History of Manistee City

With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of Some of Its Men and Pioneers.
Published 1882 by H.R. Page & Co., Chicago

The city of Manistee is the county seat and only city of Manistee County. It is located on the east shore of Lake Michigan, and is about 175 miles distant from Chicago. The city extends east along the Manistee river and south along the west shore of Lake Manistee. The banks of the river on the south side are of sand, and about ten feet high. From this bank a sand plane from ten to twenty rods in width extends back to clay banks, which rise abruptly from ten to thirty feet to a plane which stretches away to the south. This plane has a clay soil, and affords a charming site for dwellings. It is here that the elegant residences, for which Manistee is so justly noted, are situated. At this altitude the air is delightful, and the view obtained is well calculated to excite the admiration of the beholder. Upon the plane below him is the business portion of the city full of life and healthy activity, while along the river and far away upon the shores of the beautiful little lake are the many mills which day after day chant their chorus of an unrivalled prosperity. River street extends along the south bank of the river for a mile and a half to Lake Manistee. Upon either side of this street are substantial business blocks, and every one is a hive of commercial activity. The river between the two lakes is the most important highway in the city. Its waters are clear and flow with a rapid current and never freeze. The mighty procession of water crafts never stops, for even in Winter when, Lake Michigan sometimes conceals itself under a cover of ice, there is more or less doing upon the river.

Twenty years ago the population of the entire county was less than one thousand. A rude hamlet of shanties, and two or three mills were all that relieved the loneliness and dreariness of this remote region. From this obscurity a city struggled to a promising stature, only to be turned into ashes in a night. Then a hurrying hither and thither of determined men and women, builders bend to their work, streets are outlined, blocks follow each other, homes are built, ten years hurry by, and we stand in the midst of a city of nine thousand inhabitants, noted for their morality and culture, while everywhere are the unmistakable evidences of real prosperity and wealth.

The early history of this region has already been gathered with a skillful hand. In the Centennial year 1876, Gen. Byron M. Cutcheon was chosen to deliver a historical address at the 4th of July celebration, which was one of the most notable events in the history of the county. The address shows that the historian of that occasion was wisely chosen. We are indebted to the author for permission to use his manuscript.

The following is the address referred to, except such portions as relate to subjects which are treated in their proper order.


"When the mariner has been tossed through toilsome days and starless nights upon the trackless and tempestuous sea, he gladly avails himself of the first favorable opportunity to take his observation of the sun, correct his course and ascertain his whereabouts.

"The past is the teacher of the future, and as the surveyor corrects his courses by an occasional back-sight, so we, as a nation and as communities, may correct our errors by occasional reviews of the course we have already run.

"It is especially appropriate that as we are about entering upon the second century of our existence as a nation, we should seek to draw wisdom from the lessons of experience, that we may avoid in the future the dangers and follies of the past; that the history of our second century be as much grander than the first, as our opportunities are greater and our foundations broader.

"It was in this spirit that the American Congress, at the beginning of this centennial year, passed a joint resolution recommending that in every county in the nation, upon this centennial anniversary of our independence, an historical address should be delivered, embodying the local history - which local histories should be printed and preserved as the materials from which future historians might draw materials for that great history of the century's progress.

"The resolutions met the approval of the President of the United States, and by his executive proclamation he recommended to the favorable action of the several states and communities. The governors of most of the states, including Michigan, have responded to the presidential proclamation by similar proclamations to their respective commonwealths, and the citizens of Manistee County have thought favorably of the suggestion, and have determined to preserve the little history that they have made.

"But why the committee should have hit upon me as their historian passes my understanding, unless it be upon the same principal that the humorist, Mark Twain, says he was selected to edit an agricultural newspaper - to wit: because he knew nothing whatever about agriculture - for, he said, he had always observed that the less a man knew about a subject the better he could write about it, for if a man undertook to write about a thing he knew anything about, his mind would be biased, more or less, by the facts, while a man writing about that which he knew nothing, could rise entirely superior to facts in the region of pure speculation.

"Upon this theory I conceive that I am specially fitted to write the history of Manistee County.

