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Homecoming, 1909-style



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March 17, 2010
Yes, this is the summer of Almont's historical every-five-year Homecoming. It will occur August 13-15. Gloria Howe of the Homecoming Committee has asked if I would do a few stories of former celebrations.

I went to our library in search of information. The librarians were so helpful and brought me two full boxes. I became engrossed, and Bingo! It was closing time and I had only gotten through one box. I shall return.

One most interesting find was a souvenir booklet of the first Home-coming in 1909. Its author was W.O. King and on the cover he tells us it is the "Souvenir for the HOMECOMING ALMONT, Summer 1909." It has a drawing of our once famous Liberty Pole and banner, "Dear to our hearts are the scenes of childhood." The Liberty Pole is a story by itself—another time.

Newcomers to Almont probably are not aware that this has been an ongoing celebration since July 29-August 1, 1909. We old-timers have always looked forward to it with great anticipation. They come from near and far to once again meet on our streets and visit friends from childhood, relatives, and to attend reunions.

But maybe we should back up a ways to Hildamae Bowman's "The History of Almont," her first book of Almont from 1834 to 1970. In it is "A Short History" by Dr. Wm. B. Hamilton. He tells us that the first to cut a road through the wilderness northward near the present Main Street of our village to the pineries beyond were Wm. Allen, his son C.W. Allen and James Thorington. The first purchase of land was by Lydia Chamberlin in 1828, the east one-half of the northeast quarter of section 5, north and west of Almont. The first birth of white settlers was that of Anna Deneen in 1829, daughter of James Deneen.

Our village was first christened with a keg of whisky. A work bee had been organized to open a road one-half mile from the main corners. someone tapped the keg of some of its contents and replaced it with water. When it was time to open the keg, the expected effects were not felt and so they called the tiny settlement Tapshire.

Almont Township was organized under the name of Mia in 1834. The name was suggested by Elisha Webster in honor of his daughter. The township name was soon changed to Bristol in 1834 in honor of Oliver Bristol, the first supervisor. The village was called Newburg. Poet Thompson from the Scotch Settlement east of town suggested the name Almont in honor of Mexican General Almonte. In 1836 he accompanied General Santa Anna to Texas and aided him at the Alamo. Both were captured at San Jacinto. Almonte was Secretary of the Mexican-American War. Four men from Almont went to fight in the Mexican War of 1846. The Township of Bristol and the Village of Newburg were both changed to Almont in 1846.

Poet Thompson gave a clock to the village and it was installed in the belfry of the Congregational Church in 1878. Poet Thompson is buried in the Hough (Almont) Cemetery, though I noticed the spelling on the gravestone is Thomson.

I'll see what I can dig up of interest for next time to further the '[res—sST-of-the-story.'

—Country Cousin

Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.
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