VILLAGE OF PENTWATER
The village of Pentwater is pleasantly and picturesquely situated on the north side of Pentwater Lake, at the lower end, where it empties ba channel of about half a mile into Lake Michigan. The village lies on a sandy soil, which is easily drained and wonderfully productive. One good feature of the village is the plentiful supply of luxuriant maple shade trees. The population, which is increasing, is now estimated to be about 1,500, and with the progress of manufactures, it will reach 2,000 at no distant date. The buildings are chiefly of wood, which is the natural consequence of the village being founded on the lumber interest, but this Spring. F. O. Garner is developing an exhaustible bed of clay, of excellent quality, on the bank of the lake, and will soon have brick for exportation, besides supplying the local demand. Two new brick blocks are in course of erection on the main street, mill from henceforth brick buildings will be more and more erected. In hotels the village in now fairly served, but as its qualities as a Summer resort become better known, a large tourists' or Summer hotel, with the necessary adjuncts, will become a necessity, and as the present hotels and private houses are already filled with Summer visitors, a hotel of the character we have indicated is being talked of as a joint stock operation. The fishing and bathing are excellent, and the scenery in the vicinity is pleasing and picturesque.
The village of Pentwater was
incorporated March 16, 1867, and the first election was held
April 8 following; C. W. Deane, W. H. Shibley, and J. M.
Lacey being the first inspectors of election, and there
being 181 voters present. The first officers were:
President, C. W. Deane; Recorder, H. Doville; Treasurer, J.
H. Highland; Assessor, O. P. Cook; Trustees, D. C. Pelton,
I. N. Lewis, W. H. Merritt for two years and A. Bryant, J.
Bean, Jr., and J.J. Kittredge for one year; Marshall, W.
Webb; Attorney, L. D. Grove; Street Commissioner, E. S.
Pentwater is a remarkably healthy place, and is becoming yearly more of a resort for invalids and tourists. The present hotels are crowded in the Summers, and private houses are pressed into the service to take Summer boarders. A movement is now on foot to erect a large Summer hotel by a joint stock company. To show the healthfulness of Pentwater, we may mention, that during the year ending April , 882, there were but twenty deaths, of which eleven were of children two years of age, and of the remainder five were brought here to die, being given up by home physicians, and but two of the remaining deaths could properly be charged to Pentwater. There is no chance for malaria, as all low places drain into the lake.
THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Was first organized March 1, 1872, by village ordinance, and on the 7th the following were elected first officers: R. L. Hardy, foreman, with W. A. Rounds, and C. Wittington, as assistants; A Dresser, as secretary, and A. T. Underhill, treasurer. On June 7, 1882, the old organization was disbanded and a new one formed, with C. R. Wittington, chief engineer; C. W. Cramer, assistant; J. C. Jensen, foreman of fire department, with W. H. Tuller, assistant; F. Maynard, foreman of Hose Company; F. Pierce, assistant; H. A. Cross, secretary, and F. W. Fincher, treasurer; E. G. Falkner and S. W, Bunyea are fire police, and F. Nielson and E. W. Hodges are fire wardens. The steam fire engine Oceana, manufactured by Clapp A Jones, is an excellent one, and has been in use for about eight years. Over 1,000 feet of good hose can be used, if needed. and the company is a very efficient one. They are twenty-two in number and are paid for time spent in extinguishing fire. No great conflagrations have swept over the place, and the fire department has a good record for conquering fires.
