vicksburg michigan history page 1



Part of the VICKSBURG HISTORY website

Property of the Vicksburg Historical Society

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First Frame Building in Vicksburg, 1835

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An 1884 View of Vickburg

Early Roads








Kalamazoo County USGenWeb Site

Kalamazoo Railroads and Interurbans

be sure to see the Kalamazoo Public Library's article about:

 Vicksburg and its History


Many of the settlers to the Vicksburg area came from New England

Here is an excerpt from letters home from people who left Vermont after the Civil War - in this case Pavilion Township :

Writing Home: Shaping Perceptions of Vermont Antebellum Outmigrators

“Tell him there’s good farms here”
By 1850, Ephraim Moulton and his family were well settled in Pavillion, Kalamazoo County, Michigan. He wrote that he missed his family in Whiting, but that:
“If Grand Father would come out here & stay one season he would never be contented to dig in VT . . . the reason why I think so is that land is much cheaper & yet more productive. Good farms can be bought here near the line of the railroad from 8 to 12 dollars per acre . . .There is one neighbor who has a farm of about 400 acres who has raised over 4000 bushels corn 1000 of wheat & over 1000 of oates & keeps 70 head of cattle & about 100 hogs.”

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Portage Creek, Vicksburg, 1910

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Model of the Vickers Mill

A Historical Marker Honors the Vickers' Mill that was the origin of Vicksburg


In 1831, John Vickers built a brush dam over the eight-foot waterfall on Portage Creek and erected a log grist mill.  The mill is believed to have been the first in Kalamazoo County.  The dam created a pond that supplied water power to the mill, and formed the sizeable Sunset Lake, around which pioneers built homes and set up businesses.  Vickers died in 1842.  On October 18, 1871 the village was incorporated as Brady, but one day later a petition passed to rename it Vicksburg.



From the Kalamazoo Sunday Herald.

August 8, 1884

Some facts and Fancies about a mighty Lively Little Town 

"The first settler who located on the site of Vicksburg and gave his name to the place was John Vickers. Mr. Vickers had previously built on Prairie Ronde the first grist mill ever erected in the county and in '31, having transported a pair of small millstones all the way from Logan county, Ohio, in saddlebags, he put up a mill on the Portage Creek in Vicksburg, on the site now occupied by the Briggs planing mill. The official name of the village until '72 was Brady, but it generally went by the name of Vicksburg. In '72 when the village was officially incorporated, the popular name was made the official name also. The first store built in the village was erected in '35 by Clark Briggs and John Noyes, but it ran only a short time. The first store of any importance was put up by Hugh Finley on the present site of the McElvain house. The first plat of the village was acknowledged on the 17th of September, '49. The following names appear on that document: Hugh Finley, B.S. Williams, N.J. Kimber, T.W. Kimber, Samuel Hawkins, and Jabez G. Rice. The following are some of the early settlers of the place: Mathew Wilson, Elijah (Chard), Dr. D. Lapp, Isaac Sammer, George Stuart, Elias Cooley, Isaac A. and Asa S. Briggs, Henry Springer, Jerome Fletcher, Rufus A. Royce and many others.


We should like to say something about the early history of Brady township in which part of Vicksburg is located, but haven't the space. The G.R. & I. was completed to Vicksburg on the 19th of July, 1870, and the C. & G.T. went through in '71, and since that time, the village has steadily increased in population. It is now a town of which any county in the country might be proud. Her citizens possess remarkable enterprise and push, and if you don't believe it, go down and get acquainted with them. Schoolcraft has ten rich men to Vicksburg's one, but although the former place had many years the start, it is being rapidly overtaken in the race and another census will see Vicksburg bearing the honor of being the big village in the county.

What Vicksburg needs now to assure her prosperity, and to give her a tremendous boost towards the far off goal of a city charter eminence and metropolitan distinction, is the establishment of manufacturies within her limits. We commend to men in any part of the country who are seeking a desirable location for a factory, the following inducements which are presented by this live little village as a factory town. Real estate being much cheaper in a small town than in a large one, a site for a factory can be obtained much cheaper, and the low rate of rents, and the cheapness of living has a natural effect on wages. The shipping facilities of Vicksburg are excellent and as low a freight tariff can be obtained here as any of the larger places in the State. The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, the longest and greatest North and South railroad in the world, which traverses a territory 900 miles long, intersects at this point with the Grand Trunk, a system which stretches out its arms all over the North, and by which only in the States can be reached without a transfer of freight. This junction makes it one of the most accessible points in the U.S. Eight express trains daily stop in the place, loading or unloading express matter and including local trains, it has 16 trains a day on which a man can get in or out of town. Seven mails a day and ample telegraphic facilities afford means of communication with the outside world.


