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2020 Summer Newsletter

2020 Summer Newsletter

Letter from the Board President:
July 1, 2020 is the beginning of your Historical Societies three-year agreement with the Village of Vicksburg.  This agreement meets the requirements of both parties by detailing the duties and responsibilities of the village and your society.  Your Historical Society Board is using this agreement as a “springboard” to refine existing programs and events and to meet the historical requirements of the community.  We will become a human-centered museum instead of an object-centered museum.  The Vicksburg Historical Society will, as in the past, collect, store, exhibit and make available for historical studies the family articles in our collections.  Your Historical Society will increase our availability and presence to, and for, the people in the Greater Vicksburg Community.  We hope that you will take this into consideration and be part of your societies new direction by renewing your membership. 

The Vicksburg Historical Society has instituted a Rolling Membership billing process.  Our membership list has been divided into twelve separate billing lists corresponding to the twelve months in the year.  For example, if your Rolling Membership renewal month is July of 2020 your membership is valid for one year and ends in July of 2021.  You will receive your membership renewal request in July of 2021.  If you wish to have your name removed from our mailing list, please email Don Wiertella at and request that your name be removed. 

Your Vicksburg Historical Society is making plans to reopen soon.  Based on State requirements, and other safety considerations, we have worked on a Safety Plan that will allow the buildings and exhibits to be open to the public, with an opening date of Saturday, July 25th.  Note, under specific guidelines, and with advanced reservations, we can allow individuals the ability to review, and study, the historic documents in our collections. The contact person is Ms. Maggie Snyder and she can be contacted at

The Historical Society is recruiting persons to serve as members of the Board of Directors.  We are searching for persons with an interest in preserving local history and a willingness to promote, and participate, in the society’s programs and events.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the Board of Directors please contact me at

Your Vicksburg Historical Society wishes a safe Summer to you and your family.  We thank all of our members and supporters.  You are the folks that make, and keep, your Historical Society a viable part of the Vicksburg Community.  

Don Wiertella, Board President
Opening Day Scheduled for Saturday, July 25th
Under the State of Michigan restrictions, and CDC guidelines, your VHS has been working hard to come up with a safe reopening plan. With a few changes, we are happy to say that we will be able to reopen the Historic Village to the public on Saturday, July 25th. 

When you visit, please note the following new operating procedures:
  • Masks are required inside all buildings for those over the age of 5 and those without medical restrictions. They can be removed when outdoors while maintaining safe social distancing.
  • One-way traffic will be in effect at each building. One entrance will be clearly labeled with a separate exit also identified. 
  • The Depot, Schoolhouse, Sweets Shop, General Store, Print Shop, Caboose, and Barn will all be open to walk through, with one-way traffic. The Garage and Blacksmith, Boxcar, and Farmhouse will have doorways open to look in to but not walk through. The Township Hall and Railway Express will remain closed. 
  • Books, records, and binders in the Depot will be accessible by staff only. Those wishing to view any of those items will need to ask a staff member first.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in all buildings.
  • Restrooms will not be available.
  • If you are feeling sick, have a fever or cough, please stay home and plan a future visit once you're well again. 
Staff will also be required to wear masks and will be regularly cleaning any touchable surfaces such as hand rails and door knobs.

These temporary changes will allow us to operate a safe environment for both visitors and staff. We appreciate your understanding and are excited to once again share the beauty of the Vicksburg Historic Village with you!
Kimble Building

Looking Up History: 111 East Prairie
Maggie Snyder
Sometimes it’s a good idea to look up, not down, when we walk Vicksburg’s streets.

Ever notice the name and date inscribed way up top on the building housing the Hide-Away?  It reads, L. S. Kimble, 1898.

Lewis Kimble started out working on the family farm along with his brothers, but none of the Kimble boys stayed there long. One brother, Emory, invented a governor to control steam pressure in the engines that ran threshing machines and formed the Eclipse Governor Co. The other brother, Ransom, became associated with Frank Dentler, the inventor of an automatic grain bagging device also used by threshing machines. Eclipse Governor Co. soon “big brothered” the Dentler Bagging Co., and Lewis joined the group in late 1894.

Having inherited the property at 111 East Prairie upon his father’s death, Lewis moved the frame building then occupying the  site, and in 1898  erected the two-story brick building we see today. Lewis apparently continued to prosper, as the 1904 Kalamazoo County Director shows Lewis employed as an engineer by the Dentler Bagging Co.
What vegetable was grown in the Vicksburg area in the 1880s for export to Chicago?
(answer at the end of the newsletter)
Volunteer Opportunities
Tamra Stafford

Are you looking for something new and different to do? Do you like learning about history and the Village of Vicksburg? Well, it's time to step up and get involved with your local community.

We need volunteers for our upcoming events and throughout the year. Here is what our immediate needs are for the Fall Bike Celebration:

What: Fall Bike Celebration
When: September 18-20, 2020
Where: Routes through Southwest Michigan with activities throughout Downtown Vicksburg and the Historic Village
Needs: We will need docents in a few of our buildings that will be open for this event. We will schedule in two hour intervals and you have the choice to work more than your two hours if you wish.

Other Needs: We are always looking for new faces to help us throughout the year with our events.

If you are interested in volunteering, please click here for application.
Historic Village Maintenance Committee
John Polasek, Chair

This committee was established by the Historical Society Board of Director in the Fall of 2019.  The committee is charged with maintaining the Historic Village. This includes annual reviews to identify needs, establish a budget each year and develop a work plan for Board approval as well as the Village of Vicksburg Manager. The committee has eight members that will be performing the work during the year with some of the work completed by contractors through Village of Vicksburg contracts. Our top priority this year, besides maintenance items is to finish making the Historic Village buildings totally accessible for folks with disabilities by the construction of gravel paths to access points at the school, township hall and the general store and sweet shop.     
Event Updates
Charlie Church

The Speaker Series starts again this month with Warren Lawrence. Warren will give a firsthand presentation on the 1967 Detroit riot. This initial program will be recorded and presented exclusively online.

The Vicksburg Historical Society plans to record all 4 speakers this year and host them on our website and Facebook page. The 3 remaining speakers will present on 8/30/20, 9/20/20, and 10/25/20 at 2:00 pm in the Township Hall.

The Harvest Festival began 12 years ago with some dedicated folks looking to create an event that celebrated the community’s agrarian past in a fun, family-oriented manner. The festival also quickly grew into one of the Historical Society’s biggest fundraisers. Last year we had to cancel the event because of excessive rain.

The Vicksburg Historical Society is committed to providing the community with entertaining and educational experiences while also being responsible agents of public health.

Due to COVID-19, we must cancel this year’s event as well. The Harvest Fest committee, however, is looking to hold some of the fun components of the fest in a virtual setting like the pumpkin decorating contest. Stay tuned for more details! 
Check out our new website!
Trivia! Answer:
2020 Vicksburg Historical Society Board of Directors

President, Don Wiertella
Treasurer (Ex-Officio), Ken Blough
Secretary, Dana Wagner
Trustee, Joe Castleberry
Trustee, Charlie Church
Trustee, Tamra Stafford
Trustee, Ryan Wagner

Vicksburg Historical Society Management

Office Manager, Judy Glover
Curator, Maggie Snyder
Volunteer Coordinator, Donna Seilheimer
Historic Quilt Trail, Hugh & Kitch Rinehart
Maintenance Committee Chair, John Polasek

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