Rockford Area Historical Society News for 6-20-19

By Terry Konkle – President

Shortly after last week’s column was sent  in to  the paper by me, I received three  more correct “Nugget” answers. Gordon Ploeg and Ken Ploeg  knew that  Gayle Smyth and Gary Baldwin worked at “Sears-Coon”. Then I saw Mike  Saleski  in  Meijers  and he knew the answer also, so that  means  that twenty  five  readers have now responded. I certainly thank all for taking part.

As some readers know, Dan Elkins, a 1962 Rockford High School graduate ( I was their class advisor), sometimes sends me information on our area. This past week he emailed a copy of a letter with the date of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) that his mother, Norrine, had received from Butterworth Hospital . It contains information regarding her hospital stay when Dan was to be born. The first paragraph states: “ Your physician, Dr. DeMaagd, has made a reservation for your confinement in Butterworth Hospital on or about August 26th. In accordance with his instructions we have reserved  a  ward  for you.  We have a flat rate for this service of $70.00 for a ten day stay, which includes general nursing service, delivery room, ordinary medicines, routine laboratory work, care of the baby and anesthesia not to exceed one hour. The above amount for your ten day stay is payable on admission or within a few days thereafter.”

This letter gives a look back at what went on in the past and allows one to view some interesting facts from our history. The Rockford Area Museum (RAM) has a photo of Doctor DeMaagd  giving a polio shot to a girl, and I know that many Rockford area residents remember him. The Elkins and DeMaagd families are also a part of the Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS). Norrine  was an active  member until her death in 2018 at the age of 102. Her son Dan is a current member. All three of Doctor DeMaagd’s children and their spouses are society members. Jerry DeMaagd and his wife Joan are trustees on the society board. Thanks Dan for sharing the letter!

Many Rockford area residents are familiar with the “Little Red Schoolhouse” that is located beside the driveway to North Rockford Middle School. The one room building  was originally called “Rounds School” and was located on the north side of Eleven Mile Road just east of Courtland on the Rounds farm.  In 1960 the Rockford Rotary Club restored the building which was in very bad shape and moved it to its present location. Over the years since 1960, the Rotary Club and the RAHS have looked after it and given tours.  The building actually is on property belonging to Rockford Public Schools, and they are currently helping to make very needed repairs and upgrades to the roof and siding. Check it out as it continues to remind us of our historical past!

Just to the west of the schoolhouse is Pioneer Cemetery which is maintained by the city of  Rockford  because it is on their property. Much help from the Rockford “Lions” club and the RAHS has improved the area over the years. I found a newspaper clipping from 1975 that told of the RAHS taking  part in a burial at the cemetery in 1975. Homer Burch, Dave Pederson of Pierce Mortuary, and Indian leaders from the Chippewa Reservation in Mt. Pleasant conducted the ceremony on April 30, 1975. The skeletal remains of an Indian had been uncovered in excavating a site near Ten Mile and Ramsdell Road and after some research, the bones were placed in Pioneer Cemetery. I am told this was very unusual and the last burial at that site.

Finally, please contact me with your questions, comments, suggestions, column ideas, concerns and corrections. I can be reached by email (tnjkonkle@hotmail.com) or phone at 616-866-0530. HAVE A GREAT, POSITIVE WEEK!