We have all heard that people used to be shorter in the past. But is it true?
Robert Myers, the Director of Education at the Historical Society of Michigan, will appear as the keynote speaker at the Annual Members-Only Meeting for the North Berrien Historical Society. Myers’ presentation, Mythbusted: History Myths Exposed, will take on the commonly held history myths. He will also scatter in a few tidbits which seem ridiculous, but really turn out to be true.
This program is reserved for Society members and will immediately follow the Annual Members-Only Dinner. Doors are at 5:00 p.m., dinner is served at 6:00 p.m., and the presentation will follow at 7:00 p.m. For membership details, please contact the Museum at email@example.com, visit northberrienhistory.org, or call (269) 468-3330.
We have all heard that people used to be shorter in the past. But is it true?
Join us as we dive into the waters of Paw Paw Lake’s rich history as a resort destination. Dr. Stephen Myers, a retired Professor of Medicine, moved to Pomona Point in 2008. His recent book, Pomona Point Neighbors at Paw Paw Lake, traces the growth of summer cottages and—later on—vacation homes along the shores and hills of the Point in the Fairview subdivision of Watervliet Township.
For his presentation, Dr. Myers will detail some of this history and how he became interested in the topic. He will also share information from his published biography of artist Charles Hetherington, a Chicago man who built one of the oldest surviving cottages in Fairview and is remembered as an American Expressionist painter.
No RSVP is required for this free program.
From the conservation movement which established state and national parks in the early part of the 20th century to the federal legislation of the seventies, the environmental movement has had a significant impact on everyone living in the United States for more than one hundred years.
Dr. David Benac, associate professor of history at Western Michigan University, has done extensive research on the American environmental movement as well as the history and heritage of the timber industry in culture and landscape. His research investigates how individuals and communities develop cultural ties to environments (built, natural, and landscape) and how these connections emerge in grassroots activism. On Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m., Dr. Benac will visit the North Berrien Historical Museum to detail substantial moments in environmental activism including one episode of national significance which came out of Berrien County.
No RSVP is required for this free event. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Historian and museum exhibit designer Valerie van Heest will share the story of how a recent WZZM newscast shed light on the long-forgotten story of three preteen boys from Dorr, Michigan, who found a strange object floating downward from the sky, that years later they learned was a FU-GO balloon, an unusual weapon launched by the Japanese near the end of World War II.
This newscast led to Van Heest’s involvement in fleshing out the local story and studying the amazing history of the FU-GO balloons, which, though ultimately unsuccessful in their mission to wreak widespread havoc and destruction in America, were a scientific marvel as the first experiment with the concept of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The newscast also led to the acquisition of the very balloon that landed in Dorr, Michigan, 74 years ago.
No RSVP is required for this free program. Questions may be directed to email@example.com or call the North Berrien Historical Museum at (269) 468-3330.
Southwest Michigan if often referred to as a “fruit belt.” Therefore, the North Berrien Historical Museum is dedicating a day to learning about the agricultural history of the area.
Visitors will step back in time to an era when the bushel basket was an essential component of the fruit market. There will be multiple opportunities for former workers of Benton Harbor Fruit Market, Monte Package Co., Saranac Machine Co., and St. Joe Iron Works to REUNITE WITH FAMILIAR FACES. Tours of the museum’s collection of basket machinery by Sam Monte of Monte Package Co. and Bob Hatch of St. Joe Iron Works will begin at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
CALLING ALL KIDS! We have a program designed just for you! Harvesting History: Picking & Packing the Fruit Belt will take place at 1:00 p..m. and 3:00 p.m. Kids ages 6–12 will learn through craft making and demonstrations about the significance of Southwest Michigan’s Fruit Belt and how it supplied markets in Chicago and beyond. All children participating in this free program will walk away with their own handmade craft and a better understanding of local agriculture.
No RSVP is required for this free event. Snack and refreshments will be available. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.
Retired Sarett naturalists Chuck Nelson and Dick Schinkel have had many experiences—some funny, some insightful, some just weird. These were not limited to Berrien County, with forays to China, Kenya, and the Galapagos Islands in their pocket.
The two have co-written and published a book, Nature Nuggets, which contains these adventures and anecdotes. The cover states that the authors “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” Nelson and Schinkel will appear at the Museum to tell some of these stories as well as sell and sign copies (cash only).
No RSVP is required for this free program. Contact email@example.com for questions or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.
