Early Images of  Grand Rapids, Michigan as a City.

ORIGINAL SKETCH OF GRAND RAPIDS—l83l Made by Rev. M. Booth from the spot which is now part of Campau Square, Near Foster & Stevens Store

ORIGINAL SKETCH OF GRAND RAPIDS - 1831 Made by Rev. M. Booth from the spot which is now part of Campau Square, Near Foster & Stevens Store.

The formative period of Grand Rapids' history has now been treated of, and comprises the period extending from 1833 to 1850.

A very cool early (1868) image of Grand Rapids with an interactive map can be viewed by clicking this line.

With the exception of Louis Campau, who made his home on the east side of the Grand River in 1826, and a trader or two like Marsac, there were no white settlers until the summer of 1833, when the first Anglo-Saxons made their appearance.

All sections of the village increased rapidly in population and wealth during the ensuing seventeen years, and the need of a more complete organization came to be felt.

The little settlement of 1834 and 1835 had increased until in 1845 the population of Grand Rapids Township was given as 1,510, and in 1850, the population of the village was 2,686.

Naturally the question of a city organization came to be agitated, and on May 1, 1850, an election was held which resulted in a decisive vote in favor of a new charter.

The majority in favor of the charter was 163.

The life of Grand Rapids as a village covered in all a period of twelve years, beginning in 1838 and ending in 1850.

Henry C. Smith was the first president of the village, and the last to hold that office was George Coggeshall.

Other pioneers who officiated in that capacity were John Almy and William Peaslee.

In the list of village trustees appear the names of such men as Louis Campau, Richard Godfroy, William A. Richmond, Charles I. Walker, George Coggeshall, James Watson, John Almy, Henry P. Bridge, Francis J. Higginson, William G. Henry, Henry C. Smith, Antoine Campau, Charles Shepard, James M. Nelson, Josiah L. Wheeler, Samuel F. Perkins, Israel V. Harris, Harvey K. Rose, Samuel F. Butler, Lucius Lyon, Daniel Ball, and others who achieved distinction in later years.

The most of these gentlemen have been given extended personal mention on other pages of this work in connection with the history of lines of endeavor in which they became prominent.

George Coggeshall was one of the comers of 1836, and at an early day a justice of the peace.

He built a dwelling house on the corner of Bond and Michigan streets, east of the Bridge Street House, and there he lived until 1861.

He was a man of mark in the early days, plain, direct, and blunt in speech, and always meaning just what he said.

During many years he was the attorney and manager of the Lucius Lyon interests in what was called the Kent Plat.

William A. Richmond was for more than thirty years prominent in the development and building up of Grand Rapids, and was identified not only with local, but also State history.

New York was his native State, the first eighteen years of his life being passed in the village of Aurora, on the banks of Cayuga Lake, where he was born in 1808.

The academy furnished the foundation of a good education, supplemented by mercantile experience in Geneseo, Moravia and New York City, and by association with leading men of affairs and prominent politicians.

Mr. Richmond was among the hundreds of young men who emigrated to the Territory of Michigan in 1836.

Two previous prospecting trips had acquainted him somewhat with the country; the fame of the Grand River Valley was attractive, and he easily decided to locate at the thriving little trading post of Grand Rapids.

Bostonians, Vermonters, New Yorkers, and Philadelphians had preceded him, making, with the French pioneers, a little community of about two hundred people.

Later he was urged by friends to go further west, to a town on Lake Michigan known as Chicago; but a visit to that point failed to convince him of its advantages over Grand Rapids.

In 1837 he married a daughter of Abel Page, a settler from Rutland, Vt, and from that time during his life Mr. Richmond contributed steadily and influentially to the growth and progress of the place which he had selected for his home.

In connection with Judge Carroll, Judge Almy, and the Hon. Lucius Lyon, he purchased an interest in the "Kent Plat."

He was a member of the first board of village trustees and cashier of the first bank at this place.

The construction of the first lattice bridge across Grand River was accomplished largely by his efforts, and he was president of the company which owned it; he was one of the projectors of the plank road to Kalamazoo—one advance from the corduroy—and afterward of a railroad to the same place.

He was also among those enterprising men who rendered hand lanterns unnecessary on the city streets, by the erection of gas works.

He was active in advancing the interests of education and religion; contributed largely toward the erection of several churches, and in the effort to establish St. Mark's College, and was for many years a vestryman in St. Mark's (Episcopal) Church.

Mr. Richmond was frequently chosen by his townsmen to represent them in governmental affairs.

In 1836 he acted as a delegate from the district comprising the counties of Kent, Ionia, and Clinton, to the first "Convention of Assent," as it was called, which rejected the conditions proposed by Congress for the admission of Michigan to the Union; and at the sessions of 1844 and 1845 he served in the State Legislature.

His father having been a prominent Democratic Congressman from New York, Mr. Richmond came naturally into acquaintance and friendship with Gen. Lewis Cass, Territorial Governor of Michigan, and with Stevens T. Mason, the first State Governor, through whom he received several State appointments.

He was one of the commissioners who located the State prison at Jackson; was receiver of the United States land office at Ionia; was for several years a most successful Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Michigan and a part of Wisconsin; and was twice commissioned brigadier-general of the State militia.

In the discharge of official duties he made a record for efficiency and faithfulness; and in the relation of citizen his enterprise, public spirit and sound judgment gave him high rank among the pioneers who shaped the character and destiny of the Valley City.

Mr. Richmond died in 1870, at the age of sixty-two years.

William G. Henry came to Grand Rapids in 1836, was the second village treasurer, a merchant, a druggist, and an enterprising citizen.

He moved to Detroit about 1865.

James M. Nelson, born in Milford, Mass., Nov. 27, 1810, came here in 1836. and the place was his home during life, about fifty years.

His first business was in a store opposite the Eagle Hotel.

Afterward he was engaged quite extensively in lumbering. With H. P. Bridge he built the first saw-mill on the canal.

His brother, George C. Nelson, was his partner until 1845, and together they built, in 1837, a saw-mill on Mill Creek, a few miles north of the rapids and west of the river, the first mill in that region.

In the winter of 1837-38, when provisions were scarce, James M. Nelson went to Indiana in search of hogs, purchased 280, and drove them home, where they were gladly received by the very hungry people.

Near the same time he started with five others to explore the Muskegon River region.

The snow was deep, and they were gone several days, lost their way, and were thirty-six hours without food before reaching home.

Mr. Nelson was among the first to raft lumber down Grand River.

From 1841 he served as postmaster for one term.

About 1859 he went out of the lumbering business and engaged in flouring.

Four years later, he again changed his business, buying with his brother, Ezra T. Nelson, a half interest in the Comstock furniture factory, and he operated as a manufacturer during the remainder of his life.

Mr. Nelson was a strictly and thoroughly honest man, one of the "representative self-made men" of this place, who, by his enterprise, integrity and industry commanded the esteem of this community wherein the greater part of his life was spent.

He was a member of the St. Mark's Episcopal Church and influential in its councils until his death, which occurred in 1883.

George C. Nelson continued in business on Monroe Street until 1890, when he removed to Brooklyn, N. Y.

Samuel F. Perkins came here in 1836 and engaged in the shoe and leather business.

He operated a tannery and was for some time in trade on what is now Bond Avenue, and afterward with William Woodward on Monroe Street.

Samuel F. Butler was one of the early cabinetmakers here, residing first on what is now Bond avenue, afterward on the old Canal street, north of the present Michigan street, a highly respected citizen.

He suddenly dropped dead, April 3, 1856, as he was passing through the front gate to his residence.

Abel Page came in 1836 and engaged here in agriculture and horticulture.

He planted the first nursery of any pretensions in this valley, and for years supplied settlers with grafted fruits and rare plants.

He was an honest and very pleasant gentleman, and prominent in the establishment of the Congregational Church here.

The closing years of his life were spent in a pretty suburban home near the north line of the city on the Plainfield road.

The first election under the city charter was held May 11, 1850.

Henry R. Williams received the honor of being elected the first mayor of the city, and the other officers elected in 1850 were as follows: Aldermen—First ward, Amos Roberts; Second ward, Charles W. Taylor; Third ward, Lowell Moore; Fourth ward, Joseph Penney; Fifth ward, Isaac Turner.

Aaron B. Turner was elected clerk; Erastus Hall, city treasurer; Leonard Bement, recorder; Alfred Y. Cary, city marshal, and Wright L. Coffinbury, surveyor.

One of the moving spirits here, from 1841 to 1853, was Henry R. Williams, who, like Daniel Ball, laid well some of the foundations of material growth and the general weal.

He came here from Rochester, N. Y. His aspirations were far-reaching, and his will to work in public and private enterprises was curbed only by the limits of his bodily strength.

He was a popular and much loved citizen and it was but appropriate that he should be chosen as the first mayor of Grand Rapids.

His mind wore out his physical machinery, and his life went out at the very flower of his manhood, July 19, 1853, at the age of forty-three years.

He was conspicuous in the development of steamboating on Grand River.

Amos Roberts was a prominent early merchant in the vicinity of what is now called Campau Place.

He was born in Litchfield, Conn., in 1786, and in 1809 was married to Sallie Hurd, at Middle Haddam, in the same State.

In 1838 he came to Grand Rapids and established a general assortment store, into which he took his son, William D. Roberts, in 1839, as a partner, and the business was conducted under the firm name of A. Roberts & Son during both their lives.

In 1843-44 Amos Roberts and A. W. Pike built the stone store building called Commercial Block, which stood at the foot of the then Monroe Street abutting into what is now Campau Place for nearly a third of its area, until that thoroughfare was straightened through, in 1873.

Colonel Roberts, as he was familiarly called, was a man of fine presence and business ability, and had steady and uniform success as a merchant.

He was a member of St. Mark's Church, and at his death in 1873 was buried with Masonic honors.

His residence for some thirty years was where the Grand Rapids Trust Company building stands, corner of Fountain and Ottawa streets.

Leonard Bement for more than thirty years was a prominent member of the Grand Rapids bar, and a most worthy citizen.

Neither dashing nor brilliant, he was industrious, faithful in his work, tender and gentle in feeling, with a sense of right and a knowledge of the law which made him a good judge and a useful justice of the peace.

Alfred X. Cary was engaged in trade on Monroe Street as early as 1843, and he was a well-known and respected citizen and business man until his death in 1882.

He was a merchant, hotel landlord, steamboat captain, flouring mills manager, and was recognized as an honorable servant of the public in various official positions.

As a comparison between the original and the present territory of the city, we insert here the boundaries as they were in 1850.

The incorporating act or charter begins as follows:

"An Act to incorporate the city of Grand Rapids:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Michigan, That so much of the townships of Grand Rapids and Walker, in the county of Kent, as is contained in the following limits, to-wit: sections nineteen and thirty, in surveyed town number seven north of range eleven west, and sections number twenty-four and twenty-five, in surveyed town number seven north of range number twelve west, including so much of Grand River as runs through and adjoining said sections, with the islands in the same, shall be and the same is hereby declared to be a city, by the name and style of the city of Grand Rapids; and all the freemen of said city, from time to time, being inhabitants thereof, shall be and continue to be a body corporate and politic, by the name of the mayor, recorder, alderman and freemen of the city of Grand Rapids; and by that name they and their successors shall be known in law, and shall be and are hereby made capable of suing and being sued, of pleading and being impleaded, of answering and being answered unto, and of defending and being defended in all courts of record, and any other place whatsoever; and may have a common seal, and may change and alter the same at their pleasure; and by the same name shall be and are hereby made capable of purchasing, holding, conveying and disposing of any real and personal estate for the use of said corporation, as hereinafter provided."

The city was divided into five wards, the first of which comprised all the territory south of Lyon street and west of the continuous line of Division street, and east of Grand River; the second all north of Lyon street and west of that part of Division street north of its intersecting Bridge street, and all north of Bridge street and east of Grand River; the third all south of Bridge street and east of Division street and the continuous line thereof; the fourth, loosely speaking, included all of the west side north of Bridge street, and the fifth embraced the entire west side south of Bridge street.

The charter provided for annual elections, to be held on the first Monday of April in each year, at which the officers to be elected were a mayor, a recorder, five aldermen (one from each ward), a clerk, treasurer, marshal, five assessors (one in each ward), city surveyor, four justices of the peace, and not less than three nor more than five constables, a solicitor, two school inspectors, and two directors of the poor.

The term of office was one year in all cases except that of school inspector and these officers were to serve for two years.

The president and trustees of the village of Grand Rapids were to determine the result of the first election under the new charter, and subsequent elections were to be determined by the mayor and common council.

The mayor was made the chief executive officer, and the head of the police of the city, and it was many years before a separate police department was found necessary.

The mayor, recorder and aldermen, or any three of them, the mayor or recorder always being one, were given full power and authority to hold and keep a court of record, by the name, style and title of the "Mayor's Court of the City of Grand Rapids"; and this court was vested with exclusive jurisdiction to hear all complaints and conduct all examinations and trials in criminal cases within the city, and with exclusive jurisdiction of all cases in which the city might be a party.

Power was conferred on the mayor, recorder and aldermen to remove at pleasure any of the officers by them appointed, and to fill all vacancies that might happen in any of said offices, so often as the same might occur by death, resignation, removal or other cause.

The common council was also given authority to remove the marshal, recorder or clerk of the city, for any violation by either of them of any of the provisions of the charter, or of any lawful by-laws or ordinances of the city; and on such removal the common council was also given power to appoint another person to fill such vacancy, for the unexpired portion of the year.

The most general grant of power was contained in the following section:

"The common council shall have full power and authority to organize, maintain and regulate the police of the city; to pass all bylaws and ordinances for that purpose, and relative to the duties and powers and fees of the marshal as marshal, and as collector and street commissioner, city surveyor, solicitor, treasurer, clerk and constables or other officers of said city, except as hereinafter provided; relative to the time and manner of working upon the streets, lanes and alleys of said city; relative to the manner of grading, railing, planking and paving all sidewalks in said city, and to setting posts and shade trees in all streets, lanes and alleys in said city; relative to the manner of assessing, levying and collecting all highway and other taxes in said city, except as hereinafter provided."

Then follows an enumeration of a large number of subjects over which it was intended the powers of the common council should extend.

In every modification or revision of the city charter down to the establishing of the commission form of government this general grant of legislative power to the common council was retained, but the enumeration of subjects intended to be covered by it was extended as attention was called to various evils or abuses which seemed to require especial attention in the course of the growth of the city in territory and population.

Summarized as concisely as possible, the original list included the license and regulation of all ale and porter shops and places of resort where spirituous liquors are sold or used within the city; and of shows, circuses and theatrical performances; the restraint and prohibition of gaming of all descriptions; the prevention of riots and disorderly assemblages; the suppression and restraint of disorderly houses, shows, and exhibitions; the abatement and regulation of trades and places which, though lawful in themselves, might be dangerous, unwholesome, or offensive in a city; the prevention of improper incumbrances of streets, alleys, and sidewalks, and of rapid driving in the streets; prohibition of cattle, swine, sheep, poultry, geese and dogs running at large; the establishment of public pumps, wells, cisterns, and water-works; the establishment of a board of health, hospitals, and cemeteries; the purchase of fire engines and fire buckets and the establishment of fire limits; the regulation of wharves, bridges, mill-races, and canals, and of exhibitions of fireworks and shooting of firearms or crackers; the restraint of public drunkenness and obscenity, and the punishment of persons guilty thereof; the regulation of the police officers and the appointment of watchmen and firemen, and the making and enforcing of rules for their government; compelling the removal by the owner or occupant of buildings or grounds, from sidewalks, streets, and alleys, of snow, dirt and rubbish, and, from any part of his premises, of all such substances as the board of health should direct.

