Posts Tagged With: michigan

Hotel Doherty (Home to Leprechauns and Rest Stop for Travelers) Turns 90

Undated photo of the Hotel Doherty

Undated photo of the Hotel Doherty

The Hotel Doherty is 90. It opened in early April 1924 and was as modern for its time as a hotel could be, as the article below from the April 11 issue of The Clare Sentinel testifies. The Doherty sits on the NE corner of McEwan and Fifth in the city of Clare and the hotel keeps up with the times and demand but with an eye on its past. The Doherty recently added a banquet hall and outdoor dining area but had a brick especially made to match the brick in the original 1924 exterior.

The Doherty is also home to a bunch (or is it a tribe, flock, gaggle or herd) of Leprechauns.

Sometime during the Depression, an unknown painter made a deal with the owner or hotel manager to create a painting in the hotel bar in return for a free room. The painting, which is about 70 feet long and approximately three-feet high covers the upper portion of two full walls in the bar/restaurant and depicts the beer making process from harvesting the base materials to the drinking. The brewmasters are the little green creatures—probably used in keeping with the Irish character of the city that was named after County Clare in Ireland.

A.J. Dherty, son of the founder, talks about the painting of the laprechauns during a Depression Era art tour in 2012.

A.J. Doherty, son of the founder, talks about the painting of the laprechauns during a Depression Era art tour in 2012.

The leprechauns also were silent witnesses to one of the most famous murders in the state when Jack Livingstone shot Isaiah Leebove in cold blood in the restaurant in 1938. The murder is the topic of a new book by Robert Knapp called “Mystery Man, Gangsters, Oil, and Murder in Michigan.  Knapp is also the author of a history of the city of Clare, which contains a number of photos of the Doherty.

The Doherty was built by A. J. Doherty, a local businessman and politician that had the best interests of the city in all he did. Even now, the hotel remains in Doherty hands, being run by Dean Doherty, grandson of the founder. Although always popular, the Doherty was used by local businessmen in the first half of the 20th century, not only because of its location and quality, but because it had something few buildings in the area had at the time: a telephone.

For those who want to learn more about the building’s history, there is a nice display of documents and newspapers in the main hallway that lead to the hotel’s meeting rooms. Visitors are welcome to view the display and also step into the bar and dining area to view the painting. And wish everyone a “Happy Anniversary.”

Doherty Hotel Downtown Clare, Michigan

Hotel Doherty as it looks today in 
Clare, Michigan

The article below is from the April 11, 1924 edition of The Clare Sentinel

New Hotel Doherty Now Open to Public

CLARE’S NEW $150,00o FIREPROOF HOSTELRY

Front Page of The Clare Sentinel announcing the opening of the new hotel in Clare.

Front Page of The Clare Sentinel announcing the opening of the new hotel in Clare.

Mr. A. J. Doherty, former State Senator, one time member of the State Board of Agriculture and a former director of the Michigan State Fair, has completed the best hotel in this part of the state and it is now open to the public. The formal opening is the evening of May 12th when the Clare Chamber of Commerce are to give a complimentary banquet to Mr. and Mrs. Doherty, by which the citizens of Clare to show appreciation to one who has done so much for his “own home town.”

The banquet will have to be limited to 150 persons and will include some of Mr. and Mrs. Doherty’s friends from different parts the state and the members of the Chamber of Commerce of Clare. This is to be one of the most elaborate banquets ever held in this part of the state. No expense will be spared and all the plans are in keeping with this beautiful building which Mr. Doherty has built, not for the financial returns he expects to reap, but rather as a testimonial of his good will toward the community.

Three years ago the Clare Chamber of Commerce purchased the site on which had been located for many years the popular “Calkins House,” but which had been destroyed by fire. The consideration was $6,000 and they presented this site to Mr. Doherty with the understanding and agreement that he erect a hotel costing at least $60,000 on that

site.

Mr. Doherty has gone many times beyond that amount and erected a four-story steel, brick and terra cotta structure which is modern in every way and fireproof.  An Otis elevator, display rooms for traveling salesmen, complete laundry, billiard room cafeteria, which opened April first, dining room, ballroom, radio, ballroom, radio, mezzanine floor, room for two mercantile establishments and spacious quarters for the public library that have been donated by Mr. Doherty, are among the features housed under one roof.

