26 Aug 1922 – Grant & Lilley Family Reunion

On 26 Aug 1922 in Dyer Brook, Aroostook County, Maine a Grant & Lilley family reunion took place. Attending this reunion was 60+ families who were related to either the Grant Family or Lilley Family, or in many cases, both families!

A Little History

I’ve been given a number of boxes containing photographs that belonged to my Aunt Ellen, my mom’s elder sister E. Ellen Gardner, who was the family historian of her family. I periodically go through these boxes and wonder if I recognize some faces, guess at others and find unseen photos of my parents and siblings. Sometimes I also find other documents, such as birth records, newspaper articles and occasionally a hand-written family history document.

Such was the case when I found the Guest List from the Grant & Lilly Reunion, held on 26 Aug 1922. Some of the names I immediately recognized as cousins. Some names I recognized as names I had encountered in the building of my family tree and yet others I had never seen before.

This is a small portion of the photograph in question, cropped from a photo my Aunt took of her Sitting Room wall.

I remember a photo that used to hang on the wall in my Grandfather LeRoy’s sitting room – a photo that had to be at least 4 feet wide. It was of a LARGE group of people of varying ages. Seeing it as a child, I marveled at the size. I didn’t realize until I found the Grant/Lilley Reunion Guest List that most likely the photo was taken on 26 Aug 1922 and everyone in the photo was a Grant/Lilley relative. I never found my grandparents in the photo, but then again, they are not listed on the guest list.

I’m not quite sure if I am directly related to the Grants and Lilleys (and I am actively searching to confirm/deny connection) but I do know that several of my 2x Great Grandfather’s siblings married into both the Grant and Lilley families.

Why would my Grandfather have this photograph?
How am I related to the Grant / Lilley Families of Maine?
Where is the photograph today? – The last time I saw the photograph was at my Aunt Ellen’s funeral, where it was displayed next to her coffin. That was in June of 1999.

Over the course of the next few months, I hope to answer these and other questions I have regarding the Grant / Lilley Family reunion.


Henry Cranston and Sarah Jane Baggerly were the parents of six children. Their youngest son, Fred Franklin Bliven, was my Great-Grandfather. He was born on the Bliven family farm (see LAND OF MY PEOPLE – PART 2) on 08 Sep 1874. He was raised on this farm, working for his father until his father’s death in 1892.

On 01 January 1896, Fred married Maude Houghtaling, eldest daughter of Lafayette and Diantha (Fisher) Houghtaling, a farmer from Cohoctah, Livingston County, Michigan. Maude had been born in Brighton, Livingston County and her family had lived in Brighton before settling in Cohoctah Township.

Published in Livingston County Daily Press and Argus – 08 Jan 1896, page 1

Sometime between their marriage and the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, the newly created Bliven family left Livingston County and located in neighboring Shaiwassee County.

The 1900 U.S. Census lists that Fred and Maude are living in Burns, Shiawassee Co. Michigan with two of their three children; Martin and Mildred. (Their youngest daughter Florence was born in 1901.) The census indicates that Fred’s occupation is a farmer and that he owns his farm. On 29 Sept 1909, it is listed in the newspaper that “Fred Bliven and family have moved away from here” [Shiawassee County].

This move is reflected in the 1910 U.S. Census which now lists Fred, Maude and the three children back in Cohoctah Township and are renting the farm that they are living on. Fred did eventually buy the farm and the family remained here until 1917, when they sold the farm to Chris. O. Ludke and wife for $1,200.

It was this farm in Cohoctah Township that I have been able to locate on the 1915 U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps. In section 32 of Cohoctah Township, Fred is listed as occupying 60 acres. Although I have located this land on Google Maps, I have yet to personally travel to the area and photograph the actual land. That is planned for later this month (pandemic willing).

But, I have a question? Having been a farmer all of his life, why did Fred, at the age of 43, sell the farm? Where did the family move to?

There are a number of documents that allow me to trace where Fred, Maude and the family went upon selling the farm in Cohoctah. The U.S. World War I Draft Registration Card for Fred, dated 02 Sep 1918, has him living at 815 North Cedar Street. He is listed with a present occupation of City of Lansing Policeman.

