Local History, Family History & Genealogy Resources
The Arenac County Historical Museum (ACHS) houses a varied collection of local historical and genealogical artifacts and records. In the fall of 2020, the museum began a new cataloging project. As parts of this project are completed, information on these pages will be updated.
Most of the early exhibits showcase circa 1883 life in the area. Many of the tools used for the church building which is now the museum are on exhibit along with other historical church documents and artifacts donated by its past members. Some of the life-as-it-once-was displays are a rural schoolroom, bedroom and parlor settings, a pioneer kitchen, a barber and apothecary shop, country store items, military items and vintage apparel. A commercial fishing exhibit features a 1910 IHC stationary engine, nets and fishing equipment. The State’s highest railroad bridge is replicated as a scale model diorama.
At least some part of all the townships and populated areas are represented in the archives, as well as some items relating to settlements no longer existing. The history books on our shelves cover Michigan and Arenac County and its towns. All major genealogical source categories are represented but they may not be present for all locales. The archives hold memoirs, scrapbooks, maps, official documents and ledgers and records, loose papers, photos, family records and more. The archives list page is organized by overarching topic–county, township, city/village or family. Whenever possible, we’ve linked the digital copy of our index to the associated document entry or description.
The index overview page is written with “fast results” in mind. The major category list follows those most recognizable to history and genealogy researchers. Only a portion of our archives is indexed; as with most repositories, indexing is an ongoing project but what we do have is offered online. Whenever possible, we’ve linked the digital copy of our index to the associated document entry or description.
We understand that digital collections often present a challenge to users because they can be categorized is so many ways. We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible to find what you want. Each location has up to four separate types of images: documents, news clippings, photos and postcards. Each set of images has a companion “Captions/Descriptions” PDF providing detailed explanations of the photos, including identified individuals’ names. The Digital Collection overview page has five groupings:
- Arenac County items may (1) cover a general or unspecified locale (like snowplowing) or they (2) highlight single-subject content of cultural or social interest (like a traveling dance instructor).
- Township categories present images known to have occurred in the township but with no specific location identified.
- City/Village contain images that we can pinpoint to that locale either by person, place, thing or event.
- Glass negatives of the Point Lookout area by turn of the 19th century photographer Bruce VanHorn.
- Unidentified photos that we’d like help with.
Ye Olde Courthouse Masonic Hall Museum is currently our only building restoration project. This 1890s courthouse was built to replace Arenac County’s first courthouse that burned. After the county seat moved to Standish, the courthouse served various purposes for the Omer community. The structure is a Michigan Historic Site and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Ye Old Courthouse is actually four museums in one, housing memorabilia and documents for the courthouse, the North East Michigan (NEM) Baseball League, the Omer Masonic Hall and the now defunct Arenac Eastern School District. Now an active part of the community, the courthouse serves as venue for presentations, annual events, bake and holiday sales. Winter is welcomed in with an annual handmade wreath and greenery sale. Its welcoming charm creates the perfect backdrop for weddings, receptions and reunions.
The bookstore page lists ACHS and local author publications under the primary locale covered, whether the county, a township, a city/village or a school. We realize this may be inconvenient but we do not currently offer online ordering. Our ACHS Newsletter is offered free online.