Muskegon History and Beyond with the Lakeshore Museum Center
By Lakeshore Museum Center
Muskegon History and Beyond with the Lakeshore Museum CenterSep 20, 2023
Muskegon in the Spanish-American War
2023 marks the 125th anniversary of the Spanish-American War, a brief conflict that would put the United States of America on the path to a global power. Many Muskegon County residents would be a part of this war. Today we examine the history of this conflict and the role these residents played.
The Death of John Guild
Today's episode takes newspaper stories from the 1880s , eye witness accounts, and testimony to piece together what happened to John Guild and how he ended up dead. This episode will put you in the role of detective to see what you think happened to Guild and who if anyone was responsible for his passing, in a story that made national headlines and local history.
Introducing Samaroff and Sonia!
In the early 1900s Bluffton started to attract performers from all around the United States. These performers eventually formed an actors colony as a summer retreat along the shoreline. Two of those who made Muskegon their home were acrobatics/dancers/animal trainers Samaroff and Sonia who brought their 4 legged friends. Listen in the learn about this amazing duo.
For a video of their act check out this clip on Youtube
Amazon Under Construction
Our episode today takes us back to our very first episode on the Amazon building in downtown Muskegon, by examining a different aspect of that company. Listen in to learn how the building was constructed and what from, and learn about what they produced, how they made it, and just how much was created.
The Bombing of the Regent Theater
Early in the morning on March 17, 1930 an explosion rocks downtown Muskegon. It is discovered that a bomb has gone off at the Regent Theater, but why was the theater targeted, by whom, and did it have any connection to other bombings in the state. Join us today to learn the answers to these questions and uncover a tumultuous time in our past.
Kaydon: Building America's Bearings
Today learn about the history of Kaydon. A specialty ball bearing production company that has its origins in war, but whose products today go far beyond Muskegon Counties borders.
The Muskegon Motorcycle Club
The Muskegon Motorcycle Club has been around for over 100 years. On our episode today learn about the history of the motorcycle, the clubs founders and members, and various activities of the club including the Mt. Garfield Hill Climb.
The History of Maring Wire
The Maring Wire Company, later known as Anaconda Wire was formed by Albert Maring. Maring began the company after he designed a new enameling machine to cover wires with insulation. This company would continue to produce insulated wires to be used in electronics and motors until the 1980s.
James Balbirnie: Muskegon's Assassinated Mayor
James Balbirnie long served as an undertaker in Muskegon, before turning his gaze to politics becoming Mayor of Muskegon. While in office Balbirnie would meet his end in a harrowing assassination right outside his home in broad daylight.
Pinchtown: The Small Community Stuck in the Middle
Pinchtown received its name from being pinched between two towns, Muskegon and Lakeside. This small community long shared the border of Ruddiman Creek with Lakeside, but as the City of Muskegon expanded it was squeezed on the other side as well. It maintained its streak of independence though even when the City of Muskegon annex Lakeside in 1889, effectively surrounding it with the City of Muskegon. This proud community would eventually join the city in 1895 but always maintained a unique identify.
Firefighting in Muskegon
2023 marks the 150th anniversary of the Muskegon Fire Department. In honor of that we are looking back into some of the history of the department and talking about our Fire Barn Museum which opens this year on May 1. To learn more about this topic visit the Fire Barn Museum and keep your eye out for some events this year celebrating this anniversary.
A History of Leeches and Medicine
They swim, they crawl, they want your blood. Leeches may be one of the larger fears for all of us swimmers, but at many points in time a leech bite is just what the doctor ordered. On our episode today we trace the long, strange, and fascinating history of leeches and their connection with humans.
A Steamer Called Hackley
With a quick look around Muskegon you will come across the name Charles Hackley several times, and for good reason. The lumberbaron donated much of his wealth to Muskegon and he was a popular figure. However what you will not come across anymore is the steamer that bore the name Hackley. On our episode today we look back at history of the ship that would take Hackley's name and its fascinating past.
Nellie B. Chisholm: An Educational Pioneer
Nellie B. Chisholm holds the unique position as being the first female elected to any position in Muskegon County. She was elected as County School Board Superintendent in 1907 and stayed in this position for the next 28 years. She also in her life served as a teacher and principle and was involved in many organizations. She dedicated her life to education and the well being of children in Muskegon County.
Steaming Along: The History of the Muskegon Boiler Works
While the sawmills get all the industrial glory for early Muskegon, none of these mills would have been able to operate long without support business such as The Muskegon Boiler Works. The boiler works provided crucial repair service to keep these sawmills running and built new equipment for many of the businesses and homes that would come afterwards. The company would at its height be constructing massive boilers throughout the United States and stayed in business until the 1980s.
Hockey has a long history in Muskegon County, from backyard pond games to championship professional teams. On our episode today we look at the introduction of hockey to the area and follow its story up to Muskegon's present hockey teams.
Brunswick: Bowling and Beyond
Brunswick has long been synonymous with bowling and setting the standard in that sport, but over the companies history they have produced a variety of products. Many of these products were designed and created right here in Muskegon, which for a long time was its production hub. Today we get a strike looking into the history of this long lived company.
