Few tangible remains represent once bustling community By BETH ALTENA An illiterate Londoner escaping bad business in his hometown changed his name on the long passage by boat to America, struck out from New York ports to cross the wilds of untamed early United States to settle in Sparta, Michigan and eventually control all of the saw mills and lumber industry on the Rogue River. Today that man’s home is one of few remnants of the once busy town that grew around himself and his business dealings, which once included a store, post office, school, train station, cemetery and more. It is for sale at 693 Ten Mile Road, with much of the original structures and construction intact and speaking of a lost era of wild wealth to be had logging on the rivers of Michigan and supplying the frenzied growth of Chicago and beyond. More than a hundred and seventy years after Joseph Simpson fled London, much remains a mystery. What were the bad business dealings that drove him to escape to American wilderness? Why did he and his wife, Diana Bird, take three children (William, Joseph Jr., and Richard or Joseph Jr., Richard) with them but leave two (Abraham, 10 and Dinah, 9) behind in England? How did his booming logging empire collapse, causing him to turn the business over to Richard, who also saw the lumbering fortune continue to dwindle to nothing? Some records and memories remain. Joseph Simpson was called “English” on the passage to America, and upon arrival called himself Joseph English. He and his wife brought with them $15,000 he earned in England as a master mechanic and by selling property. He began lumbering, but ran into trouble here, too, and soon lost all his money. In 1846 he resorted to work as a shingle cutter, working from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m., shaving 5,000 shingles a day and earning $1 per 1,000 shingles. He worked hard and with perseverence and acquired land by credit or by trading horses and wagons, according to a newspaper article. He eventually owned most of two sections in Sparta Township and two in Alpine Township. Each section is 640 acres. In 1847 he and Diana had another son, Edward) The articles […]
Cannon Township will be hosting their annual Waterfest event at Townsend Park (8280 6 Mile Rd Cannonsburg) on Saturday, April 25, 2015, from 8:00am-12:00pm. A pancake breakfast will be hosted by the Cannonsburg Village Christmas Light Committee at 8:00 a.m. The Cannon Township Historical Society will be selling baked goods. The feature event this year is a Michigan amphibian and reptile exhibit by Nature Discovery from 10:00 a.m. – noon. See what animals live in a wetland! Nature/science-inspired activities will be presented for children along with the annual duck race in Bear Creek. There will be live music by Hawks & Owls. You can also sign up to win a $100 gift card from Ric’s Food Center, $100 Visa gift card (compliments of Choice One Bank) or 4-tickets to Meijer Gardens (donated by Meijer Gardens). Come out on Saturday and spend some quality time with your friends and neighbors!
Judy moved to Rockford in the mid 40’s and lived at 7980 Jericho Road with her husband Charles. Judy became well known in Rockford over the years working at Young Insurance as the office manager. She helped a lot of people through a lot of tough times, especially when tornadoes devastated a large amount of homes and property in Rockford. Judy was very active with the Rockford Garden Club and helped to organize many flower shows at the High School where she excelled at making prize winning arrangements. She went on to be president of the garden club and was instrumental in helping to create the river walk park behind the old mill near the dam. In her visits to Rockford, she always is pleased to see that it has been taken care of over the years and that it has become a beautiful gathering spot for people. Judy re-married Raymond Meyers in the early 70’s a few years after Charlie passed and they moved up to Big Whitefish Lake, and then to Florida. Ray passed quite a few years ago and Judy lived alone in Florida for quite a while. She has since returned to the area and is living in Wyoming. I am sending you this information as on June 7, Judy will turn 100 years old – as a long time resident of Rockford and a contributor to the community, I thought this might be of interest and hope that you might publish a birthday wish for her centennial celebration. If by chance you wish to sit down and talk with her, it can be arranged – Thanks for taking the time to read this. Brian Alexander
New home owners ‘devastated’ by BETH ALTENA When Amy Mueller and her family decided to move away from metro Detroit and relocated to a quiet home in the country, they never imagined they might end up with a commercial sand mining operation for the foreseeable future as their near next-door neighbor. The Muellers purchased their “dream home” from Sable Builders at 9280 Shaner Avenue on July 18, 2014 with the expectation there would be two homes built between her and her nearest neighbor to the north. She has a drawing provided to her by Sable Homes of her two-acre lot and home, the other existing home and two two-acres lots scheduled for home in between. Instead, the developer began sand mining the vacant lots, with the intent of mining over 17.97 acres of property, lasting at a minimum of five years and as much as possibly ten years. Amy said she and her husband watched trucks removing sand and thought the developer was preparing to build on the lots. “We thought it was a foundation, then I said to my husband, ‘That looks awfully big to be a basement.’” She also said Bitely had asked for an easement to her property for a Consumers Power pole which he told her was for the future development behind her house. According to Chuck Porter, Courtland Township Supervisor, John Bitely of Sable Homes purchased 34 acres and sold a couple of lots. Last fall the township realized he was mining sand on part of the property, not developing homes, was ordered to stop, and was told a special land use permit is required for mining sand. Porter said Bitely plans to remove an estimated 770,000 yards of sand and gravel, which sells at $3.50 per yard. Amy doesn’t understand how the developer could change plans so fast that within 60 days of her family purchasing the home, sand was being trucked out and by October the developer had removed 1,000 yards of material, twice the amount allowed without a permit. Bitely said he didn’t know about the requirement for a permit and considers the limit of 500 yards allowed without a permit “a very restrictive kind of ordinance.” Amy is a nurse for Mercy Health and […]
Citizen asks for clarification at Council By BETH ALTENA During Rockford’s regular City Council Meeting on Monday, March 9, a resident asked for clarification of the medical training of Rockford combined departments of police and fire. She had suffered a medical condition and went to Rockford City Hall to receive treatment, then was surprised when they called paramedics. “I read in the Squire they were all cross-trained for medical response so I am confused,” she stated. Chief Jones explained the combined departments of police and fire are indeed cross trained for first responder medical, but described to her that this is initial medical care and in the case of an emergency it is best to call 9-1-1 to be most quickly reached by emergency medical professionals. She then asked if the police were cross trained to respond to fires and was told they were. She asked how many and Chief Jones said, “They all are.” As proof these pictures of fire/police at the City Hall Fire Department garage doing monthly training, which takes place in two sessions so all personnel can attend. This particular Thursday, March 12, a dozen fire/police first responders were practicing air consumption drills, according to Officer Jason Bradley, who was in charge. Bradley said they were practicing what to do when air supplies run low and also practicing physical exertion with masks and gear on. Firefighters carried hoses around City Hall parking lot, lifted weighted buckets with a rope, dragged simualated “bodies” out of the Fire Department offices, ran down tanks of air and climbed ladders and stairs all while in full gear as air supplies ran low. Bradley said ideal tanks air units last 30 minutes in ideal condition and firefighters have to learn when to leave an unsafe situation before air supply becomes critical. The training was quite noisy, as air supply warnings went off. In addition, as firefighters remained still as the last units of air were used up, their motionless state set off every-louder warning noises. “The beeping is a personal alarm system,” Bradley said. “If they go immobile, that will go off so we can hear them. It is a personal safety and low-air alarm.” Bradley said the tanks hold 900 pounds of […]