U.S. World War I Draft Registration Card, 1917-1918

The 1920 U.S. Census has Fred and Maude still living at 815 North Cedar Street, but now his occupation is listed as a Motorman on a Street Car. All three of the children have grown, married and moved into their own places.

When I first learned that Fred and Maude lived on Cedar Street, I wondered how close they might be to where my Great-grandparents, Charles and Christina Elizabeth lived. I knew that Cedar Street was very near Center Street, as my father attended Cedar Street Elementary School as a boy.

So I looked up 815 North Cedar Street on Google Maps, and found the following:

Apparently, I had driven past this home numerous times and not realized that it was also a former residence of my family. Below is what came up when I asked Google Maps to give directions from 815 N. Cedar Street to 808 Center Street.

My grandmother Margaret (aka Peggy) married Fed and Maude’s son Martin on 26 Jun 1920. This photo was taken after the wedding, in the front yard of 808 Center Street.

So, I’m glad that the Bliven family left the farm and moved to Lansing, as this led to my grandparents meeting, my father being born and, therefore, ME!

Lansing was not the last location that either Fred or Maude lived, but that’s a story for another time.


I am web manager, what we call “host” of several web pages, which are part of GenealogyTrails.com. I am State Host for the State of Michigan page (http://genealogytrails.com/mich/) and county hosts of 5 Michigan counties:

Ingham County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/ingham/
Isabella County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/isabella/
Livingston County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/livingston/
Oakland County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/oakland/
Shiawassee County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/shiawassee/

and one county in Idaho
Canyon County – http://genealogytrails.com/ida/canyon/

As County host, I mantain the web pages, add content, answer questions and so on. As State Host, I do the same for the main State webpage, as well as add content and monitor the unhosted counties in the state.

Calhoun County, Michigan is located in the lower western portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The county seat is Marshall, but the most well known city in the county is Battle Creek, aka “Cereal City.” Known for being the home of several large cereal manufacturers, such as General Foods, Kelloggs, etc.

I recently received a request through the Genealogy Trails: Michigan web page, asking if I could help a Battle Creek resident in finding information about a dance hall that had been on her property during the 1930s and ’40s. I took the request as a chance to find interesting information to post on the Calhoun County web page, as well as help a fellow genealogist out. The following is the document I created with the information I found about the Riverside Pavilion, 201 Raymond Rd, Battle Creek, Michigan.

12 Feb 2020

Riverside Pavilion
201 Raymond Rd, Battle Creek


Received Email request from Michele DeVore requesting if I could help her find information about a dance hall that was supposedly present on 201 S. Raymend Rd., Battle Creek in the 1930s and 1940s.

  1. My initial search was in the History of Calhoun County, (bibiology)
  2. Also checked Portrait & Biographical Album for Calhoun County (bib.)
  3. Next searched for articles in local Battle Creek and Calhoun County newspapers.
  4. Once obtained names of managers, searched for information in Ancestry.com
  • Did initial search in Newspapers.com, NewspaperArchive.com and CMU Newspaper Portal, to see what initial hits/news articles I could find.
    • CMU Newspaper portal shows that all Newspaper archive links for Battle Creek, Calhoun County are pay.
    • NewspaperArchives.com has no specific newspapers for Calhoun County or Battle Creek.
    • Newspaper.com has access to Battle Creek Enquirer from 1918-2020 and Battle Creek Moon-Journal for 1921, 1931, 1936, 1940
  • Using search topics such as “Riverside Dance Hall, Riverside dance, 201 Raymond Rd, Dance Halls, and limiting the dates between 1930 and 1940, found several articles
    • DANCE OPERATOR ROBBED OF $30 PUBLISHED IN BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER (Battle Creek, Michigan) 2 Jan 1938, pg 2
        Sheriff’s officers today were searching for for two men who held up the proprietor of the Riverside dance pavilion on Raymond road at the end of Cliff street, about 2:30 a.m. Saturday and escaped with $30.
        Merlin J. Young, 140 East avenue north, who runs the dance hall, told Deputy Sheriff Edward Harlow that one of the men stuck a gun in his side and took the money, most of which was in silver, just as he was closing the pavilion  after a New Year’s eve celebration. The other man, according to Young, kept the motor running in a waiting car and both made their escape.
        Young did not get a description of the car, but said the man who held the gun was about 40 years old, five feet, 11 inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. He was wearing a black overcoat and a dark cap. Young could give no description of the man who waited in the car.
        Young saved several hundred dollars in receipts because he took his wife’s advice and placed the money in a cardboard carton before the hall was closed. The carton was in the car when the bandit approached him.
  • SOCIETY NEWS, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 18 Sep 1942, pg 6
    • A farewell dinner for Rexford Young, who reported at Fort Custer Tuesday for duty in the army was given recently at the Riverside dance hall. There were 19 guests for the dinner, at which he received gifts from his family. The occasion also celebrated the birthday anniversary of Mr. Young’s mother. Out-of-town guests were Mrs. Joseph A. Madenford and son of Walkerson, Ind. Pvt Edward Young of Camp Perry, O., and Mr. and Mrs. Kroom Sand and daughter, Joyce of Clear lake.

