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Tales of Southwest Michigan's Past

Tales of Southwest Michigan's Past

By Michael Delaware
Southwest Michigan is rich in history, as the region contains the second wave of twelve counties organized in the State in 1829. The stories encapsulate pioneer triumphs and tragedy, amazing events and resilient, enterprising and passionate people. The region developed along the Territorial Roads, connecting the first land routes between Detroit and Chicago, which later brought with it the railroads and modern highways.

Starting from the Battle Creek regional area, and branching out from there, join me as I explore forgotten tales of Southwest Michigan’s past.
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The Legacy of Del Shannon: An Interview with Brian Young, Biographer

Tales of Southwest Michigan's Past

Stories of Albion Michigan with Dave Eddy the Morning Mayor
In this episode I had the pleasure to interview Dave Eddy, the former morning show host on WBCK for many years.  Known as the Morning Mayor, Mr. Eddy grew up in Albion, Michigan.  We discuss his early life and how he started in radio, as well as local Albion history and famous people.  Join us for a fun time as we explore some interesting Tales of Southwest Michigan's Past. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
September 25, 2022
The Story of the Titus & Hicks Mill Founded in 1853
The Titus & Hicks Mill was originally founded by Richard Titus and Ellery Hicks in 1853.  After they passed away, the mill past away their sons took over the operation.  Making bold and revolutionary moves, the sons tore down the old mill and rebuilt it, increasing production of the mill by 5X and a few years later advanced it to 8X more than when their fathers owned it.  It is an interesting story from the pioneer period of Michigan, taking place in Battle Creek. For more information or to contact Michael Delaware, visit:
September 23, 2022
Michigan Under the French Flag
Michigan was under the French Flag for over 150 years as part of the territory of New France as declared by Samuel de Champlain in 1608.  In this podcast I explore some of that early history and the French influence that remains in this state today, including some locations in Southwest Michigan.
September 20, 2022
Finding History with Outhouse Diggers: An Interview with Dan Hill
My guest on this episode of Tales of Southwest Michigan's Past is Dan Hill from an organization called Outhouse Diggers.  They are a group of modern day history hunters who locate where old outhouses once stood from the 1800's and excavate them to find their hidden secrets.  Over the years, his team has found many relics from the past, as well as some secrets that were lost to time.  Some stories include mysteries, and others hidden crimes.   For more information on Outhouse Diggers, visit: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
September 18, 2022
The Story of a Hobo
A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagrant.  The term originated in the U.S. around 1890.  Unlike a 'tramp', who works only when forced to, or a 'bum', who does not work at all, a "hobo" is a traveling worker.  The number of hobos increased during the Great Depression era of the 1930's.  With no work and no prospects at home, many decided to travel the freight trains in pursuit of work in other parts of the country.   The story "The Exploits of Henri, a Hobo" presented in this episode was written by Rich Rybicki from the Eaton County Historical Commission, and it is a depiction of historical events and places from this period when there were prevalant hobos in Michigan. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
September 16, 2022
Walter Woolnough: The First Newspaper Publisher in Battle Creek
Walter Woolnough was born in Bungay, Suffolk County, England in 1821.  He moved with his parents to America when he was just eleven years old.  He would grow up in New York and become an apprentice for a printing company.  He would eventually move west to Ohio, and work for the Ashtabula Ohio Sentinel, a Whig newspaper in 1842.  A decade later he would move even father west, and settle in Battle Creek, Michigan and establish the first newspaper in the city.  Over the years he was an outspoken abolitionist, and became very active in politics.  His fascinating story is the subject of this episode. For more information Michael Delaware, or to reach out to him, visit: To see the YouTube video that features the life of Walter Woolnough, visit:
September 13, 2022
An Interview with Doug Sturdivant, President of the Battle Creek Regional History Museum
The Battle Creek Regional History Museum is located at 307 W Jackson St, in Battle Creek Michigan.  In this episode I interview Doug Sturdivant, the President of the museum.  We discuss the exhibits, coming events at the museum and also some of his favorite local history.  We also talk about some of the past and present projects at the museum.  For more information on the Battle Creek Regional History Museum, visit: To see the details of the History Education Center Project and to contribute, visit: For more information or to contact Michael Delaware, visit:
September 11, 2022
A History of Lawton Michigan
Lawton, Michigan is located on the Southeast corner of Van Buren County, and has a history of steel production, fruit growing and wine production.  Today Welch's has a fruit juice manufacturing operation there, and in this episode I explore some of the history of this village that all started with a train station in 1848. For more information Michael Delaware, visit:
September 09, 2022
The Golden Age of Railroads & Circus Trains
The golden age of circuses is often cited as beginning in 1872, when the growth and expansion allowed circuses to move their tents, animals and people over greater distances with ease.  When the circus came into town, it was one of the only forms of entertainment that offered an escape for the hard work of farmers in the fields.  Entire families would converge on a town to see witness the procession as it left the railroad station and marched to the parade grounds.  The big top was the biggest event of the year, and this episode explores some of that wonderful and sometimes tragic history in Southwest Michigan. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
September 06, 2022
A History of the Funeral Business in Michigan: An Interview with T.R. Shaw
T.R. Shaw and his family operated the Shaw Funeral Home in Battle Creek, Michigan for four generations.  The company was founded just after the close of the Civil War, and was in continuous operation until the family sold it in 2015.  T.R. tells stories from the business going back to the late 1800's, including stories from Battle Creek, Bellevue, Detroit as well as his experiences growing up in the funeral business.  He is also the author of the book: Defy the Immediate. To get a copy of T.R. Shaw's book Defy the Immediate, visit: To read more about, and support the History Education Center Project mentioned in this episode, visit: To contact Michael Delaware, visit:
September 04, 2022
The Story of Brother Against Brother: Cornelius and Samuel Byington in the Civil War
The American Civil War has often been referred to as a war which placed brother against brother.  In Southwest Michigan, I uncovered a story of two brothers, the Byingtons, who fought on opposite sides of this conflict.  They were both originally born in New York, but one moved with his family to Battle Creek, Michigan many years before the start of the war, and the other moved to Montgomery, Alabama.  When the Civil War erupted, Cornelius enlisted with Battle Creek Artillery Company in the rank of Captain in 1861, and Samuel would enlist in Alabama in 1862 as a seargent.  They came within one week of meeting each other on the battlefield near Knoxville, TN in 1863.  This is their story. To see a YouTube video on Cornelius Byington, click here: To find out more about Michael Delaware, visit:
September 02, 2022
A History of Transportation in Michigan from Rivers to Railroads
In this episode I explore the broad history of the early transportation in the unsettled territory starting with the Native Americans on the rivers, from the arrival of the French moving forward through Indian Trails, territorial roads, courduroy roads, plank roads and railroads.  I use a book entitled 'Right on Track: A History of the Railroads in Eaton County, Michigan' as a guide for this journey, along with other research.  For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: To watch the video on Tracking the Territorial Road:
August 30, 2022
An Interview with Julie Kimmer & Jenn Carpenter on the Festival of the Oddities in Charlotte, Michigan
Special guests Julie Kimmer, Director of the Courthouse Square Museum and Jenn Carpenter from Scream Queen Productions join me to discuss the annual event called 'Festival of the Oddities' in Charlotte, Michigan.  This event features an interesting mix of history from historical artifacts, museum tours, ghost hunting adventures and much more! The Festival of the Oddities is an annual event.  In 2022, the date is Saturday, September 3rd. For more information about the Courthouse Square Museum, visit: You can also find them on Facebook at: Eaton County's Museum at Courthouse Square For more information on or to contact Michael Delaware, visit:
August 28, 2022
A History of the Names of Michigan Counties