Photo by Don Campbell c/o The Herald Palladium
The Pere Marquette Railroad operated in the Great Lakes region and the southern parts of Ontario for the first half of the 20th century. The Pere Marquette later became the Chesapeake & Ohio line, and now the CSX line.
Nadra Kissman, one of the founders of the New Buffalo Railroad Museum, will visit the North Berrien Historical Museum to discuss the commercial and cultural force of the Pere Marquette and how it helped develop and sustain the community.
No RSVP is required for this free event. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.
North Berrien has been and still is an area flourishing with many industries. On June 22, the North Berrien Historical Museum will be celebrating these local achievements with a multifaceted event which will include a kids activity and craft, a lecture, and a celebration of the former Watervliet Paper Mill.
Watervliet Paper Mill, 12:00–4:00 p.m.: Employees, family members, and all others who are interested are invited to view the Museum's Paper Mill collection. Help identify photos, tell your story, and meet up with friends from past years.
Assembling the Past: Michigan's Automotive Industry for Kids, 1:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.: Kids ages 6–12 will learn what drove Michigan's automotive industry. They will run their own automotive assembly line, build rubber band cars, and test their vehicles for distance. Kids participating in this free program will take home their handmade toy. Please note that there are two opportunities for kids to participate in this program.
The Jacobia Estate in Hagar Township was the brainchild of Henry William Jacobs—inventor, entrepreneur, aeronautical enthusiast—who foresaw Southwest Michigan’s potential to become a tourist mecca. The centerpiece of Jacobs’ eponymous resort was a 160-foot water tower with an observation deck. The 180-acre retreat upon which this structure stood was located along the shore of Lake Michigan and also included cottages, barns, a chapel, a dance pavilion, and a 150-foot stairway to the beach known as Jacob’s Ladder.
Although Jacobia only existed for a handful of years in the first quarter of the twentieth century, the legacy of its founder and his vision of Southwest Michigan’s tourism potential still endure. Using research and images, Peter Cook, the Programs Director of North Berrien Historical Museum, will detail the rise and fall of Jacobs and his towering ambition.
No RSVP is required for the free program. For questions, please email email@example.com or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.
From large-scale cattle farming to water pollution, meat—more than any other food—has had an enormous impact on our environment. Historically, Americans have been among the most avid meat-eaters in the world, but long before that, meat was not even considered a key ingredient in most civilizations' diets.
On Tuesday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m., Dr. Wilson Warren will appear at the North Berrien Historical Museum where he will present on how meat entered the daily diet and at what costs and benefits to society. Dr. Warren is a professor and chair of the History Department at Western Michigan University and has studied the meat industry for more than a decade. He recently published his book, Meat Makes People Powerful: A Global History of the Modern Era, which will be available to purchase at the program.
Collaborating with the North Berrien Historical Museum for this event is Water & Wheat Cafe who will have sliders of their vegan burger available to sample following the presentation.
No RSVP is required for this free program. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.
The North Berrien Historical Museum would like to extend a special invitation to members only: an excursion to the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery.
Established in 1927, the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery produces steelhead, Chinook salmon, walleye and Great Lakes muskellunge for both inland and Great Lakes waters. On Thursday, April 18th the North Berrien Historical Museum will be taking a tour of their facility to see all their fishy things. This will include feeding and viewing their 23 live lake sturgeon, some over five feet in length! Following the tour, Shana Ramsey, the Fisheries Interpreter will tell the tales of the Great Lakes fisheries and the vital role played by hatcheries.
Date: Thursday, April 18th
Location: Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery and Visitor Center
Tour Time: 10:00am to 11:30am – Departing from North Berrien Historical Museum at 9:15am
Cost: Lunch Money
Please RSVP by Friday, April 12th @ 5pm (269) 468-3330
Not a member? Call the Museum or stop in to become a member today!
With the emergence and rapid growth of the automobile in the early part of the 20th century, West Michigan roads made long-distance travel slow and difficult. The West Michigan Lakeshore Highway Association was founded in 1911 to foster a continuous, improved roadway that would encourage tourism from the Chicago area to support the new resort industry that began to develop after logging ceased in the region. Built between 1916 and 1922, the West Michigan Pike extended from the Indiana state line to the Straits of Mackinac. A section of the Pike went through Coloma and Watervliet around Paw Paw Lake, later becoming what we know today as M-140.
