History of Lamont, 1835-1935

Early History 

In the Spring of 1833, Harry and Zine Steel came and took up the land east of the Quarter Line of Section 7, east to the Section Line, between Sections 7 & 8, north from the river to the Section Line running east and west. In 1836 they deeded the land, the east half of the east half of Section 7 to J. O. Hedges and it is no owned by George and Jessie Nichols. Then the Steels built a store at the bend of the river. In a few years they built a grist mill on the east side of the store and after that they added a second saw mill on the north side.

The Steels built a log house east of the Quarter Line about one half way between the bank of the river and the River Road as it was then called. This was the first log house in Lamont.  Harry Steel was killed while standing by the feed stone. The governor belt came off and let the engine run away. The stone then ran so fast that it broke and one piece drove Mr. Steel up through the floor. After the accident the machinery of the grist mill was sold to Mr. Griffith and moved to Eastmanville.

The Steels built a large frame house just north and a little west of the store near what we then called the River Road. Zine and Mrs. Harry Steel lived there at the time of Zine’s death and Mrs. Steel lived there until the house burned down. She and her niece, Artimissie Calkins, built the house west of Peter Weatherwax’s place. Mrs. Steel lived in this house until her death.

They sold the store goods to Miner Hedges, and he kept the store there for several years, after which he built a store on Lot 3 of the Middleburg Plot.

T. B. Woodbury came to Lamont during the Spring of 1835 and took up the land west of the Quarter Line of Section 7 to the Town Line and from the river to the Section Line between Section 6 & 7, running east and west. He built the second log house, and built a frame house west of Luther’s store; then he built a grist mill west of his house on the river. In after years, he built a house south and a little west of the Congregational Church. He lived there until he moved to Fruitport where he died.

The third log house was built by Jerry O. Hedges. In the 40’s and 50’s the Calkins, Maxfield, Angell, Weatherwax, Baxter and Stoddard families came to Lamont.

The second store was built by Luther and Hinsdale at the foot of Commercial Street at the bank of the river. The third store was built by Miner Hodges on Lot 3 on the south side of Water Street. Oscar and James Cilly built a large sash, door and blind factory west of Woodbury’s grist mill. The factory burned the same time that Woodbury’s did.

The first saw mill was built by W. K. Hoyt, four rods east of the Town Line on the river. The second saw mill was built by H. Weatherwax and Calkins. It was the last saw mill there. The last saw mill was owned by Miner Hedges and son, Frank.

At one time there were twelve stores; eight on the west side of River Street, and one on the north side. These stores were owned by the following men: John Bemis, Miner Hedges, Douglas K. Barker, Carey --- who had two stores, Luther and Hinsdale, and Doc. Scott.

Solomon Snyder owned a saloon on the west side of Commercial Street and south of Water Street.

John Rice had a blacksmith shop at the foot of Union Lane.

At the top of the hill on Union Lane, D. D. Brown had a furniture store.

Packard Hill, John Vellzy and Velzey Thompson had shoe shops. Up the street farther was Carney and Slater’s Wagon Shop.

The first hotel was built by John Rice, but it burned. He then built another building which Guy Lillie now owns, on the north side of Broadway. Now at one time there were two hotels and saloons. The first one was owned by Solomon Snyder at the west end of Broadway, west of the Town Line; and the second belonged to Samuel Porter, located on the lot owned by Mrs. Randell.

The first postmaster was Leonard Sumner, and those that came after him in this position were: Reuben Randall, Frank Hedges, Miss Mary Hedges, Millard Wolling and the present postmaster, John Gunstra.

The first Doctor was Dr. Square and those following him were: Doctors Scott, Sherman, Barnard, Maclrane, Slocum, Hopkins, Clark, Short and Weaver.

The first Methodist Church was built on the west side of the old cemetery; the Congregational Church was built on the land now owned by A. E. Stowe.

Colman and Co., bought the Steel store and grist mill buildings and made it into a large tannery which burned.

Mr. Staufer built a grist mill on the west side of Water Street, west of Commercial Street. Two sawmills, one large grist mill, one sash, door and blind factory, twelve stores and twenty-five houses have burned at different times

Lamont was called Steel’s Landing until 1856 when it was incorporated and named by a man, Lamon Jubb, from Grand Rapids. Mr. Jubb kept an agricultural store. He gave a plow to the village for having it named after him.

Mr. Hodges has a map of the village as it was in 1856.

