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.of in connection with the places where they located. The four points occupied that year were Ionia, Grand Rapids, Grandville or Wyoming and Grand Haven. At first there was a diversity of opinion as to where the big town would be. Louis Campau and Lucins Lyon had faith in the Rapids; secured land, and platted it; the one as "Grand Rapids "and the other as "Kent." The settlers at Grandville had faith in their location; and there platted a city. Those who came to Ionia believed in land; and thought less of founding a city than of cultivating the soil. At and near Grand Rapids we at this time find the Campans, and those in their employ.
In 1833. and while the settlement was Louis Campau and his dependents, a young-physician, Dr. Willson—a man whose name is held in singular'y affectionate remembrance—came to try his fortune at the Rapids, lie was fresh from the schools, and brought nothing with him but his youthful wisdom and gentlemanly manner; and these were his passport to public confidence, and resulted in perhaps the deepest and most affectionate respect ever felt for any person in the Valley. All concur in pronouncing Dr. Willson a gentleman. No single voice has ever claimed for him less than that he was the ideal nobleman—gentle, agreeable, sympathizing, generous, intelligent, manly. He came poor and empty-handed, without medicines or instruments. Mr. Campau liked the young man, and took him under his wing; bought for him a complete set of instruments and a stock of medicines. When the boxes came Willson fairly danced with delight. There was the young Esenlapins fairly launched into practice among a population of fifty persons. He died about twelve years afterwards, leaving a great blank—a dark, vacant spot in the Grand River Valley. The feellng with which the early settlers speak of him, shows how strong a hold he—the manly physician—had on the hearts of the people. May we have many more like him, and fewer of those soulless quacks, whose only object is to grow rich on the sufferings, or unnatural crime of the base, the ignorant or confiding.
It has been said that the basis of civilization is the blacksmith's anvil block. This much is certain : that man can make but little advance in the arts, or anything, that distinguishes savage from civilized life, without the labor and skill of that artisan. The superiority of the Philistines over the Jews is manifest in this : the Jews had no smiths. The United States, in their laudable endeavors to civilize the nomadic tribes on our frontiers, do not send the cabinet maker and jeweler, but the farmer and blacksmith.
The first who placed his anvil and bellows in the Grand River Valley, was A. D. W. Stout. His shop was at Grand Rapids, at the foot of Pearl street, where now stands the Opera House. There his bellows breathed its long-drawn sighs, and there he fashioned, first a fish-spear, and afterwards the many different articles demanded by the wants of the white man or the Indian. This Mr. Stout was afterwards one of the first settlers of Cannon. At the present writing (1876). he is living in Plainfield. Mr. Campau during this year put up some buildings ; built a pole-boat—the "Young Napoleon ; " and the same year the Indian Mill was built, on the creek that enters the Grand River in the north part of the city on the west side. Its site was some 60 rods from the mouth of the stream. It was a small concern ; just the cheap mill appropriate to the circumstances and time. It was of the old sash saw, flutter-wheel pattern, capable of cutiing 1,500 feet of boards in a day. The creek was dammed so as to make a pond ; and the stream being insufficient to run the mill continually, it was operated by the pond ; that is, when the pond was drawn down, stop until it was filled. The cheap run of stones put in that mill were a wonderful convenience to the inhabitants, as there was no chance for grinding elsewhere nearer than Gull Prairie. The, it is to be hoped, perpetual..
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