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Mason County Memories

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4th Ward

In June of 1974 Willard Moore set about the task of completing his history assignment for a Masters level course at the Indiana University's Folklore Department. His choice for the topic was interpreting the culture of Fourth Ward in context with history.

Those of us from the area can certainly attest to the fact that the Fourth Ward has it's own identity and when asked "where do you live?" the answer is not Ludington, but rather I'm from Fourth Ward. It always was said with a matter of fact and with pride.

It was [and is] a distinct community, with a lot of independence and pride and in the earlier years was complete with stores and a business section that provided most if not all of the needs for the community and removed the need for many to go "downtown".

With the help of family and friends Willard identified people that could be interviewed to help shed light on the Fourth Ward's history and in the process he completed a 159 page manuscript that was recently donated to the Mason County Library and is being prepared to be placed online to help preserve this piece of local history.

At the time that the interviews were recorded Fourth Ward had several business's in operation, including Obel's Furniture, Anderson's Hardware, Petersen's Radio, several others still remain Fourth Ward Market, Betka's, and Pomorski's as example. In the early years Fourth Ward could boast of several mills, company stores like the double brick store, two drug stores, three doctors, two dentists, two branch banks, two hardware stores, cobblers, grocery stores, six or seven saloons, and two blacksmiths.

The Ward has changed though as at the time Willard made note that there were no apartment houses and that the area was comprised mainly of single family homes. Even with the changes in the 21st century, fewer generational residents, it seems that the Fourth Ward Moniker still hangs on.

Due to the limits of the column we will focus on only one of the many interviews included in this manuscript. Dr. Andy Rasmussen was the first person interviewed and provides some wonderful commentary about the Ward. . His parents had come here from 1876 from Denmark, landing at Manistee and his father working in the lumber camps.

After meeting in Manistee and their marriage they came to Fourth Ward by stage coach. Once they arrived they took up a room at the Traveler's Home which was located where Pomorski's Bar is now.

Andy's father built the Lake House on the corner of South Madison and Sixth Street, a bar and boarding house and Andy was born there in 1890. Andy states " I grew up among the lumberjacks, and the Danes and the Poles and everybody else out there in the Fourth Ward."

Andy went on to say "The Fourth Ward was always considered the other side of the tracks The bridge over the bayou of Pere Marquette Lake is all the connection we had, before that there was just a cow path across the bayou."

When asked about the differences he noticed between Danes and Swedes as example he replied that " Well Danes tended to be businessmen and the Poles were more independent, Swedes are yes men, Danes and Poles are wooly headed, stubborn, you gotta take an axe to change their mind! But we all got along fine.

Andy stated they all got along fine, but what if you weren't from Fourth Ward? Andy talked about the territorial sense of the Fourth Ward and stated that " the bridge was the line of demarcation, but we had a few boys who lived downtown that were tolerated, a very few. They were going with girls in Fourth Ward and weren't molested, but the rest were in for it if they came up here. If the Fourth Ward boys went into town they might get their ears pinned back."

Willard provided his manuscript with the hope that it could be shared and his efforts helped to preserve some memories that may have otherwise went unrecorded and lost. I have in the past sought to get copies of local history papers compiled by local students from various universities. Unfortunately they cannot release them without written permission from the authors.

If you have such a thesis, school papers, oral histories or photographs that we may copy to be used in columns or on the web please feel free to contact Dave Petersen C/O the Ludington Daily News. I'm especially interested in additional information and photographs to illustrate the Fourth Ward Manuscript.

Ludington 4th ward

Ludington 4th ward

Ludington 4th ward

Ludington 4th ward

Ludington 4th ward

Ludington 4th ward

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