What is in a name?  Have you ever wondered that with some of the names of Michigan Counties?  In this episode I use a booklet published in 1969 that I came across recently that gives a short history of the name of each of the counties in Michigan, and how they were named.   For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
August 26, 2022
The Story of Ambrose Minty & the Cigar Factory that Fell into the Mill Race
This is the story of Ambrose Minty and his cigar factory that fell into the mill race in downtown Battle Creek in 1899.  It is an unusual story of the early pioneer period, but is also offers a very interesting insight into the moral fiber of the community during this time period in history. Donate to The History Education Project: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Here is the video on Ambrose Minty & the Cigar Factory:
August 23, 2022
A History of the St. Julian Winery: An Interview with John Braganini
I recently had the pleasure to interview John Braganini, the President of the St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, Michigan.  We talked about the history of St. Julian, which is a four generation company, and the history of wine making in Southwest Michigan.  The company was originally founded by his grandfather Mariano Meconi in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Michigan after the appeal of Prohibition, and many other interesting details about St Julians.  For more information on St. Julian, visit: For more information or to contact Michael Delaware, visit:
August 21, 2022
The Life (and Afterlife) of Dr. James Martin Peebles
Dr. James Martin Peebles graduated from the University of Medicine & Surgery at Philadelphia, PA in 1876.  His life journey took him around the world four times, and he established medical institutions in Texas, California and Battle Creek, Michigan.  He was also selected by President Ulysses S. Grant to serve in the role of an Amassador to Turkey for two years.  He held many positions in government and in the private sector over his 99 years of life, including writing several world reknowned publications during his time.  He was most known for his book 'How to Live a Century and Grow Old Gracefully'.  He died 40 days short of achieving the status of Centurian.   He was also active in the Spiritualist movement, and told his friends that if he died before his 100th birthday that they should proceed with the celebration, and he would speak to them through a medium.  Newspapers across the nation after his passing were a mix of celebration of his life achievements, combined with stories of him sending messages from the grave.   For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: For a copy of Dr. James Martin Peebles book, How to Live a Century and Grow Old Gracefully, click here:
August 19, 2022
An Early History of Marshall Michigan
Marshall Michigan was founded in 1830, and it was founded by two brothers who envisioned more than just an industrial or agricultural town.  They dreamed of a community filled with professional politicians, lawyers, businessmen and doctors.  Marshall was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and later an transportation center and has been home to many great hotels, inns and businesses.  In this episode I explore the early history, and some of the events that shaped this community. For more information on Michael Delawaware, visit: To see the video on the Adam Crosswhite Affair, click here:
August 16, 2022
Prostitution & Madams of the Gilded Age: An Interview with Amberrose Hammond Author of Wicked Grand Rapids
In this episode I intervew Author Amberrose Hammond on the subject of prostitution and madams of the Gilded Age in Grand Rapids, and also cover a few stories of Kalamazoo and Grand Haven.  The Gilded Age refers to the period of time between the end of the Civil War, and the turn of the century where there was an economic boom, but it implies that underneath the glitter and gilded surface of the era, there were still a lot of troublesome issues that marked the time, such as poverty, unemployment and corruption.   In the city of Grand Rapids, between 1885 to 1900, there was a rise in houses of prostitution in the city run by madams, and funded by a network of Johns and silent partners, creating a lot of intrique.  Many of the stories Amberrose reveals come from her research into her book: Wicked Grand Rapids, which is available online. For more information on Amberrose Hammond, visit: To purchase her book: Wicked Grand Rapids: click here For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
August 14, 2022
The Unsolved 1917 Murder of Guiseppi Aiello in Battle Creek
The year 1917 in Battle Creek, Michigan was a time of great change.  President Wilson had signed a declaration of War passed by Congress in April, and a military base which would become Camp Custer was under construction west of the city by June.  Thousand of new people were in town, and arriving on trains, and from August to September, arrests by the police had increased by 900%.   It was in late September of 1917 when one of the most brutal murders of an Italian immigrant named Guiseppi Aiello, who was known locally as Joseph Ellen, occurred on the southern end of town.  The coroner's inquiry would later declare it to be an assassination, and the police believed at one point that it may have been terrorists who committed the crime.  The murder was never solved. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
August 12, 2022
A History of Hillsdale: The Town & the College
Hillsdale is the name of a County, a town and a college in Southwest Michigan.  The County received its name from the topography of the region, being land with hills and dales.  The college was founded in in 1844 originally in Spring Arbor, and it moved to Hillsdale nine years later.  The college was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion or sex, and became an early force for the abolition of slavery.  The college and the town have a fascinating history. For more information Hillsdale College, visit: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
August 09, 2022
The Legacy of Del Shannon: An Interview with Brian Young, Biographer
Charles Westover, better known by his stage name Del Shannon was a music legend who shot to number one with the single 'Runaway' in 1961.  He was also well known for other hits such as 'Hats Off to Larry', 'Little Town Flirt' and 'Handyman'.   Brian Young is working on a biography on Del Shannon, and also manages the Del Shannon fan website and the Del Shannon Appreciation Society.  He joins me on a special interview to talk about the music legend, his hits, his experiences with other music legends, the upcoming documentary, and much more. For more information on Del Shannon or to contact Brian Young, visit: For more information Michael Delaware, visit:
August 07, 2022
German POW's in Michigan during World War II
During World War II there were German POW camps in Michigan that were all directed by Fort Custer in Battle Creek.  The main camp was at Fort Custer, and between 1943 to 1946, there were approximately 19 different branch camps set up across the state to alleviate critical labor shortages in agriculture during the war.  A tragedy happened at one of the branch camps where 16 of the prisoners were killed in an accident.  The history is one that is still remembered at Fort Custer National Cemetery. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: To see the video on Fort Custer National Cemetery:
August 05, 2022
The Origins of Tony the Tiger
Have you ever wanted to know the story of the origins of Tony the Tiger?  That famous character that has become a household name in cereal for decades?  The back story behind the changes in the advertising industry which ultimately led up to the creation of the cartoon character adorning cereal boxes is a very interesting one.  In this episode I rely on the book 'Cerealizing America' which was published in 1995 by Scott Bruce and Bill Crawford covering the entire cereal industry and its formation. To get a copy of the book Cerealizing America, follow this link: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
August 02, 2022
Headstone Carving, Restoration & History: An Interview with Casey Winningham
Casey Winningham is a professional headstone carver who uses traditional techniques in his craft.  He also has done a lot of headstone and monument restoration.  He joins me in this interview to talk about some of the history of memorial stones, symbology found on stones and his experiences as a stone carver.  For more information on Casey Winningham, visit: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 31, 2022
The Story of Alonzo Noble
Alonzo Noble was one of the early pioneers of the village of Battle Creek, arriving in 1836 with his wife.  He established the second store in the village history, on the central corner of downtown.  He built the first home with a chimney in the history of the area, and he would go onto become a stable and successful dry goods store in the community.  He later became the second Mayor of the City of Battle Creek, and also served as postmaster for seven years.  His story is an interesting one from the pioneer history of the region. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 29, 2022
An Early History of Paw Paw Michigan
