Looking Back: G.E. Casey Coal & Wood Yard

Rochester Post | Published April 3, 2024


ROCHESTER — Standing in front of G.E. Casey Coal & Wood Yard is lifelong Rochester-area resident Elizabeth Casey, or Lizzie, as she was often called.

Casey was born in 1888 to David and Juliet Butts. The Butts family originally owned a farm on South Hill, where the Bill Fox dealership is located today. On their land, they raised crops and bred Belgian and Clydesdale horses. Casey’s father also maintained an athletic field on the property that was used by three generations of the greater Rochester community until Halbach Field was opened in 1936.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Casey was a committed member of the greater Rochester community. She graduated from Rochester High School in 1905 and became active in the Rochester Alumni Association, serving as their secretary. She was also a lifetime member of the Rochester Woman’s Club.

The local Rochester newspapers chronicled Casey’s accomplishments as a writer and playwright. Throughout her life, she wrote and directed many local plays. Her play titled “Dameless Divorce” ran to a packed house three nights in a row at Central Junior High School. The proceeds from the production supported Rochester’s Community House.  She also wrote a tribute to honor Bill Harrison, the beloved school janitor.

Casey was married twice, both times to local businessmen.

Her first husband, George Casey, owned the G. E. Casey Coal & Wool Yard, shown in the photo. Her second husband, Charles Case, owned Case Hardware, on Rochester’s Main Street, between Third and Fourth streets.

For almost 70 years, Charles Case and family made the store a staple in the Rochester community, selling appliances and radios in addition to hardware. Casey lived to see the end of the Case family business when the building was destroyed in a fire in 1968.

To discover more local history, visit the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm website at www.rochesterhills.org/musarchives and check out the online collection catalog at rochester hills museum.catalog access.com.

— Samantha Lawrence, museum archivist at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm