Rockford Area Historical Society News for March 21, 2019

By Terry Konkle – President

A “Nugget” question in an earlier column asking about the make of car given by the people of Rockford to “Medal of Honor” recipient John Sjogren  not only resulted in ten correct responses (Ford Sedan), but also brought out some other information. A reader remembered the celebration and a parade through the town. Several people spoke at the occasion including  John Sjogren  who expressed gratitude but remembered those who fought in the battles, but did not return.  Another  reader  wondered  about the bumpers on the car and thought they were made of wood. I am told that it was something that happened during that time because of war restrictions. Photos of the car do not appear to show wooden bumpers, but I was also told that dealers sometimes substituted steel ones when they could.

Morton Ploeg,  the owner  of the Rockford Ford Dealership and  Melvin Baldwin, president of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce are shown in a picture standing by the car. The photo is in the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) and also on page 96 of the “Images of America – Rockford” book by Roberta H.J. Shirado (for sale at the RAM). The car was one of the first to come off the assembly line after the war and was the first to be sold retail. Ken  Ploeg, who  was ten years old at the time, recalls driving the car in the showroom. He mentioned that he also drove tractors off the trucks that carried them to a family business in Cedar Springs. More information is welcomed (contact information later in column).

The last “Nugget of Rockford History” was a matching quiz. Nine people, Jack Bolt, Sharon Berry, Dave Hutchings, Bill Boyd, Carole Holden Christensen, Linda Schuitman, Lee Paull, Joan DeMaagd and Gordon Ploeg,  responded with all getting each answer correct. Here is the answer key:  1. Morton Ploeg (H) Ford Dealership owner, 2. Ed O’Brien (F) Newspaper/owner/editor, 3.  Milton Patrick (L) Druggist, 4. Myrna Giles Harger (A) Rockford school librarian, 5. Wayne Blakeslee (B) Shoe Store owner, 6. Harold Farrell (G) Jewelry Store owner, 7. Lyle Ford (C) Rockford Chief of Police, 8. Amy Ann Lapham (K) First Rockford teacher,  9. Ed Wolven  (I)  Lawyer and 10. Doug Ward (E) Barber.  The letters D and J were not used.  My thanks to all who took part!

Here is a new “Nugget” ten question true false quiz. Number from 1-10 and consider whether the given statement is true or false. Contact me by email ( or by phone at 616-866-0530 with your answers.

1. Before 1900 all of Rockford’s streets were named after people.

2. For several years Rockford had a daily newspaper.

3. The Rockford Area Museum (RAM) is open every day.

4. The RAM features a picture of Rockford founder Smith Lapham.

5. The new RAM was funded by a grant from the state of Michigan.

6. Rockford, Michigan is older than Grand Rapids, Michigan.

7. Since the high school burned in 1922, Rockford has had three high schools.

8. Susan B. Anthony lectured in Rockford.

9. Gerald R. Ford was an assistant coach at Yale, Grand Rapids University and Rockford.

10. Rockford had a Texaco, Sunoco and Standard Oil gas station  in town at the same time.

As always, please feel free to contact me with information, questions, comments, suggestions, concerns and corrections and have a  GREAT, POSITIVE WEEK!