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It is March 18, 1871, and Governor Henry Baldwin has signed an act officially establishing Lake County in the state of Michigan. Fast forward 150 years and a lot has changed, but some things have managed to stay the same.

“I tell people that for such a small county, we have a huge history,” says Bruce Micinski, president of the Lake County Historical Society. “It’s a melting pot of people, from immigrants to African Americans to Civil War soldiers, logging days and recreation. “

This week, Lake County is hosting a variety of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unique 567 square mile area.

Sid Woods has lived in Chase his entire life. He can trace his family back to the area in 1869, before Baldwin or even the county was established.

“My great-grandfather, John Batchelder, established his property in 1870. He arrived in 1869 for health reasons. An Ohio doctor told them to go where there are pine trees, ”says Woods, standing on a wooded property off the US-10. Her family almost held onto the land for 150 years, but sold it several years ago.

John Batchelder traveled from Grand Rapids by stagecoach – a popular mode of transportation at the time. He stayed in a settlement called Summitville, now a ghost town. Batchelder returned to Ohio once his health improved, but later returned in 1870 to farm at the age of 21.

“It was a pretty big two-story house there,” Woods said, pointing to the towering trees beside the freeway. It shows the direction where the house was, decades ago. “It was used for a post office and stuff too.”

Batchelder was not the only settler to find a home there. Union soldiers, returning from the war, came with the promise of 40 to 80 acres of land and timber rights.

“A lot of the soldiers were looking for a new place,” says Micinski. “Many of these soldiers came here and granted a view of the invisible land and began to settle, cleared the land, built a log cabin and began their lives.”

The Car Colony outside of Baldwin was one of the settlements.

“It was started in 1867 by Charles Car and Benjamin Barnett, who are brothers-in-law,” says Micinski. “They came here from Lawrence County, New York, and started farming and clearing the land. This community still exists today.

Immigrants came to the area for their health, just like Batchelder did. The region is rich in lakes, woods and wildlife.

People have also come to the area in search of refuge. Idlewild, known as Black Eden, became a haven for African Americans as early as the 1900s.

“[It] was selling lots to African Americans, which was very unusual at the time, ”says Micinski. “They could buy 25 by 100 feet of land and own land, which was, again, very unusual for an African-American family in the 1900s.”

There has been a great northward migration for the auto industry in Detroit. As more and more people were able to afford vacations and drive cars, the region began to flourish. Ads to buy cabins or vacations could be seen in places like Chicago. Idlewild even did so in the Green Book – a guide to safe places African Americans could eat, sleep, and travel before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Famous names WEB DuBois, Della Reese, Sarah Vaughan and Four Tops have visited several times. Dr Dan Williams is originally from Chicago and was the first surgeon in America to perform open heart surgery.

Baldwin also has a lot of history. It was not always the seat of Lake County.

“We had the great battle of Chase in which the Knights of Baldwin, who thought they should be the county seat, went to steal the county records and returned to Baldwi,” Micinski explains.

Governor Baldwin presented Baldwin with an American flag in 1872, as a thank you for giving the city his name. The flag, displayed for the 150th celebration, measures 13 by 26 feet, hand-sewn with only 37 stars. It was removed when other states were added to the union.

Many of these cities have changed over time. Places like Marlborough, once bustling with industry, are now ghost towns in ruins. Baldwin and Chase remain active, but as before.

“We have to improve,” says Micinski. “Maybe we have jobs available for the people who stay here. But as we said in our sort of banner that we made our logo for the hundred and fifty years, we said that our story is still unfolding.

Some hope that the region can once again become the tourist center it once was.

“We hope the region is making progress in terms of tourism,” says “We are seeing development here in Baldwin and other areas in terms of building new restaurants.”

Here is a list of events for the 150th anniversary:

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