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  • Jim Townsend

Historical Society to Hold Annual Cemetery Walk on Sunday, October 22nd

The Portland Area Historical Society will offer its 6th Annual Cemetery Walk on Sunday, October 22nd, in the Portland Cemetery.

The walk will include volunteers portraying historic local figures while dressed in clothing from the period. According to the organizations Facebook event, this year’s cast will include:

  • Portland's first female elected official.

  • A disgruntled bride who turned her "misfortune" into fortune!

  • Sara Rice, a descendant of the first white child born in Portland and co-owner of the Sylvan Theater on Maple Street.

  • Josiah Dilley, who owned and operated a stave manufacturing company and contributed generously to the building of Portland railroads and churches.

  • Sheriff Jay Clark tell of the escapades of the local hooligans.

Cider, donuts, and merchandise will be available. The event is free but donations are welcome.

According to board president, Margaret Sheffer, “The society was founded in 1969 under the leadership of Betty Anesi by members of the Portland Centennial Celebration Committee. Our goal or mission is to preserve and promote the history of Portland and its surrounding area.”

The organization is a 501c3 non-profit organization, and is currently doing a fundraiser using Facebook. According to board member Shelley Perry, “We have raised $165.00 of our Fall Fundraising Campaign goal of $400.00. We are 36% of our way there!! These funds are used to educate the community in Portland's rich history. We print area maps and resources, offer a Cemetery Walk each fall, and provide educational programming/activities FREE on a monthly basis.” The link to the fundraiser can be found HERE.

Sheffer says the funds are needed, “to continue printing our newsletter, putting up displays and putting on interesting programs with guest speakers. We would also like to start laying the groundwork for someday having a Portland museum. At this time, people can donate through our Facebook page. I believe this will be available for the next 3 months. We also accept donations at our meetings and events or via mail.” Donations by check can be mailed to the PAHS in care of the Portland District Library, 334 Kent Street, Portland, MI 48875.

If you are interested in joining the society, Sheffer says, “Membership is open to anyone. We have individual and family and life time memberships available. We usually meet the 4th Tuesday of the month at the Senior Service Building, 144 Kent Street at 6:30. We don't meet in July or December.”

Sheffer added, “We are also a member of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network which is comprised of 33 small museums and historical societies in Barry, Eaton, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties. I attend their monthly meetings at which we network and discuss common problems. They also have a Facebook page. This time, for the first time in many years, we participated in the annual Spring Into the Past event for this group by opening a two day mini-museum where we highlighted fashions through the century. The group prints an annual booklet which I make available at our meetings and other events and at local businesses.“

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