Archived Story

Dowagiac in 1897

Published 8:33pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Here are some things about what went on in Dowagiac 114 years ago found in some old Daily News papers that were given to me to look through.
1897: Dan McOmber (who looked like a sweet old Santa) delivered milk in a wagon and rang a bell to call customers. Folks ran out with a pitcher or a pail and he drew out foaming milk from a big can with a faucet. Milk cost five cents a quart.
Dave Elliot drove a rattling and clanking tin wagon and exchanged tin cups, dippers and kettle covers for rags, rubber and iron (I’ve always heard about the “Rag Man”).
Mattie McNair had a private school long before the day of a kindergarten.
William Vrooman sold buggies.
Father Joos had charge of the “old Catholic” church at the end of Orchard Street (now the Catholic cemetery).
C.L. Sherwood, druggist, gave away “wee” bottles of perfume attached to a card. Dorothy Vernon was a favorite perfume.
Larkin Brothers had a grocery store on Front Street.
Joe Brechenser also had a grocery and sold crinkle-topped lamp chimneys.
These were dealt out by jovial Rene Walker.
Weaver’s store sold candy and packed eggs in a little tin with a spoon (a penny each).
Pete Potter’s dog, a ticked pointer, would retrieve an onion with eyes full of tears.
People used to buy Spruce Gum wrapped in striped paper. Took a long time to “get her going,” but outlasted any cud.
Mrs. Florence Lindsley won the prize for skating in the “old roller rink” on Beeson Street.
Perry Conkling drove the “big blacks” for Fred Lee. And Otto Bigelow Piano wagon outfit also had a fine team.
Every two weeks, the Indians were paid. One of the braves became so filled with fire-water that he took a ride through the city in an old horse-drawn hearse.
The stage coach which carried the mail to Cassopolis run by William Laporte (my great-grandpa) and later by Johnson (Jonce) Laporte (my grandpa) was called the “Cannonball Express.”
Teachers in the Ward School were Mary Conkling, Betsy Stemburg, Genevieve Howser and Emily Warner.

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