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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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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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Sprucing up Fallasburg

Volunteer opportunities

The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) is looking for volunteers to spruce up the historic pioneer village of Fallasburg.

The FHS has several maintenance projects in Fallasburg Village this summer.  We’re looking for volunteers!

  • Rehabilitation of the Tower Farmhouse.  We’ll need help from skilled tradespeople, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and help with general labor.
  • Preparation and painting the exterior of the Fallasburg Schoolhouse and metal roof.
  • Preparation and painting the exterior of the Misner House Museum/FHS offices.
  • Landscaping, tree trimming and cleanup of FHS properties including Vergennes Township’s Fallasburg Cemetery.

If you like to join FHS in our preservation efforts of historic Fallasburg Village we’d love to have you.  Work dates and times are flexible.  Materials will be provided.  Contact Ken Tamke for info.  kentamke@comcast.net  616-682-0785  www.fallasburg.org 

Join us for the FHS annual meeting on June 15 from 4 p.m. at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Happy Easter from Fallasburg

We would like to wish everyone a very happy Easter.

These are our latest news from the Fallasburg Historical Society.

We now have a new roof on the Misner House thanks to a grant from the Lowell Area Community Fund. The contractors for the project were Risner Roofing.

Misner House at the Fallasburg pioneer village.

Whites Bridge replica 2020

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Museum collaboration

FHS intern adds 250 artifacts to the Collective Access platform

By Emma Palova

LOWELL, MI – Sorting through hundreds of pictures intern Darcy Stubbs, a Calvin College student, found some real treasures among the Fallasburg Historical Society artifacts.

The discoveries included two bibles: John W. Fallass bible and a bible with metal clasps given as wedding gift to Charles Beckwith.

The Bible gifted to Charles Beckwith.

“I got to know Fallasburg through the Millers’ chronicles of pictures,” Stubbs said.

“That was a great introduction.”

Coming from Homer, Stubbs picked Fallasburg from a network of internships available for its small-town feel. Her main task was data entry.

The goal of the internship was two-fold: to organize and computerize Fallasburg artifacts and to get exposure to museum work.

“It was a great partnership for getting that accomplished,” said Lisa Plank, director of Lowell Area Historical Museum.

During her internship, Stubbs added 250 pictures to the Fallasburg collection of artifacts- the Collective Access platform.

The pictures are all donations from Elaine Miller Duggan.

And it’s all about appreciating the value of history in places like Fallasburg through the various artifacts.

Some of the work was tedious like sorting through 10 postcards to change the narrative to the Covered Bridge.

“I am grateful because the younger generation is proficient to do this,” Ken Tamke, FHS president, said. “Darcy has been the most well-rounded intern we’ve landed.”

Stubbs also did research for the post office interpretive sign in Lowell for the Lowell Area Historical Museum.

She enjoyed the small-town perspective and making the artifacts accessible to the public.

“Just because the towns are smaller, their history is not less important,” Stubbs said.

Plank said it was a great collaborative project for all the organizations.

Stubbs, a former Navy supervisor and technician, participated in an archeology expedition in Jordan at Umm al-Jimal in June 2019. At the West Church, she enjoyed finding out about the meaning of different layers of floor under the mosaic.

Featured photo: Darcy Stubbs and Ken Tamke.

Explore Fallasburg artifacts on the

Collective Access (CA) platform at https://collection.fallasburg.org/

Following is an entry from CA with information about the Bible given to Beckwith. You can search by objects or identifier no:

BIBLE

OBJECT


IDENTIFIER

2017.001.0087

DESCRIPTION

This leather-bound family bible is embellished with embossed sacred images on the front cover, back cover, and binding, which are painted with gold paint. Especially ornate is the intricately detailed ‘Holy Bible’ title also embossed on the front cover, back cover, and binding. The Bible also has two metal clasps. This Bible is a “The Household Edition” family bible that contains the Old and New Testaments, the Apocrypha, Concordance, Psalms in Metre, Marginal References and Readings, and Fine Foil-Page Engravings, and more. A family Bible given at the wedding of Edmund Alger and Fannie Beckwith. Written in the front cover is “John 3:16”. Note attached says it was given by Edith (Willard) Mueller (her mother lived in the Fallas house), belonged to Mrs. Henry (Mary)Booth (Edith’s grandmother). A separate note says it was found by Theron Richmond in the attic of his former family home, now the Rocking R Ranch. Given in memory of Theron and Ruth Richmond by their children Shirley Smith, Tom Richmond, Barb and Dick Curtis. William Gardner lived in Rocking Ranch house which was his family home. Brother Sidney Gardner was married to Catherine Beckwith. A sticky note poses the question: “How did the Bible get from the Alger house (corner of Burroughs and Lincoln Lake) to the attic of the Rocking R house (near Simyrund (sp?)?Read More

MATERIALS

Paper, Leather, Ink

ORIGIN DATE

January 1 1886

ORIGIN PLACE

Chicago, Ill.

