June 18, 1983, was a day when many of the "Ghosts" of local pioneers returned to the area. It was the day when the Three Creeks Historical Association sponsored a Historical Walking Tour in the Town of Lowell.
Tour guides dressed in period costumes led groups of spectators around the route, as costumed actors appeared at historical sites, taking on the roles of pioneers and early settlers. The tours started at the picnic shelter at Liberty Park, where the tourists met the official greeters, Helen McIntire, Dorothy Sorenson and Earl Little. Two couples led the groups, both of them portraying pioneers Mr. and Mrs. Horatio Nichols (whose original cabin was near the present Lowell Post Office).
The guide and tour group began the walk east on Main St. from Liberty Park, where they were told how Cedar Creek once ran a crooked course through the east side of what is now the park. Then came the area at the bridge on Main St., the site of the dam which held the water to make the early mill pond, the site of an early saw mill. It was also where the second grist mill was built in 1867, a large three story building, built first as a woolen mill.
The group walked a few hundred feet further to see a fine looking couple standing in front of their brick house, near a buggy. It was Melvin Halsted (founder of Lowell) and his wife Martha, played by Kenneth Childress and Bette Lunn. They told stories about many trips west, the gold rush, the building of the railroad, and about Halsted's career as a Lowell businessman.
At the corner of Mill St. and Main St., the guides told the story of the early Baptist Church built there in 1856, with Halsted's aid, how it was torn down in 1905 and replaced in 1907 by the present church building, now an eye doctor's office. The present building was built in 1907 by the Presbyterians and was later the home of the Believers Church.
Also on that corner one of the area's early school teachers came walking along and explained to the crowd how the early schools looked and how they got along with only the bare necessities. This role was portrayed by Lowell elementary school teacher Kay Harness, who also told about the area being the original part of the town of Lowell.
The tour group turned south along Mill St., to Jefferson St., now the site of a machine shop in the old theatre building. One of the actors took the part of a miller, for that was the site of the original grist mill built by Halsted in 1853. He explained how the mill was powered by water from the Main St. dam and brought down on a wooden flume.
The guides explained why some of the business places moved from Main St. to what is now Commercial Ave., because the county put a new road there (now a state road). They told stories about the business places as they walked east on Commercial Ave., where they ran into early businessman Jonah Thorn, whose first business was near the Halsted House. Taking on the role was William Dunn, long time Lowell businessman, who told Thorn's story about the early days in downtown Lowell.
On the next block the tour group met an early master of Colfax Lodge, portrayed by John Amey. He told about how the early lodge building was destroyed by fire in 1898, when most of the north side of the downtown Lowell business area was burned to the ground, and how they worked to rebuild.
Just a few steps to the east, the group came upon a very large home, the mansion of Dr. E.R. Bacon, at the corner of Commercial and Fremont. The front door of the home slowly opened, and out stepped a white-bearded man, with a long white coat, straw hat, and some doctor's equipment. Dr. Bacon, portrayed by John Eskridge, now told how the doctor built the home in 1869, after he served in the Civil War, and about his experiences as a doctor.
On the next block going east, the tour stopped across the street from the 1905 Soldiers and Sailors monument on the old town square, now Senior Citizens Park. A tour guide told the group that he had heard that the big stone was hauled by a Civil War cavalry soldier, and he called the man by name. A hush came over the crowd as a Civil War cavalryman came out from behind the monument, dressed in his Union Blue, complete with saber, boots, and gauntlet gloves, and covered with dust and spider webs! The soldier was played by Mike Burton, a Civil War reenactor, who told the sad story of the battle at which he was killed.
On the same block the group met Charles and Margaret Bailey who were taking the part of their ancestors as early members of the Lowell Methodist Church. The pair told the story of their church, from the building of the pioneer churches in the country, the building of the brick 1870 church at the corner of Burnham and Main Street (torn down), and the building of the present one.
At the next corner, the site of the old home of John Hack where the first meetings of St. Edward Catholic Church took place, stood a big-bearded carpenter, Warren E. Russell, who was a trustee of the church and built the first frame church building in 1870.
Actor Geroge Miller told some of the history of the church and had old carpenter tools to show.
Everyone then turned north on Union St. where, standing near an old farm wagon, was a pioneer lady talking away in an Irish brogue. It was Betsy (Betsey?) Driscoll, wife of John Driscoll, an 1835 pioneer who settled near Evergreen Park. Taking the part of the Irish farm lady was Donna Steward, who told stories about how they were so poor to start with, and how she feared the Indians in the nearby woods.
Down the block, near the site of the 1870 Church of Christ building, was pioneer couple Mr. and Mrs. John Worley, played by church members John and Jane Gorball. They explained how the early chirch was organized and proudly showed the visitors a very old communion service from the pioneer church, as well as other early artifacts. They were sitting just to the west of the bank building that is there now.
The journey continued to the corner of Union and Main Streets, the site of two early grade schools, where a stone marker was erected in the 1930's to the memory of Melvin Halsted and Jabez Clark. Jabez Clark was standing there, the part taken by his descendent, Rev. Donald Wilson, who told about the good deeds his ancestor did, including donations of land to the community for a park and a school, and his life as a doctor and a businessman in Lowell.
The bronze markers once attached to the stone have been missing for many years.
The weary tour guides and actors felt refreshed at the end of the day, however, when all who attended loudly applauded the "Walk with the Pioneers."
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