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Volume 37, number 8

May 2016

Grand River Times The Newsletter of the Grand Rapids Historical Society Inside this issue:

GRHS Banquet and Program Wicked West Michigan

Cover Story: May program

Aquinas College Donnelly Center

Letter from our President page 2

PRESENTED BY: Baxter Award Winner: Ruth Van Stee page 3 GRHS Annual Banquet and Program page 4 Photo Sleuth page 5 Happening in History page 6 Lost Restaurants of Grand Rapids page 7 Search:

Amberrose Hammond

Thursday, May 12, 2016, 7:30 p.m. Take a trip back in time with local history enthusiast and author Amberrose Hammond as she explores some of West Michigan’s forgotten true crime. Something shocking happens thanks to “bad literature,” a couple rowing on a nice day notice a foot sticking out of the water, bold and bawdy madam’s mean business and some crimes committed leave no clues behind for the police to catch the criminal. The Ku Klux Klan lit their fiery crosses along the Grand River and a school principal lost his cool in a bad, bad way. It’s never a dull moment in “Wicked West Michigan.”

Grand Rapids Historical Socie ty Amberrose Hammond is the author of Wicked Grand Rapids, Wicked Ottawa County and Ghosts and Legend’s of Michigan’s West Coast. Visit her at Grand River Times



I believe there are many reasons why people join a local historical society. When my husband and I did in the early 1980s, we did it as lifetime members. Why not? We were young and it seemed easier than sending in a membership every year. We both grew up in Grand Rapids, he going to Central High School and I going to Catholic Central. My The Grand River Times is the mother was descended from Wright Township and Alpine Township newsletter of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, published six Germans. My husbands family from Grand Rapids and the Hubbardston/ times annually. Established in 1894, Belding area. We both were interested in our history and the history of the the Grand Rapids Historical Society is dedicated to exploring the history area. Much of our early research was family/genealogy related. But as we dug into the family history interesting unrelated stories popped up which of West Michigan; to discover its romance and tragedy, its heroes kept us studying further. Every member of the Grand Rapids Historical and scoundrels, its leaders and its Society has a reason they support history programs on a local level. ordinary citizens. The Society In the 1980s I would help out at the open house at the Public collects and preserves our heritage, passing it on to new generations Museum at 54 Jefferson. This was the one time each year that the Gaslight through books, lectures, and Village shops were open to the public. I asked to be in the Police Station education projects. because they had the big mugshot book open on a stand just inside the door. I imagined all sorts of stories to go with the pictures on the open page, six Executive Committee: of them. Who were they? Were they really bad or just in the wrong place at Gina Bivins, president the wrong time? Years later I had the chance to really get into some of the Matthew Daley, vice-president stories. I found myself thinking, this is someone's brother, sister, mother, John Gelderloos, treasurer father. I joined an on line research tool for a year so I could find newspaper articles to read. Some of them were down and out. Others had chosen a life Board members: of crime as a career. Alan Bennett Charles Bocskey Thomas Dilley Tim Gleisner Marilyn Hamill Chris Kaupa Gordon Olson, emeritus Nan Schichtel Wilhelm Seeger, emeritus Jeff Sytsma Jim Winslo w Kurt Yost Jessica Riley, editor Grand Rapids Historical Society c/o Grand Rapids Public Library 111 Library St. NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Grand River Times

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About the Grand Rapids Historical Society. The Grand Rapids Historical Society sponsors eight programs each year, beginning in September and running through May, including lectures, audio/video presentations, demonstrations, collections, or special tours. Membership. Membership is open to all interested persons with annual dues of $30 per family, $20 for seniors and students, or $400 for a lifetime membership. The membership year runs from May to the following May. Members of the Grand Rapids Historical Society receive eight newsletters each year and a subscription to our annual magazine, Grand River Valley History. Members also receive a 20% discount on books published by the society as well as books published by the Grand Rapids Historical Commission. Change of Address. If you will be permanently or temporarily moving to a new address, please notify GRHS before your change occurs. Let us know your new address and the date you plan to leave and plan to return. Email to, or mail to Grand Rapids Historical Society, c/o Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 2


Baxter Award Winner Ruth Van Stee The Baxter Award was created in 1980 by the Society to honor persons who have made significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Grand River Valley history. Named in honor of Albert Baxter, one of Grand Rapids early historians who published, History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1891. 2016 marks 37 years of honoring these great people and the Grand Rapid Historical Society is pleased to announce the 2016 recipient of the Baxter Award is Ruth Van Stee.

