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John J. Booher -- 1863-1953
Posted by: K B COOK (ID *****2222) Date: October 04, 2002 at 07:30:53
  of 828

From Vicksburg (MI) Comm'l, 4/2/1953; John J. Booher, 91, passed away Tuesday, March 31, 1953 at his farm home near Plainwell. He was born March 2, 1862 in LaGrange, Ind.
       His younger life was spent in California with the last 40 years spent in the vicinity of Kalamazoo and Plainwell.
       Survivors are one daughter, Mrs. W. Thor Palmer, one granddaughter, Mrs. Richard Charette and 2 great granddaughters and other relatives and friends.
       Friends are being received at the Critz funeral home until Saturday morning when he will be taken to the farm home where services will be held at 2:30 PM, Saturday, April 4 with the Rev. Kenneth Anderson officiating. Burial in the Cooper Cemetery. (End)
       NOT DATED -- no newspaper named (PRESUMED to be from Kalamazoo Gazette)
       J. Booher, Pioneer, Has Worked as Lumberman and Stage Driver
Man, 75, Who Lived Romantic Career, in West was Denied Chance to Serve in Spanish War.
       ALAMO - John J. Booher, 75, who resides with his daughter and husband, Mr. & Mrs. W. Thor Palmer, has resided in Kalamazoo County for over 25 years, but previous to the time of his marriage in 1898, he had worked in every state west of the Mississippi River, he relates.
       Of German-Scotch descent, he was born in LaGrange, Ind, March 2, 1864, one of a family of seven children of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Booher. His father moved to Michigan in 1872 and filed application for a homestead north of Cadillac. The region thereabouts was entirely unsettled and in order for the boy and his elder sister to walk two miles to a log cabin school, the father blazed a trail through the woods.
       Finds Crude Shack
The only building where the city of Cadillac is not situated was a crude shack made of posts set inthe ground, with poles laid across and covered with hemlock bark. This was built by the G. R. & I RR Co., and used for their road construction gang. Booher's father, a gunsmith by trade, worked at farming and lumbering and also as a section hand with the railroad as they extended their lines northward.
       When John Booher was 13 years old, he left home and joined his cousin, Charles F. Kelly, a circus acrobat in "Tim Robbins Circus." He hid among the circus paraphernalia until they were so far that return home was virtually impossible. He then became a roustabout worker to earn his way over a long trip to Topeka, kansas. The circus caravan contained about 70 wagons, animal vans included and were all drawn by horses. Averaging about two "stands" a week, the journey across country took about five months.
       He took up his abode with his grandmother and aunt and worked at odd jobs in about that locality for three years.
       Blast Furnace Job
When he returned to Michigan he secured a job at "top filling" at the blast furnace operated by Cherry & Otis at Mancelona. This furnace is still in active operation. Here raw iron ore was converted into pig iron.
       One "charge" consisted of 25 bushels of charcoal and 1400 pounds of raw ore. This was conveyed by an elevator to a circular platform constructed around the stack about 80 feet from the ground, where it was dumped in to be fired and heated. When it attained the proper consistency the liquid pig iron was poured through a channel near the foot of the stack into "ditches" or molds, which divided the cooled metal into four-foot lengths. These inturn were checked in the center to facilitate breaking into two foot length pieces for easier handling in shipping. THe finished product was shipped to all parts of the world.
       Becomes Lumberman
Mr. Booher worked here until he was 21 years of age, and then became a lumberman, working both in the woods and as a shingle weaver in a saw mill. He followed this business until the fall of 1893 when he was seized with the wanterlust and started westward, eventually stopping in california, where he worked on a ranch in the San Joaquin valley. His employer was associated with Miller & Lucks, then known as the cattle kings of California. He worked as a cow hand and at range riding over a large area of California and Nevada carrying orders from one cow camp to another, often finding it necessary to remain in the saddle 36 hours at a stretch.
       This life finally becmae to monotonous and booher left it to contine his travels through the western states. He was eventually engaged as a driver of a stage from Paymond, Calif., northward to the Yosemite valley, a distance of about 60 miles. Two days were required for a one-way trip, stops being made at established stations on the trail for fresh horses and sleeping accomodations. Six mustangs were used to draw the coach, and all harness and other equipment was double checked to avoid accident over the dangerous mountain trails.
       Drivers Armed
The drivers were always heavily armed because outlaws and bandits infested the trails, but Booher asserts he must have been "just plumb lucky," for he was never stopped by a holdup.
       He had one "lucky" accident when, owing to the carlessness of a wagon worker who forgot to fasten the safety strap over the king bolt, his stage overturned on the trail. Mr. Booher said he was luck because only one of the 11 passengers was injured, and all were able to continue the trip after the coach had been righted and repairs made. He finally gave up the excitement and thrills of his western life and tried to enlist in the Spanish American conflict, but was not accepted so he decided to return to Michigan and settle down.
       Marries Teacher
On Oct. 4, 1898, he was married to Miss Fanny Sweetman, a piano teacher, at Pine Creek, Calhoun County. They resided at Fulton and Vicksburg, afterwards moving to manton. They came to Kalamazoo in 1911. He worked as a cabinet worker and pattern maker, and at carpentry. Twelve years ago they moved to the present home. Mrs. Booher died June 29 1936. He has one daughter, with whom he lives, and one grandchild. He also has two sisters, Mrs. Jane Harris, Grand Rapids, and Mrs. Ella Ferguson, Muskegon, and a brother, Harvey Booher, Battle Creek. He is a live member of Vicksburg IOOF lodge. (end)

Any connections, additions/corrections, please contact me. Thanks.


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