Pearls In Our Past   





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§ Charles A. Spaulding
A History of Hartford
153 pg transcript

§ Katherine Minshall Early History of Hartford and Lawrence 12 pgs.
§ Eli Fayette Ruggles Recollections of A Busy Life circa 1904

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Site Credits

Emma Thornburg Sefcik, webmaster
Quill pen
Designed and created by
Emma Thornburg Sefcik, owner
of Competent Secretarial Service
and Poster Pics of Hartford, MI.
From the HHS Class of 1966.



This web site is donated for the preservation of historic gems about a place called Hartford, Michigan.  Many, many hours are spent collecting information, scanning old photos, restoration of old photos, sifting through old newspaper articles and books, hearing interesting stories from local residents, and designing the site.  It’s been a real learning experience I shall treasure forever.   The bond grows stronger every day between our Hartford folks from around the world….many now realize how much living in Hartford really does and did mean.  The Lord created us with fantastic photographic minds and warm memories that we can relive at any time….sometimes, it only takes a little nudge from someone else to help process them. 
Meet my family….

My wonderful husband, Ron
                 and faithful friend, Ali.

Our youngest son,
             Ken Sefcik
HHS Class of 1993

Our oldest son,
Jason Sefcik
HHS Class of 1990



My parents,

Mary and George Thornburg
Mary is from HHS Class of 1982
Adult Education

Special Thanks to:

     Thank you to all who contributed stories, photos, tales, etc. It has been a memorable experience meeting wonderful people while working on this site!   I only regret not seeking Hartford’s history earlier in my life and not being taught about the important people and events of our community during school.  Many documents and stories are yet to be uncovered and shared with the future children and families of Hartford, Michigan.

If you have information to contribute, corrections to the materials presented,
 questions or comments about the site, or to report any broken links,
please send an email and share it with us. 

Irene and George Swift  
for the beautiful photos and historic notes they saved over the years.  Many photos
used on this site are from George’s collection as "Hartford’s Photographer". 
Thanks, George, for the history you captured with your camera.
And Irene
for your notes and keeping George organized.

Photo taken March, 2001

George completed his journey of life on May 21, 2005
Irene complete her journey on December 7, 2008

Ed Ison
for sharing old photos to spark my interest in Hartford History and "got me moving".


Photo taken at Strawberry Festival
Irene and Ed Ison
June, 2001 

Irene passed away 9-1-2005
at 92 years of age.
Ed passed away 3-28-2006
at 96 years of age.

Brian Lightner
Thanks for sharing the 
Lightner family album and 
memorabilia…it is fascinating.

Photo taken at Strawberry Festival
June, 2001

Ray Birmele  
for starting Cyber Solutions Internet Service. This site would not have been possible without an internet service in our tiny town.

Ray Birmele
Photo taken at Gala-T-Inn in Hartford
July, 2001

Roy (Bud) and Marion Kling Davis
for sharing your personal library of military photos and documents, as well as of your own life experiences.  It’s a privilege to work with such great historians of the History of Hartford.  How can we ever thank you both enough for all the hard work in recording your knowledge?

Bud and Marion Davis
Photo taken at Memorial Day Service
in Ely Park, Hartford MI
May, 2002

Jean and Bick Beckwith

Thanks for the many military and historic Hartford photos and emails about the people who have lived in Hartford.  Although Bick finished his Senior Year in 1943 at Watervliet High School, his lifetime remains loyal to Hartford friends and preserving the History of Hartford. Bick’s faithfulness in updating everyone on his ever-expanding email list about Hartford grads who have passed away – a commendable feat, especially when residing in California.  Jean, thanks for helping Bick remember all those facts!  A graduate of Watervliet High School (1943), Jean is from the Simpson family-line mentioned throughout early Hartford history.

Bick and Jean Beckwith at Christmas 2001
Photo taken at Christmas, 2001

Jean passed away May 5, 2010 at 84 years of age.

Jean Estes Burlingham

Special thanks for many hours of tracking down Miss Hartford photos and contest programs for the website.  It takes time and legwork to locate pictures.  With the passing of Bill Dyer in November 2005, Jean filled a real void with her commitment toward preserving the History of Hartford.
Thank you, Jean! 
It’s a pleasure working with you.

