Remembering Dottie Blain

By FHS president Ken Tamke

I first met Dottie Blain in 2005 when I joined the Fallasburg Historical Society Board of Directors.  She was a strong, resilient, country woman cut from the same cloth as my grandmother.  They knew each other, as did most residents of the close-knit communities of Vergennes and Lowell.  She was also a Dorothy like my mom, shortened to Dot or Dottie with those who were close. Dottie and I hit it off immediately. 

As I plunged in at FHS to assist with the Covered Bridge Bike Tour, and Christmas in Fallasburg, I quickly realized Dottie was a main organizational force behind our signature events.  “Chief cook and bottle washer” was a humorous way to characterize her participation, yet her involvement went much further.

Anyone who ever attended our Christmas In Fallasburg “Pot Luck” in the Fallasburg Schoolhouse, sampling the various culinary offerings set out around the room owed their sigh of satisfaction to Dottie’s cooking.  Her Swedish Meatballs were legendary!  Cooking aside, her coordination of other contributors; cookie bakers and salad makers, table setters and supply go-getters, kept everything running smoothly.  If we were lucky, there’d be leftovers to take home after the party.

The Covered Bridge Bike Tour presented many, many challenges, but that didn’t faze Dottie.  We never really knew how many riders we would attract each year.  Anywhere from 100 – 250.  While they’d all set out at roughly the same time, they returned to Fallasburg Village piecemeal and want to be fed.  Dottie’s Country Style Italian feast, meatless or vegetarian with grilled garlic bread would be waiting, piping hot, whether 11:00AM or 2:00PM.  And, then of course, there was dessert-Strawberry Shortcake.  Never mind the various rest stops along the different cycling routes.  Dottie had them stocked with home baked cookies, fresh fruit, and Gatorade.  A logistical nightmare to be sure, but Dottie always had the situation well in hand.  FHS owes the longevity of the Covered Bridge Bike Tour, 25 years, in no small part to Dottie.

Dottie took great pride in preservation of Fallasburg Village by virtue of her Lowell roots and longtime friends.  She attended Lowell High School where she met Larry Martin, a fellow FHS Board Member, and architect of the Covered Bridge Bike Tour from the cycling side.  Larry was the great-grandson of Edwin Fallas, great-grandson of John Wesley Fallas-founder of Fallasburg Village.  Dottie and Larry shared similar temperaments, senses of humor, and their appreciation for the remarkable historic district of which they were stewards.

One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do was inform Dottie on the morning of the 17TH Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour, Larry Martin had been hit and killed on a bike ride the afternoon before as fate would have it.  While grief-stricken that a kindred spirit had passed, her strength of character somehow got her through the day where many would have broken down.

The Fallasburg Historical Society mourns the passing of our colleague, but moreover our dear friend.  Dottie Blain, Rest in Peace.

Ken Tamke, Fallasburg Historical Society

Obituary

Blain, Dorothy 12/12/1940 – 1/5/2021 Lowell Blain – Dorothy A. Blain nee Pearson, age 80, passed away on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. She was preceded in death by her parents, John Pearson in 1964 and Joanne Bittle in 1990. Dorothy is survived by her children, Sheila (Tim) Aalsburg and Kenneth Blain; granddaughters, Chloe and Maya; youngest sister, Frances “Fran” (Rick) Rowell of Louisiana; childhood friend, Addie (Orison) Abel. Dorothy will be remembered for her generosity and hosting large family gatherings. She grew up in southern Michigan and graduated from Lowell High School in 1959. She married and raised two children. Through the years, Dorothy worked as an upholsterer, a realtor, school bus driver, and a greeter at Meijer. Per Dorothy’s request, cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Fallasburg Historical Society. To share a photo, memory and to sign the online guestbook please visit www.stegengafuneralchapel.com

Featured photo: FHS volunteers at the Lowell Expo in 2017: Dottie Blain, Mike Organek, Addie Abel.

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Featured

Tales From the Burg

Welcome to our series “Tales From the Burg” designed to connect the readers with the Fallasburg Historical Society’s (FHS) prescious treasure of artifacts known as Collective Access. You can find individual artifacts by clicking the link below:

https://collection.fallasburg.org/

The series will have the logo of Mr. Goodsell’s letter. We encourage your input and feedback by commenting below or on social media. Enjoy the first installment about Mr. Goodsell’s memories of the construction of the Fallasburg Covered Bridge.

