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Vol. II, No. 4 Hagar · Bainbridge · Coloma · Watervliet Winter 2010

What was North Berrien like during the Civil War?

Almost one hundred and fifty years ago, the 1830s. By 1860, some farm homesteads were well-
American Civil War began at Fort Sumter, South established while other pioneers had come and gone,
Carolina. When the Sesquicentennial Anniversary unable to weather life in what was still largely a for-
comes around this spring, we’ll be reminded of the ested wilderness. Large orchards were just beginning
decades of tension between the northern and to be planted in the 1860s. The railroad
southern states that led to this conflict. would not be built through until 1869, so
North Berrien was still a frontier area dur- travel to North Berrien was still lengthy and
ing the Civil War. In 1860, Michigan had difficult. Territorial Road was the estab-
been a state for twenty-three years and only The U.S. Flag had 33 lished ground route between Detroit and St.
stars in early 1861.
22,378 people lived in all of Berrien Joseph, bringing many travelers through
County. About ten percent lived in the Bainbridge Township, where taverns ac-
townships of North Berrien—928 in commodated their stops. A road for regu-
Bainbridge, 438 in Hagar, and 1,016 lar stagecoaches had also been estab-
residents in Watervliet (which then in- lished between St. Joseph and Paw Paw
cluded Coloma Township). Interest- Below, an 1860 map shows a
(today’s Red Arrow Highway), leading
ingly, the 1860 Census lists 13 residents pier just south of today’s Lake through Coloma and Watervliet. The
of Watervliet Township who were free Michigan Beach. Above is an Paw Paw River was considerably higher
African-Americans and 321 across the example of the type of lumber than it is now and was often used for
county. A handful of our frontier resi- schooner that used it. travel to St. Joseph and “Brunson Har-
dents would leave to fight for Michigan bor” (re-named in 1865), and especially
in the Civil War, but many more veter- for carrying supplies and other goods.
ans would arrive afterward to call this Besides agriculture, the Paw Paw
area home. From 1860-70 the total River supported much of the settlement in
population in North Berrien rose by Hagar and Watervliet Townships, where
nearly 1,500 people, which was the fastest increase the river was used to power saw mills and to float
ever including the baby boom years a century later. rafts of lumber products down to the ports at Lake
The purchasing and settling of land in North Michigan. Lumbering in Hagar Township was facili-
Berrien, like all of southern Michigan, began in the
Continued on Page 4

300 Coloma Ave./ P.O. Box 207, Coloma, Michigan 49038
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From the Director’s Desk

By Alexander Gates
Don’t mind the mess! I have found myself
saying that quite often in recent months. If you have
driven by the museum recently, you saw that we have
a new parking lot. There are now twenty-seven spaces
and one designated handicap space in front of the mu- 300 Coloma Ave. Phone: (269) 468-3330
seum. Not only that has our parking been expanded, P.O. Box 207 Fax: (269) 468-4083
but both the museum and Carter House have been con- Coloma, MI 49038
nected to the city sewer. While work has ended for
the season, the renovations will continue in the spring.
New signage and landscaping is planned that will im-
prove the visual appeal of our site. Conduit was also
Connect with NBHS Online!
laid under the new parking lot to allow us to light our
sign on Red Arrow Highway, and to install additional
Become a fan on Facebook
parking lot lighting if necessary.
Curator’s Blog:


North Berrien Historical Society

Board of Directors
Scott Young President
Bennet Leedy 1st Vice President
Kandyce Hays 2nd Vice President
Cindy Young Secretary
A concrete sidewalk and ramp have also been added in
Shirley Boone Treasurer
front of the museum to compliment our new parking lot.
Ray Mays Assistant Treasurer
The museum is once again wonderfully deco- Marc Hettig Director
rated for the holiday season and we have great events Karin Miller Director
in store for our North Berrien Holiday Open House. Pauline Morris Director
Sherry Polashak Director
Over twenty sponsor organizations and businesses
Tom Scheid Director
have decorated trees and donated food. This year we
Sally Williams Director
have scheduled activities for Thursday through Sun-
day and added programs in the Nichols Building to Staff
accommodate increased attendance. At our Holiday Alexander Gates Director / Curator
Tasting Fundraiser, you can sample holiday foods and Tracy Gierada Director of Education
drink while viewing our festive trees in their full bril- Gwen Elsner Office Manager
liance at night. Remember to pick up a cookbook, col-
oring book, or other items from the gift shop during
The mission of the North Berrien Historical
your visit. We invite you to donate new, unwrapped
toys in our Toys for Tots collection box, and non-
Society is to preserve and distribute information
perishable items for the North Berrien Food Pantry up regarding the history of North Berrien County.
until the week of Christmas. Thank you to all We wish to promote, encourage learning,
of our members and volunteers who made and disseminate knowledge of the area’s
2010 a great year. Happy Holidays! cultural and architectural legacy.
Page 3
All events are at the North Berrien Historical
Mark your Calendars! Museum unless otherwise noted.