    • DOZEN DRINKING TEEN-AGERS SPOTTED IN CARS NEAR DANCE, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 16 Jun 1942, pg 11
      • Sheriff’s officers, setting out to stop drinking by teen-agers in parked cars near dance halls in the Battle Creek area, found “alarming conditions” outside the Riverside dance hall on the South Raymond road Saturday night.
        “We found more than a dozen teen-agers actually drinking in the parked cars in the dance hall area and found intoxicants in at least a dozen other cars,” Undersheriff Ray Purcell said. “We found one girl only 13 years old in a car where there was liquor but did not see her actually drinking.”
        Sheriff’s officers from the local and Marshall offices joined forces in the first checkup.
        “We confiscated a quantity of both whisky and beer,” Mr. Bursell said. 
        “We confiscated a quantity of both whisky and beer,” Mr. Pursell said.  “Most of the liquor was taken from teen- agers who were seen while drinking the rest was from cars.”
        Sheriff’s officers said that they have received numerous complaints concerning drinking at various dance halls in the area on Saturday nights. They plan to visit other dance halls on future Saturday nights and to confiscate intoxicants found in the possession of minors.
        The officers said that they walked among the parked cars to observe the occupants. They said comparatively few adults attended the dance and none was seen drinking in cars.
        Mr. Purcell said that he was checking with Prosecutor Donald Gordon with reference to prosecuting any adults who may be caught drinking in cars.
        “We also are endeavoring to trace the source of intoxicants found on the minors and will prosecute those who furnished teen-agers with whisky, wine or beer,” he said.
        The Sheriff’s office is also planning to contact parents of minors found drinking and to seek their cooperation in halting the practice.
        “We believe that a few week’s checking, confiscation of the intoxicants and notification to parents will do much to eliminate such drinking, Mr. Purcell said.
    • EMMETT ACTS TO REMEDY HAZARDS, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 19 Feb 1946, pg 5
      • Fire Prevention Orders Issued Following Inspections
        Orders calling for the remedying of numerous fire hazards in public buildings in Emmett township were issued yesterday at the conclusion of a two-week inspection of schools, churches, taverns and dance halls in the township made by Fire Chief LaVerne Stearman and Detective Glenroy Walker of the state fire marshal’s office.
        Chief Stearman reported these hazards ordered remedied within 30 days of the inspection:
        Install added exits:  Spaulding and Newman
        Fire-proof doors and frames leading to boiler rooms located beneath open wooden stairs: Brownlee Park and Wattles
        Install exterior metal fire escapes: Raymond and Brownlee Park.
        Install exterior door exists with panic hardware (opening on pressure): fire doors on three wooden buildings of Wattles Park school
        Cleanup fire hazards in basement: Cresco school
        Fire drills in all schools at least once each month.
        Install swing-out exit doors with panic hardware: Olive street Friends church
        Widen exit: Belden tavern
        Make exit doors swing out: Angell’s Tavern
        Install new first floor exits: Riverside Dance Hall
        Install wide double exit doors at the rear of the hall: Beadle Lake dance hall (This work has already been undertaken following a tavern inspection. They hall no longer has a tavern license.)

