Blendon Township Early History
The west boundary of Blendon Township is the geographical center of Ottawa County.
On November 5, 1836, John Ball, who was a timber cruiser, announced through a newspaper he had located, "2,500 acres of good pine almost in a body on a part of which there was also some good white oak". He laid claim to forty-one eighty-acres parcels for logging purposes.
The township was surveyed in 1833 and was organized in 1854. A township hall was built in 1889 at the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Tyler Street. This hall served the township until 1975, when a new hall was built with offices and a meeting room. The old building was auctioned off and moved east of the township. It serves as a storage barn at 7000 Tyler Street.
There were swampy areas where huckleberries were plentiful and higher places where wintergreen berries and black berries thrived. The stone knives and arrowheads discovered here show that the Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians used the area to hunt.
The Ottawas formerly lived along the lakes and woods in northern lower Michigan. They were active with the French in fur trading. Those who moved to this area continued to be traders. Older residents remember their parents purchasing good baskets and flower stands from Indian peddlers who came door-to-door in the early 1900’s.
The Potawatomi were southern Michigan people but were of the same Algonquin language group. They made pottery and items made of vegetable fiber.
The old Stage Road from Grand Rapids to Holland passed through the southeast corner of Blendon. It was laid out in the late 1840’s at the expense of Grand Rapids merchants for the benefit of newly established Dutch settlements in the Holland-Zeeland area.
A rest area called The Halfway House was built near 48th Avenue and Barry Street. The stage coach passengers and other travelers could receive refreshments; shelters were also provided for horses. By the 1870’s, the advent of the railroad caused it to be obsolete. Halfway House continued to be occupied by the DeRegt family who had operated this place for many years. Following their deaths, it remained vacant and was eventually demolished.
An 1864 map indicates that mose of the township was owned by Blendon Lumber Company. Two early sawmills were the Ohio Mill, located at 5800 Port Sheldon Road, and the Bugsville Mill, on Baldwin Street near 64th Avenue. Each mill had a narrow gauge railroad running approximately seven miles northeast to docks on the Grand River. The railroad serving Ohio Mill was called Ohio Landing; the other was called Blendon Landing.
Blendon Landing was located near the site of Grand Valley State University. Pieces of strap metal rails are still being plowed up on Baldwin Street. Oak trees growing here were tall enough to be used for ships’ mast, and they were floated to Chicago. As a second growth of timber became marketable, two sawmills were built, one and two miles east of Borculo respectively.
Before Rural Free Mail Delivery was established in 1900, the township was served by three local post offices. The first was established in 1860 at 5458 Bauer Road and was called Blendon. It was located in a separate building razed years ago. A second, which contained a lending library, was located in the residence of the Robert John family, 6304 56th Avenue; it was called South Blendon. Taken down, it was incorporated in the present dwelling. A third was established after 1876 in the residence of Kasper LaHuis, 7034 Blair Street, and for some unknown reason was named Heath. This modernized dwelling is now occupied by the Thomas Vredeveld family.
As lumber was harvested, the land was used for agriculture. The Phoenix Cheese Company of Zeeland established a branch at 6887 72nd Avenue to market milk. The manager’s house is still in use. A butter-producing Creamery in Borculo and a milk-receiving station in North Blendon on Taylor Street no longer exist.
For many years seven general stores were located within township boundaries. A store owned by C. L. Storre at Port Sheldon Road and 56th Avenue was established before 1864. Formerly a church, a second store in South Blendon at Port Sheldon Road and 48th Avenue was moved across the road in 1890. This was owned by John VanFarowe. This store and attached dwelling burned in 1929. Another store was built an is now gift shop.
The Vander Molen store on Taylor Street has been replaced by a one-family dwelling. The Vollink store in Borculo is now the property of Borculo Christian Reformed Church and is used for church activities. The present Borculo General Store is located at 6210 96th Avenue.
Records show some farms have been in the family for over 100 years making them centennial farms. There are five of them. The locations and present owners are: Rhine Lubbers, 5301 Barry Street; Larry Atwood, 5267 Baldwin Street; Bernard Schafer, 9481 48th Avenue; Chester Top, 4868 64th Avenue; and Larry VanderSchuur, 7304 Bingham Street.
Blendon Township has two cemeteries. One is owned by the township at 5000 Tyler Street. Mr. Woodruff, an early settler in the Bauer area, was the first recorded burial in 1862. The other cemetery is owned by the Christian Reformed Church of Borculo at 6200 96th Avenue.
There are nine active churches:
Bauer Wesleyan, 4844 Bauer Road, organized in the 1860’s
St. John Lutheran, 48th Avenue at Fillmore Street – the old building was empty for many years and has been torn down. The new church was built across the street in Georgetown Township. It was organized in 1882.
Beaverdam Christian Reformed Church, Barry Street at 64th Avenue, organized 1882.
Borculo Christian Reformed Church, 6464 96th Avenue, organized 1883.
South Blendon Reformed, Port Sheldon Road at 48th Avenue, organized 1883
Bauer Seventh Day Adventist, 4881 Bauer Road, organized 1885
Bauer Christian Reformed, 4921 Bauer Road, organized 1902
North Blendon Reformed, 7224 Taylor Street, organized 1903
North Blendon Christian Reformed, 7284 Taylor Street, organized 1910
Blendon Townships’ first school is located at 9441 56th Avenue. It was organized in 1854 and was rebuilt into a storage facility. Blendon No. 2, located at 5755 Port Sheldon Road is a private residence and Corsin School No. 3, located at 6984 72nd Avenue, are now used for storage. Sherborne School No. 4, located at New Holland Street and 64th Avenue, is now a two-family dwelling.
Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 26 January 2005