Holiday Open House. Enjoy festive crafts, music, and refreshments with the whole
Thursday - Sunday,
family. View over 20 Trees decorated by local groups and vote for your favorite!
December 2-5 Please see the insert for full details.

Winter Break Time Travelers. Experience winter in years gone

Wed. December 29, by with fun and interactive historical activities. Designed for Ages
1-2:30pm 6-12/ family. (Only in case of inclement weather, this program will
be held on Dec. 30, 1-2:30pm). Free.

History of Hagar Township, presentation by Tracy Gierada,

Tuesday, January 18, Director of Education. Discover surprising and fascinating stories
7pm from the past in Hagar Township at this encore presentation of our
July 2010 Hagar History Day slide show. Free.

Victorian Valentines Party. Enjoy festive games and refreshments

Saturday, February 12,
with the whole family. Be inspired by our collection of historic
1-3pm valentines and then make your own to take home! $3 Donation.

The Underground Railroad in Southwest Michigan, presentation by Carol

Tuesday, February 15, Bainbridge, Underground Railroad Society of Cass County. Observe Black History
7pm Month at the museum by learning about the secret network in this region that once
helped escaped slaves find their way to freedom in the north. Free.

Civil War History presentation by Dr. Chris Paine, Professor of History, Lake
Tuesday, March 15,
Michigan College. Dr. Paine will bring his expertise in 19th century American
7pm history to us with this talk to commemorate the Civil War Sesquicentennial.

ship Schedule and Application, which is due on Janu-

Education News ary 7, 2011, please e-mail me at
By Tracy Gierada
or stop by the museum.
I am excited to share that this spring the North Our re-vamped Educational Programs bro-
Berrien Historical Museum will offer a new Youth chure was mailed to 97 local teachers, describing the
Internship program for students in grades 7-12. tours, activities, and presentations we offer for groups
Youth Interns will be trained by the museum staff to of all ages. The third grade classes at Watervliet
do activities such as caring for artifacts, doing oral North Elementary visited the museum in October, and
history interviews, and sharing each class also had a historical
local history with the public. walking tour down to the Waterv-
Participants in this volunteer pro- liet Cemetery. I hope to begin
gram will get a complimentary taking elementary students on
one-year membership to NBHS tours of Coloma Cemetery this
and will learn more about career spring. The Potawatomi Past &
options related to museums, his- Present Traveling Trunk was
tory, and culture, all while gain- used by Mrs. Davis’ class at Co-
ing an impressive internship ex- loma Elementary, who enjoyed
perience to list on resumes and The Watervliet third graders ended their making the “karyahnkoo” sign
college applications! To obtain a museum tour by making a fun and craft, and also by Ms. Revis’ class
copy of the 2011 Youth Intern- educational craft to take home. at Hartford Middle School.
Page 4
Continued from Page 1 Below: A Map of Coloma in 1860
tated by a pier that extended in to Lake Michigan. Timber
harvesting in Bainbridge Township had begun more than
20 years earlier, as the Smith & Merrick firm from New
York cleared the forest and sold the land off to agricultural
settlers.2 By the early 1860s, both Coloma and Watervliet
also had a grist mill, a wagon maker, a physician, mer-
chants, taverns, and a hotel. In 1862 Isaac Swain re-built a
saw mill and dam at Watervliet, after which it could oper-
ate 52 saws and produce 30,000 feet of lumber in one day,
making it one of the largest lumber mills in Berrien
County.3 Coloma also had a large tannery until 1878,
which gave Tannery Creek its name. Tanning required
bark, so it was also closely related to the lumber industry.4
By Tracy Gierada
University of Virginia Library Historical Census Browser
James T. Carney, ed. Berrien Bicentennial (Stevensville, MI: Tesar
Printing, 1975), 45.
Berrien Bicentennial, 267.
Mabel Branch Stark, Trails from Shingle Diggins (Benton Harbor,
MI: Patterson Printing, 1977), 15.

