Gleaning the Past.........Part 8
Burr Oak Township
St Joseph County, Michigan

Contributed to the Michigan USGenWeb Project

Transcribed and proof-read by Josephine Reed Garzelloni
4 Nov 1997

Bits and Pieces of history and her people
Collected and compiled by
Josephine Reed Garzelloni
Contributed to the St Joseph County Michigan USGenWeb for the free use of all.
Not to be sold or published without permission.

This work is done in honor of my Mother,
Maxine Virginia Reed
29 February 1916 ~ 7 February 1989
She did the very best she knew to do
in the face of overwhelming adversity
"Soar on the wings of angels my Sweet Mother"

Use the 'find' procedure, usually under 'Edit', on your web browser to search for your surname/s


Burr Oak Acorn
His Ninetieth Birthday
  Uncle Willard Whitmore celebrated the passing of his ninetieth milestone in the race of life, at his home on St Joseph Street, Sunday afternoon, November 5th, 1911.
  It was an occasion long to be remembered by the early settlers of our village, who paid  their high esteem and honored respect by taking an active part in the commemoration of this event. Even much comment was made by those who were on the street as they saw a group of hoary sages wend their way to the home of the host. By 2:30 o'clock the guests were all present and a merry chat was indulged in by all; relating past reminiscences, stories, jokes and present day topical subjects. So Unique was the entertainment that the early hours of twilight came to remind them that Father Time was calling them to their respective homes on earth, as he is ever bidding them to that home of eternal rest in peace and happiness.
  Before parting they paid their tribute to Him who by His gracious love and kindness has spared them to the ripe ages of an honored and alloted life. With eyes moistened by tears of love and affection they all united and sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."
  Following is a list of the honored guests, who's combined ages total the sum 1,279: Timothy Whitmore, Jacob B Peters, J Kuder, Thomas J Hill, Charles Clement, John Anderson, Edward Wellesley, James Smitley, F.A. Fish, Charles A. Goodwin, Harry Sharer, Charles H McKinster, Herman A. Bell, G.S. Vaughan, A.N. Lampman, Dr Erwin Godfrey, Eli C Dane and B.M. Roush.
  The joys of the day were in no way to be ended in this way. Uncle Willard was again reminded of his good  fortune by his many relatives who came to pay their tribute and enjoy the evening in a usual meeting of this kind. After being treated to ice cream and cake by the hostess, Mrs Van der Vort, the guests departed, leaving our honored citizen assured of a host of warm friends, who wish him continued joys in his advanced years.

papers of Geneva Smith


Burr Oak Acorn
Roosevelt Is Fifty ~ Three

New York, October 28, 1911 ~ Theodore Roosevelt celebrated his fifty ~ third birthday. He was the recipient of many congratulations, but passed the day very much according to the routine which marks his everyday life.

note: In gleaning over the years I've noticed the one reoccurring thing that seems to have taken place with everyone who saved newspaper clippings. In the papers of two of my several greats grandmothers, as well as my grandmother,  I found newspaper articles about famous people, society people and world leaders. These grandmothers were all on separate branches of my tree so it wasn't something passed down. Now I see the same thing in the papers of Geneva and Harry Smith. It's like they were giving us a perspective on history we could better relate too. jrg
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn
Mr and Mrs Levi Wagner and Mr and Mrs Herman Bell and son Roy spent Sunday with Mr and Mrs Elzy Shuck, in honor of Mrs Shuck's and Mr and Mrs Wagner's birthday.

date in pen is 18 October 1911
papers of Geneva Smith


Colon Express
Was 71 Years Old Last Thursday.
Editor Express:
   It is true that I am the last of the original six Hills who moved to Colon sixty ~ two years ago. It is also true that I am seventy ~ one years old today, and in this morning's mail received over one hundred post cards congratulating me. It is extremely gratifying that so many of my friends remembered  me, and I especially appreciate the kind expressions from my old employees of the Lamb Knit Goods Co.
            Yours truly,
                   Thos J Hill

