The ABCs of Lowell History: J is for Jakeway Elevators

The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. This week, museum staff tell us about Charles Jakeway, who owned Jakeway Elevators and brought produce and potatoes to Lowell. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.

Charles E Jakeway was born on May 14, 1860, in Grattan Township. The Jakeway name took many written forms, including ‘Jaques’ and ‘Jaqua.’ Family members were early settlers of Kent County and can still be found living in the area today. Charles married Ella Francisco, daughter of Charles and Cora (Barto) Francisco, early Grattan pioneers.

Charles made his living buying and selling produce. Soon after the Pere Marquette Railroad line came north out of Lowell in 1900, he built an elevator at Mosley. He bought potatoes from area farmers and shipped them to Lowell, where he also built an elevator on the Pere Marquette Railroad along South Broadway south of Main Street. Mosley was alive with farmers and wagons. The town sprang up when the train came through and a depot was built ‘in the middle of the woods.’ Mosley was located a half mile down Four Mile, east of Lincoln Lake Ave. It was not uncommon to see wagons full of potatoes backed up towards Lincoln Lake Ave.

Work was a family affair. Charles and Ella had two daughters, and in 1894 it was boasted in the newspaper that six year old Blanche Jakeway had picked up and put in crates ten bushels of potatoes in two hours using a two quart pail.

A newspaper ad at the end of 1913 shows their business success: “Charles E. Jakeway Produce Business – Bean business alone came to $40,000 and Pickers having earned in that time $1800. Other Produce –Potatoes, Wool and Seeds came to alone $25,000 Lowell and Mosley, Michigan”

On October 14, 1916, tragedy struck. Charles Jakeway’s life was taken when his car was hit by a ”flyer” train when crossing the Grand Trunk tracks south of Lowell. Charles was with his father in law, Charles Francisco, when they were hit. A freight train on a side track completely blocked sight of the oncoming train. The debris field was quite spread out, and death was instantaneous. A double funeral was held, and Jakeway was buried in Lowell’s Oakwood Cemetery and Francisco was buried in the Alton Cemetery. Lowell businesses all closed during the funeral out of sorrow and respect.

In 1917, Mrs. Jakeway sold the Lowell elevator to C. H. Runciman. Runciman was a school superintendent on the east side of the state. One day he read a newspaper ad which offered the Jakeway Elevator in Lowell for sale. He came to Lowell, purchased the elevator and continued to sell beans, potatoes and seeds. In 1931, he established the bean company and expanded from there until he became known as “Mr. Lowell” for his business, community and Showboat involvement.

Today all that remains of the Jakeway Mosley elevator is the crumbling foundation. The Jakeway Lowell Elevator was torn down at some point. The present structure on the site was built by King Milling about 1962 and has been resided with tan siding. King Milling now calls this the C-Mill and it is where whole grain products are produced.

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