The equipment throughout the structure are the latest and the best. The lighting fixtures are exceptionally tine. There are 60 guests rooms, each containing hot and cold running water, and several suites. Thirty-six of the single rooms afford either a tub or shower bath. The furniture is walnut and mahogany and blends neatly with the interior’s mahogany finish throughout the building. The main floors are of terrazzo. The corridors and the floors of the rooms are of _______and are covered with beautiful rugs. All dishes, towels and linen are stamped with the “Hotel Doherty” monogram. More than 100 guests can be accommodated at one time.

When Mr. and Mrs. Doherty came to Clare from New York State in 1878, they had very little money. He engaged in the mercantile business in rather a small way and purchased a home for which he was to pay $750. Of this amount he was able to pay $250 down and the balance he paid in installments. He succeeded in business and in 1901 he was elected to the State Senate from the 28th district, and in 1903 he was re-elected and again in 1905. Sometime later he was appointed a member of the State Board of Agriculture to succeed C. J. Monroe, of South Haven. He took an active interest in the affairs of the Michigan State Fair while he was a director. In the senate he was known as “Bellwether” Doherty for his possession of great political sagacity and the added fact that he led the senate roll call, considerations which gave him much influence. He has built eight business blocks and many residences in Clare and has stood ready at any time to do anything to advance the best interests of his town. Residents of Clare are free in their assertions that for its size, there is no better hotel in the state.

Dining at the Doherty:
Chicken Dinner 75c Sunday, April 13, 1924
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • Chicken Soup
  • Celery
  • Sliced Tomatoes
  • Chicken Pie
  • California Asparagus Tips on Toast
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Waldorf Salad
  • Apple Pie, Lemon Pie,  Plum Pudding
  • American Cream Cheese
  • White Cream Bread,  Graham Gems
  • Coffee, Tea, Milk
Categories: Clare County, History, Michigan, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discovering A Harrison Historical Treasure

Clare County, Michigan’s historical treasures never cease to surprise me, especially when it comes to the logging era.  For the longest time I thought the embankment on Monroe Road, just north of Mid-Michigan Community College  (MMCC) was one of the greatest feats of engineering of the early railroad era in the county*.  But just when I thought I’d seen it all, I learn something new and exciting.  This time from Cody Beemer (Beemer’s Sand & Gravel Excavating) who has a great love of history and a willingness to share it, and whose family has been here since the logging era.  Cody put me on to an even more impressive embankment that rises about 30 feet above the surrounding ground and about 800 feet long—right in the heart of Harrison.

The railroad bed for the line to Leota comes can be seen heading off the trestle to the left (northwest). The other bed once went to Meredith (northeast).

The railroad bed to Leota can be seen heading off to the left (northwest). The other rail bed once went to Meredith (northeast). Neither bed can now be followed as both soon are on private land and/or have been obliterated with time and development.

Another cool feature of the embankment is that one can easily see where the railroad bed split and one bed curves to the northeast when the track once ran to the town of Meredith.  Another bed runs to the northwest where the track ran to the town of Leota, both logging towns that are now small sleepy communities, with Leota best known for its nearby 56 miles of ATV and snowmobile trails.

RR Trail-bed

This is the trestle/trail looking south toward Budd Lake and Harrison. The lookout platform is on the right.

The embankment is found at the north end of the Hayes Township Civic Center and east of the VFW Hall on N. Clare Ave.  The old railroad bed to the south of the embankment that ran south across Township property and then ran along the west end of Budd Lake can no longer be followed, but one can easily pick up the short trail at the south end of the woods.  Hayes Township has built a wooden platform to give visitors a nice area to linger to watch the birds and other wildlife in the small pond below.

Map of Harrison showing location of trestleHere is some information on the two lines, according to Michigan Railroad Lines Volume 1 & 2 by Graydon Meints (MSU Press, 2005):

The Harrison to Meredith line was built in 1887 by the Saginaw and Clare Railroad that became part of the Flint & Pere Marquette in 1888 (and eventually the F&PM became just the Pere Marquette Railroad a year later) and ran 15 miles with stops at Arnold Lake, Hackley, Levington, Frost and Eyke along the way. The line was built as a cost-effective way to bring men and supplies into the Meredith area and pull the cut timber out.  The line didn’t end in Meredith but ran all the way to the Sugar Creek area in Gladwin County so timber could be hauled out both directions and lumber camps supplied.

Steam locomotive

Once the timber petered out by the mid-part of the decade the men and the money left the area and so did businesses and most of the remaining population.  The railroad was no longer viable so by 1896, the line between Meredith and Frost was abandoned and by 1916, the entire line back to Harrison was finally abandoned.  The Meredith Grade Road now covers a good portion of the old railroad bed.

