Byron Township Sesquicentennial Album
History of Byron Center (Page 69)
"A History of the Village by Anna B. Sharp was found in a scrapbook."
Now a little history of the district aside from school. The railroad was completed in March 1870, the first train being an engine and one flat car, but soon regular trains were running. The depot was on the ground of the present one. An "up-and-down" board building was erected nearby in which to store wheat.
At that time the only houses were: The Warner log house, west of the railroad; a small house occupied by the Nugent family, it stood where the Roeloff house now stands; the school house; a small house east of it; a small house of the site of the Lawrence Shields’ home, built by a man named Hoyt – it had been used as a store and dwelling; and the Merritt big house.
In December 1869 Samuel McKinney built the first boarding house, which combined a post office and store. Mr. and Mrs. Silas Hamilton were the proprietors of this establishment. The structure is now a part of the garage and dwelling occupied by the Nevervelds.
John Griffen, the first section boss, built where the Petroeljes now live. A Mr. Quick built across from the old school house and did shoe mending.
The Narregangs built a blacksmith shop; Dr. H. W. Strong built the square house on Main Street; Wm. Crabtree erected a store where Art Daining is now located. There was a hall on the second floor. In this hall, in February of 1875, the first candidates received the Rebekah degree. The Odd Fellows lodge which was organized the previous year held meetings in this hall. The building burned and was replaced with the present one.
The depot master built a small house where the C. B. Towner building now stands. He was also post master. Gus Wedgwood built the house across from the town hall where the Cheyne family are now living. The M.E. church was built 1873 and the town hall and brick school house, about two or three years later.
In 1873 S. S. Towner built a saw mill and the lots west of the town hall were used for a log yard.
It would take too long to cite all the buildings but I will mention the most important.
The Disciple church was built on the now vacant lot east of the Vander Zaag home. It was later sold to the Advents and afterward again sold and moved to Moline. The present G. A. R. hall was built by Mr. Tobey in 1886, in front of the house now occupied by Mrs. Mary Heath. The west half being post office, the east half a barber shop. Later it was remodeled into a store and occupied by Peter Sharpe, who conducted a store and also the first public telephone exchange. Later the building was sold to C. B. Towner and later was moved to the back of the lot, eventually it was moved to its present site.
A Grange hall stood where the creamery now stands. After a time Geo. Stollneker and Wm. Creegar operated an apple elevator here. This was about 1885, when the northern lumber camps were large consumers of dried fruits. Later on the building was used by Ernest Foote as a feed mill. The building burned. Another apple elevator was erected on the side of the Nash home. This also burned.
A hotel was built about 1873 or ’74 by the Wedgwood brothers. This wooden structure was burned in the winter of 1901-2. It was replaced by the substantial brick one now standing.
Among the industries that have helped make our town busy were two harness shops, a barrel factory, a wagon shop, two blacksmith shops, a tin shop, grist mill, flour mill, saw mill, grain elevator, apple market, butter factory, etc.
Byron Center is now as good a little village as one would wish to live in and seemingly progressive with its four churches, two schools, bank, volunteer fire department, stores, garages, post office, mill, harness shop, celery market, etc.
In closing, I would say, this is more of a history of what Byron Center was, the balance must be written by those of the present generation for I can not remember the latter events.
Transcriber: Jennifer Godwin
Created: 08 February 2002