Rockford Area Historical Society News and Updates for 10/12/2017

By Terry Konkle



This week’s column will be used to answer some questions, update some information and to acknowledge the efforts of recent helpers with school information. Let’s start with a question asked by Lee Paull. He knew that the building housing “The Corner” was called the Saunders Building when it opened in 1872, but he wondered what business was there at that time. The answer, thanks once again to the research and writing of Homer Burch, was included in his “Rockford Register” column of November 17, 1966. Homer wrote the following in reference to the north wall of the structure: “Across the top of that long wall was lettered “Boots, Shoes & Crockery” while below is the legend “Saunders and Morris, Dry Goods and Groceries.”

Mr. Burch went on to write “Later it housed many other enterprises including Ivan Elsby’s Hardware Store, a saloon and for several years Carl Hyde’s pool room. Now, for many years, it has been known as ‘The Corner’ and a landmark in downtown Rockford. It was one of only three buildings to survive Rockford’s great fire of 1896 and will probably remain a feature of Rockford’s downtown area for many years to come.” There is some irony involved in that the building that survived the 1896 blaze would become victim to another fire over 120 years later.

While on the “Saunders Building” topic, I want to let readers know that two people, Cliff and Nancy Hill, answered correctly the “Nugget” question and were not included among the responders last week. Sometimes the column gets written and the response comes in just after.

I have received some additional school information. Joseph Bell called to inform me that he attended the school located on the south side of 12 Mile near the intersection of Tefft and that it was called Shank and not Davis. Carole Holden Christensen sent me information about the same school. Her research informed that property maps from the area showed that a person named Davis owned land that abutted land owned by a person named Shank and that corners of the property where the school was shown met right there. Interesting! Do any readers recall hearing the school called Davis?

Bob Bowman, a very informed person on parts of Rockford area history, called to tell me that there was a Belmont School located on the S.E. corner of Belmont Road and Rogue River. There is a church building there now. I have received an e-mail from Jay Burke who has lots of information on Kent County including schools. I have forwarded some of it to museum staff and others. His knowledge has helped to firm up locations. There was an error in the school list used in the “Squire” on September 28, 2017. The location of Wilson School is the S.W. corner of Brewer and Kroes (not Kies).

Several have asked about the exact location of Ray School (which corner of Young and 9 Mile). There have also been several additions and updates to the list and I will get them together soon.

The major fundraiser for the RAHS is our annual raffle. Most of the proceeds go toward the funding of the Rockford Area Museum. Tickets are ten dollars each or three for twenty-five with the drawing taking place on December 1, 2017 at the Christmas lighting ceremony. We need your support and hope that the cause will encourage reader participation. Tickets are available from society members and at the museum.

In closing, a big THANK YOU to readers for your help with our school history. Keep contacting me by e-mail ( or by phone at 616-866-0530. As always, I welcome your questions, concerns, comments, suggestions and especially corrections. Have a great week!