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:
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
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.
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.
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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