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Vol. IV, No. 2

Hagar Bainbridge Coloma Watervliet

Summer 2012

Colomas Washington School to close after 75 Years

With support from voters, Coloma Community Schools will soon embark on a new era in its history. To move toward the future, Washington School will be closed and with it a long chapter in our past. Washington was originally one of the first independent rural schools that served local families. Records from the 1850s-70s show that there was a wooden school building near this site, across the river from Coloma, known as the Red School. A brick two-room school built in 1897 was located across Becht Road from the current school. James Riccio attended this old school in the 1930s and remembered its amenities, standard for schoolhouses in those days: two outhouses, a woodshed for coal and firewood, and a hand pump for water. Todays Washington School started with a four-room brick building erected in 1937 at the time the school was a community marvel because it was one of the first modern country schools in the area. The school measured only 42 by 42 feet, but it boasted two classrooms, indoor toilets, cloak rooms, storage spaces, a basement auditorium that could seat 150, and a kitchen. A Coloma Courier article noted that the school featured new optex blackboards, Washington school being the first in this section of Michigan to have them installed. Washingtons students once lived in the area often called North Coloma around Little Paw Paw Lake and the west side of Paw Paw Lake. Yearround residences here grew rapidly after the 1937 school was built, so Washington became the largest of the rural schools in the Coloma area, and overcrowding was a frequent problem in its history. The district purchased its first bus in 1948, helping to send its older students to high school in Coloma. In the 1949-50 school year, Washington had five teachers for grades K-8, including one who also served as the schools first superintendent. Most rural school districts were closed as the world changed rapidly in the 1950s and 60s. After voters rejected at least one prior attempt to consolidate, Coloma Community Schools was formed in 1958 by the merging of six districts: Washington, Ingraham, Clymer, Bundy, Boyer, and Coloma.
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Above: Pictured is the First Grade at Washington School in 1949-50, with longtime teacher Mrs. Grace Edinborough. One of these students is organizing a Washington School Reunion next summer! Learn more on Page 4.

Entry Deadline August 21

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

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Above: Volunteers place a flag pole back in 1992, the year the North Berrien Historical Society opened the museum.

From the Directors Desk

By Alexander Gates 20 years old! Yes, the North Berrien Historical Museum held its official Grand Opening on June 14, 1992. The work of many dedicated volunteers brought the dream of this museum to fruition, and I am sure our founders would be proud of it today. The first half of 2012 has been busy here at the museum as the building has been filled to capacity multiple times. Shipwrecks of the Berrien County Coast has been well-received and interest in local connections to the Titanic led to great media coverage in April. In case you missed our two most popular programs, Local Links to the Titanic and my talk on the Great Millburg Bank Robbery, both will be offered again this summer at the North Berrien Senior Center. Please check out page 3 for info on all of our exciting summer programs to be held at the museum. Maintenance of the museum buildings and grounds continues. The Carter House will receive a new roof, which will fix a leak that was occurring in the Carter Gallery. The storm windows on the house have been removed to be caulked and re-painted. New landscaping will complete the grounds around the front sign and print shop with low-maintenance plantings. New signage has also been ordered to assist first -time visitors navigating between our five buildings. I need to take a moment to thank a few local supporters. Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet recently donated to us their former gift shop case, which will be put to good use here in the museum. As part of our new shipwrecks exhibit, Dave Baiers at Eco-Logical Cleaners soaked and washed a collection of feed sacks that were donated for the display. Dave said they were the dirtiest pieces hes ever cleaned! Yet, when he finished, they looked (and smelled!) like museum artifacts. Please see other recent donors of funds, goods and services on Page 7. Finally, thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who we celebrated at our annual appreciation dinner on May 2. Without all of your help we could never have the same impact on our community.