The Mart Dock
The West Michigan Dock and Market Corporation, known commonly as the Mart Dock had its start in the Great Depression. This project helped bring jobs to the area and would become a trading hub and entertainment center for Muskegon. Today the dock still functions in downtown Muskegon for shipping and trade but also hosts the LST 393 and Port City Princess.
The Chase Hackley Piano Company
Join us as we look back at the history of the Chase Hackley Piano Company and the role it played in Muskegon's past.
A Tale of Two Shaws
Our episode today takes a look at the two Shaw named companies located in Muskegon, Shaw-Walker and Shaw Electric Crane Company. We will also look into the backstory of their unrelated founders Arch Wilkinson Shaw and Alton Shaw.
Muskegon's Opera House
On the podcast today we look at the history of Muskegon's Opera House and its origins with the Temperance Movement.
The Torrent House: Past, Present, and Future
Join us as we welcome Mallory Metzger and Joe Zappacosta from Hackley Public Library as we talk about the history of the Torrent House in Muskegon. Beginning with its construction by the local wealthy lumberbaron John Torrent, to its use a mortuary, hospital, and as part of the Red Cross, until its present ownership under the library. We will also discuss the upcoming project to remove the attached building from it, and the library's future plans for the house.
Muskegon's First Theater Mogul
On our podcast today we tell the story of the man who created the Strand, Reagent, and Michigan (now Frauenthal) theaters. His love of the theater lead to a local theater empire in Muskegon County and brought him much success. Today we tell the story of the man commonly called P.J.
Muskegon's Prime Resort: The Lake Harbor Hotel
Located on the channel from Mona Lake to Lake Michigan, the Lake Harbor Hotel was in a perfect spot to enjoy the cool summer breezes and a dip in the water. This large hotel would become the premier resort of West Michigan and would offer all the amenities of a top resort today. The hotel would be a beacon of tourism for Muskegon until it burned down in 1918.
The Spring Creek Archaeology Site
Today we are joined by Dr. Janet Brashler former anthropology professor at GVSU, as she discusses the history and importance of the Spring Creek Site located in Muskegon County. This archaeological site is on the national register of historic places and dates to around 100 B.C. to 1100 AD.
To see some of the sites collection at the University of Michigan see the link below.
Muskegon's Polar Bears of World War I
On our episode today we look at the interesting history of the United States involvement in Russia during World War I, and see what life was like for those Muskegon residents who found themselves in a strange new place.
Margaret Drake Elliot- Muskegon's "Bird Lady"
Margaret Drake Elliot was a noted author, naturalist, and librarian among many other roles. Her deep knowledge of the natural world led her to become the leading expert in the field and earned her the nickname "bird lady" due to her particular knowledge of birds. Join us as we discuss the many contributions of Margaret Drake Elliot during her incredible lifetime.
Kearny Memorial Park and the Philip Kearny Statue
Major General Philip Kearny most likely never visited Muskegon and probably had never even heard of it; however, his fame as a military leader would inspire those of Muskegon to honor him in several ways including creating a memorial park in his honor. On our episode today we go into the life of Philip Kearny and the how and why a statue and a park of him were created in Muskegon.
Arctic Grayling and Michigan
On our podcast today we examine the history of the Arctic Grayling in Michigan. Once an important food source for Native American's and settlers alike, grayling were eliminated in Michigan due to over fishing and habitat destruction through practices such as lumbering. In recent years, huge efforts have been made to try and reintroduce these rainbow colored fish back to Michigan's lakes and rivers.
Beyond the Swinging Door
The Beyond the Swinging Door: Servant's Podcast takes a deep dive into the personal lives of some of the servants that were responsible for running the Hackely and Hume houses day to day operations. This episode is in conjunction with the Dressing the Abbey exhibit at the Museum Museum of Art which looks at the outfits of the resident of the fictional Downton Abbey at the turn of the 20th century. The cover photo is of Taylor Bullis, the Hackley Family coachman.
Lighting up the Lakeshore: Lighthouse in Muskegon County
With the entire west side of Muskegon County bordering Lake Michigan, ships have often played a vital role in the development of the area through commerce or recreation. To help guide these ships safely over the years lighthouse have been used to identify various ports of call. On our podcast today we look back at the history of these lighthouses.
Earthquakes and the Midwest
Listen in as Wendy interviews Geologist Greg Waite from Michigan Tech about earthquakes in general and how they can occur in the Midwest. Professor Waite will also answer questions about earthquakes from children at Muskegon Christian Elementary.
The Founding and Early Collection of the Lakeshore Museum Center
In 1937, Muskegon held a centennial festival to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the first sawmill being built on Muskegon Lake, and Michigan becoming a state. This festival had many oddities and events, but it also included the collection of Muskegon artifacts. It was this collection that became the basis for a county history museum. 85 years later, these items are still an important part of the Lakeshore Museum Center's collection. Currently these items are on display at the museum in our From the Ledger exhibit, which goes through summer of 2022.
