VanBuren County Historical Museum

VanBuren County Historical Museum Run entirely by volunteers; donations always welcome. Admission prices: $5 for adults, $2 for ages 5-12, & free for children under 5. Come see us soon!

The museum is operated by the Van Buren County Historical Society, whose mission is "to encourage historical study and research, to collect and preserve historical material connected with the County of Van Buren and its vicinity, and to house such material where it may be suitably displayed and accessible to the general public." As the mission statement indicates, the museum includes an archives room for individuals looking to conduct specific research. Yet with four floors filled with exhibits and artifacts, there is plenty to fascinate even the most casual visitor. Come see us and experience all we have to offer! The museum is open to the public June through September, at hours posted on our main page, or by appointment. It welcomes school groups in May, however. Stay turned to this page for regular updates and fun facts, even during our off-season.

06/10/2019

Hey guys. We are open for the season now. And we are having our first paranormal event on June 15th at 7 pm. Come on out and see if we detect any activity. Register now at (269) 621-2546. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

05/20/2019

Come on out and join us. Soup Supper, May 24th, 4:30-7:00. Free event, donations accepted. Preview new exhibits. See you there!

One more #NewYear wish for you - this one from a late 1908 greeting. We hope your 2019 is off to a great start!
01/03/2019

One more #NewYear wish for you - this one from a late 1908 greeting. We hope your 2019 is off to a great start!

From us to you!  #HappyNewYearThis postcard (also printed in Germany) was given to Mrs. Ellsworth Nicholas in Lawrence t...
01/01/2019

From us to you! #HappyNewYear

This postcard (also printed in Germany) was given to Mrs. Ellsworth Nicholas in Lawrence to welcome in 1912.

As we wait to ring in the new year this evening, we thought we’d share a postcard (printed in Germany) sent to welcome...
12/31/2018

As we wait to ring in the new year this evening, we thought we’d share a postcard (printed in Germany) sent to welcome the new year 110 years ago.

Elaborate photo albums of the past
12/29/2018

Elaborate photo albums of the past

So much of the joy of Christmas comes from sharing in the wonder and excitement of children who experience it. Can you i...
12/27/2018

So much of the joy of Christmas comes from sharing in the wonder and excitement of children who experience it. Can you imagine how much joy this wonderfully elaborate dollhouse would have given the child who received it? We hope you were able to create new and treasured memories over the holiday!

12/26/2018
#DidYouKnow that the sending of Christmas pictures and letters is not just a recent phenomenon? Here’s the Christmas p...
12/25/2018

#DidYouKnow that the sending of Christmas pictures and letters is not just a recent phenomenon? Here’s the Christmas photo postcard John M. Raymond sent to his friends in 1915. #MerryChristmas #CivilWarVet

Sleigh Rides in Bangor, 120 years ago today #ChristmasEve
12/24/2018

Sleigh Rides in Bangor, 120 years ago today #ChristmasEve

Christmas Eve 1898

In the Grand Army Review parade, which took place in Washington, D.C., on September 29, 1915, Emma Raymond was the flag ...
12/24/2018

In the Grand Army Review parade, which took place in Washington, D.C., on September 29, 1915, Emma Raymond was the flag bearer, leading the representatives of the National Association of Civil War Musicians. Her husband, John Raymond, was a national drum major by this time. #CivilWarEnd #50YearsLater

John M. Raymond, the Civil War veteran we shared with you yesterday, enlisted as a drummer in Company H of the 11th Mich...
12/22/2018

John M. Raymond, the Civil War veteran we shared with you yesterday, enlisted as a drummer in Company H of the 11th Michigan Infantry Regiment, who were organized and trained in White Pigeon from September to December of 1861. Of the 1,000 men of the regiment who left on December 9th for Kentucky, only 340 would return to Michigan.

The 11th Michigan Infantry spent time in Kentucky before moving on to Nashville. In the summer of 1863, they headed further south and in September were engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga. In the summer of 1864, the regiment was involved in the fighting that led up to the taking of Atlanta. With their three year enlistment up, they headed back up to Chattanooga, and on September 25, 1864, most were on a train back to Sturgis.

#OnThisDay in history, 106 years ago, the couple shown below were married. Even though John M. Raymond was from St. Jose...
12/21/2018

#OnThisDay in history, 106 years ago, the couple shown below were married. Even though John M. Raymond was from St. Joseph County, this interesting photo postcard is among our collections. Stay tuned in the next couple days for more information on this veteran and his wife. #CivilWar

These are a few of the colorful and unique dishes in our collections. Do you have any special dishes you use for the hol...
12/20/2018

These are a few of the colorful and unique dishes in our collections. Do you have any special dishes you use for the holidays, perhaps some that have been passed down through generations? Feel free to share yours in the comments! #MuseumStories

Calling the sheep home... Can you tell us why this image looks the way that it does? #Trivia
12/17/2018

Calling the sheep home... Can you tell us why this image looks the way that it does? #Trivia

This is our wish for you this Christmas! We hope you are enjoying the season as Christmas Day quickly approaches!
12/15/2018

This is our wish for you this Christmas! We hope you are enjoying the season as Christmas Day quickly approaches!