The village of Paw Paw is located in Van Buren County, and is has some interesting history.  I was able to uncover a collection of stories from the early days of the founding of the village that are great tales from yesterday.  One story of a man who named nine pairs of oxen, and cleared wooded acreage for many new pioneer settlers.  Another of a man who visited the home of an Indian trading partner, and ate his meal with dogs.  Another of a the first great Paw Paw bank robbery, where the famous Pinkerton Detective agency from Chicago was brought in undercover to solve the crime.  These and many other peculiar and tantilizing stories from early Michigan history are in this episode. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 26, 2022
The History & Renovation of the Greenfield House in Athens, Michigan: An Interview with Kieth Dara
The Greenfield House in Athens, Michigan is a historic home on the north side of the Athens village which was built by Sylvester Ware sometime between 1963-1965.  He was established a window and blind milling factory adjacent to the home, and was very involved in the milling industry in Athens.  After his death, the home was sold to El Dorado Greenfield in approximately 1883, who was another prominent business man in the village, who would eventually come to own the Athens Flour Mill years later.   The house stayed in the Greenfield family until 1972, when is sold to another investor who turned it into a duplex.  Over the years the property declined into a poor condition, until new owners (the Ramirez family) acquired it in 2017 and restored it.  Keith Dara is a craftsman and an active member of the Athens Area Historical Society, and directed a lot of the renovation of this historic landmark.  He joins me for an interview to talk about the history of the home, and the renovation that took four years. The Greenfield House is now a museum in Athens.  For more information, visit: To see the video on the Greenfield House, click here:  For more information Michael Delaware, visit:
July 24, 2022
The Story of the Dulcenia Home - Marshall, Michigan
Dulcenia (also spelled Dulcina) Daily was a woman who had endured a lot of loss and hardship in her life.  She was widowed at young age when her husband died just three years into their marriage, and she raised her son on her own, only to have him die in the Civil War.  She worked for years in a department in Washington D.C. helping people overcome their struggles following the war, and later in life she became world traveled. She left an estate behind with specific instructions to establish a home for aged women in Michigan, and in doing so, set in motion changes in state law after her death.  This is the story of Dulcenia Home that she established. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 22, 2022
The Story of Unknown Soldiers in Michigan
Many people are familiar with the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.  Not everyone is aware there are unknown soldiers buried in many cemeteries across Michigan.  In Southwest Michigan there are gravesites for these men in Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Ottawa and Lake Counties to name a just a few.  Many are from the Civil War when as many as 40% of the dead soldiers were not identified in that conflict before burial.  There are also unknown soldiers from other wars buried in cemeteries across the state. In this episode I explore not only the history of the Unknown Soldiers, but also the history of the dog tags and when they came into existence and why.  For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: To watch some of Michael Delawares videos on YouTube, visit:
July 19, 2022
A History of the Toledo War with Dennis Skupinski
Dennis Skupinksi from Michigan's Military Heritage Museum joins me for an interview on the subject of the Toledo War.  The historic boundary dispute between Michigan and Ohio, which was a complicated test for the growing Republic of the United States.  Mr. Skupiniski explains the events that led up to the territorial dispute which almost became a military conflict, but was ultimately settled.  Hear about this important chapter in Michigan history, which resulted in statehood. For more information on Michigan's Military Heritage Museum, visit: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 17, 2022
A History of Lake Odessa & the Lost Town of Bonanza
Lake Odessa is a small village of a little over 2000 people on the southern edge of Ionia County in Michigan.  It has an interesting history, as it was once about 1/2 mile North of its present location and known as Bonanza.  When the railroad came through, the entire village moved, including entire merchandise stores and goods to establish themselves closer to the train depot and railroad.  Bonanza was eventally lost to history, and Lake Odessa was born. This area once had a German POW camp outside of the village during WW II.  These and other interesting stories are explored in this episode. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 15, 2022
A History of Camp Custer
Camp Custer just west of Battle Creek was built in 1917 in just six months to provide comfortable quarters for 36,000 who were being trained to go over to the war in Europe.  The camp was built on the site of the village that was once known as Harmonia, and stretched its length of over four miles of territory. It was an incredible undertaking that had never been done before in the history of the U.S., and this episode covers the details of how the camp was built which would later become known as Fort Custer. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Follow Michael on YouTube:
July 12, 2022
Silent Cities Cemetery Restoration: An Interview with Bobbie Mathis & Andrew Noland
In this episode Bobbie Mathis from the Union City Society for Historic Preservation and Andrew Noland from Silent Cities Restoration join me to talk about cemetery headstone restoration.  Both have restored over 2000 headstones in various cemeteries across Michigan.  We discuss types of material historically used in headstones, the process used to level and repair headstones, as well as advice on how to prevent them from tilting.  The guests also give great advice on how to properly clean headstones, and what materials to use and which ones not to use.   We also go into stories of cemeteries in Southwest Michigan and other areas of the state, and how some historic cemeteries have been ruined or lost, and how many others are being restored through the hard work of volunteers.  The episode also includes information on upcoming events to learn how to headstone restoration, and so much more! For more information on Saving Graves, visit: Andrew Noland's Silent Cities Restoration: Cemetery Conservators of United Standards: Association of Gravestone Studies: Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 10, 2022
The Story of Dogtown in Leroy Township
There was once a small community in Leroy Township known as Dogtown.  Today you would not even know this community every existed.  How did this community which was originally known as Fiddler's Grove become Dogtown?  These are the questions I asked myself when I first discovered the title of the little village marked on an 1894 Atlas of Leroy Township.  I began searching newspaper archives and history books and began to piece together the interesting history of this lost community just south of Battle Creek. In my search, I discovered some interesting stories!  The oldest man to possibly ever have lived in Calhoun County once lived in Dogtown.  It once had a general store where the owner was arrested for selling alcohol during prohibition.  These and many other interesting stories are covered in this story which is rich with dogs and fiddle players. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Follow Michael Delaware on YouTube:
July 08, 2022
Battle Creek's Music Legends & Legacies
Battle Creek Michigan has been the home to many music legends.  Some have been forgotten with time, and others still have their music played today in popular culture.  Del Shannon was famous for his #1 song 'Runaway', as was Junior 'Shotgun' Walker and the All Stars had several hits on the R&B Charts.  Much of their music is still popular, and some of their songs are still used in television shows and movies today. Other artists have great stories such as Enos Wanzer who wrote for Mo-Town, and played with Stevie Wonder and the Supremes.  Melvin James 'Sy' Oliver who played with Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.  Then there is the break out story of Wade Flemons whose hit 'Here I Stand' went to #19 on the charts while he was still at the Battle Creek Central High School.  These and many other interesting stories are covered in this episode. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: To watch the video on the Hamblin Opera House, click here:
July 05, 2022
Mysterious Michigan: Legends, Ghostly Tales & The Macabre - An Interview with Author Amberrose Hammond
Author Amberrose Hammond joins me on the podcast to talk about her book that will be released in August: Mysterious Michigan.  We discuss Michigan legends, ghost stories, the Spiritualism movement, and some other tales of the macabre.  She gives us insight into some of the interesting stories in her new book, as well as some from here other published works.  It is a fun and interesting journey into some very old tales of yesterday. For a list of books by Amberrose Hammond, visit her author profile on Amazon: To order her new book, Mysterious Michigan: The author's website: To contact Michael Delaware, visit:
July 03, 2022
John S. Barry: The 4th & 8th Governor of Michigan (The only one to serve 3 terms!)