Originally built as a Civilian Conservation Corps project during the Great Depression, the Blockhouse with its great view of Lake Michigan, quickly became a local icon and popular destination. It also became a target for vandals and would survive much before being burned down in 1962. The destruction of this structure proved the communities love of the Blockhouse and after years of campaigning the structure was rebuilt to be used by locals and campers alike again.
A History of Hackley Public Library
Today we are joined by Mallory Metzger, Marketing and Program Coordinator for Hackley Public Library as we talk about the creation, history, and legacy of this Muskegon cultural institution. We also discuss the library's role in Muskegon's community today and the resources they provide.
“Mother” Adelphia Ward – A Muskegon Trailblazer
On part two of our history of the Maccabees, we examine a Muskegon resident Mother Adelphia Ward and her mission to create a women's branch of the Maccabees. Find out what vital role this organization played and what it took for a female lead organization to get the credibility and respect it deserved.
The Knights of the Maccabees
The Knights of the Maccabees were a fraternal order that at one time had members throughout North America. Over the years the organization disbanded except for a strong presence that lasted in Michigan. In this part 1 of 2 we examine the history of this organization, in part 2 to follow in two weeks, we will cover the strong ties between the Maccabees and Muskegon.
Hackley Hospital: A Healing Legacy
Charles Hackley, in his lifetime, gave much back to Muskegon in his desire to make it a better place. Many of these donations still serve Muskegon County residents today. Our topic today however, has recently had it's story come to a close in its physical form, but will remain in the minds and hearts of many of our listeners. Today we look at the creation and history of Hackley Hospital.
George Irving Quimby a Life Uncovered
George Quimby was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and spent much of his early life in Western Michigan. As a young man he was a sailor in the Great Lakes but also was a part of many early archaeological excavations in Muskegon County. He would become the director of the Lakeshore Museum Center in 1942 before becoming the Curator of North American Archaeology at the Field Museum in Chicago. Quimby continued to be a world renown anthropologist publishing many books on North American archaeology and anthropology and even having a feature named after him, the Mason-Quimby line.
The Great Blizzard of 1978
In the winter of 1978, Muskegon County and most of Michigan saw over 2 feet of snow fall in period of several hours. On our episode today we look at the circumstances that led to this super storm, how residents dealt with it, and the consequences of that blizzard.
1921 A Year in Review
As we begin 2022 we would like to take a look back 100 years ago to what was happening in Muskegon County and the United States.
The Flat Iron Building
Filling a unique triangular slice of land in downtown Muskegon, the Flat Iron Building was position in an ideal place. Listen in as we talk about the history of the creation of this building and its later demolition.
A Fascinating Life: Leigh Hackley Smith
Today's episode dives into the tumultuous life of one of Charles Hackley's grandsons, Leigh "Hack" Smith. This episodes looks both at the highs and lows in his life and how he helped carry on the Hackley legacy in Muskegon and abroad.
White Lake: From Enviromental Disaster to Environmental Success Part 2
In part 2 of our story on White Lake we examine the history of clean up in White Lake and the various groups and organizations responsible for the effort.
White Lake: From Environmental Disaster to Environmental Success Part 1
In part 1 of our story on White Lake we examine the history of several industries in the White Lake area and how they impacted the lake and local environment. In part 2 we will focus on the clean up effort the revitalized White Lake and restored it to some of its former glory.
Reverend Archibald Hadden: A Pillar of Muskegon
Reverend Archibald Hadden served First Congregational Church in Muskegon for 28 years. However this was just a part of his life. Hadden would also be a city commissioner, mayor, president of Hackley Hospital, serve on the committee for the Hackley Park statues, and argue for the creation of playgrounds in Muskegon. The Reverend was well respected in Muskegon and on our episode today we will dive into why.
An Overview of Lumbering in Muskegon County
Our podcast episode today will be a little different. Instead of focusing on a specific topic, place, or person, we are going to do a broad episode to cover the history of lumbering in the area. Lumbering was vital to the development of the area and Michigan as a whole, and on today's episode we are going to explain exactly how lumbering was done.
A History of Hoffmaster Park Part 2: An Interview with Elizabeth Tillman
In part two of a history of Hoffmaster Park, Wendy interviews long time naturalist Elizabeth Tillman about her time at Hoffmaster and the changes she has seen to the park over the years.
A History of Hoffmaster State Park- Part 1
In this episode staff member Wendy interviews her father Charles DeWitt and her Uncle Feller about their experiences growing up near Norton Township Park which would later become Hoffmaster State Park. The duo shares stories of their time in the park and the changes they have seen to it over the years.
The Life of Thomas Hume
On today's special episode in partnership with the Michigan Irish Music Festival and their Hackley Hooley event on September 18th, we take a look at the history of the most famous Irishmen to call Muskegon home, Thomas Hume. Business partner to Charles Hackley, Thomas Hume would in his life acquire millions, much of which was given back to the community of Muskegon. We will also be releasing a podcast on the history of Irish settlers in Muskegon County so make sure to check that episode out too.