It has one of the finest water privileges in this section of the country. A mill pond fed by Portage creek affords ample water and with a fall of ten feet gives a power sufficient to keep whirling the wheels of half a dozen large factories. The public spirited citizens of the place will do the square thing by any man who means business and who comes to them, proposing to add to their prosperity by establishing a manufacturing industry.


Vicksburg has two churches, the Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. J. J. McAllister, pastor, and the Congregational, Rev. D. H. (Reiter), pastor. Both churches are gaining finely, and many needed improvements have been made this year. Quite a number have been added to the membership of both churches in the past year.

Vicksburg was the town that kept the land grant alive for the G.R. & L. R.R., by the raising of money from the citizens to pay off the hands every Saturday night. If it had not been for our citizens the road would have collapsed, as this was all the company had to show for what had been done.


American Express Co., handled by S.G. Richardson, of Richardson & Strong, do a good business.

The United States Express Co., did a business here during 1883 of nearly $1500.00.

The Chicago & Grand Trunk and G.R. & L.R.R. are managed here by A. B. Williams, agent, assisted by John Gledhill and F.D. Garrison in the freight departments, while Joe. Bucknell makes the telegraph instruments click and attends to the wants of the passengers in general. He is assisted by a night operator. 

Ives & Bush Mfg. Co.

In '81, G. L. Ives and Mr. W. H. Bush formed a partnership and began to manufacture in Vicksburg the Ives & Springer Harrow and Seeder. They continued for about a year, and in '82 a stock company was organized with $20,000 capital in 800 shares, and the firm as now constituted is composed of G.L. Ives, R.U., D.S., W. H., C.A., and N .A. Bush, and David Baker of New York.
They gave up the manufacture of the harrow and seeder in the fall of '82 and in '83 began manufacturing screen doors and windows on a large scale. This branch of their business assumed very gratifying proportions during the season just passed. They filled many large orders from different parts of the country and among other heavy contracts, manufactured a thousand screen door frames for a party in Grand Rapids.
Their improved window screen, the Gibney patent, is in use in many of the houses of this locality, and everywhere gives the greatest satisfaction. It is very carefully made and is so constructed that it requires only a moment to put it into a window or take it out, and the window stops do not have to be removed. This firm has recently purchased, at considerable cost, a plant of expensive machinery and will shortly engage in the manufacture of inside blinds. Builders and house holders in any part of the country who are in want of inside blinds will do well to send their orders to Ives and Bush and will be guaranteed satisfaction. They also turn out mouldings and are prepared to execute contracts in any department of wood-working. The president of the company is Mr. D.S. Bush. The Vice President and Superintendent is Mr. R.U. Bush, a practical machinist of 13 years' experience. Mr. W.H. Bush is Secretary and Treasurer. The Ironwork on the Kimball Threshing Machine is made at this establishment. The Bush Bros. contemplate putting in a stock of lumber, and starting a lumber yard.

Rufus Powers

Is the jolly Boniface of the Tremont House, situated on Prairie Street - came here some six years ago, from Marshall, acquiring the hotel property of Mr. Lapp. When he purchased the property, it was at an ebb tide - built up its reputation and is now doing a fair business.

Robert F. Clark

Mr. Clark is one of the striking examples of what energy and sound judgment will do. Although from birth a deaf-mute, he has made a progress intellectually and financially that exceeds the results produced by many a man who had all his faculties perfect. As a youth he stored his mind and acquired the trade of cabinet maker at the school for the voiceless at Indianapolis, Ind. After 8 years of close application as a student, he went to work in the organ factory of Cady and Phillips in this city. The next we hear of him he is at work at his trade for a period in his home in Leonidas, St. Joseph county. From thence he moved to Vicksburg, and securing a desirable location he engaged in the manufacture and sales of furniture. This was in 1877, and from the first he has enjoyed the confidence and esteem of the entire community. Upright and just in his business relations, prompt to the moment in fulfilling every engagement, and an excellent workman, it is not surprising that his trade has already increased until he owns a large two-story double store, well filled with goods from bottom to top. The class of goods kept by him are always the best he can secure and are sold at reasonable prices. He takes great pride in placing on sale the finest grade of suits and upholstered goods, and in this line, as well as pictures and mouldings, he shows a decided taste for the proper blending of shades and patterns. Mr. C. gives his sole attention to the care of his business in all details, and its present magnitude shows that even the voiceless can teach us correct business principles.

