MC History Spotlight: The Schultes of Scottville.
MC History Spotlight is a weekly history column brought to you by Ludington Woods Living and Memory Care. Each week this column will feature a story from our county’s past.
By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
The history of Scottville would not be complete without writing about the Schulte family, a pioneer family whose legacy includes being part of the beginnings of the Scottville Clown Band and the Scottville Fire Department. The family has also played a significant role in education, locally and elsewhere.
Herman Schulte, the son of German immigrants, came to Sweetland (now Scottville) in the early 1870s from Milwaukee. In 1875, he married Frances Weller of Filer City. They had four children, Mathilda, William, Bertram, and Edith. Herman built the first frame house in the settlement. The house was built on what is now South Main Street, but was moved to its current location of 107 E. State St.
Their son, Bertram “Bert” Adolph Schulte chose to stay in Scottville and operated a barber shop on Main Street that served four generations. He was born on October 16, 1879 and had the distinction of being the first “white” male born in what was then known as Sweetland (now Scottville).
Herman died on May 2, 1889 at the age of 38 when Bert was 9-years-old. Frances died in 1921. Herman and Frances are buried in Towns Cemetery located on Johnson Road in Amber Township.
While his other siblings moved away, Bert remained in Mason County all his life. On June 15, 1905 he married Lillian Claire of Ludington. Together, they had six children: Muriel (Gable, 1906-1982), Bertelle (Dodge, 1909-1990), Bertram (1916-1940), Raymond, (1918-2007), and James (1926-1998).
Bert was a founding member of the Scottville Fire Department in 1898 and served as the department’s assistant chief for 50 years, retiring at the age of 70. He was also an avid baseball fan.
But, his greatest interest, according to his daughters’ biography on the family in the Mason County Historical Society’s 1980 history book, was his involvement what was to become the Scottville Clown Band, which he helped organize in 1903. At that time the members dressed up as hobos and made their first appearance when the town celebrated its first paved sidewalks. In 1935, the band became known as the Merchants’ Band. It disbanded during the World War II and in 1947, Bert’s son, Ray, re-organized the group and called it the Scottville Clown Band. Both Ray and his brother, Jim, were active members of the band until they each passed.
Bert died on Nov. 11, 1951 at the age of 72. Lillian died in 1955 at the age of 69. They are buried at Brookside Cemetery in Scottville.
Ray purchased Mack’s Clothing Store in 1957 from George Mack, and became partners with Charles Thompson, forming Schulte & Thompson Clothing Store, located at 132 S. Main St.
The Schulte family continues to keep its roots in Mason County and has had a major impact on the lives of many, especially in education. Frances, Jim’s wife, was a teacher at Mason County Central for many years. Several of their children went into education. Their son, Jim, spent 28 years at Central Michigan University as a football coach, coaching defense and later serving as assistant coach. In 2003 he became the head coach and co-athletic director of Grand Rapids Community College. He has since retired back to Mason County and serves as president of the Mason County Central Board of Education.
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