Tales From the Burg

Flat River Days, Building a Bridge

Prologue 

In 1821, John Orton Goodsell, originally from Oneida, New York and ninth son of Goodsell Family patriarch John Sr., purchased 190 acres in Vergennes Township at the end of what is now known as Beckwith Drive.  The property, framed by the Flat River on three sides, looked down upon the river, and what would become the location of the Fallasburg Covered Bridge, gateway to Fallasburg Village founded in 1839 by John Wesley Fallass.

Clark W. Goodsell (C.W.), John Orton Goodsell’s son, was born in 1859, one of two children from his father’s second marriage. The following reflections come in the form of a letter dated August 7, 1932 from C. W., who grew up just a stone’s throw from Fallasburg to Villager Hermann Jones. Here are links to the original letter and land abstract from the Fallasburg Historical Society Collection.

Clark Goodsell.

https://collection.fallasburg.org/Gallery/14

                            https://collection.fallasburg.org/Gallery/13 

                                                                                                              

Harrisville, August 7 – 1932

Mr. Hermann Jones,

Dear Sir, I received your letter O.K. but have been busy of late fishing for company.

Well, I guess I know more about Fallassburg than anyone left now. I was born up on the hill west of the

Burg in 1859, so I can remember a lot.  On a 2 X 4 on the northwest side of the old bridge is my name dated June 18TH, 1880, the day I first left home.

That bridge was built by a Frenchman by the name of Jerard Buzee. He built 9 such bridges after Flat River.  That bridge was built 1867 as near as I can make out. I was about 8 years old when Buzee and his crew boarded at our house while they framed the bridge.

I rode rafts of lumber down the Flat before they ran any logs, many times.  Ed Lewis, Charlie Richmond, and I have rode over the shoot on logs when we were boys.  I could ride anything that would hold me up or wore hair.  I rode a horse for John Fallass in the first fair at Lowell.  I weighed 48 pounds, so small they had to strap me on.  I rode runners until I was 26.  John Wright can tell you about my riding.  Give Billie Rex my regards.

Yours Truly,

C.W Goodsell

Epilogue

Four other bridges (not covered) preceded the Fallasburg Covered Bridge, the very first being built in 1839.  By 1849 the first two had failed.  The third bridge, a sturdier affair, lasted until 1860.  Enter bridge builder Jared N. Brasee & Co.  For $249.50, Brasee reconstructed the third bridge, now the fourth to span the Flat River.  In the spring and into summer of 1871, for $1,500, Brasee & Co. built the fifth-the Fallasburg Covered Bridge.  Villager, F.A. Geill adorned the portals of the bridge in 1872 with the signs, “$5 Fine for Driving on This Bridge Faster Than A Walk”, which are still in place today. 

2021 will mark the 150TH Anniversary of the Fallasburg Covered Bridge

It is hard to ignore that Villager, Hermann Jones, recipient of C.W. Goodsell’s letter in 1932 was not related somehow to Frank Jones.  Jones ran a General Store and a Tavern in Fallasburg Village in the mid-to-late 1800’s, was an avid hunter, fisherman, and trapper, living in a variety of dwellings within the Village, one of which was a small summer cottage on River St. sitting just above the covered bridge.  Here’s a picture of Frank Jones with his Flat River bounty, a Pike as tall as he is:

Descendants of the Goodsell Family are today, still present in West Michigan and beyond.  The farmhouse John Orton Goodsell built in the early 1820’s stood until 1950 when the property was purchased by Clarence and Stella Bradshaw.  Unable to save the original, the Bradshaw’s had to tear it down and start again.  Here is the 125-year-old Goodsell Farmhouse in 1950 before, and the Bradshaw home in 1951 after.

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In observance of Veterans Day

Pause to remember a veteran today for his or her service to our country.

Enjoy this post:

Click on the link below to read about veterans at the Fallasburg Cemetery in Vergennes Township.

Veterans at Fallasburg Cemetery

Featured Image -- 61120

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Tower Farm renovations-phase II

The next phase of the Tower Farm restorations has begun.

The crew has mostly painted the outside of the Tower Farm.  The foam insulation is being installed.  Then the sheet rock insulation will start.  The four porches are getting new decking during this time also.  The heating will be completed. Once the sheet rock is done, painting the inside will begin.  Then all the cabinets will be installed and plumbing finalized.   Long process that may be completed by the end of the year.

https://wordpress.com/post/fallasburgtoday.org/123492

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Correction to the Fallasburg Today E-newsletter

Here is a link to our fall newsletter followed by the correction to Craig Fonger’s length of absence from Lowell to set the historical record straight.

