The Schermerhorn Home
The ancestors of C.D. (for Charles Darwin) Schermerhorn began in the Netherlands and steadily moved west. Although C.D. helped his father on the family farm near the village of Ransom, he had bigger dreams. He established a store in Ransom and then moved to Reading, where he began to buy run-down farms outside the village, "improve" them by cutting down the trees and then installing tenants to run them. The lumber he cut was used in the Schermerhorn Brothers dealership in lumber and lumber supplies. C.D.'s true business acumen surfaced when he and his brother bought the Colby Wringer and Washing Machine Company. C.D. immediately saw the possibilities in the folding chair that was already produced as a sideline by the Colby company. Within months, C.D. and his brother dissolved their lumber partnership, and C.D. founded the Acme Chair Company, becoming a leader in the production of those handy, easily stored chairs.
So much is made of Hillsdale County's founding fathers that our founding mothers get lost. C.D.'s wife was very much a force in Reading. Fanny Schermerhorn was a strict, Christian woman and a strong voice in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the W.C.T.U. The meetings of the W.C.T.U. went beyond proclaiming the evil of alcohol. They were also concerned about the proper role of women, especially their good influence on men. One talk at a meeting was titled "Marriage as a Reformation for Young Men." In 1883 Fanny was elected to the local school board, the first woman to hold such an exalted position in the government. One can believe that the force of her personality left an imprint!
The Schermerhorn home in Reading is now the St. John Funeral Home.
JoAnne P. Miller