300 Coloma Ave. Phone: (269) 468-3330 P.O. Box 207 Fax: (269) 468-4083 Coloma, MI 49038 Connect with NBHS Online!
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North Berrien Historical Society Board of Directors

Scott Young Bennet Leedy Kandyce Hays Cindy Young Shirley Boone Ray Mays Marc Hettig Karin Miller Pauline Morris Sherry Polashak Tom Scheid Sally Williams Alexander Gates Tracy Gierada Ryan Nykamp President 1st Vice President 2nd Vice President Secretary Treasurer Assistant Treasurer Director Director Director Director Director Director

Director / Curator Director of Education Office Manager

The mission of the North Berrien Historical Society is to preserve and distribute information regarding the history of North Berrien County. We wish to promote, encourage learning, and disseminate knowledge of the areas cultural and architectural legacy.

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Mark your Calendars!

Tuesday, June 19, 7pm

All events are at the North Berrien Historical Museum unless otherwise noted.

What Lies Beneath: Treasures of Paw Paw Lake. Don "Mac" McAlhany, an experienced diver and founding member of the Michigan UnderWater Divers (MUD) Club, will present on the underwater sights beneath the waters of Paw Paw Lake. Along with some of the lake's resort history, McAlhany will discuss natural features and wreckage in Paw Paw Lake and show some of the "treasures" he has recovered during years of diving. A brief review of diving practices and discoveries in Lake Michigan will also be included. Free. Watervliet Cemetery Tour. During Watervliets Independence Day Celebration, meet at the Watervliet Cemetery for a free historical tour. Fascinating stories of past residents will highlight local history topics including mills, Civil War veterans, Paw Paw Lake, and baseball great Maud Nelson. Free.

Saturday, June 30, 9-10am

The Past in Person: Singing Schooner Captain from 1875. In this musical, audience-centered program that will delight all ages, Michael Deren will Saturday, perform as a Great Lakes Schooner Captain from the year 1875. Using July 14, button accordion and concertina he will share the songs, history and 11am-Noon natural resources of the Great Lakes region. For more than 25 years Derens programs have entertained and inspired audiences throughout Michigan. Free and open to All Ages. Tuesday, July 17, 7pm Saturday, August 4, 9-10am Funeral Practices Then & Now. Join us for a presentation by local funeral directors Rebecca Hutchins Yazel of Hutchins Funeral Home in Watervliet, and Bryan Duffield of Duffield & Pastrick Family Funeral Home in Coloma. Their presentation will focus on the changes in funerary traditions and technologies through the years, along with some history of Coloma-Watervliet funeral homes. Free. Coloma Cemetery Tour. During the Glad-Peach Festival, meet at Coloma Cemetery for a free historical tour. Fascinating stories of past residents will highlight local topics including Shingle Diggins, war veterans, unique burial monuments, and Glad-Peach history. Free. Commemorating the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes. Jim Spurr, Chairman of the tall ship Friends Good Will at the Michigan Maritime Museum, will join us at the North Berrien Historical Museum to discuss the maritime history of the War of 1812. The Friends Good Will is modeled after a historic sloop captured by the British in 1812, and in July 2012 she will sail to Mackinac Island to participate in a reenactment for the bicentennial anniversary of the war. Free.

Tuesday, August 21, 7pm

Fun For the Young-ins

For the fourth year, the museum will host our free, interactive programs for kids ages 6-12 called Summer Time Travelers! Each session features games, crafts, and demonstrations and focuses on an exciting theme using our local historic artifacts. See the green insert in this newsletter for the full schedule of programs and themes, including the required registration form. Volunteers make it possible for us to offer these fun, memorable, and FREE museum experiences for kids in our community! If you would like to volunteer at a 2012 Summer Time Travelers program or have ideas or loans that could help us, please contact Tracy at 468-3330 or

2012 North Berrien Photography Contest

The North Berrien Historical Society, in partnership with the ColomaWatervliet Area Chamber of Commerce, is now holding the second North Berrien Photography Contest. We are seeking submissions of original photos that capture the character and culture of North Berrien for future generations. Winners and Honorable Mentions from three age categories (Youth, Adults, and Seniors) will be exhibited at the museum this fall. To obtain a copy of the Official Entry Form and Rules for the 2012 North Berrien Photography Contest, stop in at the museum or call us at 4683330. The final deadline for photo submissions is Tuesday, August 21, 2012.