"I believe it was the author of the Knickerbocker history of New York who remarked that to write the history of any locality correctly, one must begin with the creation of the world.

"But at the risk of leaving this history incomplete, I shall entirely dodge the creation of man, shall try to get out of the way of the fall, shall jump the Garden of Eden, evade the flood, pass over the migration of the lost tribes, flank the question of the Asiatic origin of the American Indians - lightly touch upon the prehistoric Mound Builders who doubtless once inhabited this shore and have left their tracks upon its riversides and their bones within its sand-hills, and come at once to that comparatively modern epoch when the historic American Indian - red-skinned, large boned and long-haired - roamed and hunted and fished on the Manistee.

"There is no evidence that this region had any very considerable Indian population, nor, so far as I am aware, have any well defined Indian traditions of wars or other notable events prior to the coming of the white man, come down to us. We must conclude that they were a rather quiet and peaceful people, whose civilization had not yet degenerated into the era of investigating communities or presidential scalping parties.

"It was in 1641 that the first white men - the french Jesuit Fathers, bearing the standard of Christianity, penetrated these far western wilds, and made a lodgement at the Straits of Mackinaw, but whether they extended their journey into this part of the peninsula we have no record. It was several years later, in the year 1668, that a permanent white settlement was effected by the same Jesuit Fathers, within the limits of what is now the state of Michigan.

"In 1672 Jacques Marquette, better known by his title of Pere Marquette, a Jesuit Father of exceeding zeal and piety, set out upon his perilous undertaking of discovering and exploring the father of waters.

"Passing through what is now the upper peninsula, and so round by Green Bay, he performed his daring and perilous voyage. Returning and settling among the Illinois, in the year 1675 - two hundred and one years ago - he undertook the exploration of Lake Michigan. Perhaps it would be impossible to establish the fact in proof, but I have little doubt that Father Jacques Marquette was the first white man who ever looked upon the pine-clad hills of Manistee, or dipped his oar in the waters of our beautiful river. I have no doubt that more than two hundred years ago, with his Indian guides, he camped on the bank of yonder stream, and that the first Christian song and prayer that broke the stillness of these primeval solitudes was the morning and evening devotion of Father Marquette.

"Continuing southward on his journey, he reached the mouth of the stream that now bears his name. Thirty miles south on that narrow belt of sand which now lies to the southward of the outlet of Pere Marquette Lake, but formerly formed a spit of land to the northward of that outlet, he breathed his last, and was buried by his Indian followers in the sand. The exact place of his burial is unknown, and even the adjacent city has not done itself the honor to preserve to itself the name and fame of Pere Marquette, the devoted missionary, the intrepid explorer and bold pioneer. It is to be hoped that before another century has rolled around, our children will have done him or his memory some partial justice, by erecting on the spot of his burial some monument worthy of the man and of the state.

"At the time of the visit of Marquette, Manistee existed only as the Indian name of this beautiful river and lake.

"The word 'Manistee' is derived from the Indian title of the river which now bears that name. It is a corruption of the original Chippewa, which, in outward appearance, bears but little resemblance to the present name. Whatever may be said of the original, the present name is as beautiful as could be desired - as liquid as the bright-flowing river it names, and as sparkling as the lake to which it has been assigned, and as neat as the future city we hope shall bear it with honor to the world.

"As to the meaning of the name there appears to be a diversity of opinion. One of Michigan's historians gives its meaning as 'The River with Islands,' but we can see but little appropriateness in that meaning.

"The late A.S. Wordsworth, formerly assistant superintendent of the Michigan geological survey, who was one of the first white men to visit this river, and who was familiar with the Indian tongue, stated that he had it from the early Indians that it signified 'The Spirit of the Woods.' Whether this be true or not, we prefer to believe it so. It is stated that this name came to be applied to the stream in the following manner:

"Upon the high lands about the sources of the Manistee, stands, and for ages has stood, a dense forest of pines and hemlocks, and the constant sough of the breeze through these forests produces a constant murmur, which the untutored indians attributed to 'the spirit of the woods,' which they supposed dwelt about the sources of this stream - and hence the name.

