Letter Home by James Dalby, 1919



Letter home dated January 21, 1919; France; from James W. Dalby: “My Darling Mother – Just a few lines to let you know I am O. K. Today is Friday and a very nice day. Everything is going fine and we boys are waiting patiently to come home where we can do what we want to. I suppose the boys that have reached home are enjoying themselves. Well mother, they have nothing on us fellows. We are all bothered with cooties and sleeping in barns. It is an awful life but we are glad we are volunteers and have done our bit for the U. S.

Dear old Lewistown ought to be proud of Company M. the old Eighty Regiment, because the men who died died like heroes. Sherman was right when he said “War is Hell.” But you folks back home don’t know or never will know what us poor fellows have gone through. When we died we are all ought to go to heaven, because we have all done our duty in hell.

We are getting our wounded men back now. The men who were wounded and gassed at Château-Thierry, Val Flimes, Fisment, St. Michael and the worst battle of all, the Argonne Forest. That’s where four of Lewistown’s boys were killed and a bunch wounded.  We lost three officers also, they were all good men everyone liked them in the company.

Well now the war is over and we are trying to forget those awful sights and hardships we went through. Now I will tell you what I can about the French people (we call them frogs). They are a funny set of people. They dress odd and wear wooded shoes. All they do is farm and tend to cattle, drink red wine. We get their goats when they talk to us as we can’t understand them. When they cook fish they don’t clean them or even take their heads off – everything goes. Gee, I am glad I am an American and live in God’s country. They sure know how to soak us for anything to eat. The French are misers, they get all they can. Now the girls are different. They are sociable and try hard to please us and are good girls. They are always busy knitting and cleaning their homes.


Mother, here is a little song of ours.. it is a true one, but we had to go back to finish the Germans.



I want to go home, I want to go home,

The machine guns they rattle,

The cannons they roar;

I don’t want to go to the trenches no more.

Take me over the seas

Where the Boche he can’t get at me,

Oh my, I don’t want to die,

I want to go home.


We have some more songs but will wait until I come home then I can sing them. Well, mother, I will close for this time, hoping this finds you all well as it leaves us here all well. Love to all, your loving son,

Corporal James W. Dalby
Co. M. 112th U. S. Infantry


Ray Farrand Letter Home 1919

    Following is a letter from Ray Farrand who was on the battleship South Dakota on July 4, 1919: ”Dear Mother and All; Well my ambitions have been partially realized as I have been to Paris and the battle front at Rheima and Château-Thierry. Now when I see a little of the States I will be perfectly happy.

We left Brest at 7:30 p.m. June 29 and get to Paris at 7:30 a.m. Monday. That afternoon we used in getting our bearings and took in the Eiffel tower. It is the highest structure in the world, 980 feet, and was probably as near Heaven as I will ever be, of course the view from there was wonderful. We couldn’t go to the extreme top because there is a large radio station there but we got within about 50 feet of it.

That evening we took in the French cabarets and will say that the folks in the States don’t know what a cabaret is, and maybe it is well that they don’t. I don’t see how they stand it with some of their customs. Of course they don’t know any better or maybe they wouldn’t do as they do.

The next morning we got up early and went with a Y. M. C. A. party to Rheims and Château-Thierry. I never expected to get so far into France but you can never tell. Rheims is about a three hour ride from Paris on the train and we went right from there to the front where the Germans were located while trying to take the town. It won’t do to go into detail so will only say that we saw trenches, forts, dugouts, tanks, and German prisoners filling in the trenches and removing the barbed wire entanglements. We saw the famous Reims Cathedral that took 250 years to build and which the church officials have official record of 350 high caliber shells hitting it besides probably many more. The town is completely ruined and it must make the natives sick when they see it. We came back from there to Château-Thierry and went out to Beileau Wood. It is about five miles from the city to the first trenches that we saw and the road was strewn with shells being carried to the front when the Armistice was signed and was also very rough where it had been shelled. The patch of woods is comparatively small for so much fighting to take place in being only about three miles long and in the shape of a triangle. There are single dugouts about every step and in some there are still bones with flesh on. The “Yanks” certainly did well there for the only approach to the woods is across open ground on all sides. There is a cemetery there with 2,057 American graves and on top of the woods on a knoll is a spot with six or seven German graves who tried to hold an old windmill. There is a German prison camp there and the Germans are being worked to fill in the trenches and the shell holes in the fields. Every time they find a shell that didn’t explode they fire it with rifles. We saw them fire several. Saw a lot of English tanks that were used to try to take the woods and believe me they looked about like a sieve. I wouldn’t want any for mine but it must have been exciting while it lasted.

