Biographies

Gibson, Orville H.

When did O.H. Gibson arrive in Kalamazoo, and why? Volumes have been written about the Gibson Guitar company and its musical legacy, but less is known about the man behind the name; the musician, the performer, the craftsman, Orville H. Gibson.

Harris, Enoch and Debra

Among the earliest pioneers in Oshtemo Township were Enoch Harris and his family, the first black settlers in Kalamazoo County. They arrived in Michigan from Marion County, Ohio, in approximately 1830, bringing with them seed from which they are...

Harrison, Bazel and Martha

Although the majority of early Kalamazoo County settlers came from New York, a significant number arrived from the south. Among these was Bazel Harrison, who led the first party of white settlers in the county. Harrison was born in Maryland in...

Hascall, Volney

Like many Kalamazoo pioneers who settled in the Village of Bronson (later changed to Kalamazoo) during its earliest years, Volney Hascall hailed from the state of New York (Leroy, Genesee…

Hays, Charles B.

There are few people who have contributed as much to the city of Kalamazoo as Charles B. Hays. He was born, lived, worked, played, and died in Kalamazoo, and he left his city a much better place then he found it. “The man who helped build...

Holton, Frank E.

Among the leading musicians of the late nineteenth century, Frank Holton emerged from humble West Michigan roots to become not only a celebrated trombonist but one of the most successful musical instrument manufacturers in the world...

Hull, Blanche

Most Kalamazooans remember Blanche Hull as the donor of the Hull Preserve adjacent to Milham Park, but that gift was only the last act in a long life as a civic and cultural leader. She came by her leadership qualities honestly...

Israel, Edward

Edward Israel was born in Kalamazoo on 1 July 1859. He died almost 25 years later on 27 May 1884 in a tent at Cape Sabine on Ellesmere Island far to the north of the Arctic Circle. The story of how he came to die so young in such a forsaken place...

LeRoy, Rockwell A.

During the first decades of the 20th century, few Kalamazoo architects were perhaps as successful or as well respected as was Rockwell A. LeRoy, who designed many of the area’s finest municipal, residential, and commercial structures.

Little, Frank

Little was twenty-one when the harvest was finished in October, 1844. He left the farm then and established himself as a merchant, hoping to make a go of it in Grand Rapids with his Uncle Lovell Moore. Another pioneer Richland farmer, Rockwell...

Lockwood, Guy H.

A bold, colorful free-thinker who marched to the beat of a different drummer, Minneapolis-born Guy H. Lockwood was Kalamazoo’s most flamboyant, progressive-era socialist; a unique character who dabbled in publishing,…

Luna "Lou" Henshaw

Luna “Lou” Henshaw (later Zwisler) holds the distinction of being the first woman elected to sit on the Kalamazoo City Commission. On November 14th, 1921, Henshaw took office alongside Cornelius…

Mary Mace Spradling

Mary Mace Spradling, Martin Cohen, Shirley Miller. Undated Photo from KPL Archives The following text is taken from a brochure printed for the dedication ceremony of the Mary Mace Spradling…

Mittenthal Brothers

The Mittenthal name itself has been linked to successful enterprise in the United States since the middle of the nineteenth century. But one branch of the Mittenthal family placed Kalamazoo closer to the popular entertainment limelight than ever...

Newell, George B. and Frank A.

When William and Marilla Newell came to Kalamazoo County in the 1850s and estabished their farm in Texas Township near the Van Buren County line, little could they have known about the lasting impact their future children would have on the...

Phillips Brothers

Of all the dance orchestras and concert ensembles that Kalamazoo produced during the 19th century, the Phillips Brothers’ Orchestra was among the busiest… and perhaps the best. Five talented violinists; Joseph, Joshua, Sylvester, Albert and...

Ransom, Epaphroditus

He was one of those men whose lives are constantly in the spotlight. Whether for good or ill, the fortunes of Epaphroditus Ransom were well known to characters of all sorts, for he mingled freely with old stock New Englanders and pioneer...

Roberts, Flora B.

When Flora B. Roberts began her twenty-four year career as chief librarian of the Kalamazoo Public Library in February 1918, she found the library in complete disarray. Her initial lofty goals were to re-catalog the entire 50,000 volume collection...

Snuggs, Edward H.

Born in Kalamazoo on the first of March, 1886, Edward Harrison Snuggs grew to become one of the city’s most beloved bandleaders. From his early days as an up-and-coming young trombonist, through the “Jazz Age” and beyond as a top-notch composer...

Spear, Marion R.

In the early years of the last century, a new approach to the treatment of mental and physical illnesses unfolded.

Share: Facebook Twitter