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Vol. I, No. 1 Hagar · Bainbridge · Coloma · Watervliet Spring 2009

When Pokagon met Lincoln

In 1894 during a speech at Elkhart, Indiana, Twenty-four years later in 1861, Simon Poka-
Simon Pokagon recalled meeting Abraham Lincoln. gon followed his father’s path to Washington to again
The Chief’s meeting with the President was part of a request the full payment that his people now desper-
long campaign by his people, the Pokagon Potawa- ately needed. This time the journey was entirely by
tomi of Southwest Michigan, to receive the full pay- rail and took less than two days. In his Elkhart ad-
ment due to them from decades-old treaties with the dress Pokagon gave a detailed description of his
federal government of the United States. meeting with the President:
Pokagon first recounted an 1837 visit to the “I went to see the greatest and best chief ever
capital made by his father Leopold known, Abraham Lincoln. I was the
Pokagon and other leaders of the tribe. first Red Man to shake hands and visit
They traveled by pony, stage, and the with him after his inauguration. He
newly completed rail line between Bal- talked to me as a father would to his
timore and Washington on the three son and was glad that we had built
week journey. Simon did not state the churches and school houses. He had a
party’s success in their visit, but the sad look in his face but I knew that he
“Great Chief” they sought to meet with was a good man, I heard it in his voice,
was Martin Van Buren. President Van saw it in his eyes and felt it in his hand
Buren was known for closely follow- shaking. I told him how my father
ing the policies of the Jackson admini- Simon Pokagon (1830-1899) long ago sold Chicago and the surround-
stration in which tens of thousands of Indians were ing country to the United States for three cents per
removed to the West. Leopold Pokagon signed the acre and how we were poor and needed our pay. He
1833 Treaty of Chicago with the promise that his peo- said he was sorry for and would help us what he
ple could stay in Michigan, but pressures to remove could to get our just dues.”
them persisted until a Michigan Supreme Court Jus- With the Confederacy gaining momentum and
tice affirmed their right to stay. In 1843 annuity pay- warfare increasingly unavoidable in 1861, Lincoln
ments began for the Chicago treaty, but they totaled could not immediately heed Pokagon’s request. In-
only a fraction of what the agreement had stipulated deed, he had other more pressing questions of Indian
to the Potawatomi of Southwest Michigan. (Continued on page 3)

