Big Rapids Boosters Some of the Citizens Who Make the City What It Is and What It Is Not Pioneer Newspaper
Big Rapids is a good place to live. It is a beautiful city. It is a wide awake city. It is a city of culture and progress. It has many advantages commercially and otherwise for the home-seeker. It is a city composed of neither the very rich nor the very poor, but of the great middle classes, who have just enough to enjoy ad appreciate most of the good things this life affords.
Big Rapids is a city of churches and schools. Besides the churches of which there is more or less of an extended write-up in this issue, there is the Baptist Church, the Swedish Lutheran, the German Church and the Free Methodist. Big Rapids has fine public schools. It has also a good Catholic parochial school and the far famed Ferris Institute. On account of its educational advanatges many families come here annually to educate their children.
Its business men are wide awake and they are all boosters. During the past decade, while it is true that the city has not increased in population, it has increased greatly in prosperity. The evidences for this may be seen on all sides, - in the finer and better kept homes, in the more prosperous appearance of its people and above all in the showings made by the banks. Ten years ago there was only one bank in the city, with assets approximating only about a quarter of a million of dollars. Today there are two banks, one with assets of over $800,000 and the other $550,000.
Industrially the city seems to be entering on a new era. The people here are willing to assist any worthy enterprise seeking a location, and have voted an apropriation of $25,000 for this purpose. The greater part of this money is still intact, to be used together with other monty that can be raised in bringing to this city the right kind of labor employing establishments.
L. F. Bertrau
L. F. Bertrau is one of the live wires of the city. He has been a resident here only seven years, but from the start he exerted a strong influence for the upbuilding of the city. He is serving his second year as president of the board of trade. He is owner of the large Bertrau block, in which is located the big business of bertrau, Almroth & Co., of which he is one of the two proprietors.
Judge Joseph Barton
Joseph Barton, now serving his first year as circuit judge, is personally acquainted with more people in Mecosta County than probably any other individual. He was born i Newaygo County, near the border of Mecosta County, moved to this county when a young man, rose rapidly from the ranks to a high position as a lawyer, and a year ago this month was elected circuit judge of Mecosta nd Newaygo counties for the full term to succeed Judge L. G. Palmer.
George F. Fairman
George F. Fairman is 51 years old. He was born in Plessis, N. Y., and came to Big Rapids with his parents in 1873. In 1892 he started the first cut rate drug store in Michigan. It is his boast that he has saved drug buyers in Mecosta county an average of $10,000 a year on their drug purchases since he went into business here. Fariman's drug store has the confidence of the physicians as well as the people, who know that what they purchase at Fairman's is always the best and that his prices are the lowest for the best quality of goods. Mr. Fairman is one of the most active boosters the city has ever had and never hesitats to put his shoulder to the wheel whe any worthy enterprise is in need of help of any kind, whether it be financial or personal.
Bert J. Ford
Bert J. Ford is county commissioner of schools, serving his second term. He is a young man full of energy and is a tireless worker in the intrest of the public schools. He is deeply interested in briging about the county unit system which he believes is a great advance over the present system.
Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Ferris
Mr. and Mrs. Woodbridge N. Ferris have lived in Big Rapids for nearly 28 years. the institution they have founded has not only been a credit to the city but has done more for its citizens than any other institution this city has ever had. Mr. Ferris has become known as an educator not only throughout the state of Michigan, but his reputation is national in extent. Politically also Mr. Ferris has achieved a wide reputation and eight years ago was Democratic candidate for governor. Mrs. Ferris in the early days had taken an active part and is still and important factor in it development and also takes a prominent part in the sociel life of the community.
Harry I. Drescher
Harry I. Drescher is an undertaker by rofession but that did not interfere with his takig an active part in politics. He has for many years been elected a county coroner and for the past two years served the city as mayor. He is at present an aspirant to the office of probate judge.
Charles P. Judson
Charles P. Judson has made Big Rapids his home for 30 years, and has been in the hardwae business ever since. He has built up his business on the principle, which he has made a motto, that in his store a "dollar does its duty."
He has always been active in the affairs of the city, has served as supervisor and alderman, has been president of the board of tade and is always ready to boost when opportunity offers.
D. C. Morrill
D. C. Morrill is cashier of the Citizens State Bank, having held the position since the bank was established in 1901. During the 11 years of its existence the assets of the bank have increased from $175,000 to over $800,000, this latter figure having just been reached, ever since the second section of this edition was printed. Mr. Morrill has served the city as mayor and gave a remarkable example of economical management his idea being to get the city on an even better financial footing than it was. He was also president of the board of trade two years and president of the Austin Blair Republican Club.
H. S. Pinney
Holmes S. Pinney is serving his sixth term as county clerk, an office he has held for a longer time than any of his predecessors. He has established an enviable record for efficiency and attention to his duties. Before coming here he was a resident for many years of Aetna township. He is also a member of the board of education.
