Talking history: Chase group collects history, reminisce

Members of the Chase Township Public Library history group share historical information and reflect on memories of years gone by. From left to right: Flip Johnston, Sid Woods, Ralph Grinnell, Diane Johnson and Cheryl Zill. 

Members of the Chase Township Public Library history group share historical information and reflect on memories of years gone by. From left to right: Flip Johnston, Sid Woods, Ralph Grinnell, Diane Johnson and Cheryl Zill. 

Star photo/Shanna Avery

CHASE — Meeting together for the last two decades, the Chase Township Library history group has had a two-fold purpose — to collect Chase area history and offer older residents who grew up in Chase a chance to reminisce older times. 

Since COVID, the group hasn't met as much; it currently just meets when historical information comes in. But such an opportunity came last Tuesday, when Sid Woods donated many obituary clippings his family kept over the years of local people who passed. A number of the obituaries dated back to the 1950s, some older, some more current. 

For those who explore the Chase Library history room, Diane Johnson, who heads the group, compiles historical data into easy-to-find categories, ranging from family histories, folders of local history, photographs and records, old ledgers, historical displays and so much more. 

Through the years, members of the history group, Chase area residents, and families who's ancestries tie back to Chase, added to the numerous historical archives and resources.The group has collaborated in sharing information and participating in history activities with other local historical entities, such as the Lake County Historical Society. 

The group also has taken on special projects through the years, such as marking veteran's headstones, particularly Civil War soldiers who settled this area. 

During the meeting, it was announced that at 1:20 p.m. Aug. 6, the Civil War veterans at the Chase Township Cemetery will again be honored with a public event. The Sons of Union Veterans chapter of Big Rapids will put on a reenactment at the cemetery and will honor the last surviving Civil War veteran in Lake County, David Ralston. Plans are for a bugler to be there, and for old-fashioned sarsaparilla to be served. The library will be open for people to visit afterward. 

During a time of discussion and sharing at the meeting, Ralph Grinnell, World War II veteran, passed around an artifact he brought back from Germany after the war. Grinnell and Flip Johnston discussed some of their memories. 

"What won the war (WWII) for us was industrial might," Johnston said. 

Grinnell spoke fondly of Dwight D. Eisenhower's military leadership during WWII. 

"Eisenhower did a lot of good things, not only for officers, but all divisions," Grinnell said.  

Those who meet share a wealth of information, and their memories are invaluable — experiencing incredible changes through the years. Johnston explained how he has lived in the area long enough to remember the older generations prior to the mid-20th century — folks who were born in the 1800s.

The group plans to meet again at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at the library, to further discuss the Civil War event in August.