The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. The ABCs of Lowell History continues with a look at Jarvis Train, an early prominent citizen in the community. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
Jarvis Clement Train served Lowell in every capacity a citizen could. He was a businessman, farmer, builder, public benefactor, and a politician. He was born in Vermont in 1834, and moved with his family to Boston Township in Ionia County in 1840. In 1856 he married Elizabeth Warren and then moved to Illinois. It was there that he registered for the Civil War draft. In 1867 he returned to Michigan, settling in Lowell. He lived here until his death in 1906 and now rests in Oakwood Cemetery.
During his career Train traded in pelts, hides and woolens. He built a grain elevator across the river in Segwun, operated the mill for a short time, and bought and shipped grain. For many years he dealt extensively in beans, and he owned land outside the city that he farmed. He rented out space in his buildings to local businesses, and operated his own hotel.
As a builder he built buildings for his own businesses such as his Grist Mill, Canning Company, Woolen Mill, and Train’s Hotel, which later became the Waverly Hotel. He is perhaps most well-known for his three story opera house, which is still standing today.
He was known for his public works and good deeds. One of his greatest gifts for the betterment of the city was to develop Island Park, and then he gave the island and the other islands in the Flat River that he owned to the city.
Jarvis Train served his community as a public servant. He held elected offices as a Village Trustee, Township Supervisor, and was even elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives, serving from 1883 – 1884. He was known for serving “conscientiously and well.”
Train’s time in Lowell left a mark and example for us today. He was a man who knew how to overcome adversity. When the Lowell Canning Company went out it was noted that Train lost his $1000.00 investment. On January 9, 1884 Lowell experienced it’s largest fire to date. It started in Strong’s jewelry store and spread through the block. Many businesses were lost and thousands of dollars too. Jarvis Train lost 3 buildings. He lost $3000 but was only insured for $1,100. Another fire, in September of 1894, occurred in the basement of the kitchen of Train’s Hotel. Train suffered a financial loss of $600. The newspaper noted “let us not forget to mention the energy with which Landlord Train and his worthy helpmate met their difficulties. In spite of the ruin in their culinary department, breakfast was served at the usual hour to their numerous guests, as though nothing had happened.”
Through all of life’s troubles, Train continued serving, continued taking risks, and continued supporting Lowell. The American Biographical History is Eminent and Self Made Men stated that Jarvis Train was known for “his honesty, being a warm and generous friend and a supporter of all public improvements”
The picture shows Train’s Hotel built in 1884. It later became Hotel Waverly in 1895. The hotel was located on the southwest corner of Main and Broadway. It operated as a hotel until the 1930s. It is now a parking lot next to the Shell Station.