The Grandville Historical Commission of Kent County, Michigan is dedicated to preserving the history of Grandville. The Commission originated in 1970 when the group started researching the area's background. The history was written in 1972 and published in April of 1973 as a 348 page book, Bend in the River.
As the material was collected for publication in Bend in the River it was decided there was a need to display this material and so the Grandville Museum was opened in May 1976 to showcase local history for years to come. Its exhibits of local historical items are designed to show the development and growth of Grandville heritage. We also have a growing collection of pictures relating to Grandville. The Museum is open the first Thursday of the month from 1 to 4 p.m. and will open special by appointment. It is located in the lower level of City Hall at 3195 Wilson Ave. on the corner of Wilson and Prairie Sts. There is no admission, but donations are welcome.
We operate our one room #10 school house that was built in 1887. The school was moved to Heritage Park where we use it as a school museum and have elementary students come and spend a regular school day there.
One of our project's has been to microfilm all the Grandville newspapers. These include the Grandville Star, Southwest Alliance Newspapers dating back to 1912 and most recently the Advance Newspaper. After filming they are turned over to the Grandville Library for use on microfilm.
We also have files pertaining to people past and present who lived in Grandville. These are taken from clippings and scrapbooks that people donated to us. We also clip out current Grand Rapids Press obituaries of Grandville people. We have a printout of our Grandville Cemetery which was formerly the Wyoming Township Cemetery.
Grandville Historical Commission, 3195 Wilson, Grandville, MI 49418 Open to the public: First Thursday of each month, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
In the fall of 1841, Holden bought a farm for his father Isaac. (The Government had bought up a great amount of cheap timber land along the Grand River Valley and ordered it to be sold for $1.25 an acre, payable in State dues, but warrants could then be purchased at $.40 on the dollar, so that this land cost only $.50 an acre. Money being scarce, it was hard to raise even that amount to pay for land.
It took four years for the money to be raised. In the fall of 1841, two of Isaac's sons came to Michigan. Stephen and his wife and baby Martha, to take up land he had bought in 1836, and Holden, to purchase land for his father, Isaac and later for himself. Holden purchased land a short distance south and west of his brother Stephen, for his father. This land was densely covered with timber, but it had all been surveyed in 1831. In 1835 a state road had been surveyed and staked out, which was to run from
Grandville to Grand Haven. The land of Isaac and later that which he had bought for himself, faced this proposed road.
In the spring of 1842, Isaac, then 48 years old arrived in Michigan. He came alone, by boat around the Lakes, arriving at Grand Haven and coming up the Grand River by steamboat stopping at the landing belonging to his son Stephen. He planned to build a
cabin for his family who were to come the next year. All that summer, he and Holden cut timber and cleared land and built the cabin.
Franklin Bosworth returned in the fall of 1842 and traded his first '0 acres for 80 acres almost across the proposed road from them. While Franklin was building his cabin he lived that winter with Holden and his father.
On October 18, 1845, Lavina, Isaac's wife and two sons, James and Isaac, Jr, and three daughters Mary, Cordelia, and Elizabeth arrived. They came around the Lakes, a trip taking fifteen days. Being so late in the season for Lake travel it was a stormy trip and all were seasick but Mary. The Captain teased her every morning, by asking her if the storm had gotten her supper yet. She was eighteen, and Cordelia, thirteen, while Elizabeth was ten.
At Grand Haven they took the steamboat and came up the river, arriving at Sand Creek at dusk. Here they walked to Stephen's hut, where they decided to stay the night with Ruth and Stephen, rather than cross through the woods and swamps to Isaac. They moved out the furniture and made beds on the floor.
In the middle of the night, Ruth was taken with the pains of childbirth, so the family was awakened and Stephen asked the hired man to taken them over to his father's. Lavina remained to help. The hired man grabbed up some pine knots to burn, to light the way on path and over creeks and marshy places. While crossing a creek on a log, Elizabeth slipped and fell in the creek- the excitement of getting her out of the water, the man dropped his lighted pine knot in the water, so they finished the trip by joining hands and following the man in the dark.
The children never forgot that night trip to their new home in Michigan - especially Elizabeth, who found being soaking wet in the month of October, in the middle of the night, anything but pleasant.
