Tammy's All Things History

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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.


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.




















































































Ionia County Founders: The Cornells

Ionia County Courthouse and Jail
Ionia County Courthouse and Jail

In November of 1833*, Ionia pioneer family, the Cornells: Alfred Cornell, Cornell family patriarch, his wife Nancy and their son Thomas Cornell, his wife and two sons, Alfred, Jr., and Daniel packed up their belongings and left their home. They headed west to Michigan to see the opportunities they could experience. Upon arrival, they stayed with Samuel Dexter, who had already founded Easton Township near what is now the city of Ionia.

The Cornell family hailed from Madison County in New York. Why did the Cornell family leave? Perhaps they viewed posters advertising land for sale that commonly caught the attention of folks eager to relocate and Michigan, a territory at the time, needed thousands of more residents to obtain statehood. Another reason might be that they knew Samuel Dexter, who had settled the area some time prior. An experienced settler, he knew what best plots of land that were available, even though Antoine Campau, brother of Grand Rapids founder, Louis Campau, had already identified the area. A bonus was that there were good relations with natives at the time. It was a great time to make the journey west (1).

Once settled in, Alfred Cornell, Sr. met Erastus Yeomans. Erastus was the town surveyor and set up the first roads. He sold some land to Alfred, Jr., who in turn surveyed the area further for his family. The rest of the colonists worked together and built a log home for the Cornell family. While the men traveled to Detroit to get the rest of their needed supplies, the women hung blankets over window sills and doorways to keep the home warm. Winter transportation was not reliable, but luckily friendly natives assisted with food for the hungry settlers and heavy blankets for warmth until they could establish routine deliveries of supplies (2).

In 1835, Alfred Jr became active in assisting the formation of the local government. He won two appointments for himself as commissioner and inspector of public schools. This dual leadership role tells us that the community viewed this man as being intelligent, organized and capable and of his commitment to the success of the county(3).

In that same year, Alfred, Jr., married Amanda Yeomans, daughter of Erastus and Phoebe and they began their new life. They would go on to have five children together, four boys and one girl. Amanda taught in the first public school and summer school thereafter. In 1859, Alfred preached once a month at First Baptist Society of Portland and continued this for three years. This shows how active they were in their community as a family (3).

I will blog more about Alfred and his family as I explore Branch’s book in the future. I will connect this family with more important events to show how they might have lived their lives and how their contributions impacted the residents of Ionia County.

*Branch writes that they landed in 1893. This date seems to be a typo because it does not fit the timeline of events.

1. Branch, Rev. E., History of Ionia County. University of Michigan, 1916, pp 103-104.

2. Ibid., 474.

3. Ibid., 351.

3. Ibid., .403.

Research Notes: Ionia Township Organizers

These organizers met at Antoine Campau & Co (brother of Grand Rapids founder Louis Campau) home on April 6, 1835.

At the meeting:

Mr. Alfred Cornell: Moderator
W.B. Lincoln: Clerk
Samuel Dexter, Esq: swore in electors


Previously chosen by ballot as electors, these men were:

Erastus Yeomans: Supervisor
W.B. Lincoln: Township Clerk

Franklin Chubb
Gilbert Caswell
Henry V. Libabrt

Commissioners of Highways:
Phillip Bogue
John E. Morrison
Nathan Benjamin

Directors of the Poor:
Samuel Dexter
John McKelvey

Constable and Collector:
Asa Spencer

Daniel McKelvey

These electors agreed to have another meeting in 1836 at Antoine Campau & Co again in the township of Ionia. Township is now officially formed.

Ionia Timeline (March 1831-April 1837)

March 2, 1831– Legislature Act first to mention the creation of Ionia County.

March 7, 1834–Second Act states Ionia County also to be called Ionia Township. The first meeting to be scheduled is at Louis Genereaux’s home.

March 26, 1835–An amendment to the Act is passed that states citizens of Ionia will pay tax and meet at home of Samuel Dexter to elect officials and do business transactions ( township government).

April 6, 1835–First township meeting of elected officials at Antoine Campau & Co home. They set next meeting for 1836.

May 12, 1835–Special election held to elect commissioners and inspectors of schools.

March 24, 1836–Organization of Kent County completed. Ionia population nears 1000.

March 11, 1837–Ionia County and Ionia Township separate for voting purposes.

April 13, 1837–Elections held for county official seats.


Branch, Rev. E., History of Ionia County. University of Michigan, 1916, pp 48-52.


Research Notes: Ionia County Townships and Dates they were Officially Created

Current Ionia County map showing Township progression as they were officiated.

In the book, History of Ionia County Michigan by Rev. E. Branch, the townships listed are in alphabetical order. I put them in chronological order to show progression over time. I used a map, free, from the Belding library and drew the order on it to show the progress of the townships. This information will be referenced later when connections are made getting to know the founders of these areas.

Ionia: March 1837
Boston: December 1837
Otisco: March 1838
Portland: March 1838
Orleans: March 1840
Keene: February: 1842
Easton: March 1843
North Plains: February 1844
Orange: March 1845
Danby: May 1845
Berlin: March 1848
Lyons: March 1848
Campbell: March 1849
Odessa: January 1859
Sebwa: April 1867


Branch, Rev. E., History of Ionia County. University of Michigan, 1916, pp 16-20.

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