A history of Ellsworth’s first 100 years, 1866 – 1966 by Elsie Timmer
NOTE: The following document is a digital copy of the original 82-page, soft-cover book written and published by Elsie Timmer in 1967. The text was scanned with the permission of Ruth Timmer, in order to preserve its historical information, as copies of the orginal book are becoming scarce. A copy of the original book (which contains pictures that were not scannable) can be viewed at the Banks Township Historical Society. This digital version may contain errors which were not caught by our proofreaders; however, our intent is to have faithfully reproduced the original book as published. Misspellings, as they occur in the book, have been preserved in this digital version. A Table of Contents has been prepared which was not part of the book.
GLEANINGS FROM ELLSWORTH’S YESTERYEARS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I – INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER II – SETTLERS
CHAPTER III – RAILROADS, POST OFFICES, VILLAGE STREETS
CHAPTER IV – ELECTRICTY, WATER RESOURSES, NEWSPAPERS, TELEPHONE, CEMETERY
CHAPTER V – GOVERNMENT, ORGANIZATIONS
CHAPTER VI – CHURCHES
CHAPTER VII – SCHOOLS, P.T.A., RURAL SCHOOLS SOLD, OTHER SCHOOLS
CHAPTER VIII – FIRES
CHAPTER IX – STORES, BANK, BARBER SHOP, FUNERAL HOME, BLACKSMITHS, LIVERY BARNS, WAREHOUSE, RESTAURANTS AND BAKERY, STORES, DRUG STORE, ELLSWORTH CANNING PLANT
CHAPTER 10 – OUR HOMES
CHAPTER XI – INCIDENTS IN EARLY PIONEER HISTORY OF NORTHERN MICHIGAN
CHAPTER XII – DOCTORS, “MAN’S BEST FRIEND”, YEAR 1918 – ANGEL OF MERCY, “LAST CHAPTER”
“A FOREWORD TO THE READER”
This history is dedicated to the former residents of Ellsworth.
. . .To those who lived here when this village was Young.
. . .And from their keen memory we learned how our pioneers strived to conquer the forest and wilderness.
. . .To make a home, and eke out a livelihood for their families.
This is written in appreciation for the many fine friendships acquired during my life here.
Especially do I want to mention the assistance of Mrs. Margaret Skow Clow; Mrs. Kittie Eastcott Black McPherson; Mrs. Hazel De Line McPhee;. Mrs. Grace Harroun McElroy; W.P. Smith; and the late Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Best; Tracy Boss; Arthur Ruis; Mrs. Mary Dean Moblo; also Jud Hardy..
As well as many others who gave freely of their time in suppling me with information.
These pages of the past are written to keep alive the heritage that is ours. Left to us by our forefathers who pioneered the forests we now call our home – The Village of Ellsworth.
Come with me.
Come with me into the yesterdays of yesteryears. Let’s look through the eyes of one of our pioneers of one hundred years ago.
In 1866, a maiden lady moved with her brother and family from Hillsdale, Michigan.
Mr. and Mrs. Amos Noyes coming here into the vast forest to take up homesteading two miles west of Ellsworth, today known to us as the Peter Vanderlerk farm, adjacent to the cemetery.
One day this young lady decided to take a walk into the forest. Strolling in an easterly direction she came to the top of a hill. Here stood the pioneer . . . courageous, undaunted by an unknown wilderness. Wilderness ? Yes, but she was seeing beauty. untouched by man. She saw a glimmer of shining water through the tree tops. To the east a lake, and to the south a ribbon of water, connected by a curving channel.
Down, down, she walked, along the huge trees that did as yet not know the sing of a saw, or the bite of an axe. As Lois Hardy descended down the hill, she discovered the hill on the east side formed steps or shelves. The waters of a beautiful lake lapped at the bottom step. This land she decided she would homestead, and name the lake Hardy Lake. What could be more beautiful then to see a stream of pure spring water that came tumbling down those steps, as if eager to reach the lake. It was pure because it had not been polluted by men. Wild and untamed it gurgled and splashed its noisy cascade down, down, as it was fed by more springs.
