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#DiscoverBeldingMichigan

Mary Wilson Belding and Her Family


A city so fair, whose residents so true,

Delight to tell people far and near

The beauties of their hustling city here.

For on Flat river’s hilly banks she stands,

And sends her products to most distant lands;

At home, abroad, in Italy, France and Spain,

In inland marts and on the raging Main.

From Ode to Belding, in Belding In Verse: A Souvenir of the Silk City, Devoted to its Enterprising Business Houses. (Available at the Belding Museum)

 

The Belding family was involved in the silk manufacturing business for two decades. The Belding family name came from an earlier name, “Baylden”, then changed to “Beldon” in 1643. In 1825, it changed again to “Belding.”
The Belding family has been known historically as being “distinguished” for longevity, business thoroughness, and mental power and activity.” Meaning they were intellectual and ‘do’ers.’

Hiram, the youngest child of John and Pricilla Belding, taught school, which included his children. Folks did not consider him to be a robust man. He ran a merchandise store that sent salespeople door to door peddling “Yankee Notions.” He built his store in the old settlement of “Beldingville” in Ashfield, Massachusetts.

In 1856, Hiram moved his family to Otisco, where land was “wild and void.” They traveled through Kalamazoo by railway then by stagecoach 28 miles to the north to Broas Rapids/Patterson Mills. With help from his sons, Alvah, in particular, who drove up to six oxen at a time, Hiram cleared the land in Belding’s present-day city. After trying to farm, with some, not enough success, Hiram set up a small mercantile store business and ran it until his death in 1866 at the age of 64. He was a Republican but declined public office. He and his wife Mary were devout Baptists and were instrumental in forming Belding’s Baptist Church.

Mary is from Shelbourne, Massachusetts. Her father died when she was very young. Her mother became the second wife of Dimick Ellis (of the Ellis family that moved to Belding). A Christian woman, Mary married Hiram Belding and raised her sons with love and discipline to succeed in life. In all, she had six children and lived to see her sons become successful.
Her son David (eldest) died in Chicago in 1907. He ran the family business there.

Hiram Hulbert, III, managed the Chicago office. He traveled back and forth to Belding, and he knew a lot of people. He was good friends with Richard Hambrook of the Hambrook Furniture store. Probably drew other business people to Belding. He died in Chicago in 1890.

Daughter Mary Jane married Jerome Vincent. She died in Belding in 1872. Frank never married and died at age 40.

Mary’s youngest died in infancy.

All of the family was involved in the silk industry somehow.

Belding Brothers Belding Brothers, courtesy of the Belding Museum

Milo Merrick was born in 1833 in Ashfield, Massachusetts. He grew up and attended a district school there. By age 14, Milo started work on a farm. He impressed his supervisors so much that he earned pay raises. He started at $7.00 a month during summer months, then to $9.00 (summer rate), then $9.00 (full time), and at the end, $15.00. Between production times lulls, he peddled notions. He peddled other products very little and made up his own sales pitch until one day, a customer who knew more than he gave him a class on the products. He was so ashamed that he vowed to know everything about every product he sold form thereon out. He became head of the New York company, and when he had had enough, he gave the director position to his son Milo Merrick, Jr. He purchased a home in New York City in 1888. His other endeavors are many, but some notable ones are:

President of the commonwealth fire insurance company in New York. (prominent: they were one of the first because of fires and employee families suing management).
Director of Genesse and Wyoming Railroad.
Director of International Salt Co of New York (prominent: one of the salt mines that supplied the country). He was a democratic man, genial, and compassionate.

Alvah N. Belding (1802-1925)

Alvah was the youngest of four brothers. As a teen, Alvah worked at neighboring farms to earn money. There he earned 12.5 cents per day. Wanting to advance his earnings, he started working for W.W. Root & Brothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, selling jewelry. This job was a traveling position taking him on the road and away from his family. He was meticulous in his attention to detail of his earnings, making him an expert record keeper.

He came to Michigan with his father, Hiram. He was not afraid of hard work and enjoyed learning new tasks. He enjoyed helping his father clear land for farming and drove oxen (labor-intensive task: see above). He helped build the dam at Patterson Saw Mill. For that, he received 87 cents and a dinner. During winter, he attended school. His father kept all of his earnings until Alvah was 21. At that time, Hiram gave Alvah a choice: continue school or take what money he has and forge ahead on his own. Alvah did not have to take long and decided his passion was business management. He used his earnings to reinvest his money into his silk selling business.

