Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

Photo by Cliff Hill
Photo by Cliff Hill

Terry Konkle – President

Our Rockford Area Historical Society meeting at the Community Cabin on Thursday, May 2, 2013 was once again well attended as about sixty people enjoyed the evening. Floyd Havemeier, owner of “Herman’s Boy”, was the featured speaker giving a history of the business. His presentation was well-received and was packed with personal history including numerous moments of humor and life changing events. Floyd has a real passion for history and his support of our society and our museum project has been outstanding. He emphasized the role of “good fortune” in his life, and I could not help but feel that our historical society has been fortunate to have him as a loyal member and supporter.

We have one more meeting before our two month summer break. On Thursday, June 6 the annual picnic will be held at the Community Cabin at 6:30. We will also elect our officers for the 2013-14 year. In the months of July and August we do not have regular meetings, but on September 5 we start again. Jan Konkle is our program chair and has consented to continue in that position. She has done an excellent job in finding speakers, and the society continues to enjoy the results of her efforts. I should emphasize that all of our meetings are open to everyone and not just to members.

The last “Nugget of Rockford History” question asked for the name of the restaurant that used to be on the Northwest corner of East Main Street and Northland Drive. Several readers responded with the correct answer of “Russell’s Café”. Raquel Reyna knew a lot about the business because she was a member of the family that owned it. She recalled the restaurant being on the first floor and living up above it. Her grandfather was the “Chef”, and she remembers that the business was open every day but Monday. Later, as the owners aged, the hours were shorter. Several readers thought the “Café” was only open on weekends.

Many readers mentioned the chicken and turkey dinners, and Raquel told me that she and her brothers often had to pick cherries during the season because “Cherry Pie” was a featured Sunday item. “We did not like having to pick them” she said. When the restaurant closed and was torn down, a duplex was built on the corner where family members still reside.

rom readers I learned that the Rockford State Police Post was on the corner before the restaurant and that the Rockford Rotary Club held their luncheon meetings at “Russell’s Cafe” for awhile. My thanks to Dianne Skiver, Sharon Berry, Suzette Vanos, Martin Vogel, Joan Bunn, John Oatley, Joyce Torrey, Lee Paull, Bev Rollenhagen, Bob Boyer, Charlie Wolven and Rick Ehinger for calling with their answers and often additional information.

Here is a new question with two parts to it. Call me with either or both answers (616-866-0530 – deadline –May 17). At one time Rockford had a business called Ranger Inc. “ (1) What did the company make and (2) What member of the Krause family was part of it and offered to buy the business later?”

Finally, Pat Frye, editor of our historical society newsletter “THE POWERHOUSE POST” and her helper in putting the paper together, Rockford author, Bobbi Schirado, have decided to resign from their positions after several successful years. Their efforts have been outstanding and their positive efforts are appreciated.

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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.