History of the Reed City Crossroads

Reed City's history is rich in agriculture, logging and petroleum. But the history of the Crossroads is undeniably one of the greatest strengths from which Reed City began and which will secure its formidable future.

The land that is now known as Osceola County was acquired through an 1836 treaty with the Native Americans. The land was surveyed in 1838 and approved by the Legislature on April 1, 1840. The county was first named Un-wa-tin, after an Ottawa chief. In March 1843, the Legislature changed it to Osceola.

Osceola County was named after Seminole Indian warrior, Chief Osceola (c. 1804-38), who fought the U.S. in the Second Seminole War in 1837. After defeating U.S. troops in several battles, he finally agreed to Gen. Thomas Jesup's request to meet under a flag of truce to discuss peace. But Jesup captured him there and imprisoned him at Fort Moultrie, S.C., where he soon died. Due to Jesup's deception, Osceola's name grew highly respected. Many towns and counties in the U.S. were named after Osceola as a protest.

The first white settler to the area was Nathan Hersey, a fur trapper, who arrived in 1840 and settled near the town and river that still bears his name.

Reed City, first known as Tunshla, then Todd's Slashing and finally named after J. M. Reed, was plotted in 1870 by Charles Higbe, Ozias Slosson, and Fredrick Todd. The land was named after Reed with streets and avenues of the village named after the other incorporators.

Reed City's first school was opened in 1872 after the Grand Rapids & Indiana and the Flint & Pere Marquette railroads made travel to this area possible for many.

The village was incorporated by a special act of the Legislature in 1872 with a population of less than 20. This act was declared illegal by the courts and the village was re-incorporated in 1875.

Ten years later, the population was about 2,000. By the late 1890s and early 1900s, the village had a population of about 2,690, 6 hotels, 7 saloons, about a dozen manufacturing places, 12 passenger trains serving the village, as well as a 100-bed hospital.

In 1933, the village of Reed City was officially changed to that of a city and Milton W. Brown was elected as its first mayor.

Notable residents of Reed City include:

Thomas Schall, U.S. Representative in Minnesota's 10th District (1915-1925) and U.S. Senator from Minnesota (1925-1935) born June 4, 1878.

George Bennard, American hymn composer and preacher is best known for composing the famous hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross" written in 1913. Bennard retired to Reed City, where he died on October 10, 1958. The Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum is an outgrowth of a memorial cross erected and dedicated on September 14, 1954, north of Reed City at the home of Rev. and Mrs. George Bennard. The museum presently contains mementos and relics not only from the Bennard home, but also from the original Osceola County Historical Museum.

Today residents and visitors are still able to enjoy the County's many rivers, streams, trails, and wooded areas and enjoy Michigan's great "Up North!"

The Old Rugged Cross

The Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum is an outgrowth of a memorial cross erected and dedicated on September 14, 1954, north of Reed City at the home of Rev. and Mrs. George Bennard. Rev Bennard was the author of world-renowned hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross," written in 1913.

The museum presently contains mementos and relics not only from the Bennard home, but also from the original Osceola County Historical Museum.

The Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum contains three rooms. The first is divided into six smaller rooms ( a dining room, kitchen, parlor, bedroom, office items from Reed City businesses, and a clothing room) depicting life in the Reed City area before 1900. The second contains displays of early farm equipment, shop tools, machines from the Michigan Cottage Cheese factory, models of early logging operations, Indian artifacts and a 1930's era fire truck and equipment. The third is devoted to the life, possessions and music of the Rev. George Bennard.

The museum also houses the archives of the Osceola County Genealogical Society. This collection includes microfilms of the old Reed City area newspapers, Osceola County census records, obituaries, plat books, family files, as well as old pictures. The resources are available to the public during regular museum hours and by appointment.

The Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum opened August 19, 1990, located at 4918 Park Street in Reed City and is conveniently connected to Rambadt Park by trail. The museum is open from 1-4 daily from May to mid-October, except Mondays and Holidays. Admission is Free, but donations are appreciated to defray expenses. For more information or to schedule a private tour please call the museum at (231) 832-5431.