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Curators Corner
By Alexander Gates Many great objects have entered the collection in the last few months. Since my last column several members came forward with pieces to fill out holes in our exhibits. Will Nichols found us a 1938 Michigan license plate, Irma Krieger donated her husband Allans Watervliet letter sweater, and Allen Barchett brought in a collection of flour sacks. Our collection of late 20th century artifacts also grows over time. Karl Bayer at the Tri-City Record has provided us with photographs of local events from the 1990s. The estate of Marion Leedy has given us historically valuable photographs and archives from her years as a newspaper reporter covering local politics and schools. Additional donations recently accessioned to the collection include: Rick Rasmussen Paw Paw Lake materials Bill Smith seed planter, animal harness Fame Arent spinning wheel and clock wheel Bob Dorstewitz CHS Class of 1960 reunion book Norm Wilhelmsen Yacht Club yearbooks Kathleen Walter 1902 Eaman School photo Sheila Gast Coloma photographs Cindy Young WHS Football posters Darwin Hettig 1921 Coloma School photo Victor Yancich Friendly Chats Snapshots Norris Arent Baritone Horn Vicki Brinker - postcards Artifacts we are currently seeking include: Images and artifacts from Deer Forest Books by North Berrien authors True Point products

Above: This image of synchronized water skiers was recently donated and can now be seen in our renovated exhibit case about the resort history of Paw Paw Lake. Gift of Rick Rasmussen. NBHS 2012.07.45

Washington School
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Now part of a much larger district, Washington continued to accept students. By 1967 eleven teachers were employed at the school. Building additions made in the 1950s-70s added twelve more classrooms and other needed spaces to the school. For well over 75 years, many caring teachers, administrators, and generations of families and students made Washington School a place to be proud of in our community. NBHS Member and Paw Above: Paw Lake historian Rick RasKindergartener Ricky mussen is spearheading a plan to Rasmussen wants you hold a Reunion for any and all to attend a Washingalumni of Washington School, ton School Reunion! which is tentatively set for the third Saturday in June 2013. Rick is looking for committee members from a range of classes to help organize the event. To become involved in the Reunion Committee, please contact Rick at 463-3450.
Above: The oldest part of Washington School includes this plaque recognizing the construction committee in 1937. Two names well-known in the area were Frank Dlouhy, owner of the famed dance hall Crystal Palace nearby, and Cecil Potts, who would later become the original owner and primary builder of Deer Forest in 1949.

Above: These young men were the Yell Masters of Watervliet High School in 1928: Bob Shire, Elm Falk, and Art Gilchrist. This image is in the 1928 Wapuscho, a student newspaper similar to a yearbook, recently donated to the museum. Gift of Vicki Brinker. NBHS 2012.25.05.

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History in the Park to debut at this years Glad-Peach Fest

For NBHS, Colomas Glad-Peach Festival has long been a place for raising funds and raising awareness about our work. We greatly appreciate the many volunteers who constructed our red Cone Barn for the last several years, scooped ice cream and donated their time so we could stage a full-scale food booth. A committee has met to plan for our involvement in the 2012 Glad-Peach Festival to take on a new form. We have decided that our efforts at this popular community event should be focused less on ice cream and more on what we do bestlocal history. With our prime spot in Baker Park, the historical society will set up History in the Park on August 3-5. We will welcome kids of all ages to enjoy a free craft and Dress-Up area, where they can try on a variety of historically-inspired garments and accessories. We will also again display our portable Women in Baseball exhibit panels. The weekend of GladPeach, History in the Park will be open on Friday (4-8pm), Saturday (10am-8pm), and Sunday (10am-2pm). On Saturday, August 4, we will offer a free historical tour of Coloma Cemetery beginning at 9am, and our local history videos will be shown at the Loma Theater that afternoon. The museum itself will be open for visitors on August 4 from 10am-4pm. Our gracious volunteers will be needed to help run the museum and History in the Park activities, plus other tasks including set-up, clean-up, bake sale donations and walking in the parade. NBHS will still be doing some fundraising at this years Glad-Peach with a Bake Sale and Raffle. Please consider donating a baked good (peach-flavored if possible) to support our Bake Sale that Saturday. State-licensed Raffle Tickets will be sold throughout the summer for $1 each or 6 for $5. Members who could sell some Raffle Tickets should speak to museum staff or Board Members to assist with this important fundraiser. Three prizes of $400, $200, and $100 will be awarded at the drawing, to be held at the museum at our program August 21 at 7pm. Blanchard have all mentioned that she made great fudge, which her students received as a gift at Christmas. Many thanks are deserved to the NBHS members who conducted a major study of our local rural schools nearly ten years ago, helping document the memories of students about their former teachers experience on Titanic. If you missed the talk by Jennifer Quail and I, we will again present Southwest Michigan Links to the Titanic Disaster at the North Berrien Senior Center on Thursday, June 7, at 12:30pm. We will also present the program in St. Joseph at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center on Thursday, September 13 at 6:30pm.