        Chief Stearman said the inspections are made under the 1943 revision of the Michigan public assembly law. He reported that the school fire hazards were especially grave, with some repair of at least a minor nature ordered on each of the nine school buildings in the township. He said many rooms in Spaulding and Newman school did not have separate exits from each room, and the Wattles Park school’s three wooden buildings need five extra doors ad exits. School boards have the orders and indicate they will comply at once.
        The township board now is studying a fire prevention ordinance drawn up and submitted by Chief Stedman, based on an ordinance in effect in Battle Creek township and on recommendations from the National Fire Underwriters association. A similar ordinance is being drafted for the city of Battle Creek.
        The Emmett ordinance, which would be effective when passed by the township board, provides for a bureau of fire prevention, with authority vested in the fire chief to inspect all places of public assembly in the township twice yearly, and hazardous places four times yearly; to order removal of hazards at other than private dwellings, and to inspect for storage of explosives and incendiaries, maintenance of exits and escapes, and to investigate causes of fires.
        Mr. Stearman said the township needs a second fire truck with at least a 500-gallon booster pump and tank. He points out that the new million-dollar warehouse being constructed by the Kellogg Co., is in the township, and that property valuations have risen to a point where added protection is necessary.
        Members of the board who have the proposed fire ordinance under study are Roy Brigham, supervisor; Elmer Robinson, treasurer, Percy Fruin, clerk, and Marvin Hyack and Harry Hopenbecker, justices of the peace.
        A provision of the new proposed regulatory ordinance would provide that all circuses and carnivals showing in the township must comply with fire regulations as to exits and electoral equipment and must have flame-proof tents.

