Old Time Ministers Coming 1928




From the Colon Express Newspaper, June 7, 1928: “The Sunday program is progressing especially well. C. I. Beebe, you all remember him, tells us by telegram he will deliver the Sunday evening sermon at the union service in the opera house. Elt Mosher made a personal call at the home of Rev. Musser in Ypsilanti and has about completed arrangements to have Rev. Musser for the morning serivces in the Baptist Church, Sunday, while the Methodist plan to have Rev. A. N. Eldred in their church at the same hour.

These old friends to speak to us together, with the special music, of which we told you last week will surely make our churches seem like old times again.

(Later – Telegram received stating that Rev. Eldred will be with us to speak at the Methodist Church.)

The opening gun of the reunion will be the Boy Scout ball game, played Saturday afternoon, June 16th on the school diamond. The Scout team from Bronson will cross bats with the local Scout team. The boys have the Go-Getter spirit alright.

Arrangements are made to have our Saturday night get-together and registration in the Masonic hall, and to have the registration booth open Sunday and Monday in the lower floor of the Masonic building. This place will be better known to most of our old friends as McKinster store building. Be sure to come there. register and see who is here.

Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Farrand have consented to act on the picnic committee and Mr. Farrand has been made chairman of the same. When it is a matter of “boost Colon” you can always depend on Mr. and Mrs. Farrand. They will be in the “firing line.”

Dale Baad is hot on the trail of everyone of the old Colon band boys. He is working hard to get you fellows back to “tune in”” on Sunday and Monday again this year. Drop Dale a line to let him know you will be here.”

Go-Getters 1928



From the Colon Express, June 7, 1928: ”As promised last week, we are continuing our history of the community, with a brief outline of the village: –

In 1832, George Shellhouse and an Indian trader, name Hatch, laid off a plot of ground for a village. In casting about for a name, Lorensi Schellhouse turned to a dictionary, one of the few books of the day, for an inspiration. His eyes fell on the word ‘colon’, and he turned to his brother and said, “let’s call it Colon, for its two lakes for two dots on the map.”

Things were very quiet in the village for the next two years and it was not until the completion of the flourmill by Dr. Isaac Voorhis, in 1839, that Colon began its upward climb. The first run of stones for this mill was dressed by Wm. Eck of Three Rivers, and he also ground the first grist.

We now hear of John H. and Wm. F. Bowman, who were very prominent in the formative period of the village. In January 1844, they made the first survey to be recorded. The first retail stock of goods was displayed by Chas. L. Miller in 1841, using a cooper shop until he could build a store building. Then followed other industries. A wagon shop, operated by Erastus Mills, in 1846, and the foundry, by Shuert & Duel, in 1847. in 1854 Wm. Bowman opened a planning mill on the site of Anderson’s blacksmith shop.

Sometime just prior to 1860,l David Brownfield built the tannery, which of course was in operation since many of us today can remember. In 1851, E. Hill and sons commenced in the retail business and were leaders until 1863. the sons later engaged in the banking business and founded the exchange bank of E. Hill & Sons’ in 1870. In 1908 a re-organization took place and the present E. Hill & Sons’ State Bank resulted.

The greatest and most important feature in the development of Colon was in securing the railroad. This was first undertaken in 1863-64, when the Grand Trunk of Canada wanted direct communication with Chicago from Port Huron. The line was being considered from Jackson to Centreville and the first meeting was held in Jackson in 1865. Among the citizens prominent in locating the railroad here were Henry K. Farrand, Dr. A. J. Kinnie, C. B. Hoffman and E. R. Hill. Shortly after this meeting in Jackson, the company was organized under the name of the Grand Trunk Railroad of Michigan and subscriptions were obtained therefore. The Grand Trunk of Canada did not keep their part of the agreement and gave no financial aid. The stockholders then took other steps and changed the name of the company to the Michigan Air Line Railroad, and asked the village to help finance them by bonding the town for $36,000.00. The records show this proposition was defeated. The above gentlemen then got busy and raised and collected $38,000.00 in subscription and the road was graded. Again the village was asked to help and this time voted $25,000.00 and the road to Colon was completed on July 3rd, 1871.

That the railroad paid, is shown by the figures from the agent, F. L. Thompson. During the year 1876, from Colon, seven million, thirteen thousand, eight hundred and ninety-two pounds of freight were shipped, including 7450 bushels of grain. The ticket sales for that year were $3,082.45. The first newspapers in the village were the Colon Enterprise, edited by H. Egabrod, and the Colon Standard in 1875, by L. E. Jacobs. This was a democrat sheet and had a fair circulation. The first Colon Express was published in the fall of 1886 by McDowell brothers.

There are no dates recorded, but the first resident lawyer mentioned was Hiram Draper. He practiced his profession just once and was beaten in the case by Henry Farrand. Next in prominence to the railroad for the welfare of the community was the founding of the Lamb Knit Goods Company in 1889. Issac W. Lamb, inventor of the knitting machine from which the company took its name, was superintendent during its first year of operation in the village. Every year has seen a large increase in volume of business until today the company is recognized as one of the leaders in the manufacture of knitted outerwear.

Schools and churches always play a prominent part in the welfare of a community and Colon was justly proud of the fact that she had the best of both of any township in the county. The first Methodist Episcopal society was formed in 1844. The Baptist was formed in 1845. In August 1837, school district No. 4 was laid out and included the village. The first schoolhouse was of logs and on the Castle farm east of town. The first frame school house was built in 1847 and used until 1853, when the seminary company was formed and school held in another frame building, until 1862, the three story portion of what is now the Lamb Knit Goods Company building was built and classes were held there. In 1871, the district was incorporated as a union district and the schools have progressed until today the high school is on the University accredited list, a much-sought honor.

(Note – The township history of last week and this article regarding Colon village in the early days was prepared and submitted by Ray M. Farrand, of the publicity committee of the Go-Getters).”


Colon History



From the archives of the Colon Community Historical Society Museum. This comes from the Colon High School Year Book with business listing and various advertisements. Estimated date is 1925 – 1926.

