The village of Cedar Springs is partly in Nelson, and its history is the leading part of the history of the town; that will occupy a separate Article.
Cedar Springs, so named from the fine springs, bordered by a cedar grove, owes its existence as a village to no Providential distinction, but to the will of two men, who said; "Here shall be a village; here shall be a county seat, and a business center." One of these men is the same N. R. Hill who now dispenses justice in the village he has founded, and who smilingly walks the streets, as though he knew he was appreciated==a man, whom sinners fear, and whom saints respect. As he is still in his prime, we will not write his eulogy, But the day may come, when, as in venerable age he takes the air, the Cedar Springers will doff their beavers as he passes along, recognizing the sagacity that pointed to the location, the wisdom that fostered the rising place, and the modesty, that did not name its Hillopolis.
The other father of Cedar Springs is Benjamin Fairchild, who platted the part of the village that lies in the township of Solon. He was very influential in getting settlers, and in securing the railroad. We are sorry to record the fact, that in those operations, instead, as he should, of making a fortune, he lost one. But as long as Cedar Springs has an existence, Fairchild will not be forgotten.
These two men, having determined that a place should arise on their land, platted their swamp, and invited occupation by giving alternate lots to those who would build. The few wise ones who looked on, put their thumbs on their noses, and winked with the left eye. But they knew, as the railroad was coming north, a place must be built up somewhere about there; it might as well be in their swamp as anywhere. By giving lots or selling for a song, and giving credit for that, they accomplished their end. Cedar Springs is a place, but those who founded it, have to work for a living.
But few people located at Cedar Springs until the railroad was completed to that place. For a time it was the terminus; and it sprung immediately into importance. Mills, for the making of lumber, sprung up as if by magic in the region around; and the lumber interest, centering there, became immense. It is now a lumbering town, there being forty-five saw-mills, within five miles of the village. This lumber finds its exit by the railroad, and is tributary to the business of Cedar Springs.
Resting, as it does, on lumber, the place will continue to prosper as long as the lumber lasts. It will by that time be, like Ionia, the center place of a region; the market-town; and as they confidently expect, the county seat of a new county, whose center is about there. They have failed thus far to secure the new county, but probably will in time.
Considering the short existence of Cedar Springs as a place of any importance, we cannot but command the public spirit that has established her excellent graded school, and erected her noble school-house-perhaps the best in the county out of Grand Rapids; that has built her two churches-the Baptist and the Methodist; and that is so persistently pushing the project of a new county.
Cedar Springs was incorporated in 1871. The first election under the charter was held at the house of B. Fairchild; adjourned to office of John Thetge, April 2d; when and where the following were elected its officers:
Benjamin Fairchild, President; Joseph H. Maze, Recorder, E. P. Hayes, Treasurer; Edward C. Wamsley, Jacob Bickart, George W. Hogle, ------ Johnson, R. Kromer, M. Slossom, Trustees.
The village is built of wood, and invites the fire-fiend. Let them take warning from Muskegon.
The "Wolverine Clipper" has been rendered conspicuous by the indestructible Maze.
A Masonic Lodge is there, wise in the lore of Solomon and Hiram Abiff.And above all, at Cedar Springs the people have faith in themselves. When making our formal bow to them, we shall wish them God-speed.
Miss Clarinda Stillwell, is accredited as being the first teacher-summer of ‘57. She is now Mrs. Leathers, and resides in Illinois.
She was followed by Prof. Bicknell and wife. Bicknell was afterwards County Superintendent of Schools; now resides, as a farmer, near Cedar Springs.
The next was Anna Lot. She was the first in the county to get a State certificate. She now flourishes in Alpine, as Mrs. Chauncey Field.
Then followed Jenny Lane, a teacher of rare excellence, winning hearts, and controlling by genuine respect. She has passed from earth.
Professsor Charles Borst had charge of the school one year, assisted by his wife, Miss Maud Lane, and others.
The first school-house was shanty; the second a good frame building for sixty scholars; the third, which was opened January 1, 1873, is a noble structure, worth $20,000.
Cedar Springs believes in education.
Organized February 12th, 1859, with 29 members. Had no settled pastor, until November, 1863, when the Rev. A. Wellman became pastor. He stayed but a short time. In April, 1854, Rev. N. Stillwell took charge, and remained until October, 1867; during which time the church increased to 84. Rev. Charles Oldfield took charge October 31st, 1867, and remained until June, 1870; during which time a house of worship was erected, costing about $4,000, and the membership became 105. He was followed, for ten months, by Rev. J. G. Spooer; who was succeeded by the Rev. J. Payne (before and since of the order of United Brethren). In October, 1872, the Rev. Mr. Oldfield again took charge, and remains. Membership, 144.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 2 June 2010