Night at the Museum

Mecosta County Historical Museum lets me investigate

by Published: Feb 6, 2013

When I was invited by friend and fellow history enthusiast Ashley Phillips, member of Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honor Society) to help archive and organize the small museum in Big Rapids I jumped up and down in excitement. I love this kind of stuff.

My love for history began a long time ago when I was young. I got swept away into a time passage to find out that the land I was living on had been lived on for thousands of years before me. Something in my head snapped hearing tales of the French Voyageurs who came from Canada to Sault St. Marie in search of furs and pelts for trading– I was hooked, hooked on the real-life adventures that chronicled the making of Michigan and the city of Big Rapids.

The Mecosta County Historical Museum is a small house completely dedicated to the history and events that happened in Mecosta County Michigan. There were so many fun things to look at and see I didn’t k now where to begin and kept clicking my camera away like an over-zealous paparazzo who had found a money shot.

So many things to explore, I’m going to have to go back to see more, and the archiving still needs to be done. Archiving is a process of historical preservation that aims to inventory every artifact in a museum’s possession and catalog it for future reference and insurance purposes.

The museum currently is being run by the Mecosta County Historical Society and a host of volunteers therein who run tours every Saturday from 2pm to 4pm from May through September and by special appointment. I had the privilege of meeting a crackerjack of a lady named Giulietta “Judy” Irvin who was gracious enough to let us in out of the cold and talk about the museum further. “We’re just a bunch of little old ladies” she proclaims, “It’s good to see young people interested in history.” Irvin divulges that before the museum, the 140 year old house it sits in was the public library until 1966 and a private residence belonging to a lumber tycoon before that. “And there’s the ghost, be aware of Abigail, our ghost” said Irvin.

At first, you think she’s kidding, but it’s true. “We had the ghost busters in here a while ago, and they got on film a picture of a woman with big white bell sleeves standing at the top of the landing. We searched everywhere thinking maybe it was a mannequin, but we couldn’t find anything like it in the museum.”

“All the time when someone leaves, we make sure the lights are out, but I get calls from the police telling me the light upstairs is on again, even though I know it had been off.”

Resident ghost or not, I’m looking forward to going back and finding more, and possibly learning why the upstairs bedroom gives me the creeps. Pictures below show some of the fun things that can be seen when the museum including old photos, WWII memorabilia, Native American relics, old fashions, and even a cane made out of human bone.

For more on the museum keep reading the Torch online and in print for updates. The Mecosta County Historical Museum hosts an annual Victorian tea the last Sunday every April (April 28th this year) and is open by appointment and every Saturday starting in May.

Photos by Jax Anger | Opinions Editor