Member Rara Avis
I took a friend to a local comedy club the other night, and one of the standups did a whole bit about Michigan place names. Naturally, I thought of y'all and laughed twice as hard as anyone else in the room.
"Here you are right now," he said, holding up his palm to simulate the Michigan mitt and pointing a to point midway, near the base. "Right between 69 and Climax. Not too bad a place to be on a rainy night…"
"Oh, and here's the Upper Peninsula," he continued, sticking his tongue out over the raised hand. Then he flipped his hand over, palm inwards, pointed towards the back and said, "And of course, here's Colon…"
As to where we got our village name:
In 1829, Roswell Shellhous traveled from Ohio to the newly organized St. Joseph County where he built a two-room log cabin on the Nottawa prairie. Roswell Shelhous moved on to Illinois, but he had encouraged his brother Lorancie to come to the area. Lorancie Shellhous arrived at the present-day location of Colon in 1830, and bought the land on Swan Creek which later became the mill site. Lorancie went back to Ohio after purchasing the land and returned with his family and two other brothers (George and Martin) in May of 1831. That spring he built a cabin at the mill site and, after making his own plow, planted six acres of prairie " ... growing vegetables, melons, and broom corn". In the fall of 1831, Charles Palmer arrived and purchased 300 acres east of Swan Creek. Palmer, his wife and six children lived out the winter of 1831-32 with Lorancie and his wife and their five children. The following spring, Palmer built his own cabin, alleviating what must have been, at the least, a tense situation for the two families. Colon's first industry began that spring when Shellhous constructed a saw mill at the dam where Palmer Lake flows into Swan Creek. Shellhous's mill produced 1,200 feet of lumber before the dam was washed out that year. Lorancie sold his mill site to his brother Martin, in order to finance the building of a new dam. After surviving a severe attack of the "fever and ague", the tiny settlement progressed toward becoming a village. In 1832 George Shellhous and a man known as Indian Trader Hatch survey that plat of land that was later to become the village which lies between Palmer Lake and Sturgeon Lake. It was then that the name for the new village was decided upon. Lorancie Shellhous turned randomly in a dictionary to the word "colon" and remarked, "We will call it Colon, for the lake and river correspond in their relations exactly to the position of the colon."
I can only surmise, had the positions been less exact, I might well be living in semicolon today.