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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


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



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Charles Wing recalls Early Ludington part 3 First hand personal accounts of events and even just the daily living of times that have gone past are much more interesting to me and I hope many of you as we continue to review the articles written by Charles Wing prior to his death in 1920. Personal records, diaries, letters, help to make the history come alive as we are able to share those first hand accounts and memories. Many books have been written about the civil war and other historical events based almost entirely on letters home from those who were there. Other literary efforts would shrink in stature without the first hand accounts that add so much life and fuel our imagination as they help us place ourselves in the picture so to say. We continue with another segment of C.G. Wings accounts of early Ludington life as it was published in the Ludington Daily News in 1920. "A few days later voters were called upon by the city government for authority to issue bonds for two distinct purposes. One was the purchase of fire apparatus for $6,500, the other the purchase of land for cemetery purposes for $1,500. The fire project failed, the land purchase carried. A committee, consisting of Charles L. Resseguie, L. F. Foster, George E. Tripp, Samuel D. Haight and Milton D. Ward selected the site of the present cemetery and the land, 54 acres, was bought of Charles Mlears for $1,080. My job on the harbor was to close October 15, and when that day arrived a new sign with gold letters on a ground of black hung over the Charles street entrance to the second floor of Horace F. Alexander's new building, bearing the legend, "Newcombe & Wing, Lawyers." The building was the first construction of solid brick in Ludington and stood where the city hall now stands. Silver gray as to age, in appearance refined, Mr. Newcombe had recently come to Ludington from his former home at Eagle Harbor on Lake Superior, having been anointed deputy collector of this port in place of S. F. White, elected judge. When, during the summer, Mr. Newcombe had suggested a partnership to me. I was well pleased to accept and the more so as he had quite a law library and I had not more than a dozen books. Now began some months of watchful waiting. Until navigation closed an occasional vessel captain called on Mr. Newcombe for his clearance. We also heard the footsteps of clients on the stairs and in the hall as they walked past our doors to the law office of Isaac Gibson next beyond ours. Whenever Mr. Gibson was sober his callers were many. If one opened our door it was usually to inquire when Mr. Gibson would be in his office. In the three months following I extended the taxes on the tax rolls of four supervisors and that was all the work that came my way. The work was, of course, clerical merely and the pay meager, but no money I ever received gave me more pleasure. It was the first money earned in the line of my profession. I now busied myself with the organization of a literary society which proved to be of considerable public interest. It enlisted the participation of the bar, the clergy, the able women of the city and, supplemented with home dramatics and home music, left no perceptible lack of entertainment during a winter of isolation, the city being for about five months without a steamboat, without a railroad, end in the worst weather without a mail. Not that my part, either in the organization or in the public debates of the society, was at all conspicuous either as an actor or as an officer. But I advised about appointments on the program and saw that the places of delinquents here all filled, acted as press agent and gave performers their measure of fame. On one occasion, however, I read a poem. In it the shade of Pere Marquette figured as guardian of the town now growing up in the vicinity of his first burial place at the mouth of the Pere Marquette river. As poetry it was mere "vacant chaff well meant for grain." As a lyceum exercise before my assembled fellow citizens, it was undoubtedly acceptable. Recently a lady told me of her carefully preserved copy of the poem as published at the time. I brought in a real poet, however on one occasion. Will Carleton recited his "Over the Hills to the Poor House" and other poems at Andrew's hall in December, 1873." Photo of the Phoenix #1 Fire crew circa 1880 provided by James F. Fay

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