Apology ceremony offers reconciliation

Chase — Cold and rainy weather could not keep a historic rift from being repaired. 

One-hundred-forty-two years after the battle between Chase and Baldwin for the county seat, members of the two communities came together on the historic site to put any embittered feelings behind them for good.

In the early morning hours of April 30, 1875, a fight went down when people from Baldwin came by train to steal the county safe from Chase. The men from Baldwin claimed they were retrieving their property, won in an election giving Baldwin the county seat. The men of Chase insisted the vote was fraudulent and refused to give up the safe until an injunction was served.

The crew from Baldwin was successful in retrieving the safe, but the results were injurious to both Baldwinites and Chasites physically and emotionally, causing a generational rift between the two communities.

A group of people from the Baldwin community recently resolved to bring peace over the age-old conflict. Clergy, law enforcement and residents from both Baldwin and Chase gathered at the site of the battle, just off of the old Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad (now Rails-to-Trails), west of Frank Smith Road and south of U.S. 10 in Chase.

The event began with those assembled singing “Amazing Grace” to guitar and violin. The Rev. Tim Alley, of Baldwin Assembly of God, gave a declaration of intent.

“The event 142 years ago was based on deep selfishness. We are not placing the blame here, but what happened was for selfish gain. We believe attitudes and grudges held for so long can be broken, and we are the ones who can stop it,” he said.

Following more songs, Jen Heiney, worship pastor at the Baldwin Assembly of God church, explained that worship drives back the darkness.

Then, the official apology took place. The Baldwin people stood off to one side and the Chase people stood off to another. The Rev. Joe Washington from Christ Community Church in Baldwin, as mediator, oversaw as Rev. Alley, of Baldwin, reached out to Pastor Connie Shoemaker, of the Chase Fellowship Church.

Law enforcement, represented by Sheriff Dennis Robinson, Under-sheriff Don Mayfield, and Prosecutor Craig Cooper, extended the symbolic apology to Chase residents represented by Carlyle Avery. Baldwin and Chase residents came together and shook hands and hugged.

“I don’t know a lot about what took place back when the county seat battle happened, but we don’t handle things that way today. We hope Chase can forgive Baldwin and move on and put things in the past,” said Robinson.

A time was held for anyone to reflect and pray aloud, and then communion was offered to all present to symbolize unity and reconciliation.

After the ceremony wrapped up, despite the rain and late hour of 7:30 p.m., people stayed for cider and doughnuts.