    • NEWMAN SCHOOL’S YOUTH CLUB WILL MARK BIRTHDAY, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 22 May 1950, pg 7
      • The first “birthday” of the Youth club of Newman school district will be celebrated by its 75 members with a party Thursday following the regular meeting and anniversary dance Friday at the Riverside dance hall.
        The Newman Men’s club sponsors the organization, composed of boys and girls from 10 to 18 years of age and advisers are W. P. King, Roy Braddock, Mrs. Winston Allen and Mrs. Henry Allen. Newly-elected officers are Patricia Ellis, president; Marjorie Eldred, vice president; Jacqueline Willy, secretary, and Joanne King, treasurer. Former officers were Fred Case, Vonda Faurot, bob King, Sally McNamara, Joanne Poole, Barbara Taft and Robert Trubey.
        Among the activities of the group are dancing and movies, held alternatively on Friday and Saturday nights. Profits from admissions are used to purchase recreation equipment.
  • Changing the search phrases to several other combinations, finally settling on “Riverside Pavilion” which was a phrase that kept appearing in the articles found during earlier searches.
  • Based on the results of this extensive search, I was able to develop a timeline for the Riverside Pavailion.
    • Opening Dance, New Years Eve, December 31, 1930
    • 1931 – Manager: “Happy” Edens
    • 1932 – Manager: “Happy” Edens
      • Dances held every Wednesday & Saturday nights for months of Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug.
      • No Dances in Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.
    • 1933 – Manager:
      • Hall for rent for private parties for Jan-May
      • June 12, Newly finished Dance Hall opens, but again only for rent
      • Oct – Nov. Dances start again, after “Doc” Youngs and Robert Mayer lease the hall
    • 1934 – Manager: Merlin “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan – Mar held dances and other gathering
      • Apr – Aug: Closed
      • Sep 10th reopens, ads say “Under New Management”, appears that Robert Mayer has left.
      • Oct – Nov: dances every week, different days of the week, usually Weds, Thurs, Sat. Closes again in December
    • 1935 – Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan – Aug: private rentals only
      • Sep 28th reopens
      • Dances throughout Oct and Nov. Closed in December.
    • 1936 – Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan & Feb. Closed
      • Mar – now managed by Youngs, Miller and Little
      • Apr – Aug – rentals for private parties only.
      • Sep – rooms associated with pavilion for rent by Mrs. L. Mason
      • Sept 19th last Dance held.  Managers, Young and Miller rent new location.
      • Oct, Nov, Dec – closed.
    • 1937 – Manager:
      • Equipment being sold by Mrs. L. Mason, pavilion being rented out for private parties only
      • Jun – Dance hall used by “My Dance Club” burns down.  President of club, “Doc” Youngs, rents Riverside Pavilion in October to use as clubhouse for club.
      • Oct – Dec: weekly dances and card parties by My Dance Club.  Pavilion is still available for private rental.
Add for “My Dance Hall” – the new location for the My Dance Club group.
    • 1938
      • Manager: Merrill “Doc” Youngs
      • Manager robbed on New Years Eve.
      • Pavilion available for private rentals from Jan through August.
      • Sep 21st – resume having weekly dances.
      • Oct – Wednesdays and Saturdays.
      • Nov & Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1939
      •  Manager:
      • Mar – Ad appears for available room to rent above dance hall
      • Apr-Jun – available for private rental only
      • Jul – mixed dances
      • Aug – Balloon dance
      • Oct – Benefits and dances
      • Nov  & Dec – weekly dances
    • 1940
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Apr – ‘My Dance Club’ starts having weekly Card parties.
      • May – Nov – ‘My Dance Club’ uses pavilion as their club house. During this time, other Rallies, Benefits and Dances are held.
    • 1941
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-May – ‘My Dance Club’ continues using pavilion for their weekly card parties.
      • Feb – Raymond Mason starts to rent the pavilion for wedding receptions.
      • Jun – start having dancing every Friday
      • July – dances are changed to every Saturday
      • Aug – dances are now Fridays and Saturdays, continues through December.
    • 1942
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-Jun – dances every Saturday
      • Jul-Oct – private rentals only
      • Nov-Dec – Dances every Saturday
    • 1943
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-Dec – dances every Saturday
    • 1944
      • Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-Oct – dances every Saturday
      • Nov  1st – closed for remodeling, reopened on Dec 28th for New Years Eve dances.
    • 1945
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Under new management, reopens New Years Eve. 
      • Jan-Mar – dances every Sunday night
      • Apr-Dec – dances every Saturday night
    • 1946
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Dec – dances every Saturday night
      • Jul, Aug & Sep – also have ‘Community Auctions’ every Friday night. Public is invited to bring items to be auctioned off.
    • 1947
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1948
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Aug – Dances every Saturday night.
      • Pavilion closes on Aug 13th and reopens on Oct 2nd. Dances every Saturday night in Oct and Nov.
      • Holds Christmas dance on Dec 18th.  Closed through holidays.
    • 1949
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-May – Dances every Saturday
      • Closes May 27th for season. Pavilion available for rental during Jun, Jul and Aug.
      • Fall Opening on Sep 10th
      • Sep-Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1950
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Mar – Dances every Saturday night
      • Closes end of March, remains closed until Oct 28th, when it reopens under new management: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      • Nov-Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1951    
