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Mason County Memories

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How Scottville Came to be History Column Dave Petersen I don't very often find a great deal of information about outlying areas of the county but did run across an article that ran in the newspaper back in February of 1942 about early Scottville entitled "HOW SCOTTVILLE CAME TO BE" by Beatrice O'Hearn We'll quote from sections of the article and include some images from early Scottville postcards from my collection. "Permanent clearing began about 1860 when many came to take up homesteads from other states. At first they chose pine land, since it was more plentiful and easier to handle, and settled near the lakes and rivers. Later on they lumbered hardwood. Chicago was the coming market for shipping in Western Michigan and sailing vessels were used almost entirely for this purpose. "At this time there were a few saw mills being built in this locality, and Chauncey Record built the first blacksmith shop here. In 1861, Civil War days, about 40 men left from this section for the army. This meant leaving large families behind to carry on alone in the dense forests. In 1864 the population of Mason County was 845 and this particular district had less than 10 families. "In 1871 ties were being laid and the building of the first railroad was begun from Reed City to Ludington, going directly through this district from east to west. The only means of travel up to this time had been by foot, horseback, or by boat. Thus, the railroad was anxiously awaited. In 1875 when Harry Melsom received his grant of land from the Government, he built the first general store in Scottville. "It was built south of the railroad track on Main street and near the top of the P.M. river hill, where he could get fresh water from the near-by springs, and could carry water for the stock from the creeks. He was a good farmer and later bought and sold butter and eggs through the country traveling by horse and wagon and in winter by horse and sleigh. One could hear the jingle of the sleigh bells as he came along through the snow to trade school supplies for produce, going from farm to farm. "Another first settler was David Falconer, coming in 1873, directly from Scotland. It took six weeks by water as far as Grand Haven, then by ox-cart to this district where an uncle had already taken a grant of land. He tells how lonely it seemed when he, with his mother and sister arrived here in the dense woods, with no one to meet them. "In attempting to record the very early history of Scottville, we must get an insight into the daily life and environment of the people in this locality. There were many street fights and gambling riots. Our sensational news of the day was merely a part of their pioneer life. Before Scottville had its first newspaper in 1884, the Ludington paper published short items of near-by community life and among these items we find such as this - - "A man was shot at 10:30 last night in the saloon (1879)." "City Marshall shot an Indian on Main street last night (1874)" "A fine time was had by a full house at Schusters Hotel in Ludington. Early in the evening music struck up and the ball opened. The dance went on merrily through the night and the boys took the girls home at broadday-light in the morning." (1873) "Tradition has it also that about 1880 little six-year-old Katie Flynn who lived with her mother and father in the woods near Custer followed her father to work one bright summer morning. After some time it was discovered that she must be lost and hunters and trappers searched the woods for two days and two nights until they finally found the child lying under some trees guarded by a great black bear, which she called "Doggy". "The railroad was finally completed in 1874 and Governor Bradley came over the line on a tour of inspection on the first train to ever pass this way. It was in this same year Judge Haight came by train and fixed Branch township. " If you have any stories or photos you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com, mail should be sent in care of the Ludington Daily News PO box 340 Ludington Mi 49431.

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