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Delwood Corners
By Bruce E. Benedict

Concord Stagecoach1850s Stagecoach Stops at
Bismark Hwy and Ionia Road

Delwood Corners is the intersection of what is currently Bismark Highway and Ionia Road.  During the 1850’s it became the location of a multipurpose establishment.  It was a tavern, an inn and a stage coach stop.  It also served as a post office and freight station.  These types of enterprises sprang up along the various stage coach lines providing a much needed service as a freight and passenger line stopover, while providing many different services to the local populace.The Delwood tavern (presumably built by someone of that name), was located on the Bellevue-Ionia leg of the Coldwater-Ionia stage line.  The term “stage” referred to the distance between stops on the line and also to any type of vehicle that traveled on it including the Concord coaches (the Cadillac of the day among the vehicles used on the stage line) which was seldom used on this line early on due to the condition of the road.  More common were the mud wagons, buckboards, freight wagons and sleighs.This line provided a link between the old Sault Indian trail that ran between Detroit and Chicago which became U. S. Route 12 and presently followed by I-94.  In 1837 the stage coach line was established running with one of the stops in Coldwater.  From Coldwater the route ran through Olivet, Bellevue, Vermontville, Woodbury and on to Ionia.  Prior to reaching Ionia there was an intersection with the Grand River Indian trail and the stage coach line running from Detroit through Howell, Lansing, Portland and on to Grand Rapids.  This trail became U. S. route 16 (now Grand River Avenue) and is generally followed by I-96.In 1837 the second state legislature passed an act on March 17 to lay out a state road commencing at the village of Marshall, in the County of Calhoun and running from thence on to the most direct and eligible route to the county seat of Ionia County, Michigan.  Nothing ever came of it.  An act passed March 20, 1850 approved the incorporation of the Marshall and Ionia Plank Road Company.  The road was never built.

Accommodations for $1
The Delwood tavern/inn provided overnight lodging and three meals for about $1.00.  Passengers were often stranded due to road conditions or the need for repairs spending more than one night at the inn.  The road was an atrocious mess being full of bogs, ruts and tree stumps.The Delwood Inn consisted of a two story side-gable structure with three or four upper bedrooms and a dining room/saloon and an adjoining kitchen on the first floor.  It was located a couple of rods east of the corner on Bismark Highway.Each room would sleep four people with two to each straw-tick bed.  The food was generally good and plentiful.  It was mostly obtained from local farms.  Meat was primarily pork with some chicken and beef along with venison, quail, rabbit and squirrel.  The most common vegetable was potatoes, followed by cabbage, corn, peas and onions.  Fruits consisted of peaches, pears and apples, and there was always bread.  Winter meals relied on foods preserved by salting or drying.The owner/bartender stocked mostly whiskey. Drinking customs in the 1850’s often entailed “treating”.  Each man in turn bought a half pint of whiskey which was passed around the room for everyone to take a “snort”.  The floor near the bar became stained with tobacco juice.  Spittoons were either not used or were commonly missed.The Delwood Inn also served as a watering place for the locals.  My paternal Great Grandfather John Walsh would, on occasion, join my maternal Great Grandfather Eugene Van Blarcom at the saloon for a much needed respite from the toils of the day.

Exit Stagecoach: Enter Trains
The place ended its use as a stage coach stop as the railroads began to criss-cross the state.  By the 1890’s the stage coach era was pretty well a thing of the past.  The inn served as a private residence until the 1960’s when it was torn down.  Some interesting items were found during the demolition.  A broken infantry officer’s sword from the Civil War was found in a wall and also a cache of Indian head pennies and a few other coins of the era which were believed to have been tossed up behind a mirror at the back of the bar.  In addition, an envelope with a Delwood cancellation stamp on it was found.The halcyon days of the Delwood Inn and Tavern lay in the mists of the past.  Its role in the settlement of the Sunfield area and beyond was important at the time and the people of the community still refer to “Delwood Corners”.

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