Pioneer House

The Marilla Historical Society was  formed in 1980 in order to preserve and celebrate Marilla Township’s pioneering traditions rooted in agriculture and logging. The organization maintains the Marilla Museum and Pioneer Place at 9991 Marilla Rd., Copemish, Michigan.

Read our latest Newsletter Here!


Marilla Museum News

MHS is installing New Signs

The Marilla Historical Society is in the process of installing two new road signs directing visitors to Marilla Museum & Pioneer Place.  They are bold and beautiful.  Our new logo is pictured on the sign and that same logo will be used on our communications from now on. 

Another bit of news  could have the heading: “Updates to Marilla Township Hall & Community Center”  Include this information:  The 1920’s building presently housing the township hall, community center, and main museum was used in former years as a school for students in kindergarten through grade ten.  The historic building will soon be 100 years old.  The upper level has undergone extensive remodeling including a complete kitchen makeover, newly sanded and finished hardwood maple floors, and ADA entrance upgrades. The work began in February and will be completed by the first week in June.  There are many ways in which the building is utilized.  Among them are township government meetings, elections, Meals On Wheels, Food Bank, Sewing Circle, Craft & Bake Sales, painting classes, a faith group that meets on Sundays, and the Main Museum.

Cemetery Walk 2014
In May, Jan Thomas, director of Marilla Museum & Pioneer Place conducted a guided “Cemetery Walk” at Marilla Township Cemetery  that focused on the lives and contributions of the following Marilla Township families:

  • John & Harriet Brimmer
  • The “Leaver Brothers”
  • Leander F. Hall
  • George, Anna, and Leon Brimmer
  • Aaron Pepple Family
  • Sylvanus and Susannah Evens
  • Charles, Ellen Siverly Bahr and Golden Bahr
  • Hezekiah & Rachel Grossnickle
  • Amanda Stark
  • William & Lucy Beers

This experience is now available as as a self-guided tour and also the script can be purchased for a nominal fee to cover printing costs. There are plans to do the required research to do more “Cemetery Walks” involving other families and events in the history of Marilla Township.

Quilt Trail
The ACA (Arts & Culture Alliace) of Manistee Co. has established a “Quilt Trail” in Manistee County.  The “quilts” are displayed on or near historic buildings.  Marilla Historic Society has chosen a pattern called, “Maple Leaf.” Making maple syrup has been a long tradition in Marilla Township and so the chosen pattern seems very appropriate.  The 8’ by 8’ ‘quilt,’ made of sign grade wood, has been installed on the outside west wall of the Pioneer Barn, providing a lovely bright spot on the weathered wall of the barn.   There are eight “quilts” in Manistee County including two in Marilla, two in Kaleva, Norwalk, and one in Bear Lake, as well as two in Brethren. The Quilt Trail offers a unique opportunity to get acquainted with our community’s history. The historic Marilla Church of the Brethren, located on Marilla Road, Copemish, Michigan,  has recently added a beautiful quilt pattern that is displayed in the church yard. Neighboring Osceola County also has an extensive trail.

Upcoming Events

All events take place at the Marilla Museum & Pioneer Place located at 9991 Marilla Rd., Copemish, MI. unless otherwise designated. For detailed descriptions of events, visit our events page.

“Women’s Voices…Celebrating Extraordinary Women”
The Marilla Historical Society extends a special invitation to you to join us to celebrate and honor the extraordinary women and extraordinary “ordinary” women who have helped build our communities.  On Saturday, March 21st, from 2:00-4:00, you’ll have the opportunity to hear the “voices” of many of these strong women who were the movers and shakers, risk takers, and determined citizens who made a significant impact for good wherever they lived and worked.  Some of these individuals achieved recognition beyond the borders of the communities where they lived.  Hearing their stories will make every woman proud of the role strong women have played in making communities better places to live.
You will hear women’s voices through role playing, readings, live music by Maryanne Rivers, and special exhibits.  You may personally have known some of the women who are being honored.
Come to Marilla Museum & Pioneer Place at 9991 Marilla Rd., Copemish, Michigan for a special afternoon experience complete with refreshments.  There is no charge, but donations will be appreciated to help support the work of the Marilla Historical Society.  For further information, contact Jan Thomas at 231-362-3430 or boja@kaltelnet.net

Marilla Historical Society Monthly Meeting
All are welcome at the monthly meetings, held on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are held at the Marilla Township Hall at 9991 Marilla Road. Please call Jan at (231) 362-3430 to verify date, time, and place.

Open House Hours
Open Hours will be on each Saturday from May through October from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. All museum spaces will be open for touring. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the museum spaces. Special programming and displays will be scheduled for selected dates. These hours are subject to change.  Call to confirm with Jan Thomas at 231-362-3430 or boja@kaltelnet.net.

Special Archival Projects: Life on the Farm……1908
The Historical Society received a donated item that we call the “Williams Farm Journal…..1908”.  This journal, written in a very detailed essay style is an amazing description of the daily life on a large prosperous farm belonging to the Richard Williams family.  The farm was located in Marilla and neighboring Pomona Townships.  Using some direct quotes and extracted notes from the journal, we have created large, laminated display posters depicting “Life on the Farm….1908”.  It’s a very special resource that begs for sharing!

Items for Sale

Available in Summer of 2019
Marilla: The Woods, The Farms, The People 

This beautiful, hard bound, collector’s edition will explore the fascinating history of the Marilla area from early Native American and pioneer family life to the modern farming era. The life of Marilla Township’s people is related through personal stories, letters, diaries, news articles, and township records.  Some of the stories will make you laugh while others will tug at your heartstrings.  Cost of the book is $35.  If you wish to reserve a copy, please call Jan Thomas at 231-362-3430.  Your book can be sent for an additional cost of $5 for shipping.”

Wild Flowers of Orchard Hill Farm, Marilla Michigan by Eveline B. Ritchie

Eveline was an amazing and creative woman who taught in Marilla Township from about 1921 to 1933.  In the years 1929 to 1932, she set out conducting a very detailed botanical study of every wild flower on the farm that her family resided on.  The book contains beautiful pen and ink drawings of each flower showing the various seasonal phases of each flower.  Each flower was then brought alive with a water color wash.  Each flower is accompanied by a detailed botanical description, personal observations and comments, and sometimes a poem or quote.  There are nearly 90 entries.  She was not only an artist, but a scientist as well.  We have copies of this remarkable book for sale for $55.  The high cost is due to the volume of pages and color prints.  When you see this book, yo will agree with us that it is a treasure and a wonderful resource.  We also have individual flower prints available for a very reasonable price.  

1896 Manistee County Plat Book

An interesting, unique, and amazing source of information about Manistee County and more just before the turn of the last century.  You will be fascinated with the wealth of information contained within.  It is a great resource for history buffs and those looking for family history.
Price is $25

Marilla Country Cookbook

Packed with wonderful and treasured family recipes from Marilla cooks.  It was first published back in the 1980s and we have overstocked with later printings.  This is a real deal for $5. The book is nicely bound and a great resource for every cook.  We need some storage space back so we are anxious to sell what we have at a greatly reduced half price.

To the Glory of God and Our Neighbors Good

A study of the Historical Development of a Community Identity: Marilla by Betty Bowling Hansen.  The author has a deep interest in the subject because of her years spent teaching history and her family roots that grow deep with the Grossnickle and Howes families that settled Marilla.  This very interesting and carefully researched book explores how the history of the township and of the Church of the Brethren intersect and impact each other. It includes fascinating historical accounts of the development of Marilla Township.
Price: $16