Marcellus ‘burnt woods’ full of blueberriesPublished 11:44pm Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Here is some more from the book Week by Week.
1909: Citizens of Wayne and Silver Creek used to go over to “burnt woods” to get their blackberries, where there were 2,000 acres of them.
The “burnt woods” is now covered by Marcellus village.
1909: James Porter of Calvin died in the Cass County poor house. He was born a slave in Louisiana and was almost 100 years old. In 1859, he ran away, ended up in Cass County and lived in Calvin for 50 years.
Aug. 6, 1911: Thomas Jefferson Martin of Dowagiac died at his home. He was a former slave and knew Abraham Lincoln and shaved him many times after he became a barber. He was also a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Thomas was born in slavery to a black mother and a white father. He came to the North across the Ohio River. He became a barber on the steamboats on the Ohio and Indiana rivers. He shaved many important men and Abe Lincoln was one of his customers. He used to tell how “Old Abe” kept all the people on the boats entertained on the slow trips from Cairo.
Thomas said he and Abe would often talk about slave conditions, and he also used to chat with Steven A. Douglas. He quit the river life when the war broke out and became a part of the Underground Railroad system that carried slaves to Canada. He guided more than 100 fugitives to safety.
After the war, he ended up at Kalamazoo and later came to Dowagiac, where he conducted a barbershop for several decades. I don’t know where in Dowagiac Thomas lived, but I’m sure it was a good part of town.
His son Fabe, who was also a barber, lived on Green Street, two doors down from the Henry Lee house. My old teacher Dorothy Lee used to tell me what a nice neighbor the Martins were.
Fabe was a poet as well as a barber and wrote a beautiful poem about Riverside Cemetery.
Fabe had a daughter, Ernestine, who was a good friend of my mother and a classmate. I have several pictures of her and my mother.
1911: The inheritance tax in the estate of the late Mary Lee Bishop of Dowagiac was assessed by Judge Cone recently and the estate will pay the largest tax of the kind ever assessed in Cass County.
Mrs. Bishop’s property totaled $1,057,231.32. The law on the tax is 1 percent or $1,057.23 and the Cass County Treasurer’s Office got $105.70
1911: A John Watkins recently found a turtle on his farm near Pleasant Hill which had the date 1854 and the initials V.B. carved on its back.
No doubt they were placed there by Vallentine Beadle, one of the early pioneers of Fabius Township. That poor old turtle carried that on his back for 57 years.