The Archives is pleased to present the opportunity for you to listen to audio files of past Clinton County residents. Volunteers of the Historical Society conducted these interviews beginning in the mid-1970s. Most of the interviewees were born in the late 1800s to early 1900s and have long since passed away. Their recollections are priceless first-hand descriptions of life in Clinton County throughout the 20th Century, and it was important that these interviews be, at some point, converted to an enduring digital format. One of these interviewees, Fordney Cushman (1912-1999), describes with great detail his neighbor, Andrew Kehoe - infamous for committing the Bath school bombing in 1927.

Please let us know if you have any trouble playing the digital audio files.

We were fortunate enough to find the perfect guy to do the conversion to digital.  Without Darryl, the old cassettes would still be sitting in a drawer at the Archives.

Darryl says...

 It was a pleasure to participate in this preservation project - converting aging cassette tapes of interviews with Clinton County seniors to digital audio files that the Clinton County Historical Society is now posting here online for public access.

 Converting audio cassettes to digital format required playing back each cassette in its entirety to re-record to computer. There are about 30 hours of  audio in this collection. The quality of the sound varies greatly. Some of the cassettes sound muffled, noisy or distorted, but this is the nature of the original recordings and not the conversion process. In some cases, the batteries in the portable cassette recorder that was used would weaken during the long interview process, slowing the recorder's tape speed and making the playback of the voices sound increasingly higher in pitch. There was no modification of these recordings because I wanted to maintain the integrity of the original recordings for archival purposes.

 Enjoy browsing these interviews. Those volunteers of the Clinton County Historical Society who had the foresight to begin this project over forty years ago many of whom themselves have passed away deserve our gratitude.

Darryl Schmitz
33 1/3 Street Sound
St. Johns, Michigan

Darryl's contact information:

[email protected]

Person/Topic Audio Description Transcript No.

Ruth (Shellenbarger) ACRE

Length 01:00:51

   Ruth tells of growing up near Grayling where her family knew Chief Shoppenagon and his daughter and son.  Later the family moved to Alabama and eventually moving to Lansing where she met her future husband. Transcript #28


Length 01:11:57

    Oliver gives information on DeWitt Twp and Gunnisonville, school district offices, and the Angell family history. Transcript  #12
William T. ASHLEY
Length 00:49:38

   This audio is from a videotaped interview by the Victor Historical Society from April 21, 1997.  Present during the interview was Warren Malkin and family members.  A digitized copy of the video is available at the CCHS archives.    #V2


Length 01:00:58

    A recording of a presentation by Frank Bishop on September 20, 1984, at a CCHS meeting.  He talks about the Maple River and his career as a conservation officer. Transcript #32
Length 01:00:57

    Elsie gives information on the history of the Ward and Bottum families. Transcript #33
LaVerne BRETZ Length 01:13:04

     Rev. Bretz tells of pastoring the Bath Baptist, DeWitt Community, and Valley Farms Baptist churches and talks about changes he  witnessed in Valley Farms and DeWitt. Transcript #4
Length 00:10:55

    Hila gives a brief history of her life in St. Johns.  Topics include: Rodney B. Wilson class of 1929, Salt Box restaurant,  Bement Library, and founding of the CCHS. Transcript #10

(WRBJ Radio)

Length 00:21:17

    In this 1978 interview on WRBJ radio tells about Eureka saloons, St. Johns politicians, stagecoaches, riding the Interurban,  trains, early roads, the founding of St. Johns, and early St. Johns businesses. Transcript #24
Fordney & Wilma CUSHMAN

Length 01:10:38

   Fordney tells of growing up just east of Gunnisonville.  He tells of his childhood, musical career, and living through the Great Depression.  His wife Wilma tells of surviving the Bath School Disaster.  While Fordney stayed home that morning, she was trapped under rubble in the building. Transcript #11
Florence DEXTER

Length 01:22:01

   In this recording from January 11, 1978, Florence gives a history of her family, growing up in St. Johns, teaching, cottage at Whitehall, her travels in Europe, and a history of the Greenbush Methodist Church. Transcript #5
Ivan & Charlotte ESTES

Length 00:41:28

   Ivan and Charlotte tell of early St. Johns and  give a history of the Estes, Perrin, and Palmer families. Transcript #2
Florence EWER

Length 01:19:32

   Florence is interviewed by her daughter Jeanne Temple.  She tells about growing up in Bingham and Duplain Townships. Transcript #17
Nellie (Spencer) GREEN
Length 00:59:36

   Nellie gives her family history and talks about her teaching career, being a Methodist minister's wife, farming, and Ovid history. Transcript  
Greenbush United
Methodist Church
Length 00:28:28

     Helen Post and Katherine (Post) Ward give a history of the church along with several families that attended the Greenbush church including: Bear, Beebe, Davies, Fleagle, Goddard, Jolly, Marshall, and Warren. Transcript #20
Length 01:01:02

     John tells of growing up in the Elsie area including involvement with the Grange, Masons, and Order of the Eastern Star. Transcript #29
Luman HALL

