Historical team finds forgotten treasures, a historian’s dream
By Emma Palova
Fallasburg, MI – During the recent digital cataloging of Fallasburg artifacts, the historical team discovered forgotten treasures from Vergennes Township.
These included a remarkable collection of Women’s Committee for the National Council of Defense index cards filled out by women from Vergennes Township in support of World War I in 1917. The Vergennes Township Clerk/Registrar was responsible for undertaking this survey and completing the index cards from women in the community. The collection includes many recognizable names in the community.
WWI support cards
Calvin College history intern Grace Bolt resumed the painstaking process of entering the data for Fallasburg artifacts at the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM). She was working under the mentorship of Lisa Plank (LAHM) executive director and Ken Tamke, Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) president for 14 weeks.
This was the third year of digital cataloging of Fallasburg artifacts in cooperation with the Calvin College History Department.
“I was familiar with the process of entering stuff like description, dimensions, pictures and saving it,” Bolt said.
Bolt got hands on experience doing museum work as she helped to get the collection organized and to be a part of preserving history.
“This is a historian’s dream out here,” she said about Fallasburg village. “Everything is digitally captured.”
“This will also make the collection accessible to the public,” said Tamke. “Many forgotten treasures were rediscovered in our schoolhouse files.”
The other great finds were Vergennes Women’s Cooperative yearbooks, Flaunting a forgotten era, old leather-bound property tax ledgers, accounting ledgers, and log books of school board minutes, some dating back to the late 1800s.
The Vergennes Women’s Cooperative archives of yearbooks go back to 1850.
“It’s a valuable cache of Vergennes Township history,” said Tamke.
These items were stored in the basement of the Misner House. They sat there until 2007 or 2008, safe, but not in a climate controlled environment.
“We noticed signs of deterioration,” he said. “We did retain some of the historical treasures in the schoolhouse.”
Now, the historical treasures will remain in a climate controlled environment stored in proper boxes.
Plank said it was an opportunity for Fallasburg to get their collections organized.
“It benefited all sides,” said Plank. “Fallasburg will have proper archival storage.”
Both FHS and LAHM with digital cataloging have more resources available now.
The largest collection of the WWI support cards is at the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council.
Visit Fallasburg pioneer village during your museum tour
Fallasburg, MI – As you plot your museum tour this weekend, stop by in the Fallasburg pioneer village just three miles north of Lowell.
Just cross the Covered Bridge into the 1837 village founded by John W. Fallas. You will have stepped back in time.
You will marvel at the historic treasures like the one-room schoolhouse, the Misner House, the John W. Fallas House and the Tower Farm & barn, all preserved under the auspices of the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).
“Spring Into the Past” is a tour of the museums of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network in Barry, Eaton, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties.
“We’re continuing last year’s theme of “Fashions through the Ages” with many new displays as our member museums or historical societies roll out their red carpet to show off the unique history of their communities during this annual event,” said Tri-River Museums Network spokesperson Judy Gager.
Beach wear, bustles and bridal gowns – a variety of timeless “Fashions Through the Ages” will be visible in the museums of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network during the annual museum tour.
The quaint museums are as versatile as the fashions, located in former vintage homes, meeting halls, stores and depots in small communities throughout the Tri-River Network.
“They all are eager to share the history of their community both past and present,” said Gager.
Museum hours are usually also varied, but during this annual event all museums are open the same days and hours so visitors can tour several the same day: Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 5 pm.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Fallasburg Historical Society, Table #129, at the Lowell Community Expo, Saturday, March 24, from 9AM – 3PM, Lowell High School.
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.
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
I heard someone say it just the other day, “summer has just flown by,” and it’s true. The silver lining in that cloud is the onset of fall. Hard to argue it’s not the most beautiful season in West Michigan.
A big thanks to our volunteers
Cooperative weather patterns have facilitated much-needed village maintenance projects. Volunteers and jacks-of-all-trades, Mark Kuzee and Alan Rumbaugh, have spearheaded the effort with preparing, patching, painting, carpentry, and electrical work on a variety of FHS properties. Frank Brechbiel often lends a hand, even yours truly on occasion, and hard not to acknowledge Tina Cadwallader who has been a pretty good sport about cleaning up the messes we make.
A job well-done
Murray Lake Elementary students at Fallasburg
Our flagship museum, the schoolhouse
Our Schoolhouse has been kept busy. She saw two wedding ceremonies, a book signing, Murray Lake Elementary’ s first grade classes, the Fallassburgh Flats Vintage Base Club, and a steady stream of Sunday drivers.
