In August of 1860 Henry Overhiser set out on a 200-mile trip to explore some of the prime land in Michigan he had heard about. He and his neighbor, Erastus Frost, made the journey by the “ride and hitch” method. They only had one horse. One would ride the horse a mile or two and hitch it. The other would walk to the horse and then ride on ahead of the other person walking. They traveled 40 miles a day.
After returning home, he convinced Sarah they should settle in Michigan. In October of the same year, Henry hired a brother with a two-horse team to transport the family, household goods and a box of tools to Bee Line Road near Allegan. At that time they had three children (Lonson, William, and Olive). It took 8 days to complete the journey. That first winter Henry worked for Daniel Ammerman as a carpenter to build a house. In the spring of 1861 he move to section 1 of Casco Township and in 1863 to section 14. He also owned land in section 12.
For the last time in his life he cleared a site in the woods and built a house. His son William Albert later expanded that house. The farm became very successful and was call Maple Ridge Fruit Farm. The drawing below shows the house, barn and sugar bush which produced maple syrup. Because of all the timber on the property, Henry established a sawmill.
Between 1861 and 1874 Henry and Sarah had five more children. They were Ida May, George, Charles, Mary Ann and Minnie. Sarah died March 4, 1884, and Henry was married a second time to Henrietta (fisher) Wharfield. Henry died (9-3-1917) at age 82.
At the Farm (June 15, 2009)
Talked with Allan on his cell phone to get this report. He was outstanding in a peach orchard. Some 20 workers were hand thinning peaches (spacing them 6" apart). It takes a half hour on average to thin one tree. About 80% of the small green peaches are removed. This is the effort it takes to end up with a big beautiful peach in August. The chemical thinning of apples seams to have worked very well this year. This procedure removes all but the center "king" blossom. Without thinning the result would be a cluster of small apples. Allan thinks this year he will have one of his largest apple crops. It looks like other growers also have large crops which will result in lower prices.
The sweet cherries are starting to show some color and will look like the photo for the 4th of July weekend. Birds will also be noticing the color. Some foil and other devices will be placed in the orchards to scare the birds away, good luck. If you are in the South Haven area the first part of July stop out at 109th and 64th. U-pick and all ready picked cherries will be available. The 4th weekend will officially start the season. They will be open daily from 10 to 5 until the end of October.
The kids have been working on the chicken coop. It now has a new roof. Aaron (age 12) made a big sacrifice this past week. He chose to miss a baseball game and attend a Rotary sponsored leadership training conference at Hope College. They heard several inspiring speakers including a pro football player, superintendent of schools and a science teacher. Aaron also enjoyed the team games and brain challenges. This training will be put to good use on the farm, at school and in sports.
Remember, eat your fruit.