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Mason County Memories

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Hackert Lake - Whats in a name? History Column Dave Petersen Crystal or Hackert Lake? Most of us who have lived here have heard it both ways but which one is it? Looking at the 1915 Plat book for Amber Township we find it named Crystal, but talk to the family of Charles Hackert and there is no doubt about it, that it is officially Hackert Lake. Confusion over the naming of the lake has endured over the years, at one time the When Charles Mears was logging in the area it was known as Mears lake unofficially, and then Crystal because the water was so clear. In 1948 the US Board of Geographical Names declared it to be Crystal Lake, and then in 1967 annulled that decision in favor of Hackert Lake. In 1977 the Mason County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to change the name to Crystal Lake and then after finding much opposition a couple months later reversed their decision as well. Lets take a look however at the man and the family from which Hackert Lake derives its name. In 1861 Charles Hackert along with 4 other families that included John Holmes, the Drakes, and William and Robert Baker traveled to Mason County in covered wagons from Berrien County. They found their way along trails barely blazed and in some cases these hardy pioneers blazed their own way amongst the pines and swamps. After making their way to what would become known as Hackert's Lake in Amber Township the tiny enclave set up housekeeping in lumber shanties owned by Charles Mears and R.G. Peters while they scouted out the surrounding area for homesteading sites. Charles Hackert was born in 1830 in Prise, Germany. He came to America as a young boy in 1838 with his mother who had been recently widowed. They settled in Berrien County where he met and in 1848 married Sarah Ann Williams. He made his home and started his family but as many in his generation he was bitten by the gold bug in 1856 and headed out to California to seek his fortune. At that time travel was slow, 30 miles a day or less and the trip out took five months, two years later however he returned by boat without the gold he sought and rejoined his family. The Hackerts were an important early family in the settlement and organization of Amber Township. The Hackert home was a focal point in the life and death of the township. Charles farmed, hauled supplies for lumber camps, built caskets and acted as undertaker and his wife Sarah served as the midwife in the township at a time when Doctors were quite scarce. Charles was elected as Highway commissioner in 1867 when Amber Township was formed and was involved in the development of the local road system. Pic #4 In 1878 Charles joined with James Fluery and purchased the first threshing machine in the county, after Fluery passed away his interest was purchased by his son in law William Pittard. The threshing machine must have been a wonder to behold and provided another source of income for the family as he traveled from farm to farm, and when he could no longer carry on the work of threshing his son in law continued. The Hackerts and their related families of Pittards, Gordons, and Dumas had a great hand in the molding of Amber township and still do. The original farm begun by Charles Hackert just south of First street on South Stiles road is a County Centennial Farm and is still farmed by David Hackert over 140 years later. My thanks to Gloria Wagner and Lois Dumas for sharing their family scrapbooks and photograph albums for this column. If you have any photographs or stories to share with our readers please feel free to call Dave Petersen 757-3240 email davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News. Pic #1 Charles and Sarah Hackert circa 1880 Pic# 2 One of the family farms from a tintype circa 1870 Pic#3 Thresher working at the Stillson Place Pic # 4 above Pic#5 Charles Hackert & son, Charles was an avid Sportsman and fished into his 90's

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