History: Ludington street namesakes tell history of town.

February 19, 2023

History: Ludington street namesakes tell history of town.

This year marks the City of Ludington’s 150th anniversary, known as a sesquicentennial. Lots of celebrations are being planned. Throughout the year, MCP, in partnership with the Mason County Historical Society, will be featuring stories about Ludington’s past. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

On March 22, 1873, Ludington was established as a city. The names of many of those people who were influential in making that happen still exist in the town today, through its streets. The photograph posted on top of this story shows some of those people who influenced the city’s founder, James Ludington, into naming particular streets in their honor. This photograph was taken in 1868 when Capt. Eber B. Ward signed an agreement that made Ludington the western terminus for his Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad. 

Standing from left are Frederick J. and Emily Dowland, Patrick M. Danaher, George and Mary Clayton, David Melendy, Patrick Danaher, Col. John Mason Loomis, and James Ludington. Seated, from left, are Ludington’s sister, Delos Louis and Mary Filer, holding daughter Grace, Milton Ward, Eber Brock Ward, and another of Ludington’s sisters. His sisters were Emily, Lavinia, Delia, and Amelia, and he named a street after each of them. Eventually Amelia Street was renamed Washington Avenue. 

Here are the stories of some of those namesakes who appeared in the photograph: 

Frederick Dowland

Frederick J. Dowland was born on Oct. 8, 1837 in Carbonear, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, the son of Samuel (1806-1881) and Susanna Coish (1817-1908) Dowland. He arrived in New York on June 12, 1848, according to immigration records. Census records show him living in Trenton, Washington County, Wisconsin in 1850 and 1860. He was married to Emily Catalina Mitchell (1841-1934) and they had four children: Adaline (1868-1936), William (1872-1947), Clarence (1873-1919) and Edith (1877-1955). 

Dowland was a Civil War veteran who fought on the side of the Union in Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. 

In 1866, the Dowlands moved to Ludington and F.J. became employed by James Ludington as assistant bookkeeper and later head bookkeeper two years later. Dowland became head bookkeeper of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company when it was founded by James Ludington in 1869. He was elected Mason County treasurer in 1878 and reelected to a second term. He was elected Ludington mayor in 1895. At that time, Ludington’s charter required mayors be elected every year. Dowland sought re-election for a second term and won. In 1897, he sought a third term and was defeated by App Smith, another Civil War veteran (who fought for the Confederacy) and local newspaper publisher. Dowland was elected Ludington city treasurer in 1902 and then in 1904 was elected as Mason County treasurer again. He was re-elected in 1906. Dowland died on Jan. 3, 1909, at the age of 71, in Ludington.

Patrick Danaher

David Melendy and Patrick Danaher opened the second lumber mill along Pere Marquette Lake. They formed a partnership in 1869 and in June 1870 opened their mill on Adams Street. 

Danaher was born in Ireland in 1822 and came to what is now Ludington in 1863 when he was 41-years-old. At that time, there was just one sawmill along Pere Marquette Lake, a boarding house, and a few shanties. 

Danaher became a contractor in connection with the large lumbering and mercantile business of James Ludington. 

The low price of lumber and the losses in logging forced the company into bankruptcy in July 1877. When the creditors were paid in 1881, the company was reorganized and Patrick Danaher was named president with James E. Danaher becoming vice president, George Stray, secretary and James Loomis, treasurer. The company disbanded in 1902 with the offices moved to Detroit. 

Delos Filer

Delos Filer was born on Sept. 27, 1817 in Paines Hollow, Herkimer County, N.Y., the son of Alanson (1774-1823) and Polly (Dodge, 1784-1859) Filer. On Aug. 19, 1838, he married Sally Amanda Paine (1817-1839) in Paines Hollow. Their daughter, Sarah Amanda Filer, was born on May 20, 1839. Nine days later, Sally died, most likely from complications of childbirth. 

On March 8, 1840, Delos married Juliette Golden (1816-1864). They had four children: Elihu Golden Filer (1840-1921), Delos Warren Filer (1843-1899), Mary Jane Filer (1850-1942) and Frank Filer (1854-1932). 

In 1852, the Filers moved to Racine, Wisconsin, where Delos worked as a bookkeeper. The family then moved to Manistee where Delos began a lumber business. 

Juliette died on Oct. 22, 1864. On Jan. 23, 1866, Delos married Mary Melissa Pierce (1844-1911). They had one daughter, Grace Mary Filer (1866-1912). 

Delos soon opened a mill in the town that was to be known as Ludington. In 1869 he became president of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company, a position he held until his death on July 28, 1879. Delos is buried in Milwaukee. 

Delos served as Ludington’s third mayor in 1876. 

His son, Frank, was also influential in the local lumber industry. Frank was born in Manistee and became one of the owner of the Cartier-Filer mill. He acquired significant business interests upon the death of his father. 

Frank married Myrtle Louise Carter (1859-1934) on Nov. 7, 1883. They had one child, daughter Golden M. Filer born on March 26, 1887. By 1910, the Filers had moved to Detroit. Frank died on March 15, 1932 and is buried in the Detroit area.  

Read more about The Beginning of the City of Ludington and Mason County here.

Read more about James Ludington here.

Read more about the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad here.


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