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Final "First Thursday" Zoom 

Program of 2024

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A group of museum members enjoyed the last of five "First Thursday" Zoom programs on the evening of April 4. First Thursdays started during Covid as a way of providing history programming during months when the museum itself is closed. 

See the video HERE.

TROTOM's building re-opens on May 3, and the museum will hold several in-person history programs this sumer. The full schedule will be forthcoming,

but the museum plans to hold a special celebration of the Dewey Cannon on Flag Day Weekend-- three Oaks was awarded the cannon-- a war souvenir offered as a prize in a nationwide fundraising contest-- 125 years ago this summer.

 2023 summer

​The Region of Three Oaks Museum put on several illustrated live lectures about local history last summer;


In May, Michigan State research librarian Tad Boehmer gave a PowerPoint lecture on E. K. Warren and the Samaritans, explaining how the Three Oaks industrial mogul adopted an obscure and poverty-stricken Christian sect. This program took place in Heritage Hall, the oldest building in Three Oaks, a gift to the township from E. K. Warren himself.

In early July, at the Chikaming Town Hall, a pair of presenters showed and told of the early days of two Harbert communities. Katie VandeBrake focused on Birchwood, which counted famed poet Carl Sandburg among its residents for a time, while Serena Ard told how the Prairie Club's Hazelhurst Camp came into existence (the conservation-oriented Prairie Club had lost its beachfront in Indiana when the Dunes State Park was created). 


Late in July, Carolyn Drier and Garry Lange led us through the very entertaining history of Three Oaks' oldest business-- Drier's Meat Market. Founded by German immigrant brothers Ed & Ben Drier, the butcher shop became an attraction in its own right when Ed Drier, Jr., who turned the family business into an attraction in and of itself. This program was held in St. John's Church, where the Drier family worshipped in German for decades.

In August, Professor Emeritus John Geisler took a crowd at the Lakeside Inn on a nostalgic and entertaining trip up the West Michigan Pike, the area's original tourist road. The Pike played a huge role in establishing the area as a travel destination and second-home mecca for 

And in late September, TROTOM Board Member Nick Bogert screened a documentary about the Apple Cider Century, the bike ride that in the 1980s became the most popular event of its time in the country. The film featured interviews with Bryan Volstorf and his children, Marcia and Tim, who have put on this event with the Three Oaks Spokes Bicycle Club for nearly a half-century.


Season Preview: 2024

Several new exhibits and initiatives are in the offing for the museum's 2024 season. As part of TROTOM's "First Thursday" Zoom series, several contributors talk about the new exhibits:

Museum Board President Randy Miller on an1860s fire truck and hose reel being returned to the museum; Jack Sizer on his Uncle Ted's filming of the liberation of Paris and discovery of Nazi death camps in World War II; Linda Frederickson on the new exhibit on changing hat fashions; Rev. Tracy Heilman on 100 years of Tower Hill Camp; TROTOM board VP Nick Bogert on AI-colored photos and on an 1863 invention by Waters Warren, the father of Three Oaks' two most famous inventors. 

See this program by clicking HERE.

The massive Warren Family Ranches

The Warrens made their fortune in Three Oaks in the late 19th century. Thanks to the "cowboy fascination" of Charles Warren, the family bought huge ranches in the American Southwest and Mexico. Dr. David Murrah, former Director of the Southwest Collections at Texas Tech University, lays out the saga of the Warren ranches. A special bonus-- some descendants of the Warrens and others who helped manage the ranches attended the program, and provide their own recollections during a discussion.

To see it, click HERE.

"A Stroll Down Historic Elm Street"

The story behind the storefronts on Three Oaks' main shopping street, from the 1850's to the present. Triumphs, tragedies, disasters, and big personalities all played a role in shaping Elm Street. TROTOM Board Member Nick Bogert collected the stories and the images over two years. Watch the program by clicking HERE.


"The House of David and World War II "

1The Israelite House of David, a religious commune based in Benton Harbor, faced many challenges during World War II. As pacifists, sect members did not want to fight, but the House of David took great pains to avoid being seen as unpatriotic. As a large agricultural enterprise, the House of David turned to a new source of labor during the war---- German POW's. 

To learn about it from House of David historian and archivist Brian Carroll, click HERE.


Five artifacts from TROTOM's collections, described by five presenters, accompanied by graphic illustration in Power Point-style. Learn about dentistry in Three Oaks through the years, about farm-field fossil discoveries, about a long-forgotten sex-and-money scandal that rocked 1920's Three Oaks, about a Civil War cartridge case and the Avery resident it belonged to, and about the wildfires of 1871, which ravaged the area and led to the formation of Three Oaks's first fire department. To watch, click HERE.

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"Harbor Country Hoodlums"

Author Chriss Lyon ("A Killing in Capone's Playground") talks about some of the tough guys and crooks who have spent significant downtime in SW Michigan. Oh, and she throws in a few good guys, too. To see it, click HERE.

"Michigan's Logging Era"

Michigan was a logger's paradise for most of the 19th Century and the lumber industry did massive environmental  damage to the state. Historian Hillary Pine shows us how the state recovered from near-ecological disaster, in a Zoom program presented November 19, 2020. To see it, click HERE.

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"Fred Warren's Amazing Calculating Engine"

It may be the first calculating machine produced in the US, and it
was put together in Three Oaks way back in 1875. Join TROTOM Board Member Nick Bogert and Notre Dame Computer Science Prof. Jay Brockman for a look  at an extraordinary machine and an amazing drama that surrounded its invention. You can view this program by clicking HERE.


"Three Oaks Flag Day Parade-- Through the Years"

Sadly, the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade-- a local favorite since 1953--was canceled in 2020, due to public health concerns. The Region of Three Oaks Museum created this look back at a beloved tradition, the parade that, organizers assure us, is still the largest Flag Day parade in the country. You can see our Flag Day retrospective by clicking HERE.


"Three Oaks Department Stores"

In 1910, the Charles K. Warren & Company store opened with giant wagonloads of shoppers coming to Three Oaks. The village's big company store soon passed to the Hunerjager family, who ran the store and staged village fashion shows for decades. See the program by clicking HERE.

"The Booms and Busts of Frontier New Buffalo"

New Buffalo careened from good times to bad with astonishing speed in the days after its founding by Captain Wessel Whitaker. Watch the 40-minute Power Point talk put together by TROTOM Board Member Nick Bogert by clicking HERE.


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