Source: Fall back in time in Fallasburg

Tireless volunteers, and jacks and jills of all trades: Alan Rumbaugh, Lisa Sostecke, Frank Brechbiel, Mark Shellenbarger, and David & Tina Cadwallader, were joined by new FHS Board member Craig Fonger who had just moved back to Lowell from San Francisco after a 22-year absence, doing anything and everything that needed to be done.

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Fallasburg Virtual Arts Festival

The 52nd annual Fallasburg Arts Festival will be virtual this year. It will take place on Sept. 19-20, 2020 on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will walk through the festival via an on-line, interactive map that will “open” at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19, the original start date and time for the festival. The map will be available at http://www.lowellartsmi.org, and will include links to explore artwork, music, children’s creations, craft demonstrations, and more.

The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) has alway participated at the Arts Festival in the picnic shelter on the porch.

This is info about the FHS:

The Fallasburg Historical Society was organized in 1965, originally as the West Central Michigan Historical Society, to collect, preserve, advance, and disseminate the history of this area, and more specifically, Fallasburg Village. These efforts however began in earnest over 100 years ago by the Vergennes Cooperative Club who nurtured the dream of sharing these remarkable pioneer stories and the village they created for future generations to enjoy and learn from. Fallasburg has had many shepherds since John Wesley Fallas founded her in 1839, all with a common goal; preservation. Today, Fallasburg Village remains a picture postcard of early American life. Please visit us:

www.fallasburg.org

http://collection.fallasburg.org

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fallasburg-Historical-Society-444666235652842/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/fallasburg?lang=en

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/1016340627/fallasburg-historical-society/?hl=en

Or do it the old way and c’mon out!

Feature photo: newly painted one-room schoolhouse. Watch for the FHS newsletter in your inboxes about all the accomplishments at the Fallasburg Village over the past summer.

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Old publications found @Tower Farm

Fallasburg, MI – During the recent remodel work on the 1850s Tower Farm at the Fallasburg historic village, the crew found publications from 1951 including American Weekly from May 13, 1951.

We encourage our followers and fans to submit their photos from the Fallasburg village to us. Fallasburg will soon be decked out in its autumn glory. Get your cameras ready.

For Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) artifacts go to Collective Access at https://collection.fallasburg.org

Note: The FHS annual village bazaar will not take place this year. Our neighbors- the Fallasburg Arts Festival has gone virtual on Sept.19-20 with a raffle of the “Blue Lagoon” quilt by Dawn Ysseldyke. On Sept. 20 at 5 p.m., a live-streamed “pulling of the winning ticket” ceremony will be held to announce the winner of the quilt.

Blue Lagoon by Dawn Ysseldyke.

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Tower Farm remodel update

 The Tower Farm $75,000 remodel is on schedule

Here is the latest on the remodel from Fallasburg Historical Society treasurer, Al Rumbaugh.

The stone mason has finished redoing all the fallen rocks in the basement and we now have a secure foundation. The new well is active and health department has approved it and the water it is supplying. The plumbers have finished the rough in of the drains and water lines. The general contractor, Choice Contracting, has finished most of the interior work, adding new headers, opening doorways up as was designed, redoing floor and ceiling beams and has replaced the damaged and missing siding on the back of the house. 

We are waiting for the approval of the Michigan Historical Society to say we can build the porch with a roof on the east side of the house. The heating contractor will start Monday putting in an entirely new heating system.  The electrical contractor came out last week and has started with a preliminary layout of the plan. Estimates are being accepted for sprayed in foam insulation once the other work is completed. 

The Tower Farm is the last building to be rehabilitated in the picturesque village on the banks of the Flat River. During the last two years, the Fallas House needed repairs due to major damage from pipes breaking over a winter. The bathroom, kitchen, and damaged walls were redone. A new roof was put on along with a total paint job. The Blackmer House and Betsy Fallas houses have all been rehabbed, the barn was redone and that left only the Tower House. This will be the last one on the Covered Bridge Rd. leading to the Covered Bridge, except for the rundown cottage by the bridge. The Misner House and the School House had been finished long time ago.

“The entire village street will look great with well-kept homes,” said Rumbaugh.

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