Colon Township Liabrary Built

I May Not Make Much Money



Oliver B. Culver was a very prosperous farmer who lived 2 ½ miles east of Colon. In addition to general farming, he concentrated on melons and berries. He had acres of strawberries where you could “pick them yourself”. Oliver also operated a stand in the front of the Post Office building, selling Edison Phonographs and records. He also sold candy as well as his fruits and vegetables. That caused a bit of a problem at one time. Mr. & Mrs. Culver had no children of their own, but “O.B.” had a soft spot in his heart for children. He sold his candy at ridiculously low prices to the displeasure of his competition. A committee called on him protesting his under pricing and requested that he maintain a regular mark-up. His answer, “I may not make much money, but I have a lot of fun.” The Culvers gave the village the town clock, which was installed, on the schoolhouse in 1912 by Ora Tomlinson and a crew of carpenters. Mr. Tomlinson received $3.50 per day and his helpers got $1.00 a day. The clock was removed from the school (now the elementary school) during remodeling and one face and the works are in possession of the Historical Society. They also have the plaque, which reads, “The town clock, donated by Oliver B. Culver and his wife Mary E. Culver, to be erected on the High School building, 1912”.



Colon Township Library under construction


Oliver and Mary also gave the money to erect the Colon Township Library, built in 1914. The building is on the site where once stood the Lakeview Hotel, also known as the Pond Lily House and Davis Hotel. The hotel burned in the summer of 1912. In the files of the township is a contract between O. B. Culver and the township, issued on September 12, 1912. By a decree of the circuit court of St. Joseph County, “O. B. Culver wills $15,000 to the township board and/or its successors, to be paid to said township board, at his death, to erect a FREE township library on lots designated in the agreement, provided the board and/or its successors buy the said site, clear it and prepare a suitable site for the construction of said library. If the township board fails to provide the suitable site, the contract becomes null and void and the bequest reverts to his estate.” To guarantee payment Mr. Culver gave the board three promissory notes of $5,000 each. On September 15, 1912, sixty local people petitioned the board to bond the township for $3,000 to purchase and clear the hotel property. Architect was C. A. Fairchild of Kalamazoo who used the library in Auburn, Indiana as a model. General contractor was Byers Brothers of Kalamazoo. Costs: General contractor: $10,700. Electrical (S. G. Hill of Colon): $295.50. Plumbing and heating: $1,543.00. Window shades: $98.00. The remaining money was spent on books.



Work underway!

Oliver B. Culver’s Will

From the Union City Newspaper



The Last Testament of This Wealthy Matteson Farmer is Read

Mary and Oliver B. Culver

Oliver B. Culver, the wealthy Matteson township farmer who died several weeks ago, was the uncle of Mrs. Glenn G. Worden, of this city, and Mr. and Mrs. Worden went to the Culver home in Matteson, Monday to hear the will read. Mr. Culver’s chief benefactors were to Colon Village, and to Miss Mattie Myers, who lived with him for some time. To Colon he gave funds for a fine public library, and to Miss Myers he gave about $22,000. The whole estate was valued at $38,000. Below may be found a summary of the Culver benefactions, and from them it will be noted that Mrs. Worden will receive $400.

Village of Colon $15,000 for a library building and $1,000 for library books.

Village of Colon, Village property valued at $300.

John Green, $1,000.

Chas. Culver, $500.

Mrs. Glenn G. Worden, of Union City, $400.

Bertha Clinefeldt, $100.

Mr. Maynard, $100.

Mrs. Maynard, $100

Mr. Thrams, $100.

Harding Brothers, $100.

Mr. Babcock, $100.

Methodist, Baptist, St. Paul’s and Grace Churches of Colon, $500 each.

Matteson Township, for keeping cemetery lot, $500.

Mattie Myers, $1,000 and the residue of estate, estimated at $22,000.




According to the inflation calculator, $38,000 in 1910 would be equivalent to $922,384.00 in 2012 dollars.


For those who got $100, that is equivalent to $2,427.32 in 2012 dollars.

Fire Makes Way for Library

Hotel Fire made way for township library



From the Colon Community Historical Society Museum Archives; newspaper clipping, date unknown: “COLON – In the summer of 1912, the Lakeview Hotel – or as many knew it, “Pond Lily House” – burned to the ground.

Dale Baad, a resident of Colon, remembered the fire. “I was working on a farm north of Colon,” he said. “We were eating dinner when the phone rang telling us about the fire.”

