Leonidas Fatal Accident

How a hardware store became a truck stop…

From The Colon Express, January 28, 1943: “Glenn Olney , prominent Leonidas farmer, is dead, a truck driver in the hospital, and the Crawford Hardware Store and building in Leonidas is badly wrecked, the result of an accident at the main corners in our neighboring village Wednesday afternoon. The accident happened about 2:30 yesterday afternoon. A Midway transport truck, loaded with 12 tons of steel, coming into town on M-60 from the west, attempted to turn off the pavement onto the street north, to avoid hitting the Lewis Abradt car, which had just left the Hetletwedt filling station to come onto the pavement. The truck driver evidently lost control of his truck after hitting the Abradt car and driving onto the icy street made it impossible for brakes to be effective and the truck plowed several feet up the steps of the Tom Crawford hardware on the corner, crashed head-on through the store front and when it finally came to a stop practically the entire truck was inside the store, the rear wheels resting on the steps and the motor or cab being very near the back of the store. The most serious part of the freak accident was the killing of Glenn Olney. Glenn had been across the street conversing with Grover Lowther in the post office. He started across the street just as the truck came up, and it is believed he attempted to get out of the way by going up the steps of the hardware. The rear wheels of the truck caught him on the steps and he was killed instantly. The truck driver escaped from the cab just as it struck the building and he was injured by falling brick from the second story of the building. He was taken to the hospital. Mr. Crawford and two customers, Bert DeVrees and Hosea Kellar, were sitting in the rear of the store and escaped just in time. Leonidas was packed with people last evening, taking a look at the almost unbelievable sight, and workmen were attempting to remove the truck from the store, which was done late in the evening. The hardware stock was badly damaged and the entire front of the store wrecked, a large section of brick from the upper story falling with the impact. Mr. Olney’s body was taken to the Roy Olney undertaking parlors at Mendon, they being brothers. Glenn was a life-long resident of Leonidas township, and lived on the old Olney homestead, a mile southwest of King’s mill. He leaves his wife, Addie (Canfield) Olney, and a daughter, Mrs. William Shiveley, of Battle Creek.”

Hatch Trading Post

Object of 60-year quest found near Leonidas


Joe Ganger


From a newspaper article of June of 1985, by Jan Gardner: HATCH TRADING POST SITE LOCATED

LEONIDAS – In the spring of 1831 a fur trader built the first house in Leonidas Township on the south bank of the St. Joseph River, just east of the prairies and forests of the Indian reservation.

He married an Indian princess but the marriage ended in separation a year later. He eventually married a white woman.

When the Indians were asked to leave their homes in 1833, the trader closed his trading post and moved to a farm near the Kalamazoo County line.

The years ate away at the trading post. Time wiped away nearly all traces of its existence from the land. But interest in it remained.

Since 1921, when the Daughters of the American Revolution began the search, interested residents of St. Joseph County have been looking for the Hatch Trading Post.

It has been found – but only in the past two years and only after some errors in county histories had been rectified.

Historians knew it was built on the south banks of the St. Joseph River near the “ox-bow” bend in the river and near the Indian reservation.

County Historical Society President Helen Wickman said Hatch traded furs with Indians on the reservation which encompassed all of Mendon Township and portions of Park and Leonidas Townships.

Sue Stillman and friends looked for the same site in the early part of the century and their conclusions may have led later generations astray, Wickman said.

A descendant of the Hatches, Raymond Meyer St., a former postmaster of Sherwood, now retired, said he had difficulty finding the trading post site. His research has spanned 10 to 12 years, he said, sparked by an article he once read about the Leonidas area.

He searched for records showing the site of the post owned by Thomas Hatch until he discovered it was not Thomas, but A. T. hatch he sought.

“He (Thomas) was born in 1833 so no way he could have run the trading post,” he said.

Meyer said he even had difficulty discovering what A. T. stood for.

“They told me over at Three Rivers Library it means ‘A Trader.’ It could have, you know,” he said. He said he found some records naming Captain Charles Hatch as the owner of the post.

Both Wickman and Meyer have found the A. T. to be short for Ambrose Timothy. They also found the trader was married for a year to an Indian princess, Marchee-o-no-qua, sister of Chief Maguago of the Nottawa-Seepe band. He was later married to Lydia Ann – Thomas’ mother. Neither Meyer nor Whitman has found Lydia Ann’s maiden name.

