Christmas at the Poorhouse

Despite a rainy weekend visitors enjoyed the holiday warmth of the Poorhouse.

In the Poorhouse

In the General Store

The 2018 Renovation Awards

The Hayward Barn 

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On a 328 acre centennial farm on Milnes Road live Bill and Elsie Hayward. It has been farmed continuously since Bill’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side William Rochester Montgomery, Jr. bought it in the 1870s. William, Jr. was the son of William Rochester Montgomery, Sr., who came to Camden and then Hillsdale from New York in 1836. William, Sr. was the Register of Deeds in Hillsdale County and has both a road (along the south edge of Oak Grove Cemetery) and a village named after him. The latter was a result of his generosity in not charging the citizens to register their village near Reading. They named it “Montgomery” in his honor.

Bill & his bride, Elsie, with Mary Foulke, Restoration Awards Chair

Bill & his bride, Elsie, with Mary Foulke, Restoration Awards Chair

The barn behind the current Hayward home has wooden pegs and a long, sturdy, hand-hewn timber from end to end. The barn is double-sided and as straight as the day it was built. The barn behind it was moved from the area where Hillsdale Hospital now stands and also has a hand-hewn timber across the length.

Bill and Elsie celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary on Oct. 22, 2018, the evening the renovation awards were celebrated.

Waldron Grain and Fuel

Joel Rufenacht’s grandfather purchased the old Waldron train depot in 1950. Later he added to that a mile of track offered in bankruptcy that encompassed some of the grain elevator used by the company he founded as the Waldron Grain and Fuel.

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In the last third of the 1800s, railroads tied together our nation. By 1887 two trains a day passed through Waldron. By 1888 the line stretched to Cincinnati, Ohio. The line eventually became the Cincinnati Northern RR. One or two days a week there was a livestock auction in Waldron, after which the animals were slaughtered and sent off in a train. A booklet was printed to guide the process so the meat would arrive at market without being spoiled. John D. Rockefeller also moved some of his Standard Oil fuel through Waldron.

Joel Rufenacht with Society President Jean Letherer

Joel Rufenacht with Society President Jean Letherer

The old railroad depot, now restored, has been used for storage of fertilizer, as a repair shop and currently as seed storage.

Harper House

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In 1835 the Harper family came to Somerset. They built this house in 1883, with succeeding generations living there until 2009. Today the renovated home belongs to Craig and Deborah Bos.

The Walworth Home

This home on Broad Street was built in 1858 and purchased by Tom Walworth in 1985. The first few years were spent making it livable. In 1990 the real restoration began … plagued by gremlins who seemed intent on interference.

The woodwork and windows were all original, but had been painted and needed loving care. By 2000 restoration of several rooms had been completed when an old boiler failed, spewing boiling water and leaving the wallpaper hanging in shreds like a tropical jungle. Back to square one, work began again and was far enough along by 2005 for it to be on a home tour. The next year, however, a lightening strike ripped a hole in the roof. Damage was contained when helpful neighbors rushed to assist with garden hoses, and the fire department arrived in time to limit the damage. In 2007 the home was again on tour, this time for the Garden Club.

Tom Walworth with Society President Jean Letherer

Tom Walworth with Society President Jean Letherer

The home can be seen from above in an 1866 rendering of Hillsdale. There were few homes in the areas, making it probable that lumber for the building was cut on-site. The home has two staircases, one for servants in the back and one for the family in the front. A carriage house sits behind the house, and behind that is a 1930 greenhouse with 14’ ceilings that was purchased in Ohio, torn down and reassembled in Hillsdale.

2018 Hillsdale County Fairgrounds Museum

With four special exhibits, as well as the old favorites, the Society Museum, just inside the Broad Street entrance, is a place to visit.

Here are the exhibits:

And here are some of our visitors:

2018 Farm Festival

A beautiful, sunny (and HOT) day brought many visitors to the Poorhouse where tractors, classic cars, the 1931 Seagrave Fire Engine, a step into the past through old postcards, a Vanished Hillsdale reunion with a presentation by Dan Bisher and great food provided varied and fun activities.


