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The Stories from Ora Labora 1862 – 1898

Ora-Labora-Lithograph

One of our favorite topics of Michigan Upper Thumb history is the famous German Religious Colony of Ora Labora. This colony was located north of Bay Port. It operated from 1862 to 1867. It’s a fascinating topic and its one in which I’ve created many posts over the years.  


The Story of Ora Labora Year by Year

  • Utopia – Lost in the Wilderness – Ora et Labora settlement was founded by Emil Baur in 1857 near Bay Port Michigan. The colony lasted until 1867 after greed, war and even bugs exhausted the colonists’ will to carry on. But there is much more to the story… This announces the new research site Ora-Labora.org.
  • Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Ora Labora known as “Christian German Agricultural and Benevolent Society of Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work), where it’s parishioners could combine work with prayer, and live according to the Methodist Church Discipline. Founded in 1862 on Michigan’s Wild Fowl Bay, the colony disappeared in 1867
  • Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Part II – Part II of the Ora Labora story outlines the summer of 1863. The building is rapid and progresses exciting in Michigan’s north. But the looming effect of the Civil War is about to impact this fledgling German religious colony’s effort to bring their culture and traditions to the Great Lakes wilderness.
  • Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Part III – Part III of the Ora Labora story brings us to 1864. The rapid growth of the colony was costly and the society needs funds to grow. It was time for drastic measures. The raging war in the south was turning in the North’s favor. The colony was on borrowed time until the draft took effect.
  • Ora Labora – A Lost Colony In Michigan’s North – Part IV  Part IV of the Ora Labora start during Christmas 1864. The Colonies funds and provisions are low and its leader Emil Baur is begging his benefactors for loans to make it through the winter. With the war in its closing days the colonist are hopeful that a risky new venture will be profitable.

Our next installment of the Ora Labora legacy will take us beyond 1866 after the civil war. The colony finds itself tumbling toward ruin and its member look for something or someone to blame.  The direction that the colony takes now is arguably the most critical for the next century of the thumb region.


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