“Colon and the township were originally a part of Sherman Township. Later they were divided off into Nottawa Twp. Finally it was made into Colon Township, which was subsequently divided and made into Colon and Leonidas townships.

The country was level except at Colon along the rivers which were heavily timbered. “Colon Mountain” is the highest point in the locality being 120 feet above general level. It is believed to be the work of the mound builders as well as the several other earthen fortifications and garden plots in elevated ridges.

The original plat of Colon was made in 1832 but not recorded until 1844. the first settler was Roswell Schellhous of Ohio, who came in 1829, built the first log house. It contained two rooms and was used as a hotel for other settlers and travelers. In 1838, R. Schellhous left for Illinois, where he made his home but in the meantime Lorauci, Martin G. and George F. Schellhouse, brothers of the first settler had located here and became leaders in the community. They induced 30 more people from Ohio to locate here. George and Martin bought the present mill site and erected a sawmill, later adding a gristmill. During the year of 1832 almost every person was sick with the “fever” and many succumbed to the disease.

Chas. Palmer came into the township from Ohio and Palmer lake is named after him. Mr. Palmer and the Schellhouses were very active in the community and started or helped organize several of the manufacturing enterprises.

The first crops were corn, potatoes and wheat. In 1873 mint was planted for the first time.

Gilbert N. Liddle built the first brick house and Adam Bower built the first stone house. Martin Schellhous planted the first apple orchard and his brother Roswell started the first nursery. Mr. Leland planted the first peach orchard but the cold winter of 1825 froze out all of the peaches. Wild plums were plentiful in the early days.

Cattle, hogs and sheep were raised very successfully and draft horses and fine racehorses soon became a paying enterprise. Colon having one of the first race tracks in St. Joe County. The first improved farm machinery was used in 1841. Louis A. Leland established a store in the township and ran a “huxter” wagon between Bronson and Centreville selling merchandise and accepting grain and produce in exchange. Cyrus Schellhous and J. D. Freeman started stores. John D. Everhard built a sawmill in 1837 and added a gristmill in 1858. Samuel King built a whisky distillery in 1839-40.

The first white children born were sons to Mr. and Mrs. Roswell Schellhous and Mr. and Mrs. Martin Schellhous. Both children, cousins, died within the year. The first adult death was Grandmother Schellhous. She was buried in the first cemetery laid out in 1832 and enlarged in 1838 and 1876. there was an old cemetery laid out on the ground adjoining the Everhard Mill.. the first marriage was Jonathan Engle and Delia Brooks in 1832.

The first school was started in 1833 and Martin Schellhous was the teacher.

The pioneers believed in education and the school had almost 100 per cent attendance. The Methodist and Baptist churches were formed. Later the Dutch Reformed church. Several lodges were organized about this time.

The first road laid out was from Colon to Coldwater and from Colon to Centreville. First bridge was built in 1840 over St. Joseph River, called the Farrand Bridge. The Leland Bridge was built in 1845. in 1868 an iron bridge was built over the St. Joe river and in 1873 an iron one over the Swan Creek.

First post office was instituted in 1835. Lorausi Schellhous was the first post master. Mail was brought from Kent’s and Adam’s mills. Henry Goodwin, an 8 year old boy, brought the mail from Thompson and Needham Mills and Leonidas. Mail was forwarded from her by horseback to Centreville, Three Rivers, Cassopolis, Niles and Berrian. The population in 1836 was 365, in 1850 it had grown to 846.

The first celebration was in 1840 over the Whig victory off “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.”

Wild ducks, pigeons, and turkeys were very plentiful. A pair of bald eagles made their nest here for 20 years.

The Clipfell family arrived in 1847 and later built a distillery.

L. Schellhous built the first blacksmith shop and lathe factory for the making of spinning wheels, chairs and flax wheels and reels. Dr. Isaac S. Voorhis located here in 1836 and built the present mill in 1839. Chas. L. Miller of Constantine located here and opened a store. David Barrows made wagons and Earnest Mills started a wagon and carriage factory. Shuert and Duel erected a foundry in 1847 to supply the needs of the settlers. David Brownfield built a tannery. Chas. L. Miller built a fruit-drying factory in 1847. Michael Keith was the first shoemaker going from home to home to do his work. R. J. Hazen was a cooper. E. Hill and Sons opened a store, and shipped livestock and grain. Later they opened the Exchange Bank which is still doing business. Dr. Isaac Side opened the first drug store.

Dr. H. Austin was the only dentist for a number of years. Hiram Draper was the first lawyer and after losing his first case to a school teacher, Mr. Schellhous, never tried a case again.

The citizens gave liberally of money to get the Michigan Air Line railroad built through Colon. Large amounts of four, hogs, sheep and cattle were shipped to the Chicago markets.

The Colon Seminary Company was started in 1858 and existed 10 years, with Prof. Orlando Moffatt as the first teacher. Several national known students graduated from this seminary.

Cyrus and Martin Schellhous had a great influence over the Nottawa Indians and were busy constantly keeping peace between the settlers and Indians. Fort Hogan was started with lots of pomp but never finished.

Colon furnished her share of soldiers to the war of rebellion.

Today, Colon is one of St. Joseph County’s live little towns with active merchants and a good newspaper.


*   *   *   *   *


Adams, E. J., Lakeview Creamery…………………….Phone 212

Adams Bros. I. G. A. Grocery…………………………Phone 127

A & P Store, Roy B. Bell, Mgr……………………………………

Bartholomew, R. J. Clothier………………………………………

Brown’s Dry Goods Store, Mrs. G……………………..Phone 115

Burke, J. O., Live Stock……………………………….Phone 165

Brast, J., Variety Store …………………………………………….

COLON ELEVATOR CO., J. E. Olney, Pres-Mgr.…Phone 211

Colon Service Garage, R. R. Roderick……………….…Phone 220

Colon Flour Mills ……………………………………….Phone  52

DeBACK, James, Grocery……………………………..Phone 229

East Side Garage, Ray Vreeland, Prop……………………………..

