A mid-19th century place called Cookieville is being remembered in Allegan County
New signs on 10th street south of Plainwell commemorate the vanished community.
In the mid-1800s, Cookieville was a small settlement south of Plainwell. Travelers would often make the stop on the wooden toll road, known as the plank road. It was the route that connected Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids in the mid-19th century. The plank road eventually became 10th Street.
Plainwell Mayor Brad Keeler says he grew up hearing stories about Cookieville from his grandparents and his grandparents' friends, who lived there.
“When I was growing up all the older people always called it Cookieville," Keeler recalled. But the passing of time and those people, it's kind of gotten forgotten."
He got the idea for the signs 20 years ago. But first he had to prove to the Allegan County Commission the place had really existed. Keeler says he got some help from history buff and former Plainwell mayor Jim Higgs, who unearthed an 1895 blurb from the Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph.
“Jim found something in a paper that said a tornado went through and tore the buggy off the roof off of a guy's buggy in Cookieville,” Keeler said.
That was about six years ago. Earlier this year, Keeler brought up the long forgotten community again and soon after, much to Keeler’s surprise, he got his wish. Allegan County Commissioner, Gale Dugan, presented him with one Cookieville sign. Keeler says he spent his own money for a second sign to mark both the north and south boundaries.
“He got me one sign. But that wasn't good enough. I had to have one at the north and one at the South City Limits. So I bought the second sign,” Keeler said.
A newspaper story from 1900 says the town was named for the excellent cookies baked by a local woman whose last name was Cummings. According to the article, her husband ran an odd local attraction, a multi-person swing capable of propelling riders 50 feet off the ground.