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History Lives Here Text

A Visit to Newark

(From the Holland Register,August 24, 1857)

"Where is Newark?" Well, reader, if you had askedus the question a few weeks ago we should have said, "why that is the high falutinname for 'the flats' at the mouth of the Kalamazoo river, principallycelebrated for its great trade in rot gut, fever and ague, and an extensiveIndian cat fishery."


Well, when we got there, we hardly knew theplace, so much has it changed since our formeracquaintance with it.


Then,Mike Spencer was trying experiments with one of the Ann Arbor pop gun saw mills and had almost got it so that it would payrunning expenses, by throwing in his own time and hoarding himself. This, with Mr. Morrison's tannery was thesum of manufacturing of the place and a whiskey grocery or two represented itscommerce.


Now,there are sixteen saw mills busily at work. We call upon Mr. John P.Wade, told him what our business was, and pen in hand, jotteddown the following items ofwhat Newark isdoing.


[Ed. Note: Although the newspaper clippingclearly says "sixteen," the number is spelled out in print, the reporter actually lists only seven mills. Thiswould be six if the two Singaporemills were counted as one, so the discrepancy might be simply a typographicalerror. In fact in the third paragraph from the end he specifically lists thenumber of Newarkmills as six. Or perhaps the sixteen refers to the number of saws.]


The first mill on the lake is that ofbutcher, Stickney & Co., driven by an engine with cylinder 18 inches diameter,and 30 inches stroke; this drives two large circular saws, edgers&c., and a gang of lathes for turning cabinet work. This will keep twovessels running, and probably cut 150,000 ft. B. M. per week. The capitalinvested is estimated at $30,000.


Next comes Wells & Johnson's mill,driven by two engines, each of about 25 horsepower at low ordinary pressure,propelling two large circular saws, a complete gang of lath saws, picket saws,edging saws, and a shingle machine. They are

making about 150,000 ft. B. M. per week, and have not less than $50,000capital in use in their lumbering operations.


The next saw mill is a steam shinglemachine, to use an Irish form of expression. Messrs. Dunning & Co. makefrom 60 to 70,000 cut shingles per week by steam power. Their investment isprobably about $3,000.


Elnathan Judson's saw mill comes next. It runs onelarge circular saw and edger and a lath gang. Saws about75,000 feet B. M. per week. Capital invested, estimated at $10,000.


Moore, Twist & Co. drive one largecircular saw, cutting about 100,000 per week. Their investment is estimated at$12,000.


We next come to the Singapore mills, nearer the mouth of theriver. Stockbridge's upper mill has two muley saws,an extra sized siding mill, edgers, lath saws,&c., and it is capable of cutting 150,000 ft. perweek. His lower mill has a single gang of 17 saws, which walks the logsthrough, converting them into piles of boards at once. This probably makes75,000 ft. B. M. per week. Mr. Stockbridge must have invested in his lumberingoperations not less than $75,000.


There are in the Township two tanneries,Mr. S. A. Morrison's at Newark,and Messrs. Wallins. Both are doing a large andprofitable business and we should judge that they must be using from $15,000 to20,000 capital. This is however a random estimate, aswe did not see either of them to get the amount of their business.


Mike Spencer came in while we were takingthe assessment, looking much more hearted and contented than he used to be whenhe was obliged to keep constantly exercising his wits to hold his head abovewater, and to keep the old pot gun mill running. We were making some inquiriesabout the shipping. By referring to his memorandum book, he informed us that 46different vessels had visited Kalamazooriver this season, and that 25 vessels are runningregularly. An A. l. steam tug is daily expected, which will wait on them outand in, in the most approved style -- He says more lumber has been shipped thisyear than ever before. There is now 7 ft. water on Kalamazoo bar.


Newark has two stores, kept by T. H. Marsh and S.D. Nichols. A fine looking Hotel, kept by A. R. Smith, andfive boarding houses. The population of the village is estimated at 600.


Now let us post upour entries and see what Newarkis doing. Number of saw mills, 6. Saws running (exclusive of edgers, lath saws, &c) 26. Amount of lumbermanufactured per week, 700,000 ft.-- Amount perseason, of 30 weeks, 21,000,000 ft. worth $210,000. Capital invested inmanufacturing probably $195,000.


Newark is one of our Eastern shore towns and has a harborwhich the United States ought to, and must improve, sooner or later. We shallcount on the Newarkboys to make a strong addition to our

Eastern shore party, to demand justice for our harbors.

It will also be apoint on our Lake Shore railway and itsbusiness would make no contemptible item in establishing the probable localtrade of the line.

Newark later renamed Saugatuck was bypassed as apoint on the Lake Shore railway when trackswere built in 1871. Most mills closed when the supply of ready timber playedout about 1875 although specialty mills continued in the community until earlyin the 20th Century.

A YoungWaitress Remembers

As a collegestudent I worked at Tourist Home, right next to the Ferry in 1927, 1928 and1929. As most ferry operators were young men we would say we didn't have anymoney so they would let us "pump" our way across the river. Sometimeswe would go over and back a couple of times a day.


You see after we girls were through workingdinner time we would go to the camp on Lake Michiganto swim, crossing on the ferry and walking there. We knew they had swimminghours and we were protected by the safety ropes.


There were two bachelors who came to the Homefor the summer from Chicago.They had a deal even before I began work there to take the waitresses on their25 or 30 foot boat to Lake Michigan to swim.No hotel persons were allowed. He always got us back on time to be back at worka four o'clock. On the way back they had fresh fruit and candies for us.


We also enjoyed theboats coming into Saugatuck Saturday morning. The story was that they got onthe boat a five o'clock in Chicago(they had their weekend clothes). Then on Sunday evening they got back on theboat at Saugatuck and got into Chicagoin time to get to work.


The Sea Scouts of Chicago also came over for their training.


We made ten dollarsa week, room and board. A Mr. and Mrs. Jackson were managers, daughter andson-in-law of the owner.


We could make about$200 for the summer that included our tips. Mayve for one secretary $5 for twoweeks at three meals a day.


Sometimes the cooksand kitchen help would get drunk on Saturday night so we waitresses would haveto help cook breakfast for the guests. Some girls besides waiting tables didthe room work (maids). I planned the salads, bought the materials and madethem.


It was a greatvacation. We girls would attend parties on "Baldy" by staying outovernight. We tried to find the buried city down the river, but only found somefence. The dance hall was going strong.


Too bad Saugatuck is so busy now withpeople's own boats.

Martha B. Thompson