‘Cardinal Charlie’: Cass County lost population between 1880 and 1940

Published 11:50 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2011

1940: The census says the population of Cass County was 21,922, still under the then “all time high” reached in 1880, which was 22,009.

gillHard to believe.

The county grew from 919 in 1883 to approximately 50,000 in 1987.

Today, the county is comprised of 15 townships, one city, Dowagiac, and incorporated villages.

In the April 1910 election, the Republican Party swept the entire City of Dowagiac’s slate as Cass County went “dry” for the first time.

Dowagiac, though, voted “wet,” with Dowagiac’s first and third wards voting wet.

Only two townships in the county returned a wet majority, Wayne and Silver Creek.

Did you know the home at 208 W. Division St. is the oldest brick home in Dowagiac, built in 1849 by Francil Van Antwerp?

They say the builder carried the glass for the home on his back, walking from Niles to Dowagiac. (This is the house that burned where Gary Weaver lived.)

In 1915, 100 Dowagiac youths joined in a marble scramble in Michigan Central Park, according to a “Looking Back” column from Feb. 22, 1945.

Ten thousand of the miniature spheres were scattered.

“A crowd of staid businessmen wished they, too, might get into the melee.”

Michail Williams, who was a native of Silver Creek and, for many years, chairman of the Potawatomi Indians of Indiana and Michigan, explained where the name Dowagiac came from.

The Potawatomi word Ndowagayuk means “foraging ground,” hence, the name of Do-wa-je-ak.

Aug. 30, 1989: A picture of Ben Tippin, son of the Rev. James Tippin, headed for the school bus carrying his Mickey Mouse lunch box. (I remember those popular lunch boxes kids had. Some were Dick Tracy, Lone Ranger and others. They are now collector’s items.)

The exact date athletics started in Dowagiac is unknown, but the first local field meet was held in 1886.

Baseball was the most popular and football began in the 1890s.

Football players were subjected to cinders as they played on a field surrounded by a cinder running track, which I remember still being there in the later years.

Dr. James Gallagher once told me he could still feel the hurt when he hit the curb around the football field that circled the cinder track.

(I bet a lot players when tackled or in making a tackle experienced the hurt as Red Gallagher did years ago.)

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at cardinalcharlie@hotmail.com.