Water sources determined where people chose to live. An available source of water was essential for a family’s survival. Many cabins were built in proximity to a spring of clear water. Water ‘switchers’ were often engaged to find a deep source of water where a well could be dug. In the mid 1800’s, the village of Middleville determined a promising central location to dig a well. The walls were well built by a stonemason to last for a century. Most of the village depended on this well for their household needs and to provide for their animals. Horses and cows were brought to drink from the wooden trough at the base of the pump. Long hollowed out poles reached down 41 feet. Children carried pails of water to the school on occasion and the pump was the source of water when a fire broke out in the area. The village pump was a gathering spot for community members following meetings, spots games and on hot days. News would be exchanged around the old pump like the modern day water cooler talk.
Maintenance of the well was a community responsibility. Repairs and cleaning were attended to and testing was an annual ritual. The old village pump was used less and less as the village homes had dug wells of their own. Fewer horses were used on the roadways and eventually the old trough wasn’t needed as cars were the transportation of choice. After the main street was widened, the old pump was taken down and the well filled in during the late 1990’s.
compiled from information by Claudia Smith
Local author, Claudia Smith, wrote about the village pump in an article. Read about the village pump and more of Claudia's stories on one of our webpages. Claudia Smith Stories
The Middleville and District Museum has three wooden pumps and the poles that reached deep into the earth to deliver water to a community. Be sure to check them out on your next visit.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.