Jean Burlingham 2006
Photo taken July 2006

Larry and Lois Blyly

Many thanks to Larry and Lois for all their work in preserving Hartford History.  Compiling graduate names for the HHS Alumni Reunions was a monumental task they undertook several years ago.  Most any time when I need Hartford "trivia" solved (and sometimes created), Larry Blyly is the one I call.  If he doesn’t know the answer right off the cuff – he searches until he finds the answer – phone calls, letters, emails – whatever it takes.  The gleam in Larry’s eye is evident when solving Hartford mysteries, especially tracking down names of people in old photographs.  You both have certainly earned a place in Hartford’s Hall of FameHow can we ever thank you both for helping to make the History of Hartford more personable for us all?

Larry and Lois Blyly 11-16-2006
Photo taken 4-1-2006 during the
final hour of their long-time Hartford business, Riverview Equipment & Bait.


Bill Dyer

Memorial Day at Keeler Cemetery – 2002
L-R back row: 
Bill and Virginia Dyer, Nancy Dyer Huffman, 
Front:  Brianna Huffman

Thanks, Bill, for helping so much in gathering military documents and photos from local people.  Much of the information shown on this website would not have been available so quickly (or at all) without his persistence and legwork. 

Bill passed from his earthly life on 11-26-2005.  Because he made it a priority to find and share valuable history, Bill Dyer earned a place in our hearts and I am honored to reserve this small cyber-space in gratitude of his loyalty in preserving our history.  The treasures and friendship he shared are priceless and he is a genuine Pearl in our History of Hartford.

Emma Thornburg Sefcik
History of Hartford

The following obituary was written by James Keech

     William Norton Dyer, lifelong Hartford resident, succumbed to a yearlong battle with leukemia on November 26, 2005.  Bill, born to Raymond and Myrtle Dyer on March 22, 1928, passed away at his home on Pinery Road in Hartford Township.  Virginia (Steinhauser), his wife of 54 years, was at his side.  They were married in Mishawaka, Indiana, on October 16, 1951.

     Bill established himself as an individual with a wide variety of interests beginning with his school years at Hartford High School.  He not only excelled as a multi-sport athlete but entered a lifetime avocation as a talented musician, a drummer, graduating from HHS in 1946.  Before and after a two year stint in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he became associated with several area musical groups – the Melville Brothers Band, the Four Sharps Dance Band, the Aristocrats, the Blue Aces, to mention a few.  Bill was also an important member of the Hartford Alumni Band in recent years.

     After returning from his military assignment as a supply sergeant at Camp Haugan in Japan, he entered a lifetime employment with the U.S. Postal Service.  Bill eventually rose to the position of Postmaster in Hartford and retired from that office in 1983.

     Bill and Virginia enjoyed traveling during their vacation times, journeying to such faraway destinations as Mexico, Alaska, and Las Vegas.  During the last few years, the Dyers particularly enjoyed the company of their beloved granddaughter, Krystal, on these trips.  Another aspect of their travels were memorable camping trips to Mackinaw, Pennsylvania, and other locales.  The Dyers were particularly interested in searching for covered bridges and other historical locations.

     Bill served the Hartford community as a member of the school board, the Hartford Township Zoning Board, Fruitbelt Credit Union Board, Cub Scoutmaster, and Little League coach highlighting his colorful career.  One aspect of his talents were his donations of group and individual photographs for various Hartford groups. Most recently, he has provided assistance to Emma Thornburg Sefcik and her work with the Hartford Web Site.  Privately, he enjoyed working on the Dyer family genealogy and collecting stamps and antiques.

     In addition to his wife, Virginia, Bill is survived by a son, Jamie John Dyer, his daughter-in-law, Carol (Whiteman),  and  granddaughter,  Krystal Marie, of Portage, Michigan.   He is also survived by a brother, Robert, and sister-in-law, Eleanor, of St. Joseph, and a sister, Nancy, and brother-in-law, George Huffman, of Hartford.  He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.  Special mention is made of the two family pets and companions; Shelby, a Lab-Chow mix, and Jack, a Jack Russell terrier. 

    Bill’s parents have both passed away.


Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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HartfordHistory Icon - Hartford MI

Pearls In Our Past - Hartford Michigan
A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik
Competent Secretarial Service
History of Hartford Michigan
Copyright © 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 23, 2009