Charles H. Kanehl
Charles H. Kanehl has served the city through three administrations, marshal and before that time he was a night officer. He likes the job of guarding the peace and would not mind being elevated to the position of sheriff of the county, the voters being willing.
W. A. Stillwell
W. A. Stillwell owns and conducts two separate stores, the bazaar and the book store. He went in the bazaar business 13 years ago, when he bought out E. C. Newcombe, and to which he has made constant additions, the latest being an exclusive five and ten cent department. His book store, located in the "Hobart" block, he acquired about four years ago, when he bought out the bankrupt stock of the Quirk Wanink-Newman Co. He is active in social and commercial circles, being the present chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias, an office he has held for three years and is the present secretary of the board of trade.
H. E. Nix
Harry E. Nix is a photographer with a reputation that is state wide and even wider. His work has won recognition at both the state and tri-state photographers conventions. He is still a young man and always aims to keep not only abreast with the times in his work but a little ahead. Most of the photographs taken especially for this anniversary edition are his work.
C. D. Carpenter
C. D. Carpenter is owner of the largest exclusive dry goods house, and does a very large business not only in the city but throughout the county and this entire section. He came to Big Rapids when 18 years old and has always been a booster for the city. He has held various prominent positions, including that of president of the board of trade, president of the board of education, chairman of the board of trustees of the First M. E. church and others. He was married in 1881, to Miss Nettie Wiltse, daughter of Judge Wiltse, the first circuit Judge and first prosecuting attorney of Mecosta county.
W. P. Almroth
William P. Almroth moved here in 1905 and established a limited department store in the Fairman block. He conducted this business for five years and in 1910 combined with L. F. Bertrau, who was then doing a large hardware business, the combination resulting in the largest department store in this section. Mr. Almroth is 44 years old, is a native of Ohio, and has been a resident of Michigan for 16 years, living at Flint before coming here. He is an active church worker as well as a hustling business man.
G. R. Davis
Glenn R. Davis has been in Big Rapids less than a year. He came here to take the position as manager of the Big Rapids gas company, after that company changed the manner of making it from oil to gas to coal gas. He was born in Grand Rapids 32 years ago, and before coming here has an experience of 16 years in the gas business.
N. E. Waldo
Nelson E. Waldo is one of the younger business men of the city. He has been city treasurer two years and is now owner of a floursihing insurance business, having purchased the business formerly conducted by R. E. Webster & Co., by whom he was employed for many years. He served as secretary of the Austin Blair Republican club two years and has been an active officer of the B. P. O. Elks.
William P. Nisbett
William P. Nisbett is the owner of the largest and finest business block in the city, known by his name, which he purchase in 1900. He is one of the oldest and best known newspaper men in the state, having started the "Bill POster" in POntiac in 1868, which he published for eight years, taking at the same time an active and successful paet in the politics of his home city. He came to Big Rapids in 1882 and purchased the Big Rapids Weekly Herald, continuing its publication until 1901 when he sold out. He is the founder of the Bulletin, which paper he established six years after coming here. He was postmaster of Big Rapids four years, from April 1, 1895 and mayor of the city in 1907. He is a Democrat in politics and has been active in district and state politics for many years. He has also played an important part in the history of the Michigan Press Association, of which he was president several years and is at present its historian.
Frank E. Hardy
Frank E. Hardy, postmaster of Big Rapids is 36 years old. He was born in Big Rapids, over what is now the Blue Front restaurant and has lived here all his life. He is a very active member of the Masonic fraternity, and has held nearly all of the important offices in the various bodies, including past worshipful master of the Lodge, past high priest of the Chapter, past eminent commander of the Commandery and thrice illustrious master of the Council. Mr. Hardy has just been appointed to office to succeed his father H. E. Hardy, deceased.
George G. Jenkins
With his son William F., George G. Jenkins is proprietor of the Western hotel, and is also supervisor. Mr. Jenkins moved here from Indiana 12 years ago and started in the hotel business on a modest scale. The Western is now the leading hotel in the city. Mr. Jenkins is a veteran of the Civil War and is especially interested in good roads and in the development of the county.
J. C. Jensen
John C. Jensen has lived in Big Rapids for 25 years, comin in 1887 to clerk for Morris & Crane, in their large double store, which his company is now occupying. In 1897 he formed a partnership with O. M. Oleson and opened a dry goods store in the Nisbett block, enlarging their store in 1905, when a shoe department was added. The company moved its stock into the Morris & Crane block two years ago. A short time ago Mr. Jensen, who had bought Mrs. O. M. Oleson's interest in the business, associated with himself Mr. Parker, who together with M. F. Lown constitute the firm of J. C. Jensen & Co. Mr. Jensen has served on the board of supervisors several years and is an active member of the board of trade.