The harbor of Pentwater has ben made an excellent one, and a navy could ride at anchor within the ample depths of the inner lake. At first the outlet was but a small, shallow stream, over which the first settlers could wade without difficulty, as the water was but a few inches in depth. Indeed, the Indian tradition is that, not long a go there was no outlet to the lake. The mouth was to the north of the present by a few hundred yards and the old channel may yet be seen. C. Mears and Rector & Cobb, in 1850, made efforts to clear out a channel, especially the former, who was the first to put in little slab piers on the north side, and erected on poles a beacon light. Vessels were loaded and unloaded by lighters, or small scows, and the trouble and expense was great. The United States government has been induced from time to time to make somewhat liberal appropriations for the harbor improvement, in all amounting to about a quarter of a million dollars, and last session of Congress the large sum of $10,000 more was voted, which will be expanded in dredging, which is much needed. The harbor has now substantial stone piers on both sides, about three-fourths of a mile long, and the channel is 150 feet wide, and eleven feet deep. A lighthouse was set on the end of the south pier in 1873. F. McGuire the first keeper, and his wife still holds the place, The light is a steady red light. Money has also been appropriated for a life-saving station. The harbor at inner end is crossed by a ferry, the railway coming in on the peninsula opposite. H. C. Flagg has for years managed the ferry. Off the piers and in the lake near is a good fishing place, white fish and trout, mullet, and sometimes sturgeon and wall-eyed pike being taken. Frank & Tamler were the first to make fishing a regular business. The harbor inspectors have been , first, F. W. Ratzel, 1865-66; Col. Strohman until 1878, and then D. C. Wickham.
The post office was opened in 1858, with E. R., Cobb as first postmaster; in 1857 H. C. Flagg, as a Democrat, took the office, with E. D. Richmund as deputy, and moved the office over to the Middlesex side. This was the spring when Buchanan became president. When Lincoln took office, in 1861, Mr. Richmond was promoted to be postmaster, but when Andy Johnson was "swinging round the circle," Mr. Richmond was rather disgusted, and getting at this time a request to contribute $50 as the assessment on his office, he showed the document to some returned soldiers, and they contributed a wad of confederate money, which was duly forwarded to Washington, but so little was this appreciated that he received, by return of mail, a notice that a successor had been appointed. This was A. J. Underhill, who held until 1867, when Amos Dresser got it. After him came Dr. Dundess, then Richmond again, in 1873; Dresser in 1879, then H. H. Bunyea, and lastly C. F. Lewis, in 1881; and the office is in the former drug store of J. G. Gray.
The mercantile business is
transacted in three large general stores, three exclusively
grocery stores, two furniture stores, two hardware stores,
two drug stores, three blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, a
broom handle factory, and a large wholesale furniture
factory is being erected. In lumber, there are four
shingle-mills, and three sawmills, two of which have
shingle-mills attached. The annual product with the mills up
the river and not far from 20,000.000 feet of lumber , and
the same number of shingles. George Vorhees, superintendent
of sorting drives, reports in 1881, 45,500 logs, 80,812
posts, 89,698 ties, and 27,440 telegraph poles. The shipment
of wood by Hands & Maxwell, which is annually from 1,000 to
2,000 cords and the bark, also form important items in the
trade of Pentwater.
W. A. Rounds express, dray and feed
stables were established in 1867. Mr. Rounds keeps five
horses on Hancock Street.
OCEANA COUNTY BANK
This bank was established by Gray
Brothers & Co., in 1870, the company consisting of Gray
Brothers, and Messrs. Rice and Ambler. In the Spring of
1872, S. A. Browne & Co. were added to the company, J. G.
Gray retired, and the institution received the name o Oceana
County Bank, which it retained until 1877, when Nielson &
Co. (F. Nielson and W. E. Ambler) assumed the entire
control, and still operate it. Capital stock $15,000, and
outside capital $30,000. The bank, in 1878, sustained losses
by the Franklin Bank of Chicago, and Henry Clews & Co., New
York, which, though crippling, did not cause it to close its
door, and it paid all demands. The present firm have raised
the institution from a low ebb to a very enviable
state. The building is a very fine one, and elegantly
appointed. The foundation of the large vault is of stone,
and the walls are of solid bricks, sixteen to twenty inches
in thickness, while the safe, of Hall make, weighs five
tons, and is of extra thickness and strength, with a time
lock, having three combinations.
There was organized in June, 1882, a joint stock company, with a capital stock of $50,000, to erect a factory, to carry on the manufacture of furniture, W. B. O. Sands is president, E. Nickerson vice president, J. Jeffries secretary, F. Nielson, treasurer; directors, Sands, Nickerson, Collister, Jeffries, Fisher, Nielsen and Maxwell. C. Mears took $2,000 in stock for the site, which is near the ferry, not far from his old mill. The factory is a substantial wooden structure, four-stories in height, 48x100 feet; engine room of brick, and the engine is to be eighty horse power.