The Mason County Quiz, March 7, 2024: Answers

The Mason County Quiz, March 7, 2024: Answers

The Mason County Quiz is presented by Lake Michigan Senior Living, located on the bluffs of Lake Michigan in beautiful Summit Township.

How much do you know about Mason County?

  1. True or false: Ludington was once home to a tractor factory.

True: Ludington was actually home to two tractor factories at one time.

In 1909, lumber baron Justus Stearns and several other Ludington businessmen started the Gile Tractor and Engine Company (also known as the Gile Boat and Engine Company) with the purpose of manufacturing marine and heavy duty stationary engines. His other partners included M.B. Danaher, F.B. Olney and W.L. Mercereau. The engines were the creation of William Gile, of Muskegon, who was considered a pioneer in design and construction of engines. He served as general manager while Stearns was president and Mercereau was secretary and treasurer. Gile also held several of the patents.

While Gile and Stearns only manufactured eight tractors and two crawlers, the company sold its engines to several other companies, including Whitney, the Happy Farmer, Allis Chalmers, Linn, Baker, Minneapolis, and Huber.

Read more here.

In 1914, John Henry Fitch (1847-1916), invented the Fitch Four Drive Tractor. Fitch was born in Alsace-Lorraine, a region of Europe that was claimed by both Germany and France. Fitch settled in Summit Township where he worked at a small sawmill and basket factory that was located on the Meisenheimer property a short distance east of Meisenheimer’s Corners (the corner of what is today South Pere Marquette Highway and Meisenheimer Road). He and his family then moved to a farm in Riverton Township on what is now Blundell Road where he logged timber and planting peach trees.

Fitch saw the new horseless vehicles getting stuck along the roads bordering his farm and began to think about a machine that would use all four wheels as drivers instead of just two while the others were helpless. As a result, Fitch designed a four-wheel drive tractor.

The Four Drive Tractor Company was formed in November 1915 in Ludington. Fitch was the president of the company. In December 1915, the Big Rapids board of trade made an offer to move the company to that city.

World War I caused a delay of materials needed and progress was being made on marketing, demonstrating and selling the tractors. Fitch died suddenly in November 1916. Elbert Jenkins of Big Rapids, who was vice president of the company was elected as the new president after Fitch’s passing.

The company struggled to make a profit during its entire existence as the tractors were selling for just a few hundred dollars above the cost of manufacture. This led to the demise of the company after the stock market crash of 1929.

2. Which Ludington High School principal served the longest amount of time in the current high school building?

a. Larry Sholtey

b. Phil C. Hartman

c. Mark Boon

d. Noble Arent

D. Noble Arent. This is actually a trick question. Noble Arent served as LHS principal from 1965 to 1983, serving for 18 years. However, Phil C. Hartman served as LHS principal for 20 years, from 1945-1965. But, Hartman began his career in the old LHS, located on Foster Street. The current building became a high school in 1958. Larry Scholtey became LHS assistant principal in 1967 and, in 1983, served as principal until 1986. Mark Boon was principal for 15 years, from 1993-2008.

List of LHS principals since 1945:

  • Phil C. Hartman, 1945-1965 (current building opened as high school in 1958)
  • Noble Arent, 1965-1983
  • Larry Sholtey, 1983-1986
  • Tom Beatty, 1986-1991
  • Gregg Mowen, 1991-1993
  • Mark Boon, 1993-2008
  • Dale Horowski, 2008-2016
  • Dan Mesyar, 2016-2023
  • Steve Forsberg, 2023-present

3. What was the original name of Pleiness Lake?

a. Crystal Lake

b. Lost Lake

c. Hawley Lake

d. Pashawsey Lake

B. Lost Lake. Streams originating from the North Branch Pentwater River and Pere Marquette River converge in the middle of Eden Township where a series of lakes make their home: Clancy Lake, Ordway Lake, Eden Lake, Stewart Lake and, the largest, Pleiness Lake, which is 81 acres. The lake was originally called Lost Lake (and still is by many). But, in 1941, a proposal was made to change the name of the lake, since there were over 25 other lakes in Michigan called Lost Lake.

The original proposal was to call it Pashawsey Lake, in recognition of the Pashawsey Indian Reservation that used to occupy Eden and Custer townships in Mason County (along with Crystal and Elbridge townships in Oceana County). The Mason County Board of Supervisors, however, chose to name the lake Pleiness Lake, in honor of John Pleiness, a Mason County pioneer.

Read more here.

Lake Michigan Senior Living, 4895 S. Lakeshore Dr. in Summit Township, offers beautiful views of Lake Michigan, activities and exceptional care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The facility consists of four housing units on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. For more information, call 231-843-9963 or go to

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