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Mason County Memories

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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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david k petersen

Freesoil History and Homecoming History Column Dave Petersen In late August of 1941 Freesoil was getting ready to celebrate their sixth annual Homecoming, a three day celebration with a busy schedule of events. The festival had gotten started in 1936 after a group of Freesoil residents attended the Freesoil-Detroit picnic and wanted to start the tradition back home as a way of renewing friendships. Mrs. Frank Hunt chaired the first event sponsored by the Village Council and over 2000 people attended. Considering the official population of Freesoil at the time was 250, it was a great turnout, that became greater as by the 4th event the attendees numbered over 4000. On the first day of the 6th Homecoming exhibits, bingo, a dance and the choosing of the King and Queen was to take place. A wedding was also scheduled on Saturday Morning with Victoria Jados married to Ollie Gorney. Inez Weaver was going to sing "Homecoming time in Freesoil" and "Going back to Freesoil" If anyone can spare a copy of these two tunes I'll feature them in a future column. On Sunday church services started the day followed by Parades, and flag ceremony, exhibits, a softball game, programs on the village square, Vesper services and movies. A Bazaar, chicken dinner and contests and prizes of all sorts are indicated in the schedule. All in all the schedule promised lots of activities, prizes, fun and food, a perfect end to summer. The schedule was sponsored by business's that for the most part are no longer there, and many unfamiliar to most residents today. The Honeysuckle being the exception which at that time was operated by Frank Eddy. Other business's in the ad included Tobey Groceries and Meats, Joe's Tavern, JJ Bennett and Son, and Dan Smith's Garage. Another article in the same edition of the Ludington Daily News of August 27th 1941 extolled that Freesoil was a teacher town and that over the years 100 or more residents of the City had gone into teaching as a profession. A history article also was included that talked about Freesoil's history going back to 1861 and we will quote some pieces of the column from the August 27th 1941 Ludington Daily News. "The first licensed physician, Dr. H.D. Robinson arrived in the village and taught school to help earn his living. It is said that often while teaching he left the school to run itself while he made a professional call on some sick patient. " The pioneers were very religious and for some time services were held in the various homes, and in 1865 the Methodist Conference organized a Sauble River Circuit, which included all of the territory as far south as the City of Scottville. A service was held one weekday a month and the pioneers attended each service most regularly, the minister often walking 20 miles to conduct the service.The Methodist Church in the village was dedicated in 1884, but it was in 1882 that the ladies Aid Society was organized. "The second church to be organized here was the Latter Day Saints in 1887. Previous to this date however, meetings were held in the various homes and the present church building was erected in 1901 and dedicated in 1902. " St Johns Cantuis Church was erected about 35 years ago (1906) and many additions and improvements have been made. Some years later a lovely commodius Parsonage was built. At the present membership totals about 385. "At one time the Freesoil Grange sponsored several fairs. These were splendid exhibits of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, home canning and hand work which included crocheting, knitting, quilts and art work. There were concessions and lunch stands, racesa nd sports were enjoyed. " For a great many years, citizens of the village and vicinity have honored the soldier dead on memorial Day. Civil war veterans have all passed away but still each year the veterans graves are decorated and a ritualistic service is performed over one grave. A good program preceeds the service at the Maple Grove Cemetery. " The Freesoil High School was first established in 1913 and the first graduate was Kate Bennett Trimmer (deceased) in 1915 and ever since it had been a source of pride to the residents here. A corp of conscientious industrious teachers have been connected with the school and a great number of young people have graduated from the school and made a success of their lives. "At one time a canning factory was was operated in the villageas well as a grain elevator and apple packing house. Bands have been organized and a few years ago the Village boasted of one with 70 persons belonging to it. Louis Peterson of Ludington conducted. The village is socially very active and residents find no dull moments if they wish to avail themselves of the social activities. Neighborliness and co-operation are charecteristic of the village and as one man stated after losing his home by fire, " When in trouble, Freesoil is a mighty good place to be." If you have any stories or photographs to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail care of the Ludington Daily News at PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431.

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