John Stewart Barry was elected the State of Michigan's 4th Governor in 1842, and served until 1846.  He was again elected in 1850 where he became the 8th Governor.  He is the only one in state history to serve three terms, and he is most noted for the expansion of the railroad, as well as the opening of the University of Michigan during his term.  He was also very interested in the cultivation of sugar beets in the state, and even visited Europe during his first term to obtain information on this crop.   He was a successful businessman in the merchantile business in White Pigeon and later Constantine, when Michigan became a state.  He has served in the state constitutional convention, and was elected as the first Senator.  His story is quite an interesting one. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
July 01, 2022
Erastus Hussey & The Underground Railroad
Erastus Hussey was an early pioneer in Michigan, originally from the New York.  He first came to Michigan in 1824, and settled in the Plymouth Township area.  He eventually married, and had a child, and then moved to Battle Creek in September 1838.  First he was in the shoe repair manufacturing business, and also owned a grocery store.  He later owned and operated a dry good store in downtown. In 1840, he was approached by a man who asked him to serve as a station master on the newly formed Underground Railroad.  His station would be in Battle Creek, and his responsibility would be to feed, provide shelter for and help with safe passage fugitive slaves on their way to Canada.  He would work in this clandestine activity until 1865, and help over a thousand freedom seekers in twenty-five years.   In this episode I cover some of his back story, as well as his own personal accounts given in his only known interview that he gave about his time in serving the underground railroad.  He also told the story about the group of 45 former slaves who came through all one night, following the Kentucky Slave Raid in Cass County. For more information about Michael Delaware, visit:
June 28, 2022
The Haskell Home Orphanage Tragedy: An Interview with Author Jim Jackson
The Haskell Home Orphanage was built in 1894 in Battle Creek Michigan, under the guidance of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, and funded by Caroline Haskell, and widow who had visited the Sanitarium and wanted to contribute to the community.  The model for the building was featured at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 when it was being constructed.   It was a beautiful three story building with an attic, basement and limestone and wood.  It had a 1/2 pitch Gothic roof, with a immense veranda that spanned the front of facade.  It became a home where an average of 100 to 150 children at a time would be housed, educated and nurtured into adulthood.   In the early hours of a February morning in 1909, a fire broke out in the building which quickly spread to all three stories.  The tragedy would not only destroy the last orphanage that existed in Battle Creek, and likely Southwest Michigan, but also three children would perish in the fury of the blaze.   In this episode I interview author Jim Jackson who wrote the book: The Haskell Home Orphanage Tragedy. To get a copy of his book, click here: To watch the video on the Haskell Home Tragedy by Michael Delaware: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 26, 2022
The Haviland Children Murders of 1865
A forgotten and yet disturbing tale from the early history of Battle Creek was the Haviland Children Murders of 1865.  It was not the first crime in the community, nor would it be the last, but when it occurred, it sent shockwaves across the state of Michigan and even the nation.  Sarah Haviland, a mother of six, would decide to murder her own children so that she could be with a man she had fallen into a romance with.  She succeeded in killing three of her children, and the story is a strange tale which even today has many unanswered questions.   Sarah Haviland would be the only woman in Jackson State Prison for almost three decades, and would eventually be released after serving only 30 years of a life sentance.  Her lover, Dr. Daniel Baker, would die in prison.   For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Follow Michael on Youtube:
June 24, 2022
A History of Stevensville & Grand Mere State Park
The small village of Stevensville in Berrien County has a population of less than 1200 people.  It was originally platted by a man named Thomas L. Stevens in 1870.  He had purchased a large tract of acreage, and made an agreement with the Chicago and Went Michigan Lake Shore Railroad Company to allow them to lay a rail line through his land, and establish a train depot.  Another well known pioneer from the village was John Beers, who today still have a road named after him in area.  It is an interesting history of this small community on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Grand Mere State Park is in close proximity to Stevensville, and is 1127 acres which has 91% of it identified as a Primitive Zone, and in 1968 was designated as a National Natural Landmark.  The park contains magnificent high-relief dunes formed approximately 12,000 years ago, and is managed by the State of Michigan under the Sand Dunes Potection Act of 1978. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 21, 2022
An Interview with Dan Williamson from the Bailey Museum & Gardens - South Haven, Michigan
The Bailey Museum and Gardens honors the life of Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jr, known as the father of modern Horticulture.  He was born in South Haven, and grew up on an 80 acre tract of land where his father had an orchard and a forest.  From an early age, his mother, teacher and other members of the community saw the potential in the young Bailey, and helped him overcome his obstacles to going to college in Lansing. My guest in this interview is Dan Williamson who is with the Bailey Museum and Gardens, which is located at: 903 S Bailey St in South Haven. To find out more abour the museum, visit: For a copy of Liberty Hyde Bailey's book The Holy Earth, as mentioned in this interview, visit: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 19, 2022
The Story of John & Edwin Nichols - Industrial Pioneers
John Nichols was the co-founder of the Nichols & Shepard Company in Battle Creek that became internationally known in their time for the production of agricultural threshing machines.  The company was founded in 1850, and by 1870 it had grown from a small shop on canal street to a manufacturing facility on the East side of Battle Creek which consisted of 40 acres and a dedicated railroad station.  His son Edwin C. Nichols would grow up in Battle Creek, and begin working for the company at young age learning every detail from the bottom up.  He would eventually take over as President of the industrial company, and would grow it further.   Both men were charitable and honest businessmen what helped Battle Creek grow.  John Nichols built homes for each of the men who worked for him, and also established Nichols Hospital.  Edwin would have a reputation for years of not only supporting the hospital his father established, but also donate to every religious denomination in the city, as well as become the Mayor of Battle Creek for one term. Both men have a fascinating story. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: To find his YouTuber channel, visit:
June 17, 2022
An Early History of Kalamazoo Michigan
In this episode I cover the early history of Kalamazoo Michigand the origins of the name Kalamazoo.  The town was originally named Bronson, after the first settler by that name.  In later years the town name was changed to Kalamazoo, after the river.  The area was once well known for celery as a crop, and it is the birthplace of the famous Gibson Guitars and the Checker Cabs, among many other industries.   These and many other stories are covered in this episode of the city and county with the funny name, Kalamazoo. For more information on the history of Kalamazoo, visit: For more information or to contact Michael, visit:
June 14, 2022
An Interview with Julie Rathsack Co-Author of the book: Ghosts of Grand Rapids
In this episode I interview Julie Rathsack, who is the co-author of the book Ghosts of Grand Rapids which was released in 2013.  We cover a whole host of ghost stories about the Grand Rapids area, and also the historical backstories for many of the events and locations.  We discuss hauntings at the Michigan Bell Building, the Amway Grand Hotel, Phillips Mansion, St. Celia Music Center, the Morton House Hotel, the Trust Building and the Livingston Hotel, along with a few urban legends in the area.  It is a fascinating and often spooky time in this journey through ghostly Tales of Southwest Michigan's Past. For more information Julie Rathsack tours, visit: For a copy of Ghosts of Grand Rapids, visit: For more information Michael Delaware, visit:
June 12, 2022
The Great Flood of 1904 in Southwest Michigan
The great flood that occured primarily in Southwest Michigan between March 24th through March 29th in 1904 was the most unprecedented event in the history of the state up to that point in history.  On March 14th, a snowstorm dropped a record snowfall across lower Michigan averaging 10 inches in most areas.  Later in the month this ice pack would combine with heavy rains to create an unprecidented flood that raised the river levels across lower Michigan.  Lansing, Grand Rapids, Ionia, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and many other communties saw the worst flooding in recorded history.   What made this event so significant is that is not only caused flooding to levels never before seen, but the waters did not recede for four days due to constant rainfall in the region.  In this episode I explore some of the damage, destruction, stories of rescue and amazing history of the untamed nature of water which at times of abundance can know no bounds. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 10, 2022
Exploring the Early History of South Haven Michigan
