Students from Murray Lake Elementary visited the historic 1850s Fallasburg village for a tour starting at the one-room schoolhouse where they took seats in the old original desks in front of the black chalkboard.
The 1867 schoolhouse came alive as the yellow Lowell Area school bus dropped the kids off and the bell rang to their laughter and chatter.
The one-room schoolhouse is the signature museum of the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) and it remained a functioning school until 1961.
So let the class begin. The teacher and tour guide was Mr. Ken Tamke. Tamke FHS president emeritus and Murray Lake teacher Denise Washburn have established this field trip tradition so long ago that no one can remember.
“This ties into first-grade lesson plans,” Tamke said. “They read Little House on the Prairie.”
Mr. Tamke took the kids by groups on a whirlwind tour through the village where he pointed out the flowering Black Locust tree in front of the newly renovated Tower Farm.
“It is said to be the oldest tree in Michigan,” he said.
At the Misner House, which stores the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) artifacts, the tour took on a funny spin as Mr. Tamke talked about the predecessors of the modern washing machine ( paddle laundry) and microwave.
The 1850 Misner House is the most complete museum in Fallasburg Village with recently installed climate control to preserve the artifacts.
The kids also toured the Fallas House built by founder John Wesley Fallas and his brothers, Silas and Arad in 1842. They loved the wooden “abacus” which was actually used as a wooden playpen to entertain toddlers.
The photo displays on easels attracted the kids’ attention as the closest objects to current times. The tour down the Covered Bridge Rd. included buildings that are part of the village, but not owned by the FHS.
“People live in there?” a child was fascinated in front of the old yellow Stagecoach House aka Fallasburg Inn built in 1859.
And finally, the kids ran across the Covered Bridge only to get fined for crossing at a speed faster than walking.
“I have a dollar,” a child said.
Watch for a story with pictures in the Lowell Ledger.
More action coming from the village as seven-year-old lepidopterist Liam Lopez-Wagner will be planting milkweed as part of his Amigos for Monarchs project on June 11 at 10 am in the historic village.
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Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) offers tours by appointment
Fallasburg, MI – Book your tour today for a walk through the 1850s historic village of Fallasburg located just six miles north of Lowell on the banks of the Flat River. You will be delighted by the quaint atmosphere of the hamlet far from the maddening crowds of big cities as you step back in time. The village, which started as a saw-and-grist milling operation, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999.
The tour will take you from the one-room schoolhouse with the belfry and the original desks down the Covered Bridge Road past the historic buildings: the Misner House, the recently renovated Tower Farm and the J.W. Fallass House.
The Misner House is home to the village artifacts; these include treasures such as the Fallasburg Footprints, WWI Women’s Registration Cards among many others.
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 feedbackby 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.
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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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.
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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The Covered Bridge Bike Tour, a success in Fallasburg pioneer village & Coldwater Rest Stop
By Emma Palova
Fallasburg- A total of 120 riders participated in the 25th annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour on Sunday, July 7 under the clear blue skies as the humid air chilled down at the one-room schoolhouse registration.
“Thanks to everyone! The 25THBike Tour was truly a great day. We couldn’t have done it without you,” said Ken Tamke, president of the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).
86 Total Registrations (48 Advance, 38 Walkups)
120 Total Riders (67 Riders Registered in Advance, 53 Riders Walked Up)
Among the favorite routes through the Kent County countryside was the 28-mile route from Fallasburg to Lowell past the Grand River, and along the Grand River Drive to Ada Covered Bridge.
Most of the participants found out about the bike tour from the Michigan League of Bicyclists.
Members of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club Paul Guthrie picked the 100-mile route, while Gordy Vader rode the 62-mile route. They loved the homemade food at the Misner House Museum.
“The food is great,” Guthrie said. “We would appreciate re-assurance arrows and GPS map. It’s a great ride.
For Nancy Short who rode the 78-mile route, it was the first time on the CBBT.
“I ditched my friends behind,” she laughed. “I’ve never done a ride that has a homemade spaghetti dinner with tablecloths on the picnic tables.”
Coldwater Rest Stop
Fallasburg Village Bazaar
The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) next event will take place on Sept. 14 and Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find your next treasure at the Fallasburg Village Bazaar.
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Thanks to everyone who attended the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) Christmas Party. It was the most well attended and festive gathering in our Christmas party throwing history; the bonfire was magnificent.
To all who have renewed memberships, made donations, or volunteered their time to FHS and our cause for preservation of Fallasburg Village in 2018, thank you. We simply can’t do it without your support! Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Thank you to all the volunteers and organizers who made the 24TH Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour a smashing success. For doing your part to help preserve Historic Fallasburg Village with your registrations, thanks to all our riders, the largest turnout in several years. And, thanks to Mother Nature, you gave us the perfect day for everyone to explore some of West Michigan’s most beautiful scenery.