National Trust for Historic Gates receives regional award

Preservation recognizes NBHS Director and Curator
Alexander Gates was hon-
The North Berrien Historical Museum is
ored with the Association of
featured in a new online resource intended to help
Midwest Museums’ Promis-
communities across the nation promote their unique
ing Leadership Award in
historic and cultural attractions. Produced by the
National Trust for Historic Preservation and sup- Cleveland, Ohio on October
ported in part by a grant from the National Endow- 7, 2010. The AMM Prom-
ment for the Arts, the online toolkit includes pro- ising Leadership Award is
files of more than 80 communities achieving suc- given annually to individu-
cess despite the challenges posed by today’s econ- Alex Gates and Lin Nelson- als who have worked or vol-
omy. “We’ve found that real-life stories like North Mayson, President of AMM unteered for a museum or
Berrien Historical Museum are meaningful role museum association for 10
models,” says Amy Webb, director of the National years or less and provided exceptional service or
Trust’s Heritage Tourism Program. The Cultural shown outstanding commitment to the museum field.
Heritage Tourism Survival Toolkit was developed Nominated by a museum colleague in the re-
after hundreds of hours of outreach to national and gion, Gates earned the award through his outstanding
state leaders in cultural and heritage tourism over work at the North Berrien Historical Museum. Since
the past year. On the user-friendly website, you can he was hired in 2007 the society has developed from a
view the museum’s profile and browse through oth- volunteer-run organization to a professional local his-
ers from around the country. The web address is: tory museum with a staff of three. Gates has overseen
new exhibits and programs as well as active public relations, marketing, and millage renewal campaigns.
Page 5

Curator’s Corner local history and geography. In particular, school

By Alexander Gates groups and children will benefit from this new visual
teaching tool.
A wide range of exhibits and programs will Thank you to all of our recent artifact donors.
highlight a variety of North Berrien topics in 2011. Each and every contribution enriches our collection!
Preparation continues for A Few Good Women:
Recent Acquisitions
Women in the Military During World War Two, which
Bibs Page – South Haven book
will open on April 1, 2011. We are currently seeking
Cindy Young – Watervliet High School photographs
stories about the impact that local women had during Darleen Harper – Ole Black Cat
the war – both in the military and on jacket
the home front. Please contact the Joyce Thomas – Watervliet Paper Co.
museum if you have information and/ artifacts, CHS graduation
or artifacts you would like to share. announcements
In particular we are seeking photo- David Weeden – Watervliet Paper Co.
graphs of North Berrien places and artifacts, CHS artifacts
residents during the war years. Don Deam – Steamer Honeymoon
Next summer we will cele-
Bill Smith – Watervliet Paper Co.
brate our local “bloomer baseball”
history with a new exhibit and a base- Frances Bishop – 1940s children’s
ball tournament in Watervliet. If Coloma High School basketball team, toys
you have any information about late 1920s, donated by Joyce Lenhardt. Joyce Lenhardt – CHS and Coach
women’s baseball or local baseball McDaniels photographs
in general, please call the museum so we can capture Frances Wooley – Coloma memorabilia
your stories. City of Coloma – 20th century Ledgers and Assessment
A new introduction panel will be installed in books
the main gallery this winter that will orientate visitors Coloma High School – 1980s football uniform
Fred Munchow - Coloma and Gladiolus Festival
to the landscape of the North Berrien region. The panel
will feature a large map of the area with transportation
routes and important places of interest marked. Interac- Museum Purchase
tive flip-up photo panels will have additional informa- Coloma High School yearbooks
tion to help visitors learn more about major concepts in

Left: Watervliet High School Above: Miss Coloma rides in

students in 1951, donated by the Gladiolus Parade, donated
Cindy Young. by Fred Munchow.
Page 6

