day story from the Manchester Museum.

Stories from the Museum Floor

Today is Groundhog Day, and so our Story from the Museum Floor by Judith from the Visitor Team, inspired by the Museum’s resident groundhog on our Living Worlds gallery, takes a looks at this annual tradition rooted in European folklore, which was made famous by the film Groundhog Day.

groundhog 5

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is perhaps one of America’s more unusual customs. On the morning of February 2nd each year crowds gather at sunrise in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to wait for the verdict of it’s most famous resident, groundhog meteorologist, Punxsutawney Phil as he emerges from his burrow. The tradition says that if it’s sunny the groundhog will see its own shadow and there will be six more weeks of winter and if he doesn’t, spring is on its way.

Unfortunately, our resident groundhog situated in the Living Worlds gallery hasn’t moved for some time now so we don’t know what his prediction would be! 

View original post 714 more words

Happy new year 2018

Wishing everyone a great new year from the Fallasburg Historical Society. (FHS).

Visit the pioneer historic village in 2018 for fun and adventure. Check out our events. Join the FHS to help us preserve history for the future generations.

For more info go to http://www.fallasburg.org.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs LLC. All rights reserved.

Wintery Fallasburg

Here are some nifty  photos of winter in Fallasburg by local photographer Bruce Doll.

The feature aerial photo of the Covered Bridge is by Drone Michigan.

Plan a trip to Fallasburg this winter. Bring your snowshoes or cross country skis. The North Country Trail (NCT) runs right by the Tower Farm.

Start planning your spring visit to this historical treasure located in the northeast corner of Kent County three mile north of downtown Lowell.



Enjoy and have a great holiday.



Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Christmas in Fallasburg 2017 was the most successful ever

Christmas in Fallasburg  party enjoys huge turnout

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI – It was a night to remember. After much anticipation and preparation, the “Christmas in Fallasburg” party rolled in with fanfare last Saturday on Dec. 9. Snow was on the ground and we didn’t get the promised arctic blast by the local weatherman.

The Covered Bridge was all lit up and created a great photo opportunity at night. Just driving across the bridge in the silence of the night was an experience in itself. Of course the bridge allows only One-Way traffic at the speed of walking under the fine of $5.

I always feel nervous before each event, including my own, after all the marketing and promotions. The Christmas party is a premier event for the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).

“We never know how many people will come out,” said FHS president  Ken Tamke.

However, the party turned out to be the most successful party ever with 75 people in attendance.

“The fire was magnificent,” said Tamke. “Villager Craig Wood spent the whole year building it.”

The party started in 2006 and it is Tamke’s brainchild. Previously the FHS hosted a “wild game” dinner at the Fallas House. The Fallas House is small and not too many people could attend.

“We never made any money on it,” Tamke said. “The caterer did.”

Tamke lobbied to use the one-room schoolhouse instead, get a band, serve beer and wine, and to have a potluck.

“There was a brush pile in the field that first year, so we lit it,” Tamke said. “Craig Wood took over the fire. We’ve been going with the same formula ever since.”

The FHS volunteers put a lot of work into getting the old one-room schoolhouse ready for the annual event. This includes decorations, large round tables and a buffet style dinner, while making sure everything works including the heater and electricity.

In other words, it was a true old-fashioned Christmas.

It is also the  favorite FHS event considering the atmosphere in the historic pioneer village of Fallasburg all decorated for Christmas.

People packed out the schoolhouse like never before. There was standing room only between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. This year, we enjoyed newcomers and a younger crowd as well. There were families with children.

It was heartwarming to see the oldest member of the FHS Edwin Roth, 97, come in with his daughter Jeanne Roth Vandersloot. Roth never misses out on an FHS event.

Everybody enjoyed the music by live band Hawks & Owls. They played non-stop. The spirit of the night was in meeting new people as well as enjoying old friends. Even some people on snowmobiles stopped by. With new people involved also appeared new dishes like the delicious French green bean casserole, as well as the mainstay meatballs in two different versions, turkey and stuffing.

