The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. This week, museum staff is telling us about an area just south of Lowell that was once known as Tuckertown. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
What once was called ‘Tuckertown’ is today the area just Southeast of Lowell at Pratt Lake Ave and 28th Street.
The first mill Erwin W. Tucker built along the creek was a three story frame building 30 X 40 feet in 1862. Tucker built another mill or shop 35 X 50 in 1868 so that he had two buildings. They had the facility to manufacture 1200 dozen grain cradles per year, plus bed bottoms and harvesting implements, such as wooden hayrakes. It was estimated that at one time Tucker employed up to 60 people. The machinery was operated by an overshot waterwheel which turned the line shafts which powered the machinery.
Erwin W. Tucker invented a bed bottom and was issued U.S. Patent #53,706 on April 3, 1866. “The bed bottom model is constructed just like a full size piece of furniture, including mortise and tenon construction of the legs and head/foot raise, with miniature brass gears for adjustment,” said Mr. Gary Hammond, from Long Island, New York, owner of the Tucker patent as of 2010. “The novel thing about this bed bottom which fits into any frame and headboard is that the head of the bed can be elevated or lowered substantially.
In February of 1872 disaster struck! Fire was discovered in the factory building. In less than twenty minutes the whole building was engulfed in flames, and all efforts to save anything of the building or machinery were useless. The factory was operated by the Fletcher brothers, Mrs. Tucker’s brothers. They had no insurance, so everything was a complete loss. The newspaper report of the fire stated that the circumstances strongly indicated that it was not an accident. All of the doors and windows had been opened up, seeming to ‘coax’ the flames, and hasten the destruction of the building. It is not known if answers were ever found. The Fletcher brothers built a factory near Hastings and Tuckertown began to decline.
In 1875 Mr. Warren Babcock was the owner of the Tuckertown area and he was running a mill and advertised that he paid the highest cash price for white ash logs. A sketch of the home of Warren Babcock at Tuckertown was included in the 1876 Atlas of Kent and Ottawa Counties, seen above.
Levi Slater was next to purchase the farm and mill known as the Tuckertown Mill. Over the next couple of decades, Tuckertown was used as a reference point in the newspaper, including when sharing the news in 1905 that a flood had washed out the Tuckertown bridge.
Today Tuckertown is known for the Tuckertown Forge operated by Blacksmith Frank Leasure and open for events such as Christmas Through Lowell.