Presenter John Geisler, a retired professor of counselor education and counseling psychology at Western Michigan University, will detail the West Michigan Pike's development, covering the names and numbering of the highways that became part of the Pike as well as a history of the resorts that flourished as a result of the increased tourism from ~1900-1955. Geisler has been studying Michigan's roads and highways for nearly twenty years. He has traveled thousands of miles over hundreds of hours collecting materials, taking photographs, and conducting research on highways.
No RSVP is required for this free presentation. For any questions about this program, please contact email@example.com or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.
Fiona Dickinson, a Grand Rapids-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator, will visit the North Berrien Historical Museum on the afternoon of Thursday, April 4 to speak on the tradition of folk music and its importance in building our cultural identity.
Fiona will bolster this discussion by demonstrating and passing around different instruments for the children. Following this, the children will be asked to help Fiona rework a traditional folk song.
This free program is designed for children ages 6-12. For questions, please call the Museum at (269) 468-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you remember Ellinee Inn? What about the sign that was once on the tower? If not, be sure to attend this relighting party! We will review the heyday of Paw Paw Lake, focusing primarily on the Ellinee Inn. Following the presentation, the group will gather in the Main Gallery to witness the relighting of the newly restored sign for the first time.
Ernest H. Erickson was born in 1886 to a family of Swedish immigrants living in Chicago. His first known stay in North Berrien was when he was 12 years old. Ten years later, he opened for business, selling souvenirs and refreshments. This business was referred to as the “Ernie’s Peanut Stand.” Summers of vacation later and this peanut stand was transformed into the Ellinee Inn. Two years after Ernest’s death in 1969, the Inn closed its door and was torn down along with its iconic tower.
For any questions on this event, please call (269) 468-3330. No RSVP Required.
Founded in Benton Harbor as a religious society in 1903, the House of David has long been the subject of urban legends and tall tales. In an effort to dispel some of these mistruths, three representatives of the House of David will team up at the North Berrien Historical Museum on Tuesday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. to present the numerous fables and misrepresentations of the House of David dating back to the 1920s up to the present.
Brian Ziebart is a trustee, archivist, and historian for the House of David and has spent more time with their collections than anyone else. Debbie Boyersmith is the preservationist for Eden Springs Park whose family was part of the House of David for many years. Ron Taylor is a trustee, archivist, historian, and the museum director whose family joined the House of David at Sydney, Australia, in 1919—100 years ago.
The presentation will take on three aspects of the falsehoods circulated and widely accepted: present day publications and broadcasts, the Eden Springs Park’s many recognized features and entertainments, and a review of a twisted legal history that spanned a decade before the State Supreme Court overturned the several lower court decisions. But the legends have never died. The three speakers hope to make the presentation both entertaining and educational.
No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions, please call the Museum at (269) 468-3330 or email email@example.com.
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the North Berrien Historical Museum! Work with family, friends, or on your own to complete this self-guided scavenger hunt through the Museum. Learn about Irish-American history as you follow clues in order to find the hidden pot of gold!
This free program is designed for ages 6 and up! For questions, contact the museum at (269) 468-3330 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retired Lieutenant Mike Kline from the Berrien County Sheriff's Office will deliver a presentation about artifacts used in the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre, including two Thompson machine guns. Lt. Kline will explain the history of the guns and how these artifacts came into the Sheriff Department's possession.
No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions, please call (269) 468-3330 or email email@example.com.
How well do you know your United States, Michigan, and local history? The North Berrien Historical Museum invites the public to participate in some friendly competition at the 5th annual History Trivia Night on Tuesday, January 15, 7:00 p.m.
Teams shall be comprised of five or six individuals, depending on attendance. Guests may arrive in teams or join existing ones in need of members. Participants will enjoy refreshments while competing for prizes provided by local businesses, including B & B Grocery, Coloma Hometown Florist, the Friendly Tavern, Mattson’s House of Décor, Mike’s Pit Stop, and Millburg Red & White Grocery & Feed Store.
No RSVP is required for this free program.
Spread your wings and fly on over to the North Berrien Historical Museum during midwinter break for a fun-filled afternoon about birds.
Learn all about our feathered friends who live in Michigan and what they do for the winter from a Sarett naturalist, meet a live barred owl, and make a pinecone bird feeder to put out for the birds in your backyard.