“Some people who were at the farm lived right across the street from the fire where the King Pharmacy is now located. When we got there, there was a lot of confusion,” continued Baad. “People were hastily taking things out of the hotel.” Baad was 14 years old at the time. “No one was hurt,” said Baad, “but the building burned to the ground.”

Mr. and Mrs. Oliver B. Culver, who lived on a farm 2 ½ miles east of Colon, gave the money to build the Colon Township Library. It was built in 1914 where the Lakeview burned.

In the files of the Township Library is the contract between O. B. Culver and the Township board, issued Sept. 12, 1912. By decree of the St. Joseph County Circuit Court, O. B. Culver willed $15,000 to be paid to the Township board at his death to erect a township library.

On Sept. 15, 1912, 60 Colon taxpayers petitioned the township board to bond the township for $3,000 to purchase, clear and beautify the specified site.

The library was built in 1914, by architect C. A. Fairchild, of Kalamazoo. General contractor was Byers Brothers of Kalamazoo. Cost. $10,700.50. Electrical contractor was S. G. Hill of Colon, cost $298.50. Plumbing and heating contractor was R. R. Bramer, Kalamazoo, cost $1,543. Window shades were purchased at cost of $98.

After the incidental bills were paid, the township had $1,000 left over which was spent on books.”

Library Dedication



Newspaper clipping from the Archives of The Colon Community Historical Society, dated October 14, 1915: “With Gov. Ferris and Good Weather a Large Crowd Should be in Colon Today

Everything is in readiness for a gala day today when Colon’s new library building donated by the late Oliver B. and Mary E. Culver will be dedicated followed by an old fashioned jubilee.

The Colon Concert Band will furnish music for the occasion.

The building will be open to the public all day.

The auto parade, for which an award of $5.00 will be given for the best trimmed car, will take place in the forenoon; also decision as to the largest load of people coming to the celebration, for which $2.00 will be paid the person bringing them in.

Gov. W. H. Ferris is expected to arrive shortly after noon by auto from Vicksburg and will deliver an address in the opera house, followed by a short program. After which he will be taken to Sturgis in time to catch a train for Chicago.

During the day the following program of sports and games will be pulled off: Foot race, 100 yards, $2.00 and $1.00; wheelbarrow race, $1.00 and 50¢; fat man’s race, $1.00; sack race, $1.00; tug of war, $1.00; ladies nail driving contest, $1.00 and 50¢ and other games and sports.

The Coldwater and Colon ball teams are scheduled for a game at 3 o’clock.

The day’s festivities will close with a social dance in Godfrey’s hall, music by Gwin’s orchestra.

Special Prizes for the largest squash delivered to Ely & Goodrich’s Cash Market, $3.00




Colon Township Library

It’s my money and I want one like that!


The history of our Township Library starts a few years before it was built with an architectural design that people liked. So far, we have been able to trace it back to Linton, Indiana where Andrew Carnegie built a library there in 1908.

In 1906 a movement was started to build a library in Auburn, Indiana. An appeal was sent to Andrew Carnegie and in 1909 he committed $12,500 to build a building. Charles Eckhart, owner of the Eckhart Buggy Co. and a magnate in the automobile company in Auburn offered to build a library if the Carnegie contract was cancelled. Mr. Eckhart eventually spent over $40,000 on the building dictating what it would look like. Using the Linton library as a model, the building was completed in 1911.

Here in Colon there was a fire in 1912 that destroyed the “Lakeview Hotel” at the present library location. It was also called the “Davis House.” That location was perfect for using a bequeathed gift from Oliver and Mary Culver for erection of a library building. Mary died in 1912 and Oliver in 1913. The Culvers owned a large fruit farm and nursery east of town. The township bought the land for $3,000.




The will of Oliver Culver stipulated that the library should have two stories and a basement. It also requested that the building conform as closely as possible to the Edwin R. Clarke library building in Coldwater or the Eckhart library in Auburn.

Township Supervisor Wagner, Clerk Karchner and Justices Shane and Snyder of the Colon town board along with O. C. Tomlinson and J. Elliott Mosher made a trip to Auburn to inspect the library there.

As a result of their choosing, C. A. Fairchilds & Son, a Kalamazoo Architect was hired to design the library. Its exterior is very close to that of the Eckert library. Thanks to a gift from the Colon Lioness Club, a historical marker was erected in 1986.

I spoke with a woman at the Linton library and she thinks that there are around 15 library buildings very similar to theirs. Certainly Colon’s is one of them!