Rockford Area Historical Society

By Terry Konkle – President of the Rockford Area Historical Society

There was an error in a recent column of mine because I stated that Doctor DeMaagd came to Rockford in 1935. It was my mistake, and if I had checked a column that I put together a few  week’s  back giving a timeline for the 1930’s, I would have found that the doctor came to our town in 1930. This mistake created some interest because two Rockford residents contacted me with a good question. Both were delivered by Doctor DeMaagd in 1933 and their families lived in Rockford. One of them asked “How could he have delivered me if he wasn’t here”. The person (a friend of mine) went on to say “My mother always told me that Doctor DeMaagd put the wrong date on my birth certificate and now I am wondering how old I am”. After checking to see when the doctor came to Rockford, I got back to my friend with the 1930 date, but I know nothing about whether my friend’s birthdate is correct.

Seven readers, Geri Winegar, Jerry DeMaagd, Sharon Berry, Lee Paull, Dianne Skiver, Laurie Konarska and Carole Holden Christensen, contacted me with correct answers to the last “Nugget” of Rockford History. I asked for the name of the Rockford business that continued operations during the depression in the thirties. The answer was “Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Corporation”. As often happens, the responders added some information or asked questions about the column content.

Jerry DeMaagd mentioned that he found in his research of Rockford (1930-40) that the shoe company received a loan from “Harris Trust and Savings Bank” that helped provide money for materials and some salaries. He also said that a representative of the savings company was given a position on  Wolverine’s board. In addition, Wolverine did send out shoe shipments to retailers on a consignment basis. Wolverine would be paid as the shoes sold. The majority of the shoes made  back then were Horsehide Work shoes and sales to farmers did exist. Lots of inventory was stored for future sales. Several “Nugget” responders had praise for the company plus knew of family and others who worked there. It was also mentioned that Wolverine helped build and finance homes in the Northeast end of town (called the “New addition”).

I also received some questions about H.G. Pope, our first city manager. Laurie Konarska asked where he lived in Rockford along with wondering the location of the DeMaagds back in 1935. The DeMaagds lived on Ogden Street. When I asked Jerry if he knew the location of the Pope residence, he had his wife, Joan, reply. She knew that the Popes lived at 156 North Monroe in an apartment. Laurie also wondered how one could find information about the history of houses in our city. A good source of that information is the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) where several notebooks exist on houses. Pictures and history might be found there. When the Pandemic calms down, the RAM would be a good area to do some research.

Before giving a new “Nugget”, I will pass on to readers two other pieces of information sent to me by Jerry DeMaagd.  Remember that H.G. Pope worked for the Public Administration Service after leaving Rockford. Jerry added that Pope became President and Executive Director of that group until the early 1970’s. The organization is still in existence today (2020) but moved from Chicago to Washington D.C. in 1977.

Here is a new quiz question! “What person is honored with a statue that stands on the grounds of the Rockford Area Museum”.  Please contact me by email (tnjkonkle@hotmail.com) or by phone at 616-866-0530 with your answers.

In closing, Please contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, donations, column ideas and corrections. STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY AND HAVE A GREAT WEEK!