      • Manager: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      • Jan-Feb – Dances every Saturday night
      • Mar – available for private rental only. Remains available for private rental the remainder of the year
    • 1952
      • Manager: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      • No longer operating as a weekly dance hall. Available for rental for private parties only.
  • After 1952, the only mentions of either Riverside Pavilion or 201 Raymond Rd. were about the former managers, Merlin “Doc” Youngs and Raymond J. Mason.
  • A few interesting ‘tidbits’ about the managers of the Riverside pavilion.
  • Everd I. “Happy” Edens (09 Dec 1895 – 01 Oct 1974)
    • Although “Happy” Edens appears to have been involved in the initial opening and first couple of years of running the Riverside Pavilion, his obituary does not mention his involvement at all.
    • OBITUARY: Everd I. Edens
      Everd Irving “Happy” Edens, 78, of 1163 E. Michigan Ave., was pronounced dead on arrival at Leila Hospital today, where he was taken after being stricken at home. He had been ill three years and seriously ill three weeks.
      Born in Roundhead, Ohio, he had resided in this area for more than 60 years. He was employed as the manager of the Wash King Laundramat on E. Michigan Laundry for the past 13 years. Earlier he had been employed by the Michigan Carton Co. for 44 years, retiring in 1960. Before that he had been employed by Post Division, General Foods Corp., the Merrills and Edens Meat Market and the Red Star Yeast Co. He was a member of the Michigan Carton 25-Year Club and the Ben Hur Association.
      Survivors include his widow, the former Marie B. Merrils; a daughter, Mrs. June E. Beninghaus of the E. Michigan address; one grandson; one great-granddaughter, and a brother, Vern Edens of Lima, Ohio.
      Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Royal Funeral Home.
      (published in Battle Creek Enquirer, (Battle Creek, Michigan) 01 Oct 1974)
  • Merlin Julius “Doc” Youngs (25 Sep 1890 – 15 Mar 1975)
    • Unlike the first and last managers of the Riverside Pavilion, Merlin “Doc” Youngs didn’t run the pavilion as a ‘side job’. His main employment his entire adult life was the Dance Hall Business/Resort Owner/Operator.   
    • In 1955, an article about Merlin J. “Doc” Youngs was published in the Battle Creek Enquirer. Although it was about his Resort at Clear Lake, it does mention his management of Riverside Pavilion.
      Merlin Julius Young was once a Red Man – a member of the Improved Order of Red Men. It was this fraternal affiliation hat led him into the dance hall business and finally took him to his present location at resort proprietor of Clear Lake near Downing. As chairman of the lodge’s entertainment committee he ran the dancing parties in the old Annex building in S.W. Capital ave. just off Michigan Ave. Resort and dance halls once flourished at most of the nearby watering places, but in the changing world, Mr. Young at Clear Lake and Ray McCarthy at Beadle Lake remain as the only survivors in the area. Their businesses today are very much alike – a sizable dance hall with band music on Saturday nights, refreshments and rowboats for rent.
      In this modern era, both of these men have become experienced operators, but in the long range background of the resort business they are comparative newcomers. While Mr. Young was working in Grand Rapids and Muskegon as a furniture manufacturer and tool and die maker, the memorable amusement parks, bathhouses, midway, boat liveries, dance halls and skating rinks were flourishing at Goguac Lake. And there were thriving boat liveries, dance halls and diving rooms at St. Marys’ Waubascom, Mill and other lakes in the area.
      Mr. Young was born at Edmore on Sept 25, 1890, the son of Tracy and Cora Drake Young. He is the only survivor among three children. A sister, Effie died in the influenza epidemic in 1918 and a brother, Byron, died in Grand Rapids in 1924. The father, a sewing machine salesman in Edmore, was fatally injured when thrown by a horse when Merlin was 8 years old.
      “We arrived in Grand Rapids on a Thursday and the following Monday I went to work in a furniture factory,” Mr. Young said. After two years he joined the Oliver Machinery Co., makers of woodworking machinery and during the five years there learned the machinest trade. Then he joined Continental Motors at Muskegon, but after six montha the nerves in his eyes gave out and he was totally blind for six months. Under protracted treatment, his eyesight was restored.
      His first job on the comeback trail was as foreman for the Fibre Grand Co. of Grand Rapids, producers of paper fibre for furniture and after this he worked for the Thwaite Fibre Co. This firm moved to Albion in 1922 and the Youngs were residents there for the next three years.
      On moving to Battle Creek in 1925, Mr. Young’s first job was as painter and maintenance man, handing the extensive properties, of Dr. A. E. MacGregor. It was during this time that he became active in the Red Men lodge and was appointed chairman of the dancing parties. The lodge did not engage in a program expansive enough to suit Mr. Young, so he resided as chairman and took over the Riverside Pavilion in 1932. He featured there the bands of Ward Reese, Marion Mott and Steve Roxbury’s ‘Roxy’s Hot Shots.”
      Next, he rented the place in the Beadle lake road known variously as the Cow Barn, Cocoanut Grove, Mom & Pop’s Place, and the M-T dance hall near the former Electric Lake. This was going good as a Saturday night spot, despite the depression, when it burned to the ground in June, 1935. Then Mr. Young went back to the Riverside Pavilion.
      He spent one summer season running the Fine Lake dance hall, but in September 1943, took over the St. Mary’s Lake dance hall, which he operated for five years. In 1948 he moved to the Pine Creek dance hall where he made many new friends among the dancing set during the 25 months he was there. The Ma and Pa Kelly band played for the dances there and Les and Irene Turner as well.