October 5, 1911
papers of Geneva Smith


Burr Oak Acorn
Surprised Mr Herman
   A birthday surprise is always a pleasant occurrance, but it was an unusually pleasant one that met D.W. Herman last Thursday evening in the parlor of the Park Hotel.
   Mr and Mrs Ed. Williams, Mrs. O Moore and Mrs J.J. Stanton of Sturgis, and Mr and Mrs S.H. Hogle were the guests of Mrs Herman in honor of Mr Herman's birthday. Could you have seen these old ~ time friends enjoying one of Mrs Upham's delightful suppers you would have thought time had surely turned backward and made them all boys and girls again.
   Reminiscences of Auld Lang Syne, and a big box of Mrs Herman's delicious home ~ made candy passed the time away pleasantly and all too quickly until the late train came and the Sturgis friends returned to their homes. ___________
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn
   The scribe in reporting Prof. Herman's birthday party last week, failed to report one of the most pleasing things connected with it, and that is the gift of two beautifully bound books.

papers of Geneva Smith

Probably the Colon Express
   Edwin R Hill celebrated his tenth birthday Saturday, October 7th, 1911, by entertaining thirty of his boy friends at a party. The afternoon was spent in playing games, after which the boys were invited to the dining room where the birthday cake, containing ten candles, ornamented the center of the table. Edwin was well remembered with gifts, among which was a bicycle from his father.

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn
   Vern Keeslar was home from South Bend from Friday until Sunday. Saturday he partook of birthday dinner wit his parents. A year hence he will be accorded the privilege of casting his first ballot.

dated in pen 24 February 1912
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn
    Alfred Jupp, wife and infant son came down from Adrain, Saturday, for a visit with his parents, on Eagle street. Mr Jupp, who holds a good job in a wholesale bakery, has returned home, but his family will remain here for some days.

dated 25 August 1912 in ink.
   papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

Double Birthday Occasion

    A very pleasant party was given to Mr and Mrs John Taggart by their children, Mr and Mrs Albert Burns, at the home of the latter in Burr Oak, Tuesday, 23 January 1912, when about twenty guests responded to invitations, the occasion being a rememberance of the birthdays of Mr and Mrs Taggart, one occurring on the 20th and the other on the 24th of January.

   Mrs Burns served a fine four course dinner which was partaken of with much relish. The gifts were presented by Rev. D.W. Herman, in his usually happy style, to which Mr Taggart responded in a few well chosen words. A birthday poem was read by Mrs B.P. Taggart, which was very appropriate and enjoyed by all.

   The guests, in departing, wished Mr and Mrs Taggart many happy returns of their birthdays and voted Mr and Mrs Burns royal entertainers.

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  Micheal Whitmer of our village, the pioneer citizen of the township and possibly of the county, is 98  years old today. He is remarkably strong and vigorous, mentally and physically, is on the streets frequently and at church regularly, and we all hope it may be thus for many years.

date in pen is 18 January 1912
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

   Ten of the boy and girl friends of Charles Upham, gathered at his home on 5th street and a merry birthday party was enjoyed. It was Charles' 8th anniversary ~ November 6th, 1912.

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

   A surprise party invaded the home of Myron Sager and wife, at Burr Oak, Saturday evening to remind him that it was his 33rd birthday. The evening was very pleasantly spent in visiting; ice cream and cake were served, and after presenting him with a nice rocker the guests returned to their respective homes, wishing him many returns of the day.

dated 20 July 1912 in ink
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

Three~Quarters of a Century

   Saturday afternoon twenty or more members of the Ladies Guild met at the home of Mrs E.E. Holcomb in honor of her 75th birthday.
   Mrs Holcomb was unspeakably moved when presented with a dress by Mrs Chandler in behalf of the society. After the presentation speech all joined in singing "Blest be the Tie that Binds."
   Luncheon followed, which, as usual, did honor to the Ladies' Guild; and according to an eye witness was enjoyed immensely.
   The pleasant and beautifully touching gathering was closed by singing "God be with you till we meet again."
    May her birthdays be many.

