Bits & Pieces of Arcadia's Past

By Ed Howard
Reprinted from Society News, the newsletter of the Arcadia Area Historical Society
November 2010. Volume 16 Issue 2.

The following entries are from the diary of local historian, poet, and farmer, John Howard (l861-l950), who lived just north of Arcadia. They provide a glimpse into life near Arcadia a century ago.

Apparently, as late as 1895, Arcadia was, on and off, still referred to as Starkeville:

July 4, 1895 - “All hands went to Starkeville.”

July 19, 1895 - “All went to Arcadia to “Uncle Tom‘s Cabin” at night.”

Aug. 10, 1895 - …”Went to Starkeville with apples.”

Want proof that there was a railroad depot called Malcolm’s Crossing just east of Arcadia?

Nov. 22, 1901 - …”Went to Arcadia and got 200 brick and 100 ft. of lumber. In the afternoon I went to Malcolm’s crossing and got 53 apple barrels. Cold northeast wind.”  

Dr. Jamieson, as mentioned in the last Society News, was Arcadia’s early and renowned physician. Here he is making one of his much-appreciated house calls:

March 7, 1916 - “Had Doc. Jamieson stop and leave some medicine for me on his way home from attending Carl Mortenson.” (The Mortenson farm lay along the shore of Lake Michigan between Arcadia and Watervale.)



Grund’s Mill was operating in full swing during 1916. Here’s just one of John’s logging accounts:

Feb. 17, 1916 - "Wilmer helped me, and I hauled 5 birch logs to Grund’s Mill, going by way of Forest Bunker’s farm and Burnham.”

Neither Rain nor Snow…

When anyone in the area needed tending, Doc Jamieson’s carriage was a welcome sight. His horses and carriage are barely visible here between snow drifts in a Michigan winter.


Arcadia’s to-be First Lady of the Air, Harriet Quimby, was still a child when her family left for California in the 1880s, otherwise, she might have been first to fly over the shores of Arcadia:

Sept. 24, 1916 - “Sunday. Went swimming. Water chilly. Saw airship pass along shore of Lake Mich. as I was coming home.”

Ever consider how the 1917 burning of the Arcadia Furniture Factory may have affected local farmers?:

March 5, 1917 - …”I drove to Arcadia to try to sell logs to Furniture Co., whose factory had burned down Saturday night. Another cold night--10 degrees above zero.”

Much is written and told about the “Pirate of the Great Lakes,” Dan Seavey, and his many, above and below board, shipping ventures, but did he ever sail into Arcadia’s harbor? Now we know:

Sept. 19, 1919 - “Took peaches to Dan Seavey’s boat in Arcadia in forenoon.”

Finally, we know that Arcadia had always had winning baseball teams, but how about this?

July 4, 1920 - …”Attended Arcadia vs. Purdue University ball game (7 to 1 in favor of Arcadia),”…

Grund Sawmill Workers

The Arcadia Lumber Company was in business from approximately 1910-1917. It was managed by John Grund (4th from the right) until his death, so locals referred to it as the Grund Sawmill.