Category Archives: Michigan History

1940 Huron County Scenic Travel


In the months prior to WWII the major topic was the US’s stance on with our stated isolationist policy. Yet the war had not yet been declared and rationing was not even thought of. Large portions of M-25 were now paved and this Michigan Scenic Highway was viewed as tourist destination. Here is an interesting piece from the Huron Times in April 1940 highlighting the travel opportunity’s in the Thumb.Except for some spelling corrections the article is how it appeared in the Harbor Beach Times.

 

1940-huron-county-map
Climb aboard, everybody for a sightseeing jaunt on the 90 mile Scenic Highway of Huron County, Michigan. We’ll start at White Rock on the lower right of the map on U. S. 25. White Rock was an Indian altar or shrine.  All land north of it was allotted to the Indians for hunting grounds in a treaty made in Detroit in. 1807. The land south of this early-day boundary line become the property of the ‘White people’.

Next is Wagener Park, named to honor P. O. Wagener, pioneer physician of Harbor Beach.  It contains the most beautiful stand of cedars in the Thumb district. That bathing beach flashes invitingly.

Step on the gas. We’re now in Harbor Beach, home of Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy. That industry, on the short front is owned, by the Jenks family and is the largest specialty starch plant in the world.

Those lake breezes’ the ships on .the, distant horizon this is the life. We follow the shore line tothe thriving and beautiful village of Port Hope. We’ll relax, a few minutes in the W. R. Stafford Park, named to honor the founder of the village.

Whiskey Harbor — in the early days, to escape duty, whiskey was smuggled here from Canada, Several Kegs are said to be buried in the harbor. Keep your seats, at Huron City, summer home of Prof. Wm . Lyon Phelps is Lighthouse Park, a Federal gift to Huron County. There, goes a. deer. This park is a refuge for these beautiful creatures;

We pass Grindstone City, scene of the first industry of the county, and the beautiful summer resort Pointe Aux Barques, Thumb Nail of Michigan.

A long the rugged shore line we see. Turnip Rock, Kimball Point, Twin Rocks, Broken Rocks, Sandstone caves and  the site of an Indian pottery,  factory and village. “Poems from the hand of God” the natural scenery of Huron County is of the finest in the world.

Kimball Rock has an interesting Indian legend connected with it. Click’s Click’ — Hope those snapshots turn out okeh.

After getting an eye full of those, bathing beauties, look at those long strings of bass brought in by the lucky fishermen or women. Perch and Wall-eyed pike are also plentiful in Huron County.

All aboard, we’re on our way through country made famous by David Orr’s novel; “White Gold.’’

Those two parks, with a fine bathing beach are the Murray Van Wagoner and W, L. Jenks and the A.C. McGraw parks.

That 125. Ft. chimney stands as a lone sentinel guarding the ghost village of Port Crescent, a thriving port which vanished in 1884, with the lumber industry.

With 500 acres of parks, “in a natural paradise,” Huron County is the playground and recreational center of Michigan. We spin on, past the pot of gold buried somewhere on Loosemoore’s Point, to Oak Beach Park and summer resort colony.

Did you notice that everywhere along Scenic Highway 25 are found good hotels, restaurants, cottages, cabins, free camping grounds and every accommodation for the tourist.

We roll over the smooth pavement to the State park. Those sand dunes overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Huron are a favorite haunt of the American eagle. Every tree native to Michigan is found in this beautiful playground, planned for by V. V. Philp former FERA administrator

More, than 120,000 persons in 1939 signed this register in the county, park at Caseville, where, we have just written our names. This is the largest of the Huron county park units. The Pres. McKinley family lived in Caseville four years.

Gen.  George M. Meade placed that, U.S. survey, marker near the tip of Sand Point. The “Hero, of Gettysburg*’ was called to the colors from here.

Those ruins of log buildings mark the site of Ora Labora colony, a religious-socialistic experiment of the Civil War days. The marshes of Wild Fowl Bay are the best duck hunting grounds in Michigan.

We pass the Bay Port Stone Quarry and Bay Port, with its summer colony and “sportsman’s paradise.”

We see from the highway an Indian Tree, famous in Indian legend. A white man, “who discovered the secret lead mines of the Indians,” was said to have been tied to this tree and burned to death.’

That land m ark at the mouth of the Shebeyon, “W here the lead ore is hidden,” creek was the first church of Huron county. It was built by Rev. J.  Auch, Lutheran missionary, in 1850.

