James E. Mulvaney passionately spoke on “The History of Land Grant Philosophy” on April 3 at the Mason Area Historical Museum to the Mason Area Historical Society. A two-time Michigan State graduate and member of the first MSU graduating class under its current name, he focused on the University and the history and importance of its agricultural college.
The talk explained the important people in creating the agricultural college such as Joseph R. Williams, the first president of the college, and the pivotal role he played in passing the Reorganization Act of 1861. This gave the college the opportunity to grant master’s degrees and a four-year curriculum schedule.
The night began with a routine singing of America the Beautiful followed by an unusually loud and proud Pledge of Allegiance. Barb Tornholm, president of the Mason Area Historical Society, thanked the 20 attendees for coming and announced the speaker that Monday evening. The monthly Mason Area Historical Society meeting had begun and Mulvaney began to speak.
“I’ve given talks to this group several times,” said Mulvaney. “My first one was on apples. Yes, apples. What kinds of apples, the apple industry, really anything I could dig up on them. They really enjoyed it and keep inviting me back. I love it.”
Mulvaney studies a certain subject at the MSU library then shares his findings with the Mason Area Historical Society.
The presentation went into great depth on Michigan State’s agricultural history. It concluded after 30 minutes and the receptive audience proceeded to ask questions for another 20 minutes. Mulvaney answered each question humorously, often drawing large laughs from the crowd.
“When I was in college, people could tell my friends and I were farmers,” said Mulvaney. “Was it the way we smelled? How we dressed? We still don’t know.”
“He’s really a gem,” said Katina Pine, secretary and webmaster of the Mason Area Historical Society. “His talks are so great and informative. We all appreciate him here.”
Ideas were tossed around the room for the next presentation the society should have. The meeting concluded with socializing, cookies and soda.
The Mason Area Historical Society is a group of volunteers organized as a nonprofit to learn, research and appreciate Mason’s history. They meet in the Mason Historical Museum on 200 E. Oak St. on the first Monday of every month.
“We’re here to expand and make things happen,” said Alissa Day, vice president of Mason Area Historical Society. “I was having a bad day today but it always makes my day so much better coming to these meetings.”
“People are very passionate about the community,” said Pine. “These are all people we rely on, help and love.”