The ABCs of Lowell History: R is for Rutherford

The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. This week, museum staff is telling us about the Rutherford family who once owned the go-to bargain store in Lowell. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.


The Rutherford family left their mark on Lowell in many ways. From businesses such as The Bargain Store and the Edwin Fallas Canning Factory, becoming the L.W. Rutherford & Sons Inc, to local churches, community clubs, the Village Council, the Lowell Public Library and the State Highway Maintenance Commission, the Rutherford family was well known and loved in Lowell.

John and Mary Rutherford moved to 526 N. Hudson Street in Lowell in 1907. Their three children were adults and eventually landed here too. John and Mary opened a bazaar store ‘The Bargain Store’ in the 200 block, south side, of West Main. The Bargain Store stocked all kinds of china, crockery, glassware, steel wagons, dolls, toys, novelties, and kind of a specialty – souvenirs for ‘Home Comers.’ Between 1907 and 1913, Lowell celebrated huge Homecomings, and the store specialized in items to be purchased by these shoppers. John and Mary Rutherford were well known and highly respected citizens of Lowell for over 25 years, until their deaths. According to John’s obituary, he had lost the lower part of one of his legs when hit by a street car when he lived in Grand Rapids.

John and Mary Rutherford’s store

The oldest Rutherford child was Inez, born in 1880 and lived to be 88. When her family moved to Lowell she began teaching in the third and fourth grades at the East Ward School. She returned to college at Ypsilanti Sate Normal (now Eastern Michigan University) and later taught economics at the college. She returned to Lowell and worked for the Lowell Public Library, serving as assistant to Miss Audie Post for five years until 1942, when she became the Librarian. She saw the library go under the umbrella of the Kent District Library system and continued on until 1958.

Idabelle was born in 1881 and lived to be 84. She taught school and worked at Leonard Manufacturing Company in Grand Rapids before staying close to home by working for her brother as bookkeeper and secretary at L.W. Rutherford & Sons Inc. She was very active in her church, the First Congregational Church of Lowell and secretary of the ‘Cheerful Doers.’

W. Rutherford in front of LW Rutherford & Son’s building

The youngest was Lawrence W. Rutherford. He married Isabel Fallas, daughter of Edwin and Anna Fallas. The couple was married at her parents’ home at 706 Riverside, and then they resided at 230 S. Hudson Street. She had attended Olivet College and Ypsilanti Normal then studied her music in Berlin, Germany. Isabel’s father ran the Edwin Fallas Canning Factory. Lawrence worked for him, becoming general manger and eventually owning the company and changing the name to L. W. Rutherford & Sons Inc. The canning factory contracted with the army and prisons, serving large numbers of people.

Lawrence Rutherford WW1 Registration card

Lawrence was greatly involved in the community, serving on the Lowell Village Council for 25 years, was director of the Lowell Building and Loan Association, a member of the Lowell Board of Trade, Lowell Rotary, Lowell Congregation Church, and the Masonic Lodge. He served as maintenance superintendent of state highway M-21 and together with C. H. Runciman donated the land to the Village of Lowell for the airport. He was instrumental in the Lowell Centennial Celebration. Perhaps most fitting for his career, he was in charge of the big barbecue on the opening day. They served 4,200 people!

The Rutherford legacy still continues, and the world said goodbye to another member of the Rutherford family in 2021. Marion Monks Rutherford, passing away at the age of 103, was the daughter-in-law of Lawrence and Isabel Rutherford. She had attended the first Lowell Showboat performance and in 1975 she and friends dressed up like hippies and canoed down the river, and attended the 1975 REO Speedwagon Showboat concert. She was much loved as the lunch lady for many years at Lowell schools, slipping students fresh baked bread and cookies. She loved them as much as they loved her, not retiring until she was 70. She loved Lowell, and her Lowell family. Her family thanked her Lafayette street neighbors in her obituary. She joined the rest of her family in Oakwood Cemetery, even in death, still a part of Lowell.


  1. The article states that Lawrence W. Rutherford and his new wife Isabel lived at 230 S Hudson. Are you sure that it’s not North Hudson? My mother was raised at 230 S. Hudson but maybe my grand parents had purchased the house from Rutherford’s.

    • You might want to check with the Lowell Area Historical Museum since this information comes from them. According to current maps, there is no home at 230 N. Hudson although it’s always possible there was a house at that address in the past.

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