300 Coloma Ave./ P.O. Box 207, Coloma, Michigan 49038
Page 2

From the Director’s Desk

By Alexander Gates
Spring has finally arrived and with it some ex-
citing changes here at the museum. You will notice
that we are unveiling a new layout for the newsletter
in this issue. The newsletter will be printed quarterly
in an eight page black and white format with more 300 Coloma Ave., P.O. Box 207
space allotted for history articles. Thank you to Sally Coloma, MI 49038
Williams for her years of excellent service to the (269) 468-3330
NBHS newsletter.
Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America opens
April 3 with events scheduled throughout the month.
The museum is scheduled to be open Tuesday through
Saturday, 10am to 6pm during the exhibit for the con- North Berrien Historical Society
venience of our visitors. Board of Directors
The framed images of downtown Watervliet
Scott Young President
that hang in the downtown Watervliet Fifth Third
Bennet Leedy 1st Vice President
Bank have been donated to the museum. Thank you to
Kandyce Hayes 2nd Vice President
Debra Shannon at Fifth Third for arranging this valued
Cindy Young Secretary
donation. Shirley Boone Treasurer
Ray Mays Assistant Treasurer
Education News Karin Miller Director
By Tracy Gierada Pauline Morris Director
My position as the first education staff person Sherry Polashak Director
for the North Berrien Historical Society has started off Sally Williams Director
very well. I appreciate the kind welcome I have re-
ceived from the NBHS Board, members, and others in Staff
the community. I am excited to be moving forward Alexander Gates Director / Curator
with outreach efforts and the beginnings of developing Tracy Gierada Director of Education
new educational programs at the museum. Gwen Elsner Office Manager
The Lincoln exhibit comes to us with a set of
“learning kits”, and I have met with the teachers at
four schools in Coloma and Watervliet to share infor-
mation about what we have to offer. I have already
conducted programs for the third graders at Watervliet The mission of the North Berrien
North using these new resources, and a number of ad- Historical Society is to preserve and
ditional school groups are scheduled to visit the ex-
distribute information regarding the
hibit in April.
We are offering a variety of programs to com- history of North Berrien County. We
plement the Lincoln exhibit, including a book discus- wish to promote, encourage learning,
sion, Youth Story Hours in Coloma and Watervliet, and disseminate knowledge of the
and a Spring Break program for all ages. I hope you area’s cultural and architectural legacy.
will take advantage of these special opportunities!
Page 3
In 1866, persistent lobbying of Congressmen
When Pokagon met Lincoln and other officials in Washington finally paid off for
(Continued from page 1)
the Pokagon Potawatomi. With the help of the Senate
affairs to demand his attention, especially the alliance Committee on Indian Affairs they were awarded back
of Confederate forces with Choctaw, Chickasaw, and payments for land their forebears had surrendered
Cherokees in the South, and a violent rebellion of Da- over sixty years before.
kotah Sioux in Minnesota. David A. Nichols 1978 The funds were released under the condition
book Lincoln and the Indians highlights the ways that that the Band consent that it was the final payment the
Native American relations significantly shaped the U.S. government would be required to make. Al-
policy and direction of the Union effort in the Civil though the terms of the agreement were protested, the
War. Lincoln came to see during his presidency that offer of $169.50 each in gold and silver coins was im-
the federal “Indian System” was a brutally corrupt possible to reject.3 Disputes over treaty rights were
bureaucracy, and vocally advocated for its reform.2 not over, but in the wake of the Civil War this victory
His compassion for the Potawatomi’s exploitation was at least part of what Pokagon had sought from
was probably genuine, but his role in increasing their Lincoln to help the Pokagon Potawatomi of South-
annuity payments was likely minimal. west Michigan.
Simon Pokagon went on to say in his Elkhart By Tracy Gierada
address: “Three years later I again visited the Great Published in the South Bend Tribune, October 10, 1894. Cecilia Bain
Buechner, The Pokagons (Facsimile of 1933 print by the Indiana His-
Chief [Lincoln]; he excused the delay in our payment torical Society), Hardscrabble Books: Berrien Springs, MI, 1976, 60-61.
on account of the war. He seemed bowed down with 2
David A. Nicholas, Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and
care. At this time Grant was thundering before Rich- Politics, University of Missouri Press: Columbia, MO, 1978.
James A. Clifton, The Pokagons: 1683-1983, Catholic Potawatomi of
mond for its final overthrow, while Sherman was the St. Joseph River Valley, University Press of America: Landham,
making his grand march to the sea.” MD, 1984, 86-90.

Mark your Calendars!

See page 5 for the full Calendar of Events around our featured exhibit
April 3 - May 1
Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America.

Thursday, May 7, 7pm Volunteer Recognition Night at the North Berrien Historical Museum

Ken Pott, Director, The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, St. Joseph, MI. Ken
will speak on his current exhibit, “Working Waterfronts: Planning and Preserving
Tuesday, May 19, 7pm the Maritime Traditions of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.” His talk will examine
the commercial history of Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River and its impact on
the North Berrien region.

Saturday, June 13 Port-a-Pit Chicken Fundraiser at the North Berrien Historical Museum

Coloma - Watervliet 100th Football Game

August 28, 2009 will mark the 100th game between the Coloma and Watervliet Football teams.
A committee headed by Mark Hettig is planning events to honor the occasion. Former players
from both teams can submit their memories of the game at
The memories will be collected in a booklet to be added to the museum’s archive and the infor-
mation gathered will be used in an upcoming museum exhibit.
Page 4

April 3 – May 1, 2009

Special extended April hours
Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm
Please call ahead to reserve a group tour

To celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial (1809-2009) the North Berrien Historical

