Colon Michigan is widely known as the “Magic Capital of the World”. For the past 75 years magic has been synonomous with Colon. This quiet little town transforms in the summer to become a bustling village, full of amateur and professional magicians and fans from all over the world. Colon is the host to two magic festivals each summer, and magic fans of all ages visit our town throughout the year.
To learn more about Colon and it’s rich history, go to http://www.colonmichigan.org/, or visit the sites on our side links.
Colon, the beginning…
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/ventriloquist Percy 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.
Name of Colon
The name of the town is derived from the punctuation mark. To quote from an 1831 letter, “Arrangements were made and a surveyor laid out the lots. When completed we wished to give it a name … could not find one to suit. Finally, I took up an old dictionary and the first word I put my eyes on was ‘colon’. Looking to see the definition … a mark of punctuation indicating a pause almost as long as that of a period, we called it Colon.” Founded in 1831 by Lorancie Schellhous