About The Jenison Historical Association
Georgetown Township has experienced many changes throughout its history. It has been a lumber town a river landing, a quiet farming settlement, and most recently a growing suburban community. Parts of this past can still be found today.
Remnants of the lumbering era can be found in the very names of Jenison and Georgetown Township. The Jenison family arrived in 1836 and began to cut the white pine and hardwood trees. By 1838, the Jenisons owned 1600 acres south of the Grand River along Rush Creek. George Ketchum built sawmills along Rush Creek in 1837. The area became known as "George's Town."
With the Grand River as its northern border, trees could be easily harvested, sawn, and floated down river to Grand Haven. Stephen Lowing, John Haire, and the Blendon Lumber Company are a few of the others who lumbered this area.
While most of the trees are gone, remnants of this era do remain. Ottawa County maintains a lumber museum at Hager Hardwood Park. Haire cemetery on Fillmore is the only thing that remains of Haire's landing. A few pilings in the Grand River help mark Blendon Landing. Located just south of Grand Valley State University, Blendon was a company town complete with a sawmill, hotel, saloon and homes.
As a river landing, Jenison was just one of many in Georgetown Township. The Grand River was a busy river highway between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven. Riverboats carried lumber, freight and passengers on the river from 1836 until 1910. Today the Grand Lady, a 40 foot paddle wheeler run by Bill Boynton, can help recreate the atmosphere of this area.
By the 1870's most of the lumber was gone Many fields had to be cleared of stumps before they could be used for farming. The stump fences and the many pine stumps used as landscaping throughout the township are remnants from this transition period.
There were many successful farmers in Georgetown Township. The Jenisons and the Lowings were some of the first to turn to farming along with many Dutch immigrants. Grain crops and dairy farms, such as the Blissveldt Farm and The Cedar Crest Dairy, were very productive. The Hiram Jenison home on Port Sheldon and the Lowing homes on Bauer are stately reminders of the many farm houses that dotted the landscape.
The L & L Jenison Mill was built in 1864. Pride of the Valley flour was in high demand and kept the mill going until 1953 when things finally ground to a halt. Today a pump marks a well located just in front of the mill. The L & L Jenison Mill was finally razed in 1963 after it served as an antique shop run by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Tiffany.
Mr. and Mrs. Tiffany also renovated and lived in another Jenison landmark. Mrs. Margaret Husband built this home at the turn of the century in honor of the Jenison twins, Lucius and Luman, using funds she inherited from them.
Today the Husband-Hanchett-Tiffany House, located at 28 Port Sheldon, serves as the Jenison Historical Museum. It has been restored and furnished with period furniture along with displays of Jenison History.
The Jenison Historical Association maintains the museum and holds scheduled open houses throughout the year or special tours by appointment.