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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Blacksmiths and Carpenters

Blacksmiths and Carpenters

March 10th, 2014

The first trade established in the village of Grand Rapids was that of blacksmith, and the carpenters were not far behind.


The first trade established in the settlement that would become Grand Rapids was that of blacksmith, and the carpenters were not far behind. There were two smiths at the Indian Mission and they taught a few Native Americans the trade. Louis Campau also had a smith at his trading post. Antoine Carmell worked in a shop between Canal Street and the river, just north of Lyon Street. He repaired wagons, sharpened ploughshares, set horseshoes.

The pioneer who needed a sleigh in winter could generally mange to hew out a rough and rather heavy one for himself if he had some carpenters’ tools. Then with a little aide from the nearest blacksmith the vehicle was made serviceable.

Undoubtedly the first sleighs made and marketed here were built by cabinetmaker, William Haldane. Possibly the blacksmith on Ionia forged the runners for his sleighs. Wishing to take a winter trip to Ohio, Haldane made himself a “gooseneck” cutter in the fall of 1837. But along came a young man who kept the first bookstore in the village and wanted to buy it. Haldane sold it, and proceeded to make himself another. This one caught the eye of another ambitious young merchant who paid $5 extra for a nicer finish, and so on and so on until Haldane was selling the vehicles for $75 each, and more.


Full Details

TitleBlacksmiths and Carpenters
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; carpenters; blacksmiths
Pubdate StringMarch 10th, 2014

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