Tag Archives: Huron County

Saving A Great Thumb Icon – Kilmanagh General Store


One of the roadside treats for me when I come up the Thumb on Fridays after work is to go through the tiny village of Kilmanagh. The iconic general store and vintage gas pump  are always worth a slow roll to see what has changed.



However time has taken its toll on the 1870 general store that sports one of the last 1800’s storefront facades that was common in that time. The Building and Zoning Department has deemed the porch unsafe and ordered it repaired or removed.

The owners Tom and Brenda Voss are taking steps to restore the property, but it’s expensive. It has to be rebuilt to meet current code requirements, starting with new foundations. The existing cement porch deck needs to be removed, and both upper and lower porch decks need to be rebuilt to current standards. The porch roof has pulled away from the wall, and collapsed. The roof deck will need to be opened up, and raised back into position before the roof structure can be jacked back into place.

The ornamental roof sections on the parapet wall need to be reconstructed, and the main roof needs to be repaired where the wall has pulled away. We expect that repairs to sill plates and other water damage will be required.

Our goal for phase one is to stabilize the structure, and weatherproof the building. When that is completed,  work to restore the Victorian detailing on the front, and start to repair siding and windows and paint the other areas of the building.

The Voss’s have kicked off a fundraising campaign to help with the costs of bringing the general store back to its former glory. Please consider a donation at their  Go Fund Me site.

Thumbwind chipped in a $100. Your contribution, however small or large will mean a great deal to this little community and those who love history. Please share this post and donate.


Kilmanagh is a place stuck in lore and time. In the Spring of 1891 the this western Huron County village hosted a grist mill or two general stores, a  blacksmith shop, and two or three saloons. Today only a couple relics IMG_0859[1]


of the village remains, the aging general store, a 1940’s service station, and a closed liquor store. Its an interesting stop on your way to the coast of Saginaw Bay. If you stop treat it respectfully as it’s literally a museum exposed to the elements.


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Walk among its ruins. Snap shots and hopefully write a few words on your find. The generals store is what takes your attention first. There is beauty in the decay.


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It’s a little gold mine for still life artists. The best example of someone who really invested himself into this is  John Nagridge who  in several seasons painted Kilmanagh Fall, Winter and Spring themes.  You can visit John’s website to view more knife renderings of Kalmanagh’s general store.


Kal


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The Colony of Palestine


Baron Moritz de HirschDuring the late 1800’s there was a movement by wealthy barons in Europe to establish Jewish colonies all over the world. One of the barons was Moritz de Hirsch, who made his fortune in Russia’s railroads under the Czar. Hirsch’s solution was to establish colonies for Jewish agriculture. He established them all over the world. He purchased land in South America, North America, and Africa and attempted to recruit thousands of Russian Jews to move to and populate those far flung locations. In the United States, he established agricultural communities in the Dakotas, Tennessee, and, New Jersey. places. In 1883 the Hebrew Relief Society of Detroit, assisted by the Baron de Hirsch Committee, settled a colony of Russian Jews in the Thumb This new colony was located about five miles northeast of Bad Axe. (1) They called their settlement the Palestine Colony.


Jewish_refugees_1882All the business arrangements for acquiring the property were overseen by Detroit Rabbi William Martin, a veteran stockbroker and the agent for Frank W. Hubbard & Co., who sold the 1200 acres of land to the colony.  It’s interesting to note that bank that sold and funded the colony was the Farmer’s Bank of Frank W. Hubbard. This bank was the forebearer of the Thumb National Bank & Trust Company. (2)

After the business arrangements had been completed, the members journeyed from Bay City and Detroit by covered wagon and lived in the wagons and tents, until their homes were built. Part of the land was swampy, there was considerable rainfall and the colonists had the same taste of pioneer hardships that the Ora Labora colony had twenty years prior.


The land purchase from the F. W. Hubbard & Co. was divided into small farms of 40 and 60 acres. The ownership of the farms, after there had been considerable dispute, was settled by lottery. Each farm was numbered and its number written on a ticket which was placed in a hat. A child then drew out one number for each family, which represented their farm.

Mr. Martin recalled a peculiar incident relating to the drawing of the farms. Two old patriarchs, Human Lewinbergh and Samuel Eckstein, desired corner farms. They got down on their knees and prayed to God that corner farms located opposite each other, be granted to them. The men were content to accept the last two numbers in the hat. These corner farms, opposite each other. It was a fine example of what a little faith will do.

The amount paid down on each farm was $50. Each member was also given a cow which was purchased with money from the Hirsch fund. Larry Molloy earned his first half dollar by returning a cow that strayed from the colony.


Despite the hardships, the community founded a school, where the Farmingcurriculum included Yiddish, and a synagogue. “A schochet came from Saginaw, and for a few months during the summer and autumn of 1892 Rev. Charles Goodwin of Bay City was spiritual leader, cantor and religious teacher, acting in these various capacities without pay. Praiseworthy was the ardent desire to give the children a thorough Jewish bringing up. Hard as it must have been to get together the little money required, a modest Talmud Torah building was erected.” (3) At the Palestine Colony’s height, there were 21 families on 1200 acres. Years later, after the colony disbanded, Verona School No. 3 was established on the site of the former synagogue.