B.J. Milliard

Two years ago, Mr. B.J. Milliard, a commercial traveler for a metropolitan house, saw a good opening in Vicksburg and moving his family thither he started a venture in the grocery and crockery line. The enterprise at first was very successful, but Mr. Milliard, still continuing on the road, could not give the the business his personal attention and of late trade has been falling off. Two weeks ago, he secured Mr. A. E. Newman, who has a wide acquaintance with the local trade to manage his Vicksburg interests for him, and already an increase in the volume of business is perceptible. They will pay cash for produce and keep a general line of groceries, crockery, glass ware, etc. Mr. Milliard's acquaintance with wholesale and importing houses gives him an advantage in buying, from which his Vicksburg patrons reap benefit. He makes a specialty of fine teas, and is fitting up the rear of the store with a stock of pickled pork, lard, etc.

C.H. McKain, M.D.

Dr. McKain is a graduate of the regular school, having received his professional training at Ann Arbor and at Bellevue Hospital, New York City. After taking his degree, the Doctor went west where he remained for several months and then received an appointment in the medical corps of the U.S. Army. He was stationed for a time at Fort Elliot, Texas, and was subsequently post surgeon at Fort Supply, in the Indian Territory. Tiring of army life, he resigned his commission, and went to New York, where he spent four months in further study, and then located in Vicksburg. Dr. McKain has had an experience which is of great use to him in his practice and the people around his home have great confidence in his skill.

David R. Conden

Mr. Conden is a wide awake young attorney who deserves a good deal of credit for the perseverance he has exhibited in working himself up, in spite of many disadvantages, to a position of favor and respect. He was left an orphan at an early age and while an inmate of a Catholic orphan asylum in New York City, was adopted by Mrs. C. M. Lewis of Vicksburg, a sister of John Long Esq. of the village. He at first served an apprenticeship at the printer's trade, and worked in various newspaper offices in this city and in other surrounding towns. Having a desire to enter the legal profession, he began some years ago the study of law. Alone and unaided, he overcame the difficulties which lie in the way of legal preparation and which are discouraging enough even when elucidated by experienced instructors, and a year ago last May, passed a successful examination and was admitted to the bar. Dave is a pretty shrewd fellow and a good companion. We shall always be glad to hear of his prosperity.

Nelson D. King

Blacksmith and Horse shoer, came to Vicksburg some seven years ago, established a shop in the rear of John Long's drug store, kept steady at work and a fine business. Has held a position as trustee of the village council for several terms and is now a member of the board.

John Long

Mr. Long has been longest in business of any man now actively engaged in commercial pursuits in this village. He came out to Michigan from New York City thirty-five years ago. He worked on a farm in the vicinity of Vicksburg for a time, but soon saw that if he expected to ever be worth anything in this world, he must change his avocation. He went into the village, which, by the way, was then a pretty small place, and secured a position as clerk in a general store run by Russel Bishop. After clerking there for a year, he made a proposition to Mr. Bishop to sell out, which he refused. Determined to go into business for himself, he went to several Kalamazoo wholesalers, found one who was ready to let him have a stock of goods on credit, and went back to secure a building to put them in. Mr. Bishop was then ready to sell out and with a capital of $50, Mr. Long obligated himself for $3000, and spit on his hands and sailed in. After running for a time, two gentlemen who were anxious to go into business came along and offered a big buyout, which was accepted. He then erected a building and prepared to set up in business again, but again had an opportunity to sell out for a round figure, which experience was several times repeated. Finally he bought out a drugstore run by one, W. H. Burr, on Main St., which business he has ever since conducted on the same spot; the only change being that increased trade has necessitated the erection of of a fine, brick block. Besides drugs and druggists' sundries, he deals in wall paper, paints, oils, groceries, books, stationery, fancy goods and fruits and garden vegetables in season. The farm boy who began on a capital of $50 is now one of the best fixed men in Vicksburg, and has a trade which in volume is not surpassed by any house in the county outside of Kalamazoo. He is quite a chess player and will sock it to you every time if you give him an opportunity.

