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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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This week we continue to look at some of Manistee's history and photographs of that community. If you are interested in reviewing more information online about Michigan Counties, try following this link to the Rootsweb Michigan Genealogy web pages. You can find a wealth of information about every county in Michigan. http://www.rootsweb.com/~migenweb/map.htm We are going to take a look at some of the movers and shakers of Manistee and not surprisingly some of the same people had spheres of influence in several counties including Mason. The photographs we are using today came from a publication put out in 1890 originally in nine segments available by subscription. This was a time when photography was still not available to the masses to take their own photographs; it required a lot of equipment that most people could not afford. Remember the first VCR recorders? They were bulky and expensive costing thousands of dollars, now you can make a recording from your phone. It's difficult to assemble all nine sections as it was made in such a way as to be easily taken apart so that the individual photographs could be mounted, they were finely produced photographs and printed on only one side. The nine sections includes some excellent early photographs of important landmarks in both Manistee and Ludington. Pic #1 Looking West on River Street Pic#2 Buckley & Douglas Sawmill Manistee William Douglas was born in Chatham Quebec Canada in 1848; by 1869 he was working on the river for a lumber company in Manistique and that fall he came to Manistee securing a position as a teamster with Smith and McGinnis. In 1872 he took a job with Cushman and Calkins and was responsible for getting out two million feet of lumber to the mills at Manistee. He continued to work with various lumbering operations until 1880 when he joined with Edward Buckley to form Buckley and Douglas, by 1887 they purchased a mill, and refitted it, this photograph was taken about 1889-1890. Pic 3 Residence of TJ Ramsdell Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell was an influential part of Manistee's growth and development. Arriving in 1860 he acquired the title of the towns first lawyer. He was born in 1833 in Wayne County New York; he graduated from Plymouth Seminary in 1856 and law school in 1858. In the fall of 1861 he was elected to the legislature and served one term, he started the First national Bank, the first hardware store in Manistee. Other accomplishments include helping to establish the first newspaper, building of the Ramsdell theatre after the Scandinavian opera house burned. He acquired a great deal of wealth during his lifetime in Manistee and like our J.S. Stearns plowed much back into the community he loved. Pic 4 residence of John Canfield Manistee John Canfield was born in Berkshire County Massachusetts in 1830. It was John's father who first came to Manistee and erected a sawmill in 1848 and John joined him in 1849 and continued to prosper as did most lumbering men of the era. The house pictured was built in 1875. Pic 5 residence of D. W. Filer Delos Warren Filer was the son of D.L. Filer who was an instrumental figure in early Ludington history as well; D.L. along with Golden and Warren were all attorneys and formed the law firm of D.L. Filer and sons in 1866. They purchased 2500 acres of land south and east of Manistee and platted Filer Village and township. They operated a sawmill there and had extensive lumber interests in the area. At one time Delos owned much of the property that made up Manistee. Pic 6 Stronach Lumber Co Manistee Pic 7 Engleman Block Manistee Born in 1832 and at the age of 16 decided to make the trip from Germany to America and arrived in Manistee in 1848. At that time this whole area was nothing more then a dense wilderness. He worked for others in lumbering for the next nine years and secured an interest in a schooner during that time that he was able to build upon and create the Engleman line which included the Steamer John A. Dix and others. Imagine if you will, a lad of 16 in a strange new country who in the matter of 30 years is able to create a fortune and build the block illustrated in the photo. If you have any photographs or stories you would like to share please email davep@blackcreekpress.com call 231-757-3240 or mail care of Ludington Daily News 201 N Rath Ludington Mi 49431.

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