The building believed to have been the original home of Reverend David Johnson Gilbert was moved in May 2011 from its original location to a lot on the corner of 13 Mile Road and Ramsdell in Courtland Township. Constructed in 1842 on 12 Mile Road in Section 19, it is considered to have been the oldest home in Oakfield Township. Reverend Gilbert was a pioneer farmer and Methodist minister serving the area of Laphamville (later renamed Rockford) and brother-in-law to Smith Lapham, founding father of the city. The home was purchased with a large tract of land by Rockford resident and farmer Ron Porter in 1970. He later married and lived in the home with his wife Beverly for over 30 years. The Porters made a decision to build a new home in 2011 and hired Rockford custom home builder Tom Bruyn of Bruyn Builders Inc. for the job. Because of its proximity to the farm’s barns and outbuildings, the Porters wanted their new house positioned exactly where the old home stood. This led to a dilemma, especially for Mrs. Porter, who continues to have an emotional attachment to one of the oldest dwellings in the area. Fortunately, Bruyn also has an appreciation for historical buildings. After making a thorough inspection of the house and determining that it was in excellent condition, he purchased the building. Bruyn then began to separate the house into pieces. He walled off a rear addition and removed it from the main house. Then he removed the wraparound porch in two pieces. And then he hired a moving company. They loaded the main body of the house, the separated addition, the porch and a detached garage on trailers. Escorted by local police and Consumers Energy, the trailers made a slow procession down temporarily closed roads a mile and a half to where the home currently sits on a new daylight basement overlooking a small pond. Bruyn set an extraordinary pace finishing the Porter’s new house in record time in order to start work on putting Rev. Gilbert’s historical home back together. According to Tom Bruyn, the home (parts of which date back 170 years) was suspended on steel I-bars over the newly excavated basement area while the foundation was finished, […]
The Rockford Area Museum (RAM) is in the midst of a major move and fundraising campaign. To celebrate this historic event, the RAM announces a community-wide event to select an artifact, from a list of 50 selected by the museum’s board and director, which best represents our unique history. Each week, a new selection will be offered in The Rockford Squire. As the opening date nears, a voting window will be opened on the museum’s soon-to-be-new website so you, the people of Rockford, can decide. Thank you for participating and stay tuned to see your new RAM in the coming year.
Settler cemetery visible from road One of Rockford’s—then Laphamville—earliest settlers, Joshua Briggs, rested in an unmarked grave for over 100 years before research determined that his grave must lie in the family plot on the grounds of Myrtle Park Crematorium at 9619 Northland Drive. Briggs was recognized in a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 16, surrounded by the aging tombstones of three of his children and their spouses as well as grandchildren. No longer buried in an unmarked grave, the life and death of Briggs is engraved on a new granite marker, which was unveiled during the Saturday ceremony. Briggs was recognized by members of the Rockford Area Historical Society and members of the Daughters of the War of 1812 for his service as a soldier in the two-year war declared June 18, 1812. Without the fame of the Revolutionary War, the historic fight was also between the Americans and the British for our freedom as a country. Battles took place across the United States, off the Atlantic coast and as far away as the Indian Ocean and the coasts of Chili and Africa. Much of the fighting was right here in Michigan, in the Great Lakes and forts of Detroit and Mackinac/Michilimackinac. “Many people don’t know about the War of 1812,” said historian Claudette Darling, who discovered the location of Briggs’ remains through research. Darling said she and other members of the Daughters of the War of 1812 found Briggs and many other veterans buried in Michigan, whose graves were unknown or unmarked. She said a book published in the 1960s on soldiers buried in Michigan had many errors or omissions. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the war, the Michigan chapter of the organization hopes to prepare and publish a more complete volume on Michigan’s veterans of the war. Over 3,500 soldiers just from Michigan alone fought in the war. Jim Kornoelji purchased property, which was part of the original Briggs homestead about 15 years ago. At that time the family burial plot was overgrown, although the stones could be glimpsed through the grass by drivers on Northland Drive. Darling said Kornoelji told her he had an archeologist examine the property to make sure the building foundation and parking […]