The common council had power to lay out and vacate, to regulate, pave, and improve, extend and widen streets and alleys, paying damages to be assessed by twelve free-holders.

The council was authorized to levy, annually, for general purposes, on all property, real and personal, not exceeding two mills on the dollar of its assessed value.

The assessment roll for each ward was to be made out by the assessor of the ward, and returned by him to the clerk of the city, who was to lay it before the common council.

That body was to consider, revise, and equalize the assessments, after which the taxes were to be levied.

The tax upon real estate, which constituted the great bulk of the whole, was enforced by public sales of the several parcels thereof by the common council, after four weeks' public notice, from which sale the owner might redeem within one year on paying the amount of tax, costs and charges, with interest at twelve per cent per annum.

The tax was a lien on the land, charged from the time of levy of the tax.

Personal property was placed in a separate part of the tax list, and the tax thereon was collected by seizure and sale at auction.

Fire engine, hook and ladder, and hose companies were provided for, each to be composed of not more than fifty able-bodied men, officered and governed in accordance with their own by-laws.

Membership was to be voluntary and gratuitous; the only rewards being freedom from highway labor and military duty.

The council was authorized to impose penalties for violations of ordinance in the shape of fines, not exceeding one hundred dollars in any one case; and in default of payment might authorize imprisonment in the county jail not more than six months.

The above is a summary of the original charter of the city of Grand Rapids, stated as briefly as possible.

It was amended in 1851, repealing a provision which made the mayor a supervisor, and providing for the election of two supervisors annually, one for each side of the river.

Other changes were made from time to time, and in 1857 a substantially new charter was passed by the Legislature, under the title of "An act to revise the charter of the city of Grand Rapids."

This new charter enlarged the boundaries of the city somewhat, without increasing the number of wards.

The elective officers were mayor, recorder, treasurer, controller, clerk, and marshal, elected from the city at large, and from each ward two aldermen (one of the aldermen to be supervisor of the ward), one constable, a justice of the peace, two school inspectors and two directors of the poor.

The term of office of the recorder was extended to two years.

The terms of the other offices were to be annual, excepting aldermen, which, after the first election, the term was to be two years and one elected each year.

The justices of the peace were to hold office for four years, and the recorder and comptroller were to be elected for two years.

The qualifications for suffrage limited to "the inhabitants of the said city being electors under the constitution of the State of Michigan, and no others."

The recorder was authorized to preside at the meetings of the common council in case of the absence of the mayor, and in case of the absence of both mayor and recorder the council could select one of their number to preside.

The duties of the city attorney, treasurer, and clerk were defined; and the office of city comptroller was created, the incumbent to be the financial officer of the city and to keep a careful oversight of all contracts entered into for public improvements.

The council was to have the general control of the public funds; but its authority was limited by provisions intended as a safeguard against extravagance in expenditures and in taxation.

The council was authorized to issue bonds, in certain limitations and for general city or ward purposes.

Taxes might be levied as follows: A general city tax on all property subject to taxation, not exceeding one-half of one per cent on the valuation of such real and personal estate with the limits of the city.

The aldermen were made street commissioners with authority within the city limits to direct the grading of streets and the construction of sewers, wharves and alleys.

In 1863, by amendment, provision was made for requiring owners or occupants of lots in the city to lay or repair the walks in front of their premises, or in default it should be done at the expense of the city, and the cost added to the general tax against the lots or houses adjacent, and collected therewith; and in 1865, further provision was made in relation to the return of uncollected taxes, and the sale of property to satisfy them.

An amendment to the charter, approved March 13, 1867, made provision for the removal by the council of appointed officers, for malfeasance or misfeasance in office, but allowing the accused an opportunity to be heard in defense.

Another amendment, in 1869, contained further provisions in relation to the proceedings on sale of property for assessments and taxes.

By a revision of the charter, in March, 1871, the number of wards in the city was increased from five to eight.

This act was further amended by acts approved in 1875, 1877, 1879, and 1881.

By an amendment approved March 17, 1872, a change was made in the boundary between the fourth and fifth wards, making Fairbanks Street the line.

The act to authorize a Board of Public Works was passed March 22, 1873, and was thereafter several times amended.

The act constituting the Superior Court was passed March 24, 1875. An act to organize and establish a Police Court was passed in April, 1873, and this was superseded by another, passed in May, 1879.

The Board of Police and Fire Commissioners was established by act of May 24, 1881.

An act approved May 18, 1883 provided for the management of cemeteries owned or to be owned by the city.

Some important amendments to the charter were made in the Spring of 1887, and also in succeeding years, until in May, 1917, when a change was made from the Federal or Aldermanic form of government to the Commission plan with a City Manager.

The following is a list of all those who held the office of mayor of the city from the time of its incorporation, in 1850, until the adoption of the Commission form of government, in 1917, the year given being the time of the election of each, and the term of service extending to the year given as the time of the election of his successor: 1850, Henry R. Williams; 1851, Ralph W. Cole; 1852, William H. Withey; 1853, Thomas B. Church; 1854, Wilder D. Foster; 1855, Charles Shepard; 1856, John M. Fox; 1857, William T. Powers; 1858, Gilbert M. McCray; 1859, George K. Johnson; 1860. Martin L. Sweet; 1861, George H. White; 1863, Charles C. Comstock; 1865, Wilder D. Foster; 1867, John W. Champlin; 1868, Moses V. Aldrich; 1871, Leonard H. Randall; 1872, Julius Houseman; 1873, Peter R. L. Peirce; 1874, Julius Houseman; 1875, Peter R. L. Peirce; 1877, George W. Thayer; 1878, Henry S. Smith; 1879, Francis Letellier; 1880, Henry S. Smith; 1881, George G. Steketee; 1882, Edmund B. Dikeman; 1883, Crawford Angell; 1884, Charles E. Belknap; 1885, John L. Curtiss; 1886, Edmund B. Dikeman; 1888, Isaac M. Weston; 1889, John Killean; 1890, E. F. Uhl; 1892, William J. Stuart; 1894, E. B. Fisher; 1895, Charles D. Stebbins; 1896, Lathrop C. Stow; 1898, George R. Perry; 1902, W. Millard Palmer; 1904, Edwin F. Sweet; 1906, George E. Ellis; 1916, George P. Tilma.

Many of these gentlemen have been given appropriate mention on other pages of this work, and Messrs. Letellier, Steketee, Belknap, Fisher, Stow, Perry, Palmer, Sweet, Ellis, and Tilma are living.

William H. Withey came from Vermont and built a saw-mill some miles above the rapids in 1837-38, and for twenty-eight years was prominent in business enterprises, including staging to Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, and constructing the Kalamazoo & Grand Rapids plank road.

John M. Fox, who came into the valley in 1837, and after 1846 resided many years in Grand Rapids, was well known and respected as a citizen, business man and a public officer.

During the last ten years of his life he resided at Lowell, where he died, Jan. 4, 1873, aged 62 years.

Gilbert M. McCray was born at Skaneateles, N. Y., May 13, 1826; at twelve years of age came with his parents to Grandville, Mich., and in 1843 came to Grand Rapids.

He was bred to the trade of machinist, in which he became an expert and a master workman.

In company with Stewart B. McCray and H. Gaylord, about 1855, he built a foundry and machine shop on Market Street, below the Eagle Hotel.

After operating this shop a few years, he was, during most of the time for nearly thirty years, foreman in the Grand Rapids Iron Works.

In 1858 he was mayor of Grand Rapids.

Moses V. Aldrich, prominent for nearly a quarter of a century in the business circles of Grand Rapids, was born at Macedon, Ontario County, New York, Sept. 13, 1829.

His education was only such as could be obtained at the common schools of his boyhood days.

His father, Stephen H. Aldrich, moved to Michigan in 1836.

Soon afterward Moses was in the employ of a railroad company, working faithfully to earn his own subsistence and to contribute to that of his father's family.

A few years later he entered a dry goods store at Plymouth, Mich., as a clerk.

While still a youth he attracted all who knew him by his affability, his obliging disposition, and his strict integrity.

About 1852 he was promoted to partnership in the firm of J. S. Scattergood & Company, a fact which amply testifies to the confidence and esteem of his employers.

Glancing at this beginning and through his uniformly successful career, the fact becomes apparent that Mr. Aldrich was essentially a self-made man.

In 1855 he disposed of his business at Plymouth and came to Grand Rapids, entering into partnership with his wife's father, William B. Ledyard, in the manufacture of fanning mills and milk safes.

This business grew to large proportions, and its products supplied the market in a large part of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Mr. Aldrich was active manager of the concern, and pushed it with extraordinary vigor and success.

In 1860 was organized the banking house of Ledyard & Aldrich, in which Mr. Aldrich continued as a partner until 1862.

In February, 1871, he opened a private banking house and continued in this business until his death.

After his death this enterprise was merged in the Grand Rapids National Bank, by reorganization.

Mr. Aldrich's intuitive judgment of men and affairs, his thorough integrity, and his fine executive ability, commanded public attention, and he was chosen mayor of the city for three consecutive terms, in 1868-69-70.

He had a habit of close watchfulness, as untiring in public as in private affairs, and he won general commendation in his official acts.

From 1875 until his death he served as County Superintendent of the Poor, an office accepted purely out of kindness of heart to the unfortunate and suffering.

The county infirmary may be rightly called his crowning charity.

When asked why he should give his valuable time so persistently to this distasteful work, he replied that it was to satisfy himself that abuse should not be added to the ills already visited on the helpless and imbecile inmates of this institution.

Mr. Aldrich was stern in justice. It was one of the pleasures of his life to give advice and assistance to young men of spirit and ambition.

He had been poor himself, he said, and he knew how hard was the struggle.

On the other hand, he had small patience with the shiftless poor, refusing aid to such except in cases of destitution.

Though a stanch Republican, Mr. Aldrich was not ambitious politically.

Such offices of local trust as he was persuaded to hold were accepted for the public good and not for personal aggrandizement.

He loved the place which he had chosen for his home, and he entered into all its enterprises with indefatigable and fearless zeal.

The prosperity of Grand Rapids today is a fitting tribute to the sound judgment and untiring energy of her pioneers, her early "city fathers."

On the list of these the name of Moses V. Aldrich will ever have a foremost stand.

The pathos of an early death accrued to him.

He was cut down in the prime of his manly success, at the age of only fifty years. He died Dec. 8, 1879.

Peter R. L. Peirce was a prominent citizen of Grand Rapids for upward of a quarter of a century.

He was born at Geneseo, N. Y., May 25, 1821, and was a son of Col. John Peirce, who moved from Virginia to Western New York about the time of the War of 1812.

From Geneseo, in 1836, Peter removed to Detroit, where for a time he read law, and thence, in 1840, he came to Grand Rapids.

Here he again studied law in the office of George Martin, who afterward became chief justice of the State Supreme court, meantime keeping a book store, and was one of the active members of the Grand Rapids Lyceum, the debating club of that period.

In 1843 he removed to Cincinnati and engaged in mercantile trade.

While there he became interested in temperance movements, and wrote a history of the Order of the Sons of Temperance in Ohio, of which 100,000 copies were published and circulated.

He also contributed many articles to the newspapers of that city, and formed a habit of writing for the newspaper press, which he kept up through life; his productions in that line being always sprightly and readable as well as useful.

From Cincinnati Mr. Peirce returned to Grand Rapids, in 1850, and followed mercantile business some five years.

He had the eye and the taste of an artist, with talent in architectural drafting; in which he indulged from time to time; and many residences and other buildings, some of them yet standing, were erected from plans of his design and drawing.

In each of the years 1853-54-55 he was chosen city clerk, serving three terms.

In 1854 he was elected clerk of Kent County, and was re-elected to the same office until he served seven consecutive terms, running through fourteen years.

In that position he won universal commendation, and was called the model county clerk of the Sate.

As an officer he was methodical, expert, prompt and exact in his records and in the details of the public business.

He was chosen to the State Senate for the term of 1869-70, and there his services were indefatigable and efficient, to the great benefit of the cause of education; he being chairman of the Committee on Education, and influential in procuring the passage of the act abolishing the rate bill and making the common schools free; also successful in urging liberal appropriations for the State University.

Mr. Peirce was elected mayor of Grand Rapids in 1873 and also in each of the years 1875 and 1876.

From about 1870 for some six years he was connected with the land department of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company, and compiled a historic and descriptive map of the country comprising its land grant, which was widely circulated, at home and in Europe.

On March 19, 1877, he was appointed postmaster at Grand Rapids, which office he held at the time of his death.

Through all his life Mr. Peirce was an active, industrious, public-spirited citizen, and in social circles remarkable for his cheerful, lively and happy disposition and mirthful mind, which made him a welcome guest at all gatherings.

During the war for the Union he was active among the foremost in promoting enlistments, and generously alive in aiding needy families of the gallant men who went to the front, giving liberally of his own means in numerous instances.

He was very popular with the soldiers and worked in their interests at all times.

He was popular as a lecturer, and as a speaker at public gatherings, and it was said of him that for eighteen consecutive years he delivered an address at some Fourth of July celebration.

His happy manner of spicing with wit and anecdote and humor his fervid patriotism, earnest appeal and instruction, always insured him a large and well-pleased audience.

In religious sentiment Mr. Peirce was an Episcopalian of liberal views; was a member of that denomination after 1843, and a vestryman of St. Mark's Church in Grand Rapids for eighteen years.

In its behalf he manifested a zealous interest, and managed many trusts with scrupulous fidelity.

Politically, from its organization, he was an active, earnest and enthusiastic adherent of the Republican Party.

Mr. Peirce died at his home, Nov. 12, 1878, and a personal friend said of him: "Few in their lives had more or warmer friends than he, and few or none are more sincerely mourned when the death summons comes."

He was a member of the Bar of Kent County, but never entered into general practice as an attorney.

As a citizen and as a public officer, Peter R. L. Peirce was a man of spotless integrity.

His life was one of influence and usefulness.

George W. Thayer was born in Burlington, Vt., Sept. 27, 1827.

He remained in Vermont until nearly eighteen years of age, and, like most of the youth of his generation, struggled heroically for an education and made the most of his opportunities in the schools and academy at Johnson and at Burlington in the Green Mountain State.

In May, 1845, at the suggestion of his uncle, the Hon. Lucius Lyon, one of Michigan's earliest and most honored representatives in the United States Senate, then Surveyor-General northwest of the Ohio for the United States government, he came to Grand Rapids, remaining until August of that year, when he was called to Detroit to join a party formed by his uncle for the purpose of making some explorations in the upper peninsula of Michigan, then a veritable wilderness, in a portion of which, Dr. Douglass Houghton, the noted geologist, was then making a linear, topographical and geological survey, of that region which has since become so vastly important to the whole country in its mineral and other wealth.

