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