Now we enter the thriving village of Sebewaing. The name is Chippewa and translates “near the winding creek,” An ancient battle was fought here between two large Indian tribes. ‘Skeletons o f warriors were unearthed on main street in recent years. Sebewaing has a fine park and many Industries including a large sugar factory.

One more park, near the Tuscola county line. Want to see a-little of the beautiful farming country, of

Huron County?’ Okeh !’ We turn east at Sebewaing, motor through Owendale, north to Pigeon and then east to Elkton and Bad Axe, county seat of Huron county. At Ubly we find the largest REA plant in the world.

Yes! Kinde is the bean center of the world for pea beans. You’re right! Huron county is a garden spot, almost everything we eat is grown on the half million acres of its fertile land;. The county also leads in daily products, in thoroughbred horses and purebred cattle. The population! About 32,000. Now introduced to this county of Huron, come enjoy, in full with us “the most pleasant spot in the world.”

From the Harbor Beach Times April 16, 1940
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TBT – A Rich Haul- Harbor Beach


100 years ago today illustrations started to appear in the newspapers of Michigan’s Upper Thumb. The following was on the front page of the Harbor Beach Time January 5th 1917. Was food scarce? Coal was also in short supply causing layoffs of fisherman and the sugar beet processing plant in Mt. Clemans.

a_rich_haul

The Legend of the Caseville Grave Robbers


The following is an excerpt from the Book “History of Caseville: biographies and legends” by Mary Cobb Langley and published in 1960. One story outlines a notorious crime that took place about 1870. At the time Caseville was a boom town as it was starting the transition from lumbering to supporting a growing farming community.  In the late 1800’s grave robbing was a common crime as the demand by medical schools for cadavers made for a quick albeit dirty profit.  See Grave Robbers Worked for Science and Themselves for more detail.


The Caseville Grave Robbers

Dr. S.J. Henderson operated a drug store in connection with his medical practice. This small, one story building had a cellar underneath sided with logs and a foot and a half of new saw dust on the floor. This building was located between the GAR Civil War Monument and Russell LeBlanc’s gift shop. The at that time the place was an apothecary he employed and a girl helper. This morning in particular the girl had occasion to go into the cellar.

Ora Labora GraveShe came up screaming about a man in the cellar. Her face was livid with fright. Several men ran up to her and inquired what she was screaming about. Shaken she said that there was a man hiding in the sawdust and she saw his feet sticking out. Well the fellows went down with the intent tan the hide off the culprit. But they too came back up in a flurry of excitement calling for the town constable. Upon investigation they discovered a man alright, but he harmless and very dead. In fact, had been buried the day before as some of them had attended his funeral.

The mystery deepened  as some unknown person had dug up the man from the grave, removed his burial clothing and hid it in the saw dust in the cellar of Henderson’s drug store. The sawdust had fallen away from the bare feet and this was what the girl saw. “Grave robbers have been at work here”, said the town constable, Horrors! Creepy thoughts and fear walked the streets of Caseville. The cemetery was searched and three empty coffins were found from recent burials. Stories started coming to light The man coming past the grave yard on his way home at night had heard voices and what sounded like the clink a shovel on a stone, but didn’t tell it to anyone for fear of being laughed at.

The newlyweds a Mr. and Mrs. Meyers, living near Ora Labora just Ora Labora Gravestonenorth of Bay Port. The young wife was up at 2 0’clock one morning, hearing a rig coming on the rough ground. She looked out into bright moonlight and noted a madly racing team driven by a man playing a whip over the horses backs. From his seat on the buck and rolling around on the of the buck board, head hanging over the open tail board, was the body of a man. Awaking her husband and telling him about the weird sight, she got nothing but a laugh and a “Oh, come on back to bed honey, that’s just taking a drunk home.”

This story proved the gang was at work in the Bay Port and Sebewaing vicinity. Through the combined efforts of the three, these miserable creatures were caught. Three men were in the work. They confessed to stealing the one man on recent burials. The bodies were taken the night after the funeral, stripped, wrapped in canvas, and taken has fast as horses could travel to Saginaw. There, the gruesome cargo was put on a train and shipped to a medical school. The school paid these men well. There was no train service in Caseville at this time. How they bemoaned the unkind fate that made one of the horses go lame and unfit to travel that night. They were severely punished and that ended the grave robbing.

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