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Mason County Memories

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Article 294 History Column Dave Petersen Horace Butters and Buttersville Recently I was able to copy some photographs of the operations of Horace Butters the founder of the mill and village of Buttersville. There are some incredible images of the mill and operation on the Pere Marquette River in particular that I wanted to share with our readers this week. The Butters family had a long and influential history in the Ludington area. Horace Butters was an early pioneer in the area and worked his way up and into the history books as an innovative and industrious lumber baron. Thanks to Mary Mitchell for sharing these photographic gems with us. If you have any stories or photographs you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com. Mail in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431 Pic1 Horace Butters came to Michigan from Maine and settled in Manistee first in 1851 and Mason County about 1877. He brought with him a family of eight children and first moved into the home at 206 North Park street. The operations of the Butters and Peters Lumber Company included Tallman, Buttersville, a narrow gauge railroad with 30 miles of track known as the miserable and ornery (Mason & Oceana) and the lumber hooker Marshall F Butters. Pic2 It was widely known as the Butters and Peters Lumber Company on that little strip of sand that the local fishermen referred to as the island. The mill had been built by Vahue Hustis and Company in 1872 and changed hands several times going from Foster and Stanchfield to Cartier and Filer before Horace Butters and .G. Peters bought the mill in 1882 and operated it until the fire of 1909 destroyed it. Pic3 Interior views of the mills in the Ludington area are a rare treat. Buttersville had nearly 1000 residents at one time living in the vicinity of the mill. After the mill burned and the village was deserted a number of the houses on the island were moved across the iced over lake and placed on new lots in the city of Ludington. Pic4 After 1885 the firm branched out into the manufacturing of salt and built a coopers shop on site to manufacture the barrels needed to ship their products. The salt well produced 1500 barrels a day. A lumber hooker named the Marshall F Butters after the oldest son carried salt, lumber, lath and shingles to market. Pic5 There was a lot of lumber to be harvested near the Pere Marquette River and the need was great to be able to feed the crews near where they would be working. This floating mess hall provided that warm place to dry out and grab a hot meal in a wet and cold working environment. Pic6 The Horace Butters Patent Steam Skidder was devised to help cut the costs involved in the labor intensive skidding of logs. The machines cost 5,000.00 each which was a great deal of money at the time, but they were popular in the South and Western States. When harvesting logs in the swamps and rivers. Sometimes "canaling" was required to open an area up for easier access as this steam dredge seems to be doing.

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