Of special note…One of those weddings joined Doug Wilbur, 47-year superintendent of Fallasburg Park, and patron saint of Fallasburg Village in holy matrimony. Congratulations! Doug & Lori!
The book signing, introduced our own Emma Palova’s first book, a collection of short fiction, “Shifting Sands Short Stories,” which Palova describes as “magic realism.” There’s still a chance to get your own personal signed copy. Emma will be at our Schoolhouse once again on Saturday, Sept. 16 and Sunday, September 17, from 1-4PM on the big weekend.
The big weekend of the 3rd annual Fallasburg village bazaar
The Big Weekend? Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, of course! The Fallasburg Bazaar in the heart of Fallasburg Village, the John Wesley Fallass Invitational Vintage Base Ball Tournament, Saturday on Fallas Field, “Shifting Sands Short Stories” book signing with Emma Palova, on Saturday and Sunday at the Schoolhouse. Fallasburg Village Museums open both days, and oh yeah, that little, old art fair across the Covered Bridge, LowellArts’, Fallasburg Fall Festival of the Arts-the Granddaddy of them all! No better time to come out to Fallasburg and explore.
Nancy Price Stroosnyder of the Whites Bridge historical society at the first annual Fallasburg village bazaar.
Brand new website
For you “virtual” explorers, FHS is very happy to announce the completion of our website upgrade project, the address, www.fallasburg.org . Thank you to the Lowell Cable Television Fund for your financial support. Thank you to Betsy Davidson and Addorio Technologies LLC of Lowell for your know-how. Please check it out, all the pages, pretty cool? We still have a tweak or two to make, a picture to change, but Betsy has done a phenomenal job. Then, she says she’s going to teach FHS how to maintain it… She doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into!
To join, to donate, to volunteer. For events, information, or just a trip down memory lane…
Get ready for an action-packed fun-filled weekend in the pioneer village of Fallasburg on Sept. 16 & Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The third annual Fallasburg village bazaar is this weekend.
Attention vendors: the set-up starts today Friday, Sept.15 from noon to 8 pm.
If setting up tomorrow, you must be done by 10 am when the village bazaar officially opens.
Below is just a sampling of the treasures ahead of you.
We Anticipate good weather and fun treasure seekers.
The village will be decked out in its autumn glory. Come and experience history of the 1850s village founded by John Wesley Fallass.
Once you enter the Fallasburg Park on Fallasburg Road hang a second right at the Covered Bridge Road, and mainly cross the iconic Covered Bridge into the village that nestles on 42 acres on the banks of the Flat River.
The vendor booths will be located along the Covered Bridge Road between the historical buildings. That is on the lawn in front of the Tower Farm and by the Misner House with abundant parking.
Following is a list of vendors:
Nancy Price Stroosnyder of the Whites Bridge historical society at the first annual Fallasburg village bazaar.
Fallassburgh Flats vintage baseball team
Rock art by Doug & Marcia
Lowell, Crew, Whites Bridge Historical Society group and metal detecting outfit.
Rock Art, Sandy’s Fudge, Anna Maria with gnome and fairy houses, Shabby Chicnaniggans signs and furniture, soaps & sachets, greeting cards, Thunderstorm Metal Art, James $ Heather Babala, metal, stone and glass.
The new vendors include Susan Clarke with silk scarves dyed organically in leaves and berries, Larry Rowland with birdhouses, Bettany Tania with jewelry made from guitar strings and antique vintage tins.
You can still get a spot by contacting Michelle Emas at email@example.com or by calling 1-616-648-0048.
The 12 by 12 feet booths are $50, and 12 by 24 are $100 for both days.
The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) requests that you set up on Friday between noon and eight. Same day set up should be complete by 10 a.m. prior to the opening of the Fallasburg bazaar event.
“I hope that the weather cooperates,” liaison Michelle Emaus said. “Colbie will have her lemonade stand with pink, yellow and pomegranate lemonade.”
Emaus said the camaraderie among the vendors is fantastic.
“We hope to grow the event,” she said. “We want to encourage people to cross the Covered Bridge. It is growing with vendors and attendance.”
As with any event, Emaus said it’s the people who make is so great.
The vintage Fallasburg Flats baseball team will hold a tournament on Saturday from 10 a.m. at the Fallas Field across from the one-room schoolhouse.
“No fear.” They play baseball without gloves. Check them out.
