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March 21, 2013

Descendant of early pioneer of Constantine attends Barry Historical Society meeting

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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A descendent of an early pioneer of Constantine – Samuel Teesdale (1815-1892) – attended the March 19 meeting of the Gov. John S. Barry Historical Society, held at Constantine Township Library.

Margaret Willis, a resident of White Pigeon, said the Teesdale family moved to the area in 1834 from Lincolnshire, England. Samuel learned wagon-makers trade and wheelwrighting in England before working one year in White Pigeon as a joiner (carpenter) then moved to Constantine where he worked for the next 50 years making wagons and carriages. In 1882 he also manufactured bentwood furniture.

In 1848 Teesdale wagons were sent to South Bend on a barge and outfitted with canvas tops to go west. Willis said Teesdale grave stones at Constantine Township Cemetery are “shaped like trees.”

George Murphy, a member of the Barry Society, brought a 1908 photo of downtown Constantine after a hailstorm to the meeting. The building on the far right (156 S. Washington Street) has undergone a total renovation and looks very much like the photo. It houses a restaurant. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Elizabeth Teesdale (1812-1848), who is Samuel’s first wife, is buried at the first cemetery in Constantine, the Pioneer Cemetery, located at Florence Road and Mill Street.

The site was given to the town by Judge William Meek in 1831. It was used as a cemetery until 1853. In 1925 the Woman’s Club erected a pergola as a memorial to pioneers, using columns from the old pioneer hotel-tavern “The Homestead.” The tombstones were turned face down and covered. The pergola was removed in 1960 due to vandalism. There are estimated to be 34 people still buried at the site.

A selection was read from “The Puddleford Papers, or Humors of the West” written by early Michigan humorist H.H. Riley (1813-1858). Riley contributed to the Knickerbocker magazine under the pen name of Simon Oakleaf. The series was published in the Knickerbocker magazine circa 1854. Riley is rumored to have modeled the characters in the series on citizens of Constantine.

For a free download go to http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/36678.

Matt Schuld, director of the Elkhart County HIstorical Museum in Bristol, has been rescheduled to speak to the Barry Society at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16.

Members will be reviewing a DVD made from a slide show of early Constantine scenes, at 7:00 p.m., on Tuesday, May 21. The slide show was prepared by the late Dr. Marvin Vercler, historian and president of the Barry Society for many years.

Both meetings will be held at the Barry Museum, 280 North Washington Street in Constantine. The public is welcome to attend. For more information call (269) 506-1575.

Source:  Story and photo contributed by Angie Birdsall.



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