The party coasted in an open boat from Sault St. Marie to Copper Harbor, at which point Dr. Houghton and party were intercepted, and where, pursuant to a previous understanding, Mr. Thayer left his uncle's party to join that of Dr. Houghton on the public surveys, his purpose at that time being to fit himself, under the instructions of Dr. Houghton, for the profession of surveyor and engineer.

The untimely death of his patron, by drowning, in October of that year, changed his plans.

Upon his return to Detroit after the expedition, he accepted a subordinate position in his uncle's office, and by merit won promotion until he was chief clerk in that most important Government office, and had the fullest confidence and esteem, not only of the Surveyor-General and the Interior Department of the Government, but also of the large force of his subordinates in the office.

He had become attached to Michigan, and when, in 1856, the office of Surveyor-General northwest of the Ohio was removed from Detroit to St. Paul, he resigned his position after three months service to organize the new office, rather than leave the State.

He engaged in business in Detroit for a time, but in 1861 came to Grand Rapids to find a permanent home, for his uncle had had great faith in this city, having considerable investments here, and a number of his relatives already lived here.

On coming here he engaged in trade, retail and jobbing, as a grocer, and devoted his energies to his business until he retired, in 1888, from mercantile life.

He served the city at one time, in 1864-65, as its clerk.

In the municipal year, 1877-78, he was mayor of the city.

In 1879 he was appointed a member of the Board of Public Works of the city and served in that most important executive committee for nine successive years—longer than anyone else ever had up to that period —and nearly all that time was president of the board.

He was chosen the first president of the Western Michigan Agricultural and Industrial Society, when that association was organized, in April, 1879, and held the office continuously for five successive years, until he felt constrained to insist that he had given his share of energy and time to the society, and refused a re-election; but after a rest of six years he was compelled to resume his relations with those most important interests, having been again unanimously chosen president in 1890—a sufficient commentary on his great worth to the public in that position.

He was for several years manager of the first street railroad enterprise in this city, and proved that good business methods achieve success and serve the public well in that sort of relation.

He also served as president of the North Park Street Railway, one of the early suburban lines.

Mr. Thayer died Sept. 2, 1916.

Henry S. Smith was born in Litchfield, Herkimer County, New York, Nov. 11, 1820.

While he was yet a lad, his father, Solomon Smith, purchased a farm and removed the family to Cassville, Oneida County, New York, and there passed the remainder of his life.

Henry received only the limited educational advantages afforded by the public school.

There he spent the years of his youth and early manhood, engaging successfully in several small enterprises, and finally became the owner of the homestead farm.

For several years Mr. Smith held the office of the justice of the peace, in which his solid judgment and firm sense of justice established for him an enviable reputation.

He was also captain in the New York State militia.

In 1858 he came to Michigan and settled in Grand Rapids.

Here he began a business career in which he became prominent by the purchase of the Bremer ashery, which he managed but a short time, when he engaged in the manufacture of saleratus.

A few years later he began the manufacture of wooden ware and agricultural implements, and became an extensive jobber in the products of other manufacturers.

He was among the first to send out traveling agents from this city for the sale of its wares, and soon his firm and its manufactures became well known throughout the West.

In the spring of 1878, as the candidate of the National Greenback party, he was elected mayor, and was again elected in 1880.

In 1878 he was also the candidate of the same party for Governor, and, though defeated, ran well with his ticket, receiving 73,313 votes.

Mr. Smith died Dec. 11, 1881.

Crawford Angell was born in Massachusetts, April 2. 1827.

His father was engaged in general business and removed his family to Rhode Island about 1830.

There Mr. Angell remained until the age of 18 years, and in October, 1845, came to Grand Rapids and attended school at the academy, then being conducted in the court house, which stood in what is now known as Fulton Street Park.

He was in school two years, doing chores to pay his board, and then entered the National Hotel as clerk.

He remained thus employed until 1853, when he entered the office of the American Express Company as porter.

He became familiar with the details of the business, and in 1855 was appointed agent for Grand Rapids, a position which included the duties of stage agent of the Grand Rapids & Kalamazoo line.

In May, 1880, he was made assistant superintendent of the American Express Company, Michigan division, comprising Michigan and a portion of Indiana and Ohio.

In 1878 and 1879 Mr. Angell was treasurer of the city of Grand Rapids, elected on the National ticket.

He was one of the organizers of the National party, and under his leadership it achieved notable local success.

John L. Curtiss was born in Windham County, Connecticut, Aug. 7, 1835.

When eleven years of age he accompanied his parents to Ontario County, New York, where he remained until he had reached his majority.

He graduated at Lima College, in New York State, in 1854, and when twenty-one years old went to Dexter, Washtenaw County, Michigan, where for two years he was engaged in the mill and hardware business.

He taught school three winters in New York and three winters in Michigan.

In the fall of 1859 he went to Milwaukee, Wis., and was employed as a dry goods clerk for five years.

At the end of that time he went to Chicago and was in the employ of Armstrong & Company, wholesale oil dealers, as traveling salesman for five years.

In the spring of 1870 he came to Grand Rapids, and in connection with James M. Hansel established a wholesale paper and oil business on Front street on the west side of the river, where they remained nearly two years.

Mr. Curtiss subsequently purchased his partner's interest and sold it to Lewis G. Dunton.

The stock was removed to 69 old Canal street, but increasing business soon necessitated more commodious quarters, and in the fall of 1880 a location on Lyon street was occupied.

In the fall of 1884 Mr. Curtiss was elected to the State Senate, and in the following spring was elected mayor of the city of Grand Rapids.

Isaac M. Weston was born April 20, 1845, at North Anson, Me., and removed to Milwaukee, Wis., in 1859.

In 1862 he was engaged in the Little Crow Indian- campaign, as a lieutenant in a Minnesota regiment.

In 1863 he entered the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and spent two years in that institution.

In 1865 he entered the employ of the United States government as military storekeeper at Fort Laramie, Dak., and the year following was managing editor

of the Salt Lake (Utah) Daily Vedette.

In 1867 he embarked in the lumber business at Whitehall, Mich., and at Milwaukee, associated with his father.

In 1877 he became cashier of the First National Bank at Whitehall, of which institution his father was president, and in September, 1879, on the retirement of the latter from active business life, the son succeeded to his position.

In January, 1881, he accepted the position of cashier of the Farmers & Mechanics' Bank at Grand Rapids.

At the same time he was also at the head of two lumber and saw-mill firms at Whitehall, and had pine land interests on the Muskegon and Manistee Rivers.

He served as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee for the Fifth Congressional district, and in 1880 was the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer.

For six years he was a member of the Executive Committee, and treasurer four years, until 1886, when he was made chairman, and re-elected for another two years, in 1888.

For six months previous to May 6, 1888, Mr. Weston was also acting member of the Democratic National Committee for Michigan, under a proxy from Postmaster-General Dickinson.

During the campaign of 1888 he was president of the Democratic Association of the Northwest, which included all the Northwestern State chairmen.

He served two years as treasurer of the Grand Rapids Board of Education, and four years on the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, the last year as president.

In 1882 Mr. Weston was a member and treasurer of the Congressional committee of the Fifth district, when the democrats elected their candidate for the first time in twenty-six years.

In 1884 the Democratic delegates to the Fifth district, joint Democratic-Greenback Congressional convention, presented Mr. Weston's name for the nomination, and under a three-fourths rule he polled over two-thirds of the votes for sixty-five ballots, but his being president of one national bank and vice-president of another, created Greenback opposition, and he insisted on his name being dropped.

In April, 1888, he was elected mayor of Grand Rapids.

The same year the state convention of his party elected him first delegate-at-large to the St. Louis national convention, which renominated President Cleveland.

One of the last official acts of President Cleveland in his first term was the appointment of Mr. Weston as government commissioner to examine for acceptance the last section of the Southern Pacific Company's railroad, between San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

John Killean was born at Buffalo, N. Y., Nov. 27, 1831.

While he was quite young his father moved out of the city and settled on a farm in the town of Hamburg, Erie County, New York.

Mr. Killean's early educational privileges were those of attendance at a district school during the winter months until he was sixteen years old.

At the age of twenty-three, Feb. 18, 1855, he married, in the city of Buffalo, Mary C. Walsh.

He was thereafter mostly engaged in the lumber business until his removal to Grand Rapids, where he soon entered the grocery trade, in which occupation he was engaged throughout his business career, as senior of the firm of John Killean & Son.

He came to this city in October, 1863, and it was thereafter continuously his place of residence.

In the Spring of 1882 he was elected alderman from the Fourth ward, and was re-elected to the same office in the Spring of 1884.

During his service as alderman he was for three terms in succession chosen president of the common council.

In the Spring of 1886 he was appointed a member of the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners.

At the general election, in November, 1886, he was elected one of the representatives from this city to the State Legislature, and was re-elected in 1888.

At the charter election in April, 1889, he was elected mayor of the city of Grand Rapids, which office he held one term.

Edwin F. Sweet was born at Dansville, Livingston County, New York, Nov. 21, 1848.

He received his early education at a district school and afterward attended the Dansville Seminary, where he prepared for college.

He entered Yale College, in the fall of 1867, and remained there until he graduated, in the summer of 1871.

On Oct. 9 of the same year he left his native county to make a tour of Europe and the Holy Land.

He sailed from New York on the above date for Liverpool, visited most of the noted European cities and countries, passing through Wales to London, thence to Paris, Marseilles, Rome, Naples and Brindisi.

He next sailed o Alexandria, Egypt; up the river Nile to the first cataract, and subsequently spent one month in Palestine.

On his return he passed through Syria, Constantinople, Athens, and thence to Venice; and from there he passed through Switzerland, Austria, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, etc. He sailed from London and arrived in New York, Oct. 9, 1872.

On Jan. 1, 1873, he went to Ann Arbor and entered the law department of the Michigan University.

From this school he graduated in April, 1874, and came to Grand Rapids upon invitation of Hughes, O'Brien & Smiley to enter their employ as clerk. Here he remained two years, until April, 1876, when the firm of Stuart & Sweet was formed.

Mr. Sweet was elected mayor of Grand Rapids in 1904 and 1905, and in 1910 was chosen to represent the Grand Rapids district in Congress.

In 1913 he received the appointment from President Wilson as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and still holds that position, with residence in the city of Washington. In 1916 he was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Michigan.

A complete new charter for the city was adopted by a vote of the people in 1905, and under this the management of the city was conducted until 1917, when the Commission form of government was instituted.

A Charter Commission, composed of leading citizens, was given the task of preparing a new charter and this commission finished its work on May 4, 1916.

It was immediately passed by the State Legislature, received the approval of the Governor, May 17, 1916, and at a special election held on Aug. 29, 1916, the new Commission form of government was adopted by the votes of the qualified electors of the city.

The more important and radical changes in this new form of government consist in the change from the Federal or Aldermanic form to the Commission plan with a City Manager.

The old ward lines for the election of commissioners were eliminated and the city is divided into three wards, each ward being represented by two commissioners nominated and elected by the city at large.

The six, together with one commissioner nominated and elected from the city at large, constitute the City Commission, in which is vested all legislative and administrative powers.

All municipal primaries and elections are non-partisan.

The City Commission elects one of its members mayor and provision is made for the election of a city manager, city attorney, city clerk, city treasurer, and three assessors, one from each ward, by the City Commission.

The following departments are established, eliminating the old system of board management: An auditing department, of which the city comptroller is the head; a taxation department, of which the city assessors are the head; a finance department, of which the city treasurer is the head; a department of law, of which the city attorney is the head; a department of public service, department of public safety, department of public welfare, and a purchasing department.

The last four named departments are under the supervision of the city manager with power to remove and appoint department heads.

The legal and finance departments are managed respectively by the city attorney and city treasurer, each of whom are appointed by the city commission and subject to removal by them.

The members of the city commission act as a civil service board, pass upon all appeals from tax rolls as a board of review, and together with the city treasurer, comptroller, three assessors and twelve supervisors, four elected in each ward, represent the city on the county board of supervisors.

Provision is made in the charter for the initiative, referendum and recall of all elective officers, except judges of courts of record and courts of like jurisdiction.

A civil service code is incorporated, under the supervision of the city commission, introducing a merit system for appointive officers and positions in all departments.

Radical departure is also made from the old charter in matters pertaining to taxation, public and special improvements, public utility franchises, and sinking fund provisions.

Provision is made for the appointment by the city commission of a Board of Art and Museum Commissioners, for the control and management of the museum and all property of the city intended for art or an art collection.

Provision is also made for the establishment of a house of correction and work farm by the city commission, but the question of providing and maintaining such an institution by the city must first be submitted and approved by three-fifths of the electors voting thereon.

In regard to liquor traffic regulations provision is made making it mandatory upon the city commission to grant licenses to all applicants who have been engaged in the business a year or more immediately preceding the date of their application and have not been found guilty of any violation of the liquor laws of the State or the liquor ordinances of the city.

The pension provisions fix the maximum pension for all city employees in extra hazardous employment at $50 per month after twenty-five years of service and who have reached the age of 55 years, and for the pensioning of the dependents of such employees killed while in the service of the city.

The first election under this commission form of government was held on the first Monday of April, 1917, and the following officers were chosen, taking their positions on the first Monday in May, following: Commissioner-at-large, Philo C. Fuller; commissioners, First ward, Julius Tisch for two years and William Oltman for one year; commissioners, Second ward, Christian Gallmeyer for one year and William J. Clark for two years; commissioners, Third ward, Daniel C. Kelley for one year and W. E. Tallmadge for two years.

At the first meeting of the city commissioners, following the election, Philo C. Fuller was elected to the position of mayor and the following officials were selected: City manager, Gaylord C. Cummin; city clerk, Joseph C. Shinkman; city comptroller, Rudolph Doornink; city treasurer, George F. Greene; ciy attorney, Ganson Taggart; Board of Assessors—First ward, William Crewe; Second ward, Frank C. Steinmann; Third ward, Judson D. Forsyth.

At the second election under the new charter, held April 1, 1918, George E. Ellis was elected commissioner-at-large, and Messrs. Oltman, Gallmeyer, and Kelley were re-elected for two-year terms. Christian Gallmeyer was selected as mayor.

The present limits of the city of Grand Rapids may be defined as follows: Beginning at the northeast corner of Section 18, town 7 north, range 11 west; thence south to the southeast corner of said Section 18; thence east along Leonard street to the northeast corner of the west one-half of Section 20, said town and range; thence south along Fuller avenue to the south line of said Section 20; thence east along Michigan street to the northeast corner of Section 29, said town and range; thence south along a line one-half mile east of Fuller avenue to the southeast corner of Section 5, town 6 north, range 11 west; thence west along Burton street to the northwest corner of the west half of Section 7, said town and range; thence south along Madison avenue to the center of said section; thence west to the northwest corner of the south half of Section 12, said town and range; thence north along Clyde Park avenue to the northwest corner of Section 1, town 6 north, range 12 west; thence west along the line of Hall street extended to center of Grand River; thence northeasterly in center of river to the west line of Section 35, town 7 north, range 12 west; thence north along Bristol avenue to the northwest corner of the southwest quarter of Section 14, town 7 north, range 12 west; thence east along North street to the northeast corner of said southwest quarter; thence north along Garfield avenue to the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of said Section 14; thence east along Mason and Knapp streets to place of beginning.

