In Observance of Memorial Day at Fallasburg

Pictured above are the grave stones of those who served our country because “Freedom is not free.”

Volunteers from the @Fallasburg Historical Society cleaned up the Fallasburg Cemetery on the north side of the Fallasburg Historic District of the village.

Visit the the 1850s historic village this summer for a walking or a biking tour. The one-room schoolhouse museum will be open on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.

Stay tuned for an upcoming story about the completion of the historic district with the last missing piece- the bronze marker for the historic “Tower Farm.” The main remodel of the dilapidated structure took place during the pandemic when everything was cancelled.

“The Quest for the Bronze Marker” will showcase the colorful history of the old farmhouse from its origins to its classy renaissance.

The bronze marker will look like the ones placed in front of the schoolhouse amd the Fallass House.

The sign marks the “Fallasburg Historic District” once you cross the Covered Bridge heading north.

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Tower Farm remodel completes Fallasburg historic village

Walking through the immaculate white rooms still smelling of fresh paint at the Tower Farm with pristine views of the Fallasburg village and the woods in the back, it would take the wildest imagination to transport you back in time before the remodel. The 1850s dilapidated farmhouse was falling apart, when the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) embarked on the ambitious remodel in May of 2020. It was the last missing piece in the total reconstruction of the historic village due to the limited funding and since it was the last building to be occupied, it provided income to the FHS.

However, the roof was replaced in 2011 and the windows were replaced in 2014 to save the structure from extreme decay. In the years past, the FHS peeled off the asphalt/fireboard siding put on in 1954. Within the past year, the FHS was able to secure individual donations to begin a proper renovation.

The Orlin Douglass/Tower Farm was built by Douglass in 1850.  It was later acquired by the Towers. In 1896, the right half of the farmhouse was moved from a nearby location so that sister-in-law’s, Tower and Steketee, could live together with their families.

The outside had greyish brown color and a layer of green fiberboard had been put on circa 1954 and peeled off during window installation, according to Craig Fonger, a volunteer and webmaster. All the mechanicals were replaced and proper fire blocking was installed to prevent fire from migrating to the second floor.

“COVID presented us with an opportunity we otherwise wouldn’t have had,” said Fonger. “This completes our village restoration and allows us to present a finished product to the world. Additionally the rental income will help benefit FHS.”

“I’m ecstatic about the Tower House rehabilitation,” said FHS president Ken Tamke.

  It has been a very long haul on this project, 30+ years, and the result is stunning.  Were it not for a couple of grants, the Lowell Area Community Fund administered by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation that awarded FHS a grant for a new roof in 2011, and the Lowell Cable Television Endowment Fund which awarded FHS a grant for new windows in 2014, the Tower House just might not have survived.

“The job our remarkable volunteers and contractors did that helped get the home to the finish line cannot be underestimated, many thanks to them,” Tamke said.  “They deserve a lion’s share of the credit.”

Fonger said that nothing in the structure was neither square or plumb.

“At almost every turn we were forced to improvise in some way, in some caseseschewing the assistannce of builders squares and levels and just making things fit,” he said.

But, there was also gratification in the fact that the Tower House was the last property in almost 30 lumberring years of rehabilitation- each succession building on the legacy of preceding FHS boards.

Fallasburg Village has undergone an amazing renewal and is finally to a point beyond damage control, but there will always be something, paint here, repair there, TLC all around.  The life of the preservationist is never boring or without tasks.  FHS is up to the challenge!

Over the last decade, the village has continued to improve buildings, according to the treasurer Alan Rumbaugh. First, the stagecoach was redone, then Blackmer, next the Fallas house, and then Betsy Fallas. The Post Office and and Beckwith Tavern have been nicely maintained. The Tower and Fallas barns have both had major repairs with the Tower Barn getting the Barn of the Year 2014.

The School House had a new front porch/deck put on last year and the entire building was repainted. The old shack beside the Stagecoach House has been torn down adn the double wide across the street has been removed and a new farm type house will be built on that property.

Now that the Tower House has been brought to reflect its past, we have a village street that we can start to promote to the public and build a much bigger following for the FHS.

We hope to have the Tower House disdplay farm artifacts in the FHS part of the house, reflecting the history of the “Tower Farm” and water melon crops. The other half of the house will have tenants that will not only give us some income to promote the village, but hope for them to be an active member, living in the village.

The Misner House will be repainted this summer and some other minor work done on it. The displays in that house would be more in line with domestic items, washing machines, spinning wheels, etc.

The Fallas House would be set up as it would have been in the 1800s. The School House will reflect the life in a one-room school, which was in use into 1950s. The other houses on the street are private residents and have noted on the yard signs.

