Grinding Wheel

Grinding wheel

By:  DuAnne Sonneville

A grindstone is a round stone used for grinding or sharpening ferrous tools and was an indispensable necessity on any working farm.  An abrasive material is rubbed against the cutting edge to be sharpened or shaped.  Grindstones came in a wide range of grit sizes (the sharpening surface substance must be harder than the material being sharpened), with the most traditional material being a natural stone such as sandstone or granite.  The typical “farmyard” grindstone would have been used to sharpen ax blades, knives, hoes, and other farm implements.  Small amounts of water dripping on the stone as it turns (wet grinding), keeps the stone from over-heating.
Early grinding wheels, rotated by two cranks, one on each end of its axle, date from around 1340.  Circa 1480, the early medieval rotary grindstone was improved with a treadle and crank mechanism.  Pedals to power the rotating lathe allow the operator to speed and slow the stone.  The Orchard Lake Museum’s grindstone, once owned by Mrs. Albert D. Noble, is a ‘one-person’ grindstone with the wheel being turned by a pushrod connected to a foot pedal.  The museum’s grindstone is on display at all Open Houses (second Sunday of each month from 1-4 PM).

And what about the adage of ‘nose to the grindstone,’ meaning to continuously work hard?  The first known citation is found in John Frith’s A Mirrour or Glasse to Know Thyselfe, from 1532:  “This text holdeth their noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigureth their faces.”  All early citations refer to holding someone’s nose to the grindstone as a form of punishment and comes from the practice of knife grinders, when sharpening blades, bending over the stone or even lying flat on their fronts with their faces near the grindstone, in order to hold the blades against the stone.

Songs of Orchard Lake

Orchard Lake Cadets March 1

By DuAnne Sonneville

1) Upon his retirement from the Michigan Supreme Court, Joseph Tar Copeland, built a home on the campus grounds of the Michigan Military Academy, currently the site of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.  This impressive oak and brick home had the architectural lines of a mid-Victorian castle.  At the onset of the Civil War, Copeland was called out of retirement and fought with the 1st Michigan Cavalry.  A few years after the war ended, Lt. Col. Copeland, with the help of a few investors, added on to his home, creating the Orchard Lake Hotel.  The hotel opened on June 20, 1872, accommodating about one hundred guests.  (It closed in 1877, never having recovered from the financial panic of 1873.)  In 1871 J. Henry Whittemore composed Orchard Lake Polka, “Dedicated to the Stockholders and Patrons of the Orchard Lake Hotel, the Saratoga of Michigan.”  The cover features a picture of the hotel and Orchard Lake.

2) In 1899, Orchard Lake Cadets March was published.  The piece was dedicated to the Michigan Military Academy.  Its composer, Richard W. Groom, served as music director at the MMA from 1899-1908.  The Grand Rapids Press called it “a composition of real merit – one that exactly hits the nail of popular taste on the head.”  Its cover features a picture of Superintendent Col. J Sumner Rogers, as well as the lake.  The cost was 40 cents for the piano solo and 50 cents for the full band score.

3) Apple Island Legend was written by noted composer, publisher and Port Huron native James Curnow.  Supporters of the Orchard Lake Middle School Band program donated the necessary funds for the commission of this piece.  The composer conducted the premier performance on Jan. 18, 1997 at the annual State Music Educators Mid-Western Conference at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium, featuring the Orchard Lake Middle School Symphony Band.  According to Doug Blackwell, former band director of the OLMS Symphony Band, this was the first time any West Bloomfield ensemble had been chosen to perform.  The band reprised their performance 4 years later.  Apple Island Legend quickly was added to the State List of compositions that could be selected for performance at District and State Band Festivals.  Curnow dedicated the piece “to the many young musicians who, with bright eyes and strong hearts, share their gift of music.”  This piece can be heard at:

Our School History

West Bloomfield, the township of lakes and gentle hills, is one of transformation from wilderness beginnings and the domain of the Indian for some 12,000 years to agricultural prominence, to vacation dreams and summer resorts, to now established suburban living. The natural beauty and resources of its residents have played a key role in its growth.

Since its earliest settlement, these residents have been deeply committed to education as the key to passing on their heritage and preparing their children to shape the future of our township. Peal of The Bell chronicles the community’s history to carry that mission into the 21st Century.

This report includes a virtual exhibit of photos and documents of the history of the schools serving children living in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Like other more traditional museum exhibits it combines original artifacts and primary documents with text, captions, and analysis to help the reader understand the importance and significance of these items.

This presentation allows you to enlarge images for closer inspection or readability because we believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. You might want to focus on people’s faces to see if you recognize them or to examine their expression. Perhaps you want to study clothing styles, penmanship, or advertisements of the day. These images also help you to visualize the environment of the scene and place yourself within it. Many of the pictures in this exhibit are actual original documents and artifacts produced by the people who made the history of West Bloomfield Schools. Examining them will bring you one step closer to the events that shaped our current school system.