The Harrison to Leota line was built by the F&PM and trains first plied the tracks in 1891 running the 8.8 miles to Leota and, according to the book, another 1.1 miles from there. According to historian Forrest Meek and other sources, the tracks to Meredith were torn up and used to build the line to Leota. The Harrison-Leota line was finally abandoned in 1922, although it’s difficult to know when the Harrison to Leota train last ran, but it was most likely years before the line was formally abandoned.

My hope for the Harrison embankment is to convince the Clare County Historical Society to pay for and Hayes Township allow for the mounting of a small marker on the wooden platform that was built on the embankment that will give visitors to the site a better understanding of what they are seeing, why it was there and to gain a better appreciation of Clare County surprising treasures.

Perhaps the wording on the marker might read:

This trail was once part of an earthen railroad embankment built in the 1880s when logging was the primary industry in Clare County. Trains ran upon this line to Meredith to the northeast and Leota to the northwest.  The point where the line diverged to those towns can be seen just 50 yards north of here.  By the mid-1890s the massive pines were gone and so were the lumberjacks and businesses that relied on the money logging generated.  Much of the line to Meredith was abandoned by 1896 and that to Leota was formally abandoned in 1922.    

* If you haven’t seen the embankment near MMCC, it is on the north end of the campus on Monroe Road and rises about 10 feet above the surrounding landscape.  Monroe Road cuts right through it but unless you know what you are seeing, you might drive right by it. Note: The post improperly calls the embankment a trestle.

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, History, logging, Michigan, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Divorce in the Country

Attorney: The child that was born, at the time was it born dead?
Plaintiff: Yes, just at that moment, but if we had help it wouldn’t have been born dead.
A: What did your husband say he was going to do with the body of this child?
P: Feed it to the hogs.
A: Did you object?
P: I was too sick.

Transcript of divorce proceedings
Circuit Court for the County of Clare
Harrison, Michigan March 28, 1922
Honorable Ray Hart, Circuit Judge, presiding

Lizzie Pom
vs
Anson Pom

For some people, the “good old days” on the farm conjures up a vision of mom and pop working together to raise a passel of little ones, bringing in the crops, going to church every Sunday and fending off evil bankers, clouds of locusts and an occasional tornado or hailstorm.

And sure, there were wonderful marriages among country folks that lasted for decades, Imagesometimes out of love, sometimes mutual respect and often out of need. But life almost 100 years ago was not always idyllic. In fact, in some households, life was sheer hell. Take the Pom family that once lived in Hamilton Township in the northeast portion of Clare County. (Note: Even though this case is in the court records and can be found in the archives of the Clare County Historical Society, I have changed the names.)

In March 1922, Lizzie Pom addressed the court concerning a marriage she wished to end from Anson her husband of 10 years, a husband by the way, who had disappeared years earlier. This is the way it happened, according to the court proceedings:

A: What time of day was it that he left home?
P: It was in the afternoon sometime.
A: Did he tell you where he was going?
P: No sir. Well he had said he was going to leave home and get some money to pay off the mortgage on the place.
A: On this particular day, did he tell you where he was going?
P: No sir.
A: Did he take any clothes with him?
P: No sir.
A: Did he change his clothes before leaving?
P: Yes sir.
A: Where?
P: The boy came from school and the cows were out of the gate and Floyd didn’t see why he didn’t put the cattle in the barn and feed them, and I says, “he must be out in the barn or out to the neighbors. I haven’t seen him since meal time.” So Floyd put them in the barn and there Anse had changed his clothes and left his old clothes.
A: You found his working clothes there on the barn floor?
P: Yes sir and when we went upstairs afterwards to see if his new clothes were there, there, they were gone. He had taken them through the window because we found a window that had been closed, open.
A: Did you ever get any trace of your husband from that time on?
P: No sir.

According to testimony, there’s had not been a happy marriage. Although the worst incident seemed to have been the time when Lizzie was pregnant and having a difficult pregnancy but Anson had refused to allow her to see a doctor. And on the night she gave birth and was very ill, he had still refused to even get up and it was only after she begged him to at least go to a neighbors for help that he had gone out at all. Even then, he stayed at the neighbor’s house until she had done all she could and the baby was dead and she had returned that Anson went back home.

At the time of the proceedings, Lizzie was probably in her late 40s or early 50s. This had been her second marriage. Her first had lasted 20 years and resulted in three children, two of which survived. Lizzie and her first husband had divorced and he had remarried within two weeks.  When asked the ages of her children by her first husband, Lizzie said she knew Floyd, who had been living with them at the time of Anson’s disappearance was now 21; however, she didn’t know the age of her daughter who was now married. And despite the problems associated with the first child in 1913, Anson and Lizzie had conceived a second that was born four months after Anson had left.  Her name was Myrtle. After Anson had left, Lizzie’s father- and mother-in-law had come to live on the farm, a farm they held title to. Lizzie had lived with them until they had both died. Now she was hoping to not only get divorced but take title to the farm, which included more than 70 acres.