We headed out to the bonfire, that warmed up the night in a large radius around it. People gathered in a circle around the bonfire for great conversation and to enjoy the warmth of the fire.

As we came back, the bell rang in the belfry announcing the end of the festivities.

I feel honored to be a part of the FHS preservation efforts including the Christmas magic in Fallasburg.

Thank you for a great year. Looking forward to 2018. Happy holidays.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Christmas magic in Fallasburg

Christmases of the past

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI – The weather outside is frightful with an arctic invasion coming our way, but I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow’s Christmas party in Fallasburg.

It has become a tradition much like baking, shopping and writing Christmas cards. It’s like recapturing part of the past magic of Christmas that we all have experienced as kids.

It’s all the Christmases of the past coming together into one. We each have special memories of Christmas tied to our childhood past.

Every year we meet out there inside the old Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse to share camaraderie, to break bread and enjoy Christmas music.

First you have to cross the Covered Bridge at the speed of no more than a walk. And then you immerse yourself into the magic of the pioneer village.

I live three miles from the village, and I have discovered it early on after moving out into the northeast corner of Kent County. The village is located approximately three miles north of Lowell. It nestles on the banks of the Flat River.

The Patina of time has settled in on the historical buildings from the 1850s like the Tower Farm. It’s a bygone era of a simpler time in the village.

You can hear the horses and coaches cross the bridge. The party runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and it is capped off with a bonfire.

The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) has been managing the village since 1965. As with any historical preservation, the challenges are many. They range from funding to labor for the upkeep on the buildings.

Without a dedicated team of volunteers, none of the events throughout the year would be possible.

These include:

March Expo in Lowell

Spring into the Past Museum tour

Fallasburg Covered Bridge Bike Tour

Fallasburg Village Bazaar

Christmas in Fallasburg

As we wish you a peaceful holiday, we hope that you can join us in our historic preservation efforts by volunteering time or a money donation.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fallasburg Today at http://fallasburgtoday.org

Fallasburg http://www.fallasburg.org

Thank you for your support.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

FHS president’s message

Dear friends,

Fall, in and around Fallasburg, is truly a very special and scenic place.  Purists might say this hasn’t been an optimum year for fall color or its longevity, but it sure had me fooled, and the “Indian Summer” we enjoyed was exquisite!  I hope you had a chance to visit and soak it all in.

fallas ken headshot
FHS president Ken Tamke

2017 is almost up, and so is another year for FHS as steward of Fallasburg Village!  The job of the preservationist is never done however, although finally weather says otherwise, at least for outdoor projects.  I do believe volunteers would still be out prepping, repairing, and painting properties if we pitched a tent-well, maybe a heated tent.

I guess you really could call this the year of the volunteer!  They have been amazing in the things they have accomplished maintaining our buildings and grounds, and so have they been in the preservation, and sharing of knowledge about our history.  FHS’ cataloging project of “accession” pieces, the stuff people donate to us; pictures, documents, artifacts, old farm tools, our museum exhibits, has been kept on track by volunteers, and our events come off without a hitch thanks to volunteers, as well.

“Hall-of Famers” for fall include FHS members; Alan Rumbaugh, Tina & David Cadwallader, Mark Kuzee, Frank & Patty Brechbiel, Tracy Worthington, Addie Abel, Emma Palova, Michelle Emaus, and JoAnn Childs.  You are tops.  We couldn’t do it without you.  The list of “cookie bakers,” and “foodies” that help us out from our membership is simply staggering.  Thanks to all of you!

Special thanks should go out to Mitchell Tower.  Mitchell recently completed his Eagle Scout Badge Project-the construction of a fenced “community garden” honoring his family’s heritage on the historic Tower Farm in Fallasburg.  It looks beautiful!  FHS can’t wait to get growing.

As the season of giving approaches we at FHS hope you might consider joining us as a volunteer.  Please visit our website, www.fallasburg.org/contact/

And, don’t forget the Christmas Party, “Christmas in Fallasburg, A Community Celebration,” Saturday, December 9, 6 – 8PM at the Fallasburg Schoolhouse.  www.fallasburg.org/events/

Happy Holidays & Seasons Greetings!


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