This free program is intended for children ages 6-12 and their families. For questions, please contact the museum at (269) 468-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2016, the Holiday Open House at the North Berrien Historical Museum has featured live reindeer onsite as one of our main attractions. In anticipation of their yuletide return this year, Carol Borton, owner of Reindeer Ranch in Kalamazoo, will visit the Museum to speak about her experiences in raising and conditioning reindeer at the ranch she has run with her husband since 1999. In addition to educational information on the reindeer, this presentation will also detail the related places the Bortons have visited around the country and the other organizations they have worked with over the past 20 years.
No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions, please call the Museum or contact email@example.com.
Fred Burke was a notorious armed robber and contract killer during the Prohibition era and a prime suspect in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. He was also known to spend a great deal of his time in Berrien County.
Chriss Lyon, local author and historian, will detail Burke’s background, how he became involved with Al Capone, and his role in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. She will also discuss his ties to Berrien County along with other gangster names of the era connected to the area.
This program is reserved for Society members. For membership details, please contact the Museum. This event will immediately follow our Annual Members-Only Dinner which starts at 6:00 p.m. More details to come.
Since 1925, the Monte family has been dedicated to manufacturing and supplying the finest produce containers available. Sam Monte, owner of Monte Package Company, will be stopping by the North Berrien Historical Museum on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 25 to speak on this subject.
During his presentation, Sam will be discussing several local businesses that made Southwest Michigan into what it is known as today: a fruit belt. While touring through the machinery collection, visitors are encouraged to ask questions and reminisce on the days of the veneer baskets.
No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions, please contact Peter@northberrienhistory.org.
The Potawatomi inhabited the southwestern portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula long before European settlers began arriving in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The Pokagon band of Potawatomi Indians remains in the area today, preserving cultural traditions and autonomy as a federally recognized Native American nation.
Andy Jackson, Pokagon Tribal Council member, will discuss some of the traditional roles of Potawatomi men and women as well as cover a variety of the natural medicines that they used both historically and today.
No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North Berrien Photography Contest seeks images that capture the unique character and culture of North Berrien County, Michigan. This can include, but is not limited to, architecture, landscapes, nature, public buildings and events, historic locations, etc. For the purposes of this Contest, “North Berrien” is defined as the cities of Coloma and Watervliet plus the townships of Hagar, Bainbridge, Coloma, and Watervliet including all bodies of water. Photographs must be taken after August 2017.
All entries must be submitted to the North Berrien Historical Museum by Friday, August 24 at 4:00pm.
Winners and Honorable Mentions in each age category will appear in an exhibit at the North Berrien Historical Museum during September. Winning photographs will be added to the permanent collection of the North Berrien Historical Society. Winning photographers will be awarded a local gift certificate courtesy of the Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce, $25 cash courtesy of the Twin City Camera Club, and a free 1 year membership to the North Berrien Historical Museum.
Football. Coloma Comets vs. Watervliet Panthers. The annual clash. Small town pride on the line. Neighbor vs. neighbor. Seasons were deemed a success or failure based on this one game, regardless of records.
For over 100 years, Watervliet and Coloma have waged this gridiron war, ranking their annual battle as one of the oldest high school football rivalries in the State of Michigan. If you are a former player or coach for the Comets or Maroons/Panthers, or a lifelong devotee of either, please join us in reliving some memories on Tuesday, August 21 at 7 p.m. at the North Berrien Historical Museum.
Enjoy a 30-minute presentation on the rivalry along with highlights from over the years. Spend time viewing a table of related items before and after. Featured speakers will be Greg Krell and Kristy Noack. Greg was on the committee celebrating 100 years of local football in 2009 sponsored by the North Berrien Historical Museum where he is also a Board member. Kristy is the sports writer and photographer for the Tri-City Record and will be presenting a slideshow.
The presentation will be followed by a game of trivia. Test your knowledge of all things relating to over 100 years of football between the two towns. Prizes will be awarded including tickets for the Coloma/Watervliet game and a concession stand gift card compliments of the Coloma Athletic Department.
We encourage you to bring any relevant memorabilia you may have for a “show and tell” portion at the end.
No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions call (269) 468-3330 or email Peter@northberrienhistory.org.
The Watervliet Paper Mill was a fixture of community life in North Berrien for nearly a century. Following the upcoming reunion at the former site of the Mill on Saturday, July 14, the North Berrien Historical Society will host an evening program on Tuesday, July 17 at 7:00 PM at the Museum.