Local author Emma Palova will have her book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories inside the schoolhouse from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. Come and chat with the author about the egotistical characters in the book like the perfect math professor Martin Duggan.
We will have refreshments.
Also the Fallasburg Historical Society will have an informational table at the shelter during the Fall Festival for the Arts. Stop by and say hi.
Local author book signing at the Fallasburg pioneer village during Fall Fest for the Arts and Fallasburg Village Bazaar
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI -I find history being the biggest Partner
on my life’s journey. I have to think back to the Soviet invasion of former Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, which has formed my life and the career of a writer all the way to the present author.
If it wasn’t for the Soviet invasion, my father former professor Vaclav Konecny would not have defected the occupied country for the USA. He was one of thousands of expatriates who illegally left the country in protest of the suppression of the Prague Spring reformist movement led by Alexander Dubcek.
I write about this in the Greenwich Meridian where East meets West memoir about the Konecny family immigration saga spanning three generations.
My writing has been inspired by the leader of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, late president Vaclav Havel. I embarked on my professional writing career as a correspondent for Czechoslovak Newsweek, based in New York City.
History continues to inspire me, because I find in it similarities to today’s problems and solutions in the society.
“I have a lifelong passion for history & politics which in turn fuel my writing,” Emma Palova said in a recent interview for the Lowell Ledger.
Palova has been writing about the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) events since mid 2000s. In 2015, she designed the “The next 50 years of Fallasburg” campaign for the FHS.
FHS president Ken Tamke commented about the collaboration between the historical society and Emma Palova of Emma Blogs, LLC.
Murray Lake Elementary students at Fallasburg
FHS’ collaboration with Emma Palova was born out of necessity. Our website was old, outdated, and had too many people trying to fix it. Realizing the importance of a viable website integrated with social media, but also realizing that a re-design and launch of something new and fresh would take time and money, FHS sought to take an intermediate step so as not to lose our cyber presence completely. We were familiar with Ms. Palova’s writing as a reporter for the Lowell Ledger. A proposal was drafted. Ms. Palova was able to help publicize ongoing FHS events through social media sites and through a blog she created, “Fallasburg Today,” in this interim period. The same charming coverage present in her writings for the Ledger helped Fallasburg engage its followers and supporters by keeping them informed and up to date while undergoing our website remodel.
Now, three years later, with a sparkling new website, FHS found Ms. Palova’s work to be indispensable. Lacking familiarity and comfort with technology aside, Ms. Palova captures nicely the feeling of Fallasburg and its residents. Her coverage of events attracts people to become involved as volunteers, donors, and participants. Her knowledge of social media fills a gap that in today’s world, is integral in communicating our message. FHS could not be happier with Emma Palova and the contribution she makes to the Fallasburg Historical Society.
In the spirit of collaboration, FHS vice-president Tina Siciliano Cadwallader offered that Emma could use the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse museum for her book-signing events.
A successful first book signing was held at the museum on July 16.
“I couldn’t be happier, so many of my fans from the newspaper years came to the event,” she said. “Moreover, my parents, whom I write about the Greenwich Meridian saga also attended.”
Emma Palova’s next book signing event of Shifting Sands Short Stories will be held during the Fallasburg Fall Festival for the Arts and the Fallasburg Village Bazaar on Sept. 16 & Sept. 17 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the one-room schoolhouse museum. Everyone is welcome.
Come and explore the ambiance of the 1850s Fallasburg pioneer village and chat with the local author and journalist, who has been covering area events for more than two decades.
The feature photo shows FHS volunteers Addie Abel (right) and Dotty Blain (left) doing what they do best. That is assisting at most of the events held at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse, including Emma’s book signing.
“I share the same passion for history with all the FHS volunteers,” Palova said.
Summer is almost here as spring winds down. It’s been a busy and productive time in the pioneer village for the Fallasburg Historical Society. (FHS) March and April showers have in fact brought May flowers, but the rains also delayed our much-needed roof replacement on the Fallas House.
