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The History of Stevensville, Michigan

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for expanded views

Thomas L. Stevens, Founder of Stevensville
Stevensville Depot around the 1890's
Blacksmith shop, early 1900's with Robert A. Fielder, Sr. on the left.
Knaak Drug Store, early 1900's
East side of St. Joseph Avenue in the early 1900's

In 1869, Thomas L. Stevens, originally from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, purchased 160 acres in an area just south of St. Joseph, Michigan.

In exchange for having a railroad depot built on part of his land and being named after Stevens, Mr. Stevens sold a portion of his acreage to the Chicago and West Michigan Lake Shore Railroad Company for the sum of $1.00.

Laying the rail line and establishing a depot assured a railroad stop to pick-up fruit, servicing the area's largest industry, and was a powerful influence on the future of the community.

In 1870, Mr. Stevens laid a village plat and called it Stevensville.  On April 3, 1872 the village plat was legally recorded at the Berrien County Court House in Berrien Springs, Michigan.  The Michigan Senate proclaimed the Village of Stevensville a chartered village in March of 1893.

Small shops providing basic supplies and services in conjunction with the gristmills began to sprout within the village limits.  As business-minded men saw the potential of this budding community, other stores and businesses soon opened downtown.

Who is John Beers Road named for?

John S. Beers came to Berrien County from New Jersey in 1869, an enterprising young man who hoped to become a successful fruit farmer. Four years later he was elected Supervisor of Royalton Township; and during the same year he met and courted Eliza Jane Hess, the daughter of Dr. Hiram Hess, M.D., of Berrien Springs and Dr. Matilda Hess, one of the first women dentists in the area.

John and Eliza were married in Benton Harbor on July 2, 1874 and made their home in Stevensville. But when the "yellows" destroyed the peach crop that year, John decided to start a new career and entered the Medical School at Northwestern University.

Upon his graduation some years later, John returned to Stevensville to set up his practice. Later, he and Mrs. Beers moved to the home of the now-widowed Dr. Matilda Hess to help operate her 80-acre farm (along what is now called "John Beers Road"). Stories are still related about times when he would sit up all night with a young patient, giving medical advice and moral support until a crisis had passed. In 1895, Dr. Beers went to Germany for a year of additional medical studies.

Along with his medical practice and his interest in farming, Dr. Beers also was active in politics, serving at times as Lincoln Township Supervisor, State Senator, and after 1908, City Alderman in St. Joseph. In other areas of interest he was First Secretary of the Michigan State Grange, one of the founders of the Berrien County Medical Society, and one of the founding members of the St. Joseph Elks Lodge.

Dr. Beers died in 1923 of a stroke brought on by overwork during the 1918 flu epidemic. Dr. Beers' daughter, Matilda May, also became a physician, as did his grandson, Dr. Fredrick H. Lindenfeld of Niles, and his great granddaughter, Dr. Jo Ann Lindenfeld, a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School.

The Village of Stevensville and surrounding communities have experienced tremendous change and growth throughout the years.  The effect of these significant events and persons has set a standard of value in heritage of the area, and serves as a legacy for succeeding generations.


 


 


 


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