"Early Ingenuity: Businesses That Once Called Hamburg Home” Opens at Hamburg Museum

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The first people to do business in Hamburg Township were the Potawatomi, seasonal residents who bartered goods like animal hides with other tribes and traders from Fort Detroit. Courtesy of Patricia Majher

From Patricia Majher

What do milk bottles, ice augers, and drink tokens have in common? They're all on display, along with dozens of other artifacts, to illustrate a new exhibit at the Hamburg Township Historical Museum.

Titled "Early Ingenuity: Businesses That Once Called Hamburg Home," the display highlights a sampling of prominent businesses that drove the township’s economy from 1900 to the 1970s. “Fur trading, farming, and milling were how the earliest residents of Hamburg Township made their living,” explained Museum Administrator Patricia Majher. “This exhibit covers what came after that: when the first stores and services were established, tourism-related businesses developed, and industry first gained a toehold in the area.”

Among the tourism, artifacts are drinking tokens that were given to customers of J.W. Winkelhaus’ Hamburg Hotel, once located in the old village of Hamburg. “Every customer who brought a token back to the hotel was guaranteed a five-cent drink in the saloon,” said Majher. Also included in the exhibit are matchbooks from long-past restaurants, augers and saws from Lakeland’s ice harvesting operation, and a large drawing of what the founders of Brown-McLaren manufacturing hoped their business would grow to be.

Admission to the Museum is free, and there’s an extra incentive to stop by. “We’ll do a drawing from the names in our guest register each month to give out Hamburg Pub gift cards,” said Majher. Other sponsors of the exhibit included Bennett’s Beavers and the Livingston County Wildlife and Conservation Club.

The Museum is located at 7225 Stone Street and is open 11 am-3 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For more information, contact Patricia Majher at 810-986-0190 or email hamburgmuseummichigan@outlook.com.

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