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Mason County Memories

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david k petersen

Manistee part 1 History Column Dave Petersen In today's column we are going to venture north a bit and cover some of the history of our neighbors in Manistee. We share some of the same citizenry and businessmen that developed the area and conducted logging as well as shipping operations. Manistee had visitors to the area much like Mason County had in the 1830's, fur traders, trappers, some local exploration to find suitable places for sawmills and lumbering operations. Manistee being 30 miles to the north can also claim to have a permanent white settlement several years earlier then mason County. In order to lay out some of the early history of Manistee we'll quote some of the speech delivered by General Byron M. Cutcheon at the Manistee Centennial celebration in 1876. "In the fall of the year 1840 John Stronach of Berrien County Mich accompanied by his brother Joseph Stronach of Muskegon coasted along tis shore in a small sailboat, until they arrived at the mouth of the Manistee. They were met by a party of Chippewas who treated them cordially and gave them information of the country. After locating a point for the mill site they set sail and returned to Muskegon. " The following spring about the 13th of April, John Stronach with his son Adam Stronach chartered the Schooner Thornton of St Joseph to convey them and their machinery and supplies to the Manistee. They arrived at the mouth of the Manistee on the 16th of April (1841) and from that day dates the actual permanent white settlement of Manistee County. "The first county election in Manistee County was held on the first Monday of April 1855 and resulted in the election of the following ticket. Sherriff, Sam Potter, Clerk and Registrar H.S. Udell(D.L. Filer ran against Udell and received 62 votes to Udell's 71) Judge of Probate H.L. Brown, Treasurer Jo Smith , Prosecuting attorney H.L. Brown. At this election the whole number of votes cast in the county was 136. " There were 21 sawmills having an aggregate capcity for cutting 1,508,000 board feet in 24 hours or 500,000,000 feet in a year. The actual cut for 1867 was 110,400,010 feet of lumber which brought on average 5.00 per thousand. (like Ludington it's neighbor to the south Manistee also had a great fire) " On the fatal Sunday October 8th (1871) the fire alarm sounded about 9 am and he fire department hastened with the steamer to the vicinity of Gifford and Ruddock's Mill in the fourth ward where an old chopping was burning furiously, and threatening destruction to that part of the town. By the most unwearied efforts continued all day, the fire was subdued and that part of the town was saved. " About dark the engine returned to it's quarters. It was scarcely housed when the wind which ad been blowing highly all day rose to a perfect gale. At about 2 o'clock pm while the fire in the fourth ward was raging an alarm whistle was heard from the east side of Manistee lake and through the thick smoke it was discovered that the large steam mill of Magill and Canfield on Blackbird Island was in flames. In an incredibly short space of time the mill, boarding house, stables, shops, docks and lumber were consumed. "As soon as darkeness began to close in a lurid light appeared in the southwest on the shore of Lake Michigan, showing the pine woods that line the shore were on fire. About 9:3p pm just as people were returning from evening services the fire alarm again sounded and everyone now was on the alert for the wind was blowing a fierce gale. Next week Pandemonium on Earth 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. Pic 1 A check from the Buckley and Douglas Lumber Company in Manistee 1904 Pic 2 Don't use this one I'm going to do a separate column on Captain Jack Pic 3 Christ Peterson's Saloon The Manistee Pic 4 An Air Pump built by the Manistee Iron Works Pic 5 A local Manistee School Photograph Pic 6 Main street Manistee circa 1910 Pic 7 Saloon pool room Manistee circa 1900

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