On Saturday afternoon, a crowd filled in along the bank where the Flat and Grand Rivers meet. They were there to witness The River of Time pageant. Presented by the Alto Active Achievers 4-H Club and the Lowell Area Historical Museum, the performance featured more than three dozen local youth and adults acting out the early years of the Lowell area.
Starting with the arrival of Madame LaFramboise in 1806 to take over the local trading post after her husband’s murder, the pageant worked its way through the early history of the community and ended with the arrival of settlers and the city’s naming of Lowell. With the riverbank as its stage, the performance had an added dimension that helped transport viewers back in time. When early settler Daniel Marsac — played by Kelton Mebert — arrived, he came by canoe. When Chief Wabwindego died, the native braves and quay carried his body off into the woods. It was certainly a performance unlike anything that could be seen on a traditional stage.
The pageant drew not only local spectators but visitors from afar. Two of Madame LaFramboise’s fourth granddaughters were on-hand to see the event.
If you missed the performance, you’ll want to make note to attend next year. In the meantime, here’s a look back at the weekend pageant.
The audience spilled out of the bleachers and onto the ground in both directions.
The river set the stage for The River of Time pageant.
The set was created to replicate the village where 400 Odawa Indians — the original residents of Lowell — lived.
The pageant began with Evangeline Hoke singing the National Anthem.
Then the native braves and quay got to work.
Madame LaFramboise, played by Ivy Stoller in blue, was Michigan’s first businesswoman. She eventually retired to Mackinac Island where she is buried. Here, she arrives to discuss trading terms with Chief Wabwindego, played by Keegan Mebert.
In 1829, Daniel Marsac (played by Kelton Mebert) arrives from Detroit and sets up his own trading post. He marries the Princess Jenute (played by Maggie Olander), and they have a daughter. Marsac would eventually return to Detroit, taking their daughter and leaving Jenute behind.
When Chief Wabwindego dies, the native braves and quay carry his body into the woods, wailing as they go.
Marsac returns from Detroit with his second wife, Collette Beaufait Marsac (played by Rena Reed). They live with Jenute as their servant until news comes that Jenute and Marsac’s daughter has died in Detroit. Jenute leaves the settlement in grief and is later found dead.
Settlers arrive in what is then called Dansville. A treaty forces the Ottawa Indians to leave for a reservation.
Marsac’s treatment of Jenute may be one reason the settlers decided to change the city’s name. Mrs. Timothy White suggests using the name of a charming town in Massachusetts — Lowell. In 1861, the Michigan Legislature makes the change official.
At the end of the performance, the cast was applauded and two of Madame LaFramboise’s fourth granddaughters (right) were introduced.
It was a wonderful performance that was both interesting and informative. Kudos to all involved for helping us remember and honor our shared roots here in Lowell.
Note: This article has been updated to correct the name of the Native American tribe that originally settled in Lowell.