A Brief History of Cedar Springs – and Our Historical Society
The Michigan Legislature incorporated Cedar Springs as a village in March of 1871. At the time it was a major hub for the timber history. As a result of the logging activity, a unique enterprise began in Cedar Springs. Red Flannel under-garments were produced for the loggers whose work required them to be outside throughout the harsh winters. That business continued beyond the lumber industry era and still exists today as a viable part of the community.
The village became the City of Cedar Springs in October, 1959. The change was stimulated by the need to develop a water distribution system and sanitary sewers unrelated to Solon and Nelson Township, whose common boarders ran through the middle of the village, with both Township’s deriving tax revenue from property owners within the Village.
Visiting the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, located in Morley Park just off South Main Street, allows one to step back into time as one tours the one-room Payne School House that was moved to the Park in 1971. The school has been renovated to reflect the century long era in public education when one teacher, lodging with a school family, taught all eight grades. Land for these schools was reserved as townships were established throughout Michigan in its early days as a State. As townships grew, more schools were established so that pupils would not have to walk more than two or three miles to get to a school.
In the museum itself, you step into the history of Cedar Springs and its surrounding area. Cedar Springs was established as a lumber town in 1856 when Michigan boasted numerous lumber and shingle mills. For a number of years, it was the northern terminus of the Grand Rapids and Indiana (Pennsylvania) Railroad and also was the crossing point for the east-west Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon (Grand Trunk) Railroad. The museum’s displays reflect this lumbering and farming heritage. In the yard, you will find a stump puller that was used to clear the stumps so that land could be farmed.
In addition to the many displays, the museum offers the following services:
- Genealogy assistance
- Census information for research
- Research done for you – fees available by contacting the museum
- Microfilm access
- Yearbooks from Cedar Springs Schools
- Composite pictures of classes in early school years
- Rental of the Payne Schoolhouse for elementary classes (Class materials available to teachers for use here)
- Maps and Plat books 1800’s-1900’s
- Cedar Springs History
Museum Open Hours:
WEDNESDAYS 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Special hours and tours by appointment are available – as well as rental of a one-room schoolhouse for elementary classes.
You may contact the museum staff by mail, email or phone at the following addresses:
Cedar Springs Historical Museum
PO Box 296
60 Cedar Street
Cedar Springs MI 49319-0296