The actual territory embraced within these limits is a little more than eighteen square miles.

Politically, under the old system of government, the city was divided into twelve wards, and each addition to the original three wards represented an increase both in population and territory.

The outer limits of the city are changing from time to time with the extension of the city's boundaries and the addition of new territory.

The population of the city in 1910, according to the United States census, was 112,571, but considering its continued growth during the past years one would be safe in estimating its population, in 1918, at 145,000.

LABOR MATTERS. Among the early societies in Grand Rapids was a lodge of the Order of the Mechanics' Mutual Protection—the first "labor union" established in the place, organized about 1849, and maintaining an association some ten years.

It had a membership of upward of one hundred mechanics, employers and employes alike, having for its object the promotion of their mutual interests.

Among those who were officially connected with it were Robert Hilton, Albert Baxter, Kendall Woodward, David Burnett, Wilder D. Foster, Orlando K. Pearsall, Henry R. Naysmith, J. M. Stanly, and Benjamin Luce.

The society dissolved amicably, about 1859, and divided its assets among the members.

It held its sessions in Faneuil Hall for some years, and afterward in a brick block, a little north of Erie on old Canal Street.

Kendall Woodward came here, in 1836, was a mechanic, an architect and builder, and was in trade for some years near the present Campau Place.

Henry R. Naysmith was born in the town of York, N. Y., March 1, 1823.

He was reared on his father's homestead and while still a youth engaged in the manufacture of clothing.

Before attaining his majority he served an apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade, and his skill as a builder was attested by numerous structures of different kinds in various parts of Grand Rapids and throughout Kent and other counties.

Actuated by a laudable desire to increase his knowledge, after coming to Grand Rapids, he availed himself of the advantages of attending an academy taught by Prof. Everett, under whose able instruction he pursued his studies two winters, making rapid progress during that time.

Subsequently, he taught two terms of school, after which he turned his attention exclusively to contracting and building, following the same with success and financial profit for many years, until failing health compelled him to relinquish manual labor.

For two terms he was a member of the Board of Review, and during the active years of his business life few, if any, mechanics of Grand Rapids planned and executed more work, or did as much toward the material development of the city.

From 1862 to 1875, Mr. Naysmith was engaged in the manufacture of builders' materials, and conducted the leading industry in this line then in the city.

He died Sept. 30, 1894, beloved and honored by all who knew him.

All cities have labor troubles, at some time in their history, and Grand Rapids is no exception to the rule.

In 1885, when general and widespread restlessness prevailed throughout the country and the demands of organized labor for better wages and shorter hours were attended with scenes of violence and collisions with civil and military authorities in many States, a general reduction in wages by the employers of this city was decided upon.

The cut in wages was less than ten per cent in the average, but it caused many workmen and some factories to suspend operation for a time.

There were large numbers of unemployed people in the streets, and a meeting of the citizens was held to devise means for their relief.

This resulted in the organization of an employment bureau, with committees to obtain situations for as many as possible.

The county superintendents and the city director of the poor had many more to care for than usual.

The distress was greater from lack of employment among day laborers than among mechanics.

About the same time the Knights of Labor had organized a boycott against the street railway, and carryalls were running in opposition to the street cars.

The city authorities co-operated with the citizens in efforts for relief, and within two months matters were running smoothly, again, with work for all at living wages.

It has been well said that the following year, 1886, "was the period of strikes and boycotts," and it marked the beginning of an era of low prices, occasioned by a diminution of the world's gold supply—by which all values are measured—from which there was little permanent relief until the mines of South Africa and Alaska turned their golden streams into the channels of commerce and industry, in 1898.

At the period of which we write, the entire Gould system of railway lines was affected in the Southwest and freight traffic on all lines was at a standstill in Chicago.

And it could not be expected that a city like Grand Rapids, with its many important industries and thousands of laborers, both skilled and unskilled, should entirely escape.

There was agitation of the labor question in the latter part of April, resulting in a partial adjustment between employers and employes, May 1, as to wages and hours of work, but in the following week numbers of men in several factories reconsidered and organized a strike.

Their demands were for eight hours to constitute a day's work, without a reduction of wages.

A compromise was effected, and the wheels of industry moved on as before.

Differences between the street car company and its employees came to a crisis on Saturday, May 9, 1891, when the men decided to strike, and on the following day street car traffic was suspended.

The strike occurred at the same time that the street railway company was changing the system from cable and horse cars to electricity.

A big demonstration, arranged by the Central Labor Union, was held on May 14, and a monster parade took place, the ranks being augmented by laboring men from the factories, which were forced to close for the occasion.

By invitation the city and county officials had a prominent place in the parade and the different unions in the city were all represented.

It was the largest event of the kind in the history of the city until that time, over 3,000 men being in line.

On May 19, disturbances broke out in all portions of the city, cars were attacked and property destroyed, and a week later a repetition of such conflicts occurred.

One of the biggest riots in connection with the strike occurred on May 28, when several hundred strike sympathizers assembled on old Canal Street, in front of the Berky & Gay factory.

The street car track was obstructed and the police and crowd engaged in a lively scrimmage, in which several arrests were made.

The most serious riot, however, which occurred during the progress of the strike, took place on the morning of June 10, when a mob assembled near the Sweet Street depot, intent, as it was supposed, to blow up the wheel pit, which would have stopped the cable lines of the entire north end system of the street railway.

Policemen were present in force and a ten-minute pitched battle ensued, in which a number on each side were injured and fourteen of the rioters were arrested, charged with conspiracy.

This incident seemed to mark the beginning of the end of the strike.

The sympathy of the public was gradually withdrawn from the strikers, and after a long, bitter contest, lasting nearly seven weeks, the street railway employees' union declared the strike off on June 23.

Under the circumstances the men had made a most obstinate struggle, and only yielded when to continue the strike seemed utterly useless.

The most serious labor trouble that has ever afflicted Grand Rapids occurred in 1911, when the affiliated unions, embracing the employees of the more than forty furniture factories in the city, waged an unsuccessful strike in support of their demands for better working hours, better pay, and the abolition of the piece work system.

In October, 1910, the furniture workers, approximating 4,000 men, voted for a nine-hour day, a 10-per cent, wage increase and the abolition of piece work.

On Feb. 9, 1911, they sent a proposed trade agreement to the manufacturers' association, asking for a conference; but the manufacturers, ignoring the unions, replied to the individual employees, saying that they would conduct their factories on an "open-shop" basis.

The situation becoming extremely serious, on March 23, Mayor George E. Ellis offered to name an arbitration committee, if desired, and the following day the carpenters' district council offered to arbitrate.

On March 25, the men voted to strike on April 1, if their demands were not granted in the meantime.

This action was taken by a referendum vote, 3,272 votes being cast, and 95 per cent were in favor of the strike.

The manufacturers repudiated the arbitration proposals, and also declined to meet labor representatives before the Board of Trade committee.

At the request of citizens, pending efforts to formulate a conference plan, the leaders of the union delayed the strike call, and both sides agreed to let Bishop Joseph Schrembs, of the Catholic church, and Rev. Alfred W. Wishart, of the Baptist church, name a commission of inquiry.

Sidney F. Stevens, Heber A. Knott, and John P. Hayes were named, and with the two reverend gentlemen began their hearings on April 6.

Learning that the manufacturers had refused their demands, on the morning of April 19, the furniture workers in every factory laid down their tools and left their benches.

On April 22 the Marvel Manufacturing Company signed an agreement for nine hours' work with ten hours' pay, and two days later the Veit Manufacturing Company and the Interchangeable Fixture Company also signed with their men.

On May 13, the Nachtegall Manufacturing Company came to an agreement with its employees, and on May 15 the Fritz Manufacturing Company did likewise, but the remaining factories sternly maintained their position.

The first serious trouble of the strike occurred at the Widdicomb factory on May 15.

Stones were thrown and the police drew their revolvers, but the trouble ended in the arrest of several rioters, the firemen coming to the relief of the police and turning streams of water upon the mob.

On May 17, a temporary restraining order was granted, forbidding picketing or congregating of crowds near factories, and on June 5 the order was made permanent.

A public meeting, preceded by a big night parade, with 2,409 strikers in line, was held on July 15, at Fulton street park, and five days later, in a big mass meeting at the Majestic theatre, the strikers voted to amend their demands so as to ask only fifty-five hours work with sixty hours' pay and a straight nine-hour day after Jan. 1, 1912.

The Fancy Furniture Company, on July 24, entered into an agreement with its men upon that basis, and on Aug. 8 the Gunn employees returned to work with a similar understanding; but with the exceptions mentioned every firm stood out until the end, which came on August 17, when the members of the allied unions saw the futility of further effort and voted to end the strike.


The origin of the present water-works system of Grand Rapids is of comparatively recent date; though more than seventy years ago, the need of an abundant supply of pure, fresh water arose.

Prior to that time the supply of water was drawn almost exclusively from the many springs that came bubbling and sparkling from the bosom of Mother Earth.

All along the bases of the hilly elevations, and well up their sides also, were springs of most excellent water; and on the lower levels it was necessary to dig but a few feet for an ample supply for the households of the early comers.

And the water was not only cool and pleasant to the taste, but, until the town became thickly settled, healthful.

In the infancy of this settlement there was a large spring, from which came a rivulet large enough to run a turning establishment, half way up the hill north of Michigan Street —clear, cool and excellent for domestic use.

OLD STONE SCHOOL HOUSE Built 1849 - Torn Down 1868

OLD STONE SCHOOL HOUSE Built 1849 - Torn Down 1868

Just a little southwest from where the Junior High School building stands, under the brow of the hill, was another, from which a brook ran down Fountain Street.

In 1848 the latter, and a few years afterward the former, were turned into log pipes for the people "down town."

The experiment was a decided success, and these primitive water-works furnished the people with an ample supply of pure water and were utilized for many years.

The increase of population in the city and the growing importance of her thriving industries made imperative the demand for an ample water supply, and led to much discussion and many proposed plans.

In the fall of 1848 a number of gentlemen, of whom among the active workers were Canton Smith and Joseph J. Baxter, started the enterprise, of which we have just written, of supplying the most thickly settled portion of the then village with good spring water for domestic use.

For that purpose they took the water from the aforementioned spring.

The pipes were the old fashioned pump logs —pine logs of about a foot in diameter, with a three-inch bore.

The boring of the logs was done by Lucius A. Thayer, who fitted an auger especially for that purpose and operated it by water power in one of the factories above Michigan Street, between the canal and the river.

The pointing and fitting of the logs was done by hand, by a ship carpenter.

A square curb, made of two-inch oak plank, was sunk at the spring.

The trench in which the logs were laid was a ditch, at no point more than three feet in depth.

The piping was completed that fall from the spring down Fountain Street to Ionia, thence to the National Hotel on Monroe Street.

In the following year the pipes were extended to what is now Campau Place, when it was found that the company had as many customers as that spring would supply.

Meantime application as made to the legislature for an act of incorporation, which was passed April 2, 1849, constituting George Coggeshall, Thompson Sinclair, Charles Shepard, Canton Smith, James M. Nelson, and their successors and assigns, a body corporate, to be known as "The President and Directors of the Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company," with a capital of not to exceed $30,000.

The purpose of the organization was to be that of "conducting a plentiful supply of pure, wholesome water to said village, for the use of the inhabitants of said village, and to supply reservoirs for extinguishing fires."

The charter provided that the supply should "be obtained from the springs of water in and about said village, from Coldbrook, from the lake or lakes from which it has its source, or either of them, and from no other source."

This charter was very comprehensive in the powers which it granted to the company, giving the right to enter upon and use streets, lands and springs in and about the village, as might be requisite for its legitimate work, and moreover its franchises were given substantially in perpetuity.

The Hydraulic Company's charter was drawn by Solomon L. Withey, who became a member of the company, and its first meeting was held, June 20, 1849, at which time its organization was completed by the election of officers.

Canton Smith was its first president, and its stock books were opened for subscription, June 22, 1849.

Having reached the limit of its supply, while the demand was steadily increasing, the company began to look about for more water.

This they obtained from springs a little south of Wealthy street and east of Jefferson, laying logs from that locality to Fulton street, and thence toward the river.

They then had a fairly adequate supply for the residents along their lines, and that portion of the then business part of the town west of Division and south of Pearl Street.

But the city continued to grow, while the springs did not, and more water must be had.

The company went still further south and gathered the outflow from several springs on what was then called the "Penney eighty."

About 1854 Christopher Kusterer and John Mangold began the use of a large spring between Michigan and Hastings, a little east of Ottawa street, as a source of water supply for domestic use.

Previously, at a very early day, a portion of the stream from that spring had been carried down Michigan Street to a watering trough in front of the old Bridge Street House, and this for years made an excellent watering place for horses.

In the summer of 1855 the council gave permission to the proprietors of the Bridge Street House and Western Hotel to lay pipes from the spring mentioned for their own use.

Kusterer and Mangold, under a franchise obtained in 1859 from the council, after having constructed a reservoir in which they collected the waters from this and other contiguous springs, laid pump logs down Michigan street and through Kent alley to Lyon street; also to and along by the buildings on the west side of old Canal street, as far south as Huron, and down old Canal street to near Pearl, giving to the residents thus reached a fair supply of excellent water for domestic use.

Neither they nor the Hydraulic Company had sufficient pressure to carry water much above the second floors of buildings even on the lower levels.

Only wooden pipes or logs were used until 1857, when upon the first paving of Monroe Street, the Hydraulic Company laid a small iron main down that thoroughfare.

In 1864, Amos Roberts, Warren P. Mills, James Lyman and Joseph Penney became stockholders in the Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company.

The total stock subscription, Oct. 29 of that year, was $24,800. In 1870 the water rights of the Kusterer & Mangold Company were by mutual arrangement merged in those of the Hydraulic Company.

In 1872 the company undertook the construction of a deep reservoir upon ground purchased of Mr. Penney toward the southeastern part of the city, in the hope of greatly increasing its supply.

This was a large brick curb with a cast-iron shoe at the bottom, sunk to a depth of about thirty feet.

But the increase in population in the city and the growing importance of its thriving industries made imperative the demand for a more ample water supply, and led to much discussion and many proposed plans.

Actual progress toward the desired result was not made until 1873, various causes interfering to delay the project.

A Board of Public Works had been created for the city, by an act passed in March, 1873, under whose control the subject of water supply and the construction of the necessary works was placed, after a general plan should have been submitted to the council.

In July the Board submitted a plan, with the recommendation that $250,000 be raised for that purpose, and this was submitted to popular vote and adopted.

The financial panic of that year delayed the work somewhat, but pipes were purchased, and before the first of December about two miles were laid down in Michigan, old Canal and Monroe streets, and connected with a small reservoir belonging to C. C. Comstock, on the brow of the hill, near Newberry Street.

Thus a temporary supply of water was obtained, adding considerably to the means for extinguishing fires.

In the Spring of 1874 work was resumed, and in that year about eleven miles of the banded wood pipe known as the Wyckoff patent pipe was laid.

The site for a reservoir, comprising about five and one-half acres, was purchased, and the reservoir constructed, at a total cost of $54,082.71.