"But we fear that the spirit has departed. His realm has at last been invaded by sturdy axe men and lumbering camps, and the scream of the locomotive drowns the voice of 'the spirit of the woods,' and soon no man standing on the banks of the Manistee shall be able to say, with the poet:

"These forests are primeval-
The whispering pines and the hemlocks.'

"But the name will abide when we are sleeping by the side of these ever-flowing waters, and our sleep will be lullabyed by the unceasing murmur of the spirit of the woods.

"The name Manistee, from being applied to the river, came in time to be also applied to the territory adjacent, to the lake near the mouth, and the city on its banks, so that we have a Manistee river, town, county, lake and city.This name we have borne. This name we must bear; and it rests with us, fellow-citizens, as we stand at the portal of this new century, whether it shall be a name of honor, or an appellation that shall carry dishonor with it.


"After the visit of Father Marquette, two centuries ago, we lose sight of Manistee for more than one hundred and fifty years. Undoubtedly the Jesuit missionaries occasionally visited it, and adventurous traders, seeking furs, made pilgrimages to its shores.

"The first authentic facts that I have been able to discover date as late as 1830. About that time we know that one of the Campeau family, a French trader from Grand Rapids, made visits to this point to traffic with the Indians. The principal tribe that then inhabited this valley was the Chippewas, though there were more or less of the Tawas and Ottawas. But this was the proper hunting ground of the Chippewas. The blind old Indian whom most of you have seen led about our streets, and who must now be nearly a hundred years old, was the last chief of that tribe. He is now known as the old Manistee Chief. His name, as near as I can get it, is Ke-wax-i-cum. He has inhabited this valley all his life, and says that his father lived here before him. He says when he was a boy he hoed corn on what is now the marsh at the channels, between the north and middle channel. And it is true that since the settlement by white men, much of that marsh has been tillable meadow lands, and hundreds of tons of hay have been cut on those flats which are now under water.


"1832. In 1832, if I am correctly informed, a party of men from Massachusetts landed here, and with boats proceeded up the river to Section 36, Town 22 north, of Range 14 west, where they commenced to get out square timber to build a dam and block-house. They had completed their block-house, and had their timber for the dam prepared, when the indians assembled, and by menaces compelled them to desist. The party were obliged to abandon their block-house, which was very substantially built, and which was standing until a few years ago.


"Mr. John Canfield has informed me that when he came here, in 1849, it was already known as the 'old house,' and it has borne that appellation ever since. This whole region was then one vast forest, and we have it upon the authority of A.S. Wordsworth, before mentioned, that at a very early day this old block house was taken possession of by a gang of counterfeiters, and that here for some time they plied their trade. Those were 'hard money' times, and those gentlemen were 'inflationists.' They believed that a money of faith was as good as a money of value, and they seem have conceived the patriotic idea of expanding the currency with a circulating medium that should not absorb so much of the wealth of the country as the regular government issue of silver. I have no doubt that many of the bogus dollars and halves and quarters went on faith and answered all the purposes of a medium of exchange just as well as their cousins, the non-convertible 'green-backs' of a later day.

"But after Mr. Wordsworth blundered upon them and discovered the nature of their retreat, 'they folded their tents like the Arabs, and silently stole away.' Since then the 'old house' has been used as a logging shanty, and a whisky saloon, and a dwelling, but it is gone, and the place that once knew it shall know it no more forever.


"1833. In 1833 old Capt. Humphry, who a few years ago sailed one of the Engelmann boats, visited the mouth of this river, with a vessel, and brought the machinery for a mill, but he found the water in the stream very shallow, and after landing, for some reason which I have been unable to learn, he reshipped his machinery, abandoned his enterprise and sailed away, leaving the Manistee for a few years longer to its primeval quiet.


"1835. I have not been able to satisfy myself completely as to when the manistee reservation was set apart for the Chippewas, but from the best information I have been able to obtain, it was in 1832.

The reservation is six miles in width and twenty-two east and west, including the valley of the Manistee, on both sides of the river as far east as Section 4, of Range 13 west. It is related that when the surveyors requested instruction as to the shape and extent of the reservation, the government instructed them to lay it off in any shape that Chief Ke-wax-i-cum should direct, and he extended it so far east for the express purpose of including the 'old house.'

