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Mason County Memories

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By David K Petersen History Columnist We will take a look through some of the biographies of early settlers that you may not have heard a great deal of but who were significant early businessmen in Mason County. Many of the details were recorded in the 1882 History of Mason Oceana and Manistee Counties and elsewhere. I am also continuing to look for background information on local families whose history in the county may just go back for a few years to include in the series that I have been working on for the sesquicentennial. In that series I am hoping to assemble biographies that tie into the date the family moved into the County from 1855 to 2005. The Honorable Shubael F White was born in 1841 at Marshall Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1864 and then enlisted and assigned as a private to the 28th Michigan Infantry Company A. During his time in the service he was promoted to Captain and is listed as such at age 23. During these last months of the Civil War Shubael's unit saw action at both Wise Forks and Kingston North Carolina. Discharged in 1866 he entered law school in Albany New York and upon graduation in 1867 came to Ludington. He had the distinction of being the first attorney to locate in the village. Shortly after his arrival and working with Dr. Doty he erected a frame building on Main Street and opened his law office in the second story. Shubael came to the county during a time that was marked by strife and friction between Charles Mears monopoly of county affairs and the location of the county seat. White was nominated for prosecuting Attorney and David S. Harley an employee of Mears was also nominated. It was a hot contest and as we have discussed in previous columns the location of the County seat and the future of the area was tied into every political event. White won the election, served for two years and then refused to be re-nominated. He did however go on to win election as Circuit Court Judge in 1872. White held this post for two years. During this time January 14th 1874 the new courthouse was dedicated and as C.G. Wing recalled in his columns in 1920 "On this important occasion Judge White led the speaking. He set up the claim of the city of Ludington to a history of 200 years, that is, since the burial of Pere Marquette in 1675, as a history entitled to be known and recognized by the world. His argument seemed belated. The opportunity to preserve that rich heritage was one year previous when the city charter was presented to a public meeting for discussion and ratification before it was sent to the legislature for enactment. If then the original name of the place had been insisted upon and inserted in the charter we might, by perpetuating the name, share the prestige of the great Jesuit explorer. Since Judge White, himself, as one of the committee to prepare the city charter, had at that decisive point acquiesced in the deliberate substitution of the name of James Ludington for that of James Marquette, his ornate claim appeared that of the lawyer rather than one becoming to a judge. He then returned again to private practice later in 1874 working with Judge Haight for five years before opening his own practice White and McMahon. Shubael White was involved in school affairs and served as Moderator he was referred to as a natural lawyer. Upon winning the ejectment suits of Roach Vs. Andrews and Roach vs. Butler he returned home from the US Circuit Court in December of 1879 was given an ovation by the people of Ludington. A Grand Reception that concluded with a Banquet at the Marshall House were quickly planned and executed. Roach if you will recall had purchased the full interest in the 40 acres of land (120 city lots) carved out of the center of Ludington that George W. Ford had won from the Pere Marquette Lumber Company. His claim prevailed that he had set aside that property as a homestead for himself and did not include it in the property acquired by James Ludington in 1859. Inclosing we share what Judge Withey of the United States Court thoughts regarding Shubael F. White, that no man had ever practiced before him who seemed to have the authorities completely within his grasp. His victory on Court that year was an important victory for the City of Ludington and it's future development. If you have any stories or photographs that you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at davep@blackcreekpress.com or 231-757-3240

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