Apparently, the Pom family had a penchant for running away. Anson had apparently run away two times before but never this long. And his brothers had both run away from their homes. One of them, Al, was gone seven or 10 years before returning.  Attempts had been made to locate Anson but no one had heard from him, not even his parent’s after he had disappeared from the barn.

The court talked to numerous witnesses and in the end, granted Lizzie’s wishes.

Note: My mother-in-law is a crack genealogist and I passed the transcript to her and asked if she might be able to find out what happened to the Lizzie afterward. She not only did that, but found out about Anson as well, including the fact that he was institutionalized for a time–something that was not too surprising considering the testimony.

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, Home life, Michigan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Gerald Mast WPA Murals: Clare, Michigan

In 1938, four murals by Grand Rapids painter, mural painter, mosaicist, and educator Gerald Mast (1928-1972) were installed in the Clare, Michigan High School (now its middle school) auditorium, as part of the Works Project Administration art project. Each of the four panels that make up the mural are approximately 20-feet high and 8-feet wide. The panels were installed after being painted at the Detroit Institute of Arts, wrapped about stovepipe and transported by flatbed truck the 170-or-so odd miles to Clare.

Dayton Spence, an art restoration specialist and historian of 19th, 20th and 21st century American art, came to Clare in 1988 to clean and restore the murals. Dr. Thomas Moline was superintendent of Clare Public Schools at that time and on Sept. 8, 2012, Dr. Moline returned to Clare from his home in Illinois to take part in a fundraiser and Depression-era art tour sponsored by the Clare County Arts Council. Standing in the auditorium with the murals to his right, Dr Moline gave those in attendance the keynote address–as well as a history lesson.

According to Dr. Moline, the Mast Murals are some of the largest WPA murals in existence composed by a single artist and are snapshots in time. “They represent what was important to the Clare community and surrounding area at a time when the nation was wrestling with the effects of the Great Depression and the subject of the murals was chosen by Mast and the community.”

Moving from the back of the auditorium to the front (left to right in the photos) the murals illustrate agriculture, peacetime activities, science & education and the emerging gas & oil industry.

From picture to picture, the look on the people’s faces was the same, said Moline. No one seems to be smiling. Why is it that all, even the giants on both sides, look so somber and as if staring off into space? The following is taken mostly verbatim from Dr. Moline’s talk and based on his conversations with Dayton Spence and Moline’s own research:

“Many WPA works of art chronicle the effects of the Great Depression upon the people living through those years. During that period there was great debate about the actual effects of a capitalist democracy.

“There are two periods in the history of the United States that shook our nation’s foundation due to internal events. The most notable was our nations’ Civil War. The second was the Great Depression.

An emerging middle class that was gaining momentum in the 1920’s was leveled during the Great Depression. A great tide of resentment rose up against government by a nation that felt they should have been far better protected. Resentment formed even faster against the ‘capitalists’ who were viewed as being financially capable of weathering the Depression.

“As unemployment rose, as families lost homes, as individuals’ educations were squandered, a major debate took place within large cities and regions about the form and operation of government that would better serve and protect ‘the people.’ Variant forms of socialism and even communism were openly debated within a nation that was searching hard for answers to remedy economic and service delivery problems. In the 1930s, capitalism and the free market economy also became suspect for their perceived ability to make some rich while many laborers worked for subsistence wages.

“Dayton Spence related that WPA artists purposely injected the look of disassociation in their subjects to generate a feeling of questioning within the viewer…There seems an expression of loss in the faces in the Mast Murals,…or maybe a sense of being let down. Or is it a sense of looking out of the present situation…to something…beyond?

Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals in the Detroit Institute of Arts, completed in 1933, have the same faces, the same expressions, the same staring off to the beyond. The message was very much the same as conveyed in the Mast Murals, except that one can also discern in Rivera’s work a critical treatment of the “capitalists” who appeared to be running the show. That criticism was not well received by those with large holdings in the automobile industry, some of whom supported an unsuccessful campaign to whitewash the Detroit Industry Murals out of existence. Rivera’s influence definitely shows in Mast’s art.”