Mr. and Mrs. Young bought the Clear lake resort in 1952. The dance hall had been started by Frank and Fern Herrington, but they had sold out in 1930 and moved to Battle Creek. Mrs. Harrington became the ticket-seller for Mr. Young at the Riverside Pavilion. Later she became a school teacher and met an accidental death when struck by a switch engine while she was in Kalamazoo to attend a teachers’ meeting.
(Published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 17 Jul 1955)

  • Obituary: Merlin Julius “Doc” Youngs
    HASTINGS – Merlin J. “Doc” Young, 84, of 2999 W. State Road, former owner of several dance halls, died Wednesday in Barry County Medical Care Facility where he had been a patient six weeks. He had been ill more than two years.
    He was born in Edmore and moved to Battle Creek in 1927 from Albion.
    In Battle Creek, he became manager of Riverside Pavilion in the early 1930s. He later was associated with dance halls and resorts at Beadle Lake, Fine Lake, St. Mary’s Lake and Pine Creek before purchasing Clear Lake Danceland near Dowling in 1952. The resort was closed and Young retired in the 1960s.
    His wife, the former Charlottie A Lafler, died in 1971.
    He is survived by sons, Rexford C. Young of Battle Creek and Merlin N. of Allegan; daughters, Mrs. Ethan (Doris) Hammond and Mrs. Merland (Genevieve) Miller, both of Battle Creek, and Mrs. Kroom (Beulah) Sand of Hastings; 13 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
    Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Royal Funeral Home, Battle Creek.
    (Published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 13 Mar 1975)
  • Raymond R. Mason (29 Jan 1910 – 15 Nov 1992)
    • Taking over the Riverside Pavilion from “Doc” Youngs, Raymond Mason ran the pavilion from 1945-1950. He was the youngest of the managers and the only manager that lived at the 201 Raymond Rd. address.
    • OBITUARY: Raymond R. Mason
    Raymond ‘Dad’ Mason, who excelled as a powerboat racer at the age of 70 and was inducted into the American Powerboat Association Hall of Champions, died Sunday, Nov. 15, 1992, while deer hunting near Lincoln.  He was 82 and resided in Battle Creek.
    Mr. Mason was born Jan. 29, 1910, in Bear Creak to William Henry and Lulu (Tuttle) Mason. He worked in the maintenance department of University of Michigan from 1929 to 1939 and at Eaton Corp. from 1940 to 1945.
    In 1945, he started Ray Mason’s Battery Service, which he owned and operated until 1969, when he sold it to his son, Lyle R. Mason. He contined to work part time for many years.
    He was a Golden Gloves boxer in 1936 and helped found the Food City Boat Club in 1955. He won Class D. national championships in outboard hydroplanes at age 69 and 70.  Mr. Mason was a member of National Rifle Association and enjoyed hunting, fishing and powerboat racing.
    He married the former Helen B. Heshelman on July 10, 1931, in Washington, Ind. She survives. Also surviving are son, Lyle R. Mason of Battle Creek; daughters, Linda L. Garrett of Houghton Lake and Lydia K. Baines of Battle Creek; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
    Visitation: After 6 p.m. today at the Richard A Henry Funeral Home
    Services: 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home with the Rev. David L. Morton officiation.
    Burial: Floral Lawn Memorial Gardens
    (published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 17 Nov 1992
  • Dewey Tooze, Sr. (27 Sep 1899 – 08 Oct 1974)
    • Last manager of the Riverside Pavilion.  As with the first manager, there is no mention of his time with the pavilion in his obituary.
    • OBITUARY: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      Dewey D. Tooze, 75, of 21190 North Ave., died Tuesday at his residence.
      Born in Milo, he came to Battle Creek as a young man. He retired in 1968 from Grand Trunk Western Railroad Co. after 48 years as a roadline stockkeeper. He was a member of the Battle Creek Elks Lodge 131.
      Survivors include a son, Dewey D. Tooze, Jr. of 220 Meadow Drive; a daughter, Mrs. Charles (Della) Nobles of the North Avenue address; eight grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren and brothers, Porter Tooze of Augusta and Russell of Fresno, Calif.
      Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Richard A. Henry Funeral Home.
      (published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 09 Oct 1974)

I have become so interested in the Dance Pavilions found in other Michigan cities that I plan on researching them for my web pages as well.