Through the benevolence of the late Harold Englehardt of Lowell and his bequest, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Lowell Area Community Fund, awarded monies to FHS to get the job done in what we hoped would be mid-March. Mother Nature strikes again, yet Villagers and volunteers came to the rescue. Craig Wood’s young crew scaled the slippery slope and patched new critter invasion routes which just seemed to appear as soon as we got the last ones secured. Not to worry. The weather did improve and Risner’s Roofing & Home Improvement of Lowell installed a beautiful new roof. Thank you, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Lowell Area Community Fund, Risner’s, and timely help from Village volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Speaking of timely help, Fallasburg Historical Society’s Calvin College History Department Intern, Brianne Lynn, under the direction and mentorship of Lowell Area Historical Museum’s Executive Director, Lisa Plank, has completed her term assignment. Brianne has brought FHS ever closer to having all their accession pieces (the stuff that people donate, and the treasures we acquire) digitally cataloged in a wonderful software program and website developed by the Lowell Museum’s software guru, Jeff Ostrander. The site, “The Past Online,” allows anyone with a computer, tablet, or smart phone to access documents, pictures, and artifacts that comprise our collections, for research, or just out of historical curiosity. Have a look: www.thepastonline.org
And, while you’re surfing check out www.fallasburg.org Last December, FHS engaged Addorio Technologies, LLC, of Lowell, to redesign and launch a new website. The first steps were to create basic “Home” and “Contact” pages for the Society which went live in January. The subsequent work, the fun part, has been in development and has just gone up on our site. This work comes courtesy of the Lowell Cable Television Endowment Fund which awarded FHS a grant for the implementation of additional Internet pages. These pages will highlight and provide a means for registration and payment for “Events” like the upcoming 23RD Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour on Sunday, July 9, and the Fallasburg Farmhouse Soiree on Saturday, August 5.
On another Internet page, you’ll find links to other organizations like “The Past Online,” Lowell Area Historical Museum, and the Fallassburgh Flats, our Vintage Base Ball Team. Of course, there’ll be a “Photo Gallery” page with four seasons of village pictures and historical tidbits. But, the page I’m most excited about is “History’s Mysteries.” Every museum has them, pictures you can’t identify of people and places, artifacts that baffle-what is that? Well, Fallasburg has their share, and you’ll be able to play history detective. We’ll put them up on the site, and who knows what might happen. Thank you to Addorio, and the Lowell Cable Television Fund. Technology is daunting to us old-schoolers, but you’ve helped us broaden our horizons and share our resources as only technology can do!
Murray Lake Elementary students at Fallasburg
Murray Lake Elementary school students at Fallasburg
Lowell Community Expo at Lowell High School in late March brought together Fallasburg Historical Society legends Ed Roth, Dottie Blain, and Addie Tower Abel, along with current FHS Treasurer, Alan Rumbaugh, Board Members Melanie Brim and Tracy Worthington, all as goodwill ambassadors from the Village. The group was out to make new friends and so they did. A local Boy Scout, John Lothian, in pursuit of his Eagle Scout Badge wants to follow up on our new roof and paint the Fallas House for his community service project. Recently retired from Grand Valley State University, Communications Specialist, Mark Kuzee, stopped by. He has relocated to the Lowell Area with his wife Sue, has a penchant for woodworking, and finds exciting the challenges of maintaining historic properties just like our man of many hats, Alan Rumbaugh. We’ve already pressed Mark into service making custom siding patches for critter holes in the wildlife refuge we call Fallasburg Village.
Spring cleaning in Fallasburg was undertaken in several Saturday morning sessions. Tina Cadwallader polished up the Schoolhouse and got it ready for Murray Lake Elementary School’s 1ST Grade Class visit. Alan Rumbaugh, Lisa Sostecke, Mark Kuzee, Frank and Patty Brechbiel and even Fallasburg Intern, Brianne Lynn spiffed up the Misner House filling a dumpster. And, yours truly recycled what amounted to the evolution of the personal computer: old monitors, keyboards, CPU’s, printers, and yes, mice, too.
“Spring into the Past,” a creation of the Tri-Rivers Museum Network on the first weekend in May is a collaboration of what has grown to 41 local museums that share the geography of three rivers. The Flat, the Thornapple, and the Grand Rivers roughly define a boundary. All FHS museums were open for the weekend as were other network museums, free of charge, with regional tours encouraged. Fine weather and sunshine insured a steady stream of visitors and the Fallassburgh Flats, FHS’s Vintage Base Ball Team initiated their 2017 season with an intra-squad scrimmage on Fallas Field. For more information on the Flats and their season schedule: www.fallassburghflats.com
On Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Lowell Chamber of Commerce, 7:00 p.m., FHS will hold our Annual General Meeting. This is an opportunity for our members to have a voice and our friends to offer an opinion. Most importantly, it’s a chance to get for all of you to get involved! We can’t do it without you! We hope you’ll come out and join us!