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Mason County Memories

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david k petersen

Schohl's Jewelry

Since I have a few different materials that cover 1905 we'll continue to take a walk around Ludington of 100 years ago. 1905 was our counties golden anniversary, and this year is also the Sesquicentennial of our counties founding, a milestone to be sure. We'll be using information from the Ludington Daily Sun and also the City Directory. The Directories are published by a number of different firms but most notably I think from POLK are a great source of information, especially about business and individuals living in the cities between census reports. They are something genealogists need to remember to consult. There is not as much information about individual family members of course in the Directories but they give addresses, occupations, reverse look ups, wonderful advertising and much more. J E McCourt Jewelry Store was located where Schohls Jewelry is now at 103 South James St. It's interesting to note that when comparing the 1905 photograph of the interior of the store and the layout of the current store that with the exception of the woodstove in the center of the aisle not much has changed in 100 years. The photograph was taken by H. R. Harter. His photography business was established in 1890 by a Mr. Conant and then sold to Swarthout and Hall and then Harter who had purchased the business from Swarthout in 1903. The Ludington Sun states that " The reception and toilet rooms are tastefully fitted up and in the operating and printing departments will be found all the latest modern improvements known to the art of photography." The old safe with McCourt's name is still in the jewelry store and the display cases appear to be the same as well. There are few stores left that can boast of the number and quality of original fixtures from 100 years ago and this shop has continuously for over 100 years housed a jewelry business.. McCourt opened his business at this location in 1898 and according to the Ludington Sun of 1905 the store was considered to be "one of the attractions of the city, being spacious in size elegant in all of it's appointments and perfect in convenience of arrangement for display, inspection and sale." The 1908 Gazetteer lists no less then seven jewelry stores in about a five block area, and included Blumenstock, Hamel, Hansen, Cyrus, McCourt , Bernhard, and Anderson and Company. McCourt partnered with PM Roehrig, who bought out McCourt and in 1920 Gene Schohl's father came to work in the store. In 1928 he purchased the business from Roehrig and eventually passed on the business to his son Gene who continues today. In the January 2nd 1905 issue the Ludington Sun stated " The proprietor is recognized as an expert in his line and is constantly laying before his patrons and the public rare articles of novelty, beauty and merit not to be obtained elsewhere." It would seem that this is also something that has not changed in the past 100 years as well. Our second illustration is a pocket watch that I purchased off ebay several years ago. On the porcelain face it reads, "J.E. McCourt Ludington Michigan" and on the inside of this 17 jewel watch it says "Made for JE McCourt". A treasure of local history to be sure and it came back from Montana. It's interesting to look over all of the different items that you can find on ebay that have Mason County connections, Old Carrom games, with Gusher and some of the other harder to find games getting the most attention from the Carrom collectors. Postcards, old photographs, ashtrays with advertising, Handy Things retractable clotheslines, old souvenirs and ruby red toothpick holders that people happily packed up and took home as a memento. I'm preparing stories on the historical items that are routinely sent to the landfill on clean up day, biographies of different business's, and I'm looking for information on the Scottville Tigers Baseball team, and Captain Alan Hoxie. I would like to do more stories from around the county and am always interested in meeting with people who have a story, photo, or memorabilia that they would like to share with our readers. Many of the articles to date have been enhanced greatly by people willing to share their family history. The topic of the articles that I submit to the paper also depends in part on what I have in my collection and if I can find supporting documentation. Everyone has at least one good story so pull that shoebox out of the closet and lets tell your story. Please feel free to contact Dave Petersen via the Ludington Daily news anytime.

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