Mason County Historical Society Preserving a Large Collection of World War II Era Letters and Journals

The Mason County Historical Society recently got an amazing collection of world war two era letters.

In 2019 a man was at an estate sale in Ludington. He came across a box that was going to be thrown out. Inside the box were 500 letters, 17 journals and some pictures dating back to 1926.

The Mason County Historical Society has spent the last couple of years preserving the artifacts.

“We were shocked because it was such a large collection of letters, and it was just a profound story,” Rebecca Berringer, Executive Director for the Mason County Historical Society.

The letters tell the story of Gertrude Folkman.

“She must have been very charismatic. She was small. She seems like she was a phenomenal dancer,” said Deb Delzoppo, a Volunteer for the Mason County Historical Society.

And Harold Snyder, who was in World War II. The couple was on and off again, lovers.

“Harold was quite a bit older than Gertrude. He asked her to marry him at least six times, and she turned him down every time,” said Delzoppo.

The letters later reveal Folkman finally agreed to marriage once Snyder returned home from war.

“On February 26th, he wrote, I’ve been wishing to take I had taken my discharge. I’ve been told that I can be sent home at once. The only reason I stayed in the Army was because I thought I was going to get my first break and go to school. And I did not get to do that is more than I can understand,” said Delzopp. “In April 6th, he said, We are in rough country. Guess a fellow has to have faith and lots of it. With this war on.”

But Snyder never did return to Ludington.

“He was an engineer and the plane he was on went out and dropped supplies to 20 other servicemen who were stranded somewhere and on the way back, they were going through a pass in Burma and hit bad weather, evidently. The plane went down, was never found,” said Delzoppo.

Gertrude stuck to her word and never did marry anyone.

“I’d like to think her love for him was a reason she held true to that,” said Berringer.

The letters and journals also tell what Ludington was like back then.

“In March of 1942, Ludington experienced a blackout command. So lights had to be off in your house, your windows had to have the shades down,” said Delzoppo. And you think that little Ludington, I wouldn’t think of that happening here.”

“Folkman talks about going to a different dance hall every weekend because that’s what the communities did,” said Berringer.

All artifacts will now be preserved for generations to come

“We save legacies so that those who come after will be able to understand why we’ve made the choices we’ve made during the times that we live in and how we lived and because our times are going to be different than the times that come next,” said Berringer.

A significant portion of the letters and journals will be kept in the Mason County Heritage Vault at the Mason County Research Center opening this September.

You can see them for yourself if you schedule a tour.