ISHPEMING - A presentation on Norwegian influence on the early history of Ishpeming - including a talk on Frederick Braastad - will be included during this evening's annual meeting of the Ishpeming Area Historical Society.
Braastad was a penniless Norwegian who emigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a prominent businessman and the mayor of Ishpeming. Braastad was a very influential person in Ishpeming, but many people don't know who he was, said Paddy Palomaki, Ishpeming Area Historical Society member.
Palomaki lives in the Braastad house and said he found a photograph of Braastad with his family on a float in the Fourth of July parade in 1913.
The Braastad family float is shown in the 1913 Fourth of July parade. The Braastad family won first prize that year. Information about prominent Ishpeming businessman Fredrick Braastad will be included in a presentation this evening on the Norwegian influence in Ishpeming. (Paddy Palomaki photo)
"I started researching him after I found that picture," Palomaki said. "Next thing you know it became an obsessive compulsive thing."
According to Palomaki, Braastad was one of the first members of the National Ski Hall of Fame board and owned many businesses in the area, including two mines.
"I found he had such a big influence on Ishpeming, yet very little is known about him and very few people knew who he was," Palomaki said.
Along with his presentation on Braastad, Palomaki said he is going to talk about about the Norwegian influence on the area.
"Most people don't realize this, but at one point a majority of the town was Norwegian," Palomaki said.
The historical society focuses on the clubs, organizations and pastimes of everyday citizens, society President Sue Boback said.
"We have three museums in our town, the ski hall of fame, the mine museum and the alumni museum, so we work really hard to not focus on them but (rather on) everyday people and what they did," Boback said.
The annual meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Cliff's Shaft Mine Museum on Euclid Street in Ishpeming. It is free of charge and open to the public.
"We invite people to become involved with the society if they have an interest in local history or just have a family story they want to tell," Boback said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.