The a-Round Green Lake territory was wooded and occupied by Indians, (which might have been the Ottawa) who fared well with bountiful fishing and wild game from turkeys to bears. The first record of ownership was Louis Campau (the founder of Grand Rapids) on February 12, 1836. The Clemens brothers, Levi, Abraham, Adam and Joel owned most of the land surrounding Green Lake. The first record of their ownership was 1864. They rotated their habitats, living for six or eight years on one farm and then exchanging for another. In September 1899 E.S. Sherwood bought the property on the East side of the Lake and after some reverses that property was sold to Peter and Anne Petersen on February 26, 1908, who in turn sold small parcels to various people.
“Tally Ho” on the corner of East Shore Dr., and South Shore Dr., was sold in 1920 to acting Judge Rose of Moline and later purchased by Mr. Van Namee. Carl and Ruth Loveland bought the five acres North on Hilltop in June, 1930, which was later sold to Robert Cook. Carl Andresch bought a parcel on the North side of East Shore Dr. Dr. William and Mary Reus bought the Seery homestead in June, 1935 but sold this property to Major Ward and Grace Seery in August, 1936 when Dr. Reus purchased a large parcel of property in the Northwest corner of Green Lake.
Mr. Peck owned the farm on West Shore and the farm buildings were still standing in the late 1930’s. He willed a specified amount from the West Shore Dr. East, including the Lake frontage to the Township of Leighton for a township park. The old roller rink was adjoining and flourished well for years for skating and dancing along West Shore Dr.
Mr. Louk’s operated a pavilion and swimming resort on East Shore Dr. just at the bottom of the “Hill District”. He and his wife Daisy, afforded many happy hours for everyone in this community as well as those living in nearby areas. Two cottages where built on the Louks Pavilion property by Ernie Miedema’ in the late 1960’s., including the Lake frontage to the Township of Leighton for a township park.The old roller rink was adjoining and flourished well for years for skating and dancing along Green Lake hotel: The Fred Biggs family brought life and excitement to Green Lake many, many years ago when fishing was the chief sport and without much skill a fisherman could have a tubful of fish in a very short time.
The father of this very enterprising young man deserted his family when Fred was a very small child and his sister still unborn. As young Fred grew to manhood at the age of twenty he envisioned an enterprise for his beloved Green Lake and erected a small building, to be used as a hotel on the land now know as the “Public Access” boat launch site.
His efforts were very rewarding and soon the original building developed into the three story Inglewave Hotel which was operated by Fred, his mother, Miria Biggs and sister Ethelyn. To the rear stood a barn for the horses and surrey. A man known as Old Mr. Rix was in charge of the horses and with a surrey with fringes on the top would meet all trains in Moline and bring guests to the hotel on Green Lake many from the Chicago area. Guests enjoyed the gracious hospitality and good food furnished by the Biggs family. The hotel was known for making its own ice cream. In addition to the hotel they had a large pavilion known as the “Dance Pavilion”. The buildings were torn down in the 1940’s when the State of Michigan purchased the “Public Access” site.
As the hotel flourished additional help was needed and Miss Esther Ament, who lived with her folks on the West Shore of Green Lake, and what was later known as the Peck home (see township park land donation above) was hired as a waitress and she canoed back and forth across the Lake. In this beautiful setting a romance flowered and Fred Biggs took Esther as his bride and now there were four in the Biggs family. Fred and Esther has three girls, Irene Mead (now deceased) Thelma Hoffman, who later moved to Florida and Gladys Beatty who moved to the Home Acres area (44th & Division in Kentwood) and two boys, Joe Biggs who moved to the Croton Dam area and Harold Biggs (now deceased) who lived on Kalamazoo Ave for many years and operated the Leighton Telephone company.
In 1936 the last Farmers’ Picnic was held at Green Lake sponsored by Gladys Beatty, and the crowd was so large that the traffic had to be directed. She paid $25 for a band to furnish music for the festivities and the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, and soft drinks.
Information states that the first cottages built on the Lake were down on the point and one built by Mose Rosenberger and one by a Mr. Naragang and one by Charles Baker who owned a hotel in Byron Center.
A frame building stood on the corner of what is now West Shore Dr. and Kalamazoo Ave. and was a general store operated by Clark Pratt around 1910. In 1916 Art Cook bought the store which was a thriving business at that time and two years later on July 4, 1918 the store burned to the ground. Art Cook was an ancestor of the Hooker families and he lived a few miles south of the lake. Those were the days of the “bucket brigade”, and despite the fact that Mr. Cook carried buckets of water up a ladder to the top of the building, it went to ashes. The family then moved into the house where Geroge W. Martin now lives. Mr. Cook then built a two story cement block building and the lean-to on the east side was an ice cream parlor. Boats docked on the waterfront and it was known as Cook’s Landing to the summer residents who would row across the Lake for provisions. For many years this was the site of the Farmer’s Club Picnics and a bandstand was erected under the large trees along the waterfront. As the Cooks aged they gave up the store business and it served as a home for several people. In 1954 the property was purchased by Dutch and Lavonna Zylstra who did extensive remodeling making it into a lovely home where they lived and raised their family.