The Kimble Separator

Mr. J. E. Kimble, of Vicksburg, has recently perfected a threshing machine which presents so many improvements over all others now made that even the most conservative of mechanics and farmers prophesy a glorious future for it and for the town in which it shall be manufactured. Mr. K. is an old and his invention is not the product of any momentary inspiration, but the result of seven or eight years of careful experimenting with appliances suggested by his practical experience.
The following are some of the points in which superiority is chimed for his machine: It is very much lighter and very much more simple than the ordinary separators. It weighs nearly a thousand pounds less than the celebrated separator, "Minnesota Chief" with a cylinder of the same size. It has a capacity from 33 to 100 percent greater than equal sized machines of other make. The frame of the separator is of truss work, thus securing great rigidity and lightness. The journals for the cylinder are of an improved pattern. It has and improved hanger and fork-rod agitator and a double-bottomed separating shoe. The ingenious device by which the separator is driven by eccentrics instead of cranks is also a worthy of mention. A technical knowledge of mechanics is requisite to make clear all the improved appliances incorporated in the machine, but old threshers and men who are in every way capable of judging, pronounce it the best machine made. One of these separators which had been sold to parties near La Grange, Ind., was tested at that place the first of the week and gave great satisfaction. Messrs. John Fleming and J. R. Wagner of Kalamazoo are interested in its manufacture.

The Mc Elvain House

You can travel the U.S. over and you won't find in a town of the size of Vicksburg a much nicer and better kept hotel than is the Mc Elvain House in the second village of the county. J. W. McElvain, the proprietor, started in here 17 or 18 years ago in a little old wooden building. Twelve years ago this summer he built the commodious brick block in which he is at present located. Mr. A.H. Sheldon, formerly connected with the Morton House in Grand Rapids, wears the hotel clerk's diamonds and assists the proprietor in welcoming the coming and speeding the parting guest.

M. Hill

Mr. Manfred Hill, known as Fred for short, began business in '74, in the quarters now occupied by Franklin and Rayner. He bought out Mr. Lewis C. Kimble who had run the store for three or four years, and having a good established trade to build on, he has steadily added to the number of his patrons, until now he has a business which might be envied by many dealers in much larger places. The Hills are old residents.

Mr. J. H. McMaster

A Boston Man, Mr. J. H. McMaster was born and brought up amid the culture and astheticism of the Athens of America. It is also in the "Hub" that he served his apprenticeship as a harness maker. He came to Michigan just before the outbreak of the war, but went back to enlist in the Massachusetts Fifth, in which he served during the rebellion. He came to Michigan again in '65, and worked at his trade, serving different masters. He was for a time employed by Mr. Green, in Kalamazoo. In '67 he finally located in business for himself in Vicksburg, and during the 17 years which have elapsed since, he has gained the confidence of the community and established a lucrative trade. He keeps a full line of harness, whips, horse furnishing goods and trunks, and on made-to-order work, he doesn't take a back seat for anyone in the country. Mrs. McMaster is a music teacher of many years experience and has been very successful as an exponent of musical pedagogy. She keeps a line of musical goods at her head-quarters on Prairie Street, and is the agent for Whitney's Royal Organ, manufactured in Detroit.

L. M. Flint

Mr. John Bishop, who is now up north preaching, was the first attorney who located in Vicksburg, but he was closely followed by Mr. L. M. Flint. Mr. Flint received his head education in the offices of Kimble and (Conlon), of Charlotte, and of another firm of attorneys in Hastings, and was admitted to the bar in ('61). He practiced law for ten years in Vicksburg. Six years ago he accepted a position in the public school of Marcellus, and from there went to other points in the state. Two years ago he took up his residence in Battle Creek, where he resided until last Spring when he returned to Vicksburg. The outlook from the legal standpoint is, he assures us, encouraging, and we hope somebody will contest a will down there pretty soon, so that he can get some fat fees out of it.

 William Boyne

Mr. Boyne enjoys a monopoly in the tailoring business of the village and his 41 years of experience in the trade gives him success in constructing stylish suits, which does not need the existence of competition to stimulate. Mr. Boyne is a Maine man, and the main tailor of Vicksburg. It was after a branch of Mr. Boyne's family that Boyne River and Boyne Falls up in Charlevoix County were named. He was located for six years in Schoolcraft, but moved to Vicksburg expecting a change, which resulted in a great increase of trade. He will make an effort to secure a more commodious place of business further up the street, and if not successful, will probably move to Charlevoix or some other live town in the north.

