Edwardsburg celebrating centennialPublished 5:58pm Thursday, July 5, 2012
Edwardsburg has something to celebrate.
In 1911, the residents of Edwardsburg began a discussion about incorporating the village. During the first vote to incorporate, the measure was voted down. On the second try, in 1912, the vote passed, and with a charter was officially a village.
The referendum on the proposal to incorporate the village was on July 5, 1911, with 63 yes votes and 36 opposed. Elected to the Charter Commission were Lauren Allen, Henry Andrus, F. D. Bement, Harley Carlisle and B. F. Bement. Although approved by Governor Osborn, the charter was twice rejected by resident voters before final acceptance in March 1912 by a vote of 76 to 46. Dr. E. W. Tonkin was elected the first council president.
At the first the village council meeting following the election, the trustees voted to levy a 5-mill tax — three for the general fund and two for roadwork.
Up to this time, any improvements made to the village were made either by the township or individual property owners. Law enforcement was the responsibility of the township constable or the county sheriff’s department.
By the early 1900s, it became apparent the future growth of the village would require more centralized control over public improvements. The Monday Evening Club in 1910 conducted a survey of persons within the village who might favor incorporation, and more than 80 names were signed on the petition.
The original boundaries of the village was the area bounded by Main Street on the south, Lake Street on the west, Pleasant Lake on the North and Cass Street on the east with an addition of four lots along the south side of Main Street.
Because a charter requirement must include a minimum of one square mile, the boundaries were changed to meet the state requirement.
A group of disgruntled citizens upset with the tax levy wanted to dissolve the incorporation and they drew a petition. That election held in May 1913 failed by a vote of 62 no and 48 yes.
After meeting in various places in the village, the town council purchased a building on Lot No. 1 on Main Street, which is currently the village parking lot next to the barbershop.
In 1973, Don C. Ventures on Elkhart Road was annexed to the village. This was a parcel of land between Elkhart Road and U.S. Highway 12 that was to include apartments and homes. This has been the only expansion to the village since the original charter.
After the original charter was adopted many new businesses came to town and Edwardsburg began to grow.
Many changes have taken place in Edwardsburg since the original charter. Now is the time to celebrate the 100 years of change and set goals for the future growth and improvements.
A community celebration is planned for Labor Day weekend. If you would like to participate in the planning, contact Nancy Stoner or Pat Belaire. An organizational meeting is planned for 11 a.m. July 12 at the village hall. Let’s bring the whole community together and celebrate our good fortune of living in this beautiful town on the shore of Pleasant Lake.
Happy 100th birthday, Edwardsburg.