dated 11 May 1912 in ink.
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  On 17th April 1912 Mrs A.M. Graham reached the age of 70 years and it was the occasion of numerous of her friends spending the evening with her at the pleasant home.  A really good time~couldn't be otherwise. And presents~sure, several, all of which will ever be held in grateful remembrance. May 'Gusta' and her ever cheerful disposition be with us for many, many years. Verily, she is younger now than many persons half her age.

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

Norm Returns to Ohio Home
      Oberlin, Ohio, September 23 1912.
Ed. Acorn: ~ I am home again after five months' recess in the Empire state. It was a treat to be with my son's family at ocean side, Rockville Centre, in hot weather, because there is a sea breeze daily on Long Island, where I "sot and lied" ~ a place that's fine as silk. Alex A Forman lives next house to Leon's and his daughter, Frank Fales and family are across the street. A.A.F., Jr, lives four miles away at Woodmere ~ so you see we were close by, and had auto rides and visits and reunions with joy.
   It was a pleasure to meet in Brooklyn with D.D. Case, Theo. Case, George B Case and his sister Violet, whom many of your readers will remember, and all spoke pleasantly of Burr Oak experiences in the long ago.
   On August 13th Mrs A.A. Forman, Jr., gave a new boy to the family circle and Grandpa Alexander and wife are happy as~color persons in a watermelon picnic.
    Some of your readers can imagine the pleasure I had in Oswego and Wayne counties in meeting with old comrades who served with me, and others whom I have known for fifty years, as well as boyhood chums who swam with me in the Otsego river or played marbles "seven for an alley" with the vim of youth.
    And that makes me think of Prof. Hill ~ our George ~ who gives us happiness by his articles, bless his heart. My mind returns to the Red Ribbon days when much was cone to keep temperance in the minds and actions of the citizens of Burr Oak and vicinity.  Good seed was planted and many quit the bottle and saloon to become admirable workers in the cause.

                                Hastily yours,
                                     Norm G Cooper

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

    Martin Maystead of Burr Oak and Mrs Lyter of Colon, twins, celebrated the 60th anniversary of their birth, last Sunday, at the fam home of the former, northeast of town. A large number of the relatives were present and a joyous day resulted. Here is hoping their future birthdays may be many.

dated in pen 28 April 1912
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  It was a merry social time that was had last Thursday at the home of Mr and Mrs Fred Moore in Sturgis. The occasion was the 39th birthday anniversary of Mrs Moore. As previously planned, about twenty lady friends of Mrs M.  took possession of the home while she was at the depot to meet her sister, Mrs Frank E Lee and son Frank, of this place. The surprise was complete and a joyous afternoon followed.

dated in ink 16 January 1913
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  H.C. Whitmer and family, of this village, attended the birthday gathering of the former's father, Michael Whitmer, at the home of his son, W.W Whitmer, in Burr Oak, last Saturday. Mr Whitmer is perhaps the oldest person in the county, being past 99 years of age and enjoys reasonable good health, reads without glasses, and has always done this. It is not a second signt. He walks up town once or twice a week, about half a mile, attends church every Sunday when the weather is good.

dated 18 January 1913 in ink.

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

   Last Sunday was the birthday anniversary of three of the Himebaugh brothers, Coye, Roy and Ray, and the latter's son Richard. And in honor of the event a large company of the relatives passed the day very pleasantly on the lawn at the former's home..

dated in ink 20 June 1913
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  Mr T.J. Hill was unable to be with us Sunday, but he remembered the birthday box, as he was 73 years old 5 October 1913. Edwin R Hill, who had a birthday 7th October, contributed 12 cents.

