Our Town St. Joseph, MI

Original Airdate: December 4th, 2017 @ 8pm and 9:30pm
Re-air Airdates: Thursday, April 12th, 2018 at 8pm

Meet The Storytellers

  • Anna Abdelnour Topic: Blossomtime Festival

    An annual kickoff to summer

  • Don Alsbro Topic: Lest We Forget

    Remembering those who protect our freedom

  • Brian Bailey Topic: Silver Beach County Park

    Beachfront activites

  • Jamie Bingaman Topic: Box Factory for the Arts

    A living, breathing space for art

  • Aissa Seck & Nicki Britten Topic: The Leadership Accelerator

    Leadership through building community

  • Kate Ulrey & Jim Brooks Topic: St. Joseph Lighthouse

    A lookout for safe passage

  • Jay Costas Topic: Silver Beach Pizza

    A schooner in the fog

  • Amy Zapal & Daniele Crevier Topic: St. Joe Today events

    A sampling of what to do in St. Joe

  • Charlotte Rogers & Liz Door Topic: Rock the Boat Cardboard Boat Races

    Setting sail for a good cause

  • Jennifer Richmond-Ananbeh & Tracy Gierada Topic: Fresnel Lighthouse Lenses

    What lit the way is a work of art

  • Julia Gourley Topic: Krasl Art Fair

    A open-air juried art fair

  • Jorden Parker & Chris Gregory Topic: PechaKucha

    20 slides for 20 seconds each to pitch an idea

  • Greg Grothous Topic: John and Dede Howard Ice Arena

    Skates on ice

  • Millicent Huminsky Topic: Makers Trail

    Follow the trail for craft beer, wine and spirits

  • Sue Kellogg Topic: Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

    Professional music in the community

  • Melanie Owen & Lauren Kniebes Topic: Lazy Ballerina Winery

    Women-owned wine makers

  • Shannon McRae Topic: Snow Flake Motel

    Roadside Modernism

  • Kraig Kirkdorfer & Larry Nielsen Topic: Twin City Players

    Theater for all

  • Joshua Nowicki Topic: St. Joseph Year Round

    Summer isn’t the only time for beauty in St. Joe

  • Gayle Olson Topic: Smooth Jazz at Sunset

    Music by the water

  • Suz Schalon Topic: Silver Beach Carousel

    A merry-go-round of memories

  • Brian Smith Topic: St. Joseph Farmers Market

    Fresh picked in the fruit belt

  • Tom Allen & Leslie Sullivan Topic: Coastline Children’s Film Festival

    A film festival for all

  • Donald "Mac" McAlhany & Walt Wolf Topic: Southwest Michigan Underwater Preserve

    Exploring down under

  • Jordan Hamilton & Camyiah Young Topic: Music Makers

    Teaching music one student at a time

A Little About St. Joseph

The Location

St. Joseph is a city in the US state of Michigan. It was incorporated as a village in 1834 and as a city in 1891. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 8,365. It lies on the shore of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the St. Joseph River, about 90 miles (140 km) east-northeast of Chicago. It is the county seat of Berrien County. It is home of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

The History

The mouth of the St. Joseph River at present day St. Joseph was an important point of Amerindian travel and commerce, as it lay along a key water route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Both the Miami and Potawatomi used this route and would use the area as a camp. The St. Joseph River also allowed for connection with the Sauk Trail, which was the major land trail through Michigan. In 1669, the mouth of the river was discovered by European explorers. French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, built Fort Miami on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. In 1679, he waited for the ship Le Griffon, which never returned. Once the ship was deemed lost, La Salle and his men made the first land crossing of the lower peninsula by Europeans.

The next permanent white settler in St. Joseph was William Burnett, who around 1780 started a trading post at the mouth of the St. Joseph River. The post traded food, furs and goods with places including Detroit, Mackinac and Chicago. In 1829, Calvin Britain, who had come from Jefferson County, New York, and had taught at the Carey Mission at Niles for two years, came to the site of St. Joseph. Shortly thereafter, he laid out the plat of the village, then known as Newburyport, named after a coastal city in Massachusetts. Britain was influential in attracting other settlers to the area. Lots sold rapidly and the village flourished.

The St. Joseph river mouth was straightened through a channel and piers were added later. The first lighthouse in St. Joseph contends with Chicago's original lighthouse as the first to be built on Lake Michigan. Newburyport changed its name to St. Joseph when it was incorporated in 1834.

The first water route across Lake Michigan between St. Joseph and Chicago began as a mail route in 1825, but service was sporadic until 1842 when Samuel and Eber Ward began a permanent service. That lasted eleven years. Before the rise of large ship companies on Lake Michigan, service was done primarily by owner-operated boats. With the rise in shipping in Benton Harbor and the rise in tourism in St. Joseph, permanent and larger operations began operating out of the ports. Original St Joseph Lifesaving Service boathouse, circa 1874.

The Coast Guard still maintains a station on this site.

In 1876 the United States Lifesaving Service built a Lifesaving Station at St Joseph, appointing Joseph Napier as the first stationkeeper.

After a bitterly fought political contest, St. Joseph was named the seat of Berrien County in 1894, when Berrien Springs relinquished that status. The three largest towns in the county, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Niles, each wanted to be the county seat, but none had a majority vote. Once St. Joseph and Benton Harbor voters combined their votes, St. Joseph had enough to win.

On October 11, 1898, Augustus Moore Herring took one of his gliders, fitted with a motor, to Silver Beach in St. Joseph. Herring’s machine lifted ever so slightly off the ground and actually flew for seven seconds. Eleven days later, the inventor made another flight of ten seconds. While Herring had a powered heavier-than-air craft, he did not have a way to control it. It was left to the Wright brothers to perfect controlled flight five years later, and give themselves and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a place in history that might have ended up belonging to Herring and St. Joseph.