Terry Konkle

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

August 30, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society  Let’s begin with the answer to the last “Nugget of Rockford History” question. The only Rockford varsity football team to win all of their games was the 1962 group. All other teams in our history had a loss or a tie. Today, because of the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs, a team would have to win all of their regular season games and then capture the state title to win every game. That would be a tough task, but it is possible. Al West, a member of the 1962 team, and Gordon Ploeg were the only readers to give me the correct answer. I also want to give credit to Barbara Driscoll for knowing that Don Verduin was Rockford’s varsity head coach for more years than any other. Here is a new question for readers to consider: “What profession or business area are the following names associated with in our town’s history? Hessler, Morrison, Becker, Stanfield, Patrick, Langridge and Powers.” Contact me at (616) 866-0530 with your answers. People are contacting us with auction items. We will have three auction venues: online with Miedema Auctions through September 27, silent at the new museum on September 28 and 29, and live on Saturday, September 29 in the parking lot on Main Street behind the new museum. Online items are already up and can be viewed and bid on by going to www.1800lastbid.com. Readers have probably noticed a featured item in The Rockford Squire each week. Once again, thanks to that newspaper for their outstanding dedication to our new museum cause. In addition to the featured items, other donations have been received. Many of them will be appearing online, so keep checking that area. Others will be only in the silent and live auctions, and readers will be made aware of most of them soon. Please try to keep the weekend of September 28-29 open, so that you can be present to bid. Some things we have received include: artwork, a complete king-sized bedroom set, new items in original boxes, first edition books, hand-painted chairs, quilts, figurines, special plates, sport equipment, sport and movie memorabilia, pottery, glassware, dishes, lamps, patio items, gift certificates, gift baskets, pianos, sport cards, […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

August 23, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society A major goal of the Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) is to preserve the history of our Rockford area and to make it available to people of all ages. One very important way of presenting our history is by collecting all kinds of material and then displaying or making it available in our museum. For years, RAHS has been active in supporting the museum through the volunteer efforts of many. The group has also raised funds to deal with most museum expenses. As readers know, we are now nearing the conclusion of a project like nothing we have ever done before. We are moving our museum to the 63rd district courthouse building because of the tremendous support of so many individuals, organizations and businesses. This support has come in many forms. Financial donations and pledges were and still are the backbone of our success. Since we still need more money to do our exhibits, those who have not contributed can still do so by contacting me for the needed materials at (616) 866-0530. Another form of support is the tremendous time commitments given by interested people. The hours put in by RAHS members and so many others has been unbelievable. Caring people have contacted us to offer their help. Currently, our fundraising auction needs your support. If you have an item or items to donate or want to help with auction efforts, contact us at (616) 485-4144. We have also received verbal praise for our project. Many have realized that our present museum has problems and that there are many benefits to moving. Although some people, at first, expressed doubts that our group could get it done, there was no big plan to stop our endeavor. We received positive support which is always good. Many have expressed their ideas and given their opinions. Many questions have been asked and answered. Here are a few examples: “You need to be open regular hours!” someone said. We know that it will be open at least 22 hours a week. “Can I research my Rockford ancestors at the museum?” an out-of-town donor asked. You can, and there is a good chance we have information on your ancestor. “Will Wolverine World […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

August 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society I hope readers had a chance to watch Dathan Ritzenhein compete in his third Olympic games on Saturday, August 4, 2012. Dathan, who set many distance records when competing for Rockford High School (RHS), placed 13th in the 10,000-meter run. I know that many saw him run track and cross country at RHS and his role in our high school athletic history is a positive one. To see him represent our country and our town in Olympic competition once again certainly was a proud experience. Congratulations to Dathan for all of his accomplishments. Several people have contacted me with an answer to last week’s “Nugget of Rockford History” question concerning what Rockford varsity football coach held the position the longest. So far, all of the answers have been incorrect. How about another week to give it a try? Contact me at (616) 866-0530. Work has started on renovating the courthouse building. All of the ceilings in the two main rooms and front hallway have been removed. Some of the insulation above the ceilings has become loose and will have to be replaced or fixed. Discussion on the type of new ceiling is now going on. Some electrical work will be part of the ceiling renovation. The Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) is learning about meeting “codes” and that has been somewhat of an education. A favorable bid on replacing the heating and cooling system has been accepted by RAHS and the city. Work should begin soon on getting that done. New windows will be added also and will help with the utility bills. RAHS and city are working closely on the project. As other things occur, I will inform readers of our progress. Fundraising is still a major priority, and our auction on September 29 will be very important. Auction chairman, Al Pratt, and his group have met several times and things are coming along. We are receiving donations but need everyone to consider what they might be able to do to help us. Call us if you have items or want to help in some way: (616) 485-4144 or (616) 866-0530. Also, if readers know of any business or individual that might make a donation or […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