In 1866, they started to build a bridge across Grand River and finished it in 1867. It was at the foot of Commercial Street next to the river. It was the only bridge between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids at that time. Mr. Hedges has a book of the people who passed by the bridge in 1867. The names of the men who built the bridge were: Frazee and Walker. The last owner of the bridge was Miner Hodges who ran it for five years. In 187, he closed the swing and tore down the three spans.

Miner Hedges dealt with the Ottawa Indians, and his son, Frank, traded with them when they were located at the mouth of Bass River and until they moved away to Pentwater in 1885.

The first Fair was held at Lamont, September 22, 23, in 1856, on five acres of ground across from where Frank Hedges was born. He has a book containing the names of the organizers of the Fair, where it was organized, the first officers and the speech that was given at the time by Timothy Eastman and also the names of the people who won the premiums at the Fair.

The second Fair was held at Eastmanville, September, 22-24, in 1857. The book gives the names of those who won the premiums that year and the address of J. B. Thomas at that place on September 24.

Mr. Hedges was at the first Fair and has been to all the Fairs except the one in 1873 when he had typhoid fever. The last Fair that was held at Berlin in 1934 he was unable to attend because of sickness.

After paying all premiums at both Fairs, the board still had $161 in its treasury. The third Fair was held at Lamont on the top of the hill on the south side as you go across the creek going east. It was held there each year until it was moved to Berlin, now called Marne.

(This brief history given by Frank Hedges.)


The Pioneers

The first white child born here was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Yeomans.

The first school was a small square frame building, the pupils were taught by Miss Pollie Maxfield.

The first saw mill was built and operated by Miner Hedges. It was run by water power and cut between two and three thousand feet of timber a day.

Logs were abundant. The uplands being heavily forested with pine and the lowlands equally well with hardwood trees.

The early water supply came from springs and a town well located at the cross roads, between the places where William Hyma and William Vollema live.

As the village grew and the roads having been roughly laid out, the stage coach operated by Samuel Porter supplied the people with the first commercial means of land transportation.. The boats plied the river also, Lamont being the most important point between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids, hence the early name given to the town Middlebury. In fact, so the old timers say, Lamont at one time was even larger than Grand Rapids.

The long Michigan winters often brought many hardships. Small trees were cut down to provide the cattle with fodder, or we might rather say to keep them from starving to death and even at that, many failed to survive the ravages of winter.

But we must not draw too gloomy a picture of pioneer life. During the spring and early summer months there were logging bees, and then the men, women and children from miles around gathered to ‘Log Up’ a piece of ground. The loud ‘Gee’ and ‘Haw’ of the ox drivers echoed and re-echoed through the virgin forests. Mingled with this was the loud and sudden shout of ‘Timberrr!’ followed by a deafening crash as a giant of the forest was felled to the earth. Then there was the merry laughter of children, the barking of dogs and the warning notes from the anxious mothers.

At last! Ah, we expected it! The call for dinner goes out. What excitement! The oxen are unyoked. Axes are carefully set aside and then the grand race for the log house. No, not in a house, for no pioneer house could ever shelter such a company. Long tables were set under the trees and were they loaded? Is there hardship there? Do the pioneers go hungry? No, not by the looks of those tables. And what a appetite those men and boys have! Dishes, bowls, pots and pans heaped with steaming meat or vegetables disappear in a moment only to be refilled by the blushing maidens and the generous-hearted mothers. Yes, these pioneer women stood shoulder to shoulder with their husbands. They fought the battles of life with grim fortitude.

After the meal was finished, games were played and many a young woodsman matches his strength with his neighbor in friendly combat and many a one also matches his courting ability with the hand of a rival for the heart of the buxom lassie.

Again neighbors would gather for a barn raising, or maybe to replace the log dwelling of an unfortunate neighbor who had used too many pine logs on a cold winter night. At frequent intervals neighbors would gather to aid one another in butchering. In early autumn husking bees would be the big social events, especially when a red ---r would be found. In the spring it was sugar-making that drew the people together.

Then usually one evening per week the young folks gathered at the old square house for a singing school.

Yes, the pioneer had his hardships but he also had his joys.


Early Settlers

The first arrivals in Lamont were T. B. Woodbury, A. D. Yeomans and Allen Stoddard, who came in 1835. L. V. Harris, J. K. Maxfield, and D. Angell came in 1836 and in 1837 B. Church, S. G. Harris, E. Dalton, A. Hatch, J. Dexter and Harrison Hunter came. Mr. Yeomans stay was short; he sold out to H. and Z. Steele in 1838 and went to Illinois. Mr. Stoddard spent his first winter in an Indian wigwam.