By 1857 Alvah and brother Hiram became moderately successful with their business. Alvah took over a failing silk supply business in Rockville, Mass. In 1890 he took over the Belding Brothers & Co. business when Hiram passed away.

Hiram passed down his expertise in record keeping to Alvah, and Alvah, in turn, demanded all of the manufacturing operations managers did the same. He was a job provider and insisted on the finest work of his employees. Alvah took care of his employees in return, furnishing them with the best equipment and best working conditions. He created mill towns around the mills to give his employees the most refined living conditions with modern amenities.

In 1870 He married Lizzie Merrick. They had two children, daughter Florence and son Frederick. He moved to Rockville, Connecticut, in 1869 and lived there until he died in 1925. His wife died in 1860. They are both buried in the family plot in Rockville, Connecticut.

Belding Maps 1936-1969


 

Belding Map 1836, 1837, 1843
Belding Map 1836, 1837, 1843 Kiddville, Cook’s Corners and Smyrna. Belding is not established officially yet.

 

Belding Map 1875
Articulate view of Belding Map 1875

 

Otisco 1875
Otisco 1875, this map shows growth between Kiddville, Cook’s Corners and Belding.

 

Belding city growth by year
Belding city growth by year

 

Belding City 1950s-1960's
Belding City 1950-1969. A lot of reconstruction to accommodate more people.

 

Belding map, today.
Belding map, today.

Kiddville


Kiddville hotel
Kiddville Hotel

In 1836, George W Dickinson erected a sawmill near a creek, later named after him. Michigan was not a state yet because it needed a certain amount of settlers to live in the territory. Michigan was short these numbers. Advertisements went up all over New York to entice folks to relocate to Michigan to boost numbers. Following this, many people flocked to the area from the East Coast in search of fertile farming soil and a new life.

In 1838, with Michigan’s statehood is established and post offices began to spring up throughout the state. Dickinson’s settlement grew and was now known as Dickinsonville. Soon he established a post office and named it Otisco. After a year as postmaster, Dickinson grew tired of the hassle of the post office and transferred it to Cooks Corners on the opposite side of what is now the town of Belding. From there, Dickinson grew his business and retired in 1845. He sold the business to J.M. Kidd.

Kidd made improvements to the sawmill operation by merging it with a retail section to sell goods. A year later, with the hired clerk to help him out, Kidd managed a mill and a general store. By 1850 the store was successful in its own right. As the business grew, Kidd needed room to expand. So, he first erected a shanty next to the mill.

With the business’s success and a growing population, Kidd also established a post office and was appointed postmaster. Kidd employed 60 to 70 men in his mill. These men cut over 35,000,000 feet of lumber. He owned 2500 sores of land. In 1862 the mill burned. After rebuilding the mill in 1863, Kidd sold the business to Elam Murry and Samuel Baird.

Belding Newspapers


Here is a useful website I found in my research. It has helpful links to all the newspapers in and around Belding, Michigan. This can help researchers find what they need to.

https://roadsidethoughts.com/mi/belding-xx-ionia-localpapers.htm

William Lee Cusser 1873-1918


 

Lee Cusser

William Lee Cusser was born on March 13, 1873, at old Cusser farm northeast of Orleans. The family lived there until William was seven years old. They then moved to a new farm two miles west of the old farm. William went to Green’s district school. He went on to graduate from Belding High School in 1891. After graduating, he went to work at Belding Savings Bank as an apprentice. After People’s Savings Bank organized, he took the position of assistant cashier and in 1909 promoted to cashier until his death at the prime of his life at age 45.

Will showed up to work one day as usual but not feeling well. He reassured coworkers it was a mild cold, nothing too concerning. Soon his health deteriorated, and he began spending more and more time at home resting and trying to get well. The bad news began to spread rapidly through Belding that Will’s condition was grave. Friends and family became more than concerned. It was the time of the Great Flu. Everywhere folks became struck down with the contagious illness. Everyone was nervous at the slightest cough. But knowing Lee’s strength and resilience, people had expected the once highly motivated individual to come brazenly into work and bring cheer once again to the bank and the local community.
Unfortunately, medical technology and expertise at the time could not save him.

At once, the family placed a traditional morning wreath upon his residence door, and memorial preparations began with a quickness. Visitation and support had to be provided by prayers from afar. No public gathering was allowed at the time because of the contagious outbreak of the quickly spreading flu. His funeral service was held the following Monday at his home, where Reverend Jay W. Rooke of the First Congregational Church officiated the ceremony. Cemetery workers transported his remains and interred them at River Ridge cemetery. Brothers from Lee’s masonic paternity conducted another smaller ceremony there.

