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Mason County Memories

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Area Church History History Column 220 Dave Petersen In looking over some photographs and postcards it occurred to me that we have not taken a very close look at the churches in our area and the rich history that exists there. Today we'll take a look at a few of them. Churches and schools were at the top of the list of the immigrants and early settlers in Mason County. Many of our early residents were deeply religious and felt a great need to gather in the wilderness that they had come to call home to worship. Most started to meet in the home of one of their members. Eventually they became part of a circuit where a traveling preacher would come maybe once every 2 to three weeks. The circuit preacher would travel by foot or by horseback across rough terrain where roads were few and in poor condition to deliver their sermons. Eventually as the population of the county and villages grew enough members allowed them the means and opportunity to begin to build church buildings. As time went on many of the smaller churches began to consolidate. The improvements of the road system and increased prosperity of the church members probably lent to their ability to build larger churches both in size and in membership. Pic 1 The Community Church follows its roots back to the Congregational Church of Christ which was organized in 1870. The first meeting of this group took place in a room above the store of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company. This was a large white building opposite of the City Park in Ludington. The first Church structure was destroyed in the great fire of 1881 in Ludington. The current building was built in 1958. Pic 2 The St Simons Catholic Church with its two towers was a landmark in Ludington and could be seen easily from the harbor. That building was completed in 1902 and had been built directly across the street from the first church and parsonage that had been built in 1872. There was an attempt to save the towers but all three of the structures shown in this view are gone now and the current police and city hall occupy the site of the old church. Pic 3 The history of the United Methodist Church goes back to the earliest settlers in Mason County. Services were originally held in the home of Jerimiah Phillips as early as 1856. The first lot on the corner of Harrison and Loomis street was purchased in 1871 and a small church was built there. In 1895 a second building lot was purchased and the church was completed in 1895. The Community Hall was built in 1927 and by 1939 several of the local Methodist churches had merged into one. The church continues to grow and has recently completed its new facility and the original site is now the home of ***** Pic 4 The Emanuel Lutheran Church (located at the corner of Lavinia and Danaher street) was previously known as the Swedish Lutheran Church. The history of this church dates back to 1874 when a small group of local Swedes banded together. The current building was constructed in 1901 and the school adjacent to the church was built in 1903. Pic 5 An interior view of the Swedish Evangelical Church. Pic 6 Fern was a community south of Custer that had a school, a church, and several businesses. Originally called Adamsville, and then re-named after, (you guessed it) Ferns which grew in abundance in the area. If you have photographs of the village of Fern please contact me. If you have any stories or photographs of your church and you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, davep@blackcreekpress.com or in Care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Michigan 49431

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