Saturday, September 17, 2011

Three Rivers History Mural (5)

Past the suffragette and the lighthouse, there's a minister (I think - someone will have to write and tell me who this represents), more houses, and a pleasant scene of a modern-day family in the park.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three Rivers History Mural (4)

More houses are seen in this section of the mural, indicating the arrival of the first development called "Moab" (links to photo of actual monument located on the corner of Constantine and Broadway.) Continuing along we find suffragettes, and next, in the background, Three Rivers' iconic lighthouse. I am not sure about the significance of the baseball team!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Three Rivers History Mural (3)

The next section of the mural shows the arrival of the first US emigrants to the area. They came to farm, and building mills was also high on their list when they saw the abundant water power. Families established themselves. The first recorded settler wedding in Three Rivers was in November, 1830; Mary McInterfer was married to David Winchell. The first school was in the log cabin of the McInterfer family. At this early date, power dams for mills were being constructed on local rivers. A mill is shown at the right of this section of mural, along with the proud owner and his family. On the river is seen one of the "arcs" or flatboats used to ship logs down to the mouth of the St. Joseph River, where they could be picked up by seagoing vessels for export. Boats were also constructed that transported flour and grain to Chicago; the shippers' family names were prominent in the history of Three Rivers - Prutzman, Moore, and Millard. Moore & Millard's first boat for shipping to Chicago was named "Kitty Kiddungo", which has to be a good answer to a trivia question!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three Rivers' history mural (2)

The next section of the mural shows the arrival of the first traders, mostly French, and the establishment in the late 1600s of the first Christian mission and church along the banks of the St. Joseph River in what is now Three Rivers. The mission is marked by a river trail marker on the St. Joseph River.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Three Rivers' history mural (1)

The first section of the mural shows a Native American man looking west across the undeveloped river. Although no particular people is represented - the figure is only symbolic - the first French Traders and US settlers found that the Pottawatomi had beaten them to the area by 100 years or more. The Pottawatomi were farmers and traders, driven to the area from their original homeland near Detroit by the Iroquois in disputes over valuable fur hunting areas. Other disputes were recorded from oral histories, including the Great Battle for which there is a marker in the park.

The Pottawatomi are the "fire keepers" of the Anishinabe Three Fires Confederacy. The nearby Pottawatomi town of Nottawasepi, now called Mendon, was as large as many US cities in the west at that time. They were settled farmers and were Christian from the 1600s. Many Pottawatomi tried to hang on to their land through filing lawsuits and other legal and political maneuvers, but most lost their land in the tragic "Indian Removal" period spearheaded by still-controversial president Andrew Jackson. Today, most Pottawatomi live in the west, but a few "bands" (family groups) that refused removal - or escaped and returned - remain. One local group purchased a large tract of land about an hour east of Three Rivers, and remain there. There are many interesting - and bloodcurdling - stories about the collision of the US settler and Pottawatomie cultures, but they are a little hard to find. Local historian Sue Stillman in the 1930s wrote in her history of Three Rivers some of the stories, when it was still fairly close to living memory.

Before the Pottawatomie, other peoples lived here, but the archeology record is sketchy (and much of it was plowed under.) The Miami peoples were known to live here, and before them, peoples of the Mississippian Mound Culture. Along undeveloped stretches of river the "wild rice", a staple grain, that they planted may still be found in large tracts. In more settled areas, the emigrant farmers pulled it out, seeing it as blocking navigation - and not knowing what it was.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bridge mural

The Peeler Street Bridge that spans both a river and the railroad tracks has on its abutment a very long mural giving an outline of the history of Three Rivers. I will post closer up pictures of it this week - mostly taken last in winter, when it was easier to see. Email me if you know about the history of this mural! It is growing more faded and has a lot of water damage, I hope repairs are planned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I'm repeating a photo here because it is one of my favorites; an appropriate and very moving 9-11 memorial created by the Three Rivers firefighters.