"About the year 1841 or 1842, when the Stronachs were building their water mill on the Little Manistee, the Indians determined to drive them off. They demanded whisky, but fortunately the whisky was buried in kegs in the sand at the mouth of the river. The Indians then began war-like demonstrations, when Stronach (father of Adam and James) invited them into his boarding shanty, gave them all they could eat, opened a barrel of pork and divided it, distributed a barrel of flour among them, and so concluded a treaty of peace. The Chippewas, since the whites came on this shore, have generally been kind-hearted and well disposed; but with the universal Indian failing of a weakness for bad whisky.

"They had two principal planting grounds on the reservation; one near the mouth of Chief Creek, near Samuel Potter's, and another and smaller one near the outlet of the river into the 'little lake.' Their largest planting ground was not on the reservation, but was north of Portage Lake. Their favorite camping ground was on the flat northwest corner of Manistee Lake, on what is now Lots 3 and 4 of Section 1, Town 21, 17. Another favorite camping place was on the north bank of the river, in the little valley opposite the City Hotel. Their burying ground was in the little opening back of G.M. Wing's shingle mill, on Lot 1, Section 11, Town 21, 17.

"The Jesuit Father's mission house was a log building near the present site of Christy Ashe's place, at the northwest angle of the Lake Manistee.

"The agency of these Indians was at Mackinaw, whither they went twice a year to receive their allowances from the Government, making the journey by water in Mackinaw boats.


"1836. In 1836 Mr. Wordsworth, who was then a justice of the peace, having jurisdiction from Grand Rapids to the British dominions, holding his seat of justice at Grand Rapids, visited Manistee with Campeau, the Indian trader. He found the Indians camped near the mouth of the river, holding high carnival upon the occasion of the wedding of one of their distinguished members to one of the belles of that day. A large bough house had been prepared for the wedding dance, and a feast of dog for refreshment. It was a very warm night in the summer.Whisky obtained from the traders flowed freely, and Wordsworth felt like retiring to private life, when he was prevented by the number and voracity of the mosquitoes, which attacked him with uncommon venom. To obviate this, he was advised by an old squaw to anoint his hands and face with rancid sturgeon oil, which he did, and in a short time was serenely oblivious of song and dance, and mosquitoes.

"After a time he was awakened by something sniffing around his nose and opened his eyes to find that a huge black bear was licking the sturgeon grease from his face. His first alarm was modified on finding that the bear was tame and harmless.

"After the failure of the attempt to build the dam at the 'old house' in town 22 and 14, another attempt was made to dam the River just above the present swing bridge, near the section line between 11 and 12. This also met with opposition, and the scheme was abandoned.

"1835. At some time between 1835 and 1839, Charles Mears visited this river, looking for a mill site and to locate land, but so far as I can find, left no traces of his visit.

"1835. In December, 1835, a schooner with her crew was cast away between Rush Lake and Portage Lake, and appears to have remained there through the Winter.

"Upon a large hemlock tree, from which the bark had been carefully peeled, until within a few years could be seen the name and date of the wreck, the names of the officers and men, and the date of the captain's death. The tree was standing seven years ago, but has since disappeared - probably destroyed by fire.

"1840. Up to this time no permanent settlement had been made in this county by the whites.

"In the Fall of the year 1840 John Stronach, of Berrien County, Mich., accompanied by his brother Joseph Stronach, of Muskegon, coasted along this shore in a small sail boat, until they arrived at the mouth of the Manistee. They were met by a party of Chippewas, who treated them cordially, and gave them information of the county. 

"Hiring a company of Indians to take them in their canoes, they explored the Manistee until they came to an ancient 'jam' of logs, flood wood and fallen trees, and finding no good place for a dam, they returned and explored the 'Little River,' called by the Indians 'Mamoosa' or 'Dog River.' After locating a point for a mill site, they set sail and returned to Muskegon.

"1841. The following Spring, about the 13th of April, John Stronach, with his son, Adam Stronach, chartered the schooner 'Thornton' of St, Joseph, to convey them and their machinery and supplies to Manistee.

