Clare County Review & Marion Press

Postcard from the Pines: New Year, New Books

Andy’s Book

I love books. New books, old books. Books. As is his custom, the Gardener gifted me with a book at Christmas. What was different was that I had not requested one this year and so was utterly delighted and surprised. And his choice of one of local and historical interest made it even better. The Gardener would tell you that surprising me can be a hard thing to do. The book I found under the tree was Jon Ringelberg’s latest work, Clare County at 150: History & Stories 1871-2021 A Sesquicentennial Booklet. And it’s no mere booklet at nearly 280 pages.
Ringelberg, of Clare, spent a good deal of time researching this compilation of events, people, places and articles that are part of Clare County’s history and growth. He read the files of the old Clare Sentinal and other area newspapers, finding endless interesting pieces of information for this hefty booklet. It is full of photographs and information regarding things like a listing of all the hotels in the county and the town, as well as many other successful businesses. If you are interested in inventions, there is a section on the items invented and patented by Clare County residents. You may be quite surprised. There is also a listing of Saloons & Bars.
A popular section in any local history is one listing ‘ghost towns’; the places long abandoned and forgotten. This booklet has all known in Clare County, and where to find them according to the best of current knowledge. If you are a lover of local history, this pick up and read anywhere ‘booklet’ is one for you.
The second book to come my way is a first book by my old Clare County history-loving friend, Andrew Coulson of Harrison. Andy has dedicated a number of years, a lot of miles and, like his friend Jon Ringelberg, countless hours reading old newspaper files in search of information. Andy’s area of interest are the early Clare County School Houses, which is also the title of his recent informational book on the history of said school houses.
Andy has been able to locate many of the remaining early school houses, as well as the location of others long gone. He’s found photographs of quite a few of these schools and a brief history of most. Due to good record keeping by county school officials, he has also been able to list many of the teachers at each school, and in some cases, student and school board lists. And thanks to all of that neighborhood news in every local newspaper, we get a good look into country school activities.
For residents in this corner of Clare County, School Houses gives us a look at the early and country schools of Winterfield and Redding Townships in particular. Local newspapers kept track of teachers, testing and social activities. Curiously, some teachers appear in different districts over the years, especially in the four townships making up this corner of the county. Some moved on, others continued to teach after marriage and some devoted a lifetime to the profession.
Most of Clare County’s small country schools closed their doors and were consolidated by larger districts by 1962. Students of Winterfield and Redding went to the Marion District, Summerfield and Greenwood to Harrison.
For anyone seeking information on any of these schools, or early schools in general, Andy Coulson’s book is a good look at learning in County Clare during the last 150 years. Both books are a most welcome addition to my Michigan library.
Jon Ringelberg and Andy Coulson are both busy and involved members of the Clare County Historical Society. Jon’s books (he is a prolific historian) are available at the Historical Museum and at Cops and Donuts in Clare. Andy’s book is available at the Clare County Cleaver office in Harrison.

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