In this episode I explore the early history of South Haven, located on the mouth of the Black River, as a pioneer settlement, emerging as a lumber milling industry and later a productive farming community known for its blueberries, apples and peaches.  I also discuss its growth as a city for tourism during the 1920's through 1940's, which developed into a prospering entertainment and resort area for tourists from Chicago and Milwaukee.  It has a fascinating history, and the community is still a popular summer destination in Michigan to this day. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 07, 2022
An Interview with James Popenhagen on Music Legend Del Shannon
In this episode, I interview James Popenhagen from the Del Shannon Show, a tribute organization to the music legend.  He was born Charles Weedon Westover in Grand Rapids, and grew up in Coopersville.  However, he adopted the name Del Shannon as his stage name at the beginning of his music career in Battle Creek, Michigan.   In this interview Mr. Popenhagen, a personal friend of Del Shannon, talks candidly about his early career, the challenges of show business and his rise to stardom.  Del Shannon was also a huge star in England and Europe, having many bands that would later become famous in the U.S. open for him when he toured, including the Beatles.  It is a fascinating history, and we also discuss future plans for a Del Shannon exhibit in the local Battle Creek Regional History Museum in Battle Creek, and other tribute music events.   For more information on the Battle Creek Regional History Museum, visit: For information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 05, 2022
A History of the Grand Army of the Republic
The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was an aorganization created by the Union Veterans of the Civil War.  The G.A.R. existed between 1866 to 1956, covering a 90 year existence.  In Michigan there were 512 posts formed, and over 10,000 GAR posts create by the organization in the nation.  There were even a few posts five posts in Canada, one in Mexico and another in Peru.   The G.A.R. as an organization helped to set the foundation for future veterans organizations in the country, as well as lobby for benefits for wounded soldiers, widows and orphans of the Civil War.  They were also instrumental in securing pensions for the colored troops in the years following the war.   The organization membership was restricted to members of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Revenue Cutter Service (forerunner to the Coast Guard) that were honorably discharged and served between April 12, 1866 and April 9, 1865.  However, they were influencial in helping to establish many other affliated organizations that also became powerful groups, some that still exist today. The G.A.R. became a powerful influence in their years of existence, having elected five of their own members to the Presidency of the United States.   For more information on the G.A.R. Museum, visit: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
June 03, 2022
A History of Niles Michigan: The City of Four Flags
In this episode I explore some of the early history of Niles, Michigan which was established on the site of the old Fort St. Joseph.  I also cover the history of how it became to be known as the 'City of Four Flags' as well as discuss some of the historic places one can still visit today in the city.  Additionally I cover some of the early railroad history, and its importance as a transportation line into Chicago and other cities in the region, as well as discuss the famouse Niles Train Depot. For more information Michael Delaware, visit: To find out about some of the historic sites I mentioned in this podcast, visit:
May 31, 2022
The Origins of Memorial Day (AKA Decoration Day) & Stories from Southwest Michigan
Memorial Day as we know it today traces its origins to the years following the American Civil War.  The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) had a lot of influence in the creation of this day, which was first known as Decoration Day form established in 1868.  However there were ceremornies that existed in many cities across the country as early as 1866.   In this special Memorial Day episode I cover the origins of this day of rememberance, and take a look into history of the celebration of this holiday in the 1800's around Southwest Michigan.   For more information or to contact Michael, visit:
May 30, 2022
An Interview with Author Blaine Pardoe on his book Lost Eagles
In this episode, I interview author Blaine Pardoe on his book Lost Eagles: One Man's Mission to Find Missing Airmen in Two World Wars, which is the story of Fred Zinn.  In this interview we talk about Fred Zinn, and his service in World War One in the French and American military, as well as his service in World War II.  He pioneer the concept of recovering lost airmen, and the system he implemented still exists today for the American Military.   For more information on Author Blaine Pardoe, visit: To obtain a copy of the book, Lost Eagles, check out this link: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
May 29, 2022
The Story of V.C. Squier the Violin Maker
Victor Carroll Squier, better known in his time as V.C. Squier was a violin maker, music store owner and instructor in Battle Creek.  He had learned the craft of violin making from his father, as well as other prominent violin makers in the Boston area.  He established his coming in 1890 in Battle Creek, repairing and manufacturing violins and other string instruments.  His company also manufactured strings, and became known world wide for his famous Squier Strings.  In the 1960's his company began manufacturng strings for businessman Leo Fender of Fender Instruments, who would eventually acquire the company.  Fender retired the Squire strings name, but revitalized the name in 1982 with its new line of Squier Guitars which are still produced today. This is the story of V.C. Squier. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: YouTube videos mentioned in this episode: Searching for Harmonia: The Story of V.C Squier:
May 27, 2022
A History of Coyote Migration
In this episode I explore the history of coyote migration in North and Central America, and when they first arrived in Southwest Michigan.  The history of the coyote expansion is a fascinating one, as they are the only mammal species to expand their geographic territory over the last 100+ years, whereas all others have contracted.  The coyote has expanded its range by an unprecidented 40% since 1900, and scientists attribute this to three primary causes which are explained in this podcast episode. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: For the study on coyote migration that I refer to in this episode, click here.
May 24, 2022
An Interview with the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County
In this episode I interview three members of the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC), Mike Moroz, the President, Cindy Yawkley Co-Chair of the Education Committee for the society and Cathy LaPointe, the treasurer.  We talk about the history of the underground railroad in Michigan, and the people in Cass County that we a part of it.  The URSCC has preserved three of the houses that were used as part of the Underground Railroad, the James E. Bonine House, the James E. Bonnie House and the Stephen Boque House.  We also discuss the infamous 1847 Kentucky Slave Raid that occurred in Cass County, and the detailed events of what happened that day as well as the outcome. The URSCC is a non-profit organization, and they have a membership which raises funds to support preservation of these homes which now serve as a museum to educate future generations.  If you would like the take a tour or the homes, or support the work they are doing with the URSCC, be sure to visit their website at: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
May 22, 2022
The Hardships and Challenges of the Agricultural Pioneers
The earliest pioneers were agriculturalists, whether they intended to be this or not.  Their first priority upon arrival in the wilderness was establishing a food source.  Even the experienced farmers found establishing farms in the new country of Southwest Michigan a challenge and sometimes a hardship.  In this episode I explore some of that experience, as well as the wheat harvest that lasted through 1880, and the other crops that followed.  I also venture into the hardiness of the pioneer woman and what her daily life was like during this period, and more. Watch my video on the Golden Harvest: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
May 20, 2022
A History of Postmasters & Postal Delivery in Calhoun County
In this episide I explore a history of postmasters and postal delivery in Calhoun County from mostly the 1800's to early 1900's.  I cover the original founding of the post offices in Albion, Marshall and Battle Creek, and their postmasters and early delivery systems.  Did you know the first post office Marshall was a cigar box?  The second one was even more interesting with it being a clock!  I also talk about formation of the postal service on a national level, as well as the Marshall post office museum and the pony express. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: For information on the Marshall Post Office Museum: To find the book I mention on the Pony Express, click here:
May 17, 2022
An Interview with Author Arnie Bernstein on the Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing
In this episode I interview author Arnie Bernstein about his book, Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing.   The Bath Consolidated School was bombed on May 18, 1927 by a man named Andrew Kehoe.  The story is a tragic one, where at the end of the day, 44 people were killed including 38 children.  It was an event that shook the country, and devastated the Bath Community with the loss of an entire generation.  Mr. Bernstein gives details of the events on that horrific day, and discusses some of the survivors he interviewed as well as the painstaking task of reconstructing this story. For more information on the author:  Arnie Bernstein's Facebook: Facebook for the book: Visit the Arnie Bernstein's website: The website for book: For information on Michael Delaware, visit: For the YouTube video on the Bath Massacre:
May 15, 2022
A Historical Review of Early Newspapers & The Preservation of Archives
In this episode I take a look at some of the history of early newspaper and magazine publications in Battle Creek, and other cities in Southwest Michigan.  I also explore the history of the Duplex Printing Press Company that once existed in the area, which supplied printing presses all over the world.  I further discuss the importance of preservation of archives of old newspapers with local libraries and historical societies. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Check out Michael's YouTube Channel:
May 13, 2022
Traveling Circus History 1850 - 1910
The period in Michigan from 1850 to 1910 was an interesting time of traveling circuses.  In this episide I explore several different circuses that came through Southwest Michigan during this time, including some very interesting anecdotes.  Old Hannibal the elephant and Jumbo the elephant came through the region.  Giraffes, polar bears, lions, tigers, zebras, seal ions and even a hippopatamus were among some of the animals that traveled through with these circuses.  Hear the story of a young boy visiting the circus for the first time in 1850 in Yankee Springs and also the story of the tornado that disrupted the big top in Battle Creek.  It was an interesting time of exotic shows featuring acrobats, roman chariot races, performing animals and so much more! To see the video I made on Hannibal the Elephant, click here: To follow my channel on YouTube: Check out my website:
May 10, 2022
A History of the Willard Library: An Interview with Michael 'Mac' McCollough, Librarian - Battle Creek, Michigan
In today's podcast interview my guest is Michael 'Mac' McCollough with the Willard Library, and we talk about some of the history of the library which was first established in 1840.  Many people have contributed to the success of the library over the many years, including Henry Denman, Charles Willard, George Willard, Adah Stevens McCutcheon and Helen Warner among many others.  We discuss the early days of the library, and how it has evolved over the many decades with innovations and saving of historical records.   To find out more about the Willard Library, visit: For more information or to contact Michael Delaware, visit: Check out Michael Delaware's Youtube Channel here:
May 08, 2022
A History of the Homer Village in Calhoun County Michigan
In this episode I take a journey through the history of the Homer Village in Calhoun County.  The first pioneer settlers began arriving in 1832, and among them was a man named Milton Barney who established him homestead in the area of the village center today.  He built his log cabin, a general store and a mill along the Kalamazoo River, and even established the first bank.  Explore the history of the early schools, cemeteries and even the famous haunted Homer Mill which tragically burned to the ground in 2010.   For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Check out Michael Delaware on YouTube: For more information on the Village of Homer, visit:
May 06, 2022
An Interview with Dennis Skupinski from Michigan's Military Heritage Museum on World War One History
In this episode, I interview Dennis Skupinski from Michigan's Military Heritage Museum on World War One History.  Mr. Skupinski worked for 10 years with the United States World War One Centennial Commission on the Michigan history section of their website, and he has a tremendous amount of fascinating stories from this time to share.  Included in those stories are not only veterans who served from Southwest Michigan, but other stories from all over the state, including the homefront.  Among the stories he tells in this interview are of Harry Hill Bandholtz, Frederick Zinn, Henry Ford, Ty Cobb, William Boeing, and many more. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: For the Michigan section of the World War One Centennial site: Click here For information on Michigan's Military Heritage Museum, visit:
May 03, 2022
An Interview with Bobbie Mathis from the Union City Society for Historic Preservation - Union City, Michigan
In this episode I interview Bobbie Mathis who has been the president of the Union City Society for Historic Preservation since 2016.  She is also done a lot of local research into Union City history, as well as historic Riverside Cemetery.  She was trained in tombstone restoration by the Cemetery Conservators of United Standards (CCUS) and has repaired and cleaned over 2000 stones so far.  CCUS practices do no harm methods in repair and preservation of historic gravestones.  In our talk, Bobbie talks about local history, the legend of Deadman's Hollow and touches on some ghost stories (including the lady in white) from the cemetery.  She also covers some historic profiles of some of the well known and famous people buried at Riverside, as well as some of the local legends.   For more information on the Union City Society for Historic Preservation, visit: For tickets to the class Bobbie mentioned in this interview: For information on the cemetery restoration class Bobbie mentions in this interview, visit Saving Graves: The book Boobie mentions Post City Texas can be found here: For more information or to contact Michael Delaware, visit: Check out Michael Delaware's YouTube Channel:
May 01, 2022
The Story of William T. Palmer: The Last Surviving Guard of Napoleon Bonaparte
William T. Palmer at the age of 18 joined the Bristich 61st Regiment in Winchester, England and was transported to the island of St. Helena, where he served for two years as part of the Superior Guards who were in charge of guarding Napoleon Bonaparte.  After Napoleons funeral in 1821, he was transferred to other duties until he was discharged from service after 15 years in Toronto, Canada.  He went to college, and was married.  Then he moved to New York for a few years, working on building the railroad betwen Rochester and Auburn.  In 1840, he moved to Michigan with his family, settling in Battle Creek. He was locally known as a well respected member of the community, working as a gardener.  In 1881 he invited the Chicago Times to come interview him in his home, so that he could tell his story of his time on the island of St. Helena and the death of Napoleon Bonaparte.  It is a fascinating account from a man who experienced a part of history. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Watch the YouTube video on William Palmer:
April 29, 2022
The Time of Al Capone and his Visits to Michigan
In this episode I explore the notorious Crime Boss, gangster, racketeer and bootlegger Al Capone who reigned in Chicago from 1925 through 1932, during the years of Prohibition in the U.S.  During his time in power, he was said to have often escaped the hear of the windy city and found his way into Michigan and Wisconsin.  I did some research on some of the stories of hideaways, safe houses, speakeasys, brothels and hotels that he is said to have visited in Southwest Michigan and other parts of the state.   For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Check out Michael Delaware's channel on YouTube:
April 26, 2022
An Interview with Manager Julie Kimmer on the Courthouse Square Museum - Charlotte, Michigan
In this episode I interview Julie Kimmer, who has been the Manager of the Courthouse Square Museum in Charlotte, Michigan for over 20 years.  The museum is located in downtown Charlotte, and the building's cornerstone was placed in the center of the town square in 1883.  In 1885, the courthouse officially opened to the public.  It was in operation for 10 years before a fire gutted the building and much of the inside paintings and walls.  It was reconstructed and returned to operation, and remained so until 1976 when a newer larger building was established in another part of town.  The building then became a museum, and the grounds also include the 1873 Sherriff's Residence, and the museum also manages the former 1845 Courthouse which is located in Bennett Park today. We discuss the history of the building, some of the exhibits, some local stories and even some amazing events coming in 2022.   To schedule a visit or to find out more about the Courthouse Square Museum, visit: To donate to the Courthouse Square Museum, visit: For more information on or to contact Michael Delaware, visit: Check out Michael Delaware on Youtube:
April 24, 2022
The Story of Dorrance Williams: A Pioneer of the Goguac Prairie who was Buried Alive...
This is the story of Dorrance Williams, an early pioneer in Calhoun County who settled on the Goguac Prairie in Battle Creek in 1831.  He previously had been a land surveyor for the U.S. Government, and had visited the area in 1829.  He lived his life as a suspicious man who was afraid everyone he dealt with was trying to cheat him.  A frequent visitor to the courtroom, he was the plaintiff in may lawsuits with is neighbors.   He died in 1846, and when his grave was moved in 1887 a grisly discovery was made when his coffin was opened. Watch the video with the story of Dorrance Williams: Tales of Tragedy Also another specific video I created on the Tragedy of Dorrance Williams Check out my YouTube Channel: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
April 22, 2022
The Story of Pioneer Historian A.D.P. Van Buren
Anson De Peuy Van Buren was born in 1822 in Kinderhook, New York.  He was a cousin of Martin Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States.  His Father Ephriam Van Buren, and his mother Olive Jay Van Buren, moved the family to Michigan settling in Battle Creek in 1836.  He was 13 years old, and would record the annals of his journey later in life along with many other stories of growing up on the Goguac Prairie in the Pioneer Collections.  He was a teacher and writer, and was adept at recording details of pioneer life that included not only the struggles and triumphs, but also the humor of the period.   His collection of writings in the early pioneer society of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties were preserved by the Michigan Pioneer Society, and made part of the Pioneer Collections archives.  Today, he is the most referenced historian from the period for these two counties. To see the video on Young's Cemetery which covers the Van Buren family on the Goguac Prairie: Exploring More History at Young's Cemetery Check out the YouTube Channel: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
