Early Ionia County Businesses

The Hotel Bailey
- est. 1901
     Spencer C. L. Brown purchased the hotel lease in 1901 and was proprietor until May of 1903 when he sold to Messrs. Peterland & Nibolink. After a vacation from the hotel business for 6 months, Mr. Brown returned to Ionia and purchased the hotel once again. Mr. Brown comes from a family of hotel men. His father, V. K. Brown, was proprietor of hotels in Lansing, Mt. Pleasant, Owosso and Pontiac, Michigan. Both Mr. Brown's grandfathers were also hotel owners. Mr. Brown was assisted in the management of the hotel by J. Fred Armstrong.

Ionia Water Power Electric Company - est. 1888
Electric lighting dated in Ionia from 1888, when this company was established. Originally electricity was made at a steam plant changing over to water power in 1898. Original stock holder in the company were: H. R. Wager, L. B. Townsend, J. E. Just, all of the city of Ionia and C. J. Rumsey of Muir. Original company officers were: L. B. Townsend - President, J. E. Just - Secretary/Treasurer.

Jonathon Hale and Sons (flouring mill) - est. 1860
This business originated in 1860 in Rochester, Michigan. The plant was entirely destroyed by fire in 1865 at which time the mill in Lyons was purchased. It was first started by Jonathan Hale and run by him until 1860 when brother John Hale joined the business. At that time the firm was known by the name of Hale Brothers. In 1896, brothers Elmer B. and Lewis H. Hale purchased the interest of their Uncle John and the firm became known as Jonathan Hale and Sons. In 1897 they established a branch of the mill as Stanton, Michigan in nearby Montcalm County. This branch mill was operated by O. D. Vandeboget.

Ionia Wagon Company - est. unknown
This wagon factory was at one time the largest wagon manufacturer in the State of Michigan. The famous BIBLE and CAPITAL wagons were made there. C. J. Rumsey of Muir was owner/President, John Greenop of Orleans was owner/Vice President and John F. Bible owner/ General Manager/Secretary/Treasurer.

Webber Hardware Company - est. 1882
The Weber Hardware Company was purchased by H. B. Webber in 1887 from the original owners, George W. Webber, Charles S. Morse and Abraham Ryerson. H. B. ran the retail store for ten years until his brother C. H. Webber joined the firm. In January of 1898, most of the stock was damaged in a fire that consumed most of the city block. The Webber Hardware "carried one of the most complete lines of staple and shelf hardware, stoves, ranges, paints, oils and hardware sundries to be found in any city of equal size". In January of 1905 the business incorporated with the following officers: H. E. Powell - President, J. L. Fowle - Vice President, Fred T. Wortman - Manager, H. B. Webber - Secretary/Treasurer.

Ionia Gas Light and Coke Company - est. 1882
The company provided the area residents with gas as well as being a retailer for "all modern appliances for lighting and heating with gas". Company officers were: H. B. Webber - President, E. F. Gallagher Vice President and Manager, C. D. Ransom - Secretary and Treasurer.

S. B. Gorham and Company - (lumber yard) - est. 1885
This firm conducted one of the largest retail lumber yards in the area. The business was established in 1885 by Bert Babcock. One year after the business was established, Mr. Babcock sold it to S. B. Gorham who operated the lumber yard independently until 1894. At that time Levi Marshal joined Mr. Gorham in his business. Mr. Marshall had been employed by Mr. Gorham for nine years before becoming a partner. In 1905, John M. Marshal became a partner in the business. By 1907, Mr. Gorham had moved and become resident of Detroit. The Marshals looked after the day to day operation of the business in Ionia.

Prairie Creek Mills - est. 1865
These mills were erected in 1865 by Blanchard & Beattie. In 1870 the mill was being run by William Mansfield and Isaac P. Hoag.

From: Elvon Lloyd sends us the following information.

     Here's a couple of additions to your list of early businesses in Belding. One was established by my grandmother and her sister and another established by my grandfather.  It might take some research in the  Belding Banner to get correct names and dates of establishment because   I'm going from memory of things my father told me.  My grandmother Carria Isola Thompson and her sister established a lady's ready to wear store in Belding on Main Street sometime between 1885 and 1887.  My grandfather Elvon C. Lloyd and a partner with the last name of Spencer established a dry goods business next door about the same time.  (Guess how my grandparents met.)  Upon the marriage of my grandparents the stores were merged and sometime in the 1890's grandfather bought out his partner and the store became E. C. Lloyd Dry Goods located on Main Street between Bridge Street and Alderman Street.   The store went out of business about 1926. Both grandparents were long time residents of Belding and died there in 1949 and 1950.  Both of my parents grew up in Belding and were married there.  Any information you might learns of my grandparents businesses, I would appreciate knowing about.


Last update December 24, 2007