Meyer is a great-grandson of A. T. Hatch.

After a treaty, signed in 1833, directed the Indians to leave the 73,000 acre Nottawaseepi reservation, A. T. Hatch closed his trading post and moved to an 80-acre farm on the Leonidas-Fulton Road.

Even with a great deal of information at their fingertips, the site of the trading post eluded researchers.

Confusion about whether this site was east or west of what is now the Bennett Bridge on Jacksonburgh Road was compounded, at least for the Historical Society, by a picture of the Silliman files placing the trading post near the Appletree Ford which is located in the ox bow – a sharp bend in the St. Joseph River just west of the Bennett Bridge.

“It seems we went in circles for a while,” Meyer said.

The breakthrough came about two years ago as Meyer was driving his stagecoach, drawn by a team of pinto horses. He spoke to Gordon Barton about his search for the trading post somewhere in the area.

“I saw his face light right up like a Christmas tree,” Meyer said.

Barton told him his riverbank land had remains of two old building on it – the site of the trading post.

“There’s no trace of it now,” Meyer said, explaining the buildings were long gone.

The trading post was built about a half mile east of what is now the Bennett Bridge. Another half mile east of the bridge is the site of the Appletree Ford and the ox-bow.

Indians once paddled upriver to the trading post from their homes near the ox-bow to trade their furs for goods brought in on the Washtenaw Trail which later became the Ypsilanti branch of the Territorial Road.

Several years after the Hatches moved to the Leonidas-Fulton Road farm, A. T. Hatch left the county and moved to Elkhart, Indiana. Lydia Ann and Thomas stayed behind although Thomas left to fight in the Civil War where he was wounded three times, Meyer said.

Thomas and his son, William, are buried in the Mendon Cemetery, he said.

Meyer said A. T. Hatch left because the Indians were gone.

“I think Hatch was quite attached to the Indians,’ he said.

Seeking Captain Hatch’s life story after he left St. Joseph County, Meyer traveled to Elkhart County and went to the office of the county clerk.

“Knowing Hatch, one of the first things he’d do would be to get married again,” Meyer said, chuckling.

He found records in Goshen, Indiana of both A. T. and Lydia Ann Hatch. He said A. T. Hatch purchased land in Elkhart County but he has not looked further.

He said the Historical Society toured the Hatch Trading Post site, courtesy of Barton, in June.

“The trees have all grown up along the river,” she said.

“You could see where the old trails were,” Wickman said, adding one person claimed to be able to tell where the buildings once stood based on the color of the ground.

She said Hatch built the post on land owned by the University of Michigan. According to some records, all of sections 33 was given to the university on May 20, 1828, Wickman said.

“It appears he never owned it,” she said.

However, Meyer said an early entry to the abstract of Barton’s land show the names of Harvey and Amy Hatch of Genesee County, New York, as owners of the land about the time A. T. Hatch moved in.

He speculates they could be A. T. Hatch’s parents.

Meyer and Wickman say they plan to continue looking for additional information about the people involved with the hatch family and the trading post.

Wickman said she discussed placing an informational marker near the Bennett Bridge commemorating the site of the trading post, also mentioning the location of the proposed Hogan Fort.

The fort was to be built in the far northwest corner of Colon Township in anticipation of Indian unrest resulting from the Black Hawk War in 1832, she said.

The marker, while far from being a reality in the near future, would also contain mention of the grave of the first schoolteacher in the Indian reservation. It is also located on private land in that area but the schoolteacher’s name is unknown.

Wickman said first the sites would have to be recognized on the state Historical Register and then the money necessary – probably around $1,000 – must be accumulated before such a sign became reality.