"They arrived at the mouth of the Manistee on the 16th of April 1841, and from that day dates the actual permanent white settlement of Manistee County.

""They found it impossible to enter the river, on account of the shallowness of the water, there being not to exceed three feet, on the average, between Lake Michigan and Manistee Lake.

"Unable to enter the stream, they constructed a pine raft, bound together with cross pieces and wedges.

"This raft they towed with the yawl to and from the vessel, until the cargo, except the cattle, was landed; the cattle they threw overboard, and all but one swam safely to shore.

"They found the yawl boat of the wrecked schooner 'Anadogge,' and this they used to tow their raft loaded with machinery and supplies to the head of the little lake and up to "Mamoosa,' or 'Little Dog' to the site of the Stronach mills. A camp was built, a road cut, a dam constructed, and by the close of 1841 the first saw mill that ever startled the silence of these unbroken forests, was ready for operation.

"With the Stronachs came some fifteen other men as employees and laborers, many of whom went away; others are dead, and perhaps a few remain.

"About this time the Chippewas were camped on their favorite ground, near Dempsey & Cartier's mill, Lot 3, Section 1, and Campeau, of Grand Rapids, had come to buy furs. He had a tent for a shop, and had succeeded in buying a large quantity, giving in exchange whisky, calico, knives, etc. The peltries, as bought, were thrown in a heap in the rear end of the tent. It seemed remarkable what a yield of furs there was that year.

"There was no end to their coming, but some way the pile did not correspondingly increase. He organized himself into an investigating committee, and soon discovered that while one 'poor Lo' was selling him a skin, another was stealing them from under the back end of the tent.

"Then there was war! It was the 'French and Indian' war. Campeau seized a club, and straightway sundry and diverse 'noble red men' embraced their kindred clay - or sand.

"Peace was soon declared, and whisky and fur continued to change places as before.


"Among the early settlers that followed the original Stronachs, was Joseph Stronach, who dammed Portage Creek and built a water mill there.

"The first saw mill built within what is now Manistee city, was built by James and Adam Stronach, on Lot 2, of Section 1, Town 21 and 17, and was afterwards known as 'Humble' mill, from Mr. Joseph Humble, who owned and operated it. It was burnt many years ago. Next after this was the Joseph Smith mill, built near the site of the present gang mill of Cushman, Calkins & Co., on the north side. Next came the Bachelor mill, on the point at the outlet of Manistee Lake on the south side.

"Soon after, 1841, came Joseph Smith, and between that and 1849 came Wm, Ward, Roswell Canfield, Samuel Potter, Owen Finan and brother, Michael Finan, in 1847; James O'Connell, John Ogilvie, Cassimer Coultier, William Hall, John Baldwin, Matthias Siebert, James and John O'Neil, George Sullivan, Joseph Harper, Stephen Norman, 1846; James Phelps, Francis Norman, 1847; H.L. Brown (from whom Brown town is named, who was the first town clerk of Manistee town, and first prosecuting attorney of Manistee County), Wm. Magill.

"This list was furnished me by Adam Stronach - I presume it is incomplete.


"In 1847 came the Finans - Owen and Michael, to the latter of whom I am indebted for some interesting information respecting the Indians. He estimates the whole number on the reservation at this time was 1,000 souls. According to all accounts, whisky was 'the chief of their diet' - yet strange to say, 'these pesky' old Indians 'would never be quiet.'

"It seems that either from the missionaries, or in some other way, they had imbibed some sort of religion. Every Sunday those within convenient reach assembled at the mission house near the north end of the lake, all arrayed in their best calico shirt, breech-clout and a gay shawl and feather about the head. The hour for worship arrived, all were seated on the ground, a number of the men armed with small drums, which they had brought from Mackinaw. Everything in readiness, the exercises were opened by passing the whisky. This put them in a spiritual frame of mind.Then the Chief Ke--wax-i-cum, then already an old man, who was at once prophet, priest and king, stood up in his most impressive paint and commenced the preachment. What he inculated, friend Finan declares himself unable to say, but he says he was profuse and empathetic in his gestures, and pointed frequently to the sun, and would wax eloquent, when the drummers all would rattle on the drums, the men grunt approval and the chief sit down. More whisky, more drumming, and then more whisky again, and more preaching, until either the whisky, the drummers, or the chief gave out.