Spence estimated each panel could demand a price (based on what the offshore consortiums were willing to pay) of approximately $5 million–or $20 million for the set of four. The federal government made it again clear in 1999, in a letter to then Clare Public Schools Superintendent, William Courliss, that the art belongs to the people of the United States and remains bequeathed to Clare Public Schools and its community, and shall not be offered for sale. (In fact, the Federal Government is making a concerted effort to recover WPA art.)

Moline ended his talk by commending the Clare County Arts Council for the important work they are doing to care, maintain and preserve the Gerald Mast Murals stating, “They are an historic treasure that will rise in national prominence with each passing year.”

Arrangements can be made to view the murals during the school year by contacting the Clare Middle School at (989) 386-9979.

Along with the Mast Murals, there is also another piece of WPA art on the school grounds, an 8-foot high statue called “Pioneer Mother,” by Samual Cashwan. It is deteriorating due to time and exposure to the elements, and in serious need of restoration. Unlike the Mast Murals, the statue has never been stabilized much less restored, Costs for work on the statue could run as high as $20,000.

Even the Mast Murals should be attended to every 20 years. Doing the math, that means an expert in restoration should have been called in 2008 to examine them; however, because of lack of funding that did not occur–and there are no plans to work on them any time soon. Although heavy drapes were installed on auditorium windows at one time to slow the murals’ deterioration due to sunlight little else has been done to protect them.

Mail Comes to Clare Painting in the Clare Post Office. Clare also has two other depression-era works of art of note. One, a mural called “The Mail comes to Clare”  is at the Clare post office and can be viewed during open hours. There is also a light-hearted mural that shows leprechauns making beer that covers approximately 70-feet of the wall in the restaurant of the Doherty Hotel. This mural can be viewed at any time. A. J. Doherty, owner of the Dhoerty Hotel in Clare, discusses the painting on the making of beer that covers the walls of his restaurant and bar.

Note: The information in this post on the Mast Murals is based on Dr. Moline’s talk of Sept. 8, 2012. Following his talk, Dr. Moline generously passed along his address and I am endebted to him for doing so. I hope my changes did not materially alter what was a highly educational and entertaining address. I hope to post an unedited copy of his address soon. 

Photos by Marty Johnson. Close-ups of the Mast Murals come from postcards sold by the Clare County Arts Council. Membership is $10/year. If you would like to help preserve the murals of the statute of the Pioneer Mother or wish to contribute toward work on the Mast Murals, please contact the Arts Council at clarecountyartscouncil@hotmail.com. Tell them “Marty” sent you!

Categories: Clare County, General, History, logging, Michigan, recreation, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gerrish and His Logging Railroad (Part 1 )

…Or How to Decimate a County in a Decade

Image of old railroad engine and trestleFellow Clare County Historical Society member Jon Ringelberg sent me a June 1878 article from The Clare County Press concerning Winfield Scott Gerrish, the first lumberman to purchase a railroad (locomotive, car assemblies, track, spikes, etc.) and bring them into Clare County for the express purpose of hauling timber out of the woods. Others had used trains before for that purpose, but not in Clare County. An excerpt of the article appears in the post following this one.

One of the things that makes this such a wonderful article is that it is a first-person account written and only a year or so after Gerrish brought his logging railroad to Clare County. And at a time the county was getting ready to experience an explosive building boom and population growth.

Gerrish got the idea of using a train while visiting the Centennial Exposition (World’s Fair) in Philadelphia in 1876. In one of the halls he saw a locomotive that ran on a narrow-gauge track, and thought it would be a good way to get cut timber out of his holdings that were located far from any river. (Rivers were needed at the time as they were really the only good way to transport logs to market or to major railroads.)

Whether Gerrish knew others had used a train for a similar purpose is not known. What is known is that the train arrived at the opportune time for Gerrish who was on the verge of bankruptcy. He was finding that the cost of cutting and transporting his timber holdings was higher than the revenue he was receiving.

Another factor was that the Pere Marquette railroad was laying track through the county at the time, from southeast toward the northwest. This meant it was now far easier to bring men and supplies into the county and to haul timber out of it.

Other area lumbermen initially scoffed at this train idea; however, they were just as quick to follow Gerrish when they found he was getting rich. Why did he make money? The railroad allowed Gerrish to cut and transport lumber year around instead of just during the winter months. That meant a steady and continuous revenue stream all year long.

Using trains allowed Gerrish to cut and haul logs from wherever he could lay track. And he was able to get them from woods to market in under a week, a marvelous feat at the time. Of course, there was an initial expense and delay before a train could run, since the locomotive had to be brought in, a railroad bed built, ties and track laid, and rail cars built. However, this work was generally done quickly and, in the case of the tracks, without regard to quality, since they were temporary, having to last just a couple of years, at best.