NBHS helps share local Titanic stories throughout the Region

By Tracy Gierada The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was well-recognized this year, and the North Berrien Historical Society played a role in sharing our regions local links to the famous tragedy with others. Thanks to Barb Tyler for loaning her Titanic collection for display at the museum. I teamed up with Jennifer Quail from the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College to develop a comprehensive slide presentation which over 200 people have already attended in Dowagiac and Coloma this spring. We focused on the Titanic survivors who were bound for Benton Harbor and Dowagiac, as well as other ways that southwest Michigan was impacted by the wreck. I was pleased to provide information and images for William Asts cover story in the HeraldPalladium which ran on Easter. The museum also welcomed the crew from Hometown Secrets, a TV News segment at WSBT South Bend, as they produced a story about Titanics local connections. The story aired numerous times, and featured interviews with myself and Marilyn Kelley Nemethy. Nemethy was a student of Ruth Becker Blanchard, who survived the Titanic at 12 years old and was later a school teacher in Coloma/ Hagar and in Benton Harbor. Nemethy and two other visitors who knew

Left: Marilyn Kelley Nemethy is interviewed in the museum by WSBTs Denise Bohn about her memories of Titanic survivor Ruth Blanchard. Right: Ruth Blanchard in 1960, appearing in the Benton Harbor News-Palladium.

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Below Left: Don McAlhany of the MUD Club helps demonstrate diving equipment at our Shipwreck Explorers Spring Break Activity Day. Middle: The St. Joseph Lighthouse craft at Spring Break. Below Right: NBHS Youth Interns Amanda Armstrong, Alexis Kroschel, and Allison Martinez help with the kids activities at Spring Break.

Hundreds enjoy Spring Programs and Tours at the Museum

Thanks to a very exciting schedule of events, this spring was one of the busiest ever at the North Berrien Historical Museum. In addition to opening a fascinating new exhibit, we offered a range of speakers, school tours, and special programs for all ages. At our regular third-Tuesday program in March, we were honored to have Dr. Chris Paine from Lake Michigan College speak about the significance of the War of 1812. Dr. Paine described how the conflict was a decisive draw which shaped national history and the Great Lakes region with major foreign policy and cultural impacts, but is often forgotten and little appreciated today. With the help of guest Curator and Lake Michigan shipwreck expert Valerie van Heest, the museum introduced our newest permanent exhibit. On April 12 the Opening Reception for Shipwrecks of the Berrien County Coast brought in many members and friends. A great crowd turned out on April 4 for our annual Spring Break Activity Day, this year themed Shipwreck Explorers. Participants did a treasure hunt in the new exhibit, made a message in a bottle inspired by the Chicora shipwreck, and crafted a light-up model of the St. Joseph Lighthouse. A memorable highlight was the display set up by the Michigan UnderWater Divers (MUD) Club, where visitors got to view, touch, and even try on real diving equipment. Many thanks to Don McAlhany for organizing this display and all the MUD Club members who volunteered their time. All told, the help of about 25 volunteers allowed us to welcome over 200 visitors to this free, fun and educational program. Page 5 presents some details about our very successful April 17 program on Local Links to the Titanic Disaster and related media coverage. On May 15, Watervliet author Patricia ODonnellGibson spoke at the museum about the process of writing and publishing her personal memoirs. She and her husband shared a very helpful list of steps for self-publishing, and reported that her 2011 book The Red Skirt: Memoirs of an Ex-Nun will be sold nationwide by Barnes & Noble. Volunteers gathered at the museum on May 2 to be recognized at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Guests included our 2012 Youth Interns and family, along with NBHS Board Members and other volunteers who give hours of their time and talents to the museum each year. The importance of our volunteers is especially apparent when we have visits from school groups each fall and spring. For every class that visits us, two volunteers are needed. It takes considerable effort for these volunteers to study and prepare for these programs, and they are amazing at presenting our exhibits with enthusiasm that kids can relate to. Many thanks to Joan Polaskey, Kathleen Walter, Janet Blair, Alice Mow, and Sandy Garland. With their help, this spring we provided high-quality museum tours to groups from Coloma Middle School Special Education and to the Coloma Elementary Above: NBHS Member and Volunteer Janet Blair guides a Second and Fourth Grades.
group of Second Graders through the Nichols Barn.