FRISBIE REPAIR SHOP, F. J. Frisbie …………………………

Farrand, V. C……………………………………………..Phone  23

Godfrey, Dr. E. L., Office…………………………………Phone    7

Godfrey, Dr. G. E. Dentist ……………………………….Phone  80

Goodell & King, Barber Shop………………………………………

Goodell, A. C., Coal, Implements, and Seeds…………….Phone 120

Gorton, Jay, Barber Shop……………………………………………

Hartman, Dr. P. L., Veterinary………………………….…Phone  14

Hartman, Oscar, Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor……………Phone  16

Hill, S. G., Hardware………………………………………Phone  72

HOBDAY GARAGE, Auto Sales and Repairing ………Phone  72

KEN’S CAFÉ………………………………………………Phone  60

Lamb Knit Goods Co., Mfgrs., C. G. Correll, Mgr…………Phone 42J

LLOYDS BAKERY, L. J. Burkholder…………………..Phone  44

MITCHELL, G. S. Jewler…………………………………………..

Maurer, Chas., Dry Goods………………………………….Phone  49

MID LAKES CAFÉ, Dine and Dance Casino …………..Phone  40

MOSHER, J. E., General Store…………………… …….Phone    5

Munday Cleaners, R. R. Munday…………………………………….

Markham, W. J. Funeral Director………………………….Phone 104-J

NEINDORF, CHAS., Drug Store……………………….. Phone 28-1

OSBORN, OLIVER, Barber Shop…………………………………..

Palmer Hotel, Olive Hall, Prop.,……………………………………….

Ryan, J. G., Cigar Store………………………………………………..

Royer, Donavan, Funeral Director …………………………Phone  29

State Bank, E. Hill & Sons………………………………….Phone  68

SHADY NOOK HATCHERY, J. C. Cossairt………………………

The Modern Shop, Leo Thrams, Prop., Harness and Shoes……………

TOMLINSON, W. B. & SON, Lumber…………………..Phone  67

Ward’s Garage………………………………………………Phone 176

Wiles, S. B. Furniture Store……………………………………………

A Bit of History of Colon Township



Newspaper clipping from the archives of The Colon Community Historical Society Museum, estimated to be 1927: “At this time of every year, as the annual reunion of the Go-Getters’ club approaches, the thoughts of everyone from out of town naturally turn to Colon and the surrounding country. It was suggested by F. B. Cornwall, president of the club, that a brief history of the township would be interesting to many, so with that in mind, the following has been prepared by the publicity committee:

When Colon Township was first known, it constituted the eastern half of Nottawa Township. In 1833 it was detached and consolidated with Leonidas, into a separate township. In 1836 it obtained its freedom and its present territory. The first white settlers were various members of the Schellhouse family. The first being Roswell, who settled on what, is now the Sam Stewart (William Bower) farm, in section six, of the north-west section of the township. He came in 1829 from Ohio. He erected a two-room log house which had the distinction of being the first hotel and in which he accommodated many prospectors and people seeking new home-sites. In 1830, Lorensi, Martin G. and George F. Shellhouse came to visit their brother, Roswell, and liked the country so well they returned to Ohio and brought their families together with George Brooks and his family – a party of thirty-one persons in all, back to Michigan. They arrived in May 1831. They stayed one night at Roswell’s and the next day each sought their own home site.

Mr. Brooks settled on the banks of Sturgeon Lake, on what is now the farm owned by Grant E. Farrand. Lorensi S. settled on the site now occupied by Frank Lamberson’s house. Here he erected a log cabin, beginning on Monday morning and completing it by Saturday night. The records show that the first livestock, outside of the oxen driven through, was that of Lorensi Schellhouse, being 3 cows, a sow and 8 shoats. Lorensi seemed to have been of a more ambitious turn than his brothers for it is shown that after building his own home, he made a breaking plow, using a twisted tree for a mould board and proceeded to farm. He first plowed a garden spot for himself and then went to his brother Roswell’s place and plowed six acres. This was planted to corn, vegetables and melons. Lorensi then turned to damming swan creek, to furnish power for a sawmill. This was completed and in operation by 1832. He got most of his lumber from Bronson, in Branch County, and after sawing out 1,000 feet the water undermined the dam and it washed out twice in 1832. The last time it was built so solidly that it (illegible).

While the various Schellhouse families accomplished most of the first things in the township, there are other families who came just a little later, who became very prominent. Among there were Comfort and J. Tyler in 1832. Alvin Hoyt and Hopper in 1832, Abel Belote, 1833; H. McMillen 1834; Henry K. Farrand, 1836, Phineas and Joseph Farrand, 1838; Dr. Mitchell, 1836; Adam, William and John Bower and William H. Castle in 1835; Dr. A. J. Kirbie, 1831; Chas. L. Miller, 1840; Robins and Samuel Noyes, 1836; Chaffees, 1835; Schoefields Louis Leland from Massachusetts, 1838; Eberhardsd, Wagners, Dr. Vories, 1836; and John Bowman, 1835, from Pennsylvania; Danburys and Tellers from New York, and also the Vanvorsts; Levi Matthews, from Connecticut, in 1830; Clipfells, in 1839, from Alsace; and the Borrs and Engles from Germany.

Palmer Lake received its name from Charles Palmer, who came from Ohio in 1831. a few of the old spots selected by the early settlers today are still known by those names. Among them are the J. K. Farrand place, south of town; Clarence Gorton’s beautiful home west of the village; Jesse Castle’s fine old homestead, east of town, and a few still speak of the island now owned by Harry Blackstone as the Chas. I. Miller Island.

Among some of the “first things not already mentioned are: — The first white child born to Roswell Schellhouse in 1830; the first marriage was between Jonathan Engle Jr., and Della Brooks, in 1832; the first school house was on the Brooks place overlooking Sturgeon Lake, on the farm now owned by Grant E. Farrand. The first teacher was Martin G. Schellhouse, who was followed by Colon’s first school m’am, his daughter, Martha. The first religious service, aside from funerals, was held in this school house and was a Methodist service. The first barn was built in 1836 by Lorensi Schellhouse and the first brick house was built by Gilbert N. Liddle in 1847, on the Truby farm, west of town. The brick for this house were made by Joel Dane, on the farm on the Fairfax road, now occupied by Ralph Neal.