Rather than focusing on Mill operations and the papermaking process, this program will examine employee life and how things changed leading up to the closing of the Mill in 1994. There will be a presentation by a group of past Mill employees including Milt Stibal, George Lawton, Robin Mileski and Larry Holland. They will be informing the audience about their experiences working for the Mill and answering questions.
After the program, the new Watervliet Paper Mill exhibit will be revealed for the first time!
No RSVP is required for this free event. For questions, please contact email@example.com
Join us on Saturday, July 14th for walking tours of the site where the Watervliet Paper Mill once stood. Walk through several areas of the site and learn the paper making process. Visit our tent to see articles, artifacts and stories of the Mill. Search for your relative’s name on the employee lists and even pick up a reprint of the 2002 “Remembering the Watervliet Paper Mill” newspaper (limited supply). This event is sure to be a day of remembering who worked there and what they did! All ages are welcome. Admission is FREE!
Handicap parking will be available on site. Additional parking at Hayes Park, 700 N Main St, Watervliet, MI 49098
DOWNLOAD AND PRINT EVENT SCHEDULE
Questions? Contact the Museum at (269) 468-3330 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Around midnight on Thursday February 9, 1899, on an ice-caked Lake Michigan, the 214-foot John V. Moran bucked the ice flows on its run from Milwaukee to Muskegon to deliver a cargo of barreled flour and package goods. The John V. Moran never finished this voyage. It is now considered one of the deepest and most intact steamships in the Great Lakes, located 375 feet deep off Muskegon’s shoreline.
Valerie Van Heest, an award winning author, member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and a 25+ year veteran shipwreck explorer, will be presenting on the John V. Moran. With recently filmed footage, Valerie will tell the story of the wreck and how it was found.
No RSVP is required for this free program. Questions? Contact the Museum at (269)468-3330 or email@example.com.
Between 1942 and 1945, nearly 400,000 German Prisoners of War were placed in camps throughout the United States. There were 32 camps here in Michigan, including ones in Coloma, Benton Harbor, and Hartford. Dr. Howard Poole will shed light on the experiences of these captured men including how they were transported from Europe and back after the war, stories of individual POWs while in the U.S., as well as stories of POWs who returned to the U.S. after the war.
Dr. Poole grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana with a farming background. He attended Purdue University first majoring in agriculture (BS and MS degrees in Animal Science) and then shifting to Educational Research and Science Education for a doctorate degree in 1972. He joined Western Michigan University's faculty in 1972 where he worked until he retired in 2004.
No RSVP is required for this free program. Questions? Contact the museum at (269) 468-3330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us as we highlight fascinating personal stories of past residents on an historical tour through St. Paul's Cemetery. Discover some of the oldest gravestones, dating back to the 1840s, and see historic people’s photos along with unique tales of their lives. The tour will go on in rain or shine, so please dress appropriately for the weather. Parking is available at each cemetery. FREE!
St. Paul's Cemetery,
1650 N. Bainbridge Center Road
Highlights: visit the graves of one of the first Bainbridge settlers, immigrants who journeyed from Germany, a man with a connection to the Whitcomb Hotel, and more!
Questions? Contact the Museum at (269) 468-3330 or email@example.com
As early as 1891 local area business interests took a proactive role in attracting visitors to SW Michigan with their promotion in the Chicago market. With the Graham and Morton Steamship Company offering special rates, hundreds of visitors made the lake crossing by boat to enjoy the orchard tours. Influenced by a growing agricultural industry, in 1906 Rev. W. J. Cady of the First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor was the first to urge his parishioners to drive through the orchards and view the fruit blossoms. Cady termed them “symbols of life renewed” and his sermon is credited with the birth of the Blossomtime Festival.
The Blossomtime Festival, is the oldest and largest multi-community Festival in the state of Michigan. Anna Abdelnour, President of Blossomtime Festival Inc. will share how this springtime tradition got its start! Questions about the program? Call us at (269) 468-3330 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pop into the Museum during Spring Break to get a glimpse into life during the Civil War. Meet a Union soldier, a Union housewife, play games that children played in the 1800s, make ink out of berries, and more in this activity filled afternoon!
Designed for ages 6+ and their families. No RSVP is required for this free program. Questions? Call the Museum at (269) 468-3330 or email us at email@example.com