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

Pleasant Birthday Dinner
  Mrs Daniel Himebaugh gave a six o'clock dinner in honor of Mr Himebaugh's seventy-second birthday. Those present were his brother Coin, wife and daughter; A.C. and family; Coye L and family of Washington, D.C., Archie D., of Hesperia; C.D. and wife, Ray C and family: Roy and wife; Roy Wilcos and family; Mr and Mrs Wilcos, Sr.; Mrs H Shephard of Cleveland; Albert Dene: Mrs Lulu Bennett and two daughters of Bronson; E.A. Hogmire and wife, Cecil Bennett gave a few fine selections on her violin. The guests departed wishing Mr Himebaugh many more as delightful birthdays.

dated 28 July 1908 in ink.
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

 A happy family gathered at the home of Mr and Mrs W.C. Davis, Wednesday, in honor of his eightieth birthday. Those present were Mr and Mrs Charles H McKinster, Mr and Mrs F.W. Godfrey and son of Colon, Mr and Mrs Clarence Doolittle and son of Kalamazoo, and Mrs Fred McKinster and son of Detroit. May he live to celebrate many more birthdays.

dated in ink 2 July 1913
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  We acknowledge an enjoyable visit from our friend and former townsman, William Arnold. His daughter, Mrs Nettie May Leiter, who was born "in the Weaver brick house" 47 years ago, was here with him. They live in Lorain, Ohio. He will remain at Colon for some time, having come to visit his sister, Mrs Jane Decker (widow of Asa Cross) who for a few weeks has been confined to the bed with a severe injury to her hip, at the home of her daughter, Mrs Dr. Hartman.

ink dated 31 July 1913
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

   Little Miss Dorris Himebaugh entertained a large number of her friends Friday afternoon, the occasion being her sixth birthday. The little folks report a fine time.

5 February 1909.
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  Mr and Mrs S. H. Hogle found a complete and very pleasant surprise awaiting them on their return home from business Monday evening, January 19th, 1914. In honor of the sixteenth anniversary of their marriage, and of Mr Hogle's sixty ninth birthday, their daughter Marjorie had invited a number of friends to a dainty but very beautiful six o'clock dinner, to which every one did ample justice.  A delightful evening followed, closing with good words from all the guests, and wishes for "many happy returns."

papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  Last Saturday Miss Nina Graves arrived here, her old home town, from far away Victoria, British Columbia, coming at this time especially to be present at the 90th birthday anniversary of her Grandmother Graves, at Quincy, yesterday. Miss Graves will visit in various sections of Michigan for several weeks...

dated 8 October 1913
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  Mr and Mrs John Sprowl entertained thirty friends and neighbors sunday, in honor of Mrs Sprowl's father, George Moore's 77th birthday. Mr Moore has been a resident of Colon 55 years, is hale and hearty. He has six children, all living, 29 grand children and 16 great grandchildren. All did justice to the fine dinner, and ice cream and cake were served later in the day. The party left late in the day all declaring Mr and Mrs Sprowl royal entertainers and wishing Mr Moore many more happy birthdays. One who was there.

printed date: 16 June 1914
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

  They Fooled Him at 76

It was a real surprise that was given John B Keeslar, last Sunday, his 76th birthday anniversary, at the Jay B Keeslar home. The unannounced coming of his sister Mrs Jennie Immel of Eugene, Oregon, and the presence of his sister Mrs Mate Morrill of Greenfield Mills, his son A.D., wife and son of South Bend, and Mrs Whipple and Mrs Bisbee of Bronson, was very pleasing and then some. A fine six ~ course dinner was served and a right merry time was had. May his birthdays be many and all as joyous as this.

dated 19 May 1914
papers of Geneva Smith

Burr Oak Acorn

Michael  Whitmer Reached Remarkable Age
of One Hundred Years Last Sunday, January 18
Several Hundred People Attended a Reception Given for Him at the Methodist Church Saturday Afternoon, and on Sunday Forenoon a Great Crowd Participated in a Special Service in His Honor