Richardson and Strong

On the fifth of last March, Messrs. Richardson and Strong formed a co-partnership for the purpose of carrying on a general jewelry business and retailing gold, precious stones and plated ware to the citizens in the south of the county. Mr. Strong had been located in Vicksburg over a year upon the formation of this partnership and is a practiced watch maker of 12 years experience, having learned his trade in Elkhart, Ind. He may be said to take the cake in engraving and other fine work, and in adjusting the watches he may be said to capture the whole bakery. The firm keeps a line of solid and plated goods and while they don't have many $500 diamond rings in stock, they keep all the articles usually found in jewelry stores. The jewelers' harvest is, of course, during the holiday season, but they are doing a fair business for the time of the year.

C.E. Spicer, M.D.

Dr. Spicer is a son of Mr. Nate Spicer, well known to thousands of Kalamazoo people who frequent the Long Lake summer resort. He was for nearly two years in the employ of the G. R. & I. Railroad at Grand Rapids. He received the foundation for his medical training by practicing under Dr. Newton who only recently moved from this county. He received his degree last Spring from the Cincinnati Eclectic Medical Institute and three weeks ago Monday hung out a shingle in Vicksburg. This is a pretty healthy season around that village this year, but the Doctor feels encouraged. We wish him success and an army of patients.

George Thompson

Mr. Thompson came to Vicksburg from Charlotte two years ago. He does a fair trade in confectionery, bread, miscellaneous baker's goods, canned goods, ice cream and cigars and tobacco. He is the agent in Vicksburg for Henika's famous bread. He is doing a good trade for the amount of stock he has, and makes a big percent on capital invested.

Grain Dealers

Large quantities of grain are shipped from Vicksburg every year, the trade being handled by two firms of grain dealers. The elevator on the east side of the G. R. & I. Railroad is owned by Bishop and Robinson and the business is carried on by Robinson and French. They have been in business there several years and are prospering. Four years ago the elevator burned down, but with that pluck which is characteristic of the owners, they immediately rebuilt. Both are good men, also have the interests of the village at heart.
The warehouse on the west side of the railroad is conducted by Mr. Myron Gleason. The old firm name was Gleason and Kimble. Last year Mr. G. sold out to S. G. Richardson. This gentleman, however, ran it but a short time, when Mr. Gleason bought the property back, and has done himself credit by the manner in which he has conducted the business.

 E. Hall

This gentleman was formerly in the lumber business at White Pigeon. He moved to this town some five years ago. Gave up the lumber business about two years ago and went to selling family groceries and provisions, of which he keeps a select assortment. It is very dull now and will be so until the glad voice of the reaper is heard singing bass on the sweet harvest home, but taken on an average, year in and year out, he is doing a good trade.

L. W. Fehr

Mr. Fehr is a harness maker. He came from Eastern Pennsylvania when he was 20 years old and has been in Vicksburg 15 years, during which time he has been engaged at his trade excepting during a year and a half when he ran a bakery and restaurant. He is doing a fair business at custom work and in selling horse furnishing goods, of which he has a fair stock.

Mrs. E. D. Rawson

Mrs. Rawson learned the millinery trade of Mr. Morse in this city, and three years ago she purchased the establishment of Mrs. O. E. Taylor in the second village of the county. Mrs. Rawson is a very successful business woman and we dare say makes a good sales lady. She does an aggregate business of some $(8,000) a year, which, when we recollect the profit on millinery goods, makes a very good showing. She will remove on the 25th of this month to a more convenient stand, the store now occupied by George Thompson.

Dr. J. S. Mead

Dr. Mead practiced medicine for some time with Dr. J .B. Sweetland of Edwardsburg, and then took a three years' course at Ann Arbor. He is a homeopathist. Took his degree a year ago last June. Practiced in Edwardsburg for a time, and located in Vicksburg last Spring. He has already built up a good practice and is an intelligent young man who will undoubtedly make a success of life. We hope to see him President of State Medical Association.

R. Baker

One of the most successful merchants of the village is Mr. R. Baker. He came there in 1877 and engaged in the grocery and drug trade, his son George being partner in the concern. In '81 the son retired, since which time Mr. Baker has been sole proprietor. By courteous treatment of customers and careful attention to details, he has increased his aggregate yearly sales from $7,000 in '77 to over $20,000 in '83. Last spring he adopted the cash basis of doing business which is proving successful. He has a good, and what is better, a growing trade.

A.V. Briggs

Mr. Briggs is the owner of the excellent water power mentioned elsewhere, and which ought to be an important factor in the village's prosperity. Mr. Briggs utilizes the water power in running a saw and planing mill and general wood working establishment. The wood work of the Kimble separator is manufactured at this shop. The dam was washed away by a flood a year ago last April, inflicting a loss of $1500, but Mr. Briggs immediately rebuilt it and is now doing a business which will recompence his loss and reward his enterprise.