A site for the pumping house, on the bank of the river at the mouth of Coldbrook, was also purchased, and the building erected that year.

This ground included five lots, with 250 feet front on Monroe Avenue by 186 feet on Coldbrook Street.

The choice of this site gave, in addition to the control of the water in Carrier creek, Coldbrook and Lamberton Creek, access to Grand river, rendering it certain that in no event would the city ever be short of water, at least as good as the river would afford.

The original pumping engines were designed by Demetrius Turner and constructed by Butterworth & Lowe, of Grand Rapids.

The river water being considered unfit for use in summer, resort was had to Coldbrook and Carrier creeks, near their junction, about 1,900 feet east of the pumping works.

The distribution at first included about twelve miles of pipe—about two miles being of cast iron and the rest of wood.

The iron pipe was laid by Charles Peterson and the wood pipe by T. B. Farrington and H. A. Branch. Work done in 1874 on the city water works cost upward of $260,000, of which about $118,000 was for the pipe system.

A published statement showed at the end of that year 10,389 feet of iron pipe laid, and 56,262 feet of wood pipe—about 12.7 miles in all.

The wood pipes were kept in use about fourteen years, doing good service under strong pressure.

The work during the year 1875, in addition to laying of pipes in the streets, included a pipe across the river for supplying the west side, and the purchase of ground for and the construction of a settling basin, the latter being located on Coldbrook, just above the crossing of the railroad track, where it is joined by Carrier creek.

On Jan. 1, 1876, the city had 99,668 feet of water mains laid.

Attached to these were 199 public and several private hydrants, and 107 stop valves.

The engineers estimated the cost of the works up to that time at about $341,000.

In 1876, about three and a half miles of water mains were laid, and thirty-six hydrants.

The amount expended upon the works that year was $29,328.

From 1878, onward for several years, very little progress was made in improving the city water works, the chief labor and outlay being for their care and preservation.

Various efforts were made to obtain funds to procure an increase of water supply, but all efforts were defeated for a period of about ten years.

And the Hydraulic company did not make much addition to their water resources until 1886, when they procured a site near the east bank of the river, about three-fourths of a mile north of the city, where they sank a reservoir or well, and established a pumping house station.

The city attempted to restrain and enjoin the Hydraulic company from further laying of water pipes within the city, but the Superior court decided in favor of the private corporation, in 1887, and its decision was affirmed by the State Supreme court.

Up to the end of 1888 the Hydraulic Company had laid about fifteen miles of iron mains, and displaced all but three or four miles of the old wood pipes.

They had also erected at the corner of Clinton and Newberry streets a stand pipe, 100 feet high and 20 feet in diameter.

After having defeated, four times in succession, the proposition of enlarging and extending the municipal plant, in 1888 the citizens of Grand Rapids seem to have experienced a radical change in their ideas, and on Aug. 7 of that year the electors voted—yeas 2,799; nays 946—in favor of procuring by loan $150,000 to extend the mains and improve the water supply.

Bonds to that amount were issued, and from this sale $168,348.35 was realized.

A contract was made for thirty-one miles of pipe, and thirteen miles were laid before the end of 1888.

Other improvements made to the water system included a filtering crib in the center of the river, with a pipe from the crib to the pumping house well; also a new boiler house.

A very important item was the cast iron main, sixteen inches in diameter and 600 feet long, laid across the river in 1886, near the pumping station.

This took the place of an earlier and smaller one which had become valueless.

The legislature, at the session of 1889, passed an act authorizing the city to borrow a sum not exceeding $80,000, issuing bonds therefor, to substitute iron pipe for the wooden pipe, for the erection of a standpipe, and for other improvements of the water works system.

In accordance with a vote of the common council, bonds to the amount of $80,000 were issued and sold at a premium, and the proceeds were applied as designated in the act—the more important improvements being the replacing of the wood pipe with iron, the extension of the mains, the erection of a standpipe, and the construction of the filtering beds in the channel of Grand river, nearly opposite the pumping house.

The later plans and work involved the abandonment of Coldbrook and Carrier creeks as sources of supply, the great growth of the city in that direction having too much contaminated their waters; and with them the settling basin also went out of the use for which it was made.

In 1890 a standpipe of wrought iron, 30 feet in diameter and 75 feet high, was built on a lot purchased for that purpose, next to the reservoir.

On Feb. 12, 1892, a bill of complaint for foreclosure was filed in the United States Circuit Court for the Western District of Michigan by the American Loan & Trust Company, of Massachusetts, against the officers of the Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company, and on April 25, 1893, Thomas J. O'Brien was appointed receiver by the Court.

The company was then operated under the receivership until Oct. 23, 1906, when, with the consent of the parties interested, the property was returned to the management of the board of directors.

At the session of the legislature, in 1905, a bill was passed repealing the act of 1849, incorporating the Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company, and providing for the allowance and payment of the claims of the company against the city for the value of its tangible property.

The repealing act was attacked in the courts; was held valid by the decision of Judge Perkins, May 7, 1907, and that decision was affirmed, July 13, 1908, by the State Supreme court, and by the United States Supreme Court, Dec. 12, 1910.

Since the passage of the repealing act negotiations have been entered into and have been prolonged, looking to the purchase of the tangible property of the Hydraulic Company by the city.

A proposition was finally made by the company, offering to sell its interests to the city for $80,000.

The question was submitted to the electors at the Spring election of 1917, but it was defeated by a vote of 10,737 nays to 6,506 yeas.

The company is still engaged in business and is supplying water to its customers.

In 1893 a subsidence basin was excavated in the rock bottom of the river to a depth below the bottom of the pump-well, with walls built from the river bottom to a point above the surface of the ground about the station of the city water-works plant.

The basin was built with a partition wall through the center longitudinally, so that one side could be cut out of service whenever it becomes necessary to remove sediment from it, by closing gates, leaving the other side open for use.

The basin was covered with a roof to prevent dust or foreign material from getting into the water, as well as to protect the public against injury.

The same year a larger conduit than the old one was found essential, and plans were adopted for excavating a new one which extended from the subsidence basin to the intake.

The sides of the conduit were lined with masonry and an arch of stone work built, the arch being covered with concrete masonry.

In connection with this work was the extension of Coldbrook and the culvert across the pump house grounds to the river.

This connection was about 200 feet long.

The river rock bed was cleared off, stone abutments built thereon upon a footing of concrete which extended entirely across the work.

The last 100 feet toward the river was plastered with cement mortar, one inch thick, making the bottom where it passed over the new conduit and for a considerable distance each way as tight as a cistern.

This arrangement placed the outfall of the creek culvert below the conduit, in the rapid current of the river.

In addition to the items mentioned, there was a large quantity of earth deposited between the retaining wall and the subsidence basin and around the culvert.

In January, 1892, a Gaskill pump was purchased by the city at a cost of $48,000.

For the year ending April 30, 1894, 887,839,831 gallons of water were pumped into the stand pipe.

To meet the continually increasing consumption of water the board, in 1895, erected a 15,000,000 Triple Expansion, High Duty Nordberg Pumping Engine, which, when installed, together with the Gaskill pumping engine, transferred to the hill service, was able to furnish a daily supply of 23,000,000 gallons, a quantity anticipating the city's demands for a number of years.

The large pumping engine was installed Sept. 5, 1895.

To economically distribute the quantity thus used, it was necessary that an additional force main be placed on the hill service, remote sections of which were for a time poorly supplied, as well as to increase the standpipe to give additional pressure on that service, and a large main was laid to that section of the low service where the supply was inadequate.

These required expenditures were necessary to supply the territory that was added to the city in 1891.

Because of the extremely cold weather in the winter of 1898-99 many water mains were frozen, and the following summer those which gave the most trouble were lowered.

In 1898 the city commenced a policy of putting in meters for metering the water to residences.

It was expected that this would result in reducing the amount of water pumped.

In 1899 the city employed two water experts of New York to examine the water-works of the city and the conditions of the city and surrounding territory and report thereon.

On Dec. 6, 1899, these experts reported that the source of supply was ample in quantity, but that it was contaminated by sewage and manufacturing wastes, which rendered the water unsuitable for domestic use.

The experts also reported that there was an insufficient pressure of water for fire protection.

Early in the morning of July 2, 1900, the city reservoir burst its walls to the south of the head of Livingston Street and poured its contents of 6,000,000 gallons with a tremendous roar to the south and east and moved away nearly everything in its path.

The pumping station had sent too much water into the reservoir, and with the break the flood swept down the hill east to Coldbrook Creek, which was soon swollen to the size of a great river.

Houses and sidewalks were overturned and wrecked, trees and telephone poles were torn out of the earth, and Newberry Street, Coit Avenue, Clancy Street, and Bradford Street for many rods were torn up and completely wrecked.

No lives were lost by the accident, but several were severely injured, and the loss in property was estimated at nearly $100,000.

In the year 1902-3 two new boilers were installed at the pumping station at a cost of $3,500 and a steam header at a cost of $5,149.32.

At the Spring election in 1903 $170,000 was voted for water-works extension.

At the Spring election of 1907, in accordance with the recommendation of the Board of Public Works, there were submitted to the electors of the city the question of a water supply in three different forms: In favor of Lake Michigan water, in favor of Grand River water, filtered, and opposition to a bond issue for either Lake Michigan water or filtration of Grand River water.

The election resulted as follows: In favor of Lake Michigan water, 3,391; in favor of Grand River water, filtered, 1,779; opposition to a bond issue for either, 2,635.

Thereupon, the question of issuing bonds, in the amount of $2,500,000, for the purpose of securing water from Lake Michigan, was submitted at a special election, held Sept. 17, 1907, but the proposition was defeated, receiving only 839 affirmative votes to 8,727 in the negative.

In March, 1909, the council authorized the purchase of one twelve-million-gallon vertical triple expansion pumping engine, and the same year a new pumping station was erected upon the site of the old one, at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Coldbrook Street, the same to be used as a combination pumping and lighting station.

The question of a bond issue in the amount of $395,000 was submitted at the Spring election of 1910, such bond issue being designed to make possible the erection of a rapid sand filtration plant for the purification of the water taken from Grand River.

The proposition received a favorable response from the electors and was adopted by a vote of 9,225 yeays to 5,921 nays.

A tract of land, bounded by Monroe and Taylor avenues and Caledonia and Quimby Streets, was purchased, and the plant was finished and in full operation by Jan. 1, 1913.

The total cost of construction was $430,000.

The water department keeps the grounds about its stations in fine shape, making them parks in fact. It furnishes water to the citizens at a very low rate, and fire protection is had at 2,104 hydrants, according to the Forty-third (and last) annual report of the Board of Public Works.

It is in many respects a model municipal utility.

It has had the great advantage of municipal ownership, and its mains reach nearly every corner of the city.

It has tunnels under the river to carry its pipes, and its pumps work ceaselessly day and night, but it has such reserve power that never are all the pumps running at once.

Probably no department of the city government, say its admirers, has been developed to such a high state of efficiency during the past twenty-five years as the water department.

The average daily consumption of water, according to the last published report, in Grand Rapids was 10,263,000 gallons.

The total amount of water pumped in the same year was 3,756,230,000 gallons, and 92 per cent, of this was metered.

Every resident is regarded as a consumer of water from the municipal water-works, and the number of wells is so small that they are not taken into account.

Water consumers paid the city $195,874.68, according to the same report, and the whole income of the water department was $522,544.69.

The department paid out $485,546.20, the actual cost of operation being $109,801.72.

One of the big expenses of the department was $194,340.99 for construction work in extending the system, and the balance on hand was $36,998.49.

Closely allied to Grand Rapids' water-works system, and quite as essential, is the sewerage system, than which no city can boast a more perfect one, and few equally complete and satisfactory.

Prior to 1865, however, the city had no definite plan for sewerage; and although the population then numbered 11,000, but a few sewers had been built.

In that year, what was called a city grade bench was established, and thus was brought about a general uniformity of descent and flowage.

The system was extended from time to time and now covers the whole area of the city.

Each year witnesses an extension to meet the growing demands, and it is a matter of civic pride that this, like Grand Rapids' water-supply system, is equaled in completeness and utility by few and surpassed by none.

For many years the municipal offices of the city of Grand Rapids were located wherever a convenient place could be had; but the rapid development of the city and the vast increase of municipal business long ago outgrew the limited facilities and space thus afforded, and an urgent need of a permanent building, in which the business of the city's various departments could be transacted and its records be preserved, began to be felt.

This demand for a substantial and permanent home assumed definite shape in 1885, when it was decided to erect a building that should in all respects be worthy of the city.

The site selected was the north side of Lyon Street, between Ottawa and Ionia streets.

The building was constructed by W. D. Richardson, of Springfield, Ill., after plans and specifications prepared by E. E. Myers, of Detroit, and it presents an appearance at once substantial, imposing and handsome.

The building has a frontage of 160 feet on Lyon Street, and is ninety-six feet deep, and is four stories in height above the basement.

The main tower at the southwest corner rises to the height of 163 feet.'

The building is supplied with numerous massive vaults, and the interior arrangements throughout have been constructed after the most carefully studied plans, with a view to convenience, comfort, and artistic effect, with the result that everything has been secured that seemingly could be desired.

The cost of the building was about $315,000 and at the time of its completion it was considered one of the finest public buildings of its class in the West.

Prior to the occupancy of the new city hall, the officials had various habitations.

On what seems to be good authority, it is related that the first meetings of the common council of the city of Grand Rapids were held on the south side of Monroe, a little above Market Street.

These meetings were held immediately after the organization of the city government, and a little later the "City Fathers" occupied quarters in the Taylor building, near what is now called Campau Place.

They were later domiciled in the Commercial Block, near Campau Place, and still later in the post office building at the Arcade.

Some of the city offices were established in what had been known as the McReynolds Block, on the east side of old Canal Street, south of Lyon.

In 1876 the common council began holding its meetings in Morey's Block on Pearl Street, which became known as the old city hall.

This building was occupied until the present city hall was completed, in 1888.

The first government office established in Grand Rapids was the post office, and the first building for that use was the mission station on the west bank of the river, which building was occupied by Leonard Slater, who was appointed postmaster by President Jackson, in December, 1832.

Mr. Slater's term of service continued until Sept. 1, 1836.

His successors have been: 1836 to 1838, Darius Winsor; 1838 to 1841, Alfred D. Rathbone; 1841 to 1845, James M. Nelson; 1845 to 1849, Truman H. Lyon; 1849 to 1853, Ralph W. Cole; 1853 to 1857, Truman H. Lyon; 1857 to 1861, Harvey P. Yale; 1861 to 1866, Noyes L. Avery; 1866 to 1867, Charles H. Taylor; 1867 to 1869, Solomon O. Kingsbury; 1869 to 1877, Aaron B. Turner; 1877 to 1878, Peter R. L. Peirce; 1878 to 1882, James Gallup; 1882 to 1885, Homer N. Moore; 1885 to 1890, James Blair; 1890 to 1894, George G. Briggs; 1894 to 1898, Thomas F. Carroll; 1898 to 1912, Loomis K. Bishop; 1912 to 1915, W. Millard Palmer; and the present incumbent, Charles E. Hogadone, who received his commission in 1915.

