Grand Ledge: In the Beginning
Each room features a topic: natural history, forming of the village, home life and earning a living.
Natural history focuses on the famous ledges with photos and paintings and a large display of fossils from the clay pits and ledges.
Native Americans still visited “Big Rocks” into the 1840s to hunt and fish, make maple syrup, clay pots and form baskets from the reeds found along the creek in Oneida Woods. They had three temporary wigwam villages along the river. You will see a picture of Chief Okemos and a display of arrowheads.
Edmund Lamson arrived in 1848. He was the first permanent resident and first village president. Big Rocks became Grand Ledge. in 1850. Meet Miss Sanders, the first teacher and see some of the early schools. The first churches were the Congregational, Baptist, Methodist and Lutheran. Circuit pastors performed baptisms in homes. View photos of the downtown area with the 1870 iron bridge and before the 1885 Opera House and Fire Station (now Ledge Craft Lane).
Sign in at Mr. Rueban Wood’s desk. He built the first general store. See a recently donated and signed 1860 L. Harrington jug from his very early pottery. Enjoy the working replica of the Russell Coal Mine, one of at least 20 coal mines along the river west of the islands. Fancy yourself paddling Mr. Mudges 1880s canoe from the Seven Islands Resort. View early farm equipment, such as a grain cradle, hand corn and potato planters and a setting hen house.
The home life area includes a rope bed with early quilts, a recenty donated Grand Ledge Chair Company rocking chair, early Betty lights, a spinning wheel and a table set with Rueban Wood dishes. See the equipment used to boil the sap into maple syrup, churn butter, make apple butter and saurkraut.
The exhibit is open on Sundays between 2 and 4 p.m., and on festival days from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The museum is also open by appointment for tours for school groups and bus tours can be arranged by calling (517) 627-5170.