The second was the only day we went around the city much and we took in about all of the most interesting places. We left Paris that evening at 8:00 on a troop train so were pretty crowded but no one cared as we had seen Paris and were content to put up with most anything. We got here yesterday morning about 9:30 and came directly to the ship.

The president left Brest Sunday afternoon and the George Washington was anchored just a shot distance from us. With glasses he could be seen clearly. All ships in the harbor were in full dress and each fired a twenty-one gun salute. All along the way every one wanted to give us something for souvenirs or a drink of wine because peace had been signed the day before. When I saw the ruins of Rheims and Château-Thierry I wondered how the natives had the heart to do anything at all.

When I have many clothes to scrub after the big trip so will close for this time. Love to all, Ray


An early post card of the South Dakota in her original Spar and White paint and also with her original fore mast.

South Dakota was renamed Huron on 7 June 1920 and was designated CA-9 on 17 July 1920. She served in the Asiatic Fleet for the next seven years, operating in Philippine waters during the winter and out of Shanghai and Chefoo, China during the summer.


In 1930 the Powell River Company Limited took possession of some decommissioned ships to be used as floating breakwaters for the log pond at their pulp and paper mill at Powell River, British Columbia Canada. Using decommissioned ships hulls as breakwaters was not a new idea and had been used many times. However, in most cases ship breakwaters were created by sinking the vessels in shallow water to create the breakwater. At Powell River the water is too deep to allow this and so the floating breakwater designed was used. The ships at the Powell River mills Breakwater Fleet form what many believe is the largest floating breakwater in the world. These ships are know to the people of Powell River, British Columbia as “The Hulks”.

The first two ships that were brought to the log pond at the Powell River mill were the decommissioned US Cruisers USS Charleston and the USS South Dakota/Huron. On October 25, 1930 the hulk of the Charleston stripped to her waterline was towed to the log pond and was the first ship to take her place standing guard at the log pond. The Charleston remained in the breakwater fleet at Powell River until 1961 when she was removed because she was in danger of sinking. She was removed and used again a short distance away at Kelsey Bay on Vancouver Island where she was grounded at the booming ground at Kelsey Bay. She can be seen there today as her hulk is partially out of the water along with several grounded ships. It was at the end of August 1931 that the hull, stripped to her waterline, of the South Dakota/Huron arrived to take her place at the log pond at Powell River along side of the Charleston. These ships were ballasted and anchored in place and routinely pumped out to keep them afloat. For the next 30 years the South Dakota/Huron remained rusting peacefully protecting the log pond along with the other hulks that formed the Breakwater Fleet. On February 18, 1961 with a storm raging and the South Dakota/Huron riding low in the water, the once proud ship lost her battle with her enemy of 30 years and slipped quietly beneath the waves. She settled to the bottom of the log pond in about 80 feet of water and rests there to this day.


George Engle, Obituary

     George Engle, Pioneer and Well Known Citizen, Died Sunday



From The Colon Express newspaper, August 1921: “George Engle died at his home two miles west of Colon on Sunday evening, August 7th, at eight o’clock, after a long illness which, however, confined him to his bed for only a week. He was 82 years, 7 months and 2 days old.
George Engle was one of the notable men of St. Joseph County. He never knew defeat and was always the master of his own fortune. Not always did things eventuate as he desired, but he was of that tenacious nature that never gives up but compels victory from seeing defeat.

He was a son of George and,  Christipa (Klopfer) Engle, both of whom were natives of Alsace Lorraine, then a French Province. The family came to the United States and took up land from the government and it has never been transferred from the family. There were three sons and two daughters of whom but one survives. Mrs. Chauncey Cleveland who continues to reside on the original acres. The home was a log cabin which gave place to a frame structure and during the life of Mr. Cleveland, that was replaced by a fine brick home.