Those who knew him or of him describe Will to be friendly and a warm human being who always sought ways to help others. Everyone in town might have known Will, whether through an account transaction at the bank, community functions, church, or passing by on the street. Will was a familiar face. Even as the influence influenza set about the town of Belding and colleagues stayed home to rest, Will sacrificed his time to cover the needed shift of positions. Some say the neglect of his health led to the spread of his speedy demise. He was too focused on his service to others that included personally loaning a customer the first month’s payment of a war Liberty Bond. Lee left behind a wife, two daughters, and his parents.

Belding Michigan History in Timeline


1701 First permanent settlement in Detroit.

1763 France owns land (Flat River area).

1787 England ceded Michigan Territory.

1814 Detroit population is 1,400 approximately. Michigan territory population is 4,762

1815 Tiffin Report declares 1% of Michigan land suitable for settlement for soldiers of the War of 1812. They were directed to other states. General Cass disproves this. Folks began to settle the state.

 

1815-1915 main transportation is horse and wagon.

1825 Erie Canal opens-this provides route for immigrants from the east.

1831 Organization of Ionia County with Kalamazoo County, approved by legislature.

 

1833 Dr. W.B. Lincoln first physician in Ioina County.

August first death-daughter of Darious Winson.

First birth Eugene E. Winsor.

 

1834 First church established in Ionia County is Baptist.

 

1835 April 6 First township meeting held in Ionia County.

July 5 first wedding Dr. W.B. Lincoln and Anthy Arnold.

 

1836 Rufus Cook, Amos Russell and John Morse came from Ionia to corner of 44 and 91. There they built a shanty.

Ionia is recognized as county seat of Ionia County.

First Post Office established. Erastus Yeomans is Postmaster.

First lawyer is Cyrus Lovell.

First Bank is Winsor and Maey.

George W. Dickinson settles near creek (Flat River Area).

 

1837 Levi and Charles Broas arrive Flat River area (1840-1850). Area is known as Broas Rapids.Separate Ionia County organization formally approved by the legislature. April 1st county officers elected: William D. Moore, Judge of Probate.

Ellinan W. Curtis, Sheriff.

Asa Burnell, County Clerk.

John E. Morrison, County Treasurer

Adam L. Roof, Register of Deeds.

 

1838 George W. Dickinson established post office that is named “Otisco” and is Postmaster.

Charles Broas settles area in area that is now city of Belding.

 

1839 Rufus Cook, Amos Russell and John Morse return to Ionia for families. They get lost on the way and encounter a welsh settlement.

George W. Dickinson transfers post office to Cook’s Corners and Rufus Cook becomes Postmaster.

 

1840 James Kidd builds boarding house and store on a knoll just east of the bridge.

February- Ionia Journal is first newspaper. Publisher Ira W. Robinson.

Samuel Demorest settles West of Belding. Built half mile West of Bridge on HWY 44 and owned land up to Ellis.

 

1842 Charles Broas constructed a wing dam and race. Lucious Patterson bought a share of this. Sometime later the mill was abandoned.

Broas erects first sawmill.

Broas and others built a bridge over Flat River.

Lewis Ellis moves to Broas Rapids from Massachusetts. His brother C. Dimmick Ellis bought 120 acres north of town. The Ellis Brothers found City Dairy Farm.

 

1844 Lewis Ellis built a house of West Ellis Ave. (house still stands today)

1845 James Kidd purchased George W. Dickinson mill and plated the village of Kiddville.

1846 Christian Church Pastor Elder Godfrey preached once a month at the schoolhouse.

Cook built a hotel and tavern.

 

1847 Old cider mill south bridge street owned by Allen Thompson.

 

1849 Dickinson post office was transferred to Cook’s Corners.

“House of Pinquet” decided to locate in Belding (ladies winter coats).

 

1852 Cook opens general store.

 

1855 Mary and Hiram Belding migrate to Patterson Mills with young sons Hiram S. and Alvah. Daughter, Jenny is born. Hiram Belding purchased land from Levi Broas.

 

1856 Patterson built new dam, improved the sawmill and added a gristmill.

1856-1871 Area was called Patterson Mills.

 

1856-1857 Lumber Camps.

Platted village of Cook’s Corners.