#TisTheSeason...to do lots of shopping. Toys might be among the items on your list. Here at the museum, we are pleased t...
12/13/2018

#TisTheSeason...to do lots of shopping. Toys might be among the items on your list. Here at the museum, we are pleased to have an original version of the Easy-Bake Oven. Inspired by New York City street vendors, the Easy-Bake Oven was released in November 1963, just in time for the Christmas shopping season. In its first year on the market, it sold half a million units. In 2006, it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, and it’s still going strong today. Take a look in the comments section for a little bit more nostalgia connected to the Easy-Bake Oven. #MuseumStories

12/08/2018
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Declares War on Japan (Full Speech) | War Archives

The surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, resulted in 2,403 service members killed; another 1,178 wounded; six U.S. ships sunk or destroyed; and 169 destroyed planes. President Franklin D. Roosevelt learned of the attack around noon, and the next morning he addressed Congress to ask for an official declaration of war against Japan. Part of his speech included these words, “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.” America had entered WWII. #OnThisDayInHistory

Do you have family members who were affected by the tragedy at Pearl Harbor? We would be honored to hear their stories.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares war on Japan the day after American naval and military forces were attacked at Pearl Harbor. For Archive Licensing E...

New technology came into play in the early 1930s to move American households from iceboxes to refrigerators. Several com...
12/06/2018

New technology came into play in the early 1930s to move American households from iceboxes to refrigerators. Several companies developed their own line of refrigerators, although the competitive market would soon leave just a few manufacturers. Sparton refrigerators (produced by the Sparks-Withington Company out of Jackson, MI) were introduced in 1932 but would cease production by 1940. Can you think of other products that surfaced and disappeared relatively quickly? #MuseumStories #Technology

Since this was mentioned as a guess on our artifact trivia post this weekend, we thought we would share the hay bale ton...
12/03/2018

Since this was mentioned as a guess on our artifact trivia post this weekend, we thought we would share the hay bale tongs (or hay fork) also in our collection. The diagram helps illustrate how this tool was used. You can find this piece of history in our farm implements room on the basement level of our museum. Does any one have any stories of a tool like this used in your family’s history? #MuseumStories

In conjunction with the ice delivery tongs we posted yesterday, we thought we’d share the icebox from our museum colle...
12/02/2018

In conjunction with the ice delivery tongs we posted yesterday, we thought we’d share the icebox from our museum collections. You can find it in the basement of our museum inside the soda parlor room. It was made by the Progress Refrigeration Company out of Louisville, KY. We estimate it to be from the 1920s or 1930s. The second picture shares the memory of a woman who was a teenager in Chicago and had the job of emptying the water catch tray under the icebox. The third image shows a photograph of an ice deliveryman out of New York. #MuseumStories

This may be an easy one, but who can tell us what these tools are? Bonus if you can share pictures or memories of them b...
12/01/2018

This may be an easy one, but who can tell us what these tools are? Bonus if you can share pictures or memories of them being used in your family history! #Trivia #MuseumStories

#DidYouKnow that famed hatchet-wielding temperance advocate, Carry A. Nation, spoke in Paw Paw on July 20, 1909, as a pa...
11/28/2018

#DidYouKnow that famed hatchet-wielding temperance advocate, Carry A. Nation, spoke in Paw Paw on July 20, 1909, as a part of the first annual Maple Lake Chautauqua held there? She was born on November 25, 1846, so she would have been 62 at the time. Her “hatchetation” only lasted a short time, but it gained her national, and even international, fame, which allowed her to continue on a lecture circuit for years pushing a platform of suffrage and women’s rights.

Learn a little bit more about this fascinating woman and her exploits by watching this short clip from Episode 1 of Ken Burns’ documentary on Prohibition: https://www.pbs.org/video/prohibition-women-of-prohibition-carry-nation/

Stay safe out there today if you have to go out in this weather. These snowy day pictures can be found in our fur tradin...
11/26/2018

Stay safe out there today if you have to go out in this weather. These snowy day pictures can be found in our fur trading exhibit on the second floor. Do you have any information about the people or locations they depict? If so, we would love to hear from you! #Winter #SnowDay

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and followers! We are so thankful for you! Thank you for helping us preserve the h...
11/22/2018

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and followers! We are so thankful for you! Thank you for helping us preserve the history and tell the stories of the people and places of Van Buren County, Michigan! Whatever your traditions we hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends!

