I May Not Make Much Money
Oliver B. Culver was a very prosperous farmer who lived 2 ½ miles east of Colon. In addition to general farming, he concentrated on melons and berries. He had acres of strawberries where you could “pick them yourself”. Oliver also operated a stand in the front of the Post Office building, selling Edison Phonographs and records. He also sold candy as well as his fruits and vegetables. That caused a bit of a problem at one time. Mr. & Mrs. Culver had no children of their own, but “O.B.” had a soft spot in his heart for children. He sold his candy at ridiculously low prices to the displeasure of his competition. A committee called on him protesting his under pricing and requested that he maintain a regular mark-up. His answer, “I may not make much money, but I have a lot of fun.” The Culvers gave the village the town clock, which was installed, on the schoolhouse in 1912 by Ora Tomlinson and a crew of carpenters. Mr. Tomlinson received $3.50 per day and his helpers got $1.00 a day. The clock was removed from the school (now the elementary school) during remodeling and one face and the works are in possession of the Historical Society. They also have the plaque, which reads, “The town clock, donated by Oliver B. Culver and his wife Mary E. Culver, to be erected on the High School building, 1912”.
Colon Township Library under construction
Oliver and Mary also gave the money to erect the Colon Township Library, built in 1914. The building is on the site where once stood the Lakeview Hotel, also known as the Pond Lily House and Davis Hotel. The hotel burned in the summer of 1912. In the files of the township is a contract between O. B. Culver and the township, issued on September 12, 1912. By a decree of the circuit court of St. Joseph County, “O. B. Culver wills $15,000 to the township board and/or its successors, to be paid to said township board, at his death, to erect a FREE township library on lots designated in the agreement, provided the board and/or its successors buy the said site, clear it and prepare a suitable site for the construction of said library. If the township board fails to provide the suitable site, the contract becomes null and void and the bequest reverts to his estate.” To guarantee payment Mr. Culver gave the board three promissory notes of $5,000 each. On September 15, 1912, sixty local people petitioned the board to bond the township for $3,000 to purchase and clear the hotel property. Architect was C. A. Fairchild of Kalamazoo who used the library in Auburn, Indiana as a model. General contractor was Byers Brothers of Kalamazoo. Costs: General contractor: $10,700. Electrical (S. G. Hill of Colon): $295.50. Plumbing and heating: $1,543.00. Window shades: $98.00. The remaining money was spent on books.