The first cemetery was laid out on the present sight west of town in 1832, and comprised one acre of ground. The first burial in this plot was Emily Noyes, aged 8. the first bridge over St. Joseph river in the township was built in 1839-40, and was known as Farrand’s Bridge. This was the third bridge on the entire river. Leland Bridge was first built in 1845. The first full blooded sheep were American Merinos. These were brought in by H. K. Farrand. He, together with Phineas Farrand, were the first to introduce full blooded Short Horn cattle. This was in the year 1852, and they secured the cattle from Kentucky.

The first officially laid out road through the township was from Centreville to Coldwater in 1836. The first township meeting was held in 1833, at which time Roswell Schellhouse was elected supervisor and his brother Martin, the first clerk. The records are incomplete and the names of other officers are not shown. Of course we realize this is in no way a complete history of the township, but space prohibits further details and we believe this covers well the earliest settlers.”



Go-Getters Club 1924







Another page of real history was recorded in Colon the past week and it is one of the most interesting of all. The second annual reunion of the Go-Getter’s Club of Colon was held June 15th, 16th and 17th, and many made the stay even longer than the three days. “Coxey” and “Jake” and “Ted” and “Liz” and “Slim” and “Shorty” and their children and grandchildren nearly three hundred strong were back in the “Old Home Town” for three wonderful days of fishing, feeds and fun. After ten, twenty, thirty and in some instances forty years, these former Colon boys and girls came back and it surely would have done your heat good to have been an eye witness when those people who had not met in years came together. Hearty handshakes, embraces and in many instances tears of joy were seen as they came to town, car after car – and then they settled down to one grad good time.

Through the efforts of F. B. Cornwall now of Chicago, but still a staunch supporter of Colon, the Get-Together’s Club was organized one year ago. It was his idea, and a grand one, as was proven last week. about a dozen of the “old gang” were enticed back to the old home town for a few days session, and they met at the leading “food emporium” of the village for an evening of food, frolic and fish stories. The party was a grand success and then and there the boys formed a permanent organization for the purpose of promoting an annual get-together meeting to spread the spirit of good-fellowship which is so characteristic of the little old town of the lakes.

This year the old timers drove in from Long Beach, Calif., from New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and from all sections of the country just to be back in “The Old Home Town” for a few hours with the boys and girls of the old-fashioned school days, and friends of former days. There were doctors, lawyers, merchants, school teachers, ministers, farmers, men and women from all walks of life.

Homes and all the resources for entertainment of the village were thrown open to the merrymakers during their short stay. As early as Friday they began to roll in, Will ”Billie” Hinkle of Fremont, Ohio, being the first to enroll, and with several others they explored some of the old haunts, the old swimmin’ hole, the spring by the creamery, and incidentally hid their fill of fresh buttermilk, and from then on things began to liven, and there were still a few of the folks lingering with relatives here as late as Wednesday.

On Sunday, the 15th, memorial services were held at Lakeside cemetery and it was a very impressive occasion because of the fact that one of the number, Jerome West, was laid to rest on that afternoon, and the “old timers” all pad their respect to their friend “Rome”, as he was better known, by accompanying his body to the final resting place. Beautiful flowers were strewn upon his grave as well as the many others of the “old school” who rest in Lakeside.

Returning from the cemetery they all met at the library for registration and a relaxation to prepare for the coming program. In the afternoon they all met at the Masonic Temple for a few hours of reminiscence and listened to remarks by several and heartily enjoyed the musical numbers by “Billy” Hinkle and Forney Clement. Mr. Hinkle is a fine singer and was called upon many times during the three-day session.

Others at the informal meeting at the Masonic Temple were W. H. Davis of Albion, 76 years of age, who taught the \Colon school for six years and was really the man who placed our school on the road to its present high standing, was there and gave fine talk, looking into the faces of many who were students at that time and had a hearty laugh when some of the boys addressed him as Teacher Davis who wielded the “boy skinner” of the old days. Mrs. S. V. Hill, another teacher who was well known to the boys in the Temple also had a fine time greeting the many students who remembered her as teacher. D. L. Akey and D. R. Hazen were also present to greet their old time students.

Sunday evening the Go-Getter’s met at the Baptist Church  and listened to an inspiring sermon by Rev. P. C. Cypheres of Romulus, Mich., a gray-haired veteran of eighty-three years who held a pastorate at the local Baptist church back in the days when the greater number of his listeners were in their teens. It surely was a very inspiring service. Despite his eighty-three years, Rev. Cyphers is as keen as the average man of sixty – a wonderful memory, up to the minute on daily topics, good sight, and forceful in voice and delivery, sending his message home to the heart of every one in the packed church. John and Eli Hawk, Bert Fisk and Dr. Roy Chivers filled their places in the choir as they did in days of yore, when Rev. Chivers held the pastorate here.

Monday was a busy day, a national holiday for the Issac Walton’s of Michigan, for the fishing season opened on June 16th, and in spite of the “big ones that got away” the club enjoyed the early morning outing on our lakes and brought in a fine catch.

About a hundred and twenty of the Go-Getters enjoyed a picnic dinner on Mrs. S. V. Hill’s spacious lawn and of course devoured their morning’s catch and a lot of other good eats. Mrs. Hill has been very active and interested in the club as many of them were doing their daily stunts at school when Mrs. Hill was teaching – undoubtedly she could relate a lot of school history regarding the visitors. There were fish and more fish, then fish stories for all, even though Lawyer “Dave” who had been so busy arguing the merits of Cleveland’s administration with Professor Davis the he would forget to halt the boat.

In the afternoon the club visited the home of Lamb Knit Goods, which has grown from a glove and mitten factory to a large modern manufacturing plant of national importance. They were all given souvenirs; the ladies knitted holders, and the men skull caps which they all wore the balance of the day.

