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Friday, October 31, 2014
 

The Niles Daily Star
217 N. 4th St.
Niles, MI 49120-2399
269-683-2100

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The Community


Market overview
We deliver newspapers and/or our shoppers' guide to all of Cass County and the Eastern portion of Berrien County, Mich. Our market includes Southwestern Michigan and Northwestern Indiana, including South Bend, Mishawaka, Granger and Elkhart, Ind.

Geographic description
Midwestern rolling farmland and the St. Joseph River valley.

Climate
Average annual temperature is 49 degrees Fahrenheit. In January, temperatures range from an average low of 16 degrees to an average high of 30 degrees. In July, temperatures range from an average low of 61 to an average high of 84. Average annual precipitation is 36 inches, with an average relative humidity of 83 percent at 7 a.m. and 68 percent at 7 p.m. Annual snowfall averages 72 inches. The growing season lasts 158 days, with the last freeze usually occurring in early May and the first usually occurring in early October. During the year, the sun shines an average of 53 percent of the daylight hours. Prevailing winds are from the southwest during both winter and summer.

History
The shallows of the St. Joseph River near Niles made it a good crossing place for those traveling with substantial loads during the times North America was being settled. Pioneers could cross the river here while following the Great Sauk Trail, a trade route from the Mississippi into Montreal and Quebec.

In the early 1680s, Jesuit missionaries are said to have located a mission here, led by Father Jean-Claude Allouez, and named in in honor of St. Joseph, their patron saint. Later, the area is said to have been the site of a camp manned by the French Colonial Army, known as Fort St. Joseph. Its exact location and details about the fort remain a mystery.

However, it is assumed by many historians to have been located on the banks of the St. Joseph River near those shallow areas at what would later become Niles. As a result of the French and Indian War, British control of the fort began in 1761.

In a skirmish in 1781 with the Spanish, Spanish soldiers raided the fort in pre-dawn hours and took it over, without firing a shot, and claimed the fort as part of Spanish territory, though it remained such only briefly. American settlers arrived in the Fort St. Joseph area in the 1820s and 30s.

Niles is known today as the city of four flags — French, British, Spanish and American. The city was named by first three families credited with settling the area — the Wallings, Justices and Laceys. They called it Niles, in honor of Hezekiah Niles, a Baltimore newspaper publisher whose “Niles Weekly Register” was popular in the early 1800s.

Education
Niles Community Schools and Brandywine Public Schools serve the Greater Niles area; St. Mary's Catholic School serves Niles' Catholic community with grades kindergarten through sixth grade. Southwestern Michigan College, Niles; Lake Michigan College, Niles; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind., and St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind. (located 8 miles south of Niles); Indiana University at South Bend, Ind.; Andrews University, Berrien Springs

Culture
Typical Midwestern hospitality from good, unpretentious, hard-working people.

Recreation
Abundant opportunities for the sportsman, including hunting and fishing the St. Joseph River and its tributaries and Lake Michigan or the many lakes of Cass and Berrien counties in Michigan. Each community has its own well-developed organizations for youth sports, ranging from soccer to baseball and softball to swimming and tennis through the Niles-Buchanan Family YMCA. Outdoor winter sports include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and ice skating. Golf is ever popular, and available on a number of public and private courses. A number of country clubs serve the Greater Niles area.

Interesting tidbits
Home of Ring Lardner; boyhood home of Dodge brothers of motorcar fame; home of Tommy “James” Jackson of Tommy James and the Shondells, who were famous for the song, “Mony, Mony”; boyhood home of Montgomery Ward and site of his first retail store; every Simplicity Pattern ever made was produce in Niles, Mich.

 

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