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Spring into the Past canceled

Sally Johnson, president of the Tri-Rivers Museum Network, officially cancelled “Spring into the Past” (SITP) museum tour set for May 2 &3.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all the musems of the network have been closed, as spring has rolled in.

“We all like SITP but with all that is going on right now we have to follow the directions of our governor and the health authorities,” said Johnson.   “All museums are closed at this time and we are not sure when we will be allowed to reopen.   It is not worth the health of our membership to take a chance on opening.”

“I am sorry to say that we will not be having our annual SITP event and we will not be meeting any time soon,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t look like things are going to change for the better anytime soon. When we do meet we will then assess the situation and make a decision at that time.”

The popular spring event that features around 30 area museums may be postponed for fall.

“I am sure you also feel obligated to follow the guide lines that have been put before us,” Johnson said.

Each year, the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) participates in the SITP tour opening up their flagship one-room schoolhouse museum.

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September president’s message

Schoolhouse new wooden deck completed during summer

A picture is worth a thousand words and YOU made this happen.  Look what we did on your summer vacation!

 

President’s message

fallas-ken-headshot
Ken Tamke

 

Your memberships, donations, volunteerism, bequests, and attendance at events like the 25TH Annual Covered Bridge Bike Tour, July 7TH, which was a smashing success, the upcoming Fallasburg Bazaar on Fallasburg Fall Festival of the Arts Weekend, September 14 & 15, and our Christmas Party, December 14th, make this possible.  Thank you for doing your part in preserving Fallasburg Village!

Our historic Schoolhouse concrete patio, like many things do when they get old, began to sag and settle.  Water was collecting and draining towards the building instead of away from it threatening foundation timbers and support infrastructure.

We needed to move forward with the project for fear if we waited, irreparable damage could be done.  Several bids were secured, but in the end after careful examination, we realized, with volunteer help and expertise, a couple of craftsman contractors to set stone and build the new wooden deck with entry stairs, we could get this done and be open in time for the Fallasburg Bazaar on Fall Festival of the Arts weekend, September 14 & 15.

Maintaining a historic village does demand the skills of a General Contractor.  Alan Rumbaugh, FHS Treasurer, has performed magnificently on our behalf.  With his contacts, and building renovation know-how, he’s guided the work with a steady hand.  David Cadwallader and his crew, including wife Tina, FHS Vice President, spearheaded the removal phase of the old concrete patio, deftly piloting the Bobcat and loading the dumpster.  Jack Miedema, our stone mason, reconfigured and reset the stone wall to accommodate the carpentry.  Ken Rasmus engineered a beautiful new pressure treated wooden deck and entry stairs while also adding some drainage and foundation water protection features underneath.  Villager, Ron Dawson, undertook the re-welding and retro-fitting of the existing iron railing onto the new patio expertly.  Jack of all trades, Frank Brechbiel has done a little bit of everything along the way on this much like he does in the village year-round.  Adding an exclamation point to the whole project; we were able to keep our concrete ADA compliant Wheelchair Ramp undisturbed, and integrate the former central concrete entry steps at the end of the patio.  Come take a look.  You’ll be proud of the work you’ve done.

The Fallasburg Historical Society Bazaar I keep mentioning is Saturday & Sunday, September 14 & 15, 10:00AM – 5:00PM.  Our bazaar features an old- fashioned collection of artisans and their crafts under tent just across the Flat River and Fallasburg Covered Bridge from the Fallasburg Fall Festival of the Arts.  We have over 20 vendors signed up this year.  This grassroots event just keeps growing and growing.

Local author Emma Palova will have a book signing of her new book “Secrets” at the one-room schoolhouse on Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday Sept. 15 from 1 p.m. to five p.m.

Stop by for an autograph in the historical ambience of the schoolhouse.