In the summer of 1964, my family took a 3-week vacation and drove to Denver, Colorado to visit my Dad’s HART and SPAULDING Cousins. Christine (DeVaney) Spaulding and Kathleen (DeVaney) Hart and their families both lived there.  The two women were the daughters of Ivy A. (Vincent) DeVaney and her husband Michael, who helped raise my Dad after his mother passed away.

I was only 7 years old at the time, and my memories of the trip are now limited to just the moments that were captured by photographs. And oh, what photographs I have:  Mountains, Plains, Continental Divides, Buffalo Bill’s Grave and so many photos of my Mom, sister Margaret, 2 brothers, Chuck and Lee and me.

I inherited all of them after my parents passed away, and have over the years scanned them, so I have an electronic copy and can relive the memories. 


Some of these photographs have puzzled me for decades.

Backyard of the home we stayed at in Colorado, overlooking the hills and meadows.

This is a photo of the backyard of where the Bliven family stayed while in Colorado.  I don’t remember which of the families we stayed with – was it with Mr. and Mrs. Gus Hart?  Was it with Mr. and Mrs. Jay Spaulding?

What I do remember is that there were horses living in the field behind, and I was photographed with 2 of my young cousins and several of the horses.

My mystery cousin and I and one of the wild horses.
More of the wild horses come to visit.
My cousins, me and the horses.

Who are these cousins? Are they still living in Colorado?

I know that at least one trip into the Rockies included Jay and Christina Spaulding, my parents and older brother and sister, because several photos exist to support this.

Jay Raymond Spaulding ( 1909-1970) married to Christina R (DeVaney)
Looking closely at the car, I can see both my Mom and cousin Christina in the back seat.
Again, looking in the car, I see my Mom, my older brother and my sister
A classic shot – “Snowball fight in the middle of summer” – participants are Mom and Margaret
I’ll bet this happened a lot on this road trip – “Stopping for photos” Participants: Jay Spaulding, Margaret Bliven

I vaguely remember the day of this trip, as my younger brother and I got to stay behind and play with the family dog. There was only room for 6 in our family station wagon and in reality, both my younger brother and I would most likely not remember the trip, since we were 7 ½ and 4 ½ years old at the time. So, it’s possible we stayed with the Spaulding’s and the Hart’s came to visit.

Perhaps one of my Hart/DeVaney/Spaulding cousins will also remember the visit in that Summer of 64, when the Bliven family came to Colorado to spend time with cousins. Perhaps they will be in contact with me.  Perhaps, I’ll never know the names of the cousins I spent time with.

I’ll end this here, with a few more photos from the trip to and from Colorado.

Traveling with my Aunt Ivy – I believe somewhere between Michigan and Colorado
Golden, Colorado – Gravesite of “Buffalo Bill” William F. Cody
Another Classic photo op “Children in front of scenic marker” Participants, Nancy and Leroy Bliven (I believe this is located in South Dakota)
Apparently there were occasional breakdowns on the road to and/or from Colorado. Then again, what’s a vacation without an occasional breakdown?
Another Historical Marker, another Classic picture
You HAVE to take a photo of children in front of markers. Participants: Nancy, Leroy and Chuck
The Majesty of the Rocky Mountains!
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Cemetery at Little BigHorn Battlefield National Momunent
Battlefield photo
Walking the Battlefield. Led by Leroy, then Mom, Nancy , Chuck, Margaret trailed by Dad
“Children in front of beautiful lake” Participants: Nancy and Leroy
If my memory is correct, this is a mountain view of the area in Colorado where we were staying. Supposedly, you can see our trailer from here. I’ve never found it.
Another mountain top view
Somewhere in the Black Hills of South Dakota
Buffalo in the Black Hills
A Family Favorite Spot – Prairie Dog Town. You may not see them, but the field is filled with Prairie Dogs peeking out of their burrows.


It has been close to 25 years since I started this journey…  all because of a poster I bought with the history of my Family Name…. Bliven

I learned that everything I thought I knew about my Family ancestry was not quite true and so I decided to try and learn the truth about my family.

It has been a very interesting journey…..


Ellen and Herbert Gardner

Herbert and Ellen Gardner, circa. 1920


….. one that continues to this day!