Ruth Van Stee Testimonials Ruth VanStee is the recipient of the 2016 Baxter award of the Grand Rapids Historical Society. Her passion for local history has been exhibited by her work for this Society as well as the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council and the Grand Rapids Public Library. Ruth has spent many hours researching local history topics and furthering the knowledge base for other local history researchers to call upon. Her indexes at the Grand Rapids Public Library are used regularly to assist patrons and many have enjoyed her presentations on a range of topics including the Women’s Temperance Movement during prohibition. I personally appreciated her help while a volunteer at the Public Library as well as her time as secretary of this organization during my time as President. Understanding that some of her efforts were while an employee of these groups, she always has shown enthusiasm to go “above and beyond” her actual duties. I believe she shows the passion for her work that we value in choosing a deserving recipient for this award. – John Gelderloos and Alan Bennett (GRHS Trustees) Ruth VanStee has been a force within the Local History community for some time now. Originally, Ruth was an employee of the Grand Rapids Public Library Local History Department. In this role Ruth immersed herself into the African-American history of the city. It is due to Ruth's efforts that the AfricanAmerican index exists at the library and the photo binders of Grand Rapids African-American photos. The index covers the time period of 1840-1928 and centers upon the Bajema files. Because of Ruth's efforts, one researcher was able to find information on eight African-American boxers who fought in Grand Rapids during the turn of the century. If it were not for Ruth the library would not be able to answer questions like this. On top of this, Ruth VanStee has devoted much of her interests into the history of Women in Grand Rapids. It is Ruth who created the Women's history index, which, like the African -American, covers an equally long amount of time in Grand Rapids history. Ruth's efforts have brought another "hidden" population to light. – Tim Gleisner (GRHS Trustee, Head of Special Collections at the Grand Rapids Public Library Ruth is currently the secretary of the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. Ruth keeps membership records, compiles the newsletter and is a researcher. Her program Suffragist Spring, presented in March 2014 at the annual reception commemorated the 1914 take-over of the Grand Rapids Press by local women, and ended with the attendees joining her in singing suffragists songs. Ruth is creative and dedicated. The board of the GGRWHC congratulates her on receiving the Baxter Award. – Mary Seeger, Co-President Greater Grand Rapids Women's’ History Council

Grand River Times



Grand Rapids Historical Society Annual Meeting and Banquet Thursday, May 12, 2016 Aquinas College Donnelly Center, 157 Woodward Lane SE $28 members—$30 non-members

6:00 p.m.—Gathering 6:30 p.m.—Dinner 7:20 p.m.— Short Meeting 7:25 p.m.— Baxter Award Presentation 7:30 p.m.— Presentation


Salad Chicken with Artichoke Stuffing, Roasted Vegetables and Rice Pilaf Death by Chocolate for Dessert Vegetarian Option: Southwest Quinoa Cake with Black Bean Ragout, Pico de Gallo


Mail reservations no later than May 3, 2016 to: Grand Rapids Historical Society 111 Library NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Name (s)______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone_______________________________________________ Email___________________________________________________________ Number of Tickets_______________________________ Amount Enclosed_____________________________________________ Number of Vegetarian Options______________

Include check or money order no later than May 3, 2016 Grand River Times


GRAND RAPIDS HISTORICAL SOCIETY JOIN THE GRAND RAPIDS HISTORICAL SOCIETY OR GIVE A MEMBERSHIP AS A GIFT The Grand Rapids Historical Society sponsors eight lectures each year. Members of the society enjoy these benefits: 

The Grand River Times is the newsletter of the Grand Rapids Historical Society. Published and mailed to members eight times a year, it includes current items of historical interest, details of upcoming lectures, historically relevant activities, and short articles.

The Grand River Valley History is the society’s annual magazine. Featured are illustrated articles by local history researchers and contributions from the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the City Archivist, the Grand Rapids Public Library, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

20% Discount on all books and other items published by the society.

Please enroll me as a member of the Grand Rapids Historical Society: ____ New ___Renewal ____Gift _____Lifetime:

$400.00 one-time fee

_____Individual/Family Membership

$30.00 per year

_____Senior Citizen or Student

$20.00 per year

Name: Address: City/State/Zip:

Please make check payable to the Grand Rapids Historical Society and mail it with this form to: Grand Rapids Historical Society, c/o Grand Rapids Public Library,

GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC LIBRARY PHOTO SLEUTH For our May Photo Sleuth selection, we're focusing on camaraderie and fraternity. Here we have a Robinson Studio image of five unidentified members of the Elks Lodge, ca. 1940. Can you identify any of the individuals in this image? If so, please email the Grand Rapids Public Library's Local History department at . Grand River Times



HAPPENING IN HISTORY: MAY 2016 Reading the Great Lakes Thursday, May 5, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Main Library—111 Library St. NE Come explore the Lakes with the Grand Rapids Public Library! They are reading a range of titles including mystery, history, fiction, and nonfiction all taking place in the Great Lakes region— from Chicago to Cleveland. This book club will be lead by librarians and will take place the first Thursday of every month. Additional copies of the book are available to be checked out on Level 4 of the Main Library. For a complete list of books, visit May’s selection is Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Western Michigan Genealogical Society Saturday, May 7, 2016, 1:30 p.m. Main Library- Ryerson Auditorium 111 Library St. NE Topic: The Buckeye State: Researching Your Ohio Ancestors Presenter: Kris Rzepczynski Aimed at researchers whose ancestral trails extend to and from Ohio, Kris will provide an overview of the rich and abundant genealogical resources available in print and online.