"On one point the Pere Marquette Indians trespassed on the Chippewas reservation, stole the peltries from the traps, captured the traps themselves and commenced their retreat.

"The there were rumors of wars. Red clay was in demand for war paint. There was a whirring of grindstones, a sharpening of knives and hatchets, that would send terror to the heart of a Manistee attorney.

"A war party was organized, pursuit was made, the raiders overtaken, the plunder recaptured without bloodshed, and the victors laden with the trophies of victory returned laurel crowned to the banks of the Manistee. (Their claim for additional bounty and pensions is waiting the action of Congress). To resume:

"In September, 1849, as already stated, the Chippewa reservation was taken up by treaty, and the land brought into market.

"In 1849 also came to Manistee, Mr. John Canfield, with his father, Roswell Canfield, took up land near the mouth of the river and commenced the erection of a steam mill, almost on the same site as the present mill of Canfield and Wheeler, on the southerly angle of the river.At this time the leading business men were the Stronach, Joseph Smith, H.L. Brown and Wheeler & Son, for whom Mr. Canfield was employed.

"In 1849 also came Hugh McGuineas, then a 'braw Scots lad' of nineteen or twenty, and went to work in the Canfield mill. Hugh was fresh from his native Scottish heather, and fresh from a clean Scotch home. I have never heard Hugh deliver but one temperance lecture, (though I hope he may live to deliver many,) and that was when he most graphically described the moral condition of Manistee when he came here.

"He says there was then no laws here, and none of the restraints of the law.

"I dislike to insert here the pictures he draws, but when we become discouraged in our efforts to benefit and elevate men, it may do us good to look back and draw a comparison between these days and those earlier ones.

"He says that John Barrett was then keeping a grocery and saloon on the north side, just back of where the lighthouse now stands.The river then took a sharp turn almost due north, and passing to the rear of where the lighthouse now stands, ran along the foot of the high sand bluff, with a long narrow spit or bar of sand between it and Lake Michigan.

"After long and severe westerly winds, the mouth of the river would almost bar up for a time, and was at all times shallow. I have been told by the late Robert Risdon, that he has often waded across the mouth of the Manistee, where now vessels drawing ten feet of water come and go with their cargoes.

"These westerly winds would drive the bar over into the river, and thus the river encroached upon the sand hill, and so, in time, the house of John Barrett, like the house of a man in the scripture who built upon the sand, fell; and great was the fall of it. But this was after 1849. At the time I now speak, his establishment was in full blast. Said Hugh, (I leave out the swear words), 'The first Sunday the boys said, "Lets go over to John Barrett's," and I went.'

"It was a small room, and contained a small box stove about twenty inches long, a bunk and a bench. It was full of men drinking and drunken.

"The furniture of the room consisted of two whisky barrels, a wash basin and a ladle; they drew the whisky in the wash basin, and every man helped himself with the ladle, and when the wash basin was emptied it was filled and passed again, at twenty-five cents a round. 'I have seen,' said he, 'in one Sunday, seventeen couples of men stripped and fighting around that place; the nearest justice was John Stronach at the old Stronach mills, and only a trail to reach there. When called on, he gravely took his statutes under his arm; the court made his way on foot or in a canoe down to the mouth, and held court in Barrett's saloon; the exercises were introduced by a drink all around, then the case was heard; the court was not annoyed by lawyers, nor embarrassed by law. Having heard the evidence, the court delivered his opinion as follows: "Well, boys, this is a bad muss, and I'd guess you'd better settle it." The parties were usually of the same opinion, and a drink of whisky all around closed the exercises.' The old block mission house stood near by Barretts saloon, but the latter had the advantage, as it ran seven days and seven nights a  week and the mission only occasionally. I have not been able to learn the names of the missionaries who visited here, but I hope this poor effort at history may have the effect to bring out, while yet a few are living that know the facts, a complete history of both of the Manistee missions, and the names of those early laborers in the cause of religion.