 

1857 July 14 Post Office in Belding. E.M. Stevens first Postmaster. (Contradiction to earlier date)

James Patterson ran successful sawmill. Area becomes Patterson Mills.

Patterson Post Office.

 

1858 S.S. Brown arrives in Belding buys village lots.

 

1862 S.S. Brown Postmaster. Post Office at Patterson Mills established with stage mail.

D & C store completes remodeling.

 

1863 Belding Brothers & Company is formed.

Samuel Demorest sold most of his land to William Upton and his son Daniel.

 

1864 Hiram Belding opened first store of any importance.

 

1866 Belding Brothers open first mill in Rockville, Conn.

Washington Club organized.

Belding Brothers open Belding Brothers & Company in Belding.

Alvah Belding and brothers Hiram H. Jr and Milo founded Belding & Brothers Silk Company.

 

1867 William L Nott established grist mill near site of present-day dam.

  1. Rutan & Company bought company (when?)

 

1868 First school in Belding one room schoolhouse.

Ameilia Sabin first schoolteacher.

First physician Dr. Roming.

 

1870 SS Brown built Brown Hotel.

 

1871 Village named Belding in honor of the Belding Family.

Wilson, Luther & Wilson lumber business comes to town-a sawmill. 13 families with 17 children now live in Belding.

 

1872 Christian church begins construction on new church building.

Belding had two dry goods stores, one drug and grocery, one hardware store.

 

1872 Railroad to Kiddville was freight only.

Railway built connecting Belding with Kiddville.

Horsecar came to Belding from Kiddville then to lumbering center.

 

1873 Town of Belding incorporated.

 

1875 First Baptist Church organized. Rev. Robert Shafton first pastor.

Belding Class Methodist Episcopal church held meetings at local schoolhouse on corner of Broas and Liberty. Only 12 members.

 

1876 Christian church construction of a new building is complete.

 

1877 Belding Lodge of Ancient Order United Workmen organized with eleven members.

Belding Telegram is published.

 

1879 Wheat shipped out of area.

The Christian Church organized. Rev E. Mudge 1st pastor.

 

1880 First Belding high school built on site of current middle school.

News schoolhouse erected.

St. Joseph’s parish established.

New schoolhouse erected.

Belding High school built on Ionia street.

 

1881 Belding Lodge no. 355 F. & A.M. organized.

 

1884 Central Methodist Church of Belding organized.

Rev. Clark Leymour first pastor.

 

1885 Brown hotel name changed to Franklin Hotel. Hotel burned in 1885.

1886 Silk mills by Belding family arrive.

 

1887 Baptist church building built.

Belding Basket Company formed.

April- Richardson Silk Mill manufactured first spool of silk.

 

1888 First Silk Mill established/opened.

Belding Brothers build Hotel Belding.

Hotel Belding opens August 1st. W.P. Hetherington Manger. Clerk Thomas Brachen.

First passenger train to Belding.

 

1889 Belding Brothers established Belding Land & Improvement Company

Opera House built.

Embree R. Lapham and C.R. Cowden founded Belding Banner Newspaper.

Embree sold share.

Belding Savings Bank organized capital stock $25,000.

Belding Building & Loan Association is organized and incorporated.

Annual meeting of Belding Building & Loan Association held February.

History of Belding Building & Loan Association in paper July.

Belding-Hall started making refrigerators.

Ashfield Dormitory built.

Belding Brothers build red mill.

Frank T. Ireland hardware established. He later moved business to     location in Belding block.

 

1890 E.C. Lloyd and partner open dry good store.

First Baptist Church built.

 

1890 Mill #1 called Red Mill was built/finished. Located on southeast corner of Morton Ave and Ashfield street.

First telephones installed.

 

1892 Add on built at mill #1 (Red Mill)

December 27 The First Congregational Church organized. Charles I. Deyo, first pastor.

Hotel Bricker erected by W. F. Bricker.

First Ellis school built.

 

1893 Power available.

Belding first electrical lights turned on.

People’s Savings Bank of Belding organized with 35,000 capital stock.

Belding becomes a town.

Railroad.

Fire burned both sides of main street between Pearl and Pleasant streets.

Willis F. Bricker built Bricker Hotel. It burned three months later.

Frank T Ireland hardware burned in big fire.

Great year for Belding growth and rebirth.

1893 addition to high school built.

Volunteer fire department first meeting.

Free Methodist Church built. First Pastor Rev. J.A. Hudnutt.

St. Joseph Catholic Church built.

