GRAND JUNCTION

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Early 1900s black-and-white postcard shows the Grand Junction railroad depot. Opposite the depot, a man leans out a third-floor window to look at the viewer. Below, finely dressed people stand among wagons around the depot. Image Credit: Dick Godfrey

In February 1871, construction of the north-south running Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad intersected the recently built Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad (1870). As the only railroad junction between Kalamazoo and South Haven, this location had great economic potential. Soon, the aptly named village of Grand Junction was platted.

Map of Columbia Township, Grand Junction, Michigan. Both the K&SH Railroad and the Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad run through town. At their intersection is a depot, eating house, turntable and roundhouse. Read business directory text below. Image Credit: 1873 Atlas of Van Buren County

Text of the business directory in the image above reads:

On October 8, 1871, the new town was one of many in the Midwest that faced devastating fires. Nearly every building in Grand Junction was destroyed that day – the same day as the Great Chicago fire.

"Fires all Around-Grand Junction Annihilated.""

"ST. JOSEPH, October 9. – The woods in Western Michigan are on fire in every direction, and the wind is blowing a living gale, spreading the flames in every direction with invincible power and fearful rapidity. The air is filled with cinders, smoke and dust, and there is no water anywhere with which to stay the progress of the devouring element.

The little settlement at Grand Junction, where the Kalamazoo & South Haven and Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore railroads cross each other, has been annihilated – the eating house, depot buildings, water tank, all are swept away. It is impossible at present to estimate the loss." – Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, October 12, 1871

Gospel Trumpet Publishing Company

From 1886 to 1898, the Gospel Trumpet Publishing Company printed newsletters, books and music in Grand Junction for the Church of God. The business shipped items all over the world. After their building burned, the company moved to West Virginia.

Colorized black-and-white photograph circa 1890 shows two white clapboard, two-story buildings. Thirteen men and boys stand on the porch of the larger building, which has ‘THE GOSPEL TRUMPET PRINTING COMPANY' painted on the side. Image Credit: Van Buren District Library

A late 1800s book titled 'THE SECRET OF SALVATION: HOW TO GET IT AND HOW TO KEEP IT.' Radiating silver lines encircle the embossed gold words and open bible. Image Credits: Library of Michigan

Title page from The from the book aove. 'THE SECRET OF SALVATION, HOW TO GET IT AND HOW TO KEEP IT. SHOWING THE WAY OF SALVATION, GIVING THE READERS THE KEY WITH WHICH TO UNLOCK ITS GREAT STOREHOUSE OF PEACE AND HAPPINESS. ' A byline reads 'BY E.E. BYRUM, Author of ‘Divine Healing of Soul and Body,’ ‘The Boy's Companion.’ etc. ' 'GRAND JUNCTION, MICH. Gospel Trumpet Publishing Company. 1866.' Image Credits: Library of Michigan

Julia Schelske and the Ford Motor Company

A 1916 Ford Motor Company Sub-Limited Agency Contract shows Julia Schelske of Grand Junction, Michigan as the representative of 'Columbia Township in Van Buren County in the State of Michigan. ' The contract reads 'Dated: August 9th 1916. Expires July 31st 1917. ' An official early Ford logo is at the top of the document. In the middle in ornate script it reads 'Ford Motor Company. Highland Park Michigan.' Image Credit: The Henry Ford

In 1916, Julia Schelske became one of the earliest female car dealers under contract with Ford Motor Company at age 37. Interviewed in 1958 by The News-Palladium of Benton Harbor, Julia Schelske West recalled boarding a train to Detroit about twice a month to pick up a new car. She was "cautioned by Ford not to drive over 25 mph until the motor was broken in" on the 170 miles back to Grand Junction. West closed her business in 1920.

Julia Schelske West's tombstone sits among green grass and other older tomb stones. The gray granite rectangular stone is engraved 'West' at the top. The family name is framed by a scroll with flowers. Under the name in individual rectangles the following names and dates are engraved 'Julia H. 1879-1970. Edwen E. 1878-1950. Nelly L. 1878-1918.'. Julia West is buried in the nearby Grand Junction Cemetery. Image Credit: Jeff Green

A May 1915 Ford Times magazine shows a watercolor picture of a man kneeling and a woman standing at the side of the road. They are picking flowers in the lush grass. Behind them on the road is a black Model T convertible. Image Credit: Michigan History Museum

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