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Celebrating Pullman's History

10,000 years ago Southwest Michigan, including Pullman, was completely covered by glaciers; glaciers which are thought to have been up to a mile thick. The Great Lakes were carved out by glaciers and so were the 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, 6 of which are located within Lee Township. Our soil was enriched by deposits left behind the glaciers, resulting in the rich farmland we see all around us and in which the most delicious fruit and vegetables are grown.

During this period huge creatures roamed our area including Castorides, a 250 pound beaver, the Jefferson mammoth and the American Mastodon. Over 300 Mastodon fossils have been found in Michigan.

In just the blink of an eye in geologic time we fast forward to the time of the Hopewell people, a confederation of tribes that utilized a vast trading system, stretching from Lee Township to Florida. The Hopewell, specifically a tribe called the Goodall, lived in our area between 2 and 3 thousand years ago and were responsible for the mounds that still exist in our township.

Blink your eyes again and we have arrived in the nineteenth century. The Potawatomi were residing in our community but being pushed West under the Indian Removal Act. Leopold and Simon Pokagon, father and son, lived part of their lives in Lee Township, they were very well known and well educated members of the St. Joseph Tribe.

In 1844 Thomas Scott was the original and lone settler of Lee Township. Both Upper and Lower Scott Lakes are named after him. He farmed and hunted here between 1844 and 1849. He left our area to join the forty-niners and headed west to California where he was reported to have made a fortune gold mining on the Pacific Slope.

The lumber companies arrived in 1858 and the Township was organized in 1859. Thomas Raplee was the first Supervisor and the Township was named for a portion of his last name. 4 sawmills were operating in Lee Township by 1872 and the town center was called Hoppertown. On July 15, 1901 the citizens renamed Hoppertown "Pullman."

In 1898 George K. Taylor purchased a grocery store from Richard Blanchard. He threw himself into a variety of business interests; he was instrumental in having the pickle factory moved from Bravo to Pullman in 1901, He was renown for his "spot cash"system, his expanded grocery stock and his lumberyard. He was a produce broker and also purchased 14 acres on Lower Scott Lake, developing it into a summer resort. In addition to all of his other enterprises he was also a farmer. In 1912 Taylor, Hunziger and Seymour went into business together and developed the H.T.S. store. It took up most of a city block, had a 2nd story of goods and operated an ice cream parlour in the summers. A portion of the original building remains and is still selling groceries as Preferred Market.

A history as rich and varied as ours requires several blog posts--more to follow!

Beautify Pullman, with the cooperation of Frontier Communications,is very excited to have engaged the talents of muralist Conrad Kauffman. He will be featuring Pullman history on the Frontier building. Mr. Kauffman, who grew up in nearby Bangor, will be depicting significant events in our timeline, from the Mound Builders to the logging industry and settlers, the railroad and much more. He will be working with several high school artists and photographing residents, who will have their faces added to the mural. Mr. Kauffman has done a number of murals in downtown Kalamazoo and we are delighted he will be painting ours. We are also planning a number of "selfie walls" on local businesses, some for fun and some depicting endangered local flora and fauna. Selfie walls are just what they sound like--you take a photo of your selfie in front of them!

Deborah Laraway

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