Good Fellowship Club organized.

Lloyd Dry Good Store burns.

 

1894 Ballou Manufacturing Company started. (Basket Factory)

First class graduated. Superintendent J.B. Millard.

Horse drawn rail car established.

Bricker rebuilt hotel.

 

1895 The Hall Brothers, who had been manufacturing sewing and card tables

and side boards, under the name of Belding-Hall Company, began the manufacture of high grade refrigerators and wooden iceboxes.

January 15, silk City lodge no. 447

Independent order of the odd fellows instituted.

Belding Hall Factory absorbs Belding-Manufacturing Company and became Belding-hall Manufacturing. (Hall Brothers).

Fargo Shoe Company established.

Ballou Basket Co incorporated.

 

1896 April Belding News established. Lewis Ellis started dairy. Later called Ranney Dairy.

Croakin & James Clothing Firm.

 

1897 Grist mill destroyed by fire

Commercial private bank opened. W.F. Sandel owner.

 

1898 Fourth of July celebration held in park.

Creamery at Orleans.

 

1899 Local livery operators manage fire dept.

Belding paper box factory established.

Friedman’s new clothing store.

Annual meeting Belding Building & Association.

 

 

1900 Mr. Fletcher owns cider mill on south bridge street.

Belding lumber company opened.

Ballou Manufacturing reincorporated as Belding Basket Company.

Fred and Lloyd Underwood open dairy store.

Willis F. Bricker shoe store, real estate and Bazar store. when?)

Belding population 3,000.

1900 Ellis Elementary built.

 

1902 Mill#2 called white mill was built.

Belding Brothers built 17 new homes. Built White Mill and Belrockton dormitory, total cost $75,000.

F.W. Howard superintendent Millie Zeiman, matron of dormitory. 150 girls roomed and boarded.

Embree B. Lapham re-acquired paper company. He was elected mayor in 1902.

Belding-Hall completed large warehouse.

Demorest block of 5 apartments built on E. Congress.

 

1903 Men lay brick for streets.

Aug 15 Church of Christ organized. W.H. Kindred first pastor.

Central Methodist built, Dedicated May 14, 1905.

Free Methodist church built.

Belding population around 3,300.

Dr. Spinney opened sanitarium (cook’s corners).

First rural free mail delivery in county.

Clock tower was added to Mill #2 (white mill).

Otisco farmers club organized. Nathan Hale, Pastor.

 

1904 Belding High school football team formed.

Church of Christ built first church building. First pastor was F.T. Porter. Metal etching on building on bridge street.

 

1905 Belding class Methodist episcopal church built their own church at corner of Washington and pleasant street. (new name).

American Express Company in Belding.

Water works installed. P.M. Ry. bridge built.

Belding Gas works built. Louis Leonard President.

Frank Ireland rebuilt store.

 

1906 Frank Ireland dies. Son takes over business.

Belding Co-Operative Feed & Coal Co. organized.

Second Ellis school is built

Belding Brothers build Belrockton (Named for Belding-Rockville, Mass and North Hampton)

 

1907 Belding Brother & Co re-acquired the mill #1 called Richardson mill #4

Belding Co-operative Feed & Coal co organized.

Ellis Ranney Dairy.

 

1908 Wood planked sidewalks.

Belding grocery delivery service organized.

First public drinking fountains installed at corner of main and pleasant streets. Cost is 82.00.

Dairy farm Ellis Ranney.

 

1909 Mill #3 building purchased or built by Belding Brothers & Co. called Electric Mill. (located westside of Ashfield street. south of train tracks).

Autos added to Fales Livery Stables.

Creamery coming.

Bank Annuals(election of officers).

 

1910 Belding Free delivery established.

First Labor Day celebration.

Depositors in Bank increases.

 

1911 High School razed for new building.

1912 Fargo shoe company renamed Belding Shoe Company.

1912 Church of Christ reached 80 members. (good info church membership over time).

 

1913 City hall-built cost $20,000.

New athletic filed opened.

First Chautauqua (CIRCUS TENT)

 

1915 Ionia county free fair established.

Salzman’s dry cleaning established

New Bank opens at Orleans

 

 

1916 Elementary school where current middle school is, now, burned down.

Twenty years in banking business here in Belding.

 

 

1917 Belding foundry opened.

 

1918 Horse drawn fire wagon.

Alvah N. Belding library dedicated, Maria Barnes, librarian.

consolidation of Belding News and Belding Banner

 

1919 Original Ellis school burned.

First PTA organized, Maria Johnson, president, and Johnson brothers’ local long distance, hauling established.