The final and crowing event of the home-coming was the banquet held at the Odd Fellows hall at 6:30, attended by about a hundred and thirty, and there were scores more who would have been there had the seating capacity of the hall been sufficient to accommodate them all. The Rebekah’s served a fine menu in good order and did remarkable well in taking care of the large crowd. The music furnished by Colon orchestra was heartily enjoyed and during the banquet several old-time songs were sung, also solos by Mrs. Bernice McCormick, Anna E. Corbett and Will Hinkle. Many of the members responded with fine talks.

After the banquet a business meeting was held and the old officers reelected: F. B. Cornwall, president; C. E. Godfrey, vice-president; John Watson, secretary and treasurer.

Then F. B. Cornwall, the mainspring of the organization, who displays ability as an organizer and progressive business head, and we are sure will make the Go Getters greater another year, gave a very impressive talk, the subject being “The Reminiscences of Youth,” and the message and thought so plainly brought out touched th3e hearts of every one present. At the close he spoke of “The Qualities of a Go-Getter.”

Rev. Cyphers then came forth with the final message, recalling happenings of long ago, resisting incidents in which many of his listeners took part in in younger days, and assured the Go-Getters that he had heartily enjoyed his visit and would be with them another year.

While old and young were mingling for the final hours of a great day the Colon band, located in the balcony of the St. Joe House across the way, played their best and made a grand climax to three big days.

The Go-Getters are all planning to make next year’s jollification bigger and better than ever and resolved the “the old home town may be a one horse town but it’s the best little town after all.”

We are unable to give a complete list of all from outside of Colon who came back for the Go-Getters reunion but will list all who registered.: Wm. “Billy” Hinkel, Fremont, Ohio; Wm. Watson, Altak Fisk McMillen, A. L. Fisk, Henry Dickinson, Roy Chivers, Claude and Beulah Palmer, Blanche Sharer Sinclair, Gates Sinclair, Leo Griffin, of Jackson.

S. D. Ware, Long Beach, Calif., Bernice Akey McCormick, Rye Fisk Halvorson and son Eugene, of Albany, Ind.; Floyd and Roy Lamoreaux of Dowagiac; Anna Leidy Corbett, New Bethlehem, Pa.

Fant Godfrey and son Frank, Mrs. G. E. Smith, Harry Paddock, of Detroit, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Cornwall of Sturgis; Agnes Garmon Ball, and C. N. Ball of Omaha, Neb; Cora Garman Savory and Chas. P. Savory, Anna Dougherty of Three Rivers, Mildred Baird French, Portland, Oregon; Rev. P. C. Cyphers and wife, Clare Cyphers, wife and daughter Wayne; F. W. McMillen, Lora Sharer Phillips, Elton Phillips, Elmer Pulver, Maude Garmon Pulver, Lansing; Ansel Wagner, Homer; Reeve Cornwall and wife, L. V. Cornwall and wife, H. C. Starke and Eva Cornwall Starke, of Niles; Frank Bradley, South Bend; Mrs. F. B. Cornwall, LaGrange, Ill.; Chas. And Mace Anderson, of Ann Arbor; J. L. and F. Z. Hawk, of Mongo, Ind.; Audrey Mater, of Stanton; F. B. Cornwall of Chicago; Bruce bower and wife, Mrs. Dorlevea Bower of Elkhart, Ind.; Edd Moore of Centreville; Carl Adams of Grand Rapids.

Udell Chaffe and Irene Gorton Chaffee, Forney Clement and Edna Tompkins Clement, of Battle Creek, Harriett Anderson Clark of Birmingham; Wm. A. Broom of Adrian; Wilson Davis of Albion; Mrs. Tillie Sharer Wattles Cook of Battle Creek; D. E. Hazen, Peter Hagelgans and wife of Centreville; Harry Davis, Morrice Wm. And Lucy Strunk of Kalamazoo; O. J. Dean of Illinois; C. E.d godfrey of Morris, Ill,; J. L. Godfrey of
Buchannan; R. G. Clement of Kalamazoo and C. W. McCarty of Coldwater.


Colon in the Roaring Twenties


Colon in the Roaring Twenties


By Raymond C. Meyer, Sr.: “The door was about to open on the “roaring Twenties” when the Meyer family moved into Colon. Many changes took place in the village during the decade, ending in the great depression.

There were no paved streets in Colon then. There were quite a lot of sidewalks. Most of these were put in by M. D. Lyon. He also built the Lyoness, the passenger boat that operated on Palmer Lake.

State Street was the first to be paved, around 1927 or ’28. Until that time the streets would get a yearly going-over with a grader; at least two teams on it; then the winter wagon would help to smooth the grading process before they were ready for the oil wagon. Thomas A. Sweet had a blacksmith shop on the northeast corner of the school yard. Many were the times we would stop in and watch the metals heated, shaped and quenched. After Mr. Sweet moved the building on Palmer Avenue by his home, he worked in the Anderson shop on the north side of State Street and east of the bridge. The Anderson brothers had a wagon and carriage shop upstairs with a long ramp that was good for sliding in the winter. Next to the bridge were a laundry and photographic studio. These buildings were removed about the time the present bridge was constructed. Just west of the bridge were the Lamberson home and the mill. Conrad Abraham Lamberson had property in Park township which he sold before buying the mill in Colon. They milled White Swan, Polar Bear and Lilly White flours. My grandfather made barrels in which the flour was shipped. The flume also furnished the power for the electric generating plant near Hobday’s Garage and battery shop. Donald says he played around this shop a lot. This plant also served Burr Oak, until Consumer Power bought them out. People by the name of Sievers had the plant. I remember the lights along the street that had to be fueled and lit at night. Andrew Bower was the first town marshal who I remember; he did this chore. On the two intersections there were lights that stood about four feet high with a sign, “No U Turn”. These lights were replaced with an almost flush light that was electric. One of the first plays that I saw in the opera house was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Kempton Komedy Kompany put on several plays. The Kemptons lived on N. Swan Street. And we saw the late and great Harry Blackstone put on his show in there. The last time I saw Mr. Blackstone was at the Hill Bank’s 75th anniversary celebration.