Leonidas by Raymond Meyer




By Raymond C. Meyer Sr., February 21, 1990: “In the terms of the Treaty of Chicago, 1821, the Indians of the Nottawa-seepe (Prairie by the River) retained 115 sections, nearly 74,000 acres of some of the choice land in Michigan, as a reservation. They comprised parts of Nottawa, Park and Leonidas and all of Mendon townships and extended into Kalamazoo County.                                                                                                           These Indians had villages at Mendon and one that was called Maguago’s Village. This became the Olney Brothers farm.                                             Early in it’s history, missionaries had visited the village and many of these Indians were converted to Christianity. They planted apple trees that were still growing near the ford; hence it was called Apple Tree Ford. The early settlers found the ruins of the mission, fireplace and chimney on the north bank of the river near the ox-bow. About a half mile downstream from the Matthews bridge (now Bennett) the settlers tried to transplant some of the trees with little success.                                                                                    The Indian trader, A. T. Hatch, built his trading post (1830-’31) on the south bank of the St. Joseph River on what is now the Barton farm on Brandt Road. He married Marchee-o-no-qua, the beautiful sister of Chief Maguago. Her daughter was educated in Albion.                                                             All of section 33 belonged to the U. of M. after the government, and then Harvey and Amy Hatch are on the abstract. Harvey, an older brother of Ambrose, Timothy (A.T.), settled near Sturgis (1844). Hatch Street and the Hatch addition are named for him. He was also a U. S. Marshall.              After a year, A. T. Hatch separated from Marchee. She was a Christian and wanted a church wedding. Then Hatch married Lydia Ann Beebe and purchased land near the Kalamazoo County line. They moved to Elkhart County in Indiana and had children there and Lydia died at Adamsville, Michigan, and Hatch remarried. Thomas was about five when she died but was raised by someone near the old home. Hatch died on a farm near Dowagiac.                                                                                                          The Cowen brothers, James and Robert, purchased property near Ft. Pleasant and built a mill there. they sawed fine whitewood and made rafts and arks in which to ship flour, grain and lumber down the river to markets as far away as Chicago. Isaac G. Bailey arrived about the same time. In fact, he had his eyes on the very same location that the Cowens obtained.  Also George Matthews, Foremans and the Watkins families came then. Captain Levi Watkins was one of the ablest men in the early affairs of the area. The early mail service went to Ft. Pleasant and Issac G. Bailey was the first postmaster (1834). Baily was elected to the legislature and was instrumental in establishing mail service on the Washtenaw trail, Jackson to White Pigeon. Then the village was laid out along this route and although Watkins wanted to retain the same name, others preferred a change to “Leon”. Another village wanted theirs named “Leonidas” after the old Spartan general. Do you know what?  The “computer” must have jammed. So, that is how it got its name.                                                                                                           A hamlet called Factoryville is located in the northeast part of the township. I do not find if they ever had a post office there, but assume that they did. Why it was named Factoryville I have no idea, for now the most active things going are the Factoryville Church and their Christian school.

There are also two churches in the village of Leonidas. It has a post office: 49066. It has an active Grange. There is also a church next to the cemetery on the Kalamazoo county line. I don’t know if there are services there or not. It was in good repair when I last saw it.                                                     Some of the choice land in the county is in Leonidas Township. It contains some beautiful prairie land … land as level as a floor and land called timberland, with stone. Now there is extensive irrigation in the township. The St. Joseph River flows across the southern border and is joined by the Nottawa-seepe, Bear Creek and the Little Portage. There are also four small lakes. Choice whitewood timber was cut and much went into rafts and arks to transport cargos of flour, grain and lumber to markets as far away as Chicago. Much of the early commerce was carried on rivers.                    Some more of the early names in the history of Leonidas: Purdy, Harvey, Pier, West, Bishop, Gardner, Millard, Kingsley and Clark. Edward K. Wilcox and brother-in-law Joshawa Lyon first settled in Nottawa, and then moved to Leonidas Township.                                                                           The Leonidas schools are consolidated with the Colon Community Schools system. The stone building in Leonidas is a work of art, an art that will soon be lost. We should work for the preservation of these beautiful works of art. District number three was the Reserve School, located on the Indian reservation (Maguago’s Village). It was here that the state negotiated the removal of the Indians from their ancestral homes.                                          Sau-au-quette, the wicked, and other characters that were not the legitimate chiefs, sold out the nation. For this deed Sau-au-quette paid with his life at Coldwater. It was a sad day when the army herded this once proud and free people from their homes, very much like pushing a child into an orphanage or your parents into a poor house.                                                                      The first teacher of the Reserve School is buried near the Bennett bridge on a corner of a field belonging to Thom Fredenburg. I have been unable so far to get light on this.                                                                                            I would like to see a plaque dedicated to this teacher, the Hatch trading post site, and the site of Ft. Hogan that was started but not finished at the outbreak of the Blackhawk war. Hatch  and a band of the reserve Indians joined General Atkinson in Chicago (1832).                                                         I do hope that the many hours that I have spent in research will be of some interest to others.”