The 1931 Seagrave Comes Home to Hillsdale

On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the Seagrave arrived home. A generous citizen volunteered to house the fire engine until a safe, secure storage facility has been prepared. Unfortunately, the current barn has structural weaknesses AND powder post beetles (like termites) that make it unsuitable. A local family has offered to fund the building of a new barn for the Seagrave that is large enough to exhibit some of our larger antique vehicles and artifacts. Stay tuned for the final decision about where the Seagrave will be on view.

volunteers from the early 1960s. L to R: George Whitson, Gabby Gaberdiel, Fletcher Bishop, (unknown), (unknown), Jim Taylor, Warren Taylor, Ed Minihan, Delbert Ellis, Chief Harry Payne. Behind on the left is Tom Bates. The man standing on the right, higher than the others, may be Nick Ferro. The others are unknown.

volunteers from the early 1960s. L to R: George Whitson, Gabby Gaberdiel, Fletcher Bishop, (unknown), (unknown), Jim Taylor, Warren Taylor, Ed Minihan, Delbert Ellis, Chief Harry Payne. Behind on the left is Tom Bates. The man standing on the right, higher than the others, may be Nick Ferro. The others are unknown.

Purple Robe Locusts

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In late May the Purple Robe Locusts donated by Barb Vallieu presented a lovely display of color. This was after they'd been attacked by amorous deer preparing to impress the lady deer with their antlers.









Show & Tell

Each year we have a chance to share our treasures. They range from valued antiques to items that are priceless because of their sentimental value. 


Sally Fallon brought a mug that her parents had purchased in Cincinnati on their honeymoon and a log cabin mustard container that could be used as a child's bank after the mustard ran out.











JoAnne Miller brought two items from a collection of porcelain kitchen items that her brother-in-law Michael Miller has given her over the years. Her grandparents had similar items in their kitchen, and this priceless collection reminds her of them.










Darin Sheffer brought a 1930s Mobil oil Marine can that is part of a collection he started 12 years ago. This is quite a rare example of oil can.











Dorothy Kruse-Berry brought skates that she used as a child. The wearer had to use a key to tighten the clamps that held the toe portion of the shoe on the skate.











Rosemarie Schneider brought an oval picture of Woodrow Wilson. For years it had held a rounded picture of the grandmother of her husband's first wife. Rosie and Paul decided to take the rounded part and picture off of the frame and found Pres. Wilson.










Paul Schneider brought a "lumber stick." It has a small hole in one end to calculate how many board feet a tree will produce. The user holds the stick 25" from his eyes and centers it on the small end of the tree. The stick gives the calculated number of board feet in the tree.










Dan Bisher raided his mother's old stuff. He found three cloth dolls that apparently came from a circus.












Dan also found a leather vanity for carrying personal grooming supplies.








Dan also brought a machine-sticked dress made from a Stock's Mill bag










Meg Fowler brought a memory book from Elizabeth Burridge, her great-grandmother and a handbook of the sinking of the Winfield Scott.











Tony Fowler brought several wooden cookie molds, including some that were really big. Apparently the dough was pressed into the mold and then unmolded on a cookie sheet to be baked. He also brought a chocolate mold from the DeRose Arbor, a store that was located on the north side of the Dawn Theatre.









Carol Lackey brought some pieces of Pewabic pottery from her collection. We have some wonderful examples of Pewabic tile in the entry to the Mitchell Research Center and on the lobby walls of Davis Middle School and Mauck and Bailey elementary schools.










Jean Letherer brought two banks from her father's collection. One was a mail box and the other was a bank bank.












Field Trip to the Bob & Kathy Norton Home

This historic home was built by George Deal and later became the first home/school of The Manor Foundation. The Nortons have lovingly recreated the historical feel of their home while making it comfortable and thoroughly up-to-date. They found original fireplace pieces and kitchen cabinetry stored in the garage and attic and reinstalled or repurposed them. Brian Cox, who was hired to do the fine carpentry, specializes in the renovation of old houses. He was present to share information on his part in restoring the Nortons’ home.

Little did the Nortons know that when they invited us to visit their home after being awarded the Preservation Award in the fall of 2017 that we would bring almost 40 people to enjoy their hospitality. It was a memorable trip.