W.F. Notley

Mr. Notley is a butcher and supplies Vicksburg with the tender poultry, the juicy beef steak and the savory mutton chop cheap for cash. Mr. N. has always lived in the village, but has followed his present business only since '81. He has a little market on Main street which he keeps up in good shape. Mr. Notley is an experienced buyer, and the sight of some of his tender cuts would make old Pythagoras himself swear off dieting on vegetables.

J. J. Smith

There are nine families of Smiths in Vicksburg, but it is to a goldsmith, Mr. J. J. Smith, that we would briefly call our readers' attention in a few well chosen words. Mr. Smith is a Toledo man. He learned his trade in that city some 23 years ago, and resided there for a long time. He subsequently removed to Lima, Ind., and on the first of last February came up to Vicksburg to fit the niche in the watch-making line left vacant by J.E. Parr. He keeps in stock quite an assortment of jeweler's goods - watches, precious jewels for ornamental purposes, and a general line of silver and silver-plated ware. He deals in machine needles of all shapes, sizes, colors and previous conditions of servitude, and is agent for the best spectacles made in the country. He is an expert watch-maker and makes a specialty of repairing fine time-pieces.

James Stratton

James Stratton, the well-known painter and carpenter, is an Englishman having been born in the realms of Britannia, the fabled female who is supposed to rule the wave. He came to Vicksburg in '59, and since his residence there has been honored by election to several positions of trust and responsibility. In Mr. Stratton are united the two avocations of painter and carpenter and people can be assured of satisfaction in consulting him concerning either branch of work.

Dr. Van Antwerp

Dr. S.C. Van Antwerp graduated at Ann Arbor in 1872, and located in Vicksburg in 1877. He has built up a fine practice during his seven years' residence in the place, and has established and enviable reputation as a good citizen and careful, skillful physician.

Mr. Frank Murray

Mr. Frank Murray is another Hoosier. He came from Indiana in '80 and is a painter. Without pausing to go into the details of Mr. Murray's biography, we will say that he is worthy of patronage and commend him to all desiring anything his line. He is an excellent workman and is doing well.

Anderson & Son

Mr. Daniel P. Anderson and son, Willard P., are the proprietors of the flouring mill located near the Union depot. Mr. Anderson Sr. was part owner of the old water mill which burned about a year ago. The steam mill was built in about '76 or '77, and the proprietors are doing a good business in custom grinding and shipping flour. An incendiary attempt was made to burn this property, but failed on account of prompt action of the fire brigade.

Geo. A. Douglas

Mr. Douglas' commercial career dates from December, '83, in which month he bought out the stock and good will of Young Brothers, dealers in hardware. Mr. Douglas has a good business head and the concern has suffered no detriment on passing into his hands. Besides a general line of shelf goods and builder's hardware, he keeps on hand a large stock of agricultural implements of the best makes. He is agent for the Reed Spring-tooth Harrow and for the Walter Wood reaper. He handles the Charlotte buggy and is the authorized agent for the Peninsula Gasoline Stove of which he has sold 33 this season - pretty good for a town of 900 inhabitants. Mr. Douglas enjoys a lucrative trade and will continue to merit patronage by always endeavoring to give every man a square deal.

Malcolm Hill, Medicine Doctor

Malcolm Hill, this skillful and very successful physician was born in St. Joe. Co, 1841. He took his degree at the medical department of the University of Michigan in '68 and very soon afterwards located in Vicksburg. His name occurs in the county directory published by Jas. M. Thomas in 1869, at which time there were three other physicians in Vicksburg, none of whom have remained until the present time. Dr. Hill has a very large practice, and half the younger population of the village were ushered into the world with the Doctor as master of ceremonies.

"Sam" Oman

A Knight of St. Crispin, "Sam" Oman looks the embodiment of "ye merry cobbler", and certainly the world and the good people of Vicksburg in particular, must treat him well. Mr. Oman has stitched and pegged away in his little brown shop for several years, each day making new friends and gaining new customers. He is now handling a small, but well selected stock of the best makes of ready made boots and shoes, and is steadily increasing his trade in the same.

Sundry Sentiments:

The public schools under the careful administration of Prof. Ashley Clapp are in a flourishing condition.

Vicksburg is quite a society town, and a large number of the different social and secret orders have local organizations here. These are lodges of Masons, Odd-Fellows, K. of P., L.O.G.T., a Subordinate Grange, a G.A.R. post and a Social Science and Literary club. There is also a flourishing Ladies' Library Association and a lodge of K.T.M.