As we closed up shop at the end of the event we had much to celebrate. Again, our gastronomical goodies from volunteers; the “cookie baker network” cookies and the culinary Italian Country-Style meal served al fresco from our Tuscan kitchens, set our bike tour apart. Not possible to walk away from us hungry!
There were sore muscles that night amongst the tourers I’m sure, but no injuries-0. Two blown tires and a broken chain resulted in rides from our SAG Driver (Support and Guidance) back to Fallasburg Village mid-route for a handful. That was the worst of it. An earlier meal at the Fallasburg Village Cyclist’s Café the consequence.
The Fallasburg Historical Society was pleased to contribute to the League of Michigan Bicyclists, “$1 Per Rider” program helping promote cycling in our State and make Michigan a safer place to cycle as we have since 2010.
Plan for the 25th Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour
Next years event, the 25TH Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour on Sunday, July 7, 2019 will be a milestone. Planning has already begun after catching our breath from the 24TH. We always welcome ideas, feedback, and participation as we prepare. Contact us through our website at www.fallasburg.org
Fall for Fallasburg
September and October are visitor favorites for fall color viewing in Fallasburg Village, and of special note are: Saturday & Sunday, September 15 & 16, and Saturday, October 27.
Fallasburg Village Bazaar set for Sept. 15 & Sept. 16
On Saturday & Sunday, September 15 & 16, the 50TH Fallasburg Fall Festival of the Arts will unfold in adjacent Fallasburg Park. Venture just across the Fallasburg Covered Bridge from the park after art, get a little history, and take a step back in time. From 10:00AM – 5:00PM both days, the Fallasburg Historical Society Bazaar offers self-guided walking tours of our historic village with free admission to all our museums; the Schoolhouse, the Fallas House, and the Misner House, then come browse our old- fashioned Bazaar of artisans and their crafts under tent. Enjoy food and refreshments. For more information on the Fallasburg Historical Society, and the Bazaar: www.fallasburg.org
Fallasburgh Flats Vintage Base Ball Tournament
On Saturday, September 15 only, the Fallassburg Flats, our 1860’s Vintage Base Ball Club will culminate their season by hosting their annual Fall Finale, The John Wesley Fallass Invitational Vintage Base Ball Tournament in Fallas Field across from the Fallasburg Schoolhouse. Admission is free. Preliminary games begin at 10:00AM with semi-final and final games in the afternoon followed by an awards ceremony around 5:00PM. For more information on the Fallassburgh Flats, and their regular season schedule: email@example.com
Local author Emma Palova book-signing at one-room schoolhouse
Emma Palova will have a book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories on Sept. 15 & Sept. 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the one-room schoolhouse. Come and chat with the Czech-born author about her book. You can buy your copy locally. Check EW Emma’s Writings at http://emmapalova.com for more info about the book signing.
Ghost Walk at the Fallasburg village
On Saturday, October 27th, “Boo”! It’s a “Ghost Walk.” The Fallasburg Historical Society will be hosting a paranormal investigation in collaboration with the Michigan Paranormal Alliance (MPA). Sign in begins at 6:30PM and runs to 7:00PM at the Fallasburg Schoolhouse. You will accompany MPA on your “Ghost Walk” from 7:00PM – 9:00PM to investigate/research 3 historic buildings and the Fallasburg Village Cemetery. We have less than 10 tickets left @ $40 each that include your research w/MPA, beverages/snacks, and an event t-shirt. Call 616-560-9109 for tickets.
Christmas in Fallasburg set for Dec. 8
If you’re a “calendar marker, Saturday, December 8, 6:00PM-8:00PM, it’s “Christmas in Fallasburg”, A Community Celebration! Come for music and merriment at the Fallasburg Schoolhouse, finish in Fallas Field at the Fire!
I share with you a communication we received that sums up the “Fallasburg Experience” whether serendipitous, or scheduled. Come for a visit and see for yourself!
Ken Tamke, President
Subject: just happened to be travelling through…
May 5, 2018
Thanks so much for all that you folks have done along the Flat River there in Fallasburg. My wife and I were trying to take a shortcut from I-96 to M91, and we found ourselves just north of Lowell, saw the signs, and thought, “Why not?” The park, bridge, historical community, and especially the road that lead us east out-of-town was the perfect unplanned way to slow down, enjoy, and spend a spring day in our area of Michigan. We eventually found our way to M91 and headed for home in Remus. But, whenever we have the chance, we’ll be sure to revisit Fallasburg again. Keep up the good work! BTW, I’m sending my $5 fine…I think I went faster than a walk! God bless.
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.