April 19, 2022
An Interview with Civil War Historian Maurice Imhoff on the Michigan 1st Colored Regiment (102nd USCT)
In this episode I interview Civil War Historian Maurice Imhoff who has been researching the Michigan 1st Colored Regiment since 2014.  The Michigan 1st eventually became the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops, which saw action in several engagements during the war.  Recruited from all over Southern Michigan, the regiment trained in Detroit during one of the coldest winters in 1863.  The unit received a lot of support from Sojourner Truth and other abolitionists, and were welcomed home as heroes after the conclusion of the war. It is a fascinating history, and Mr. Imhoff shares some rarely heard history he has discovered about incredible unit of brave men. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: For more information on Civil War reenactment events in Michigan, visit:  Jackson Civil War Muster
April 17, 2022
The Story of the Polar Bear Expedition - The Michigan Soldiers who fought the Bolshevik Army in Russia
Have you ever hear of the 85th Division which was stationed at Fort Custer in Battle Creek during World War 1?  The Division of 28,000 men were shipped to Europe in the summer of 1918, and when they arrived, 5000 of them formed the 339th Infantry and were sent not to France, but to Archangel, Russia near the Arctic Circle to fight the Bolshevik Army (the Russian Communists who had taken control of Russia).  They ended up serving almost a full year after the war in Europe ended, in some of the harshest conditions any American Troops have ever faced.   The unit consisted of mostly men from Michigan, and some from Wisconsin.  Their story of fighting in minus 50 degree temperatures, for months on end is a forgotten story from the Great War to many.  It is an important part of Southwest Michigan history. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Follow Michael Delaware on YouTube:
April 15, 2022
Plank Roads & Stage Coaches Across Southwest Michigan
Plank roads were wooden routes made of hewn logs that were common in the Northest and Midwest of the U.S. in the first half of the 19th century.  At one time Michigan had over 60 plank road companies chartered in the state.  In 1849 the state legislature incorporated the Battle Creek & Hastings Plank Road Company to build a plank road between the two cities.  Some of the most prominent pioneers in these two cities history were named as directors.  Plank roads were often turned into toll roads, and one such road was built over a three year period between Marshall and Bellevue.   Along these routes were the stage coaches which offered the most comfortable, if somewhat bumpy, journey between Battle Creek, Hastings and Grand Rapids.  Stage coach routes were eventually expanded to go as far as St. Joseph, White Pigeon and Jackson with the central hub from Battle Creek.  Along these routes were taverns which became famous in their days, such as Tamarack Tavern in Assyria, Bristol's in Johnstown, Barney's Tavern in Battle Creek and the famous Mansion House of William Lewis in Yankee Springs.   The early mail routes were established by way of the stage coach on the plank roads as well.  It is a fascinating history. Check out my YouTube Channel at: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
April 12, 2022
Stories of Berrien County: An Interview with Robert Myers from the Michigan Historical Society
In this episode I interview Robert Myers from the Michigan Historical Society where we cover stories of Berrien County.  We start with the early French settlement years surrounding Fort St. Joseph in Niles founded in 1684, to the establishment of the French Government fort in 1691, which later became a British fort.  We also talk about some of the early milling history and industry, as well as the early newspapers.  Mr. Myers tells the story of the tragic loss of the Hippocampus, a passenger and package freighter that was overloaded with crates of peaches and was lost somewhere in Lake Michigan between St. Joseph and Chicago in 1868, and has never been found. Follow Michael Delaware on YouTube: To contact Michael Delaware, visit: To find out more about the Historical Society of Michigan, visit:
April 10, 2022
What was life like in Battle Creek Michigan in 1850?
In this episode I explore what life was like in the year 1850 in Battle Creek, Michigan.  This was the first year Battle Creek received its first charter from the State of Michigan, and was organized officially as a village.  I take a look at the local industry of the time, the population, the churches, the entertainment, the politics and national news and events of the times, among other topics.  It is a fascinating look at a time many years before the cereal industry, and other industrial accomplishments that the city would later become known for. Check out my YouTube Channel at: For more information visit:
April 08, 2022
The Adam Crosswhite Affair: How Marshall Michigan Changed the World
In 1847 over 200 citizens in the City of Marshall took a stand against a small group of armed slave hunters who came to take away Adam Crosswhite, his wife and children.  The Crosswhite family were fugitive slaves from Kentucky that arrived in Marshall by way of the Underground Railroad, enroute to Canada, and had decided to take up residence in the community.  Life was good, and Adam and his family were welcomed into the community.   One day a man named Francis Troutman, the grandson of Crosswhite's former owner arrived with the intention of taking the fugitives back with him to Kentucky.  Adam took a stand, and the community gathered around him in support, and took the slave hunters into custody.   While they were detained, members of the community got the Crosswhite Family safely out of the area, and across the border into Canada.   This incident became known as the Adam Crosswhite Affair, and it so infuriated the Southerners that they not only filed suit in retaliation against several Marshall residents, but they also pressured Congress for stricter laws on Fugitive Slaves, which set in motion a chain of events which ultimately led to the Civil War. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
April 05, 2022
An Interview with Jim Jackson, Historian & Author, on Company K, 1st Michigan Sharpshooters - An Entirely Native American Regiment in the Civil War
In this episode I interview Jim Jackson, the Author of the book Veterans of Oak Hill Cemetery for Oak Hill Cemetery.  He also edited the 2014 edition of Beyond These Gates for Oak Hill Cemetery, and is the author of other books on local history.  Mr. Jackson has spent several years researching the history of Company K, 1st Michigan Sharpshooters who were an entirely Native American regiment in the U.S. Civil War.  He covers how the unit was formed in 1863, how their members were selected, where they trained and the many engagements they had in the war including the Battle of the Wilderness and the Seige of Petersburg among many others.  One of their numbers was nominated for Congressional Medal of Honor. To read Jim Jackson's book on the Veterens of Oak Hill, click here: For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
April 03, 2022
A History of the Village of Athens in Calhoun County Michigan
The Athens village is located about 15 miles south of Battle Creek, in the Southwest corner of Calhoun County.  It was settled in 1831, as with many other locations around the region, and had its first house built in 1832 by Isaac Crossett.  The first store was built there in 1854 by William Simons, and the village was officially incorporated around 1896.  The village although smaller than others in the County, had a lot more modern progress in development with a early electric power company, mills and even a water system.  It has shared a history with the Potawatamie Indians and maintains a good community relationship with the tribe in present day.  This episode explores some of that history. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Subscribe to the YouTube channel at:
April 01, 2022
The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 that wiped out half of the Village of Marshall Michigan
In 1832 during the early settlement period of Calhoun County, the Cholera epidemic hit the US first arriving at a port in Quebec, Canada and ultimately finding its way down to New York City and across the Great Lakes region to Michigan.  In June of that year it arrived in Marshall with devastating results killing almost half of the village in less than a month.  The disease spread to other parts of the County and Southwest Michigan, but Marshall seemed to have the worst impact in this region.   In this episode I read several accounts from the time period of those who lived during that time, and also cover the other events that occured in that same time period that made life even more challenging for the pioneers. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: To follow the YouTube channel, visit:
March 29, 2022
Bear Encounters from Michigan History (1830 - 2008)
In this episode I explore various types of Bear encounters that were reported in Michigan newspapers covering stories from 1830 - 2008.  Some are tragic, but several are quite comical and might even make you laugh.  The bear does not always come out okay in the end, but in one incident the bear did outrun a pickle.  Another unusual story involves a bear gettng caught on a cowcatcher and riding it for 10 miles to the next train station, and eventually engaging in a face off with a lawyer.   For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Follow Michael on YouTube at:
March 25, 2022
The Story of Colon Michigan: The Magic Capital of the World & Harry Blackstone Sr.