There was always venison and wild meat to eat if one was a hunter, or they could buy of the neighbors. There was maple syrup in the Spring. Wild berries and cranberries were found in the near marshes and cut-over openings. Many people put down pork and pigeons in salt. Bread and pan cakes were made of flour which they had ground at the grist mills, Wild honey was often found. Potatoes, milk, gravy and salt pork was often served, for it was one of the cheapest meals, when money was scarce.
Holden had lived but a short time with Stephen and Ruth, and then found employment in a saw mill. He had purchased 80 acres for his father, south and west of Stephen. This land faced the proposed State road which had been surveyed in 1831. For years he helped survey almost all the farm land in the south part of Georgetown and northern Jamestown.
The first years of Stephen and Ruth's life in Michigan were very difficult - especially in the winters. Stephen had done little to make his first but comfortable The mosquitoes were a great problem and the swampy land gave early pioneers a Malaria which they called ague. Ruth was sick much of the time from this ague. Often there were days when there was but little to eat. To make matters worse, Stephen was away from home most of the lumbering season. He cut and drew logs to the river all winter, hoping to gain a little money be selling his logs in Grand Haven in the Spring, but in the early 1840s, logs generally did not bring in enough money to pay expenses. Usually $5.00 per m. and sometimes less. This sometimes did not pay the man that Stephen hired to help.
This lack of money in logs, gave Stephen the idea of building a sawmill, knowing he could sell boards to settlers, to build their first huts. He built this water mill on the Creek than ran close to his house, only nearer to the river. There was not much force to this creek, so he dammed it and made a small pond, in order to insure a steady stream of water. er[sic] he put up a water wheel to which was attached pails. These pails were filled with water from the race at the top, and the fill pails made a weight and gave impetus which turned the wheel and emptied at the bottom, this force making enough power to turn the saws. Although this mill was not very successful, (they often had to stop and let the mill pond fill up with water, before they could continue) it was still quicker than hauling the logs to Jenison and bringing back the boards. It was used for about three years (1843-1846), by Stephen or any neighbor who needed lumber.
One day Martha, Stephen's little daughter, climbed into one of the pails and her weight started the mill. To keep from being plunged into the w ater, she commenced to climb from pail to pail. One of the men working near the mill heard it running, so hurried to investigate and lifted her out.
Shortly after Ruth (Stephen's wife) came to Michigan, she was left a legacy of $600.00. They were still living in this first but and although $600.00 could have made them more comfortable in their furnishings and living quarters, they used none of it to better this condition. There was a strip of pine very close to Stephen's land, which was one of the finest in the State. This land was being taken up fast. It must have been a hard decision for Ruth to make. To buy 160 acres of Pine for future wealth, instead of using it for herself and the children, who needed it so desperately then. This land was divided. Eighty acres on the west adjoining their home and eighty acres on the east. Forty acres on both sides of the logging road running toward Jenison.
At one time, Holden Lowing wished to extend the logging road, leading directly north from Hudsonville across his land and asked permission of Stephen to have it cross his land, thereby making a straight road from Hudsonville, north to the Ohio Mills dock on the Grand River. While it would appear to be the sensible thing to do, Stephen refused. Holden was very angry. Years later, Stephen wished this road to go through an began the proper procedure to accomplish it, but Holden was Supervisor at that time and decided Stephen was not to have this road, it he could prevent it. Holden knowing that a road cannot disturb a cemetery, had the southern most part of his land set off as a cemetery and
buried one of the poor charges of the Township on this lot. As this was the southern entrance to the proposed road, Stephen never gained his road. For years that lonely grave was the only one in the cemetery. Later Isaac and Lavina were buried there, but as no suitable market was placed there, the exact location of their graves is not known.
The brothers eventually made up their quarrel and were friends.
When Holden Lowing - 4th child as well as 4th son was born, it was in a story and a half clapboard house, with a large fireplace at one end, which was used for both heat and cooking. The three older boys slept in aloft, reached by a ladder. There was homemade furniture - a table, chair or two - benches - beds made with woven rope springs. Ticks filled with straw or corn husks, were used for mattresses. His clothes were probably hand woven. The wool or flax was no doubt grown, spun and woven by his mother.
Wolves were very numerous in those days and usually ran in packs. They were never known to attack a person, but often, when one went out for the cattle, in the morning, he found they had been encircled by the wolves at night. When wolves are near, domestic animals will usually herd close together and the wolves will run around them in circles, howling in a weird manner.