Celebrating 150 years: Planning for Lake County Sesquicentennial underway

Lake County Historical Society President Bruce Micinski presented a summary of early Lake County history, and presented a picture of Gov. Baldwin, who the town is named for. (Star photo/Shanna Avery)

Lake County Historical Society President Bruce Micinski presented a summary of early Lake County history, and presented a picture of Gov. Baldwin, who the town is named for. (Star photo/Shanna Avery)

BALDWIN — Lake County turns 150 years old this year, and members of the Lake County Historical Society are organizing a united effort with community groups and municipalities throughout the county to celebrate in a big way.

A planning session took place at the Lake County Historical Museum on July 14, with representatives from county-wide historical societies and museums, board members from various townships, library board members, Chamber of Commerce members, Baldwin Downtown Development Authority members, as well as others interested in taking part.

The week-long Sesquicentennial observance will be from Saturday, Sept. 25, through Oct. 2. More than 50 possible ideas were discussed as a way for the whole county to celebrate its rich heritage.

Lake County Historical Society President Bruce Micinski explained the Public Act 357 organized Lake County, which was signed into effect on March 18, 1871, by Gov. Henry Porter Baldwin, who the town of Baldwin was named for.

County organizers Robert E. Bigbee, Abel Gibbs, and James Foster proposed for Greendell (now Chase) and Bismark (a community in Ellsworth Township) for a possible county seat. Greendell was selected.

"When we were planning ideas for a sesquicentennial celebration for Baldwin, which will take place in 2022, it dawned on us two weeks ago, 1871 is the 150th anniversary of our county," Micinski said. "We want people, visitors and state legislatures to know of this event. We found the 100th anniversary of the county wasn't celebrated - it came and went. We are not going to let 150 years just go by."

"It is time to network with townships and groups to celebrate their pieces of Lake County history, which is still unfolding," he added. "We have many interesting stories to share with the public about Lake County."

As the topic of anniversaries was mentioned during the session, it was noted it was Micinski's 38th anniversary of becoming president of the Lake County Historical Society, a position he still has.

"I started out with a desk and a filing cabinet, and now look at everything," Misinski said, pondering on how much the historical society has grown over the past three decades, with a beautiful museum brimming with county history, bearing testimony to how important the local heritage has been to the people of the county.

Jill Engelman, curator of the Lake County Historical Museum, said how Sheriff Rich Martin donated $1,000 for the sesquicentennial, with money raised from returnables, which will help advertise for the event and other expenses.

"We want to get everyone involved, and the Historical Society will umbrella the event," she explained, further stating the planning is just getting off the ground, so anyone who hasn't been reached out yet, please contact the historical society so all the county can be included in this important event.

A few of the many ideas discussed include a history day event at the museum; asking area residents to search for photos; an 1870s folk music concert; a kick off with Evenings with our elders, where various people will share their memories; a historic plaque awards program; vintage clothing exhibit and docents in period costume; a Civil War program; cemetery tours; a time capsule to be opened in 50 years; a Pere Marquette Rails to Trails bike tour; a Native American artifact display at the Chase Township Library history room; Martin Johnson Heritage Museum tours; vintage car show; window decoration (1871-themed); and many other activities for youth and people of all ages.

The group will meet again at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 28, at the Lake County Historical Museum.