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Biographies

Austin, Benjamin Miller

In the early 1830’s Kalamazoo was a developing village, then known as Bronson. In those early days the village changed from what had recently been wilderness to an expanding community with a courthouse, a jail, and churches. The community would...

Austin, Marilyn "Mamie"

There are many times when people never get a chance to see the impact of their work. Kalamazoo photographer Mamie Austin is one of those individuals. Her images taken for the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Art Department in the late 1930s and early...

Baldwin, Schuyler C.

Born in Troy, New York, in March 1822 and raised in Pompton, New Jersey, Schuyler Colfax Baldwin was the grandson of a Revolutionary War hero, General William Colfax, and a cousin of Schuyler Colfax, who would later become vice president during...

Batts, Henry Lewis, Jr. (Dr.)

“He introduced the word ‘ecology’ and its principles to this community”–Monica Ann Evans Few have left a more indelible legacy on local conservation efforts than Dr. Henry Lewis Batts Jr.…

Bennett, Chauncey Z.

Today, the United Kennel Club, the second oldest and largest register of pure bred dogs, operates out of its 100 East Kilgore Road building, but its humble Kalamazoo origins took…

Bradley, Gilbert H., Jr.

“Gil has something unique to offer our community. During his ten years as a resident of Kalamazoo, he has been a student, factory worker, union member, teacher, social worker, and…

Bronson, Chester Z.

From an early age, Chester Z. Bronson was at the forefront of American popular entertainment during its most formative years. Though he called Kalamazoo home for much of his adult life, Bronson’s tireless professional career took him on the road...

Bronson, Titus

Like many pioneers of southern Michigan, Titus Bronson was a New Englander. Born in Middlebury, Connecticut, in November 1788, Bronson moved west in 1821 to Tallmadge, Ohio, where he learned to grow seed potatoes and earned his nickname...

Bronson, William S.

William S. Bronson was an extremely active, highly regarded Kalamazoo musician who was involved with several early musical organizations throughout West Michigan during the decades around the turn of the twentieth century...

Brooks, Ellis L.

Ellis L. Brooks (1848-1920) was a trombonist, composer and popular bandleader with strong ties to West Michigan. Brooks directed famous bands in New York and Chicago during the late nineteenth century, and was ranked among contemporaries...

Butterfield, Walter Scott

W.S. Butterfield, c.1916 When Tony Pastor’s Star Troupe brought “The Largest and Best Vaudeville and Specialty Company on Earth” to Kalamazoo’s Union Hall in November 1876, audience members that night…

Caroline Ham

First elected to the Kalamazoo City Commission in 1975, Caroline Ham has the distinction of being the city’s first woman Mayor, having beat out several other candidates in 1981 in…

Crane, Caroline Bartlett

One of the most interesting and productive careers ever to unfold in Kalamazoo began with an unusual childhood. Caroline Bartlett was born in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 1858 to Lorenzo and Julia Bartlett. Her father was owner and captain of a small...

denBleyker, Paulus

Paulus denBleyker, his family and employees were among the first Dutch pioneers to settle in Kalamazoo. In 1846 Rev. Albertus VanRaalte had preceded him to western Michigan, and in his letters he spoke of the opportunities and future that existed...

Desenberg, Edward B.

Music was clearly Edward Desenberg’s first love. Formally educated in Kalamazoo and abroad, Desenberg quickly became an instructor, composer and entertainer of substantial merit. Following closely in his father’s footsteps, Desenberg later...

Dr. C. Allen Alexander

Photo by Don Rice Born in 1900, Cornelius Allen Alexander became one of Kalamazoo’s most beloved citizens by the time he passed away at his Richland home in 1995. Known…

Fetzer, John E.

When John E. Fetzer died on 20 February 1991, he left a life replete with the legacy of a broadcasting empire, a World Series winning baseball club, philanthropy, and exploration of the mystical fringes of science.

Fischer, Charles L. and Burton E.

Kalamazoo has long had a strong connection with the production and performance of music. Since the mid-nineteenth century, local, nationally-recognized, and even world-famous instrument makers, educators and performers have actively pursued their...

Follett, James I.

Military service became something of a tradition in James Follett’s family. His paternal grandfather served in the Revolutionary War. James Ivan Follett enlisted in Company F, 12th Michigan Infantry as a Corporal on 4 December 1861 at Kalamazoo...

Ganzel Brothers

Long before the Kalamazoo Growlers, a thriving batch of nineteenth century independent and semi-pro teams helped put Kalamazoo in the forefront of organized baseball across the state and beyond....

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