Mrs. A.E. Daniels conducts a successful millinery business on the east side of Main St., and keeps lots of these ribbons and fixings that cost so like the dickens.

Vicksburg has three barbers, Mr. Fred Shulters, Mr. William Clayton, whose striped pole projects out over Main St., and Mr. Fred Simmons, whose tonsorial parlors are situated on Prairie St.

Fitch & Thompson Livery: Feed and Sale Stables situate near depot - know good horses when they see them - get left once in a while - boys happy - (plenty of) parties like to hire horses from them - horses gentle and safe for ladies to drive. Willing to accommodate everybody. Call on them when you want to go for a drive.

Dan. Franklin, host of the Junction House: Keeps good hotel - everything quiet - no rowdying - loves a good horse - knows one when he sees it - gives the boys lots to eat when they stop there.

Henry Springer, Inventor of the Spring Tooth Harrow and Seeder: Patented several other inventions - has got the best harrow now - never gets left, and always on the lookout for something new.

Elbridge G. Demming, Carpenter and builder: Built M. E. church at this place, also several other buildings - fine workman - has all he can do - is now building a new residence for himself on Water Street - nothing like it in town - is quite unique.

Young & Howard, Stock buyers and wholesale dealers in Carriages. Lively business fellows - sharp dealers - know when they get a good thing and how to keep it - sell lots of carriages - ship stock every Monday - give highest prices to farmers for their stock.

J. E. Hawkins, Auctioneer and General Salesman: Commenced business five years ago - has had good success - is quite an attraction at auction sales - everybody says the best they've ever heard - draws money right out of the purchasers present - gets all the property is worth, and a little more - other auctioneers jealous - sellers don't care - employer generally the same - his address, Vicksburg.

Henry Hill, Just commenced keeping Restaurant and Bakery on Prairie Street. Pretty good fellow - well-known here - advise newly married couples to get their wedding breakfasts with him - came from St. Joseph County - that county's loss, our gain.

William G. Hawkins, The Lightning Shoe Maker: Outtalks most men in the town - is great on the motor - second rival to Keeler - invented car coupler, railroad company stole it - anti-monopolist - will vote for Butler.

Mottram Hill, Always lived in Vicksburg - graduate of Olivet College - taught school a few terms - gave general satisfaction - sells hardware now - has bought the right to manufacture and sell "The Universal Combination Fencer" - thinks he has a good thing - just what farmers want and sells lots of it - has grand trade in hardware and agricultural implements - sales large this year - buy all things. Store on Main Street, south side.

L.C. Rapp & Bro., Lumber dealers and builders. One of the heavy firms of Vicksburg - doing fair trade - have lots of work - building all the time - several contracts on hand at present. Will Bohner tends to yard in their absence - pretty good business fellow - gives general satisfaction - just came to town - graduate of Parson's Business College of Kalamazoo. Yard and office west of G. R. & I. Railroad on Town Lane Street.

S. Hawkins, One of the old pioneers of this section, and "Uncle Sam's" keeper of the great seal at the post office of this place - is one of the leading men of this section - has seen Vicksburg rise up to become a prominent burg - always jolly - keeps good humor under all circumstances - was "squire" for twelve years - dispensed justice impartially - lawyers couldn't fool him - had only one case reversed during his term of office - quite an old man - good for 100 years more.

 M. Winterdorf, Blacksmith and carriage maker, came to Vicksburg in October, 1882 and bought out Mr. Worthington. Is a good workman and gives general satisfaction to all his customers - has splendid trade, and the work he turns out is second to none in the county. His shop is corner of Pond and Prairie Streets.

Edward De Wolf, Painter and wholesale dealer in Fine Carriages and Wagons, came from Richland several years ago - likes the place - place likes him - is doing fine business - sells lots of carriages - runs paint shop and has all the work he can attend to. Shop located in the rear of Winterdorf's blacksmith shop.

Henry C. Peck & Co., Wagon and Carriage makers and General Blacksmiths. This firm consists of Henry C. Peck and Calvin Grovenberg. Mr. Peck is a well known gentleman, and formerly resided at Galesburg. He located in Vicksburg about a year ago and purchased the lot where he is now doing business. Shortly after his advent in this place, he formed a partnership with Mr. Grovenberg, who lived about three miles south of the village, and who conducted a farm successfully for a number of years. This firm is extensively engaged in the manufacture of road wagons, and have a contract to supply parties in Toledo, Ohio, and elsewhere. They have shipped this season over 145 wagons. With improved and larger buildings, which they intend to erect this fall, their facilities for manufacturing will be greatly enhanced. They have in their employ Mr. Harry Agnew, a fine workman, and one who has had twenty years experience in carriage making.