The “Air Line” was very busy this decade, as were dray and taxi services. John Ultz and Nick Myers were prominent in the early days. We heard a lot of Nick and his horsemanship. As the twenties progressed the auto and truck manufacturers changed the way people traveled. Some passenger trains were taken off and trucks did the dray work. Ellis Rathburn furnished a motorized taxi service. Harvey May then had a truck that served the dray line for several years. He sold to Wood & Son.

The first birthday party that my brother Ralph and I attended was for Hugh Godfrey. His sister, Louise, helped with all us kids. Hugh later had a nice little black and white pony, named Rosey. He had a nice carriage for her and we had pictures with my brothers and me and Hugh with this pony. Hugh was a good friend and lots of times walked the paper route with me. our class was so large that at one time we had several rows of double seats. Hugh was my partner in one of these. I had a nice talk with him at the Class of ‘33’s 50th reunion. The Lepley boys, Udell and Winfred, also had a black and white pony, and many times we would go out to the farm with them and have the time of our lives. Goodell & King had a barber show where the block addition now stands that houses Magic City Hardware. We left our daily Free Press there and they collected our payments. This building was moved on Mr. King’s property, now owned by Leonard Steininger. I lost a silver dollar while making hay on Mr. King’s property that was awarded to me for an essay that I wrote in the fifth grade. The last time I saw Mr. King he hadn’t found it.

Niendorfs had the corner drug store for many years, also a part of Magic City Hardware now. Mrs. Niendorf was a first cousin to my mother. Other businesses were E. G. Morgan, Mauer’s store, Carrie Adams (later Brast’s), Wilder’s Rexall store, G. S. Mitchell, Roy Bell, S. G. Hill, Elliott Mosher, Hartman’s Bakery, Bartholomews (which continued with Dale Baad and the Carpenter Brothers). Then there were Thram’s Harness shop and shoe repairing, Warren’s Bazaar, Moore & Son, Sol Wiles, Markham (funeral director), and M. C. Sevey, Ely & Meyers were located where the variety store is now; they sold to James DeBack, John’s father and with Sevey formed Colon Supply Co. The first gas pump that I can remember was located directly in front of Hartman’s Bakery. The first filling station, Gerald Snyder’s, was located where the Church of Christ now stands. Lamb Knit Goods Co. manufactured quality woolen goods that were shipped all over the United States. Reid, Murdock & Co. had a pickle factory north of the Tomlinson Lumber yard. Walter Dickenson sold his grocery and market to O. W. Curtis; Mrs. Curtis will be remembered for his “pet fish”.



Colon Mountain

Colon Mountain


Unidentified newspaper clipping donated to the Colon Community Historical Society Museum: “COLON MOUNTAIN — Colon mountain, rising 120 feet above the generally smooth level of the township, is a point of interest to observers approaching Colon village from the west.

Over the long years since early reached this area the mountain formation has been investigated by geologists, archeologists, and anthropologists. The geologists claim it is the result of glacial action. The anthropologists give a more interesting theory, tracing it back to the mysterious ancient people called the mound builders.

According to the “History of St. Joseph County Michigan” published in 1877 the race of mound builders once occupied this territory from the upper lakes to the gulf. The history book quotes a Mr. Foster who says in his “Prehistoric Races of the United States,” “With regard to their manners and customs the past is not altogether speechless. Enough of their monuments survive to form an intelligent opinion of their architecture, system of defense, their proficiency in art and their habits, pursuits and religious observance.”

E. H. Crane, a resident of Colon at the time of the 1877 history was completed, was an archeologist who had opened mounds in this area and  said he had found in them nearly every form of implement known to the mound builders, some unique and handsomely made and others in the rougher stages of preparation and also partially prepared blocks of stone for working. One of the mounds contained a sacrificial fireplace. Remains of six fortifications showing method and skill in construction were available for observation during Mr. Crane’s time in Colon.

The history of 1877 concludes that the present day Indians have no tradition of these mound builders, nor had they any, more than 600 years ago when they first came into contact with the Europeans.

Beyond the few facts mentioned, the mound builders remain a mystery. Who they were, from where they came, how they disappeared is sealed history.


Colon, The Town That Magic Built

The Town That Magic Built

From The Colon Community Historical Society, origin unknown: “Many towns claim their own unique “magic.” But no other town has the MAGIC of Colon, “The Magic Capitol of the World.” Levitating bodies, floating light bulbs, rabbits from hats – all standard fare for the 1227 townspeople and many summer residents who call Colon home.

Home of Abbott’s Magic Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest producer of magic paraphernalia. Colon becomes the focus of international attention each August. The national media, including such prominent publications as The New Yorker, attempt to solve this magical mystery town and the townspeople who literally open up their doors for the Abbott’s Magic Get-Together, a four-day convention featuring seminars, demonstrations, and public performances by some of the world’s leading illusionists.

Colon’s role in the world of magic began in 1925 when Harry Blackstone, the great magicians and illusionist, bought property, which is still known as Blackstone Island. Blackstone and his troupe would spend the summer months in Colon, designing their shows and perfecting their craft. Before Blackstone hit the road, he would open with a show in Hill’s Opera House, a 600-seat auditorium. Thought it was a dress rehearsal for Blackstone, it was a chance to see a legend in one’s own hometown for the townspeople.

Among those who came to visit Blackstone was his Australian friend, Percy Abbott. Not only did Abbott perform magic, but he built tricks and illusions. Together, he and Blackstone formed the company that still bears Abbott’s name. Though the partnership did not last, the company certainly has. Under the leadership of Abbott and Recil Bordner, who directed the company until his death in 1981, the company became the most prominent and productive in the world of magic. Today, Abbott’s continues under the leadership of Recil’s son, Greg.

More than a few residents can perform a simple card trick upon request and man can share a story or two that further adds to the magical reputation of the town. Among the resident are those who can be prided for the inside scoop – people who have built magic props, performed shows, given lectures, written books and pamphlets on the art of magic. Remember, it’s a magician’s secret!

The merchants roll out the red carpet year around to serve visitors and answer questions regarding the village and magic. Perhaps they will even guide you to the cemetery where magic legends such as Harry Blackstone, Sr., his brother Pete Bouton, Percy Abbott, Ted Banks,  Monk Watson, Bill Baird, and Duke Stern rest in peace.