Fitzjohn funeral home founded.

Star Vaudette Theater is sold. Name changed to Empress Theater.

Second Ellis school burns down.

Building & Loan Association stock matures.

 

 

1920 Ellis school built.

 

1921 St. Joseph church built.

silk city greenhouses owned by D.C. Huggett.

 

1922 Adventist church built on corner of Alderman and Congress.

 

1923 St. Joseph church dedicated.

Washington grade school built.

Jan 20th banquet of mayors.

 

1924 Business and Professional Women’s Club formed.

 

1925 George Wortman opens Wortman’s dress shop.

Belding brothers sell mill for 10 million.

Picture with old streetlight lamp (famous picture).

Belding Brothers & co. merged with Hemingway Silk Company. Name changed to Belding-Hemingway.

 

1926 Fitzjohn funeral home moves to current location 203 pleasant street.

 

1927 Metal glass products co. located.

Belding city hospital purchased from Belding Brothers.

 

1928 Lepinks comes to Belding to start store. Store in original location.

 

1929 Great Depression

American Legion Auxiliary formed.

 

1930 Gais Greenhouse opened W. State

Russell Gais proprietor

 

1931 Women’s basketball team

Building & Loan marks 100th Anniversary.

$4,000 paid to building loan stockholders.

 

1932 Silk mills close.

1933 Ashfield dormitory demolished aka White Swan (Richardson boarding house)

 

1934 Jolly Kids Manufacturing company began business.

Belding Building & Loan Association moves into old savings bank.

 

1935 Belding branch of Ionia State Savings Bank opened.

Rotary club organized.

Sunnyvale Dairy & Produce.

New bank to start business here May 1st (First Security)

Bank opening set from May 8 postponed from earlier date.

New bank opens today

Bank now has deposits over 110,000.

 

1938 New clothing store “Woods Men’s Wear Store.”

New clothing store to open here by B. Rehmann.

 

1939 Belding recreation rooms opened for bowling.

Extruded Metals Manufacturing opens

 

1940s Belding new post office constructed.

Louis Ledger-Postmaster

M-66 bridge-completed

Ashfield bridge completed.

Belding machine shop opened.

Belding establishes other industries.

Bank shows fine growth since opening.

 

1941 Hotel Belding closes

Belding airport opens.

Court orders bank records destroyed.

Local bank buys new well bond issue.

 

1942 Blue Star Mothers organized.

 

1943 Murals in the Belding Silk Industry in new post office.

Belrockton dorm sold to school board for youth center.

11-11 County’s coal supply is at an all-time low.

11-25 Fuel station is eased considerably.

12-2 To establish ration board in this city.

12-23 Wastepaper shortage is vital matter.

New manager for local bank is selected.

 

1944 Potted meats and vegetables on ration list.

New dress shop open’s “Mary’s Dress Shop.”

Mary Jane’s Dress Shop moves to new location.

 

1945 Bricker Lumber opened.

4-12 Will tighten up rations on canning sugar.

9-13 Rationing of nations’ meat is to end soon.

9-20 To discontinue local rationing board soon.

Loan association adopts new bylaws.

Loan association selects new directors.

 

1946 Maher bros. opened for business

Belding lockers opened.

Memorial home VFW opened.

 

1947 Charles Loper purchases Cider Mill

Gibson mfg. co purchased White Mill.

Callier theater built on site of hotel Belding.

Osteopathic doctors purchased Belding hospital.

Parking meters installed.

Holy Cross Lutheran church dedicated.

New steel pole lights installed.

 

1948 Christian Science Society built a church. dedicated oct 17

  1. Breimayer built new block on s. Bridge street.

Moran’s Modern Garage built on W. Main street.

Cardinal Studio opened.

Kings Restaurant opened.

 

1949 Vogue Cleaners building completed

Ann street. grocery opened.

New clothing store for men Fitzjohn & Rummler Inc.

Building $ Loan group announce F.S.L.I affiliation.

 

1950 Gibson plant E. “the Murry building” opened manufacturing an exclusive line of refrigerators.

 

Belding’s new million dollar “Veterans Memorial” Bridge and viaduct on M-44 over Flat River and the P.M. Railroad officially dedicated.

Bank to start building on main street.

 

1951 Work started on the new modern industrial building near plant E.

New elementary school finished at corner of Hall and Ionia street.     named, Hall Park.

