Early land selections in Charleston Township

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Snow and icy road conditions were predicted for Saturday, followed by what looks like a week of weather that will be unsuitable for riding. But it looked like there would be time for a bike ride before it all started.

My destination was Climax prairie. I made a map of the earliest land entries on the prairie and vicinity after my ride there a month ago, so wanted to go get some photos. I’ve always wanted to have maps with information like that, so now that I made one for myself had a chance to try it out.

The first stop was not on the prairie, but a little cluster of land entries on the west half of Section 28 of Charleston Township. I had never before paid any attention to this area. Now that I knew it had been snatched up by the earliest land buyers, I wanted to see if there were any visible clues as to what made it such prime real estate back in the very early 1830s.

Just to the north of it, on the north side of L Avenue, is the Charleston water tower shown above. I’m guessing it’s its location there has something to do with the Target distribution center that has been built there. I took the photo because color was something sorely lacking this gray December day.

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This is a view from the north of Alpha Tubb’s land purchase (marked AT on the map). I rode south along 40th street and saw that all of it still looks like good cropland, though I can’t tell just by looking at it what made it more desirable than some other similar-looking land nearby.

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This Federal-style house is on the west side of 40th street, in Section 28 — just adjacent to the land I had come to see. I figured I better get a photo of it while it’s still standing. There are a lot of Greek Revival-style houses in southwest Michigan. We live in one, in fact. We’re guessing our house was built around 1850, but we don’t know for sure. The Greek Revival style was popular before the civil war. But this looks like a Federal style house, which might mean it’s older than the usual run of Greek Revival houses. I haven’t been able to learn anything about it, though. Old plat names have the name “Evans” for the land where it’s located, and there was a Leonard Evans who served in various township offices. But unfortunately it’s not anyone with a connection to the Black Hawk story.

I rode a little over 20 miles, making quite a few more photo stops before I quit. I might have ridden longer, but the wind was rising and it was getting harder to keep my camera warm. My ears were fine, thanks to a nightcap that my wife had once got me for camping, to keep my head warm at night. It worked great under my helmet. But eventually my toes started getting cold, even though I had put chemical toe warmers in my shoes. I need to get those pull-on booties I’ve been looking at. And I should have worn warmer gloves, too. It has been maybe three years since I’ve done any cold weather riding to speak of, aside from my commute to work. And last year I didn’t even commute in cold weather. So I need to learn some things all over again. The temperature was in the mid 20s — and I was colder than I expected to be after being out maybe 3 hours.

I called Myra when I got to Climax, riding in from the south. She had been shopping nearby, and picked me up as planned so I could buy some things I need to finish wiring the new office and workshop in our garage. The snows were starting by the time of our last stop, so it was good I quit when I did.

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