The State of Michigan has recognized the historical significance of Colon’s magic with the placement of a State Historical marker on the grounds of the public library. It explains the roles of Blackstone, Abbott and this small community in the world of magic.

For the residents of Colon and the many who come to visit, the magic extends beyond the four days in August, beyond the stage of the high school auditorium, beyond the black cement blocks of Abbott’s show room. It extends into the hearts and hands of its people who welcome you to be a part of the magic – the magic of friendship that is the community of Colon.


What’s in a Name?


? The name of the town is derived from the punctuation mark. To quote from an 1831 letter, “Arrangements were made and a surveyor laid out the lots. When completed we wished to give it a name … could not find one to wuit. Finally, I took up an old dictionary and the first word I put my eyes on was ‘colon’. Looking to see the definition … a mark of punctuation indicating a pause almost as long as that of a period, we called it.”

The village of Colon is also located on a freight line of the Penn-Central Railroad running between Jackson, Michigan and Elkhart, Indiana daily. The village, also receives freight hauling directly through Alvan Trucking whih has a branch office in the community. The nearest air service and other passenger service is either Battle Creek or Kalamazoo, both of which are over 20 miles away.

St. Joseph Co. and the region around Colon is a mainly agricultural area with scattered small towns and villages throughout the area. Neither the county nor the Colon area has as yet experienced the pressures of or the rapid urbanization which has been a part of the growth of much of this nation in the past several decades. In fact in the period from 1950 and 1960 all of the incorporated communities in St. Joseph County declined as a percentage of county population, which had increased 21% over that period.

In this rural setting then the village of Colon is wedged between two lakes; Palmer Lake, the larger, is to the south and Sturgeon Lake to the north. The village is also cut by Swan Creek which runs into the St. Joseph River from Palmer Lake. All three of the waterways of Colon are a part of the St. Joseph River drainage basin which is located on the northern border of the village. These lakes offer recreational opportunities to both the village and to the summer residents who have cottages on them. Colon also serves as the location for surrounding area’s major community schools with both the combined junior high-high school and one of the systems two elementary schools located in the village.

As part of the Southwestern Michigan area the region around Colon is predicted to experience steady growth for a long time in the future and with that growth, Colon should be prepared to accept part of the growth.

The first white settlers came to the Colon area in 1829. Previous to that time the area had been inhabited by a number of Indian tribes who left mounds and other marks of the habitations. By 1829, however, none of the Indians lived in the immediate area. Early in 1829 Roswell Schellhaus came from Ohio to the Michigan site looking for new land for settling. He however did not actually settle in the village as we know it today.

The first person to settle in the village area was a brother of Roswell who followed him. Lorancie Schellhaus settled in 1830 along Swan creed on some 119 acres building their first home there in 1831. One of their first efforts at farming was growing corn. Now days, fertile farm and gardens, as we as, wormwood and mint farms with distilleries, prove the sagacity of these brothers in choosing the location. In 1831 Charles Palmer moved into the area and settled on 300 acres east of Swan Creek by the lake shore. It is for Mr. Palmer the Palmer Lake is named.

In 1832 Lorancie built a dam on Swan Creek to provide power for a sawmill. This was the first of a series of mills located on Swan Creek and the firs manufacturing located in Colon.

A year or so after arriving in Michigan, George and Lorancie Schellhaus and an Indian trader, named Hatch surveyed the first town site for the village on land owned by Lorancie. The question of a name then arose and Lorancie solved this problem by opening a dictionary at random to the word “Colon”. When he read the definition and discovered the similarity between the anatomical meaning of the word and the position of the two lakes together with Swan Creek, he announced, “We will name it Colon! However, they failed to record the plat and in 1834 John and William S. bowman recorded a plat similar to the one originally surveyed. Later, we find that a township was formed separately from Nottawa and Leonidas which also carries the name Colon.

By this time the town had begun to grow mainly as an agricultural community. The first crops included wheat, corn, and potatoes, as well as some garden produce. In 1831 a physician, Dr. Issac S. Coskris had arrived and in 1836 Louis A. Leland became the first merchant of Colon. Though records of the village are incomplete, the township had shown a growth to a population of 386 by 1838. A flourmill was established in the village between 1838 – 1839, a wagon-manufacturing firm by 1845 and a foundry in 1847. Records show a township assessed valuation of $15, 392 in 1834 and this grew to $30, 808 by 1836.

During this era from 1850 to 1900 Colon saw many changes within the community. These changes and the stability of the community were enhanced by the building of a railroad through Colon in 1871. History, also, shows the establishment of the first Exchange Bank in 1872 by E. R. Hill & Co. which is the name it still carries. Charles Miller established a fruit drying and vinegar making company in 1874 and by 1876 it was employing 35 people during the 100-day season. As a result the assessed valuation in the township had grown to $477,113 by 1876 and the population was up to 1,354 persons.

The first road through town was built by male citizens donating labor and time; cutting trees and brush, filling marshes, and bridging streams so the postmaster could get to the Chicago road (U. S. 12) to get mail once a week. finally a road was cleared from Coldwater to Centerville, Now M-86 passes from these towns through Colon.

The first school was held in a log house. In 1847 the frame house, now being used for storage by the Lamb Knit Goods Co. was built for a school. A seminary was organized in 1858 and the brick building now occupied by Lamb Knit and Dr. Denton served as a schoolhouse until 1889. the Union School of Colon was erected in 1907 at the site of the elementary school on State Street. An addition was built in 1953, and a Jr.- Sr., High School, on Dallas Street in 1960 with extensive remodeling done to the elementary building.

In 1889 the Lamb Knit Goods Co. was established which still exists today. By the turn of the century Colon’s industry included among other thigs, the manufacturing of speed cars by the Anderson Bros. Who were originally the town’s wagon makers.

The Colon Library was founded in 1897, and located above a store. In 1914 the present building, on Blackstone Avenue, was dedicated.