Memorial Day observances in many American towns around the beginning of the 20th Century usually included a processional...
11/22/2018

Memorial Day observances in many American towns around the beginning of the 20th Century usually included a processional of Civil War veterans marching in line with their GAR comrades to the local cemetery to pay tribute to their departed comrades. Hartford was no different. Members of the Ellsworth Post No. 20 began this tradition in about 1906. By 1909, their ranks had fallen to only around 40 members who participated in this tradition; by 1910, just 28 veterans marched to the cemetery on west Main Street. The Hartford Day Spring describes them with “silvered locks and enfeebled step”. The article further describes the 1910 Memorial Day observances: “The veterans of Ellsworth Post, G.A.R., gathered at their hall at nine o’clock in the morning where they were joined by the W.R.C. and the pupils of the public school. Headed by the boys’ drum corps, the line of march extended to the old cemetery on west Main street, where the ritualistic exercises of the G.A.R. were conducted.”

#OnThisDay 155 years ago (Nov. 19, 1863), President Lincoln offered a few words which he thought “the world would litt...
11/20/2018

#OnThisDay 155 years ago (Nov. 19, 1863), President Lincoln offered a few words which he thought “the world would little note nor long remember” when he sought to dedicate the National Cemetery at Gettysburg as “a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.”

In our archives, we have a few copies of this souvenir poem that was published for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle. It is narrated from the point of view of a soldier of that battle, recounting the events for his now grandchildren. Part of it goes like this:

“So did this famous battle close
In glory dearly bought.
Now, children, ever remember those
Who there so bravely fought.

And to the soldiers, old today,
Be very kind and true;
Though of the blue, or of the gray,
E’er give them honor due.

And ever when sweet May is here,
And many a blossom waves,
Take of her flowers, children dear,
And strew our heroes’ graves.

Remember the field where only two
Of each three marched away;
A thousand firesides mourn their Blue,
And a thousand mourn their Gray.”

#CivilWar #Veterans #Gettysburg155 #HonorAndRemember

Hartford’s chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic was known as the Ellsworth Post No. 20. It was chartered on June ...
11/18/2018

Hartford’s chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic was known as the Ellsworth Post No. 20. It was chartered on June 20, 1881. Their namesake was Colonel Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, whose name became widely known after becoming the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. He was leading his 11th New York Infantry in occupying Alexandria, Virginia, on May 24, 1861, when a zealous Confederate innkeeper shot him at point blank range. Ellworth’s portrait can be seen in the center of this photographic membership of Hartford’s GAR post. #CivilWar #Veterans #GAR

For more on Colonel Ellsworth, check out this article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-death-of-colonel-ellsworth-878695/

Yesterday you saw a picture of some of Bangor’s Civil War veterans. Today we would like to share this related item fro...
11/17/2018

Yesterday you saw a picture of some of Bangor’s Civil War veterans. Today we would like to share this related item from our collections. This framed copy of the original charter document for Bangor’s GAR post hangs on the second floor of the museum, in the hallway outside the Civil War exhibit room.

As you can see from the photo, Bangor’s chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic was officially known as the A. Lincoln Post No. 19. They were chartered on May 20, 1881. Although it’s difficult to make out, the signatures of all the charter members of this post are in the middle of the document. Their names include the following: John G. Todd, A. M. Harrison, Clark G. Russell, Charles W. Peters, John W. Williams, A. D. Smith, D. W. Hall, H. W. Truesdale, Samuel P. Harvey, Sheldon Smith, Henry Sherrick, George H. Remington, William S. Charles, Daniel E. Palmer, R. W. Tiffany, Ward M. Taylor, Thomas M. Harvey, and Oscar A. Reynolds.

Some of these names you will see in the reunion photo that was taken in 1916 (the one we shared yesterday) - go back and take a look. Do you recognize any of these names? Were any of these men your ancestors? Let us know. #CivilWar #Veterans #GAR

Here is a photo of a reunion of Civil War vets in Bangor from June 25, 1916. Most of these men would have been members o...
11/16/2018

Here is a photo of a reunion of Civil War vets in Bangor from June 25, 1916. Most of these men would have been members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) post in Bangor. The GAR was the precursor of the American Legion, and chapters started organizing all across the country about fifteen years after the end of the Civil War. Any soldier who fought for the Union could be accepted as a member. Stay tuned as we share more local GAR history with you in the coming days. #Veterans #CivilWar #GAR

