Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

Terry Konkle – President

Photo by Cliff Hill
Photo by Cliff Hill

Several readers have contacted me regarding a mistake in my last column. Bob Lindemann was known as “BIG BUD” and not “Big Bob”. This error was mine as I was given correct information and for some reason put in the wrong nickname. There is still time (deadline 2/22/13) to contact me if you know what he sold at his Rockford business. I have already talked with many and will cover the “Nugget of Rockford History” area next week.

Willie Bradley furnished me with the “Big Bud” question along with much other positive Rockford information. He grew up in Rockford, graduated from Rockford High school and worked at different Rockford businesses. Three places that he was employed at were Burch Body Works, Rockford Paper Mill and Wolverine. He laughed a little and said “The buildings have been torn down”. He also told me other parts of our town history as he remembers it.

He told me that there was a restaurant located in the Peppler Building. It was called the H-L Restaurant and was run by Max Woodhull and his wife. Mr. Woodhull was a celebrated “Western” performer in the 1940’s who lived on Northland Drive and had “white” horses. Also in the Peppler building was W.A. Young Insurance and a fix-it shop. “I remember the restaurant well because I often had a hamburger and malt there for breakfast” Willie said.

He went on to say: “Wolverine used to ship their shoes by railroad and sometimes when the train would switch cars down in the Rockford depot area, the jar would knock the shoe boxes around and it could be a real mess.” I asked him if the depot was still the original building, and he said that it was never completely torn down but has been renovated to the condition it is in now.

Coal was also brought into Rockford and stored in a shed beside the railroad track. He remembered delivering coal to the Ford Garage on Main Street. “There was a manhole cover in the street which we would remove to put the coal down it.” he stated. “We used to carry coal in cast iron buckets up the stairs of the post office and that was a tough, heavy job.” He mentioned that Ernie Fonger, who owned the Texaco Station, would order oil by the boxcar and then store it in different locations in town in 55 gallon barrels.

Once Willie was asked to deliver some items, but he did not have a driver’s license. A call was made to our police chief who said it would be all right for him to drive as long as he did not leave the town. Times have changed!

He also told about Alfred Peterson who had a moving company in the freight depot. His son Rex started a garbage hauling business in Rockford with two trucks. One truck was for the north end of town and the other the south end. Pickup was on Thursdays with the garbage hauled from the back of houses to the trucks and hand hoisted into them. It was taken to the dump on 12 Mile Road. In the summer the trucks serviced the lake areas. Of course Rex Peterson is remembered for his gravel company business.

My thanks to Willie Bradley for his willingness to share his knowledge. I also have an update from Joan Bunn. She wanted to clarify that the lawyer mentioned in my last column should be Tom Anderson Sr. There was also a Tom Anderson Jr.

As always, contact me with any corrections or comments (616-866-0530). Our history is important, and we want to preserve it accurately.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.