At first Tallmadge Township, which was named after Gen. Tallmadge of New York State, also included Wright Township. Shortly afterward, Allendale and Polkton were added to it.

Tallmadge was constituted a town by act of the Legislature, 1838. The first meeting was held in the home of Stoddard, April 2, 1838. The following officers were elected: Bethuel Church, Supervisor; Harris Clark, Abram Hatch, S. G. Harris, J. H. Maxfield and A. S. Yeomans, Justices of the Peace.

In 1841, ten dollars was raised by taxation to fence the following burial grounds: Near Henry Steele; near B. Hopkins; near Abram Hatch; near J. M. Smith and H. Strator. The plots consisted of from one-fourth to one-half acres.

In 1842 forty-six voters elected B. Hopkins, Supervisor; P. P. Cady, Clerk; H. Steele, Assessor; A. Stoddard, Treasurer; H. Griffen, B. Hopkins, R. Thurston, School Inspectors; G. M. Becker, Justice.

In 1855 the annual meeting was held in DeWitt’s Hotel and 155 votes were vast. G. Luther was elected Supervisor and J. G. Calgrove, Clerk.

In 1857 one hundred and eighty-eight votes were cast. John Rice became Supervisor. In 1863 J. Rice was Supervisor, there were 189 votes cast, and the meeting was held at the home of Miner Hedges.

In 1882 a road was angled from Allendale Center across the river by ferry and hence to Grand Rapids. This greatly shortened the distance for the Allendale people. Mr. Rosegrant of Polkton was ferryman.

Civil War History

Lamont has a rather interesting was history. Its record and the number of men who answered the call to arms is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. At the time only one daily newspaper was taken but every evening a large group met in the Congregational Church and discussed the events of the day. No doubt many a battle was refought, generals and campaigns criticized and elated alike. When we think of the number of soldiers from this town who were willing to sacrifice their all for the Union we can readily imagine that interest was keen and anxiety acute.

The Congregation Church was not locked for three years. The bell was rung every time that an important dispatch arrived.

At one time John Brown, Jr., a son of a famous abolitionist, came to Lamont to recruit soldiers for the Union army. Mr. Brown laid his guns on the pulpit while he told many rousing stories. One story of particular interest was about his father. A negroe boy was being sold down the river. He had been tied by his thumbs on board the steamer and finally, not able to bear the pain any longer, he fainted. Mr. Brown cut loose the ropes from the boy, but for this he was arrested and taken ashore by the sheriff. He was then tied to the tongue of a wagon and raced before the speeding horses to the jail.

The following men answered the call of President Lincoln: Reuben Randall, Douglass Randall, John Maxfield, Silas Hedges, Henry Calkins, Rufus Miller, Rate Snyder, Charlie Stark, Mel Park, Bethuel Rice, Hiram Bateman, E. Elgersma, Fred Mohr, Joe Robinson, Riley Mickam, Peter VanderCingle and Charlie Campbell.

Wilbur Randall was the only Spanish-American soldier. Mr. Randall is still living in Lamont.

The call to arms from President Wilson during the World War was responded to by Clyde Headsworth, Andrew Kramer, John Burdick, Henry Kramer, Fred Burdick and Mark Burdick. Most of these men were ‘Over There’ and saw active service in France and Russia.

Cycling Days

The first bicycle rider in Lamont was Wilbur Randall who rode one of the old time high wheels. He created much interest in his first rides.

In the above picture from about 1896, from left to right are:

    Dora A. Robinson, then a teacher in the Lamont school.
    Mrs. Cora Coe, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Henry Scott of Allendale, a grand daughter of J. H. Maxfield, one of the first settlers of this place.
    Alf Coe, son of Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Coe, old settlers of Lamont. Mr. and Mrs. Coe moved to California where Mr. Coe died. Mrs. Coe lives in Santa Ana, California.
    Henry Rodgers, he and his father were watch makers and gunsmiths, important trades in the early days. Both are buried in the Maplewood Cemetery.
    Rev. George W. Heater, pastor of Congregational Church, he died in Cadillac.
    Mrs. Magaret Heater, his wife. Mrs. Heater now lives in Detroit where she is matron of a Florence Chittenden Home.
    Francis Angell, the post-mistress of Lamont. She is the grand daughter of Daniel Angell, one of the first to settle in Lamont. She is the wife of George Angell of Luther, Michigan.

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 16 August 2003
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/towns/lamont.html