The Village of 1837
And so, by the end of 1837 the Village of Grand Rapids was quite a place. Surely it had the nucleus for growth in a hardy citizenship such as few early communities could boast. Among the residents there were two score men who would have made themselves prominent in any community. They had courage, vision, determination, honesty and faith in the future. They were interested in life, in government, in spiritual matters. They were hard workers, toiling many hours in the day and often into the night that they and their families might progress. They had to carve everything out of a wilderness, and nobly did they build for a great future.

Progress was so rapid in the village and in the river valley that an enterprising editor, George W. Pattison, was encouraged in 1837 to establish a weekly newspaper.

Advertisements in the earliest issues of this newspaper, the Grand River Times, tell us how quickly the business of the new community had been organized. The mercantile establishments appeared to center on Waterloo street (Market avenue), near the Eagle Tavern. There was a cluster at Monroe and Ottawa, another at the foot of Crescent, and a small group of stores on Michigan street.

A variety of goods were sold at the first stores. One would sell pork and pickles, silks and calicoes, nails, hammers and hatchets. Another would sell pins and needles, axes and crowbars, vinegar, whisky and brandy, pepper and spices, maple and loaf sugar, milk pans, jugs and jars.

Baxter has given us a comprehensive story of the business of the village in the spring of 1837. At the foot of Monroe avenue Antoine Campau was selling teas, groceries, wines and liquors, pipes, tobacco, cigars, oils, mould and dip candles, and "other articles too numerous to mention." He also traded in furs and Indian supplies. Across the way from this store Orson Peck dealt in groceries, wholesale and retail. South of Campau was Jefferson Morrison's store, which contained all sorts of goods then marketable. Over Morrison's store was John Beach's paint shop, where glazed sash was for sale. On Market avenue, opposite the Eagle Tavern, was James M. Nelson & Co.'s store where groceries, hardware and drygoods were sold and on the next corner below the store of A. H. Smith & Co., stocked with clothing, drygoods, hats, boots and hardware. Toussaint Campau had a similar store nearby, as did Richard Godfroy, and close to these stores was the office of Dr. E. Gravelle.

In "Kent," as the north portion of the village was called, was the Kent Bookstore, which advertised books, stationary, pocket compasses, lucifer matches, snuff boxes, maps, razors oysters, cigars, ready-made clothing, drugs and medicines and boots and shoes. H. R. Osborne had a blacksmith shop on Bond avenue. E. W. Emerson dealt in hardware, crockery and groceries on Canal street, "opposite the mammoth mill." J. J. Hoag had a drug store near Bond and Crescent, and over it was the shop of C. H. Taylor, draper and tailor. Samuel L. Fuller was a surveyor and map maker. Carroll & Lyon were selling saws, chains, mill supplies, leather and lanterns. Several real estate men offered bargains in village property, and insurance agents advertised for business.

Transcriber: Ronnie Aungst
Created: 14 December 1999