"Here is an Indian anecdote from the same narrator as the last, which has a smack of the frontier, and may prove of interest.

"It was in the year 1851. I was headsawyer in the old mill on Bachelor Point. We were sawing day and night, and I was near time for my change of tour. It was just in the gray of the morning, when I saw four Indians in a bark canoe, paddling rapidly and silently down the stream from the direction of Blackbird Island, where was a large encampment of Chippewas; the four Indians were in their paint, and there was something peculiar about their appearance.

"They landed upon the sand beach a little above the Fisher & Co. shingle mill on the north side, and quickly lifted a body wrapped in a blanket from the canoe, each taking a corner of the blanket in one hand and a paddle in the other, they rapidly ascended to the adjacent sand hill. Here they lay their burden down, and all set quickly at work with their paddles to make an excavation.

"Quickly a shallow grave was shaped, the body deposited, the sand replaced, and silently and quickly they returned to their canoe and paddled away up stream, chanting in low wild tones the death-song of their tribe.

"As soon as I could get away, I went over to the encampment. I found the whole camp in a wild, drunken debauch. There were two young squaws tolerably sober; but not one word could I get from a man or a woman. All were thickly painted and sullen and glum. Some lay drunk upon the ground. After much difficulty, I ascertained that the indian I had seen buried had had his head cleft with an axe by a squaw, in a drunken row during the night. It was fearful, how drunk they would get. When they were too drunk to stand or fight, they would sit or lie upon the ground and fasten their hands in each other's long hair and pull as long as they had the strength to do so.'

"I suppose it is hardly to be presumed that this narrative gives us an account of the first whisky murder that has reddened these shores; alas we know it was not the last.

"1852. In 1852 came our fellow citizen H.S. Udell, and went into the employ of John Canfield, He thinks the population was then about 200 in the county. The only settlements were at the mouth, at the Smith and Humble mills on the north side, and at the Stronach mill on the Little (or Dog) River. The Humble mill was already burned, I believe in 1850, but the old Catholic Mission house was still standing near by. The reservation had been surveyed and brought into market in 1849 and 1850.

"The mills then in operation were the Stronach mill, Jo. Smith mill, Bachelor mill, and Canfield's two mills at the mouth.

"These mills all used the upright or 'muley' saw, - circulars were then unknown. They cut a few thousand per day with their single up and down stroke, and would have deemed the circular or the gang an impracticable vision.

"1854. In 1854 the outlet of the river was changed. In consequence of the encroachment of the bar upon the outlet, it was impossible to get depth of water sufficient to enable vessels of any size to enter. This necessitated that lumber vessels should anchor off and load by the slow, expensive and dangerous process of lightering or rafting. A ditch was dug across the spit or tongue of land lying north of the present north pier, and on which the lighthouse stands, and a close row of 'spiles' was driven across the channel of the stream and the water forced into a new channel, which was soon cut to sufficient depth; the same day the Seh. Gen. Wayne entered through the new channel and by piering with slabs, a considerable depth of water was obtained.

"The job was done by Samuel Potter, then one of the business men of Manistee.

"This work of improvement has steadily been carried forward, until now vessels can sail from lake to lake drawing ten feet of water and upwards.

"1855. It was late in 1854 or early in 1855 that a meeting was held to see about getting the county organized. Mr. Udell thinks the meeting was held in the old schoolhouse, which then stood near the present site of the Methodist Church; Mr. Finan thinks it was in Canfield's boarding house. The Legislature was in session or about to convene, and Lucius H. Patterson, then of Grand Rapids (this district then included Kent County), was representative in the Legislature. There were present at the meeting D.L. Filer, Joseph Smith, L.G. Smith, H.L. Brown, H.S. Udell, the Finans, and others, not now remembered. After discussions of the advantages of an organization, a resolution was passed requesting our representative in the Legislature to do all in his power to secure the organization of Manistee County. The resolution was communicated to Mr. Patterson, and he secured the passage of the bill organizing Manistee County as a separate municipality.

"We have no account of the rejoicings that followed, but we may safely assume that the event was duly celebrated.


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1882 History of Manistee County

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