Mr. Engle was born on the Colon homestead January 5, 1839. His early life was that of the pioneer farmer’s son. After he attained his young manhood he was associated with his brother-in-law for eight years in the ownership of a few acres of land. Then a division was made which at the prevailing values amounted to about $1,000, each assuming a portion of certain indebtedness they had assumed. On March 29, 1864, he was married to Miss Caroline Loettgert. To them three daughters were born. Mrs. Clara Mathewson of Kalamazoo, Mrs. Emma Clyde of Mendon and Miss Carrie who died July 6, 1909. Mrs. Engle died November 12, 1878.

On Decemberr 4, 1879, he was married to miss Roxie Eburston, who with their one son, Orla, survives. There are three grandchildren.

Mr. Engle was one of the most successful farmers, alert and aggressive, and added to his acres until he became the owner of something over a thousand fertile acres. The fine stone residence and adjoining farm has been his home for over thirty years.

(Illegible) affairs. He was a stockholder in the Lamb Knit Goods Company. A many sided man whose ripe judgment was frequently sought and always respected.

Mr. Engle was a man of retiring disposition, never sought or cared for public office, his joy was in hard work, thrift and progress and his home. The tie between himself and his family was very close and in the companionship of his relatives he found understanding and companionship.

He became a member of Colon Lodge No. 73 of Free and Accepted Masons May 1st, 1875. In 1919 he was made a life member. He frequently expressed to his wife a desire to that his brothers of that fraternity should officiate at his funeral, using the beautiful funeral ritual at the home and grave.

Few lives leave such lasting impression on any community as this life, just ended leaves on Colon and Colon Township.

The funeral occurred at the home two miles west of Colon on Wednesday and was conducted by his home lodge. The interment was in the Laird cemetry.




Phil Wait and His Balloon, Monk Watson

Phil Wait and His Balloon


From The Colon Express newspaper, June 11, 1975; by Monk Watson: ”I think we all have idols to look back on, and my great idol was Phil Wait. I remember his first balloon ascension, and how anxious we all were to see his chute open, high in the sky.

Phil’s brother, Will, had been making balloon ascensions for some time. I believe he lived in Burr Oak. When I first saw Will Wait make his ascension he landed in Palmer Lake. Many boats were there to fish him out. As he neared the water he swung away from the parachute, and dove into the water.

So Phil figured he’d try it. He filled his balloon in the street in front of where the Davis Agency is now located (The “A” frame on North Blackstone across from the Village Hall). Will’s advice to Phil was, “When you get high enough, I’ll fire this gun. That means you should cut loose.”

In those days the parachute was not folded into a pack, but hung below the balloon. So, as soon as it was cut loose, it started to open. Not like today, when we have the delayed jumps.

So, Phil went up and when he reached the peak of his flight, Will shot the gun, and in a few seconds Phil cut loose. He was headed for the lower lake, but the wind caught him and he landed near the pickle factory, or just below the lumberyard on the railroad tracks.

From that day on it was a weekly event to see the balloon ascension. The storekeepers gave Phil a check for $5.00 and the factory gave him the wood to burn to make the hot air that filled the balloon. For a long time the trench and poles stood at the northeast corner of the Lamb Knit Company yard.

My mother had made me a parachute out of burlap bags, and I had made a hoop and trapeze, and with long ropes had it attached to the burlap parachute. Phil had promised me that he’d take me along on his next ascension. I took the chute to the little park, where Dr. Lawrence’s office is located (Now Dr. Smolarz). When the bag was filled Phil took hold of the top of my chute, and asked me if I was ready. I was so thrilled at the thought that I would soon be up there high in the sky and ready for him to drop me. When he yelled “Everyone Let Go!” I was ready, but only to see him drop my chute on the ground. I cried for a month. I was eight years old.”

Brother Good by Monk Watson

Brother Good


From TOPS Magazine, July 1962, by Monk Watson: ”I was just told of the passing of Mr. Good, of the Abbott Company. If ever a man lived up to a name, it was Mr. Good. If I were to write about “My Most Unforgettable Character” it would be about Mr. Good. To me he had a rather special name, “Brother Good” every morning when I’d walk back to his department with a “Good Morning Brother Good!” and he come back with a cheerful, “Good Morning Brother Watson”. It was like a lift and a good start (pardon the pun) for any kind of day.

