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

Poorhouse-Museum Pic - 1 of 1.jpg

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.

Christmas at the Poorhouse

A beautiful weekend brought many visitors to the Poorhouse and General Store. The entertainment was excellent and the goodies delicious. It was great.


2017 Restoration/Preservation/Beautification Awards

Jacob J. Deal came to Michigan from New York State in 1854, then went on to Jonesville in 1858, where he opened a blacksmith shop. Deal did all kinds of custom work until 1865, when he sold the shop and erected two small buildings on West Street, where he started building wagons and buggies. Jacob Deal had one surviving son, George, who became his father’s partner in 1891. The business was then renamed J.J. Deal and Son. George became interested in horseless carriages, specifically delivery trucks. Eventually Deal began assembling “autobuggies,” which developed into the Deal automobile in 1908.

 the bob & Kathy Norton Home

the bob & Kathy Norton Home

George built this home in Jonesville in 1901. It's probable at that time that the wood for the home was cut in the yard to the necessary specifications and installed immediately. As it dried it solidified into a powerfully strong material. It certainly had "strong bones." Bob Norton fell in love the first time he looked through it. However, he needed to convince his wife, Kathy, that this house was meant to be in their family. At first she only saw a sadly neglected house. It took four visits before she finally shared Bob's vision. They purchased the home and set about creating a "2017 house in a 1901 shell" of impeccable strength and style. From August 2015 to September 2017 the Nortons worked with a fleet of contractors and subcontractors  to bring the electrical, plumbing and heating systems up to date while restoring the woodwork, floors and style to their original excellence.

After the Deals and before the Nortons, this home was the original non-profit Manor Foundation for housing and educating special needs students from ages 6-18, which had been founded in 1930. Eventually the Manor expanded into a multi-building complex on East Street in Jonesville. The Manor closed on Mar. 1, 2013.


 The Robert and Sara Like home

The Robert and Sara Like home

 the whitney-brininstool trust home

the whitney-brininstool trust home

 the Grosvenor home

the Grosvenor home

In 1840, the Hon. Ebenezer O. Grosvenor arrived in Jonesville. He was in the mercantile business and established the Grosvenor Savings Bank. His house was built of locally fired bricks, a sign that Hillsdale County had the ability to build without having to rely on outside sources for the materials that went into a fine home. Ebenezer's influence extended to the state of Michigan. He served two terms as Lt. Governor and eight years on the State Building Commission, which was responsible for the building of the State Capitol. Four generations of Grosvenors lived at the house in Jonesville before it became a rooming house. Restored now to its former glory, it is now the Grosvenor Museum, a treasure in the county.

 the scott & shelly howard barn

the scott & shelly howard barn

This 1893 barn was lovingly restored by Scott and Shelly Howard, under the watchful eye of a worried neighbor who was certain Scott would end up dead in an accident as he worked on it. A section of the barn, added later, was no way consistent with the style of the barn. It had to go. Scott took it on one day spending a good portion of the morning lying on his stomach sawing at it in an effort to make it release its hold on the rest of the barn. Shelly received a frantic call at work from their watchful neighbor, who said, "Scott's going to die today. You need to get home." Oblivious to his neighbor's dire prediction, Scott came down from the roof for a break. As he rested he heard a sound from the barn. As gracefully as a carefully imploded building, the offensive addition to the barn gently collapsed into a tidy pile..

In 1923 twenty-five stanchions for milking cows were added to the barn. Milking was done until the 1970s. 

Now the main floor of the barn serves as a dream "man cave" for Scott, where he can putter to his heart's content. Kathy has her play area in the bottom portion, where she stores "stuff" and furniture ready to be restored.


State of Michigan Historic Marker

On Sat., Oct. 7, an official State of Michigan Historic Marker at Lewis Emery Park was dedicated.

Lewis Emery volunteered the use of his land for training the 18th Michigan Regiment in 1862, and the men went into encampment to learn how to be soldiers. The camp was located at the top of the hill to the east of the current entrance to Lewis Emery Park. 

The 92 acres that would become Lewis Emery Park were a swampland until the 1930s. In an effort to end the Depression, the government set up public works projects that would employ the out-of-work men. The government eventually offered construction jobs to almost one-third of the nation's unemployed. In Hillsdale, assisted by some of these workers, five ponds were dug for the raising of bluegill and bass, and the swamp was turned into a place for anyone to enjoy. 

Thanks to the efforts of Bill and Barb Smith, we are honoring the historic significance of Emery Park.

Hillsdale County Fair

From the sweltering beginning of Fair Week until the more seasonal weather at the end, the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds Museum had many interested and interesting visitors.

Will Carleton Farm Festival

An absolutely perfect day (if you ignore the brief and shocking showers in the afternoon) brought many visitors to the Farm Festival and Sharron Watkins Memorial Cruise In, which was organized by the Bicentennial Car Club. Along with the old tractors from the Center Adams Antique Power and Machinery Club, the old cars were a good match. 

 Family of the late Sharron Watkins were present for the Cruise In that was organized in her honor

Family of the late Sharron Watkins were present for the Cruise In that was organized in her honor

Family members of the late Sharron Watkins gathered to honor her memory, along with those of us in the Society who were fortunate enough to get to know her.





The Vanished Hillsdale Sixth Reunion was marked by a presentation by Dan Bisher on early settlers and settlements. The VH Facebook page has a video of Dan's presentation.