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Mason County Memories

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Article 352 History Column Dave Petersen I've been doing a lot of reading and researching on Oceana County and wanted to share some of that information you. There are many similarities between Mason and Oceana Counties but there are a lot of differences as well. When you look at Mason, Manistee and Oceana and the development some of the same players and shakers and movers of the times were involved up and down the lakeshore. The pictures we are using today are courtesy of the Oceana Historical and genealogical Society in Hart. If you have photographs to share with our readers please contact me at 757-3240, e-mail to davep@blackcreekpress.com, or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News, P.O. Box 340, Ludington, MI, 49431 Pic1 The Village has seen considerable growth by 1880 as seen here. After the County seat was removed from Whiskey Creek in 1861 growth was slow in direct response to the War of the Rebellion and the resulting enlistment of 128 men (including 34 native residents). By 1864 there were still but three buildings in the whole village. The newly build Courthouse, Corbin's Boarding House and a residential home. Pic2 First called Benona in 1862, and then Barnett in 1874 the village was incorporated as Shelby in 1882. Fated to fail the little village was rescued in 1874 by flocks of passenger pigeons of numbers so great they blackened the sky. The resulting boom from hunters and harvesting the flock brought resources and people to the area and the village began to flourish. Pic3 On August 8th 1895 pioneers of the county gathered for a celebration at Getty's Grove. In the rural areas of the country people relied on each other in ways that we can only imagine in the 21st century. Bonds of blood and friendship formed as the early pioneers worked together to build a home in the rugged wilderness that they tamed. Celebrations and festivals were a time to renew friendships and recall times past. Pic4 Oceana County did not have the level of logging enterprises as were seen in Mason or Muskegon Counties in part because of the lack of rivers and streams large enough to carry the logs to the holding ponds and mills. Pentwater is the only Village that was built with the benefit of a harbor for placing sawmills and shipping of lumber. Charles Mears was without a doubt the most influential lumberman in the Oceana County market followed by Horace Butters. Pic5 The Mason Oceana Railroad (also known as the mean and ornery) began by Mason County Lumberman Horace Butters wound down into Oceana County through Peachville on its intended route to Grand Rapids Michigan. The lumber gave out and the railroad failed to reach its destination. In it's short time of operation logs were cut and transported to Buttersville to the mill to be sawn and shipped out to the southern markets. Pic6 Horace Butters held several patents in the lumbering industry, one of which was for a steam skidder that allowed easier transportation of logs overhead on cables through the swamps along rivers like the Pere Marquette or Pentwater River. The skidders increased their reach and ability to harvest logs that they might not otherwise be able to bring to the market.

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