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A glimpse into the past: Author's book shows local heritage
By Susan Kalee   - 02/06/2009

Central Michigan Life

Maxine Klumpp Kent's roots run deep in Isabella County.

The family of the associate vice president for Human Resources at Central Michigan University saturates the area, and the Klumpp family farm once occupied the space where Kewadin Village apartments are located on West Campus Drive.

Kent, who grew up on that farm as a young girl, was one of the attendees at the historical presentation by Jack R. Westbrook on Wednesday night in the Charles V. Park Library.

Westbrook, author of the book, "Images of America: Isabella County 1859-2009," gave a presentation previewing the Isabella County Founder's Day Celebration on Feb. 11.

"It is fascinating to find out about all the history that is right in your backyard," said Kent, who was born and raised in the Mount Pleasant area. Her great-grandfather settled in the area in 1899.

The book is a compilation of photographs and historical text provided by residents of the county.

Kent's father, Alfred Klumpp, appears in the Westbrook's book as an 8-year-old in front of his one-room school house in a class photo.

"Schools were separated by two miles, which was a good walk for children from the farm," Westbrook said.

The pictures provide a glimpse into the daily lives, environmental surroundings and popular pursuits of the day. Some show patient locals fishing the Chippewa River. Others show men who played on sports teams taking pride in being photographed at the local picture studio.

"Isabella County exhibits a rich cultural meld," Westbrook said.

The Mid-Michigan region was once part of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's winter hunting grounds and was referred to as "Ojibiway besse," or, the 'place of the Chippewa.'

American Indians may have traveled around this area for as many as 10,000 years, the Isabella County Web site reports.

Before the county was officially recognized by the state on Feb. 12, 1859, land was mostly owned by African Americans who traveled north by the Underground Railroad during the time of slavery.

According to the Web site, the county was once one of the most significant pine and hardwood areas in the Great Lakes Region.

"Westbrook has had a lot of fun doing this," said Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library. "He's a regular visitor to the library because we're a good source for him."

The Founder's Day Celebration on Feb. 11 will be hosted at the Isabella County Building, 200 N. Main St. For a complete calendar of events, visit isabellacounty.org.




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