August 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society Additional information has come in on the Saint Bernard, Thor. In case readers were wondering, he was named after the Norse god of thunder. I have also learned that Thor sometimes sat in the middle of the intersection of Courtland and Main streets and chewed on the bone given to him by Harold Stelma. Cars would carefully drive around him. Another Thor story concerned his stealing a dress off a clothesline at the Elkins’ home on South Monroe Street. I called Norrine Elkins and she confirmed that the dog did take the dress. “He took it home with him, and I went to get it. It was lying in his yard on South Fremont Street. I got it back and had it dry cleaned and it was fine,” she said. She recounted the incident with a lot of laughter. I think many people enjoyed Thor. It is time for another “Nugget of Rockford History.” Before asking the question, however, I need to inform readers that this coming 2012 Rockford High School football season will be number 100 in our athletic history. During those years we have had 27 varsity football coaches. In order from the first to the most recent they are: Fayette Dockeray, J.A. Morrison, H.D. McNaughton, Cyrus Kuyers, Bill Lindsey, C.M. Tenny, C.W. Loveland, C.W. Brown, C.F. Nichols, James Idema, Charles Harris, Henry Lemoin, Jess Hodgson, Lyle Bennett, Charles Leadbetter, Pete Brose, Ken VanHoesen, Dale Beery, Bob Stoppert, Gerald Fox, Clint Brown, Vern Norris, Don Verduin,  John Schrolec, Jack Miller, Harvey DeGood and Ralph Munger. Now for the question! Which of the above coaches was our varsity football mentor for the most years? Please contact me with your answers at (616) 866-0530. On behalf of the Rockford Area Historical Society, I want to thank all of you who took the time to register and then vote for us in the Erhardt Construction Company contest. We did not finish in the top five, but all five finalists were very deserving. Voting is now going on to select the top spot, and if you are registered, I encourage you to go to the contest site and vote for one of the five finalists. The society also thanks […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society Several weeks ago, my friend Shirley Norman mentioned that she and some friends had been reminiscing about Thor and thought that his history might make for an interesting column. I knew who Thor was and remembered seeing him often when first coming to Rockford in 1960. He was a Saint Bernard dog who made our town his home. Thor belonged to Ted and Frances Carlson and their children Dave and Kirsten. I contacted Kirsten (Kirsten Farmer now) to get more details and found that he came into the family because the children wanted a dog. “My mother was not going to have a dog, but we persuaded her to go to a kennel to look. No dog was coming home with her, but when Thor tugged at my mother’s coat, she was hooked. Of course I promised to walk him, feed him, give him a bath and to generally watch over him,” said Kristen, “and we took him home to our house on South Fremont Street in Rockford.” So Thor’s official residence was the Carlson house, but the town was his domain. Readers have told me that he visited stores, went into houses, sat in cars, stole laundry off clotheslines, played with children, loved to chase beside sleds and toboggans, and even attended church. He would steal mittens, drool on his human playmates and dig sometimes in yards. Several people remembered seeing him walking through Rockford carrying a large leg bone. It seems that Thor often went to Harold Stelma’s store, where he was given the prized possession. He was friendly and liked people. I was told by one reader that Thor was present at a slumber party at the Carlsons’ house when one of the girls fell asleep. Other girls carefully put cream cheese on the sleeper’s face. Thor then did his part and licked it off. Frances Carlson sometimes would be called to come and get Thor out of someone’s house or car. One Sunday Thor came through the open doors of the Congregational Church and walked down the aisle almost to the choir area before ushers took him back outside and closed him out. Many people in our town, including our police chief, knew […]

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