When the colony started to fail, Martin Butzel of Detroit, a Jewish philanthropist sent them a farm expert, Emanuel Woodic, a veteran of the civil war. “ Woodic, an experienced farmer who had twenty-five years of successful farming. Woodic was then living in the village of Utica, near Detroit, on a small farm whither he had retired when his advancing years and his wife’s illness compelled him to give up more active farming operations.”  It was an unfortunate coincidence that there was a national economic panic and recession that lasted for over five years. (4) Like Ora Labora, the national economy doomed the struggling Palestine Colony.


Within five years about half of the original colonist had left. The Russian Jews lacked the agricultural skills required to establish a homestead farm. Some sought out and established retail businesses. Some sold door-to-door. Their wagons were familiar sights on the roads in this section of the county for many years. One after another the members of the colony gave the up the struggle. Some of them sold their partly cleared land; others let it revert to the original owners. By 1906 only one of the original families remained.


Sources:

(1) Article from the Huron Daily Tribune. Found in the Caseville Historical Musuem. Estimated to be from the 1940’s.
(2) History Page of https://thumbnational.com/ab_history.asp
(3) Glimpses Into American Jewish History (Part –), Jewish Agricultural Colonies in America III, Dr. Yitzchok Levine
(4) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/michigan-jewish-history
(5) Images from the web and wikipedia. They are not attributable to the colony.

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Caseville Shanty Days 2018


The Caseville Chamber of Commerce has announced the weekend of February 16-18, 2018 for this winter’s Shanty Days. This is the event’s 26th year of mid-winter fun on the ice. It’s the largest winter carnival in Michigan’s Upper Thumb.


Shanty Day Events Friday Evening  February 16th

The Warm Up to Shanty Days. The city welcomes visitors with special events for the festival.IMG_1257


  • Starting at 11:00 AM at the Caseville Eagles Club located Behind Caseville True Value. Burgers, fish & additional menu items 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Starting at 6:00 PM Live Music – Mike Shilakes at the Wooded Island Sports Grill
  • Starting at 9:00 PM. Free Comedy Show at the Caseville Eagles Club
  • Starting at 9:00 PM. D.J. & Dancing, Jager Girls, Free Give Aways. Drink Specials. Free pool & dartboard Bella Vista Boardwalk – Grill & Lounge. Just East of Caseville
  • Starting at 9:00 PM. Live Entertainment Dufty’s Blue Water Inn

Saturday – The Main Event. Contests games and events around Caseville and on the ice.

Caseville Winter


  • Starting at 11:00 AM *Broom Ball – Sponsored by Caseville Area Chamber of Commerce & Caseville Township Park & Recreation Committee Harbor St. (near the breakwall) 
  • Starting at 11:00 AM * Human Bowling – *NEW Shanty Days Winter Games – * Polar Bear Dip Plaques awarded. Caseville Resort & Marina
  • From 11:00 to 4:00 PM 6th Annual Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show
    Starting at 1:00 PM NEW Corn Hole Tournament – Harbor St. (near the breakwall)
  • From 1:00 to 3:00 PM * Chili Cook-Off Contest – Registration 12:30 p.m. Sample & be a judge with a Shanty Day Button – Chili Available for purchase – Caseville Class of 2018 NEW LOCATION Caseville Resort & Marina Harbor St.
  • From 1:00 to 3:00 PM Checkers Tournament -Historical Society of Caseville/ Museum
  • From 1 to 4:00 PM Kids Cookie & Craft Fun – Kids come decorate your own Shanty Day cookie & make a handmade craft to take home with you. * Plus warm up with Free Hot Cocoa. Wooded Island Sports Grill
  • From 1:30 PM – Doubles Pool & Dart Board Tournament – Dufty’s Blue Water Inn
  • From 2 to 4:00 PM NEW “Polar Bear Pong” – Bay Wash Coin Laundey, 6966 Main St.
  • From 3 to 5:00 PM – Family Bingo – Lefty’s Dinnr 6937 Main St.
  • From 7 PM Live Music – Kuuze Kontrol – Wooded Island Sports Grill
  • From 7:00 PM *Crazy Cap Contest -Come enjoy the fun and show off that crazy cap or hat. Sponsored by Wooded Island Sports Grill Entertainment & Beer Tent Harbor St. (near breakwall)
  • 8:30 PM FIREWORKS – Caseville Harbor

Click this link to find neat stories of past Shanty Day Weekend Shenanigans.


Caseville Shanty Days


Photo courtesy of af.mil

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Great Getaways in Michigan’s Upper Thumb


This 15 minute video is a great review of some of the highlights of Michigan’s Thumb.  With 150 miles of shoreline the contrast between the rocky, rugged Lake Huron side is toured to the sugar sand and calm waters of Saginaw Bay. The thumb region is a great area to explore.

This video is from Great Getaways, a television travel series that spotlights active getaway adventures across the Midwest and Canada with an emphasis on the outdoors.


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