Christmas is coming… “Christmas in Fallasburg”, A Community Celebration! Saturday, December 14, 6:00PM-8:00PM, music and merriment at the Fallasburg Schoolhouse, a phenomenal fire in Fallas Field follows!  You’re invited!

For more information on the Fallasburg Historical Society, membership, donations, etc., the Fallasburg  Bazaar, and “Christmas in Fallasburg,” go to:  www.fallasburg.org

Enjoy the Fall,

Ken Tamke, President

Fallasburg Historical Society

 

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Mr. Edwin Roth

Edwin Christian Roth, the founding member of the Fallasburg Historical Society,  passed away on March 8, 2018

Members of the FHS express deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Roth.

Edwin Roth
Edwin Christian Roth

Full obituary

Roth, Edwin Christian Age 98, passed away on March 8, 2018. He is survived by his 3 children, Steven & Barbara Roth, Jeanne Vandersloot, Nancy & Michael Moore, sisters-in-law June Roth and Phyllis Petersen, grandchildren Aaron & Barb Roth, Aletha & John VanValkenburg, Ryan & Renae Roth, Kyle Roth, Trenton & Jessica Roth, Nicholas & Missy Vandersloot, Nathan & Beth Moore and Brett & Melanie Moore and 18 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Doris June Roth, her parents Arthur and Ila Edmonds, his parents Godfrey and Rose Roth, son-in law Glenn Vandersloot and brothers Fred, Alfred, Rudy, Walter and sister June Houser.

Visitation will be at Roth-Gerst Chapel at 305 N Hudson, Lowell on Friday March 16 from 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm. The funeral service will be at the First United Methodist Church at 621 E Main, Lowell on Saturday March 17 at 11:00 am with visitation one hour before the service at the church. Rev. Brad Brillhart officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Lowell FFA, Fallasburg Historical Society, Lowell Historical Society or Lowell Arts.

His parents came from Switzerland in 1909 and met on the boat immigrating to America, and settled in Michigan. Ed was born August 20, 1919 on the original family farm in the Clarksville area. His parents later bought the farm north of Lowell and packed up all the children and belongings and went by horses pulling sledded wagons to the new family farm. Ed then grew up on the dairy farm north of Lowell and began helping to milk the cows at age 11.

The family only spoke Swiss and learned English while attending the one room country school. There was no electricity at that time. Food was grown on the farm with fruit and nut trees, a large garden, chickens and other farm animals along with the dairy cattle for milk production. Fields were plowed with horse-drawn equipment. He took a short-course semester at Michigan State University  (MSU) after high school graduation and learned many skills, especially welding, as he ended up repairing items for neighbors and creating whatever he needed for the farm, such as wagons and tractor accessories. He saw the installation of electricity and phone service in later years to the farm. He also has witnessed the greatest time span of technology growth in America during his years of living with farming by hand and horses to huge computer driven tractors.

He met his future wife Doris at the Ramona Park skating rink in Grand Rapids. His introducing line to her was he thought she needed some help skating better. Life on a farm in those days only allowed dating on a Saturday night if all chores were completed. Ed and his brother Rudy ran the farm after their parents retired and moved to Lowell. Ed and Doris married in 1946. When the main barn burned, Ed and Rudy divided the cows and Ed and Doris moved to the adjacent farm 1/2 mile north and farmed with Holstein dairy cows for 50 years. They bought this farm in 1949 and over the years added more acreage from the original 80 to 267 acres. Having knee problems from hand milking, he built the first milking parlor in Ionia County where the milking person stands up instead of kneeling.

He designed and built his own barns from wood sawed from the farm woodlands. He retired from milking in 1981 but continued to help with tractor work into his 90’s as his son Steven had taken over the farm. He cut his own firewood until age 95. He loved to travel and attended the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and several other world fairs and attended almost every National Farm Bureau convention after he retired. He was the oldest Farm Bureau member in Ionia County joining the organization in 1947 for 71 years. Ed and Doris traveled a good portion of the world, with his favorite destination being Switzerland, where he visited many relatives with 4 trips there, and has hosted various Swiss family members in his home also. He was very proud of his full Swiss heritage and still spoke fluent Swiss.

He had a great sense of humor and always had a joke or two to make people laugh. He and Doris were founding members of the Fallasburg Historical Society and he was a member and supporter of the Lowell Historical Society, the Lowell Arts, the Tri-Rivers Historical Society and the FFA program.

“We deeply Sympathize with the family,” FHS spokesperson said.

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