In 2010, member, David McDonald, was in the process of commencing a new Branch County history book. In his early research work, he came across several pieces of information that had been accumulated and saved at the Wing House Museum on people and events within the community. From this, he commenced writing a newspaper article called “Historically Speaking”. As research for the history book brought about information on a number of people and events from the community’s past, it provided easy material for his newspaper articles. Thus, began a series of articles shared with the community.
The following represent many of those articles on people, events, and homes from within Branch County. The goal is to preserve these historic stories for future generations. So that they may come to know about the lives of the people who converted a piece of the new Michigan Territory into the county we would know as Branch County.
This section will, hopefully, be an ongoing accumulation of stories, so check back on a regular basis for additions. If you have a topic of interest on people, places, and events of Branch County, pass the idea along to Dave, and the next story may be an answer to your question.
Click on any of the below titles to see the full story
By: David McDonald Ever wonder what Confederate money would have looked like? In 1865 it would have become worthless. Who might save some as a souvenir? How about Federal soldiers who were making an unprecedented tour through the south to places like Atlanta, Georgia, and points to the east in Savannah. General Sherman fought his Read More
By: David McDonald – This image was taken in the 1902 timeframe. Charlie Sanford, milkman, stands next to his milk wagon on a very muddy East Chicago Street. Charlie was a resident of Girard. Note the sign over the entrance door to the wagon, “Clean Milk”. The milk business was owned by John Neal, an Read More
By: David McDonald In 1835 a young man of twenty, by the name of Abram Canfield Fisk, came to the infant village of Coldwater, MI. Bringing no claimed wealth with himself, his goal was to find work, accumulate money, and buy some of the government property that was abundant in the new Branch County. After Read More
By: David McDonald If you are in Branch County and you mention the Civil War battle of Chickamauga, anyone remotely knowledgeable of local history will say, “Oh yes, that’s where the Loomis Battery lost five of their cannons.” With plaques in the 4-Corners Park downtown, Coldwater tells the story of the Loomis Battery (correctly identified Read More
By: David McDonald, BCHS – Justice came with the new settlers when they forged their way into south central Michigan territory in the late 1820s. Not long after arriving in the prairie area in the future west side of Branch County, legal issues were re-enforced with the appointment of a Justice-of-the-Peace. This new job fell Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President Early villages such as Coldwater and Quincy were established along an old Indian passageway referred to as the Sauk Trail, and later by settlers as the Chicago Road. Transportation in early Branch County came in the form of stage coaches. In 1837 the new state of Michigan launched improvement Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President In a past article appearing on the front page of our local newspaper we read of the ongoing Crippen family struggle to vindicate Hawley Harvey Crippen of the murder and mutilation of his 2nd wife, Belle Elmore. A notorious murder mystery in the UK approaching the caliber of “Jack Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President There’s lots of buzzing and planning of activities in the air for the City of Coldwater. The county seat of Branch is officially 150 years old in 2011. The sesquicentennial events are expected to be plentiful and entertaining during the months ahead. Like our many historic buildings and Victorian Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President Yes, Branch County claims two ghost towns in its history. In both cases even the buildings have become no more than ghosts themselves. Even their cemeteries are nearly beyond locating. The two villages were named Mason and Branch. The photo shown gives you a view of the very last Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President Last time we looked at the history of a home built by Audrain Abbott in the mid-1850s. He picked the location for the house on his tract of land so they could view the Sauk Trail out their parlor window. Call it intuition on Audrain’s part, but the Sauk Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President This time we will do the genealogy of a house. Yes a house, and one with a very interesting service history in our community. Do you recognize it from the 1923 artist drawing shown here? The building at 165 W. Chicago Street, Coldwater, recently having served as a training Read More
By: David McDonald, BCHS President The Branch District Library’s Heritage Room houses many archive folders with many more interesting, and true stories of people and times long past, but not forgotten. While doing some local history research recently I came across an interesting, and unusual story. It was about a lady who lived in Branch Read More
By: Dave McDonald, BCHS – President May is already upon us and thanks to the moderate April whether the flowers are well into bloom, trees are filling out with foliage and you have probably already had to mow the lawn more than once. Our topic is the recognition of the May national holiday, Memorial Day. Read More
The History of Branch County Cities and Villages
Located along the U.S. 12 Heritage Route (Sauk Trail). The city reflects a unique balance of past and present, featuring many fine old turn-of-the-twentieth century homes. The village, and later, city of Coldwater enjoyed a booming economy filled with rapid retail development and industry of many types. Coldwater was originally platted by two of the Read More