Mr. Good had many talents. He could do anything. I once asked him how he could do so many things so well, and he said, “Things were made by man, so why can’t I fix them?” Mr. Good had a fine voice and as Choir Director he’ll be missed in our church. Christmas time found him making a very special candy to be passed out to his friends. The candy was made from his own formula; I’m sure with a taste that you’d never forget. Hand him a piece of furniture to be repaired, with any kind of fancy upholstering, and he’d make it look like new. It was a by-word around our home, “Mr. Good can fix it.” Awnings for our lawn swing, my golf cap that had been thrown away, fixed like new. When I tried to lay a stair carpet a call to Brother Good brought him on the job to advise me as to how to do it.

Men of Magic will remember him for his handy work in making some of the tricks, from small rubber things to big fine leatherwork. Mr. Good walked with a limp, but few ever saw it, because when you saw his happy smile you never saw below his neckline … I’m glad that I knew Mr. Good. I’ll thank him for putting me right when a lot of things looked pretty rough at times. Rest well, Brother Good.”

Monk Watson

Rose Michael Killed




From the Colon Express, October 17, 1940: ”Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Michael and daughters, Nadine and Janis, attended the funeral of Mr. Michael’s stepmother, Mrs. Rose Michael, at Union City, Sunday.

Mrs. Michael, aged 72, wife of John Michael, was killed instantly when she was struck by an automobile while walking across M-60 in front of her home east of Union City about 4:45 p.m. Friday. She was going to the mailbox, crossing the pavement.

The driver of the car was John Fletcher, St. Joseph county treasurer, who made the statement that he did not see Mrs. Michael until he struck her. An inquest will be held some time this week.


Evelyn M. Hill Obituary

Mrs. Evelyn M. Hill



Newspaper clipping from February 7, 1940: “In the passing of Mrs. Hill, Colon has lost a pioneer whose life was closely woven into the affairs of the community. Her unselfish interest in others and in projects where Colon might benefit, were evidenced in the completion of the depot park and later the present community park.

Evelyn McNiel was born in Deveraux, Michigan, March 31, 1870, daughter of Charles and Sarah Deyoe McNiel. She was  the youngest of six daughters. During young womanhood she taught in the schools near Springport and became a milliner in which capacity she came to Colon in 1897.

On June 8, 1898, she was married to Thomas J. Hill, then superintendent of the Lamb Knit Goods Co., and vice president of E. Hill & Sons’ Bank. She resided in Colon until two months ago. Their home was one where all were welcome and the older generation have many pleasant memories of the hospitality shown them on countless occasions. Three children were born to them, Marian K. and Edwin R., who live in Detroit, and Thomas J. Jr., who died in infancy.

Following her husband’s death in 1914, Mrs. Hill represented the Lamb Knit Goods Co., in northern Michigan and Wisconsin for four years, and was director and second vice president of the Hill’s Bank for several years. She was a businesswoman for seven years at that time owning a millinery store in the Clement block, and made many friends thru this enterprise.

Mrs. Hill was a charter member of the Colon Woman’s Club and served actively for thirty-nine years, setting as president several times. Her membership in the Colon Garden Club terminated through ill health. She was a member of the Baptist Church and Aid Society.

Her unusual writing ability was recognized by all who knew her and at the time of her death, negotiations were under way with a New York firm to publish some of her poems.

Her life closed quietly, February 7, 1940, while she was taking her afternoon nap. She was found a short time later by her daughter, Mrs. Marian Michaelson, with whom she made her home.

Surviving her are her daughter, a son, Edwin R., a grandson, John Steele of Detroit, and two sisters, Mrs. Viola Crandall of Onondaga, and Mrs. Carrie VanBlack of Springport. Services were held Friday, February 9, at 2:30 at the W. K. Markham Funeral Home, Rev. Clarence E. Hoover officiating. She was laid to rest in Lakeside cemetery.”


Wells Wrigglesworth Obituary



 From The Sturgis Daily Journal, July 17, 1939: “Wells Wrigglesworth, Colon Resident, Kills Self With Pistol

Colon, July 17 – Wells Wrigglesworth, aged 77, died Saturday afternoon about five o’clock from a self inflicted bullet wound.