After settlers began to come in and the inconvenience of bringing letters across the river in canoes began to be felt, Joel Guild acted as deputy or clerk, and in 1834 the reception and delivery of mail matter was conducted at his house, which stood on the site of the present National City Bank building.

In 1836 the office was removed to the east side of the river and was kept at the house of the postmaster, Darius Winsor, at the corner of Ottawa and Fountain streets, where now is the New Aldrich Block.

Mr. Winsor soon removed the office to a point on Monroe Street, nearly opposite Market. The next move was in 1838, to a little building on the west side of Prospect Hill, on Lyon Street.

When Mr. Nelson assumed the duties of the office, in 1841, he moved it to old Canal street, just south of Lyon, and in 1844 he again moved it to the south side of Monroe street, above Market, whence it was moved by Mr. Lyon to the east corner of old Canal and Pearl streets, where now is the Lovell Block; in 1849, from the corner a little north on the east side of old Canal street; in 1853, two doors further north; in 1857, to Exchange Place or alley (Arcade), midway between Pearl and Lyon streets; in 1861, to the McReynolds Block, corner of Lyon and the Arcade; in 1868, to the Eagle Building, north side of Lyon, between old Canal and Kent (now Bond), where it remained until the government building, in the block bounded by Lyon, North Division, Pearl and Ionia streets, was finished and taken possession of, Nov. 15, 1879.

This building gave ample accommodations for transacting the business necessary at that time, but with the phenomenal growth of the city and the enlargement of the demands upon the post office, to meet the urgent need the United States government decided upon a new building.

In 1906, a bill was introduced in Congress by Hon. William Alden Smith, and the same was passed, making an appropriation of $500,000 for the purpose.

The site of the old building was decided upon as the location and work was commenced in 1908.

The building is three stories in height above the basement, and Vermont marble is greatly in evidence in its construction.

The style of architecture is of the square old-fashioned type, and is at once ornamental, substantial, and impressive.

The building throughout is finished and furnished after the most approved style, and gives the Government's postal service and other offices in Grand Rapids a home commensurate with their importance and dignity, and it is also worthy of the city.


Grand Rapids has a park system in which its citizens take a pardonable pride.

It consists of 398 acres, scattered throughout the city, and there is not a man, woman or child living in any part of Grand Rapids who cannot reach an open space of grass, water and fresh air in a five minutes’ walk from home.

And most of the park lands have been acquired by the city within the last quarter century.

It was not until 1905 that Grand Rapids citizens fully awoke to the realization that the city needed parks.

Long before that time the Monument Park, Foster Park, Lincoln Place, Fulton Street, John Ball, Highland, Lincoln, Creston, Crescent, Lookout, and Pearl Parks had been acquired by the city.

Four of them are sufficiently large and pretentious to be properly called parks, and these are: John Ball Park (137.41 acres), forty acres of which was bequeathed to the city by the late John Ball.

This fine park is located at the westerly end of Fulton Street, between Sibley Street and Butterworth street, and extends west to the city limits.

The original park, forty acres, was bequeathed to the city by the late John Ball, in 1869, and the widow's interest was acquired April 22, 1884, for $750.

An adjoining 17.3 acres was acquired Aug. 5, 1891, from Agnes Fitzpatrick, for $8,500.

The north forty acres was purchased from Thomas F. Carroll, I. M. Turner, Mrs. F. B. Turner, and the Fourth National Bank, Nov. 2, 1895, for $21,500.

An adjoining nine and one-half acres was purchased from Agnes Fitzpatrick, Oct. 22, 1897, for $5,000.

A strip of seven acres adjoining the north forty on the west was deeded to the city Sept. 4, 1906, by Julia A. Richards, under an agreement to make certain improvements without cost to her.

An adjoining 22.46 acres was acquired by purchase from the McNamara estate for $29,300.

The present area of this park is 137.41 acres, and it cost, exclusive of improvements, $65,050.

Its present estimated value is $207,200. Highland Park contains 34.22 acres.

One and one-half acres of this park, lying north of the Grand Trunk Railway, between Grand avenue and Union Avenue, was purchased from Alpheus Bissell and wife, Melville R. Bissell and wife, and Benjamin A. Harlan, April 29, 1873, for $1,200, and three and one-half acres were donated by the same parties.

In March, 1911, ten parcels were purchased from the Bissell estate, Mrs. Bissell, Coit estate, Kennedy & Thompson, and others, for $18,225.

In 1911 and 1912 the park was extended by purchase to Bissell Street on the north and College Avenue on the west at a cost of $13,000.

The present estimated value of this park is $60,000.

Lincoln Park (between fifteen and sixteen acres) is situated between Bridge street, Jackson street, Garfield avenue and Marion avenue, and was purchased in June, 1873, from Theodore F. and Julia A. Richards, Jane D., Charles F., Edward A., and Emma L., Clarence R., and Ania M. Tuttle, for $10,000.

Its present estimated value is $70,000.

Creston Park contains fifteen and two-tenths acres.

This lovely park is situated around and above the old water-works settling basin, which is situated so low down that it is nearly out of sight from the upper portion of this park, and is surrounded by shrubbery and lawns.

Ten acres of this park was purchased July 26, 1875, for $15,000.

On Feb. 25, 1911, about one acre was purchased from the Oliver Machinery Company.

The present estimated value of the park is $25,000.

As above stated, these four were the only ones sufficiently large in extent to deserve the name of parks, when the present park system was established in 1905, and the others were in reality only ornamental city squares.

They were: Monument Park (about six-hundredths of an acre), which is in reality only a triangular grass plot ornamented with handsome flower beds and a soldiers' monument, erected as a result of private subscription.

This park originally contained five acres, as was acquired by condemnation proceedings in the Circuit Court from the estate of Lyman I. Daniels, Sept. 1, 1843.

The portion north of Monroe Avenue was sold, leaving the present site bounded by Fulton Street, Monroe Avenue and Division Avenue.

Its present estimated value is $31,500.

Foster Park (twenty-nine hundredths of an acre) is at the corner of State and Cherry streets, and was donated to the city, Aug. 8, 1849, by Canton Smith. Its present estimated value is $6,000.

Lincoln Place, lying at the corner of State and Washington streets, was donated to the city, Aug. 8, 1849, by Canton Smith.

Its area is eleven one-hundredths of an acre and its present estimated value is $6,000.

Fulton Street Park, lying between East and West Park avenues, Fulton Street and Library Street, was purchased from Louis and Sophia Campau, Aug. 12, 1852, for $600.

It has an area of 1.65 acres, and its present estimated value is $364,967.

A handsome fountain ornaments it, and it is improved with grass plots, trees, walks, etc. Crescent Park (ninety-five hundredths of an acre) is on Bostwick Avenue, between Lyon Street and Michigan street.

The south one-half was purchased from Arthur and Charlotte Meigs, Aug. 2, 1887, for $500, and the north one-half was donated by T. H. Cuming and G. K. Johnson.

Its present estimated value is $15,000.

Lookout Park, containing about two acres, nearly adjoins the reservoir property and is located at the northwest corner of Fairview Avenue and Newbury Street, and was purchased from Mary E. Crosby, in 1893, for $4,500.

Pearl Park, containing one-tenth of an acre, is located at Walker Avenue, Seventh Street and Fremont Avenue, and was designated as a park by resolution, July 22, 1895.

Its estimated value is $200.

Antoine Campau Park, lying between Division Avenue, Ryerson Street, Ionia Avenue and Delaware street, was donated to the city by Martin A. Ryerson, of Chicago, July 10, 1899.

It has an area of 3.58 acres and its present estimated value is $35,000.

DeCommer Park, lying on Grant Street, was declared a public park by ordinance Jan. 29, 1900.

It has an area of one-tenth of an acre, and its present estimated value is $500.

This completes the list of parks up to 1905.

Prior to the year named there was no park board.

But the new charter, adopted in 1905, provided for a park board consisting of five members, and Mayor Edwin F. Sweet appointed on the first board J. Boyd Pantlind, Herman G. Barlow, Frank E. Pulte, Lester J. Rindge, and Charles B. Blair.

J. Boyd Pantlind was chosen president of the board.

In 1906, the playgrounds, located on Madison Avenue and Burton Street, were donated to the city by Charles W. and Jessie S. Garfield and Julia L. Fletcher.

These playgrounds have an area of twenty-five acres and their estimated value is $50,000.

The following year, six acres, constituting the Mary Waters' Field, located on Lafayette Avenue, Legrand Street and North Avenue, was donated to the city by Dudley E. and Florence Hills Waters.

Its present estimated value is $10,000. Julius Houseman Field, located between Diamond Avenue, Houseman Avenue and Sophie Street, was donated to the city, March 22, 1907, by Hattie Houseman Amberg, as a memorial to her father, Julius Houseman.

It has an area of six acres and its present estimated value is $10,000.

This is under the direction and control of the Board of Education. Susan N. Baldwin gave a tract of one-tenth of an acre, located at Lake Drive and Fulton Street, the following year, and the park was named in her honor its present estimated value is $1,500.

Coit Park, located at the north side of Hall Street, between the Pere Marquette Railway and Rathbun Avenue, was presented to the city by the D. W. Coit estate, and was accepted by the council June 13, 1910.

It has an area of seven and one-third acres and its present estimated value is $3,500.

The North Avenue Playgrounds, situated on the east side of North Avenue, between More street and the Grand Trunk Railway, was presented to the city Feb. 16, 1911, also by the D. W. Coit estate.

It has an area of seventy-six hundredths of an acre and its present estimated value is $500.

On April 15, 1911, the city purchased from Lillian B. Rickenbaugh and others the property at the northwest corner of Cherry Street and Eastern Avenue, and in November and December of that year acquired the two lots immediately adjoining on the west.

This playground has an area of about 1:54 acres and cost $18,500.

On May 9, 1911, the city purchased from Crabb & Hunter the property on Madison Avenue and during April and May purchased the three lots adjoining on Delaware street, at a total cost of about $15,000.

This playground has an area of two acres.

Briggs Park, situated on the extreme northern boundary of the city, and comprising twelve acres on Knapp Street, east of Wartrous Avenue, was purchased from Charles S. Briggs, Nov. 1, 1911, for $6,000.

Its present estimated value is $10,000.

Harrison Park, comprising 18.1 acres in the northwestern part of the city, lies between Muskegon and Alpine avenues, north of Myrtle Street.

It was acquired from the Harrison Land Company and John and Charles Barr, together with adjoining property, in November, 1911.

The investment amounted to $44,000, which will be largely reduced by the sale of the property outside of the park area.

The present estimated value of the park itself is $30,000.

Franklin Street Park is located on the south side of Franklin Street, between Benjamin Avenue and Fuller avenue.

The greater part of it was purchased from F. K. Cargill and McPherson Brothers in 1911, several smaller parcels adjoining being also purchased, and Mrs. Eliza S. McConnell Butler generously donated six lots.

The area of the park is twenty acres and cost about $21,000.

In 1906 the city purchased about one acre across Fuller Avenue for a standpipe, at a cost of $1,350.

The present estimated value of the park is $50,000.

Third Street Playgrounds, situated at the corner of Broadway avenue and Third Street, was acquired by purchase during 1911 and 1912, at a cost of $23,000.

Its present area is 1.75 acres.

Rumsey Park is located on Godfroy Avenue, between Franklin Avenue and B street, and was acquired in 1911 and 1912 from the Grand Rapids Gas Company and several other property owners, at a cost of about $25,000.

George A. Rumsey, James L. Rumsey, Ellen M. Wyman, and Martha R. Simonds donated eighteen lots for this park.

It has an area of twelve acres and its present estimated value is $35,000.

Wilcox Park is situated between Milton Street, Youell Avenue and Edward Lowe's property, and was purchased from the East End Land Company and several small holders, in 1911, for about $19,480.

Four lots were acquired from the Reed's Lake Avenue Company by condemnation proceedings, at a cost of $1,100.

The area of this park is 11.5 acres. In 1913 about three acres more land was purchased with a fund of $10,000, bequeathed by Frederick P. Wilcox, for the purchase of park lands in this section of the city.

The present estimated value of this park is $35,000.

Comstock Riverside Park was presented to the city by Mrs. Clara C. Russell and Mrs. Etta M. Boltwood.

This beautiful site comprises forty acres on the bank of Grand River and extends from the Soldiers' Home to the Hydraulic Company's pumping station.

An additional parcel of land containing about fifty acres, adjoining this on the east, was purchased by the city, Sept. 4, 1917, at a price of $10,458. The present estimated value of the park is $30,458.

Ellsworth Avenue Park is located on Market Avenue and Ellsworth Avenue.

It has an area of eight-hundredths of an acre and its present estimated value is $1,500.

Hosken Park lies between Lake Drive, Cherry Street and Diamond avenue, and the records do not show when or how it was acquired.

It has an area of one-tenth of an acre and its present estimated value is $100.

Michigan Street Park is located at Michigan Street and Coit Avenue.

It has an area of one fifth of an acre and its present estimated value is $5,000.

Reservoir Park comprises the bluffs north of the city reservoir and covers about twenty-eight acres of this sightly hill.

It was acquired from Taggart, Denison & Judd and several small holders, in 1911, at a cost of nearly $30,000.

Extensive improvements have been made.

The estimates of acreage and value are those made by the park governing board.

An organization of representative men, styling themselves the Park and Boulevard Association, has extensive plans for the improvements and extensions of the park and boulevard system.

A definite plan of action in the acquirement of park lands and the laying of boulevards and driveways are being carried out.

It has numerous plans for the immediate future, such as constructing a boulevard to encircle Reed's Lake and opening driveways in other directions.

The board has under consideration also the establishment of children's playgrounds all over the city, so that these places of sport may be even more accessible to the youngsters than the parks.

Eugene V. Goebel, experienced in landscape gardening and park management, is superintendent of the public parks.


"The poor ye always have with you."

This indictment of the social system which existed nineteen hundred years ago is equally applicable to that of the Twentieth century, and Grand Rapids is no exception to the universal rule in these later days.

But the benevolence of the city's more prosperous population in the support of the great number of charitable organizations for the aid of the unfortunate ones who are unable to keep the wolf from the door, is one of the things of which the Furniture City may well be proud.

Nearly all of the 138 churches of Grand Rapids have auxiliary societies, composed mostly of the women of the church, which deal more or less with charitable work, and there are numerous asylums and homes within the city.

The municipality and the county, with poor departments, contribute largely to the succor of the poor, and besides there is the Associated Charities, which is perhaps the largest single agency for the relief of the financially distressed.

The first meeting for organized charity ever held in Grand Rapids was held on Dec. 16, 1846, in response to a call issued in the village papers, at the schoolhouse on Prospect Hill.

Those present formed themselves by resolution into a benevolent society for the relief of the poor and the destitute within the village.

The first officers of the society were Mrs. C. Cuming, president; Mrs. W. G. Henry, secretary, and Mrs. Lucinda Shepard, treasurer.

This was a season of great business depression, when men were out of work, and their families suffering for the necessaries of life, as a consequence of this lack of employment. The society was maintained by donations and subscriptions.

There was from the first a desire to establish a charitable institution and, with this end in view, a lot was purchased on East Fulton Street.

The establishment of this institution became a subject of much discussion, and different plans were proposed and advocated.

