Archived Story

Tamarack an early distillery

Published 11:08pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Here are some more of the old columns in the book by B.C. Hubbard, a columnist for the Marcellus paper years ago.
One of the first distilleries in southwest Michigan was at Flowerfield, which became a village before Kalamazoo or Three Rivers in 1830.
The brand name was Tamarack.
The law at the time, no liquor within 60 feet of a church.
I guess this Tamarack whiskey was as strong as “white mule.”
A famous judge once took a drink of some in 1834 and many years later he described it as follows: “When a man drinks a good horn of it, he rubs his hand over his stomach and lifts up his feet as if his toenails were burning.” One article had a picture advertising the presidential ball at the Dowagiac House on March 4, 1853.
Bereniece Vanderburg says the Dowagiac House was built in 1849 on the corner of Front and Main.
It has had at least three other names. One was the Mineral Springs House and the last was Central Hotel. This must have been quite a ball as it had six managers.
W.G. Beckwith was the sheriff. Henry Tietsort was the county treasurer.
They say trunks in cars came in about the mid-1930s. I can remember when cars had their spare tire on the back of the car on a bracket, and a lot of these had a cover over the tire.
Also, I can remember some larger cars had the spare tire on the passenger side’s running board.
In the old days, bumpers were really made to be bumpers and would save a car from a lot of damage in an accident.
Here is something I’d like to know. When did banks start loaning money for one to be able to buy a car?
In 1908, you could buy a car for $2,000, and back then it took the average American two years to earn $2,000. A car back then was a luxury. Banks at the time wouldn’t lend a penny to buy a car. Some people mortgaged their homes to have a car (not good thinking, huh?).
Mr. Hibbard also wrote about the covered bridge over near Centreville.
I wonder, does it still exist and why would it be covered?
He said it used to be a custom that when a fellow took his girlfriend out riding and passed through a covered bridge, he was entitled to a kiss when passing through it.
October 1918-19: “Spanish flu” killed half a million people in the United States. Worldwide it had a toll of 50 million. I wonder how many died in Dowagiac?
1919: Football score: Marcellus 12, Dowagiac 0. How about that?

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
Email him at

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