Also during this era was the beginning of the entertainment industry in Colon. In 1897 the Hills put up a 600 seat Opera House and later a whole opera house block. The house had stage plays which stopped on their way from Chicago to Detroit by railroad. The entertainment tradition is still strong in Colon. Many theatrical people like Colon so well they made their homes here. In the middle of the 1920’s the great Harry Blackstone bought property in the northwest part of Colon and for many summers the company would prepare the following season’s production on what is now known as “Blackstone Island”. In 1927 Blackstone invited Percy Abbott to come for some fishing. Percy liked the town, fell in love with, and married, a local girl, and started a factory to manufacture tricks for magicians.

Also around the turn of the century several leading figures in Colon bred racing and trotting horses, training them on a half-mile track located on Blackstone’s Island.

In 1942 the road to Sturgis was paved, giving Colon hard-surfaced all weather road to main highways.

The early settlers were religious people as evidenced by the many churches in Colon originally established in the 1800’s.

The village of Colon, Michigan is located in eastern St. Joseph County and is part of the southwestern lower Michigan region. The village, itself, is about 15 miles north of the Michigan-Indiana state line; while St. Joseph County actually borders on the State line. Kalamazoo, Michigan is the nearest metropolitan area lying about 30 miles to the northwest of Colon, and Battle Creek, another large community offering services to the Colon area is about 25 miles to the northeast of the village.

The village also lies about equidistant from three major highway and transportation arteries connecting lower Michigan. I-69 lying about 15 miles to the east of Colon runs north and south and will eventually serve as the major link to all of central Michigan and run south to Indianapolis, Indiana. Presently this expressway goes only as far north as I-94, but parts of the expressway leading to Lansing, Michigan are under construction. US 131 on the west of Colon is a key north-south route for the western part of lower Michigan. It runs through both Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, and there links with I-96 to Muskegon and the northern Lake Michigan shoreline. I-94 which is about 20 miles due north of Colon is the major east-west link between Detroit and Chicago, and passes through a number of major Michigan, Indiana and Illinois cities on its way. Colon, itself, is served by Michigan 86 which runs through the village going east and west, and therefore, serves as a link to both US 131 and I-69; and by M-60 and M-66 lying just north and west of the village respectively. M-60 also serves as an east-west traffic route while M-66 serves north-south bound traffic running into I-94 at Battle Creek on the north and Sturgis, Michigan, the largest city in St. Joseph Co., to the south.




Village of Colon

Village of Colon


Unidentified newspaper clipping donated to the Colon Community Historical Society Museum: “VILLAGE OF COLON –  The village of Colon functioned for 70 years as a part of the township before it was incorporated in 1903. it’s history is most interesting as we see unfolded a very self-sufficient group. When the village was incorporated, most of the downtown building were already established. The first dwelling was built by Lorancie Shellhaus on Swan Creek in 1831. In 1832 the first dam on swan creek was built to power our first saw mill. The area has always been an agricultural one with wheat, corn, potatoes, wormwood, mint and cucumbers all playing a part. Colon continued its rapid growth when the railroad services were added on July 3, 1871. The Michigan Central passed in route between Jackson and Niles. 1872 brought the first Exchange Bank, the E. R. Hill & Company. Education was important to the early settlers. A small one-room log house on the Farrand farm provided its humble beginning. In the late 1800’s until 1889 the Seminary building, later to be Lamb Knit’s home, served to provide education above the 8th grade. From 1889 to 1907, the public school for the grades in the village was held in the building on Maple Street which has been restored to a home by Cal Shoop. In 1907 the Union school was built. This two story building served until 1961 when the new high school was built. The 1936, 1953, 1961, 1969 additions to the old Union building now serve as our elementary facility. The Seminary building which now provides a home for Woodcrafters, served the Lamb Knit Goods Company from 1889 until it closed in 1971. The library was founded in 1897. With a gift of Oliver and Mary Culver, the present building became the library’s permanent home in 1914. Ten churches have served Colon, seven of which still are. The Methodist and Baptist churches have served the village for about 140 years. The two areas which should be mentioned here could both be classified as entertainment history. First the theatrical people will long remember the old Opera House built by the Hills in 1897. it seated 600 people and staged many a great show. Many older citizens graduated from high school, with services held in the old Opera House. The village of Colon today is still a prosperous little town, even though there are few signs of what it was in 1900. it is in this change that we see the development of magic in Colon, which today gives us the self-proclaimed name of Magic Capitol of the World. Names like Harry Blackstone, Percy Abbott, Monk Watson, Recil Bordner and many, many more have been the keepers to see that the magic shows not only “must” but in fact do “go on.”



Farrand Hall on Farrand Road

Farrand Hall

Unidentified newspaper clipping donated to the Colon Community Historical Society Museum: “FARRAND HALL – The large frame house of four levels was built by Henry K. Farrand in 1854. Henry Farrand came to Colon, from Cayuga County, New York in 1836, and bought 200 acres of land. He built a log house in which he and his family lived for 17 years. He married Maria Mathews of Colon in 1837. To them were born Ann Eliza (Price), Henrietta, who lived to be four years old, Margaret S. (Benham), Julia (Todd), Frances (Weed), and Charles (later declared missing). Charles was married and had a son, and was living in the large house at the time he disappeared.

The acreage was increased to 800 acres. All but the original 200 acres was divided among the daughters as they married. Ann Eliza (Mrs. Morris Price) lived on Colon mountain. Julia (Mrs. Oliver Todd) lived across the road from Colon mountain. Frances, (Mrs. Irving Weed) lived south and across the road from the big house. Margaret (Mrs. Walter Benham) lived in Detroit and later at Farrand Hall.

After the death of Henry K. Farrand in 1887, several families lived in the house through the years. After the death of Margaret the house was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Schultz of Chicago (about 1930) who lived in only part of the house and never altered it. The house was greatly in need of repair.

In 1952 the house was purchased by the great granddaughter of Henry K. Farrand, Mrs. Blanche (Price) Burgess, restored the house to its original beauty. They lived in the house for 12 years, until her death in 1965.

In 1971 the house again in need of much repair, was sold to strangers. Only two parts of the estate remain in the possession of direct descendants, a homestead on Farrand Road owned by Chester Weed, and acreage on Fairfax Road owned by Raymond Price.