A Brief History of Fallasburg
Fallasburg Village was established in 1839 by John Wesley Fallass (1812 ~1896) with his brothers Silas an Arad.
In 1837, John Wesley Fallass, 25, came with his brother, Silas, to West Michigan from Tompkins County New York. The 1836 treaty of Washington had ceded the Indian land north of the Grand River to the United States, as a result, land speculation in Grand Rapids was feverish. In 1837, the year of Michigan statehood, Vergennes Township was surveyed. Present day Grattan, Lowell, and Bowne Township. were initially included within Vergennes Township. In 1838, the township government was organized, the first order of business being the assignment of cattle ear-notches.
The newly-ceded land was put on the market in 1839. On August 8, 1839, Wesley (as he was known) and Silas aquired by pre-emption a quarter of section 23, plus a quarter-interest on several hundred acres in Montcalm and Ionia Counties. In the same year, the brothers constructed a 22' by 44' sawmill along the Flat River. A bridge across the shallow but swift Flat River quickly became necessary. An identical size grist mill thirty feet downstream from the sawmill was built in 1840.
In 1841 the state road between Grand Rapids and Detroit was laid out, which ran through Fallasburg. This route, used by stagecoaches, created demand for transportation related services in Fallasburg. Repair shops and other small businesses catering to the travelers were established. Wesley platted the village of Fallassburgh in 1841. He laid out three parallel roads in the village, only one of which still exists. The other two roads were located on either side of the Covered Bridge Road.
Wesley built the frame house that still stands on the Covered Bridge Road in 1842. Shortly after, he returned to New York to marry Phoebe Brown.
In 1842, Wesley built the J.W. Fallass House for his bride Phoebe Brown Fallass (1815 ~ 1891) where they lived for the rest of their lives.
The rest of the Fallass and Brown families accompanied the newlyweds by boat and covered wagon to settle in the new village. Fallassburgh prospered and grew in the following years. A chair factory was added on the third floor of the sawmill. Crops and livestock were raised although the farm land was sandy, hilly and not very fertile. The dense hardwood forests surrounding the town provided an abundance of lumber. The Flat River carried millions of board feet of logs from the pines of Greenville on down to the Grand River and eventually to Lake Michigan at Grand Haven. Stone mason, blacksmith, wheelwright, hotel-keeper, harness-maker, storekeeper, and tanner were a few of the occupations in the village.
Post-Civil-War railroad development passed by Fallassburgh, and brought with it the beginning of the general decline of the village. The hardwoods of the area were depleted and the sawmill was subsequently torn down in 1878. The gristmill had competition from dozens of other mills and losing power because of the dam built doownstream, it declined and was torn down in 1912. Fires took some of the other buildings in the community, which were not replaced. The village, which had once surpassed Lowell, reaching at least 200 in population and overflowing on the west side of the Flat River, even lost its post office in 1905.
In the 1890's Fallassburgh became Fallasburg. The family and decendants of the founder all left the town; and the founder himself died i1896. The survival of this bit of Michigan history can be credited to its failure as a commercial center. As a result, today, there are many buildings standing which date from the nineteenth century and are a good representation of the growth and development of a small town during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. It is the opinion of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office that these characteristics are unique, placing the village of Fallasburg in a categoory apart from the majority of the rural settlements of the same period.