As a young man, Neal Vrooman, (Mrs. Cook’s brother) had a blacksmith shop next door (and at that time the people were fearful of their children getting too close to the horses). He also made row boats which were much in demand in that era besides doing many other repair jobs. Come spring in was in much demand for shearing sheep. He and his mother lived at 593 Kalamazoo Ave which was purchased and remodeled by Roger Roodvoets and eventually purchased and torn down and a new house built by Bryan and Cindy Roodvoets in 2006.
What was known as “Ye Olde Frontier Store” was originally owned by Ed and Tom Pryor who operated a feed store, ground feed and served the community in that capacity. Later on, the father, Robert Pryor, used the building for a general store. As time marched on, a number of people owned the store, some of whom were Bill Klunder, Leigh Bileth, Zoe Wheeler, Mr. & Mrs. Head (who did extensive remodeling) sisters Mrs. King and Mrs. Hathaway, Barbara Holms, Mr. and Mrs. Winger and Don and Pat Reed. Gasoline pumps were added over time and the Reeds began offering gas on the dock for boats in 1973. Don also bought property across Kalamazoo Ave which initially served as parking for store customers but on which later was built a restaurant and ice cream stand which went through many different owners. The restaurant was purchased in 2004 by Tom & Tina Piccione who remodeled the establishment extensively and named it Maria’s. The last owner of the Frontier Store was Nancy DeVries who had the building torn down in 2004 and constructed a house for her family on the property. The former Moline School on Kalamazoo Ave was first converted into mini storage areas in the early 1980’s but was purchased by Larry Drake (now deceased) and remodeled into the Green Lake One Stop which was a small convenience store and gas station. This store is currently owned by Rod Brush who also owns a Shell gas station in Byron Center.
Early birth of the a-Round Green Lake Association: On the evening of August 30, 1948 a number of residents around Green Lake met in the home of Major Ward Seery to discuss the welfare of the Green Lake community. At this meeting sixteen Articles in the Constitution and By-laws were written and Article No. 1 states the organization shall be known as “The Green Lake Improvement Association, Article No. 2 a non-profit Association. Article No. 13 endorsed standing committees: 1. Legal. 2. Nominating. 3. Proposed Budget and Assessments. 4. Association activities and membership. 5. Education. 6. Publicity. 7. Vigilant. 8. Road & Safety. Appointed President was John Borgman, Secretary, Al Rietberg and Treasurer, Mrs. Wayne Barnaby.
As Allegan County declined to settle on a system of naming the roads or streets, the Association took the liberty of adapting the key to be used in the Association directory which was as follows: 1. West Shore Dr. 2. Kalamazoo Ave. 3. Hacker Dr. 4. South Shore Dr. 5. East Shore Dr. 6. Hill Top. 7. North Lake Dr, West. 8. North Lake Dr, East. 9. Park Dr. 10. Hilton Dr..The Green Lake Directory issued in July, 1950 gave us 140 residents of which 34 are year around. The 1981 Directory lists 344 residents of which 203 are year around residents. This of course includes Round Lake which is now fully developed.
When the Seery’s came here in 1936, what is now South Shore Dr., was not much of a road and the land adjacent to the South was but swamp land overgrown with brush and such enclosed with an old rusty wire fence, but a haven for the hunters in the fall.
At that time “Old Doc Hacker” (veterinarian) was he was affectionately known, who lived and had his office in the big white house now occupied by George Martin, owned the property along South Shore Dr. Old Doc Hacker made an arrangement with Mr. Tate who lived on the Hill Top district, now known as the Bailey Property, to re-claim this strip of land. One whole summer they hauled sand and gravel from the Hacker property facing 144th Street and filled in this swamp land which now supports many nice cottages and homes along South Shore Dr. Of course the heavy loads traveling on the not so good asphalt took its toll necessitating re-doing the surface of South Shore Dr. After filling in the land and re-doing the asphalt several times due to settling, for several years now, we have enjoyed a good road – South Shore Dr. and to the south of it is Hacker Drive – so named after the Honorable Billy Hacker. I might add that Mrs. Hacker was influential in building our Leighton No. 1 School House on the corner of 146th Streetand Kalamazoo Ave., and some years ago it was remodeled into a dwelling.
Historical Boating on Green Lake
Green Lake canal: Many people have asked about the canal entering the east portion of the “little lake”. Major Ward Seery conceived the idea that a canal would afford more building sites adjacent to Green Lake since all the lakefront was occupied. Each one could then have their own boat slip by their dwelling and in minutes by out on Green Lake. The canal was dredged out in December, 1958 which was quite an operation. The contract was let and Major and Mrs. Seery took off for South America and upon their return all the work was done. The contractors used 450 square foot mats under the rig plus trees lengthwise. Ground pressure per square inch on the mats was .8 pound or less, which was critical. But without any loss the job was finished within the month. Due to ill health, Mr. Seery was never able to complete the project. He passed away in 1971. The Seery property surrounding this canal is now part of the Green Lake Ridge Plat.