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Mason County Memories

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1896 History Booklet History Column Dave Petersen In today's column we are going to go to the pages of an 1896 booklet that was published to promote the Mason County area. In particular to bring out some out county history. A friend of mine told me to get out of Ludington and away from the boats for a couple columns. As I told her many times the columns I do are set in motion by readers who contact me about a story or send along a photo or two and I've just had more contact from people around the City of Ludington. Like I've said in every column if you have stories to share or photographs that you would like to see used in a column give me a call. In Summit township L.W. Rose, a fruit grower lived on what was then called the Allegan and Muskegon Road. "He has been on his place about 18 years and knows the fruit business from beginning to end. He prides himself on producing the best fruit and using only the very best varieties. His success is due almost wholly to his habit of doing things at the right time- a habit the importance of which every fruit man knows. "He raises some 200 bushels of pears, 600 bushels of raspberries, 500 bushels of blackberries, strawberries, gooseberries, and other fruits in large quantities. In connection with fruit raising he also does general farming, producing about everything needed on the farm. "Mr. Rose is Postmaster, his office being Wesley, and also owns and conducts a grocery, flour, feed, and other mercantile business on his place. Mr. Rose is a pleasing conversationalist a perfect gentleman in demeanor, and fitly represents the ideal intelligent and happy farmer of a prosperous and thriving county." Another area that I'm also looking for information on are the ghost towns of Mason County, we had quite a number of little areas in the county that had a post office, some were for a very short amount of time. I doubt a person could easily if ever assemble envelopes with postmarks from all of them. Readers has anyone ever seen one from Wesley? Another Summit resident W. Metzler is described as so. " He owns forty acres in the township of Summit, which he purchased about three years ago. His orchards consist of peach, plum, apple, pear and cherry trees which yield up to their proprietor thousands of bushels of fruit every season. "Last year Mr. Metzler's crop amounted to something like the following: Peaches 2,200 bushels, apples 600 bushels, plums 60, cherries 50bushels, pears 75 bushels, and this year it will be nearly one half more. Mr. Metzler now has in course of construction a fine residence on his place, and taking it all in all, his is a model fruit farm which, though not as large as some, may be considered a fair representative of the great fruit industries of Michigan." The fruit belt of Mason County was a strong selling point when the county was trying to attract new people to the area, the soil was rich, and it seemed that a farmer setting up business in Mason County almost could not fail, at least the land would not let him down. In 1896 we grew and manufactured much of what we needed, many local farm families had a 40 acre enterprise like the Metzlers and they could earn a living, build a home and raise a family on what they could produce with their own hands. It was a reflection of the Jeffersonian dream of an agriculturally based society of Independent and self sufficient farmers that flickered briefly before passing on the way of logging and schooners in the Great Lakes. Not to say that we don't still have some family farms, and families carrying on that tradition, but it's a tradition carried on by ever dwindling numbers as the amount of cheap foreign produced goods increase and impact our ever changing local economy. If you have stories or photos you would like to share please feel free to contact me anytime at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com

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