Length 00:10:13

   Recorded at a 1978 CCHS meeting in honor of the 50th anniversary of Armistice Day.  Luman Hall tells of military training on the M. A. C. (Michigan State University) campus in 1918.  The society sings some WWI era songs led by Alden Livingston and Hila Bross. Transcript #27
Robert E. HICKS Length 01:11:58

   Robert gives a family history and talks about farm life in Greenbush Township, the Rochester Colony, and the Rowell School. Transcript #1
Suzie HOSPODAR Length 00:58:05

   Suzie talks of growing up in Czechoslovakia and immigrating to America.  She tells of her life in America and contrasts it with life in Czechoslovakia. Transcript #31
Amy HUDSON Length 01:00:46

   Amy tells of attending the Richards School and Ovid High School.  Afterwards she studied nursing at Ann Arbor.  She worked as a nurse in Youngstown, Ohio, and then came back to Ovid after she retired. Transcript #19
Interurban Story Length 01:01:27

   A recording of the February 21, 1980, meeting of the CCHS.  Shirley Cobb reads a poetic description of riding on the train.  Ford Ceasar tells the history of the interurban and talks about his book Great Northern Ghost. Transcript #15
Length 00:49:19

   This audio is from a videotaped interview by the Victor Historical Society from Febrary 23, 1996.  Present during the interview were W. Malkin, S. Mann, and R. Lane.  A digitized copy of the video is available at the CCHS archives.    #V1
Raymond LOCHER Length 00:41:03

   In this recording from August 26, 1981, Raymond tells of the DeWitt Cooperative Livestock Association, the Interurban which ran past his farm, and a history of his family. Transcript #13
George & Bess OSGOOD Length 01:00:08

   George and Bess give a history of their families and talk about early St. Johns and her career as a teacher in St. Johns. Transcript #6
Length 00:55:35

   Glenn tells of his family coming to St. Johns and starting the Osgood Funeral Home.  He talks about living in St. Johns at the turn of the 20th century.  He served in WWI and tells of the military using its soldiers for medical experimentation during the flu epidemic of 1918. Transcript #7
Ovid History Length 01:01:50

   In this recording Dr. Bion L. Bates gives a talk on the history of Ovid. Transcript #21
Perrin Marsh Length 01:24:56

   A CCHS meeting from May 19, 1988.  Discussion of Perrin Marsh in Greenbush Township led by Adele (Livingston) Jones.  Map of Perrin Marsh Transcript  

Length 00:30:19

   A partial tape of the January 17, 1980, CCHS presentation on railroad history with Alden Eugene Livingston, Robert P. Walling, Ford Stevens Ceasar, and David Lehman. Transcript #35
Alta REED Length 00:24:22

   Alta gives her family history, and information about Valley Farms, their gas station, her political offices, and roads in DeWitt Township. Transcript #9
J. D. & Erma ROBINSON Length 01:12:45

   J. D. was a St. Johns postmaster and Erma the Eureka postmaster  They give a history of their families and talk about the post offices and history of Eureka. Transcript #8
Thelma RUEHLE Length 01:00:39

   Thelma tells about growing up in Sault Ste. Marie and teaching in Wisconsin and Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.  She traveled around the world and experienced living in the Soo during World War II. After the war she married and moved with her husband to Elsie where she taught at Elsie High School. She talks about several senior trips she went on with Elsie students. Transcript #16
Amy SMITH Length 01:00:39

   Amy (Birmingham) Smith gives her family history and tells of growing up  in the Shepardsville-Ovid area. Transcript #30
Harold SMITH Length 00:44:39

   Harold talks of working for American Express Company and the types of items they shipped from Ovid. Transcript #23
Length 00:46:09

  Transcript #38
Length 00:50:40

    Carmen gives her family history and tells of farm life, early St. Johns, riding the interurban, Perrin House, teaching at Parker & Rheubottom schools, attending Lansing Business University, working for the State, and helping establish Hazel Findlay Manor. Transcript #3
Length 01:01:46

   These interviews took place in 1988 during a museum exhibit on the Clinton County Normal School.  Ida (Davis) Williston graduated from Clinton County Normal in 1924 and taught at the Boak and Rochester Colony schools.  Frank Bishop graduated in 1931 and taught at the Cramer and Marshall schools.  They talk of attending Clinton County Normal and teaching in county one-room schools. Transcript #37
Length 00:06:19

   A very poor quality recording from the Wolcott reunion. Much of the tape is unintelligible and therefore we have made no attempt to create a transcript.   #33
WWI Veterans
Length 01:00:59

    A recording of a program of the Clinton County Historical Society.  Wallace F Watt introduces William F. Peckham on the mandolin while all sing several World War I songs.  Jeanne Temple introduces and interviews the following veterans: Joseph H. Hayner, Glenn E. McNeil, and Elmer B. Swagart.   #36A
WWI Veterans
Length 00:37:32

     Interviews continue of: Elmer B. Swagart, H. A. " Pete" Peterson, Austin Woodward, William Rice, Florence (Acre) Ewer, and Wallace F. Watt.   #36B

If you have photos to complete our interviewees, please send them to the CCHS Archives,
P.O. Box 174, St. Johns, MI or email to: [email protected]


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