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Mason County Memories

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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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david k petersen

We're having a birthday! Mason County is having one that is. 2005 marks the one hundred and fiftieth birthday for the county, organized on February 5th 1855. There's a party in the works and everyone is going to be invited. The official day of the party is September 24th 2005 and other days of activities are planned but I'm wondering, and it's just me thinking out loud how the Sesquicentennial theme might be included in other events or be built upon by different community groups who might sponsor an event during the year. We can celebrate all the way to December 31st I would think and then I believe we can celebrate again for the 150th birthday of Pere Marquette Township in 2006. Maybe a re-creation of the Pere Marquette Pageant in 2006? Bob Erickson is the chairman of the Sesquicentennial committee and has pulled together a large group of community leaders and citizens to help but I think there would be opportunities for other groups, or classrooms to add to the fun and the festivities. With this being a late summer and fall celebration it's harder for anyone to say this is for the tourists. It's for Mason County and whether or not your family has been here since the beginning or moved in last week there will hopefully be something for everyone to enjoy. In 1955 the Centennial celebration was a big deal at the time. Floats in the parade, [is anyone doing a Sesquicentennial float this year?] contests, for beards, mustaches, period dress, you had to buy a permit not to grow a mustache or go to the hooscow. Is there anyone out there who would like to share their memories and photographs of the festivities of 1955? This year's theme is "150 years of Tradition and Progress in Mason County" It's hard at times for those of us who have been here for the duration to see the progress but we're still here, still standing and the only thing that is going to keep us standing is getting involved in some way, at some level in the community. It is that involvement and the attempts to try and improve the community that helped Mason County survive the end of the lumbering era. The Golden Anniversary of Mason County in 1905 was an optimistic time, it was a period of great growth in Mason Counties services and business. They did not realize the growth envisioned during the "Ludington the Beautiful" campaign of the 1890's of adding 40,000 more people to the population base. A canal was not dug and power plant built to harness the power of Hamlin and Lincoln Rivers for the factories that were to line the Lincoln Lake Area. They had hopes, and they had plans and ideas to try and help the area transition into a different economic base so that families could continue to live and work in this beautiful area. The Ludington on the Lake campaign that we discussed back in March was in full swing in 1905 and it's been revived again as the new campaign for the twenty first century as we promote our connection to the lake, the land and the maritime history of the area. I wonder, where will we be for the Bi-Centennial in 2055? Maybe a creative writing contest about the Mason County Bi-Centennial would be a fun way to look ahead? This is a good time to dig into those closets and barns and take a look for those historic photographs and artifacts that help to showcase the past 150 years of history in Mason County. As an example I've got the original safe door from the Ludington city hall if someone would like to display it. You'll only need 3 men and a small boy to move it. Over the next 6 months I'll be writing columns on many Mason County events and institutions but I'm also working on a series of stories about families who moved to the area. I'm going to start with a family that has native roots, and continue in 10 year steps from 1855 to 2005 to showcase different families as they moved into the area for logging, to farm, start businesses, etc. If you would like to share your family's history for such a column please do not hesitate to contact me. David Petersen davep@blackcreekpress.com or 757-3240 Pic # 1 From a 1955 Mason County Centennial Postcard of the Town Tavern with "Bearded Bill" [Sadler] Pic #2 A copy of the painting on the safe door from the Ludington City Hall circa 1890.

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