Returning from an errand, Mrs. Wrigglesworth found her husband lying unconscious in the yard of their home with an old fashioned 32 caliber revolver lying by his side. He apparently had held the gun to his temple, the bullet having taken a diagonal course, lodging in the cheek.

Dr. A. E. Brunson was summoned, but Mr. Wrigglesworth died before medical aid could be given.

Despondency over illness from an incurable malady is believed to have been the cause of his act.

Mr. Wrigglesworth was born in Jones Township, Cass County, Aug. 31, 1861 and lived in Sherwood many years. About eight years ago the couple purchased the home known as the Lillian Rudd place and have resided here since that time.

Besides the widow, he is survived by a brother, Hiram, and a sister, Mrs. Dora Wing, both of Kalamazoo.

Serivces will be held Tuesday afternoon at two o’clock at the Church of God with the pastor, Rev. W. L. Weaver officiating.”

Jerry O. Burke Obituary




Newspaper Clipping dated September 19, 1938: “Retired Livestock Buyer Dies After Years Illness; Services Tuesday.

COLON – Jerry Orlando Burke, 52, retired livestock buyer here, died at 7:15 a.m. Sunday in his home of complications after having been in failing health for a year.

Mr. Burke was a member of the Colon Masonic lodge, the Sturgis commanery, Knights Templar and of the Sherwood chapter, O. E. S. and was a past master of the Sherwood Masonic lodge.

He came to Colon several years ago and had operated a livestock and wool buying business here until failing health forced him to retire.

He was born Oct. 23, 1885, in Brady township, Kalamazoo county, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Marcellus Burke and spent his boyhood in and near Vicksburg, living with an uncle, Spencer Burke, and attending the Vicksburg school. In 1911 he began farming in the Clipbell district, moving to Colon a few years later.

Dec. 25, 1902, he married Miss Chlote Frymire. She survives as do a son, Melvin, of Colon; two daughters, Mrs. Leta Farrand of Colon and Mrs. Beulah Wilbur of Bronson; three sisters, Mrs. Walter Howard of Lawrence and Mrs. Lulu Provost of Leonidas and (illegible).”

Harlie D. Bennett Killed

From the Colon Express newspaper, September 19, 1938: “A head-on collision between two cars took the life of Harlie D. Bennett, well-known St. Joseph County man, and placed two others in the hospital with serious injuries, Sunday afternoon. The accident happened at about 5:30 on M-60 about a mile east of Leonidas.

Mr. Bennett who resides at his farm home two miles northwest of Centreville, near the Sturgis dam, was returning home from Battle Creek where he and Mrs. Bennett had been to visit their daughter, Mrs. Claire Clouse. Mrs. Bennett remaining in Battle Creek for a short visit. His car was struck head-on  by another car driven by Harold King of Detroit, who evidently was traveling with his car out of control and swung directly in front of the Bennett car in an attempt to pass a car ahead. Mr. Bennett was killed instantly and Mr. King and wife, occupants of the other car were taken to Three Rivers hospital.

An investigation by Sheriff Carl Burr and other officials was made and they were of the opinion that King was driving his car at a high rate of speed and out of control, as Mr. Bennett had driven his car partially off the pavement to avoid the crash.

Mr. King is still in the hospital and his condition in improving, however, officials have been unable to secure a connected statement from him and no charges have as yet been placed against him.

Mr. Bennett was very well known in Colon, as he was born in Colon township September 18, 1871 and has lived in this county the greater part of his life. He followed the pursuits of a farmer and occasionally worked as a mason, and his hobby was good horses. For many years he owned trotting horses and delighted in training and driving them in the races at the county fair.

On June 1, 1899, he was united in marriage with Mary L. Hazard at Colon. Mr. Bennett leaves the bereaved widow, two daughters, Thora Hushel of Constantine and Mrs. Claire Clouse of Battle Creek, and one step-daughter, Mrs. Margaret Schoolmaster, of Buffalo, N. Y. A step-son preceded him in death. There are also two sisters, Mrs. Frances Pulver and Mrs. Vina Rommel, both of Three Rivers, and a nephew, Claire Dougherty, of Colon, as well as two grandchildren survive.

The funeral was held Wednesday afternoon from a Three Rivers funeral home and thee body was brought to Lakeside cemetery, Colon, for burial.”