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Scene In TimeWHAT’S IN A NAME: Harmonia RoadBY ELIZABETH NEUMEYERThere are so many interesting names and histo- ries in Battle Creek that sometimes I have trouble decid- ing what to write about. So some days I wait for asign from Clio, the Muse of History. This time she gave me a sign, literally. I was taking my car to Rusty’s Auto Ser- vice at 575 N. Helmer for maintenance and I saw the sign: Harmonia Road! This made my task easier because there is a rich file of material in our Community and Research Archives on the old village of Harmonia.Harmonia Road is a shadow of its former glory. Today the road only goesfrom Bedford/Helmer Road over to Ev- ergreen Road. Once it was the main gate- way to Camp Custer. This was chroni- cled in a January 1, 1919 article in the Battle Creek Enquirer:The old Harmonia road, now crum- bling under the heavy traffic, has helped make history in Calhoun Coun- ty. The road was built during 1917 to meet one of the gravest needs that at- tended the location of Camp Custer. There was no road to camp adequate to handle the traffic... A solid road had to be built quickly. The work was rushed through rain, sleet, and freezing weather. It was known that the road would not stand very many years under heavy traffic... But the Harmonia road24 SCENE 4401 I MEN IN BUSINESSLeft: Approximate location of Harmonia Village. Above: In 1917 J.H. Brown copied this 1857 map of Harmonia from the Calhoun County Map. He added the sites of the school and Meth- odist church built after the Spiritualist village disbanded, as well as the arrows pointing to the location of the new Camp Custer barracks.has met the necessity for which it was created. It made possible rapid motor transportation between Battle Creek and Camp Custer, and if the road were thrown into the discard tomorrow it would have fulfilled its mission... As long as Camp Custer remains an army cantonment the Harmonia road will be a vital necessity.Later Dickman Road named after the first commander of Camp Custer, Major General Joseph T. Dickman (see Scene issue 40-10, p. 18 for more on him) be- came main thoroughfare to Fort Custer. In the 1970s city voters agreed to a link- up of Helmer and Bedford Roads, which meant building a bridge over the Kalam- azoo River replacing the old StringhamRoad bridge. As reported in the BC Enquirer (September 1, 1970),“the city would build a new roadway on the south side of the bridge to a point near River and Harmonia roads where it would touch Springfield boundaries.”What of the name Harmonia? Har- monia was once a thriving village on the “Bedford Plains,” a level piece of land with the township line between Bedford and Battle Creek running through the center. In 1844 a Quaker family, parents Reynolds and Dorcas Cornell and six chil- dren settled there. Other Quakers joined them in a commune, an idea popular in mid-century America. One of the Cornell children, Hiram, went to Olivet College and came back to establish a school pro- moting many new reforms. The name Harmonia came about from a desire to establish a more harmonious relationship between the material and spiritual worlds. Hiram also promoted the new theory of manual training. It is significant that man- ual training is still enshrined in the loca- tion of old Harmonia, which is mainly the Fort Custer Industrial Park by Denso with the Kellogg Community College Region- al Manufacturing and Technology Center nearby. Hiram’s reform lives on.

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