Museum is hosting Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America, a traveling exhibition
from the Abraham Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL.
A world-class traveling exhibit featuring re- by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The
production artifacts from the Abraham Lincoln Presi- North Berrien Historical Museum is honored to be the
dential Library and Museum will be on display at the only venue in the state of Michigan to be selected to
North Berrien Historical Museum from April 3 - May host the exhibition.
1, 2009. The public may view the exhibit or schedule Abraham Lincoln, the son of a subsistence
a group tour free of charge. farmer, came of age during a dramatic transformation
The exhibit covers Lincoln’s childhood, his in America’s economic life. Like many of his con-
self-education, his careers as a surveyor and lawyer, temporaries, he embraced a new emphasis on per-
his family life, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, the sonal initiative, risk-taking, and ambition. He was
1860 Presidential election, the Civil War, the 13 only 22 when he left his family home to find his own
Amendment, the Emancipation Proclamation, his as- way. After enduring a series of personal failures in
sassination, and other important business, he became a prosperous
periods and events in his life. attorney, devoted husband and
The reproduction artifacts on dis- father, successful politician, and
play, all modeled from originals finally, the 16th President of the
in the Presidential Library and United States. While Lincoln
Museum, include: Lincoln’s fa- benefited from close association
vorite books; his son Tad’s toy with a number of powerful
cannon; the nameplate from his friends, his own talents and ambi-
Springfield home; his stovepipe tions combined with hard work
hat, which he used like a briefcase and a dedication to self-
to hold important papers; a Presi- improvement to produce a unique
dential campaign banner; an axe American specimen - the self-
that Lincoln used to chop wood; made man.
the bloody gloves found in Lin- In conjunction with the
coln’s pocket the night of his as- exhibit, the North Berrien Histori-
sassination; and many other cal Museum has received four
unique and interesting items. “learning kits” covering Abraham
The traveling learning sta- and Mary Lincoln, Civil War sol-
tion exhibit is being displayed in diers, and Slavery, which are now
40 public libraries and historical a permanent addition to our educa-
societies around the nation from tional program offerings. For
September 2008 through Septem- more information about the Abra-
ber 2010. It was one of just two ham Lincoln: Self-Made in Amer-
“We, the People” programs for Part of a kiosk from the traveling exhibition ica traveling exhibition, visit
the Lincoln Bicentennial funded Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America
Page 5

CALENDAR OF EVENTS Drawing every week for a free annual membership to

Lincoln Book Discussion the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Mu-
Wed., March 25, 6pm, Coloma Public Library seum. All events are free and open to the public.
Moderated by Dr. Chris Paine of Lake All programs take place at the North Berrien
Michigan College, we will discuss Lincoln Historical Museum unless otherwise noted.
by Pulitzer Prize winning author David
Herbert Donald. Documentary Showings
April 4, 12-2pm corn
Opening Reception The History Channel: Lincoln Pop ided!
Friday, April 3, 5:30-7:30pm p ro v
Sponsored by the Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber April 11, 12-6pm
of Commerce. Opening Remarks by State Senator PBS: Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
Ron Jelinek at 5:30. April 18, 12-2pm
A&E Bio.: Abraham Lincoln: Preserving the Union
Lecture: “Lincoln and Michigan”
Senator Tom George, MD April 25, 12-6pm
Tuesday, April 21, 7pm PBS: Africans in America: Journey through Slavery
Senator George will speak on Lincoln and his connec- Just for Kids!
tions to Michigan. Representing the 20th District
(Kalamazoo), Senator George is a past president of Lincoln Story Hour (Ages 5-8)
the Historical Society of Michigan and has written Hosted by Coloma’s own Lincoln (Richard Viet)
and produced television documentaries about Lincoln Tues., April 14, 6pm, Coloma Public Library &
and Colonel Joseph Westnedge. Wed., April 15, 6pm, Watervliet District Library
Lecture: “Lincoln: A Full Measure of Greatness” Spring Break with Lincoln
Dr. William Anderson Wednesday, April 8, 1-3pm
Thurs., April 23, 7pm Join Lincoln and other historic reenactors to learn
Dr. Anderson is the retired director of the Michigan about the Civil War era through activities and
Department of History, Arts and Libraries and chair demonstrations. All ages welcome.
of the Michigan Lincoln Bicentennial Committee. Dr.
Anderson is the author/editor of seven books includ- Coloring Contest (ends March 27)
ing They Died for to Make Men Free: History of the Visit any Coloma Branch Chemical Bank, Edgewater
19th Michigan Infantry; We are Sherman’s Men: The Bank, 5/3 Bank or Berrien Teachers Credit Union to
Civil War Letters of Henry Orendorff; and The De- pick up a coloring sheet. Winners will be displayed at
troit Tigers: A Pictorial Celebration of the Greatest the North Berrien Historical Museum Lincoln exhibit.
Players and Moments in the Tigers’ History.


