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Mason County Memories

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david k petersen

History Column 272 History of Pentwater by Florence R. Schrumpf I was given a copy of this local history written by Florence Schrumpf back in 1965 and thought that it would be nice to share some installments from her research and writing about our neighbor to the south. I've also got some Pentwater connections as my Great Grandfather Pederson/Peterson was a boat builder in Pentwater. I am also related to Hartwicks, Tullers, and Purdys so Oceana County History is important to me as well. If you have any stories or photographs that you would like to share with our readers 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. "A sharp rap at the window startled the Barber family late one night as they slept. It was in the early pioneer days of Pentwater, and it might well cause alarm for their house was the only one for miles in a wilderness of trees. As Mr. Barber rose to answer the rap, the startling yet friendly face of an Indian greeted him. The Indian, in a gutteral voice said, "Um want slip 'em down easy," an Indian's way of asking for butter. Mr. Barber was the agent to give out supplies for the region round about, and soon granted his wish. "The history of a community centers around the lives and homes of its people and so it has been with Pentwater. The name Pentwater was given, presumably, by the Indians and means "penned up waters." "At the time of the above incident, there were just two buildings, a boarding house, where the Barbers made their home with the Cobb family, and a mill erected and operated by Mr. Cobb, Andrew Rector, his partner, and Mr. Barber. The buildings were located on the north shore of beautiful Pentwater Lake, a wilderness of the finest pine and hard wood stands in the background, the sand dunes covered with evergreens in the foreground and Lake Michigan just beyond; it was an ideal situation for the thing they sought - lumber, with natural facilities for manufacturing it. "When the lake pine had been hewn, they could work farther back bringing the logs down Pentwater River which opened into the lake. A shallow winding stream connected Pentwater Lake with Lake Michigan, later making a perfect water way for the lumbering industry. This first mill was located at the south end of Hancock Street where the Pederson boat building concern is housed. "We can only imagine the feelings of E. R. Cobb and Andrew Rector when they chose this place for their future home and envisioned its possibilities. It was accessible only along the beach by foot and horseback, on Lake Michigan by boat and Indian trails in the back woods. Severe storms made traveling dangerous and communication with the outside world was difficult and irregular. Mail was brought from Grand Haven by carrier on foot, the mail being carried in his pockets, and from Chicago by occasional sailing vessels. A newspaper came in as often as -once in three months. "Little is known of these two men who founded the village. They had purchased the land from the Government in 1849, when they first came to Oceana County, but did not settle here until the spring of 1853. Mr. Cobb is described as of an "easygoing disposition and calculated to be straight." He was the first postmaster. Mr. Rector was known as "a very honorable man, but of a violent temper." He was accidentally killed sometime in 1861. "The Rosevelt family came in 1853; Mrs. Rosevelt was the first white woman to live here. No mention is made of Mrs. Cobb, but she evidently came later in the same year. The Barber family arrived June 18, 1854, from Chicago on the Spartan, a sailing vessel that brought supplies once in three weeks, and. took back lumber. It anchored outside in Lake Michigan as the channel was too shallow for entrance the four passengers were brought ashore in a small boat. "The Rosevelts evidently remained only for a short time, as the Cobbs, Mr. Rector and the Barbers lived in the only house which was known as "the boarding house." For a long time it was the center of all activity. It is interesting to note that this building still stands in the village, part being used as an ice-house, and part, in another location, occupied by the Chan Sayers family." End of Part 1 Pic 1 This is an early view by Elliott of the Pentwater Ferry. A talented photographer whose glass negatives are rumored to still be in Pentwater.

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