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Mason County Memories

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In 1880 Jacob Welch and his family moved to Amber Township in Mason County. It is believed but not documented that Jacob, his wife Cornelia [Wilson] and son William Uriah opened a farm implement store that they operated in Amber until moving to nearby Scottville. There he opened J Welch & Son "Dealers in Hardware." According to Beatrice O'Hearn: How Scottville Came to be and the Table of Early Scottville Pioneers, Beatrice O'Hearn, Scottville, 2-26-1942. "Another hardware store was built in 1884 by Mr. [Jacob] Welch and Son. This building burned and in it's place a bakery was built, with an opera house on the second floor. The bakery was owned by Joe Poirier."

Our first photograph from the Welch family photo album is a view of Main Street in Scottville circa 1885. The Hardware store cannot be distinguished in this rare early view of Scottville.

Scottville Michigan

Like many new residents of Mason County in the late 19th century Jacob had enlisted in the Union Army and served in Company G, of the 25th Ohio Infantry. The 25th, assigned to General Hatch's coastal division was sent to Hilton Head Island SC and took part in the battle of Honey Hill. The regiment continued in it's duties until after the fall of Charleston and then served as an occupational force in several districts of South Carolina. Jacob was stationed primarily in South Carolina until being discharged at Charleston in 1865.

Our second photograph is a tintype image of Jacob and Cornelia Welch circa 1880. Both images are courtesy of Richard Welch.

Scottville Michigan

Jacob Welch was born on his parents' farm in Oxford Township, Huron County (what is now Groton Township, Erie County), Ohio, and moved to a farm near Elmore, Ottawa County, Ohio, when he was five years old. Shortly before his marriage to Cornelia Wilson he bought 53 acres of his father's farm in 1852.

According to a note written by Cornelia Welch. They lived with his parents from the date of their marriage until December 15, 1852, when they moved into their "new home." The notes further state that they moved to the Imick farm in 1858 and that they moved to Michigan in 1864, the same year as Jacob's enlistment in the army.

Jacob and Cornelia Welch lived in Monroe, Michigan after the War, then in 1868 moving back to a farm north of Genoa, Ohio. They remained on the farm for eight years and then returned to Monroe County, Michigan, buying a farm in Raisinville Township next to the home of George Armstrong Custer's brother, Neville Custer. They lived in Raisinville Township for about four years before moving to Amber Township.

While in Scottville, Jacob served in the S.D. Haight GAR Post and was the post's "Surgeon." The post did not have enough money to buy its own letterhead stationery, so Jacob contributed his store's stationery for correspondence and records and today many of the records on the letterhead of "J. Welch & Son" are in the post's file in the Michigan State Archives.

Grand Army of the Republic

The Welch family left Scottville in 1890, probably at the time of the fire that destroyed their hardware store, and moved to St. Louis. They were living in the First Ward of St. Louis when the 1894 veterans census was taken. Jacob died at his home in Bethany Township in 1898. Cornelia lived with her daughters in Monroe, St. Louis, Alma, and St. Johns, Michigan, until her death in 1925

Richard Welch, great-grandson of Jacob and Cornelia Welch through a younger son, Noah Wilson Welch, has been researching his family for almost thirty years, but knows little about their years in Amber and Scottville. He's searching now for an original copy of his great-grandfather's letterhead stationery and an envelope with the store's name on it and is hoping that maybe someone in Mason County has some tucked away in an attic trunk. He would also like to know which of the stores in the picture of Scottville in the 1880s is the Welch Hardware store. Richard now lives in Farmington, New Mexico where he's the director of the Farmington Museum system. He can be contacted at rwelch@zianet.com Thanks to Richard Welch for providing information and photographs from his family album for this article.

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