Belding Finance grand opening set.

New bank office to be completed late in summer.

Open house at Bank

Thousands here for bank opening promotion day.

 

 

1952 John Bean Foundry burned to a total loss being one of Belding’s’ most costly fires.

Fitzjohn’s Inc have grand opening in new building.

 

1953 A new well was brought in on Front Street, solving a critical water shortage.

The low rent housing project on M-44 and Charles street completed making 20 new homes.

 

1954 Basket Factory closes.

1955 Don Cornell gets new position at local bank.

 

1956 Savings & Loans buys new quarters.

Belding Savings & Loan Association to modernize Friedman Building.

Savings & Loan has experienced 67 years of growth and prosperity.

Savings & Loan to show new quarters at open house.

Willard Hawley named director of security bank.

 

 

1957 Wortman’s dress shop is remodeled.

1961 Directors of the first security bank

 

1962 Fitzjohn’s get modernized entrance.

O’Reefe clothing store to close business after 22 years.

 

1964 Savings & Loan Association in 75th year.

1967 Bricker hotel is razed.

1970 Don Cornell named head of 1st security bank in Belding

1971 New bank building to be first in urban renewal area

 

1974 Mrs. Jackie Badesnider has been surveying Belding area cemeteries. MICEP got involved and helped provide paid   workers to do the survey.

Nov 1974 Ionia sentinel standard-source.

 

1980 Belding library is dedicated as an historical site.

1986 Mill #4 converted to an apartment building Richardson Mill apartments.

 

??? Bon Ton Ice cream parlor opens.

 

2013 Mill #2 white mill is demolished.

 

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Belding History in Timeline


D7DD4F13-999C-4D58-AFB0-19203675DF03
Photo courtesy of the Belding Museum

All Roads Lead to Belding


Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library, Belding, Michigan. Photo by Wiki Commons.

The Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library will be celebrating its centennial anniversary on May 19th this year. It will be a small event, hosted by current staff and supporters, not unlike the celebration that took place 100 years ago. You can read all about the history of the library here.

Photo of Chautauqua tent. Photo by Wikimedia.

The official dedication of the current library happened on May 14, 1918, and it was a grand affair. The committee that organized the event were a group of dedicated folks, who worked hard to see that all who attended enjoyed the celebration. Workmen installed the “big Chautauqua tent” along with a stage and chairs for audience attendees to enjoy the ceremony in comfort. Organizers expressed to one another that, “this day will be a day to remember!” and it was.

Many important people attended. Some of them would travel to Belding from as far away as California, Montreal, and Connecticut. Alvah Belding, of the Belding family, for which the town is named, planned to travel to Belding in his car with his son, Fred and some close friends. Milo M. Belding, Alvah’s brother, would come from his home in New York and as the saying went, “All roads lead to Belding.” It was not unusual for important folks to travel to Belding on those familiar roads. When they did come to town for business, they could stay in the Belding Hotel in luxury and comfort. And finally, U.S. Senator, William Alden Smith, also known as the Titanic Senator, because of his involvement in the investigation of the Titanic disaster, attended and spoke at the dedication ceremony.

A photo of an operating Silk Mill in Belding, Michigan. Photo by Detroit Library.

To allow everyone an equal opportunity in the Belding community to attend the ceremony, organizers placed all schools on a half-day schedule. All mill workers ended their workday at noon and stores closed early.

William Alden Smith. Photo by Wikimedia.

 

For the program itself, organizers selected the Belding Cornet Band, a favorite band in town for many years, to play an introduction. Rev. W.A. Bliss offered an opening prayer. The Star Spangled Banner was played to alert attendees of ceremonies about to begin. A dedication speech made by Mayor E. F. Fales formally accepted the Belding family gift of the new physical building of the new library. Alden W. Smith addressed the audience, and Rev. P. Ray Norton closed the ceremony with a benediction. The Cornet Band played the conclusion. After the ceremony, attendees enjoyed a tour of the new building and refreshments to the pleasant sounds of a male quartet courtesy of the Fountain Street Baptist Church out of Grand Rapids.

Alvah N. Belding. Photo by Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library.

Alvah never saw the dedication. He fell ill shortly before his planned trip. Instead, his son Fred stepped in to preside over the ceremony. The dedication of this library and its centennial encapsulates 100 years of a community center for the city of Belding. You could say it is even the heart of the city. Even though a close neighbor, the Belrockton is also considered a center and perhaps closer in the minds of folks who live in Belding. It is the library, however, that preserves the history of Belding and its people. Today the library is not just a depository of books and artifacts, but it is a peaceful and serene place to spend time reflecting on the past or the future.

Belding Gets a New Newspaper


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Belding Home News, June 19, 1879. Courtesy of the Alvah N. Belding Library-Belding, Michigan.

On June 19, 1879, E. Mudge & L.E. Kendall published volume one, issue one of the Belding Home News newspaper. The proprietors/editors of the paper stated on the front page that the paper aimed to provide a one-stop source of information for Belding and the surrounding towns and counties. This information was meant to enrich the lives of all of these residents. They also explained that they created the paper without affiliation with any political party or religion. Newspapers up until this time were commonly owned and published by political party or their affiliates. With just 600 early subscribers as an investment, the editors dreamed that even though the paper started out small with any luck, it would grow larger and more prosperous.

The first business printed in the press was the meeting “held at the school-house” to plan a 4th of July celebration. On the committee sat folks from Belding, Orleans, Otisco, Grattan, Eureka, and Smyrna. Ladies present at the meeting provided refreshments. They discussed a charity dinner also to be held during the celebration to benefit the Belding Cornet Band. The food was to be provided by folks attending (1).

The paper published various types of announcements in the local section of the newspaper. These included basic things such as the status of R. M. Wilson who had been, “suffering from fever,” a new church erected at Palmer station, as well as the return of DR. G. Conner from Pennsylvania. Another was the mention of Mrs. L. E. Knedall who had “been sick for several weeks with pleurisy” and Dr. C. of Greenville the attending physician. This information was useful to know if you needed a doctor who could treat lung illnesses in the late 19th century. Another mention was the concern Belding residents had over the recent competition in “wool-buying” that had been economically successful in the nearby town of Ionia. The city of Belding wanted in on the action (2).

Ashley Grove held a Strawberry Festival and the proceeds paid for a new church organ. A familiar name in the local section was that of Levi Broas who built a new addition to his farmhouse at the head of Broas street and that “those who know Mr. Broas’ way of doing things will anticipate a fine thing in style and finish.” News of a recent tragedy announced that a young man named Miller whose parents hailed from Fallasbourg, ” was accidentally shot a few days since” and that his internment had been “the Sunday past.” He had been working away from home when the accident occurred (3).

Some more positive news states that Belding had a Literary Club and well-known Elocutionist (a literary reader) Miss Georgia Gates performed some classical readings for a small party of guests who were impressed and well entertained. Also, an announcement mentioned was the successful Strawberry and Ice Cream Festival run by the Ladies Mite Society of The Christian Church that included such festivities as Croquet. Guests had been encouraged “to stay as long as they please.” They had invited everyone to attend (4).

Two gentlemen by the names of Professor J.H. Pixley and S. M. Grannis who were known all over the state to be excellent musicians entertained the “Beldingites.” On the farm of H.H. Belding and maintained by Mr. S. Case the paper announced, that the from the cattle raised there farmers produced cream in the “Cooley Creamer”, and then directly shipped the cream to Chicago at the price of twenty cents per pound. This was a good business exchange for the town and worth noting (5).

Advertisements in the paper show that the city provided transportation in town by way of a horse-car. This car connected folks with the D.L. & N.R.R. and brought mail to and from the town (6).

The first new newspaper in Belding shows the attitudes folks had about their town and how they felt about community. Sharing good and bad news surely brightened folks’ days when they read the information presented there. Even though there is no newspaper today for the city of Belding, the town still shares information through social networks online and by word of mouth. They continue to show support for their fellow citizens and ensuring everyone is included in the town activities which are created to enrich lives and bring prosperity.

Notes:

1. E. Mudge and L.E.Kendall, eds. Belding Home News, (Belding, 1879), 1.

2. Ibid, 2.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.; The History of Jasper County, Missouri: Including a Condensed History of the State, a Complete History of Carthage and Joplin, Other Towns and Townships … (Mills & Company, Des Moines, Iowa, 1883), 287. https://books.google.com/books?id=TtEyAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA18&dq=miss+georgia+gates+carthage+missouri&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjZl7_62KPQAhXBwFQKHRrAABkQ6AEIIDAB#v=onepage&q=miss%20georgia%20gates%20carthage%20missouri&f=false. Accessed November 12, 2016). This page lists Georgia Gates living in Carthage Missouri that proves she did indeed exist.

5. Ibid, 3.

6. Ibid.

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