Historically speaking

City of Ishpeming was busy location in summer of 1914

ISHPEMING — It was a busy summer in Ishpeming in 1914. The firemen’s tournament was just one of several conventions, tournaments and gatherings.

The Sons of St. George had their annual convention in Ishpeming in mid-July, before the gathering of the firemen.

The Sons of St George was an ethnic fraternal benefit society, one of many in Ishpeming at that time. It was only for the English, applicants had to be first, second or third generation Englishmen to be admitted to the society. It provided sick and funeral benefits for its members among other benefits. In the 1916-17 Polk directory, the society met every Thursday at Andrew’s Hall, 209 E. Division St. The Daughters of St. George met the first and third Mondays of each month at Mildon Hall on Main St.

“George D. Fern & Co., who have had a crew of men employed for a week past decorating the principal streets of the city, practically completed their work yesterday. The decorations are satisfactory to the members of the local committees as well as to the businessmen. More than 2,000 incandescent electric lights are used in the display and several hundred flags, banners and pennants. The electric pieces will add considerably to the general appearance of the decorations.” (Mining Journal, July 14, 1914)

While it may have seemed a bit frivolous to hire a decorator for the streets, it was important for the city to look nice. Ishpeming was on display during the festivities and having the city look good might entice other groups to have their peninsula or statewide doings in Ishpeming.

“B.E. Newman and his brother-in-law, Leslie Dietz, of Cameron dam fame, arrived in the city yesterday and they will spend the week here taking moving pictures of the Sons of St. George celebration, mining and street scenes. Mr. Newman has been engaged in this work for several years.” (Mining Journal, July 14, 1914) Newman would also film the Firemen’s Tournament in August.

“The Sons of St. George society’s annual convention and reunion now being held here promises to be the most enjoyable the organization has ever attended. All records for attendance at Sons’ celebrations will also be broken, as the members of Sir Humphrey Davey lodge, under whose auspices the program is being held, have provided more entertainment than usual.

The free acts which have been performing all week on platforms in the business part of the city are giving excellent satisfaction. The Tyrone Trio, the acrobats who perform on the platform in the city square, are exceptionally clever and they do some sensational bar work. Jack and Jessie Gibson, who perform on the platform near the city hall, have also won favor and Iola Cortello’s dogs, performing near the Braastad block are attracting large audiences.” (Mining Journal, July 16, 1914)

“The Cornish wrestling tournament, which for many years past has been regarded as the leading feature of the Sons’ celebration outside of the grand parade, will open this evening at Braastad’s vacant lot, corner Cleveland avenue and Second street. Men have been employed there all week erecting seats, and special lights will be put in so that the wrestling can be seen to good advantage in the evening.” (Mining Journal, July 16, 1914)

This was a state convention, although probably only the Upper Peninsula, with its heavy reliance on English mining employees, including mining captains, had the numbers to be able to have a lodge. About 66 delegates were in attendance.

“None of the amendments to the constitution and bylaws proposed at this year’s meeting were adopted. Some were defeated and others were referred to the committees for further consideration, with instructions to report at the next annual session.

An amendment providing for the allowance of a uniform sum of $100 ($3,084 today) for funeral benefits, to be paid by the grand lodge, instead of by the subordinate lodges was referred to a committee. Under the present plan each subordinate lodge pays its own funeral benefits. Some pay $75, some $100 and others $125. Many of the members are of the opinion that it will be more satisfactory to have the funeral benefits paid by the grand lodge, with each subordinate lodge contributing at a per capita rate.

An amendment providing a new plan of electing the officers of the grand lodge was defeated. Under the present plan, which has been in vogue ever since the grand lodge was incorporated, officers are elected by a vote of the past presidents of the subordinate lodges at the last meeting of the various branched in May.” (Mining Journal, July 18, 1914)

“By uniting their voting strength, the Trimountain and Houghton delegations to the Sons of St. George reunion last evening succeeded in obtaining for Houghton the 1915 convention of the order, defeating Calumet for the honor. The vote was 29 to 22. Trimountain will help Houghton entertain the visitors next year.

The reunion will culminate today with the annual parade and extensive amusement program. There will be no work at any of the mines in either Ishpeming or Negaunee, and it is expected that thousands of visitors will spend the day here. Already there are several hundred visitors here. The copper country special, which will leave Calumet this morning at 8:30 o’clock, will arrive at 12:30, and the parade, one of the principal features of the celebration, will take place at 1:30 o’clock.

The Sons have been favored with exceptionally fine weather all week and thousands of Ishpeming people, as well as the visitors, have enjoyed the free shows and other attractions. The business streets have been so crowded every evening during the week that it has be necessary to prohibit automobile traffic.” (Mining Journal, July 18, 1914)

One of the final events of the convention was the parade, held on Saturday the 18th of July.

“The parade will form on East Cleveland avenue and will move from there to First street; North on Frist street to Ely street; west on Ely street to Main, south on Main to Division, east on Division to Second and north on Second to Braastad’s new hall.” (Mining Journal, July 17, 1914) This route ran through some of the residential areas and the hills on Ely and Main streets must have made for some difficulties. There were 16 lodges in the procession and eight bands although its not clear whether some of the lodges had bands as part of their lodge as for the most part, the bands were not named. There was a musicale on the evening of the 18th held at the Ishpeming theater.

“The annual reunion of the Sons of St. George societies of Michigan, which terminated Saturday evening in Ishpeming, is declared to have been one of the most successful ever held by the Sons in the state. The amusements extended over an entire week, a decided departure from former reunions of the society. The engaging of vaudeville acts to give free exhibitions all week on the streets proved a popular feature.

The city presented a gay and attractive appearance. With the streets brilliantly illuminated, the buildings tastefully decorated, and the weather all that could be desired, the success of the reunion was assured. A Detroit man who spent the week in Ishpeming remarked Saturday night that he had never seen such an orderly celebration.

Everybody seemed good natured and the absence of rowdyism and other objectionable features was noticeable.” (Mining Journal, July 20, 1914)


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