Map showing logging railroad beds

Many of the railroads that once covered Clare County. Green is used for major rail lines. Other colors show the beds of some of the narrow-gauge logging railroads. Map courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbrink.

So the logging trains came in and the trees came out. In his book, Michigan Ghost Towns, author Roy Dodge estimated that there were more than 300 miles of logging railroads in the county and traces of many can still be found.

So what did Gerrish and his railroad mean to Clare County? Within a decade, Clare County went from being a peaceful, quiet and beautiful tree-covered county to one filled with giant stumps, scarred landscape with farmers trying to scratch out a future in what remained. However, for one short period in history, thanks in part to W.Scott Gerrish and his railroad, Clare County WAS a bustling, exciting place to be.

Note: Some articles (including the Gerrish link above) claim Gerrish was the first in the world to build a logging railroad. He was not. They were used in other states including Michigan decades before.

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, History, logging, Michigan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Indian Artifacts in Utah and Michigan’s Indian History

Looking down on the plain and stream bed from the ridge. Stones in foreground were part of a dwelling.

My brother lives in Utah and each time I visit him I stop on some private land not far from his home and look for potsherds and arrowheads. The property was apparently home to a small community of Native Americans several centuries ago. It’s a nice piece of property with  a ridge and southern exposure. About 30 feet below the ridge is a small plain and stream bed. On the ridge are the remains of six or seven stone dwellings. Now the stones (about a foot in diameter) are scattered around the ridge or have slid down the slope.

I could spend hours looking for these artifacts. I find the time relaxing and, at the same time, thrilling. Relaxing since there is no time constraint. Thrilling since finding means I can hold something in my hand that was made 300, 400 maybe 500 years ago. Who made them, I wonder? Was it a man or woman? What were they thinking as they worked? Were they as relaxed as I am or were they worried about invaders, the weather or starvation? What was their life like? What ultimately happened to them as individuals and to the community they lived in? One can picture them sitting on the ridge in front of their dwellings looking down at the stream as they worked, turning clay into pots or flint to turn it into weapons or tools.

A look across the ridge.

I don’t keep what I find. I used to do so but now the fun is in the finding and holding, not the holding and keeping. So I pick the items up, look at them, then toss them aside and walk on. Plus, it’s not like the artifacts are rare. There are literally thousands of fragments lying around the two- or three-acre site, and most of what I find is not larger

Just a few of the items (potsherd and flint) found on the ridge or that are sliding down to the plain. Note the black paint on the one pot sherd. Only a few of the pieces show evidence of having been painted.

than a dollar coin, although sometimes I do find the remains of a clay pot several inches in diameter. Any complete or nearly complete pieces were probably scrounged by others over the intervening centuries. I leave the potsherds because there is little I can do with them. Additionally, leaving them means maybe others will be able to the same fun I have. Oh, and the property I am on may be open to visitors but that doesn’t mean what is on the site is anyone’s property to take, and I’m not about to push my luck and find out.

However, what if I were to find a complete bowl or a complete arrowhead on the site? What then? Would I put it back–or would I keep it?  Do I have ethics but only to a degree? Am I like the women in the joke who, when asked by a man if she would have sex with him for a million dollars, thinks about it before saying yes. When asked by the same man if she would do the act for a dollar instantly answers no and then asks in disgust, “What do you think I am?” To which the questioner responds, “We’ve already determined that’ now we are just quibbling over price.”

In Michigan, our Indian history is not so obvious and not as abundant. I’ve always wanted to find evidence of early Indians but never have. That’s not surprising. First of all, mid-Michigan didn’t have the large number of Indian communities that one finds in the desert southwest, and the remains of any communities we had are either buried many feet below ground or have been plowed over.

In Clare County, for example, there is little evidence of permanent communities. Archeological studies have found sites but most were temporary in nature and most have disappeared over the intervening centuries. Same with Indian mounds. There are still a few mounds in Missaukee County but none in Clare that I am aware of.

And so I continue to search for artifacts in both states. The finding is easier in Utah but obviously, Michigan is closer. While I hope to find a complete pot or arrowhead in either state maybe it’s best I don’t. After all, I enjoy the thrill of the find.However, maybe it’s best I don’t have to find out what I am.

