Page 19 - Rockford Living Magazine 2017-18
P. 19

Learn about the history of Rockford’s school sports and activities.
As you stroll through the exhibits
at the Rockford Area Museum, there’s more than meets the eye. The RAM has class photos of graduates of Rockford High School dating back to 1927. The museum has hard copies and micro lm of newspapers going back to 1870. To  nd out more about your Rockford area ancestors, there’s free research assistance by appointment and video recordings from long-time Rockford residents as part of RAMemories.
“Our extensive collection of archival material allows us to help area residents with research projects. Information about everything from families as well as homes, businesses, and churches can be found in our research room,” Pratt said.
You’ll see a colorized first photo
of Rockford in 1865 from Hyde’s Hill looking down on the town where there was only a scattering of homes. Hyde’s Hill was an area south of Division Street and east of Fremont Street where the Rockford Cemetery is now located.
On display is the desk of Dr. Peter DeMaagd, a long-time Rockford doc- tor who set up practice in Rockford in 1930 and practiced until his death in 1967. A parlor room with a faint- ing couch, kitchen with an ice box and
Continued on page 20
Pictured with a horse-drawn U.S. Mail wagon that was used to deliver mail
in the early 1900s are (from left) Al Pratt, co-director of the Rockford Area Museum; Terry Konkle, president of the Rockford Area Historical Society; and Jerry Adams, museum consultant.
Smith Lapham
Welcome
to Laphamville
Rockford was founded in 1843
by Smith Lapham, who  nished the construction of a sawmill along of the banks of the Rogue River by the dam. The sawmill became the center of the hamlet that would develop into Rockford. In 1867 the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Com- pany wanted a new station name that was no more than eight letters. Reverend Volney Powell, the new minister in town from Rockford, Illinois, noted the rocky ford in the river, and said, “How about “Rock- ford?” and so it was.
19
John Dillinger Slept Here
According to an eyewitness ac- count from a Rockford athlete who worked at a local gas station in the early 1930s, a car pulled up one day with John Dillinger, a notorious
gangster and bank robber. As the story goes, retold by Terry Konkle, president of the Rockford Area Historical Society, Dillinger was on his way back to Chicago when he stopped in Rockford to get his hair cut at a local barbershop. Two or three of his men waiting outside were instructed to shoot the barber if there was any trouble. The gang- sters stayed the night at a board- ing house on North Main Street that included motel-like rooms out back. Dillinger was rumored to have property in northern Michigan and the timeline for his reputed stay in Rockford  ts, according to Al Pratt.
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