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Maybe you’ve experienced sleeping in the guest room of an elderly relation and had to avert your eyes from the creepy, antique photo on the wall or dresser; the kind of photo that resides in an ornate wooden frame and rests on a doily. Maybe you slept facing the opposite wall or slept with the covers over your head. Quite possibly the photograph looked a lot like this one:

Ichabod Libby portrait

Who was this man?

In searching the early Grand Rapids newspapers for an obituary a patron requested, I came across several lengthy articles about the death and funeral of Ichabod Libby Quimby on March 24, 1889. Unless you were someone prominent in the community, obituaries during the late 1800’s and well into the 20th century were most often two sentence death announcements. “Joe Smith died on Tuesday. Services will be held at the family residence on Thursday at 4 p.m.”

Here is a portion of the article describing Ichabod Quimby’s funeral:

During Mr. (Rev) Merriam’s remarks, in which he alluded to the exemplary life of the deceased and his long and active business career, many shed tears. The Congregational choir quartette sang two selections which added to the solemn and effective character of the services. The remains were followed to the place of interment in Oak Hill cemetery by a large concourse of sincere mourners. 

Ichabod Quimby was born in New Hampshire in 1823 but spent his career as a lumberman in Michigan, primarily in Grand Rapids. In addition to a mill on Canal St. (now Monroe), Quimby operated mills in New Baltimore, Hastings Township, Ionia and South Boardman. The Quimby Mill on Canal Street opened in 1868, the same year he purchased the land known as the Quimby Addition, resulting in Quimby St. NE. Quimby and his family lived on the corner of Quimby and Taylor Streets across from the mill. In 1910 Ichabod’s widow, Emeline, was bought out and her home raised to make way for the Filtration Plant, which is still there today.

A number of months ago, coincidentally as I was researching the Quimby family, someone from the soon to be opened Creston Brewery contacted Local History to request a photograph of Ichabod Quimby. They had named a beer for him (I highly recommend it!), and his history was to be part of the brewery’s website. Most interestingly, the brewery boasts tangible history of Ichabod. The bar top in the new brewery is a large piece of virgin white oak, rescued from a dairy barn near Hastings. It was built in the late 1800’s from oak boards cut at the Quimby Mill in the Village of Quimby.

Should you want to read more about Ichabod Quimby, and his family, look for my article in the new issue of Michigana Magazine, published by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, hot off the presses and available in the Local History Department.