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The Lost Village of Weldon Creek

Never counted by the census, hardly mentioned in histories and almost forgotten by time, Weldon Creek Village can be and is a fascinating study for any true Mason County researcher. It is often called a ghost town. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines a ghost-town as "a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource." This definition is right on the mark when describing the lost village of Weldon Creek, Mason County Michigan.

Weldon Creek Village was situated over a branch of the Pere Marquette River. Its true founding was the result of the standing timber in and around the area. It was a suburb of Black Creek (Custer) and Sweetland (Scottville). Its exact location is only known by the residents who have long since left us. However, this writer's own ancestor, Allen Whitfield Moore Jr., has preserved a rich description of Weldon Creek Village and to him I yield the remaining paragraphs with all his spellings of the day as well.

"The good people of Mason County while digging up history of early days, may be interested in some early history of Weldon Creek. This does relate to the splendid trout stream famed far and wide the stream to which Washington Weldon gave his name. This article refers mainly to the village of Weldon Creek located upon the west bank at the point where the stream is crossed by the railroad. Visiting the spot now, an observer looking for the hamlet would no doubt say, in modern vernacular, "What do you mean, Village?" All remaining is the railroad track. If you take a stroll with back into the 70's [1870s] starting on the railroad right-of-way at the west bank, we will walk west and look at that part of the village. At the right we see the large frame house where with his family lives the village doctor. The name is Wells. Across the tracks is the Boswell boarding house. "Billy" Allen is one of the boarders. A few rods farther west we find the general store of J.J. Gilding. He is doing a good business with the settlers and Indians. North of the track, and across from the store and a little more to the west is the steam saw mill owned by Gould and Livesley.

North of the mill some 80 rods, is Ticeron's brick yard. Here bricks are molded, dried, baked and sold though not in any great quantity. We go into the forest to find this brick yard. East of this spot is the home of the Rev. Mr. Curtis. There is no use in looking for a schoolhouse constructed as such. We can, however, find a shack or small building here and there that has served as a schoolhouse a term or two. The most ample is the small dwelling owned by Nathan Clark near the confluence of the stream and the Pere Marquette River. A family by the name of Mullen lived there and when left Mr. Clark let the house be used for school purposes. His daughter Ella taught there in 1877-78. The new school house will not be built until the spring of 1879. Custer district No. 1. Miss Kate Sterling will be the first teacher.

Going back to our starting point and walking north we come to what will be M-10 in time. Turning east we are soon at the stream again. We cross the creek on a trestle bridge of hewn timber and plank. Road Commissioner L.D. Marsh [Allen Moore's grandfather] let the job of building the bridge. The man who took the job, I believe, was Charles O. Holmes.

A little north of the bridge was a dam to supply water power for Sleeper's shingle mill. E.J. Gould run this mill for some time after the passing of the saw mill mentioned. The boarding house stood on the high east bank. In the pool below the flume of this dam, the writer had the pleasure of catching what he believes to be the only two graylings ever taken from that stream. A forest fire finally destroyed this old mill.

While here let us stroll over to "Bob" Dewar's lumber camp. We will watch the camp cook bake the camp's entire supply of bread in the great stone and brick oven built in the open west of the cook shanty. Not only does he bake the camp bread but any of the wives of employe[e]s who may be living in the camp can bring their pans of dough and have it baked for them. Some 60 or more years later we will come back with Herman Sommerfeldt [Allen Moore's nephew] and deep in the forest of second growth we will locate this camp site by the remaining remnants of this old oven.

It was from this camp a party of men went out one rainy night to rescue what they thot to be from screams heard, a woman lost in the woods. As they approached the spot from which the screams came the tenor of the screams [Uncle Allen hand wrote: "changed and the screamer"] rapidly retreated. Then a member of the party realizing what had caused the search told the others something to the effect: "Oh, I know him now, she's the loup garou, him what you call panther. I hear him in Canada."

It was one of nature's whims to place the hardwood forest on the west side and the pine forest on the east side of the creek. Grand forests of pine and hardwood they were. The early lumberman of those days took only one half or so of the pine; the best half. Tops were allowed to lie where they fell. When thoroughly dried out these tops were like tinder and then there would be a forest fire that had to be seen to be appreciated. People today traveling over concrete, with balloon tires to make an easy ride, little appreciate the days when we traveled in wagons almost axle deep in soft sand full of large roots of trees and stumps, bumping over these roots, smothered by the dust rising from the dry earth, fighting mosquitoes and living the days of the pioneer, days which will never return except in memory."

Allen W. Moore 1872-1968 (written in 1939)

Jeff Brodrick

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