About the Reunion
Central Mine was organized on November 15, 1854 and finally closed on July 20, 1898. During its forty-four year lifetime, two generations matured. Central was a leader throughout Keweenaw – in copper production, in the size of its population (over 1200 at its peak), and in the pride of its citizens in its mine, its cornet band, its handsome schoolhouse and – by no means least – its church.
Long before a church was built, worship services were being conducted in the schoolhouse on the east side of town at the edge of the Northwestern property. That was in 1856, less than two years after the mine opened. The first services were conducted by the Reverend David A. Curtis who was attached to the Portage Lake Missions. Construction of a church was begun in 1868, and when it was occupied the following year it became the major focal point of religious and social life in the community for all who were members of it and for many who were not. It became a community center in the true sense of the word and offered many services to the townspeople such as planning the fourth of July picnic for everyone, maintaining a circulating library and sponsoring programs at the school hall which were open to the public. Prior to the building of the new school on top of the bluff, the Central church provided space for public school classes to be held to accommodate the overflow from the original schoolhouse.
It was inevitable that there should be a close feeling among the former residents of Central, who were forced to relocate in other parts of the Copper Country following the closing of the mine in 1898. The opening of the Keweenaw Central Railroad in January, 1907, provided an opportunity for the old-timers to have a “homecoming.” Alfred Nicholls is credited with having conceived the idea, and he enlisted the aid of Edward J. Hall and Thomas E. Mitchell. After it had been deter- mined that there was sufficient interest, plans were laid by these three old Centralites, and the first reunion was held on July 21, 1907, with both a morning and an evening service. However, after the second year, the evening service was discontinued in order to enable those in attendance to enjoy meeting and reminiscing with their former neighbors and friends and still board the early train for home.
The former home of Mrs. Jane Bryant, the milliner and candy store proprietor, standing just east of the church was used to heat a wash boiler of water so that those attending the “homecoming” could make tea to go with their pasties, saffron cake and perhaps seedy buns or heavy cake, all popular Cornish fare.