Museum was active this fall despite grounds work

Although the With the
museum grounds help of volunteers
have been busy with Janet Blair, Joan
paving equipment Polaskey, and Kath-
and other machines leen Walter, we
recently, the work welcomed third
on our new parking grade students from
lot has not damp- Watervliet in Octo-
ened our offerings ber. More pro-
to the community. Left: In Coloma Cemetery, the oldest known burial dates back to 1848. grams, discussed on
An engaging mix of Right: In Watervliet Cemetery, the earliest born individual was alive in 1769. page 3, were pro-
events and programs vided to school
were held this autumn season both at the museum and groups later in the fall. North Berrien Notables was
at other locations. presented at the North Berrien Senior Center.
In September the museum held our first-ever Our regular October meeting brought Valerie
Basket Weaving Workshop to celebrate basket- van Heest of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associ-
making in local history. We began with ates to speak on the Lady Elgin, which collided with
a brief slide show covering 200 years of another ship during a terrible storm and sunk on Lake
basketry, from pieces hand-crafted by Michigan in 1860. Van Heest told the dramatic sto-
the Potawatomi to the veneer basket ries of the disaster, with America on the brink of the
machinery produced only in Berrien Civil War, as well as the lawsuit that followed the
County. Guests were then taught to wreck’s discovery in 1989. Van Heest’s new book
make a mini bushel basket from card stock for $3 per Lost on the Lady Elgin was released this fall.
basket. This program would make a wonderful activ- On October 23, rain did not stop guests from
ity for groups of older scouts or adults, and will re- attending our free Halloween Cemetery Tours. At
main available upon request. the town cemeteries in both Coloma and Watervliet,
Returning to the museum this year, the North we explored the oldest graves and heard stories about
Berrien Historical Society’s Annual Dinner attracted the area’s most prominent former citizens. Some
a large crowd on September 21. Revised Bylaws spooky and mysterious local tales were also featured,
were approved by the membership, and reports were as well as fun Halloween trivia. Our cemetery tours
provided by the staff and Board. A very interesting are becoming a great fall tradi-
presentation was given about the history of railroads tion for the museum.
in Berrien County by Bob Myers, Curator at the His- November’s meeting
tory Center at Courthouse Square in Berrien Springs. offered a fascinating presenta-
Myers’ latest book, Locomotives Along the Lake- tion by Bob Emmert from
shore, is still available for sale at the museum. Bangor. He and a partner pur-
chased the dilapidated 1870s
Bangor Grain Elevator and
completely renovated it over
three years, finishing in 2008.
Emmert, who owns a blue-
berry farm, harvested timber
from his own property for the
Bangor Grain Elevator
project. The restoration re-
before and after
ceived a Governor’s Award
for Historic Preservation in 2009, and the Bangor Ele-
vator is now listed on the National Register of His-
North Berrien Historical Society President Scott Young addresses toric Places. Emmert has also been active with the
the audience at our 2010 Annual Membership Dinner. Bangor Historical Society, organized in 2006.
Page 7
North Berrien Historical Society
Membership Form
Benefits include: Quarterly Newsletter, Advance invite
to special events, and Members-only opportunities



City, State, ZIP


 New Member  I may like to
 Returning Member Volunteer

Please check desired annual membership level.

 Individual ($15)  Student ($8)

 Family Donor ($50)  Senior ($10)
Cover First Inside Panel Additional tax-deductible contribution: $________
Total Amount Enclosed: $________
Colorful new museum brochure Send your completed form along with your check to:
North Berrien Historical Society
is now available P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038

The North Berrien Historical Museum has pub- 

lished a new advertising brochure. Copies have been Donations
delivered to Michigan Rest Areas, the Southwestern
Sandy Warren Mark Baldwin Dave Kliss
Michigan Tourist Council, local businesses, and other Jaan Walther Kathleen Walter Donna Hays
area attractions. The new brochure grabs attention Frances Bishop Denise Barowicz, Edward Jones
with many historic images, vivid colors, and compre- Investments
hensive information about the museum and all the op-
New Members
portunities we offer. The brochure was designed by John Janke David Buzzek Lori Carlson
Donna Janke Fran Konya Sandy Warren
Robin Maxon at Maxon Graphix in St. Joseph.
To introduce readers to the unique North Ber- Continuing Members
rien region, a very brief summary of local history be- Joyce Stockman Donna Hays Pauline Morris
gins the brochure followed by a description of the mu- Mark Baldwin Jaan Walther Will Nichols
seum grounds and exhibits. Our ongoing and annual John Nelson Dave Kliss Charles Boone
Barbara Nelson Dorothy Cannell Shirley Boone
programs for all ages, as well as fundraisers and spe-
Daniel Querfurth Thomas Loomis
cial events are also explained. Best of all, the bro- Deborah Querfurth Belzora ‘Bibs’ Page
chure contains a form to conveniently invite new Joan Polaskey David Scheuer
members and volunteers to join us in our activities. Denise Barowicz, Edward Jones Investments
The back of the brochure presents our mission state-
ment, hours, location/map, and all contact information. Thank you for your support!
Watervliet, MI
Permit No. 29
P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038
Return Service Requested

Newsletter - Winter 2010

Live Music  Refreshments  Cookie Walk

Gingerbread House making  Santa’s Workshop crafts
Holiday Tasting Fundraiser  Santa & Mrs. Claus
See insert for details!

Hagar · Bainbridge · Coloma · Watervliet

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