Categories: Clare County, Michigan, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Clare County Michigan History in Photos

I added a video to You Tube, well, basically a slideshow that consists of old photos. Most of them show the cities of Clare, Harrison and Farwell. The show lasts about 6 minutes and music in the background. The photos are primarily from the collection Forrest Meek gave to Mid-Michigan Community College. Here’s the link to the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTX84V-VZfM

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, History, Michigan | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Glimpse into the Life of a Rural Michigan Sheriff: 1939 – 1952

Serving Summons and Shooting Stray Dogs…

Sample view of the diariesI bought 13 diaries on eBay the other day for more money than I care to admit. The diaries were from the years 1939 through 1952, although 1944 was missing. They had once belonged to a sheriff in Harrison, Michigan, or at least to someone in the Sheriff’s Department in that mid-Michigan town located in Clare County. When I bought the diaries I was hoping it would provide a wealth of information, a window into the life of a rural sheriff, including how he spent his time, and would include names and events.

Sadly I didn’t get a wealth of information, more like a trickle, and as for the window
anlogy…well I see through the glass there but darkly. Turns out the diaries–and diaries is not the right name although I am not sure what to call them–were really served as a place to list events and activities for which the sheriff either was paid (like issuing a summons) or needed to pay others (like hiring a deputy for the day if he was on the road). Still it was an interesting read and my biggest impression is that the sheriff spent a lot of time issuing summonses and shooting dogs. For the former, the sheriff received $2 and for the latter $1–and the fee for shooting a dog never changed from 1930 through 1952.

I jotted down a few of the items written in the books I found interesting. Items in quotations are direct quotes from the books and items in parenthesis are my comments or thoughts.) And although the shooting of dogs and the issuing of summonses make up the biggest part of the diaries I have spared you from reading all but maybe one or two.

A page from one of the diaries1939
(Charge for mileage: 5 cents per mile; meals: 50 cents; serving papers: $2.50; Addition charge if a deputy is required: $1; pay for deputy if needed for a day: $3)
June 15–“Fred Dorsy chicken stolen. Art Olsen cows killed.
Aug. 20: “Complaint in Temple on Lester Bowen”
Aug. 21: “Arrested Lester Bowen”
Aug. 25: “Lester Bowen hearing”
Nov. 7: “Start of Bowen trial”
Nov. 10: “Took Bowen to Jackson”
(No mention of Bowen’s crime, his conviction or his sentence)

1940
(Sheriff appears to have been a S. M. Amble)
March 15: “Picked up 5 boys from Freeman Twp for unlawfully driving a car belonging to ____ Gould. Namely RIchard and Robert Barton, Russ Goodrich, Chas. Waldron and Darrell Weage.”
March 21: “Boys sentenced to 3 months probation”
(One of the boys listed above still appears in the local phone book. Can’t be sure it’s the same person but it would be interesting to call and find out. Wouldn’t he be surprised?)
March 21: “Killed and buried dog – $1”
(There are many mentions of the killing of stray dogs. Sometimes two at a time and sometimes the name of either the person requesting the killing or the owner of the dogs is listed. Not sure who they are. And sometimes there is a notation that the head was cut off and sent to Lansing–probably for testing for rabies.)
Aug. 24: “Hughes store broken into at night.and $3.50 taken from cash register.”
Oct. 18: “Investigated pig shooting.”

1941
(Mileage rate now 10 cents. Reimbursement for breakfast: 70 cents; dinner: $1)
Feb. 23: “Robt. Kroll house burned. 3-year-old-boy burned to death.”
(There is no entry on Dec. 7, but then many pages in the book lack entries and because the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred on a Sunday there would not be much happening on a Sunday in Harrison anyway.)

1943
March 23: “Repairs on car: $4”

1945
(Mileage reimbursement now 12 cents)

1946
June 29: Airplane crash at Airport. Killed Barbara Wenig, Paul Treadwell and Wenig.”
(No more information on the type of plane involved or the reason for the crash.)

June: Sheriff’s Convention in Marquette
Mileage: $42.60
Room:        9.00
Meals:       10.50
Crossing
Straits         3.00
Total        $65.10

1948
Feb. 18: “Served summons on Spikehorn for Harold Hughes”
April 7: “Ice off of Budd Lake.”
Aug. 10: “Found body of Frank Biker”
Oct. 8: “Served tax notice on Spikehorn”
(Spikehorn was a local character around Harrison who kept beers and had run-ins with locals and with the state conservation department. I was surprised that I did not find more mentions of him.)

