Old Maid Swamp

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The earliest travelers to the region had to deal with tough travel conditions taking rarely traveled paths, Indian trails or even blazing trails of their own through the dense forests and swamps. One of the most famous obstacle in Eaton County was that of Old Maid Swamp, which stretched for miles across Benton, Windsor, Oneida and Delta Townships. Described by the Lansing State Journal as “a dense swamp of small growth timber, underbrush, water and blacksnakes, mosquitoes and malaria covering thousands of acres and man miles in extent. At that time [1860’s] the swamp was looked upon as not only entirely worthless, but as a menace for the future of all the surrounding country.

The early settlers only had a handful of possible routes to reach Delta Township, so most early travelers would have to combat this “desolate locality”. Some, like the second family of settlers to Delta Township, Mr. Elihu Lewis and his family, became lost for several days. Before finding their way from the swamp, Lewis’ son-in-law, Mr. Billings, had to leave their party to make two separate trips to find assistance before finally happening upon the Ingersolls. Others described their trip through the swamp as a “very lonely affair and the horrors of the place were about equally divided in his imagination in fear between blacksnakes, wolves and his companion (3).”

The Old Maid Swamp “received its name from the fact that an eastern woman, who had saved some money, sent it west for investment in Eaton county land and the location made by her agent was in the density of a large tamarack swamp (4).”  Another report claimed the land was purchased when “two unmarried women in the East were persuaded by sharks to invest “unsight unseen” in some of this desolateness. Then everyone laughed at their investment now the property is among the most valuable between West Windsor and Potterville (2).”

The process of draining the swamp may have begun as early as the 1860’s with the main drainage occurring through the Thornapple and Old Maid Drain. Progress was slow and a major portion of the swamp still remained well into the 1950’s, but once drained and cleared the swamp which proved so formidable to early travelers was transformed into some of the richest farm land in the county. According to a U.S. Soil Survey conducted in 1923 the swamp was made up of large patches of Carlisle Muck. This particular soil “is the most important type of organic soil in Eaton County both in extent an in agricultural worth. It is estimated that about 70 per cent of the organic soils of the county are included in this type (5).” By 1923 portions of the swamp had been cleared and about 50-60% of the swamp was being used for farm land with “the principal crops are mint onions and cabbage with some carrots turnips celery cauliflower sugar beets and potatoes (5).”

While travel through the swamp was always difficult small improvements began to be implemented in the 1860’s when a two mile road was built through the swamp. Although, it was only “made of logs and was called a “corduroy” road. It was not covered with dirt for several years, but served, after a fashion, as a very slow going highway. (3)” By 1912, a proper macadamized road had been laid running down what is now Lansing Road from Lansing to Charlotte and made for much easier travel, especially for the relatively new automobiles that were adventuring through the countryside (2).

Sources:

  1. History of Ingham and Eaton Counties by Samuel w. Durant (p.538), https://books.google.com/books?id=vks6AQAAMAAJ&dq=old%20maid%20swamp%20eaton%20county&pg=PA538#v=onepage&q=old%20maid%20swamp%20eaton%20county&f=false 
  2. Horeless Age, Volume 30 (p. 270), https://books.google.com/books?id=UzMfAQAAMAAJ&dq=old%20maid%20swamp%20eaton%20county&pg=PA270#v=onepage&q=old%20maid%20swamp%20eaton%20county&f=false
  3. Lansing State Journal,  16 Dec 1913, Tue,  Page 2
  4. Lansing State Journal,  17 Feb 1948, Tue,  Page 6
  5. Soil survey By United States. Bureau of Soils, United States. Bureau of Plant Industry, United States. Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering, United States. Soil Conservation Service, United States. Natural Resources Conservation Service (p. 34, 36-37), https://books.google.com/books?id=9NzwAAAAMAAJ&dq=old%20maid%20swamp%20eaton%20county&pg=PA36#v=onepage&q=old%20maid%20swamp%20eaton%20county&f=false
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A Slayer Waits

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Join retired Eaton County sergeant turned true-crime author for the story of the 1955 double murder of a Stockbridge couple and search for the killer.