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New informational signs to be placed near the river in Watervliet

The Watervliet Paper Mill was demolished ten years ago this spring, and the only evidence that remains today is a 1946 memorial dedicated to workers who lost their lives in World War II. Soon that will change. As a final step to the Watervliet Dams Removal Project, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission will be installing permanent informational signs in or near Hays Park in Watervliet. In the fall of 2011 the project restored the natural flow of the Paw Paw River, which will benefit wildlife habitat, increase safety for boating recreation on the river, and improve water quality. In addition to explaining the purpose and effects of the river restoration, the signs will also present pictures and facts about the dams and the Watervliet Paper Mill from our collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum. We are excited to work with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and the City of Watervliet to provide a historical perspective in these signs. For a century the paper mill shaped daily life in Watervliet, employing hundreds and contributing to the community in numerous ways. The signs may be installed as early as July 2012.

North Berrien Historical Society Membership Form

Benefits include: Quarterly Newsletter, Advance invite to special events, and Members-only opportunities Name Address City, State, ZIP Phone E-mail

New Member Renewing Member

I may like to

Please check desired annual membership level.

Individual ($15) Student ($8) Family Donor ($50) Senior ($10)

Additional tax-deductible contribution: $________ Total Amount Enclosed: $________
Send your completed form along with your check to: North Berrien Historical Society P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038

Anita Hirsch Frances Bishop Mark Baldwin Suzanne Knutson Jim & Sherry Polashak George & Maggie Richter Southwest Michigan Postcard Club In Memory of Iva Nichols Brian Grant Sally Williams Michael Twite Susan Greco Tom VanLierop Donald Weckwerth Joyce Spencer Mickey Willmeng Cyndy Winfield Ron Winfield Ewald Rodewald Jean Fannin Sandy Kraemer Douglas Geisler Mark Baldwin

James Lull Rosanne Bittner Betty Lull Anita Hirsch DaWayne Biastock Tom Loomis Russell Carlson Jerry Puckett Elaine Carlson Nancy McKie Barbara Tyler Chriss Lyon Robert & Elaine Gierada Family

Thank you for your donation of services & materials

Cindy Young - Brick School Gallery, Watervliet Paul Noe - Gutter Protection Systems, Coloma/ Watervliet Dave Baiers - Eco-Logical Cleaners, Coloma/ St. Joseph Thomas Allen - Art/ Graphic Design, Coloma Michigan UnderWater Divers Club West Michigan Tourist Association - Grand Rapids

Thank you for your support!

NONPROFIT ORG U.S. POSTAGE PAID Watervliet, MI Permit No. 29

P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038 Return Service Requested

Newsletter - Summer 2012

Dont miss the past in person at the museum this summer...

from 1875

Saturday, July 14, 11am

Free - All Ages Welcome

Hagar Bainbridge Coloma Watervliet