All Civil War veterans were part of Bangor's Grand Army of the Republic Post (GAR) which was organized in 1881. They made it a tradition to march to the local cemeteries to remember their comrades who were decreased.
The photo below was taken on June 25, 1916.
names are:
sitting L-R - RH Cook, Samuel Harvey, Henry DeLong, JG Todd, JH Sands, WP Austin Standing second row- WM Cotton, Charles Schemerhorn, JP Goss, George Spaulding, WH Ashley, George Britton, Daniel Camp, JH Monk Back Row- Fred Overton, OA Reynolds, Henry Fanning

With all our sharing about veterans recently, we want to encourage you to explore this well researched and extensive web...
11/13/2018
WW1 Soldiers from Hartford Michigan

With all our sharing about veterans recently, we want to encourage you to explore this well researched and extensive website devoted to Hartford history. This particular portion of the website focuses on World War I veterans.

Dedicated to all Veterans from Hartford, Michigan and Keeler, Michigan who served in the U.S. Military from WW1. Some area veterans from Lawrence, Bangor, Decatur, South Haven, Millburg, etc. are also listed

With Veterans Day being observed today, we thought we’d share a few more WWI artifacts in our collections. The first i...
11/12/2018

With Veterans Day being observed today, we thought we’d share a few more WWI artifacts in our collections. The first image is an enlargement of a postcard image credited to G.J. Kavanaugh, who took photographs for The Chicago Daily News of American Forces in France from 1917-1918. World War I greatly expanded the use of trench warfare, so the second image highlights a trenching shovel used during that time. The last image is a colorized photo postcard of soldiers in a U.S. Auto Telegraph Car used during World War I. #Veterans

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month one hundred years ago, World War I ended with the signing...
11/11/2018

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month one hundred years ago, World War I ended with the signing of an armistice in France. The following year in 1919, Allied countries, including the United States, held Armistice Day celebrations. By 1938, November 11 became a legal holiday in the US, and finally in 1954, the day became known as Veterans Day to honor and remember veterans from all wars, not just World War I. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all veterans for their service and sacrifice! Please take a moment to remember in your own way, and thank a veteran if you can. #Veterans #Armistice100

We recently rediscovered this photograph in our archives. We believe the older gentleman may be a Civil War veteran, whi...
11/10/2018

We recently rediscovered this photograph in our archives. We believe the older gentleman may be a Civil War veteran, while the young man on the right is clearly in a World War I uniform. Any ideas who these men might be? #Veterans

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the armistice, which ended World War I on November 11, 1918, we would like to fo...
11/10/2018

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the armistice, which ended World War I on November 11, 1918, we would like to focus on WWI veterans. The men shown here are members of the 14th Sanitary Train (pictured in front of Field Hospital 255). They were part of the 14th Division of the Regular Army, better known as the Wolverine Division. The 14th organized at Camp Custer on July 29, 1918; but by January 27, 1919, following the end of the war, the Division began demobilization. Do you have any family members who served in the Wolverine Division? We would love to hear their stories! #Veterans

Yesterday we showed you a full body flight suit, and today we’d like to show you a pair of pants from a WWII flying su...
11/09/2018

Yesterday we showed you a full body flight suit, and today we’d like to show you a pair of pants from a WWII flying suit. They’re a little bit different than the full body suit, but they’re just as heavy and thick. They are stamped and tagged as property of the Army Air Force. Thanks to Matthew Kindig from Lawton for donating this wonderful artifact to us this summer! #Veterans

#DidYouKnow that we have a World War II Army Air Force flight suit in our collection? It offered both protection and hea...
11/08/2018

#DidYouKnow that we have a World War II Army Air Force flight suit in our collection? It offered both protection and heat - check out the cord attached to the back! This item hangs in a display case inside the military room exhibit on the second floor. Can anyone tell us more about Harvey J. Strong, who is shown in the second image, wearing a flight suit? #Veterans

As we lead up to this weekend, we would like to share some veteran related items and pictures we have in our collections...
11/07/2018

As we lead up to this weekend, we would like to share some veteran related items and pictures we have in our collections. First up is this photograph from June 19, 1945. Based on some of the notation, we believe this photograph was taken in Manila or the islands surrounding it. Keep in the mind that the Battle of Manila campaign, which removed the Japanese control from the Philippines, ended by March 1945; and V-J Day would occur on August 15, 1945.

Do you know any more details about this photograph? Can you identify any of the men pictured? Please share with us in the comments below! #Veterans

Address

58471 Red Arrow Hwy
Hartford, MI
49057

Opening Hours

Wednesday 12:00 - 17:00
Friday 12:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(269) 621-2188

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