Finally, in 1858, a corporation was formed, known as the Grand Rapids Orphan Asylum Association.

The same year a small house was rented on Prospect street, and opened for use, with Mrs. Lucia Johnson, a most excellent and capable woman, as matron.

Soon thereafter, a small house on Lagrave Street was purchased and occupied by the society.

Here for six years its work was done.

But in 1861 every heart and hand were given to our sick and suffering soldiers, and Grand Rapids hospitals absorbed all interests.

As a consequence, the work of the society lagged, and when, in the fall of 1863, the matron died from the effect of her services at the camp hospitals, the ladies were obliged to close the little home.

But in the trying years during and following the close of the Civil War the society maintained its existence, and in January, 1873, it became the Union Benevolent Association, with a charter providing for all kinds of benevolent work, and with the privilege of maintaining and managing a home and a hospital for the aged, the infirm, the sick, and the needy.

A transfer of property was made and negotiations commenced for a suitable building, which resulted in the purchase of the old Cuming homestead on Bostwick Street, near Lyon.

This building was occupied until the erection of the Union Benevolent Association Home, at the corner of College Avenue and Lyon Street, which was ready for occupancy in February, 1886.

This home remained in use until, by the generosity of John W. Blodgett, the present commodious and handsome building, known as the Blodgett Memorial Hospital, was erected.

The present building is very satisfactory and convenient and most admirably suited for its purpose.

The Butterworth Hospital, located on Bostwick avenue at the southwest corner of Michigan street, had its origin in the kindly impulses and sympathetic hearts of the ladies of the congregation of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, who felt that a place of shelter should be provided for deserving ones who might otherwise be compelled to seek the cold charity of the world.

This movement was started in 1873, before any of the numerous institutions, which have since assumed a share of the burdens, had come into existence.

Among the ladies who founded this worthy charity was Mrs. H. W. Hinsdale.

In the beginning they labored under many difficulties, but finally succeeded in opening the doors of a comfortable home, and by the generosity of R. E. Butterworth and other generous donations and subscriptions from the people of Grand Rapids, the present fine hospital was erected and is maintained.

Among the most notable charitable institutions where destitute people are cared for in the city are: The Holland Union Benevolent Association Home, a home for aged, indigent and infirm persons of general good conduct and character, under the management of trustees with Justus C. Hertstein as superintendent, 1450 East Fulton street; Home for the Aged, conducted by the Little Sisters of the Poor at 240 Lafayette avenue; Home of the Good Shepherd, at 1315 Walker street; Christian Psychopathic Hospital, 701 Bristol avenue; Kent County Juvenile Home, Mrs. Pauline Regester superintendent, east side of Walker street, third north of Leonard street; Woman's Home and Hospital, Daisy V. Welbourn matron, 1435 East Fulton street; D. A. Blodgett Home for Children, 920 Cherry street; St. John's Orphans' Home, under the superintendence of the Dominican Sisters, north side of Leonard, between North and Lafayette avenues; St. Mary's Hospital, in charge of the Sisters of Mercy, 250 Cherry street; St. Mary's Hospital Nurses' Home, 217 Lafayette avenue; St. Mary's Maternity Home, 215 Lafayette avenue; St. Raphael's Home in charge of the Sisters of Mercy, 227 Lafayette avenue; Salvation Army Evangeline Home and Hospital for Girls, 1215 East Fulton street, and several others.

Each of these has its special form of charity and all are doing a great amount of good.

The hospital accommodations of Grand Rapids are abundant, and besides those mentioned in the foregoing are the City Contagious Disease Hospital on Fuller avenue opposite Flat street; the DeVore Hospital and Sanitarium, at 417-423 Clancy avenue, and of which Frances L. J. DeVore is superintendent;

The Keeley Institute of Michigan, at 733-735 Ottawa avenue; Reed's Lake Sanitarium, of whom Thomas B. O'Keefe is the medical director and treasurer, and the Tuberculosis Sanitarium, on Fuller avenue opposite Flat street.

Thus it will be seen that the people of Grand Rapids have by charity or otherwise made ample provision for the sick and suffering among them, and the hospitals are well supplied with the requisites demanded by modern sanitary science, being in these respects fully abreast of the time.

And besides the regularly established hospitals there are a number of asylums, houses of refuge, industrial schools for boys and girls, homes for the aged and the friendless; for the wayward, for infants, for foundlings, and for orphans; there are also, as have been enumerated, several benevolent aid societies and associations largely maintained by the charity of citizens, and designed to care for the infirm, the destitute, the struggling, the fallen; to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and bind up the wounds of the afflicted.


Although not strictly a Grand Rapids institution, and not altogether one of charity—what the soldier gets is his by rights—the National Soldiers' Home is one of the things which justly merits local pride.

The United States is foremost among the nations of the earth in caring for its needy former soldiers.

The home which it established here was the direct outgrowth of a movement or an agitation inaugurated for the purpose of extending aid to soldiers.

Byron R. Pierce was a potent factor in securing the location of the home here.

It is located on Monroe Avenue, one and one-half miles north of the city limits, and comprises 132 acres of land.

There are ample accommodations for the soldiers who desire a home, and here, where the beauties of nature are enhanced by the skill of the landscape artist the inhabitants of the home may spend their declining years in peace.

"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife."


Grand Rapids has always had a reasonable good fire department, and has generally managed well in providing securities against loss by fire.

But of course the city has had frequent visits from the fire fiend. Prior to 1844 there had been numerous small blazes, but it was on Friday, July 12, of that year, that the first fire of note occurred.

The court house, a two-story wood building, which stood on the public square (now Fulton Street Park), was burned to the ground.

In 1854, on Jan. 15, saw-mills of H. S. Wartrous and David Caswell, located on Mill street just below Bridge, were destroyed by fire, and on May 16 of the same year, four buildings on the north side of Monroe, above Ionia street, were burned to the ground.

Another building was torn down to stop the progress of the fire.

The Bridge Street House, the third wooden hotel erected in Grand Rapids, and which was built in 1837, by or for Charles H. Carroll, was burned on Feb. 10, 1855.

It was located on the northwest corner of Bridge and Kent (now Michigan and Bond) streets, and at the time of the fire was kept by Gottlieb Christ.

A fire that is sadly remembered, on account of the burning of the county records, was the burning of Taylor & Barns' four-story block, at the southeast corner of old Canal and Lyon streets, and the post office building, on Jan. 23, 1860, and which caused a loss of $90,000.

The county clerk's, treasurers and register of deeds' offices were in the Taylor & Barns building at the time, and records of untold value were destroyed.

On April 15, of the same year, fifteen wooden buildings east of old Canal, between Lyon and Crescent streets, were burned with a loss of $15,000.

Another destructive fire was the burning of Letellier & Robinson's sash and blind factory, at the corner of old Canal and Trowbridge streets, on the morning of Sept. 7, 1869, with a loss of $15,000.

Other notable fires which occurred while the city was dependent, in whole or in part, upon its volunteer fire department for protection, was the burning of John Westcott's house, at the corner of Monroe and Spring streets, in 1853; of nearly all the north half of the block next south of Michigan street, between old Canal and Bond streets, in 1862; of Sweet's Hotel, twelve buildings between Bond and Ottawa streets south of Michigan street and including the Reformed Church, Squier's Opera House and Flouring Mill, the National Hotel, Butterworth's brick building by the river west of the canal basin and which was used as a coffin factory, buildings each way from the Lovett Block at the corner of old Canal and Pearl streets, and the old Congregational Church and other buildings between Division and Spring streets at Monroe, all of which fires occurred in 1872; of the Kent Woolen Mills at Mill street north of Michigan, the brush factory at the west end of the Pearl street bridge, Perkins Brothers & Company's tannery near the railroad junction and north city limits, about fifteen acres north of Michigan street and between Bond and Ionia streets, and the Christ brewery, a large establishment, and many other fine buildings of brick and of wood, all of which fires occurred in 1873; and in 1874, on May 26, six buildings on the north side of Bridge street, between Scribner and Turner streets, were burned; on June 4 of the same year, Verdier & Brown's hardware store at 102 old Canal street; on July 7, the Michigan Central Railroad depot building; on July 8, the wholesale millinery store and other buildings on Bond near Lyon; on Aug. 21, the woodenware works and other shops and warehouse between Hastings and Trowbridge streets on the east side of old Canal street; on Oct. 11, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad freight depot on the west side, and on Nov. 27 a building on Pearl street between the Lovett Block and the Arcade.

Early in the history of the embryo city it was deemed advisable to provide for some means to stay the progress of such fires as might from time to time break out in the village, and thus the volunteer fire department had its beginning in 1849.

In that year Alert Fire Company was organized, and among the members thereof were such men as Charles H. Taylor, Solomon O. Kingsbury, Wright L. Coffinberry, John Clancy, William D. Roberts, Daniel McConnell, Frank N. Godfroy, William H. Almy, Thomas M. Parry, and Wilder D. Foster, all of whom were young men who became widely known in later years. Charles H. Taylor became the first foreman of the company.

By dint of much solicitation, the department succeeded, the same year, in obtaining for its use a hand engine from Rochester, N. Y., which was considered at that time a great acquisition, and which later did good service on more than one occasion.

There were three fire companies in existence at the time of the incorporation of the city, in 1850, and each company was uniformed and pretty well equipped for that period, the members of each taking pride in their organization.

A joint organization of the companies had been effected, and they assumed the name and dignity of a fire department, with Ira S. Hatch as chief engineer, and Wilson Jones as assistant chief.

Under the revised city charter of 1857, by an ordinance passed July 30, 1859, the fire department was reorganized, and a chief engineer and four assistants were elected, and ten fire wardens—two for each ward—were appointed.

The first officials thus charged with the conduct and management of the city fire department were Wilder D. Foster, chief engineer; William Hyde, F. G. Martindale, Thomas W. Porter, and Henry Martin, first, second, third, and fourth assistants, respectively.

But it was not until 1895 that the full pay fire department came into existence, although for a dozen years prior to that time the department had what was termed a half pay system, under which its members followed such occupations as they chose during the day, and were required to be on duty as firemen only at night.

The Eagle Hotel fire, which occurred on Feb. 5, 1883, should be mentioned among the conflagrations, as it was sufficient in its importance to deserve a place in the history of the city.

When the flames were first discovered, at 1:50 o'clock on the morning of the fated day, they had gained such headway that it was useless to attempt to save the building, and the energies of the members of the fire department were directed to saving adjoining buildings and the lives of the unfortunate inmates of the hotel.

The structure was three stories high, contained probably 100 rooms and was well filled with guests on the night of the fire.

Fortunately, all the inmates of the house were roused in ample time and all escaped without further injury than that occurring from getting out of doors on an icy, cold night, undressed.

On April 21, of the same year, the Grand Rapids Furniture Company's building on Butterworth avenue was totally destroyed; on May 25 a like calamity was visited upon the Carpet Sweeper factory, near the upper end of the canal, and on the following day Noble & Company's plaster mill, three miles down the river, was totally destroyed with a loss of $40,000.

On the afternoon of June 7, 1892, the ignition of escaping gas under the stage caused a fire to break out in Powers' Opera House, on Pearl Street.

By the prompt action of the fire department the flames were gotten fully under control, but not until the interior of the popular playhouse had been converted into a charred mass of ruins.

On Nov. 8 of the same year a fire occurred in the lumber yards of the Michigan Barrel Company on North Monroe Street.

The origin of this fire was never ascertained.

The value of the lumber and other property destroyed was placed at $10,000.

On Nov. 22 fire broke out from causes unknown in the factory of the Folding Table Company, corner of Wealthy Avenue and South Ionia Street.

The building was a wooden one, and on account of the nature of its contents was entirely consumed.

May 23, 1895, was long remembered as a day of fire.

Shortly after the noon hour the department was called to put out a fire which started from electric wires in the stables of Greenly & Company, corner of Ionia and Fountain streets.

The building was entirely consumed, the loss being $2,300, fully covered by insurance.

The stable was an old frame building, owned by Mrs. Anna Newkirk.

The firemen had been at work scarcely an hour when another alarm was turned in, calling them to the rescue of the Second Reformed Church, on Bostwick Street near Lyon Street, and which had been fired by sparks from the burning barn.

It was one of the most spectacular fires ever seen in the city, and its progress was witnessed by thousands of residents.

The fire first caught around the base of the steeple, completely girdling it, when it fell, crushing in the roof of the edifice.

Only the walls were left standing, and the loss to the church society and contiguous dwellings, which were badly scorched, was $17,620.

On the night of Jan. 26, 1896, occurred a fire which, by the peculiar circumstances, is warranted more than a passing notice.

Shortly before midnight the residents of the city were startled by an explosion which was heard for miles around.

Even residents on the West Side were so startled by it that they dressed hastily and rushed out of doors, believing it to be near their homes.

As a matter of fact the explosion was in the residence of W. E. Boyd, 244 Fuller Street, and it was of such terrific force that the building was lifted off the foundation walls and deposited several feet distant.

Passersby noted that flames burst out all over the building at about the moment of the explosion.

The house was furnished at the time, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd living in rooms down town.

Both house and contents were entirely consumed at a loss of $2,200.

The fire is supposed to have been incendiary.

A very destructive fire occurred Feb. 17, 1896, when the Houseman Block, at the corner of Ottawa and Pearl streets, burned.

The night was bitter cold, and when the firemen responded to an alarm at 2:55 a. m., they had before them about as severe a job of firefighting as they had ever experienced.

The fire had gained considerable headway when the department arrived, and it became necessary for the men to devote their first attention to removing the people from the building, as the escape of those unfortunate ones had been cut off from the regular stairway.

Battalion Chief Walker went to the top floor of the old building and there found Mrs. Wedgewood crouched upon the floor.

He removed her into the corridor of the new building, where she was turned over to Patrolman White of the police department, and conveyed to the ground.

Captain John Goodrich, of Hose Company No. 4, found a man and a woman, and later a small boy, lying upon the floor of the burning building, and carried them to a place of safety.

Captain Boughner and his son, of Truck No. 4, rescued Captain McCarthy of the Reed's Lake steamer, "Hazel A.," together with his wife and daughter.

The captain and his men continued the work of searching for occupants of the building, and later rescued Mr. and Mrs. Pickle, Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons, and Mr. and Mrs. N. P. Allen.

Other persons made their escape by the means of the iron fire ladder in the rear of the building, being assisted by printers employed in the composing room of the Grand Rapids Democrat, and by Captain Fenn and men, of Truck No. 3.

There were two deaths as the result of the fire, Mrs. Wedgewood and H. W. Beecher, the latter a prominent insurance man.

The death in each case was due to inhaling the smoke and the excitement incident to the occasion.

The firemen suffered severely while performing their duty.

The total loss was $33,092.25.

July 18, 1901, was a day long remembered.

There had stood for several years on the southwest corner of Ottawa and Monroe streets a building known as the Luce Block.

The tenants had been making extensive repairs and had removed some important partitions.

About 1 o'clock in the morning there came a noise like the belching of many cannon or the bellowing of mighty thunder.

Citizens were awakened and saw immense clouds of dust rolling and tumbling about where the Luce Block had stood.

Owing to its weakened condition it had collapsed.

An alarm of fire was turned in and the department responded.

