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Mason County Memories

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Barn Tour History Column Dave Petersen This fall local residents and travelers alike will be able to take part in a Historic Barn Tour in October featuring Barns along West Conrad Rd. The idea spearheaded by Marcia Hansen has been gathering momentum through the winter and spring and looks to provide an afternoon of exploration of local barns and their history as well as some interesting activities at each of the locations. In years past the humble barn played an important role in the community, for its people, their work, livelihood, and entertainment. Often the barn was built before the house and the family bunked in with the livestock and machinery until the house could be completed. It was where people met, for meetings, dances, church services, to go "courting" and a place where children played. The barn was the center of industry, a factory so to speak, the hub of the family's enterprise. Livestock was kept there, Machinery was stored out of the weather, maybe a tool room, a place to milk the cows, store the hay and grain. Each barn has its own design, character and soul, and it does reach out to you when you walk through the door. Each ethnic group that came to America brought designs with them that were altered somewhat based on the intended purpose, the weather in their new location, and the type of building supplies that were available. The Barn raising on a farm was a community event, many families would come together to put a barn up in as little time as possible, it tied families together, it was one of the events that cemented communities together as each family helped the other. Barn Tours are not new to Michigan, or other places around the Country, events such as a Barn Aid Concert have been done to restore a historic barn, and preservation societies are forming to preserve this fast disappearing icon of agricultural history. The barn at the Hansen's farm 3529 W Conrad Rd is named Cherry Hill Farm. This farm traces its history back to the first owner, John Nash in 1859. Its history includes as owners Delos Filer, local lumberman, and Shubael White a local attorney and Judge. Carl and Marie Hansen bought the farm in 1920 and have passed it down through their family to present day owners Roger and Marcia Hansen. The farm has carried the name of Cherry Hill since sometime after 1900 and may have reflected the Cherry Orchard on the East side of the house. The barn today is used in farming as the Hansen's have close to 50 shorthorn beef cattle, it is a farming enterprise started in a small way with the gift of a pregnant Shorthorn to Roger on his 50th birthday. Hay is stored in the hay mow for the weaned calves which are housed in the barn during the fall and winter. Some new renovations are in store for this historic barn, the original style windows will be replaced north upper side of the barn. They have been boarded up since Great Grandpa Hansen sent the hayforks through them twice in one summer. The barn has only had 3 roofs on it since about 1883 the same year that the current brick house was built. The granary will be restored, and the barn painted in time for the tour in October. Eric Blocher's grandfather Richard (Allie) Saxton was a builder of barns in Mason County where he completed at least 60 of them. Allie as he was known was born in 1875 in Ohio and came to Eden Township about 1895 after his marriage to Laura Brovont. Eric shared some of the photos that he has showing barns that Allie had built. While he did not build any of the barns on Conrad Rd the style and methods of building as shown in the photographs and the lunch with all of the builders and their families are typical of the scenes one would witness at a country barn raising. If you wish to see other photos from his collection and maybe see one of the barns you have on your property go to his website at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~elblocher/barns.htm If you have local stories and photographs of barn raising in mason County and wish to share those with our reader please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431. Pic1 Taken in 1913 of the dinner at the Barn raising for Robert Johnson in section 32, Custer Township on Wilson Rd Pic 2 Isaac Murray's Barn Section 4 Eden Township on Tuttle Rd south of Dockery Lake, Allie is pictured 4th from the left. Pic 3 Nichol's Barn (location unknown) Allie Saxton is located on the top right.

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