History brought back to life at Dover Museum event

October 4, 2018

By Steve Landon
Correspondent

A chill in the air, a slight tinge of color in the trees can only mean one thing. It’s time to put another year of summer memories into the history books and focus on the fall and winter months ahead.

This past Saturday the Clare County Historical Society Museum closed out another successful year with their annual “Old Fashion Day”.

A vintage tractor was kept busy all day giving wagon rides.

A vintage tractor was kept busy all day giving wagon rides.

Held at the society’s museum complex at the corner of Dover and Eberhart Roads north of Clare, the event officially closes out the museums summer season.

Old fashion hometown music and singers entertained visitors throughout the day. 

Old fashion hometown music and singers entertained visitors throughout the day.

In a preview of things to come,  a chilly brisk breeze and fall like temperatures greeted visitors providing the perfect setting for an early autumn day of learning and looking back on the areas rich history.  As in past years the popular event offered old fashion music, antique vehicles, hayrides, interesting exhibits, food, the ever-popular working blacksmith shop, guest speakers and more.

The crown jewel of the museum, the Dover School opened back in 1876 when America was just 100 years old.  Today visitors set in old time school desks and occasionally listened to presentations by visiting guest speakers while imagining what life was like when the one room schoolhouse dominated the countryside.

Mark Jager, author of the popular “Mystic Michigan” series of books spoke to a good size audience in the Dover School about oddities and phenomenon around Michigan.

Mark Jager, author of the popular “Mystic Michigan” series of books spoke to a good size audience in the Dover School about oddities and phenomenon around Michigan.

Mark Jager author of the popular “Mystic Michigan” series of books kept many visitors rivited to their seats in the old school as he spoke about natural phenomenon and oddities that exist throughout the Great Lake State.  Jager also authored a book called “Mystic Michiganders” that has a segment on late Naturalist Spikehorn Meyer of Shepherd, who owned a poular tourist stop at the junction of Historic Old U.S.27 and M-61 East south of Harrison when the old highway was the the main route to Nothern Michigan.

In addition to Mark Jager, Shipwright Gene Bodnar, gave  a talk on the H.M.S. Clare, a WWII destroyer that was named after the City of Clare. Bodnar built a detailed replica of the ship that was given to Great Britain at the start of the war.  The replica ship is on display at the museum.

Dressed in period clothing, Ruth Owens, aged 90 of Clare, looked right at home in the Dover School where her father and uncle attended  school. Owens was honored at this years “Old Fashion Day”.

Dressed in period clothing, Ruth Owens, aged 90 of Clare, looked right at home in the Dover School where her father and uncle attended  school. Owens was honored at this years “Old Fashion Day”.

One special lady was honored at this years “Old Fashion Day”,  Ruth Owens, aged 90 of Clare, a long time Clare County Historical Society Member.   Her father Harry Lansing Cleveland, an ordained minister as well as a rural mail carrier, attended the Dover School along with his brother William.

Ms. Owens was born at home, the youngest of 10.  Her family had their farm “Rolling Acres” in Clare where Burger King is located today.  A 1946 graduate of Clare High School, she went on to attend nursing school in Anderson, Indiana where she received her R.N. degree, graduating in 1950.
Clad in vintage clothing Ms. Owens chatted and visited with visitors throughout the day.  It was a pretty special day for one long time Clare resident.

A pen of donkeys interested a lot of visiting youngsters.

A pen of donkeys interested a lot of visiting youngsters.

Visiting the main museum building that traces the history of Clare County and taking in other activities visitors had a chance to step into the original Ott Family home, a small two-story log cabin where Louie and Emma Ott raised their 18 children.

In addition, there were other Clare County Historical artifacts on display, the Clare

Cory, Katie and Lynette Sheldon were on hand helping Alex Schunk share the history of Clare County 4-H.

Cory, Katie and Lynette Sheldon were on hand helping Alex Schunk share the history of Clare County 4-H.

County MSU Extension office had a booth recognizing the history of MSU Extension and the 4-H program.

A beautiful antique car looked right at home in front of the Dover School. No doubt cars and similar vehicles picked up many Dover students back in their day.

A beautiful antique car looked right at home in front of the Dover School. No doubt cars and similar vehicles picked up many Dover students back in their day.

Those who have never visited The Clare County Historical Museum are missing out on a real treat. The volunteers who have worked hard over the years to put this museum together know what it takes to make local history interesting not just for old timers and history buffs but for people of all ages.  Next summer take a break from your weekend activities and come on out to the museum where the history of Clare County comes alive. Summer hours are Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Check them out on Facebook under Clare County Historical Society.

Photos by Steve Landon

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