The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. This week, museum staff is telling us about the turn of events that led the county to rethink the name of Fallasburg Park. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
One of the things Lowell is known for throughout Kent County is Fallasburg Park. Have you ever wondered why the park is named “Fallasburg”? No, of course not, because that was the name of the Pioneer Village located there, so of course the county park is named Fallasburg Park!
While this is true, it was not that simple. The original name during the planning stages of the park was “Johnson Park.”
In 1927, Kent County began planning the park on the Flat River. The land for the park had been purchased from Mrs. Lena Reusser Eickhoff by the Kent County Road Commission. She also donated a piece of land for the entrance, and a plaque was placed in her honor. Lena Eickhoff left her mark on the community through her children. Many today recognize the names and contributions of Irma Richmond, Thelma Roth and Ruby Christiansen, all daughters of Lena Eickhoff.
In January of 1928, after complaints over the name had surfaced, the secretary of the parks commission said “the commission was not disposed to change the name.” Mrs. W.H. Rexford began a petition to present to the park commission. In addition, Charles W. Fallas, wholesale and retail druggist of Petoskey appealed to Mayor Elvin Swarthout and other city and county officials to name the county park after the first settlers. Fallas even promised that the Fallas descendants would place a memorial at the park.
John Wesley Fallas settled here in 1837, and then wrote home begging his family to join him. His brother, Dr. Silas Fallas, and uncle, Arad Melvin soon joined him. The remainder of the Fallas family and the Brown family came later after John Wesley returned to New York and married his sweetheart, Phoebe Brown in 1842.
Mayor Swarthout stated that he was determined to support the Vergennes petitioners. He spoke highly of the Fallas family and their impact on the larger community. Silas Fallas was a doctor, a circuit judge for the twenty-eighth judicial circuit and a candidate for congress. Edwin Fallas, Civil War Veteran, was a prominent merchant, starting the Fallas Canning Company. He later had a business in Los Angeles but still summered here.
Supervisor Shank of the Board of Supervisors made a resolution to change the name of Johnson Park to Fallas Park. In support of the resolution one supervisor stated, “No finer family, no sturdier pioneers ever settled in this country.” The resolution was unanimously passed and accepted by the park commission.
Charles W. Fallas kept his promise and in 1930 a stone memorial arch was erected by Edwin Fallas in memory of his father and mother, William and Wealthy Fallas. (William was the older brother of John Wesley and Silas Fallas)
“Erected in 1930
By Edwin Fallas
In Memory of His
Father and Mother,
William and Wealthy Fallas
Who Brought Him to
Fallasburg in 1845”
Today no one is surprised to see the name “Fallasburg” attached to the park, for as soon as you cross the covered bridge you are in the village of Fallasburg, and it all makes sense. But at one time the name of the park was not a sure thing.