Historical Society Winter Speaker Series begins tonight: 3 Murders and a Riot

January 16, 2023

A crowd gathered at the house where the body of Evelyn Sanford was found, on the west side of the Village of Free Soil.

Historical Society Winter Speaker Series begins tonight: 3 Murders and a Riot

LUDINGTON — The Mason County Historical Society will kick-off its 2023 Winter Speaker Series on Monday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. when Rob Alway, editor-in-chief of the Mason County Press, presents Three Murders and a Riot: Mason County in the Great Depression.

The Great Depression years of 1929 to 1941 were a time of turmoil throughout the world. Rural America was no exception. In 1934, the farming community was pushed to the edge and many were seeking protection from losing their livelihoods. Immigrants from Eastern Europe brought with them ideas of communism. One meeting, in Custer, that promoted the cause didn’t go so well.

That same year, the wife of a well-known Crystal Lake couple died from a brutal attack. The main suspect was her common law husband. Two years prior, on a warm summer evening in 1932 a well-known Free Soil teenager disappeared. The hunt for the girl and her killer was swift and so was justice. Nine years later, an Indiana man is found dead in his Long Lake cottage. The main suspect, a widowed and soon-to-be-divorced woman with three minor children.

Rob Alway

Rob Alway will tell the stories of the two murders and the riot that occurred in rural Mason County during the Great Depression. Alway has been a professional journalist and photographer for over 35 years. A 1988 graduate of Mason County Central High School, West Shore Community College and Grand Valley State University, he began his journalism career at the Ludington Daily News in 1989.

Since 2012 he has owned the Mason County Press and Oceana County Press, online news services based in his hometown, Scottville. Since his childhood, the fourth generation Mason County resident has had an interest in local history. He is a member of the Mason County Historical Society Board of Directors, Treasurer of the Scottville Clown Band and Scottville City Commissioner.

The Mason County Research Center is located at 130 E. Ludington Ave. Tickets are free for historical society members and $10 for non-members. Seating is first come, first serve.

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals. Three ways to help us: Venmo: @MasonCountyPress; Paypal: MasonCountyPress@gmail.com; Mail a check to PO BOX 21, Scottville, MI 49454.

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