Tuesday, September 19
6 p.m.

Images from Delta’s Past

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Want more images from Delta Township’s past? Take a look at the start of DTDL’s new digital archives! More images will be added each month, check back often.

http://dtdl.omeka.net

Collector’s Showcase

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the Collector’s Showcase last month! We had another great lineup of collections! Thank you also to the Historical Society of Greater Lansing who helped promote the event.

Collector’s Showcase

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WHEN

Saturday, March 18, 2017, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

WHERE

Elmwood Room of the Delta Township District Library, 5130 Davenport Drive, Lansing, MI 48917

ABOUT

Collectors willing to display their collections and talk to the public about their passion are needed for this just-for-fun, no buying or selling event. Collections at past events have included both antique and contemporary collectibles, such as Pez dispensers, vintage hats, postcards, dolls, Dionne quintuplet memorabilia, Lansing dairy items, and salt and pepper shakers. All collections suitable for family viewing are welcome. One collection will receive the People’s Choice Award, chosen by visitors the day of the event.

Whether you are an avid enthusiast, serious treasure hunter or casual collector everyone has some type of collection they hold dear. Come and celebrate local collectors of all kinds at this joint DTHS, Delta Township District Library, and Historical Society of Greater Lansing event. Check out all the different types of collections and chat with the collectors.

Fill out the form below to register your collection.

To view entries from past years click here: 2015 | 2016

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

A People’s Choice Award for the “best” collection will be awarded at 1:30pm. Come check out all of the collections and vote for your favorite.

RULES & REGISTRATION

Deadline to register to display your collection is Saturday, March 11, limited space is available. All ages are welcome to participate.

RULES

1. Each collector will be given up to two tables approx. 2.5’x5’.

2. There will be no buying or selling of items at the event.

3. All collections should be appropriate for viewing by all ages.

4. Organizers will select the best mix of the entrants and selected collectors will be notified on Monday, March, 13.

5. The Delta Township District Library and its partners (Delta Township Historical Society and Historical Society of Greater Lansing) will not be held responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged items.

REGISTRATION

To register your collection for the event, complete the Registration Form on this page or download the form and return it to the Adult Services Desk.

Historic Photo Sharing Night

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The library and historical society will be scanning old photos of Delta Township. Bring your photos and stories of Delta Township’s past and see and help identify some of the pictures from the library’s collection. We will have a scanner on site if you would like to share your photos with the historical society.

Delta Center Cemetery

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The cannon monument located at the Delta Center Cemetery was presented in memory of the 83 civil war soldiers by the women of the Delta Center Cemetery association. Among the soldiers are six whom were prisoners at the Confederate Prison of War camp near Andersonville, GA, including: William R. Billings, Otis Wilson Carpenter, Albert F. Porter, Elija P. Sanders, Nathaniel H. Space, William H. H. Tallman. [2]

The Lansing State Journal reported on Monday, May 29, 2011 that:

“Nearly 300 men, women and children assembled at the Delta Center Cemetery Saturday [May 27, 2011] forenoon at 10 o’clock to witness the unveiling of the soldiers monument presented by the women of the Delta Center Cemetery association in memory of the soldiers who went from Delta to participate in the civil war” [1].

Join historian and author of Guide to the Civil War Soldiers of Delta Center Cemetery, Chris Czopek, on Wednesday, September 21 at 6 p.m. for a tour of the Delta Center Cemetery and to hear the stories of the Civil War soldiers buried there. Or visit the Local History Room at the Delta Township District Library to read through Mr. Czopek’s book.

Source:

Czopek, C. (2007). Guide to the Civil War soldiers of Delta Center Cemetery. Lansing, MI: C.P. Czopek.

Nearly 300 Are At Dedication. (1911, May 29). Lansing State Journal.