If there was fire, as testimony in court subsequently tended to prove, previously to the collapse, the latter so smothered it that when the apparatus reached the scene no fire was visible.

Chief Lemoin sent the firemen back to their stations, and he remained to watch the course of events.

Suddenly the whole heterogeneous mass became a seething, roaring furnace.

Alarms were again sounded and in rushed the various pieces of fire-fighting machinery.

It proved to be a fierce, stubborn, contrary fire, and smoldered for days.

John O'Connor fell from a ladder and sustained injuries from which he never fully recovered.

The loss was total and reached hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The insurance was eventually paid, but not until several suits for payment of the same were instigated.

As the result of a stroke of lightning in a severe electrical storm, in the early morning of Aug. 4, 1908, the Grand Rapids Paper Box Company, at Campau and Fulton streets, was damaged to the extent of $50,000.

All of the fire department not attending other fires, of which there were several at the time, was summoned and an effort was made to confine the flames to the north portion of the building, where the blaze originated, but in spite of the efforts of the firemen the three upper floors of the four-story building were destroyed and the roof fell with a crash.

The contents on the first floor, including machinery, were saved.

The entire block of stores and buildings on Grandville Avenue, between Coates and Lillie streets, was threatened by a conflagration, May 20, 1911.

The fire originated in the storage room of the Valley City Biscuit Company's bakery.

The flames spread with lightning rapidity and in less than an hour the bakery was completely destroyed, two stores were badly burned and three residences and a barn were damaged by fire and water.

The damage to the bakery was estimated at $25,000, while losses to other buildings and contents aggregated $10,300.

A heavy downpour of rain soon after the fire originated probably prevented a more disastrous blaze.

There have been other fires of note in Grand Rapids, but those mentioned have been the most destructive both as to life and property.


The social spirit of the city of Grand Rapids is revealed in a long list of secret and benevolent societies, and from the records of each organization it would seem that each one is prosperous.

The first meeting of the Masonic fraternity in the then village was held on March 19, 1849.

At that time there were between forty and fifty Masons in Grand Rapids, and among those who petitioned for a dispensation, under which a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons could be organized, we find the names of Truman H. Lyon, Ira S. Hatch, Aaron Dikeman, Henry Eaton, William D. Moore, Julius Granger, and George M. Mills.

The first officials of "Grand River Lodge" were: Truman H. Lyon, master; Ira S. Hatch, senior warden, and Aaron Dikeman, junior warden; and in addition to these gentlemen, those who signed the by-laws were Henry Eaton, treasurer; William D. Moore, secretary; Julius Granger, senior deacon; George M. Mills, junior deacon.

Valley City Lodge No. 86 was organized in 1856. Among the charter members were David S. Leavitt, worshipful master; James W. Sligh, senior warden, and Edward S. Earle, junior warden. This lodge has been quite prosperous.

Doric Lodge No. 342 came next in point of organization, and the original officers were William K. Wheeler, worshipful master; N. B. Scribner, senior warden; and W. B. Folger, junior warden. York Lodge No. 410 was organized under a dispensation, the first meeting, a special communication, being held Sept. 7, 1894, and the original officers were Charles Fluhrer, worshipful master; Edmund M. Barnard, senior warden; Fred H. Ball, junior warden.

Malta Lodge No. 465 was organized on July 7, 1911, the charter being granted May 29, 1912, and the original officers were Louis T. Herman, worshipful master; A. J. Williams, senior warden; Glenn P. Thayer, junior warden.

On March 19, 1850, was organized the first Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in the city, under the name of "Grand Rapids Chapter No. 7."

Among the charter members were Truman H. Lyon, Amos Roberts, William Blackall, Joshua Boyer, and Forris D'A. Foster, and the first convocations of the chapter were held in the upper story of a little stone building on Market avenue, near Monroe.

Columbian Chapter No. 132 was organized under a charter granted on Jan. 16, 1894, among the charter members being Harvey C. Taft, Joseph C. Herkner, and J. Edward Earle.

Of the Royal and Select Masters there is but one council in the city—Tyre Council No. 10.

On July 23, 1856, a commandery was organized in Grand Rapids, and among the charter members were D. S. Leavitt, William P. Innes, and Fred Hall.

The charter was subsequently granted by the Grand Commandery of Michigan on July 2, 1858, and the first officers under the charter were David S. Leavitt, eminent commander; James W. Sligh, senior warden; William K. Wheeler, junior warden; James W. Sligh, treasurer; John McConnell, recorder.

To epitomize the Masonic order in Grand Rapids there are now, thanks to the persistent work of the members of the organizations, five Blue lodges, two Royal Arch Chapters, a Commandery of Knights Templar, the Scottish Rite bodies, and five Eastern Star chapters.

One of the acts of Masonry in the city was the erection of the Masonic Temple, which is one of the most beautiful lodge buildings in the West.

From the beginning of its Masonic activity the city has enjoyed considerable prominence in that universal fraternity.

Lovell Moore served as master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan, in 1864; John W. Champlin in 1871, William Dunham in 1877, R. C. Hathaway in 1887, Edwin L. Bow ring in 1895, and John Rowson in 1905; and William P. Innes was elected secretary of the Grand Lodge, in 1878, and served in that position until his death, in 1892.

In the Thirty-third degree—an honor desired by every member of the order, and which is realized by only a very few—Grand Rapids has been exceptionally fortunate.

At the beginning of the year 1918 the following named Masons now resident in the city were the possessors of that distinction, and it speaks well for the Masonic spirit of this locality: Richard D. Swartout, Wilson R. Andress, Guy Johnston, Bruce Moore, John Rowson, Wil'Ham Alden Smith, Clarence W. Sessions, William E. Elliott, S. Eugene Osgood, Mark Norris, George G. Steketee, and Axtel P. Johnson.

Irving Lodge No. 11 was the pioneer Odd Fellows' lodge in the city of Grand Rapids, and it was duly instituted on Jan. 15, 1846, with five charter members.

They were Samuel B. Ball, Harvey P. Yale, William D. Roberts, Benjamin Smith, and Joseph Stanford.

Irving Lodge continued work eleven years, and then surrendered its charter to the Grand Lodge, Jan. 21, 1857.

In 1858, Grand Rapids Lodge No. 11, which was really a revival of Irving Lodge No. 11 under a new name, was instituted, and among its charter members were Lewis Porter, James M. Green, Eben Smith, jr., and Ebenezer Anderson.

On Aug. 5, 1873, a charter was granted for a new lodge in Grand Rapids, to be known as Enterprise Lodge No. 212.

The first officers installed were: Henry Baldry, noble grand; H. M. Reynolds, vice grand; A. W. Paris, recording secretary; A. G. Duffers, permanent secretary, and Allen Engle, treasurer.

Its lodge room was in Luce's Block.

On June 29, 1885, it was consolidated with Grand Rapids Lodge No. 11, to which it turned over its property and $549.42 in cash.

Wallhalla Lodge No. 249, chartered in 1875, was the first one authorized to work in the German language.

Its charter was granted on the petition of nine members, and it continued work until August, 1882, when it surrendered its charter.

The other Grand Rapids lodges are: Creston Lodge No. 41, Enterprise Lodge No. 406, Grand River Lodge No. 12, Imperial Lodge No. 427, and South End Lodge No. 250. In the city there are sixteen organizations of all sorts of the Odd Fellows' fraternity.

Inasmuch as the organization was the first to take root in the embryo city of Grand Rapids its growth has been favored with that advantage.

It has expanded to the extent that there are canton and encampment lodges and a number of organizations of which women are the directing geniuses.

Eureka Lodge No. 2 of the Knights of Pythias order was organized by G. H. Allen, Chancellor Commander of Olympic Lodge No. 1, of Detroit, assisted by E. A. Smith, I. Esdal, F. Rice, A. W. Crotine, and other members of the order resident in Detroit.

Among those who became members of this pioneer lodge of the Knights of Pythias were H. H. Chipman, J. S. Long, A. Walling, W. J. Long, C. B. Benedict, William P. Innes, W. F. Bradley, L. E. Hawkins, S. P. Bennett, W. H. Sheller, S. P. Stevens, and C. H. Deane, the nine gentlemen last named constituting the first corps of officers.

Valley City Lodge was instituted in 1890 and Imperial Lodge in 1892, and on Jan. 6, 1908, these three lodges were consolidated into one, taking the name of Grand Rapids Lodge No. 2.

The order has grown rapidly in popular favor and membership, and Cowan Lodge and Lily Lodge are prosperous local units of the order, making a total of three lodges in the city at the present time.

The Uniform Rank division of the order is also represented by Valley City Company No. 26. Cowan Temple No. 101 and Mizpah Temple No. 6 are the lodges of Pythian Sisters.

The Royal Arcanum instituted Bryant Council in Grand Rapids, in 1879, and two councils are now, in existence in the city, known respectively as Bryant and Valley City.

Grand Rapids has more lodges than the average city of its size, and of the scores who find a home here it is practically impossible in the space allowed to give an individual mention of more than a few.

In doing this an effort has been made to select those which to the greatest extent have withstood the vicissitudes of years.

The younger organizations are equally entitled to honorable mention, and if it were possible to do so within the scope of this work it would cheerfully be given them.

The local lodges of Elks and Eagles have had a phenomenal growth in the period since their formation, and together they have a total membership running well up into the thousands and constantly increasing.

One of the features of lodge life in the Valley City was the Inaugural Masonic Fair, in 1915, when thousands of visitors from all portions of the country attended and made merry in the city for more than a week.

The Modern Woodmen of America, one of the largest orders in existence, has five active lodge organizations in the city.

There are a number of Catholic organizations, of which may be mentioned a lodge of the Knights of Columbus.

The work of these organizations has been co-operative with the work of the Roman Catholic Church and the result has been shown in the interest taken in the acquiring of insurance protection and in the fraternal features of the organizations.

There are five lodges of the Independent Order of Foresters in the city, and in all there are in Grand Rapids, counting the temperance organizations which class themselves as fraternal organizations, 152 lodges.

It points to the vast fraternal spirit which pervades the Valley City and the fact that Grand Rapids is a city of home-loving men and women.

And women are not weak in their organizations. In the auxiliaries to the Masonic, Odd Fellows, and other organizations are found memberships as great if not greater than any found in the male orders.

This may be explained in a measure when it is seen that the women's orders may be joined by any female members of the family of a member of the main organization.

There are a number of labor unions, of different kinds and having different names, represented in Grand Rapids.

In addition to the fraternal and labor organizations, of which brief mention has been made in the foregoing pages, there are in existence at the present time scores of associations, societies, and clubs of various kinds, including the sporting and recreation associations, the musical societies, and established associations for promoting what may be called the general business interests of Grand Rapids.

There are also many minor associations of business and professional men, organized to advance special interests or promote social intercourse among the members.


Around the resting places which have been set apart for the burial of the dead lingers the tenderness of the living, and it is fitting that this chapter which is devoted to the city of Grand Rapids should be closed with a brief review of the cemeteries.

Fulton Street cemetery was established in 1838, by the trustees of the village, who purchased of James Ballard six acres of ground of what is now a part of that "city of the dead."

It was to be reserved and used expressly as a cemetery for the village of Grand Rapids, one-third of it for the Roman Catholics, and it was to be kept in order and repair at the expense of the village, but the original tract has since been largely added to.

Since the cemetery was originally laid out, large sums of money have been expended in cutting and smoothing wide, graveled roadways, maintaining beautiful flower beds, planting trees, erecting a fine fountain and otherwise making it a beautiful and restful city of the dead.

For beauty of natural location and taste in artificial adornment it has not many superiors.

The first interment on the record appears to have been Andrew Haldene, who died Sept. 6, 1835.

In the early history of Grand Rapids there was a plat of ground in the "Village of Kent," west of Livingston street and between Walbridge and Coldbrook streets, which was used as a burial place for citizens.

A few graves were made there at an early day, and occasional burials down to as late as 1855, but it was never formally dedicated to the public.

The remains interred there were later removed, chiefly to Fulton Street cemetery.

In the early village days a parcel of ground, near where is now the corner of Madison Avenue and Cherry Street, was used occasionally for burial purposes.

Subsequently the remains which had been placed there were also removed to the Fulton Street cemetery.

When the white people came into this region there was an Indian burial ground on the West Side, nearly opposite the foot of the rapids.

Its use as a cemetery was continued by the Catholic priest or missionary who came there, and near it the little church of Father Baraga was situated.

Thus it became the early Catholic cemetery, and was used as such until after the Indians removed and other grounds were procured by the Catholics on the east side of the river.

As before stated, one-third of the Fulton Street cemetery was set apart for their use.

St. Andrew's cemetery was established on the east side of Madison avenue, between Prince and Delaware streets, in 1852, ten acres having been purchased from William Howard by Rev. Charles L. DeCeunink and deeded to Bishop Lefeore, in December of the same year.

This ground becoming too small, and also being in the city limits, what is now known as the Mt. Calvary cemetery was purchased on May 3, 1882, by the Rev. John C. Ehrenstrasser, who was then pastor in St. Mary's parish, and it was subsequently consecrated according to the Roman Catholic ritual.

The cemetery is located on the south side of Leonard Street, near the western limits of the city, and it is nicely improved.

The Polish Catholic cemetery is situated in the township of Walker, northeast corner of Walker and North streets, and one-half mile west of the city limits.

Oak Hill cemetery is situated between Union and Eastern avenues, north and south of Hall Street.

The first meeting of Hebrews in this city was held Sept. 20, 1857, to take action in regard to the death of one Jacob Levy, and as a result they purchased that parcel of land which is now the southwest quarter of Oak Hill cemetery.

This was the first ground dedicated to such use in that portion of the city, and Oak Hill and Valley City cemeteries were established there two years later.

These two cemeteries were originally entirely separate, but about 1903 the dividing line was converted into a beautiful boulevard, with center park and winding drives and walks, artistically connecting the two cemeteries, now known as Oak Hill.

Fair Plains cemetery, situated in the township of Grand Rapids, east of Plainfield avenue, and about a half mile outside the city limits, is one of the beautiful burial places of the city.

Greenwood cemetery is situated north of and adjoining Mt. Calvary.

The original purchase was made under the direction of the Board of Cemetery Commissioners, composed of W. P. Mills, W. D. Foster, and Charles P. Babcock, on Feb. 16, 1859.

The original area purchased was twenty acres, bought of Daniel Bush and Sophronia Bush, his wife.

Other cemeteries are: Garfield Park, situated on Kalamazoo avenue at the corner of the Pere Marquette Railroad; Soldiers' Home, at North Park, and Washington Park, near the city limits on North street and Garfield avenue.

Most of the above named cemeteries are fitted with convenient offices, where all arrangements may be made, and there are rest rooms fitted with every convenience.

Attendants are ready to minister to the wants of the members of funeral parties, and careful records are kept by the secretaries to do away with any confusion.

These are found invaluable in hundreds of cases.

Neat graveled walks and in some instances walks of cement are found everywhere, and nearby fountains provide water with which the graves may be watered.

Caretakers keep the cemeteries looking like beautiful parks, and the lawns and hedges are carefully clipped.

No sign of neglect or carelessness is allowed, and thus the modern cemetery is no longer a tangle of overgrown weeds and grass as it was in years gone by.