   The celebration of the one hundredth birthday anniversary of Mr Michael Whitmer of this place, who became a centenarien on Sunday, January 18, 1914, was a complete success in every way.
   The reception held Saturday afternoon, the 17th at the M.E. church, was attended by nearly four hundred people, some of them coming from a distance. The sons and daughters of our venerable citizen were all present except one, a son, residing in New York state. Most of the grandchildren were also in attendance.
  A register was provided and most of those who attended the reception recorded their name and address.
   The ladies served light refreshments free to everyone, which proved an excellent feature of the important event.
  At 2:30 o'clock Vern Keeslar was introduced and after brief and very appropriate remarks presented to Mr Whitmer a handsome royal push button Morris chair, which was a gift from a large number of the aged gentleman's host of friends. Mr Whitmer responded in neat to-the-point remarks.
   Saturday evening several of the relatives and intimate friends gathered at the home of William W Whitmer, where Father Whitmer has made his home for a number of years, and enjoyed the evening with him, during which time he quoted one of his favorite hymn and at the close of the social and friendly evening he offered a brief and timely paryer.
   Those of the immediate family from out of town coming to celebrate this remarkable event were his son, Knox, and his daughters Mrs Hathaway and Mrs F.A. Bacon, from Grand Rapids, and his sons John of Sturgis and Henry of Colon. Also the grandchildren and a long  time friend from Fort Wayne.
  On Sunday, the 18th, being Father Whitmer's birthday, a Memorial Service was held in the M.E. church. It was the largest gathering of people there in a long time, more than three hundred people being present.
  Rev. W.D. Robinson, the present pastor, presided, and Rev. A.F. Waechter of the Presbyterian church acquitted himself admirably in a splendid address on the longevity of life, after which Rev Martin L Fox, D.D., of St Joseph, Michigan, and Supt of the Niles District of the Michigan Conference of the M.E. church, gave the main address, in which he brot forth some interesting vital statistics in support of the facts connected with the speaker's statements. Special music by the choir, some of the hymns being especial favorites with Mr Whitmer, was much appreciated by the large audience. Mr Whitmer was not present at the first part of the services and there was very general regret, it  being surmised that he was not usually well, but later he came strolling down the center aisle and took his seat on the platform, meantime the audience cheering heartily.
  One of the very interesting features of the program were the remarks by Attorney A.M. Graham, long time friend and neighbor of Mr Whitmer, in which he paid splendid tribute to the honor and integrity of our venerable citizen.
   Mr Whitmer has been a member of the M.E. church for about seventy-five years and has always been a constant atendant. His presence is always a real inspiration.
  Michael Whitmer was born 18 January 1814, in Snyder county, Pennsylvania, where he spent his boyhood days. In 1838 himself and wife came westward by way of Pittsburg and settled in Indiana, where the beautiful city of Bluffton is now situated, where he lived a number of years. He was a blacksmith by trade, which volcation he followed, meanwhile purchasing and clearing up a farm.
  In 1865 he sold his farm and came to Burr Oak, locating in the west part of this township on a farm which he purchased and upon which he resided until about twelve years ago, when he moved with his son William W. to Burr Oak village, his present home.
  Mr Whitmer is in full possession of all his faculties. He reads and writes without glasses and occasionally goes fishing ~ and catches them, too ~ in the nearby streams. He reads much and converses readily and intelligently on current events of the present day, and his clear recollection of events occurring in the days of long ago is truly wonderful.
  The whole community joins in congratulation to Mr Whitmer on having attained this remarkable age and sincerely hopes he may live in our midst for many years to come.

note: misspelled words were those missed in the original Acorn edition not caught by their proof-reader.  I've not marked them so as not to interrupt the style of prose and content. jrg
papers of Geneva Smith

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