In The Beginning . . . .
At the end of the Revolutionary War, Michigan became a possession of the United States, yielded by the English. It appears the earliest known date of this territory was 1721 when the Potawatomi Indians moved into southern Michigan from Wisconsin, the Ottawa and the Miami Indians were also here and there is evidence of Mound Builders in this area.
On July 13, 1787 there was an ordinance adopted controlling the Northwestern Territory. This included a no slavery act, it also allowed one thirty-sixth of the land for schools. On October 5th, Major General Arthur St. Clair became governor of this territory, including what is now Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. By 1793, there was thought to be a white population of 7,800 and at least 65,000 Indians. Michigan became a territory in 1805. General William Hull was governor and the center of the government was in Detroit.
In 1821, Chief Topipahee of the Potawatomi Tribe sold the white people a great area of land of which St. Joseph County was a part. The terms of sale were $5,000 each for twenty years and $1,000 a year to pay for a blacksmith and a teacher. The Ottawa Indians, who were friends and allies of the Potawatomi, were to receive $1,000 a year forever and $1,500 a year to pay a blacksmith, teacher and a farmer.
Originally, Colon Township covered an area of 21,467 acres of land and 1,575 acres of water surface. Roswell Schellhous came from Ohio in 1829 to the Colon area. he built a two room log house in the northwest section of the township. By 1830, three brothers of Roswell had moved to Colon, all settled near the same area. In 1830, Lorausi Schellhous, his brother George and a friend named Hatch, took it upon themselves to lay out a city plot on the land owned by Lorausi Schellhous. Arrangements were made and a surveyor laid the lots. A dictionary was used to name the city plot; the first word they put their eyes on was the word 'colon'. The definition for colon : - a mark of punctuation indicating a pause almost as long as that of a period. So they called it Colon.
The early settlers were farmers; the first crops raised were corn and potatoes. Wheat was sown until 1830. They planted garden vegetables, broom corn and melons. The animals on the farms were oxen, cows and hogs. Around 1846, horses and sheep were brought into the Colon area. Back in the early 1900's, a medicine man came in town and he put on magic shows. The crowd would gather around and he would sell his goods. The local druggist, Charles Niendorf, learned some of his tricks done with chemicals and delighted his customers by doing the changing of water to wine and back to water again. His protege was a very young boy named Donald Watson, aka as "Monk" Watson. Monk, along with a friend, Neil Sweet, put on several magic shows in the area.
In 1925, Magician Harry Blackstone moved to Colon. He and his brother Pete Bouton along with the stage crew would refurbish their illusion show during the summer months in preparation for their annual fall and winter tour throughout the United States. In 1927, Australian magician/ventriloquistPercy Abbott was invited to Colon by Blackstone. The two hit upon the idea of opening a magic manufacturing company - Blackstone Magic Company. However, it was short lived and the partnership lasted only 18 months.
After parting company, Percy started his own magic manufacturing company and Harry went back on the road. Neither of the men ever spoke to each other again. Percy died in 1960 and Harry Sr. passed away in 1965. Blackstone is buried in Colon's Lakeside Cemetery and Percy's memorial is on permanent display in the showroom of FAB Magic Company.
In 1934 legendary magician Lester Lake, a frequent visitor to Colon and inventor of hundreds of magic effects for Percy Abbott, coined the phrase "Magic Capital of The World" and the title 'stuck'.