Marion museum recalls pioneer life at Christopher Clark Day

MARION — Christopher Clark himself would have felt right at home Saturday afternoon at the Marion Area Historical Museum as more than 85 area residents attended a special event in honor of the pioneering lumberman and mill owner who founded the village 130 years ago.

Visitors to the ninth annual celebration were greeted by a glimpse of daily life that has all but disappeared, a turn-of-the-century atmosphere recreated by historical society volunteers to take us back in time.

Mingling with present day history lovers from Marion and surrounding areas, Clark and his wife Mary would have blended into the nostalgic portrayal of a bygone era as they chatted with ladies in period costumes, listened to the familiar whir of the spinning wheel, admired deft hands stitching fine embroidery and inhaled the tempting aroma of homegrown vegetables and meat simmering over an open fire.

He-man fare

Jim Baughan is the Christopher Clark Day master chef. For the last nine years, using his own recipe, Baughan has prepared the savory stew that is a tradition of the event. The stick-to-your-ribs dish, which combines ham, potatoes, carrots, onions, rutabagas, cabbage and turnips seasoned to perfection, was served with homemade bread and a selection of cookies.

Music, so much a part of social gatherings of the past, was a popular feature of Saturday’s festivities. Seven members of the Pine River Kitchen Band performed a varied repertoire of ballads and toe-tapping polkas and marches to entertain the crowd as they lunched and visited with friends.

Talented crafters

Well-fed visitors, sustained by the hearty meal, enjoyed a variety of craft exhibits and demonstrations.

Spinning fiber was part of everyday life in Clark’s era and onlookers watched with interest as Ann Davenport Speer spun wool harvested from her own sheep into a soft, lustrous yarn.

A baby blanket decorated with a quaint pattern reminiscent of those crafted lovingly by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers revealed the talented handiwork of Barbara Tower who demonstrated the delicate art of cross-stitching.

A colorful collection of homemade aprons for men, women and children in vintage patterns was displayed by Ruth Edgcombe who also makes old-fashioned clothing.

“Scentimental Journey” is the name of Della Helton’s fragrant display of herbal items and collectibles. “I call them treasures of the past,” she said, “and I specialize in herbal teas and herbal soaps that use essential oils and healing properties from plants.”

Attracting attention also was the distinctive artwork of Norman Robinson who showed examples of his unique paintings on hand saws.

Out and about

A red bud tree planted on the museum grounds was dedicated to the memory of Emily Ida Kibby who was curator of the museum when it opened.

Kibby’s family donated the tree as a tribute to her life and the role she played in the formation of the museum. “Emily Ida had a true passion for the museum and we wanted to dedicate the tree today on Christopher Clark Day to join in this celebration with our family, and also present a plaque which will be on display in the museum,” said Judy Grandy.

Visitors admired the new tree and strolled through the museum grounds, stepping into the quaint interior of the historic log cabin and examining antique tools in the barn.

Ed Kirkby brought back memories of the early days of the automobile as he offered rides in his 1927 Model T Ford roadster pickup.

“I’m very pleased that we had a good turnout,” said Donna Geyer, event coordinator. “I appreciate all the support we had to put on the event and am glad we could dedicate the tree in Emily Ida’s memory on our special Christopher Clark Day.”

“I like to come to Christopher Clark Day,” said Marion resident Jack Johnston. “It’s a typical small town get-together. Once a year It’s good to think back about what it took for the pioneers to create the village we live in today.”

If you missed Saturday’s celebration, keep in mind that it’s an annual event, held each September.

Join your friends and neighbors at the museum next year for all the fun, food, exhibits and entertainment. A gift to the community from the Marion Area Historical Society, Christopher Clark Day is an enjoyable way to take a look back at our origins and honor our founders.

The museum is at 505 S. Mill St. (M-66), Marion. For further information about the Marion Area Historical Society, contact Rita Emmons, president, 231-743-6448.