. Grand River Times

West Michigan Postcard Club Monday, May 9, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Faith United Methodist Church 2600 7th St. NW

New Car Smell: Nostalgia and the Story of Grand Rapids’ Used Car Dealerships, by Thomas R. Wilson Before today’s modern car dealerships on suburban streets, early Grand Rapids automobile dealers were first located near downtown, then gradually moved into the neighborhoods. Unlike the sprawling car lots in the suburbs, Grand Rapids’ first dealers were located in more confined urban spaces. Early car buyers looking for a Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge could make their selection in the core city. As the automobile business expanded, dealers moved into neighborhoods. You’ll see examples of auto dealers for familiar cars and will also learn about the forgotten cars such as Austin, Studebaker and Maxwell.

Western Michigan Genealogical Society Writers Group Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 1:30 p.m. Dominican Center, 2025 Fulton St East The Writers Group holds supportive meetings for everyone who wants to learn more about organizing and writing family history. They take time to informally discuss questions relevant to each person’s work, provide helpful, nonjudgmental feedback, discover new research techniques, and have fun making new friends. If you plan to attend, please let Sister Michael Ellen Carling know you will be there. Call her at 616-514-3340 (office) and her email address is

Grand Rapids Civil War Round Table Wednesday, May 18, 7:30 p.m. De Witt Student Center Kuyper College 3333 East Beltline NE Tony Ziebol, Richard Kirkland, The Angel of Marye’s Heights 6


Lost Restaurants of Grand Rapids Saturday, May 5, 2016 by Norma Lewis Menus and Memories—Join us to hear local author, Norma Lewis, share delightful stories and priceless pictures from her new book. Remember Hattem’s, the Swiss Chalet, the Back Door Salon, Finger’s, Otto’s Hamburg Wagon, the Roaring Twenties, Schnitzelbank, just to name a few of our favorites. Her stories are sometimes funny, some nostalgic, and you won’t want to miss this great program, plus a luncheon featuring from some of the favorite restaurants.

Norma Lewis has lived in Grand Rapids for over 25 years. This is her 9th book. She is a member of the Grand Rapids Historical Society and the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. This will be a great program and luncheon. The cost for the program and luncheon is $22.00 for guests. Women’s City Club (call the Club office at 459-3321 for ticket information) (pre-paid reservation required five days prior to the event)

Continued from page 2 There are hundreds of cards in the big book. It lists other places they had been arrested, so you know where they have been. For a genealogist, you get a photograph, a detailed description with height, color of eyes, hair, and many times where they were born, and even better, if from Grand Rapids, sometimes an address. Oh what fun I had. I don't know why our speaker for the May program started studying the darker side of Grand Rapids history, but I bet that the stories she discovered as she researched was a big part of it. I look forward to hearing about Wicked Grand Rapids and the stories Amberrose Hammond discovered while researching her book. Our program year comes to a close with this presentation. We begin again in the fall. We hope to offer current members some opportunities this summer. Check the web site and our Facebook page periodically. We recognize that all of you may not be connected to the web, but in an effort to save printing and postage costs we have found this to be the best way to get this information out. The Baxter Award...who do we honor and why? Since 1980 the Historical Society has honored thirty -seven individuals and one organization for having made significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Grand River valley history. This year we honor Ruth VanStee.

Grand River Times


Non-Profit Org. U.S. postage PAID Grand Rapids, MI Permit No. 234

Grand Rapids Historical Society, Inc. c/o Grand Rapids Public Library 111 Library St. NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503


GRHS Banquet and Program Wicked West Michigan

Cover Story: May program

Aquinas College Donnelly Center

Letter from our President page 2

PRESENTED BY: Amberrose Hammond Thursday, May 12, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

Baxter Award: Ruth Van Stee page 3 GRHS Annual Banquet & Program page 4

Photo Sleuth page 5 Happening in History page 6 Lost Restaurants of Grand Rapids page 7

For more information on Historical Society programs, please visit Grand River Times


2016 05 GRHS Grand River Times 37-08  

GRHS Banquet and Program Wicked West Michigan. Aquinas College Donnelly Center, presented by Amberrose Hammond. Take a trip back in time wi...

2016 05 GRHS Grand River Times 37-08  

GRHS Banquet and Program Wicked West Michigan. Aquinas College Donnelly Center, presented by Amberrose Hammond. Take a trip back in time wi...