1949
Aug. 25: “Arrested Vern Charette and Richard Henry for maliciously destroying property at state park”
(A Vern Charette is still listed in the local phone book)
Oct. 24: “First snow flakes”
Oct. 29: “Albert Eaton died”
Nov. 19: “Wet snow storm. Froze roads. Very icy. Wreck near James Hill. 2 people killed.”
Nov. 20: “Bad traffic jams. Lots of accidents.”
(The ice storm would have hit during the opening week of deer hunting season when a lot of visitors come to this part of the state. I am curious to know however, where a traffic jam would have occurred and what the sheriff considered a traffic jam.)

1950
(Deputy pay for a day: $5)

1951
(Mileage rates seems to have decreased from 12 cents to 10 cents a mile)
Feb. 5: “Mertle Shummway shot Ray”
Feb. 6: “(2:30 a.m.) Drove Roy to Gladwin Hospital”June
April 13: “Budd Lake opened up”
June 30: “Mertle sentenced to 2 1/2 years in House of Correction”
(No idea what drove Mertle to shoot her husband, the seriousness of his wounds or what happened after Mertle was released from jail.)

1952
April 18: “Ice out of Budd Lake”

And that’s a recap of the diaries. Now you know as much as I do–and for much less.I may stop by the local paper, the Clare County Cleaver and take a look into their archives to find out more about some of these stories. And as tempted as I am to call a couple of the people mentioned in the diaries, I will let sleeping dogs lie and hope the sheriff won’t shoot them.

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, History, Life, Michigan | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Hunger in Clare County

Hi-lo unloads food from semi-truckI knew hunger existed in Clare County, Michigan but I never experienced it like I did on Oct. 29, 2011 when I participated in a food distribution sponsored by the Community Nutrition Network.

I volunteered to assist with the distribution on what turned out to be a cold rainy Saturday. The distribution was scheduled for 11 a.m. that day and when I arrived at 8 a.m. there were already people waiting to get into the building carrying bags, boxes and other containers with which to take their free food home.

As the time came nearer to 11 a.m. the line grew steadily until several hundred people waited in a long line that snaked through the empty bus transit building that opened for the purpose. There were elderly people with walkers and canes, young families or single parents carrying babies or standing with  children who–in a perfect world–would have been sitting in a warm house Food cost comparisonwatching cartoons. Each person was different but they had one trait in common: they all waited patiently.  Some of them asked how they could volunteer so they could give back to this organization that was helping them. Some offered thanks for the fact they were being helped. As they waited they could also view nutritional information,recipes and tips to make them better shoppers and showing them how they could eat better at less cost.

My heart broke for those in line, not only because they were in need but also because I Volunteers unpack delivered food for needycould see myself in that line in the not-to-distant-future if I am unable to secure a job.

The Community Nutrition Network is a group of volunteers who wrote a grant to bring food to the needy in the county. For more information on how you can become involved contact Pastor Mike Simon at The Gathering Church at 989-539-1445 or Genine Hopkins at 989-539-1352. The group is looking for faith-based organizations to sponsor a truck for upcoming months.

Categories: Clare County, Economy, Harrison, Jobs and the economy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Biking at Mid-Michigan Community College

Maple tree in fall on Mid-Michigan bike trailThere are four miles of great hiking trails at Mid-Michigan Community College‘s Harrison campus. I’ve walked all of them at one time or another during all seasons. One of the trails even follows an old railroad bed for a time where steam locomotives once ran regularly from Clare through logging towns (and now ghost towns) such as  Hatton, Mannsiding and Mostetler up to the present day community of Dodge hauling lumberman and their families and taking back timber for the growing cities of the Midwest.

But until this week I never took the biking trails. And I missed out. Like their brother hiking trails, these pass through some wonderful stands of maple, beech and pine and are uncrowded. However, unlike the hiking trails that are relatively level and 12-feet wide, these biking trails are very narrow and transverse the hills around the campus.

I enjoyed the ride. However, it showed me just how out of shape I am. It took me two days to cover it all and I must admit I walked a portion of it. These middle-aged legs and my cheap little bike just wouldn’t take me up all the hills. And in some cases I was afraid to ride down ’em. I am proud that I didn’t break any bones and I am not too sore (except maybe my bottom).

This fall is a great time to be out there. Temperatures are mild, the trees are exploding in color, the trails are dry and the bugs are non-existent.

So it you are able, grab a bike and a helmet, tuck in those elbows (the trees in spots are very close together) and go for a ride. You might even see me…well, on the hiking trails. When it comes to riding, I think I will stick to the Pere-Marquette Rail Trail that now runs from Midland nearly to Reed City. Maybe I’m a wimp but I prefer my trails for my two-wheeler to be broad and flat.

Categories: Clare County, ecology, Harrison, History, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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