Saturday, August 8, 2009

Three Rivers' Farmers' Market

A soggy day, hot and humid, with more buyers than sellers at the Farmer's Market! Taken from across the St. Joseph River. One Amish buggy, two ducks, and lots of cars. Oh and some nice peppers, tomatoes (finally ripe!), and muskmelons.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Caterpillar Surprise

Three Rivers has a lively art scene, and also supports arts for children, unusual for a small city in this era of budget cutting. This "critter" is encountered in a local alley, put together from old steam radiators removed from the Riviera Theater when it was refurbished. The caterpillar was painted by local children, under the direction of artists Kim Glessner and Kathy Bingamen.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Night: Full Moon

The "night" theme was a few days ago, but last night saw a full moon. Here the moon is doubled in Hoffman Pond, a lake-sized body of water in Three Rivers, part of the Portage River.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Big Old Cannon

My father used to joke that every town square in the midwest had a cannon in it. He didn't know why, but supposed they were military souvenirs. When we moved here I was surprised to find it was true, lots of cannons! Old ones, new ones. A few years ago the military repossessed some of the newer ones, saying they had been obtained illegally. But this one is legal -- and has been hanging around Three Rivers since 1847! A nice big new two sided historical marker, topped with the city logo, has been recently put up by the cannon in Scidmore Park.

When I stopped to take the picture, an elderly man was encouraging his grandson to climb on the cannon. The old man probably had done the same as a boy.

The marker says--

Before the Civil War local militias in Michigan were supplied with arms and equipment donated by the Federal Government under the Militia Act of 1808.

During the Mexican War (1845-47) the army's new artillery system was very successful and well reported in the press. In 1847 the State of Michigan chose to draw an accumulated share of military equipment in cannons. The State in turn loaned each cannon to a town which agreed to train men to use and maintain it.

This cannon was made by Ames Mfg. Co. of Chicopee, Mass and serial numbered 323 by inspector Jas. W. Ripley on August 26, 1847. It was part of a shipment of seventeen 6 pounder guns, with carriages and full equipment sent in late 1847 to Michigan, still a "frontier" state.
(Continued on other side)

State records after the Civil War show a bronze 6 pounder gun on loan to Three Rivers. It was probably used in Michigan for training during the Civil War. Local history indicates it was frequently fired for ceremonial events.

By 1888 the cannon was too obsolete for serious military use. The State ordered it back to Lansing for disposal. Instead, the village was allowed to purchase the bronze gun tube for 12 1/2 cents a pound according to the local newspaper of February 10th.

The cannon continued to be used for local ceremonies and celebrations until retired for safety reasons. It remains a local landmark.

At the bottom it says "marker given in memory of Matt J. and Mary L. Switlik.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Election Day

Election day, a hot, humid and grey day. That's "normal" for the midwest, but we have had lots of cool, dry weather this year. This polling place in in the Ruth Hoppin grade school. Ruth Hoppin was a teacher and principal in the 1800s. She was also a biologist and collector, with a graduate degree in the days when women rarely went to school.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trading Post

Constantine Street divides into two streets, Constantine Street and South Constantine Street, with a triangular shaped grass and tree covered area between them, for about two-thirds of the block between South Street and Millard Street. (Google Maps gets this wrong--that's South Constantine to the left in the photo, and Constantine to the right.) It looks like a divided street, but is actually two streets.

The streets run along a bluff above the St. Joseph River, which is directly to the east (left, in the photo.)

At the northern pointy tip of the center area, there is a historical marker. It says:

Herabouts stood the old French trading post kept by Cassoway and Gibson, when the first white settlers came to Three Rivers in 1829. This post was probably established before the revolutionary War. The French traded with the Indians of the St. Joseph River as early as 1690.

At the bottom of the plaque it says "This tablet was erected by the Abiel Fellows Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, September 30, 1911."

Sue Stillman identifies the old trading post as being "at the confluence of the rivers".

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Drive

Buried in the roadside shrubbery is another mysterious historical marker, a brass plaque inset into a boulder.

Pioneer Village
Platted 1833
Elrected by Abiel Fellows Chapter, D.A.R., 1925

On Constantine Road, by the bridge over the St. Joseph River. There is no sign of any "village" in the vicinity, just a couple of modern houses. Historian Sue Stillman, in the local history "St. Joseph in Homespun", wrote in 1931 of the "the deserted village of Eschol." Local lore says that Sauganash was buried in Eschol, as it was built on an old trade route; a nearby golf course was named after him in the 1920s. Stillman thought it more likely that the grave was for another Potawatomi with a similar name.