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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Baxter and Belknap

Albert Baxter, born in Vermont, arrived in Grand Rapids as a young man in 1846. By the following year he had married Elvira E. Guild, daughter of the early settler Joel Guild from Massachusetts. For ten years, until Guild died in 1857, Baxter had the opportunity to learn first hand about the early history of the city. His History of the City of Grand Rapids published in 1891 has detailed information about the early days, the Indians, the land, and its settlers. Dwight Goss, whose history would follow in 1906, prepared chapter two on the "Indian Occupation of Western Michigan." Baxter, his wife Elvira, and Joel Guild are buried in Fulton St. Cemetery.

Charles Eugene Belknap, born in New York, came to the city as a boy in the early 1850s. His book, The Yesterdays of Grand Rapids, published in 1922 is a collection of short essays that include his personal memories and contacts with early inhabitants like Louis Campau and Rix Robinson. His stories bring to life the city and surrounding country a few years after the first settlers arrived, but when the Indians were still part of the community.

Both of the these books can be found in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department, located on the fourth floor, of the GR Public Library.

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