The Real McCoy

The Story of a Creek and Its Town

By Norma Stevens

A colorful, anecdotal history of Buchanan, Michigan, named by Reader’s Digest as 2020’s “nicest place in America.” It covers the founding and growth of the small town, located in southwestern Michigan and chosen by pioneers for the tiny, useful McCoy’s Creek in its midst. Begun in the late 1960s as a series of local newspaper columns, the text was expanded and published in 1975 using hot-lead printing technology at the local newspaper office. The current volume is a facsimile reproduction of that original book, with a new cover by a local artist.

The Real McCoy covers the “acquisition” of land from Native American tribal chiefs through the first pioneer settlements, water power development, early businesses, leading up to and including the growth of Clark Equipment Company, which made the town famous. The book concludes in the early 1970s, just prior to the exodus of Clark Equipment and other manufacturers who fled from the state of Michigan for more lucrative lands.

The book is also a poignant plea to save the neglected creek from ecological damage. It quickly sold out its initial run of 518 copies, but not before it spurred many of the town’s subsequent efforts to restore the creek, and build parks and trails in its honor, arguably culminating in the Reader’s Digest honors in 2020.

ISBN: 978-0-9824691-2-5, Paperback

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About the Author:

Norma Stevens (1922–2008) was born in Indiana but raised in Buchanan, Michigan. She attended Buchanan High School, where she met her husband, Earl Stevens. After mostly raising four children, she broke gender norms of the time to take a job as a reporter for the Berrien Country Record. Her popular weekly column, Inklings, celebrated the foibles of small town life, the changes of the seasons, and small vestiges of local history. Curiosity led her to research more of the town’s history in old records, newspapers, and museums, dragging her youngest along in lieu of modern childcare options. The Real McCoy was her first and only book, though it remains popular in the southwestern region of Michigan that she loved.