Page 6

Public Programs and Events off to a great start in 2009

Even as we gear up for Lincoln in April, the
Left: Ed’s Café Dishes in the
North Berrien Historical Society has been busy hold- Recent Acquisitions Exhibit.
ing programs and events to promote local history. In
January, we met at the Bainbridge Township Hall to Ed’s Café was the longest
running business on Paw Paw
hear NBHS Director Alexander Gates speak on the Lake, serving its famous
township’s namesake, Captain William Bainbridge chicken from 1926-1983.
and his role in the American war with the North Afri-
can Barbary States in the late 1790s and early 1800s. new website is a Curator’s Blog, where Alex will post
Several events brought new faces to the mu- regular updates about his work with the museum’s
seum in February, which gave them the chance to tour collections. A new exhibit of Recent Acqusitions was
our current exhibit Hats, Caps & Bonnets: A History also unveiled, featuring a mix of artifacts including a
of Headwear for the first time. This included the Co- dress worn in the 1920s by Elise (Kietzer) Danneffel
loma Lioness Club, who held their Feb- of Watervliet and a “confidential” insur-
ruary meeting here and heard a presenta- ance map of the Watervliet Paper Mill
tion from new NBHS Education Coordi- complex from 1956.
nator Tracy Gierada. Director Alex Our March meeting brought Dr.
Gates provided a tour of the exhibit to Joe Brandão from Western Michigan
the visiting Lioness members. University to the museum to speak to us
On Saturday, February 7, over a about early Native American life in
dozen visitors came to participate in the Michigan before 1783. Dr. Brandão
Victorian Valentines event and enjoy provided an excellent narrative of this
George and Martha Washington
refreshments like mini-cupcakes, cook- (George and Maggie Richter) at topic and illustrated his lecture with im-
ies, and candy hearts. After viewing the our February 17 meeting ages and maps in a PowerPoint presenta-
museum’s display of Victorian and tion. This St. Patrick’s Day Meeting
twentieth century valentines, our guests created their was well attended, and all helped wish a happy birth-
own. We also enjoyed a game of “Love Bingo” day to Alex Gates and enjoyed a lovely cake provided
which used symbols and translations of the word by NBHS members Clifford and Ruth Tallman.
“love”, including American sign language, Italian,
Spanish, German, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, and Rus-
To help us celebrate Presidents Day, we were
pleased to welcome Steve Arseneau, Director of the
Museum at Southwestern Michigan College, on Feb-
ruary 17 for a talk on Presidential Memorabilia.
Steve’s diverse and delightful collection of campaign
materials and collectables spans more than one hun-
dred and fifty years.
The Three New Things Reception on Febru-
ary 27 was enjoyable for all. Tracy Gierada shared
her ideas for developing new educational programs,
and Alex Gates walked us through the new website at Check out the new features of One of the highlights of the Construction is still underway on some parts of the new website.
Page 7

Museum Gift Shop expands in North Berrien Historical Society

Membership Form
honor of the Lincoln exhibit
In addition to our regular stock
of local history books and images, the
Gift Shop at the North Berrien Histori- Address
cal Museum is now offering a great se-
lection of merchandise to complement City, State, ZIP
the exhibit Abraham Lincoln: Self–
Made in America. Expand your knowledge of the Phone
16th President by picking up one of our scholarly
books, quotations books, or “Great Speeches” books. E-mail
We also have Lincoln magnets and paperweights, Lin-  New Member  volunteer
I would like to
coln china ornaments, 6-inch
 Returning Member at NBHS
white busts of Lincoln, and no-
tated Civil War photo cards. Please check desired annual membership level.
For kids (or adults) you can  Individual ($15)  Student ($8)
also purchase Lincoln coloring
books and activity books, and  Family ($50)  Senior ($10)
presidential paper dolls. Be Additional tax-deductible contribution: $________
sure to check out these new
Total Amount Enclosed: $________
items and support the historical
Send your completed form along with your check to:
society by making a purchase at North Berrien Historical Society
our Gift Shop this spring. P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038

Share your memories
New Members
The North Berrien Historical Society is seek-
ing information for upcoming articles and exhibits.  Debbie Friday - Coloma, MI
We are looking for sto-  Dr. David Moss & Family - Coloma, MI
ries, remembrances, or
 Robert & Elaine Gierada - Saline, MI
photographs of Interstates
94 and 196 to help mark
the 50th anniversary of
the Eisenhower Interstate Donations
Highway System, which
was signed into law in  Russell & Elaine Carlson
1956. Do you remember In Memory of Phyllis Sprague
the first time you drove  Mary Adams
on the new highway?
How did it change how 1959 - 2009  Barbara Nichols
you got around South-
west Michigan? Did it affect a
family business that once operated on US-12? Thank you for your support!
Tell us your story! Contact us at or (269) 468-3330.
Watervliet, MI
Permit No. 29
P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038

Newsletter - Spring 2009

Celebrate the Lincoln FREE EXHIBIT

Bicentennial with the official
traveling exhibit from the April 3 - May 1, 2009
Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library. Tues. - Sat. 10am - 6pm
North Berrien Historical Museum,
300 Coloma Ave, Coloma, MI

For more information visit
or call (269) 468-3330

Hagar · Bainbridge · Coloma · Watervliet