This is Ingham county’s day at the county seat town, and the people of the county have gathered at Mason in considerable numbers to attend the ceremonies incidental to formally dedicating the new court house. About 250 citizens went down from Lansing this morning, and this afternoon another large delegation left for Mason.
In honor of the day and its guests, the city is resplendent with flags and bunting, the merchants having out-done themselves to decorate their stores and the courthouse. This noon about 900 people were each given a sandwich and a cup of coffee. All day the visitors have wandered in droves through the new building and all have expressed admiration for it.
The parade was carried out as planned, at 10 o’clock this forenoon, with Col. Fred Shubel, Major J. C. Snook and Major L. H. Ives at the head of the procession, which marched through the principal streets of the city.
This afternoon, at 1 o’clock the long program of speeches and exercises was taken up in the court room. After the invocation by Rev. J. A. Schaad, of Lansing, Rev. N. F. Jenkins, of Mason read the scripture lesson and then Mayor Root, on behalf of the city, extended a cordial welcome to those present. Governor Warner, who was the next speaker, expressed hearty admiration for the building and mentioned the pleasure it gave to him to be present. The other speeches are being presented according to the program.
Hon. Lawton T. Hemans delivered the principal address of the afternoon. He was eloquent and his address was received with every evidence of appreciation.
“There is pleasure and satisfaction in the completion of a good work,” he said, “but thrice pleasurable and satisfying is the completion of a work that combines utility with the elements of symmetry and architectural beauty and which in its completeness bespeaks a lesson and a meaning.
“Within these walls the skill of the artisan may be visible for ages yet to come, but if the children of the future shall see in it nothing more than spacious halls and an imposing exterior then shall more than half its cost have been wasted. This edifice is more than rooms and apartments where the treasured records of the people find safe deposit and public servants do official bidding. It is more than trusses of iron, beams of wood, and carven stone; it is a monument to the genius of our people; representative of their past; their progress, their patriotism and their intelligence.”
The speaker alluded to some facts concerning the history of Ingham county, stating that it was in 1825 that the first settlement was made in this county and in 1829 that the county was given a name by the territorial legislature. “If,” he said “an illustrious name has power to stimulate those who live under it to emulate the virtue of its giver, then it was rare fortune, which gave us the name we honor in perpetuating. Samuel D. Ingham of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, had reached his fiftieth year when his name was given to this county. He was a man of broad culture, self acquired, the heir to a name already honored in his state. On his own merit he had already won distinction in his native state, and as a member for many terms in the federal congress his commanding ability had reached national recognition, and in the year of the county’s formation he had entered, to serve with distinction, in the cabinet of Andrew Jackson, as secretary of the treasury. To the end of a long life, which did not close until the year 1860, he exemplified to a high degree, those traits of character which have ever made for the honor individuals and the greatness of states.”
Following the history of the county, Mr. Hemans said that in November 1829, it, with Jackson county, was made a part of the township of Dexter and attached to Washtenaw for judicial purposes. Later its territory was attached to Jackson, and not until June 1838, did it become an organized county. In 1839 eleven townships were organized. Alaiedon comprising the four northwest townships and included the location of Lansing. In 1839, Hon. William A. Fletcher, chief justice of the supreme court, came here from Detroit on horseback and organized the judiciary of Ingham county, a task in which he was assisted by Amos E. Steele of Onondaga, father of the present sheriff, and others.
“Not until 1848,” said Mr. Hemans, “had the county found need of that adjunct of civilization known as a county jail. In this year the first one was constructed. Whether there was any connection between this fact and the location of the state capital in the county the year previous is perhaps a question too delicate to be discussed.
“It was at the April election of 1856 that the voters of Ingham county voted the appropriation for the building of what is familiarly known to us all as “The Old Court House” endeared to most of the members of the Ingham bar with many a memory and happy association. While the date of its erection is comparatively recent, still in that day we could claim no more than fifteen thousand of population and less than three millions in assessed valuation, and of the funds required for the building of this twelve thousand dollar structure the borrowed portion was obtainable in New York where a three thousand dollar ten per cent bond was of necessity exchanged for twenty-eight hundred dollars in cash. The old building saw the making of Ingham county. For forty-two years it was the center to which our people came in their civic relations; here people from the more distant townships met, matured and kept alive warm friendships that were a marked characteristic of the older days; within it young men came to the bar and by patient judges were enabled to acquire the experience and develop abilities, which in instanced have given to Ingham county names high in the service of the state and nation. Time considered, the old court house stood to witness the most far reaching social and industrial changes that have taken place in the history of the world. It witnessed the inception and growth within county limits of great state institutions bestowing the blessing of a liberal and Christian civilization upon the unfortunate. It saw the great State Agricultural college and the schools less pretentious come into existence and under a wise state policy enabled to extend their influence to the uttermost parts of the earth. Its brief life went back to the days when Lansing, the capital of the state, was little more than a rude clearing, its population not above the limits of a country village, reached only by the stage coach lines that crossed its bounds from the south to the east. It endured to see it a beautiful city, filled with every requirement made necessary by modern life, its thousands of population comfortably housed and sustained by the multiplicity as fits industries, an honor to the state whose capital it has proven worthy to be. The old court house saw the cabin of the pioneer give way to the modern home, whose owner owned the soil upon which he bestowed his effort, the fullest realization of free government.”
“The past of Ingham county teaches a lesson that can not be too often reiterated, a story that can not be too often told, it is the great truth that the rewards of successes of life are the fruits of homely virtues; that temperance, industry and frugality make for collective as well as individual well being; that the strength of counties and of states rest upon the integrity of their citizenship and the jealousy with which they resent encroachments upon their honored right and institutions. If this beautiful building shall stand as a fitting monument for the future we shall have a county and a people projected and transmitted the virtues born of industry and want and not because upon the fruits thereof our children are content to live in luxury and ease. The lesson of this occasion is then individual as well as public in it application. To each and all there comes the injunction that to the altar of civic need we bring the best fruits of our wisdom and our conscience. It enjoins upon every individual that amid new and changing conditions, both social and industrial, we hold to those great basic principles that have brought us the glory of our past. My friend and fellow citizen, let us not seek the wealth that enervates, or the power that tempts to wrong. Let us so live and learn that in the building of character both individual and public, each achievement shall only be an incentive to still further effort; then will our monuments of the future be as have been those of the past – stepping stones from which the children of the future may look to the brighter fields that lie beyond.”