George Tillotson, Blacksmith and Horse Shoer. His shop is located on Prairie Street. He started in business in 1882, having learned his trade under Mark Worthington. Although starting with but small means, he has by constant attention to business succeeded in building up quite a trade.

C. H. Haywood, Agent of Mutual Life Insurance Company of Marshall, came here three months ago - has hard check, same as all in trainee agents - is like a leech, never leaves a man until he gets him - always gets there - going west in about a week - will (hoop) it up to the boys when he gets back - has secured for his company one hundred numbered at this place - Company always pays losses in full.

E. C. Rishel, Was brought up in Brady township on a farm, stayed there until 1879, when he came to Vicksburg - built the brick store on Main Street which he now occupies - keeps heavy and light hardware - has fair trade and prospects are bright for the future.


Michianna Roots Website

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Corduroy Road

click on image to enlarge it

A log once in front of the Depot Museum was once part of a Corduroy Road built south of town, near where the high school stands.  Corduroy Roads were devised to make possible travel through low, wet areas.  Logs were laid down width-wise, one after another, providing a solid albeit bumpy surface for horse-drawn vehicles.  


An act of the Michigan Territorial legislature on July 26, 1836, provided funds for 60 new state roads, all dirt, and usually following Indian trails. Private parties were charged a toll to use these roads, while stagecoaches traveled free of charge. These were all “improved” roads, which meant that in swampy areas logs were placed close together, widthwise, one after the other, to form what became referred to as “corduroy” roads.

During the most recent renovation of Highway Street in front of Vicksburg High School, these logs were dug up. They apparently were once part of a corduroy road running through an area which, until it was filled in for construction of the school in 1952, had always been part of a large swamp.


  click on image to enlarge it


A variation of the corduroy road was the plank toll road.  Plank roads were a huge craze for a number of years, but died out when the companies who built them stopped maintaining them. Often the planks, which provided a smooth road when first built
and could cut 4-6 days of travel to 10-13 hours, were replaced by gravel when they were destroyed or lost. This made the roads hazardous. It was the famous humorist Mark Twain who left us the classic description of this type of road. Asked how he liked his trip over the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids Plank Road, he replied, "It would have been good if some unconscionable scoundrel had not now and then dropped a plank across it." Another writer referred to a road in a similar condition as "an enlarged washboard." There was also a problem with people building small roads to circumnavigate the toll stations.

for more information about plank roads in Western Michigan check the following links:


THE PLANK ROAD CRAZE - A Chapter in the History of Michigan's Highways


A poem that describes riding on the Kalamazoo - Grand Rapids plank road as reprinted on the Library of Michigan site:


Did you ever, friend or stranger.
Let me ask you free and frank,
Brave the peril, dare the danger,
Of a journey on the Plank?

Ever see the wild commotion,
Hear the clatter, din and clank,
Feel the quick electric motion,
Caused by riding on the Plank?

Horses balking, drivers lashing,
Wishing all plank roads in—blank—
And their owners with them flashing
So it goes upon the Plank.

Wagons creaking, groaning, crashing,
Wrecks bestrewing either bank
Jarring, jolting, jambing, dashing,
This is riding on the Plank.

Crocks and baskets rolling, smashing,
Helpless owners looking blank,
Eggs and butter mixing, mashing,
Cannot help it on the Plank.

Hats and bonnets strangely rocking,
Leave no space between them blank;
Kisses stolen, oh! what shocking
Things do happen, on the Plank.

Fathers swearing, children squalling,
Angry mothers try to spank;
Seats upset and they go sprawling
In the wagon on the Plank.

Tipping over, mercy on us!
Broken ribs, or shattered shank,
These afflictions come upon us,
Come from riding on the Plank.

Here, if you can save the pieces,
Lucky stars you well may thank,
Though your doctor bill increases,
'Tis for riding on the Plank.

Ye, with torpid livers sickened,
Cold and languid, lean and lank,
Needing life-blood warmed and quickened,
Try a journey on the Plank.

Ye, half dead with indigestion,
Stomachs cold as Greenland's bank,
This will cure without a question,
Take one ride upon the Plank

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Kalamazoo County USGenWeb Site