“The Old Rugged Cross”

Today, I read a post on a mailing list that brought a bunch of stuff back, so here goes: 

Until last August, D2 lived on old US 131, which is also called Mackinaw Trail and 210th Avenue, just south of Ashton and about 6 miles north of Reed City, Michigan. Across the road was the retirement home of the writer of “The Old Rugged Cross”, George Bennard.

An article here, about the area mentions a cross on the location where his home stood, “A large cross on the west side of Mackinaw Trail marks the spot where Bernard lived.”

Another says, “After writing this hymn, George Bennard went on to travel and preach for another forty years. Although he composed several other hymns, none was to become as popular as his first. In 1958, at the age of eighty-five, he “exchanged his cross for a crown.” George Bennard was honored in his hometown of Reed City, Michigan. Near the house where he died, the city officials erected a wooded cross that stands twelve feet high. On it is a plaque that reads: ” ‘The Old Rugged Cross’–Home of George Bennard, composer of the beloved hymn.”..”

On a location described above, quite visible from the living room window D2’s old home, stands the cross. The location features a bench, and small parking area. There are flowers in the summer and a man comes regularly to water them. Last winter, the cross broke, but a new one was made and erected, and the ritual continued through the summer. Each time I went there the view of the cross and park reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in Cadillac and any drive south toward Grand Rapids took us down that road, which at the time, was the US 131 main highway. We’d see the cross from the highway. Every time we asked about the cross, and every time Dad would explain that the man that wrote the song lived there. And, in the early 50’s, he was living there. Somewhere in those cloudy memories there is a Saturday (or Sunday) morning radio program featuring “uncle Glenn ?”. It was a Christian program, and began and ended with, “The Old Rugged Cross”. We sang that hymn plenty in church, too!

There is a museum, like most local small town museums, a real gem, and is located just off the US 131 freeway on US 10.

Papa and I visit local museums whenever we are in a new area and have the time, and you should too.

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