The small village of Colon, Michigan was founded in 1830, but it has a history that goes back to the early days of the Northwestern Territory.  It began as a farming community, but in the 1900's a medicine man began coming to town to put on magic shows.  A local druggist learned some of his tricks, and also began performing them for his customers.  The fever for magic began to grow, and a young boy named Donald Watson AKA 'Monk' Watson along with a friend Neil Sweet began to put on several magic shows in the area.  In 1925, Magician Harry Blackstone moved to Colon and along with his brother and stage crew would refurbish their illusion show in the summer months in preparation for traveling the country. The history of Magic grew from there, and eventually in 1934 the legendary Magician Lester Lake who was a frequent vistor to Colon coined the phrase 'Magic Capital of the World' and the title stuck.  This episode covers the early history of Colon, and how it evolved.  It also goes into some of the life of Harry Blackstone. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit: Check out the YouTube Channel at: For more information on Colon Michigan, visit:
March 22, 2022
The History of the Battle Creek Michigan Fire Department & The Origins of National Fire Safety
Explore the history of the Battle Creek Michigan Fire Department and its evolution over the years, which mirror many other cities in Michigan.  Hear about the sequence of events that resulted in the first pieces of fire fighting equipment being purchased, and how men were organized initially as volunteers to use them.  I also cover the establishment of the first four fire stations, and some of the most significant fires in the city history.   You will also learn how fire safety ordinances came into being following the devastating fire in Chicago of the Iroquois Theatre on December 3, 1903 when 602 people died in the blaze.  The legacy of the fire departments in the country include lessons learned from past disasters, brilliant innovation, ingenuity and bravery. To watch the video on the Haskell Home Orphange Fire (mentioned in this episode) click here. To watch other videos on my YouTube channel, visit here: Check out my website: Michael Support: Merchandise: Direct donations:
March 18, 2022
A History of Coldwater & The Story of Old Sam the War Horse
Did you know there was an old War Horse buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Coldwater, Michigan?  He served four years in the Civil War with the Loomis Battery, and was the only one of 200 horses sent from Coldwater to survive the war.  When he died in 1876, his regiment wanted him buried alongside his human comrades.  The story of Old Sam is worth hearing. Coldwater has a rich pioneer history that dates back to the first trading post founded in 1822 by Joseph Godfrey, and prior to that it was the land of the Potawatomi tribe of Indians.  The village was once on reservation land, and later became incorporated as a city and approved by the state legislature in in 1861, and designated as the seat of Branch County in 1842.   The city is the home to the second oldest theater in Michigan, the Tibbits Opera House which was built in 1882.  It has some other amazing historical landmarks such as the Wing House which was built in 1875, now a museum, and the Coldwater Library which is one of the oldest functioning libraries still in its original building.   Check out my YouTube Channel: Visit my website at:
March 15, 2022
How the City of Battle Creek Got It's Name
Have you ever wondered how the City of Battle Creek got it's name?  The name itself conjours up all manner of graphic ideas to spark the imagination.  Was there some great battle?  How long did it last?  How did it shape history?  This is the topic I explore in this episode, as it has a connection to some early Southwest Michigan history. A video I reference in this episode is: The Journey of Michigan from Territory to Statehood & How the First Counties were Named Check out my Youtube Channel Visit my website at:
March 11, 2022
The Story of Ezra Convis: First Speaker of the House in Michigan & The Founder of Verona
This is the story of Ezra Convis who was also known in his time as General Ezra Convis.  He was an early pioneer industrialist to Calhoun County who founded the Village of Verona and also was a co-founder of the Village of Augusta in Kalamazoo County.  He at one point was a partial owner in downtown Battle Creek.  He became elected to the Legislature when Michigan was vying for Statehood, and was elected as Speaker of the House.  He won re-election the year Michigan became a state, and died in a sled accident near Detroit on the way to a wedding in the winter of 1837-38.  Speculation on what would have happened in Calhoun County had he not died when he did, as the railroad coming through the county was still undecided at the time of his death.  Convis Township in Calhoun County was named in his honor after his death. Watch the video I created on Verona here: The Rise & Fall of Verona To watch more history videos on my YouTube channel, click here:
March 08, 2022
The Pioneer Society of Michigan & How Early Pioneers Survived During the Settlement Years
This episode goes into who The Pioneer Society of Michigan (established in 1784) was and how they organized to preserve the early pioneer history of the territory.  I also go into one story they preserved about the fate of the first steamboat ever on Lake Erie, called Walk-in-the-Water.  I cover how this society recorded exactly how the early pioneers survived when they first arrived before they had permanent homes, crops and established themselves on the land.  Have you ever wonder where they got food during those days?  A lot of it was survival off the land, but also it was trading the Native American population who had already had a 500+ year history trading with the French.  It is a fascinating history. The Pioneer Society of Michigan collected information from all the early established counties, and wrote personal histories on many of the early pioneers that settled these areas, which I plan to feature several of these profiles in future episodes. For more information on Michael Delaware, visit:
March 04, 2022
The Journey of Michigan from a Wilderness Territory to Statehood & How the First Counties were Named
This episode takes you from when Michigan was part of the New France territory founded in 1534 by explorer Jacques Cartier.  Prior to that, the land was occupied exclusively by the First Nation people.  France ceded the territory to Britain and Spain under the Treaty of Paris in 1763, and eventually the region was formed into the Northwest Territory by the United States Government following the Revolutionary War.  This territory again changed to the Indiana Territory after Ohio achieved Statehood, and eventually was separated into the Michigan Territory in 1805.   The episode covers that journey, and much more as the wilderness region was settled with pioneers, and took the steps to become the 26th State in the Union.  It also covers the organization of the earliest Eastern, Southern and Southwestern Counties and how they were named.   To watch my video on this topic on YouTube: The Journey of Michigan from Territory to Statehood & How the First Counties were Named Follow & Subscribe to my channel on YouTube
March 01, 2022
Wolf Encounters in the Pioneer Days of Southwest Michigan
In doing research on stories for larger projects, I occasionally come across stories of wolf encounters in the old newspapers of the 1800's.  In Southwest Michigan there were several encounters in the early 1830's as settlers began arriving in Calhoun, St. Joseph, Hillsdale and many other Southern Counties.  In researching the Hicks family history at Hicks Cemetery in Pennfield Township I came across a detailed one about the time when William Hicks took his three teanage sons to his new property with the family cow, and telling them to keep a fire going all night and he would see them in the morning.  The boys spent the entire evening keeping wolves at bay who wanted a taste of their bovine companion and maybe a teenager sandwich or two.  There were also several other tales I uncovered about wolves chasing, attacking and occasionally killing people in those unpredictable times, which I include in this episode. If you would like to see the video I created on YouTube about the Hicks Cemetery, that I mention in this episode, here is the link: Exploring History at Hicks Cemetery Visit my YouTube Channel here
February 25, 2022
The Story of Old Hannibal: The 15,000 Pound Elephant who fell into the Mill Race in Battle Creek
Have you ever heard of the story of Old Hannibal (AKA Hannibal) the elephant who visited Battle Creek Michigan in the 1850's as part of the Van Amburgh Menagerie, and while parading down Main Street fell through the wooden bridge over the Mill Race channel?  He was a 15,000 ib Asiatic elephant who toured North America for over four decades, and was larger in mass and weight than the more popular Jumbo the Elephant who traveled with PT Barnum a half century later for only 3 years.  Hannibal's story is a forgotten one from over 170 years ago, but it is a fascinating chapter in Southwest Michigan history. To watch my video on Youtube on this subject: The Story of Old Hannibal - The Good, The Bad & The Elephant Follow & Subscribe to my channel on YouTube
February 22, 2022
The Territorial Roads
Prior to passing of Congressional funding secured by Michigan's 3rd elected Territorial Delegate to Congress, journey into the inland wilderness was near impossible.  With the survey and development of the Territorial Roads across lower and central Michigan, it opened up pioneer expansion into the newly organized lower counties.  This is the story of these vital roads that made Southwest Michigan settlement possible. To watch my YouTube video: Tracking the Territorial Road - The Original Pioneer Trail - Battle Creek, Michigan Follow & Subscribe to my channel on YouTube
February 17, 2022
The Michigan Territory to Michigan Statehood
This episode takes a journey from when Michigan was deparated from the Indiana Territory and became the Michigan Territory, and the path to statehood.  It is a shortened version of a longer episode to come later.  It covers the actions of the early Governors William Hull and Lewis Cass.   Follow & Subscribe to my channel on YouTube
February 17, 2022
The Founding of a Mill Town - Battle Creek Michigan
The city of Battle Creek was founded by Sands McCamly and other pioneer industrialists.  When McCamly arrived into the wilderness region of present day Battle Creek in Calhoun County in 1831, he saw the potential of the confluence of two rivers at different elevations, envisioning a mill race between them.  This started his journey to acquire the land, which through delays and challenges he eventually accomplished 4 years later.  The Mill Race was finally constructed in 1835, and it marked the beginning of the city known today as Battle Creek.  His establishment of a productive milling community made it possible for the cereal industry to evolve many decades later. To watch my video on Youtube The Founding of a City: Sands McCamly Built a Canal Follow & Subscribe to my channel on YouTube
February 17, 2022