The original plan was to restore the Tower House creating a museum that represented 20TH century life.  FHS has communicated regularly with the Tower Family and has obtained family mementoes, furnishings, pictures, and artifacts that will be displayed.  We hope to hold occasional meetings, gatherings and outdoor functions supported by our new kitchen with this landmark farmhouse and grounds as the backdrop.

According to treasurer Al Rumbaugh, farming artifacts and memorabilia will be stored at Tower the House. The Tower House will also be used as office to work on program planning and archival projects.

Fonger credited much of the work to Rumbaugh and David Cadwallader who spent many hours on the project.

Copyright (c)2021 . Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Fallasburg Covered Bridge

Featured on WZZM today. Photo by Bruce Doll.

Stay tuned for the next installment of “Tales From the Burg” series that connects Fallasburg’s past with the present via stories and artifacts.

Fallasburg’s artifacts can be found online in Collective Access at Collective Access

Mr. Goodsell’s letter about the Covered Bridge.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Coming soon “Tales From the Burg” 2

Fallassburgh Cubs

Watch for the next installment in the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) brand new series “Tales From the Burg.”

We will delve deep into the past of the Fallassburg Cubs, the predecessors of the Falassburg Flats. The story will explore the possible connection of baseball player Raymond Miller, who lived in Fallasburg village, with the Fallassburg Cubs.

Another “Tale” will follow-up to the first installment. It’s a letter written in 1857 by a Fallasburgh resident about taking a Ferry boat from Grand Haven to Grand Rapids on the Grand River.

“This is very cool history not only from Fallasburg, but from West Michigan,” said FHS president Ken Tamke.

The debut installment of “Tales From the Burg” was about Mr. Goodsell’s letter reminiscing the construction of the first Covered Bridge.

Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

Copyright (c)2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

Copyright (c)2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Tower Farm renovations

Tower Farm renovations to complete Fallasburg village street look

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI – The Tower Farm in the historic Fallasburg village will be renovated following the approval by the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) this week for approximately $75,000.

The 1850s historical building has deteriorated over the years, but has been patched up with a few fixes funded by grants from the Lowell Cable Television Fund and the Lowell Area Community Fund.

These included a new roof on the Tower Farm and new windows along with other exterior jobs such as the removal of asphalt shingles from the siding and repairs to the siding.

The ongoing restoration of the Orlin Douglass/Tower Farm has been in progress since 2010/2011.

The Orlin Douglass/Tower Farm was built by Douglass in 1850.  It was later acquired by the Towers. In 1896, the right half of the farmhouse was moved from a nearby location so that sister-in-law’s, Tower and Steketee, could live together with their families. 

One of the FHS board members Addie Abel lived in the Tower Farm until 1959. The Towers grew watermelons on the farm and sold them in Lowell.

“I was a Tower,” she laughed, “my connection to the house is that it was my home. I love that place.”

Abel said she doesn’t mind the proposed renovations.

“It belongs to the FHS, I would live there in a heart beat,” she said.

However, as the interior deteriorated, the FHS sought of ways to fix it up.

“Initial financing was all grant-based,” said FHS president Ken Tamke. “Over the years some other minor exterior fixes have taken place. This was the result of volunteer labor and not necessitating large outlays of the society’s funds.”

As with any historical building, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) sets forth guidelines for preservation. According to these guidelines, the façade of a National and State Historic Property cannot be changed.

The concrete block covered the entry on the farm was removed, but it was not part of the original home. The roof had broken through and the concrete blocks had settled impeding closure and security of the entry doors.

The society is proposing to put back a second porch modeled after the original porch on the dwelling.

“We will contact the SHPO with any plans,” said Tamke. “Should it compromise any historic designations, it will not be built.”

The Tower Farm, which consists of two units, is zoned as single residential and a home-based business. As such, the FHS will rent out the single residential portion and retain the home-based business part for its own use as office space.

The use of the community garden on the four-acre property is currently being negotiated.

“We are still in negotiations on the volunteers for the garden and what will be produced on it,” said vice-president Tina Cadwallader.

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 FHS treasurer Al Rumbaugh.

The FHS expects to accomplish the final renovation project through volunteer labor and FHS’ financial resources with the future promise of rents to replenish reserves and charitable donations.

The main contractor for the project is Choice Contractors, Rosendall Well Drilling will be doing the well, Jack Mellema is the stone mason and Arctic Air will be doing the heating.

The FHS board will hold the annual board meeting on June 15 at 4 p.m. at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. The public is invited to provide input.

Feature photo: project coordinator/FHS treasurer Al Rumbaugh in front of the Tower Farm.

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