Beside this stream Lois Hardy built a log house. Her sister Almeda and brother Chat, a cripple with a club-foot, lived with her. If this log house were standing today, it would be in the, middle of our town, the corner of Center and Main Streets. Lois Hardy also built a log barn. This barn was where our depot is now.. From 1866 to 1870, Lois Hardy had to live on, and “prove-up” the land, before she could own the homestead. Property owners in our village may find, on their Abstract of Title, to read, United States Government to Lois Hardy-1870.
In one of these chapters, I’ll tell how people came to this part of Northern Michigan.
. . .And how the Indians used our waterways for navigation.
We are looking into the yesterdays. But could Lois Hardy have looked into the one hundred years of tomorrows in her day? She would be disappointed if she could see how man destroyed the beauty of her once rushy-bubbling creek that she loved. A stranger coming to this village today, can hardly find it. Who destroyed it?
Each coming generation left its mark. The first generation cut down the trees that formed a sort of a water-shed for the springs. Then came the generation that built the wooden-foot bridges. They are still memories of old residents. Fun for mischievous boys who hid underneath the bridge on Main street – then, jump out and scare the unsuspecting girls who were passing by, unaware of their presence. Screaming with delight the girls had their revenge by dunking the boys.
The next generation ran the creek through tile and burried it. Besides changing its course, it is now polluted by drainage from septic tanks and street gutter drains a mere trickle of its former self.
Ellsworth’s first cemetery was cradled in a bend of the creek, where James Ruis’ Garage now stands. The first death and burial there was Ed and Jcan Van Orman’s 3-year old sister, also Willie St. Clair, twin brother of Mrs. Gardner Miller (Rock), also Mr. Henry Drver, and twin children born to Mr. and Mrs. William H. Hall.
Our creek was a much wider stream, so wide, logs were floated to the mill near Campbell Lake. Gene Best told the story of the day in the long ago, when he was standing on the bank of that creek where it turns, now Levi Donaldson property, and no railroad tracks to be in the way of the logs rushing to the mill. Gene and a dapper young man with a showy vest that dangled a watch chain from its pocket, were watching the logs float by, when all of a sudden they piled up on the curve and one log shot over the heads of the men and nearly knocked the derby off the head of Mr. Van Vrendenburg. Needless to say he made a fast get-away.
We could not learn much about the people moving in, between 1870-1881. In 1881, Augustus Davis came to Antrim from Canada. Looking for a location to build a saw-mill, he decided on Campbell Lake, and at the channel he built log houses for the wood-cutters, and together with his nephew, Erwin A. Dean, who moved here with him, named the settlement Ox Bow.
To these men goes the honor of being the founders of old Ellsworth.
B. F. Wrisley was given the credit of naming the small cluster of houses that sprang up on the bank of Orr Creek, Needmore, later Ellsworth, and still later, Old Ellsworth, by the coming of the railroad.
Davis and Dean had a sawmill east of Big Fish Inn. They damned the water the road now crosses.
They built a flume with lumber on the sides and bottom, to keep the sand away from the waterwheel. The first wheel was made by August Davis.
Mr. Dean was born in Canada on September 2, 1853 and was 90 years old when he passed away. He lived here continuously, with the exception of 14 years in Sault Ste. Marie. He and his uncle, Mr. Davis, sold the sawmill there and moved back to Ellsworth, purchased and lived on the farm on the edge of our village, now the Roy Staudenmeyer farm. His son Wallace was the first white baby born here, in the Hardy log house in 1883.
Mrs. Kittie Eastcott Black McPherson’s mother, Cornelia Dean Eastcott, and Erwin Dean were brother and sister and August Davis was her uncle. The Eastcotts, too, were early settlers. Their last place of residence on the hill on the West edge of the village, is now the Evert Glas farm. The first school classes were held in their home, (burned in 1922) back of Denny’s store.
Names on Parade
Let’s have a roll call.
As we view the parade of names, it may bring back memories to the older folks, and will be just names to the young people. Quite a few left their mark for us as a heritage. Others have come and gone and barely left a footprint.
Though local fame is a fleeting thing, there was one man of the many that comes to mind. Falle H. Skow, a Dane by birth, came to the United States at the age of 16. He was born November 7th in 1835. Coming to Michigan, he lived in Jonesville where he furthered his education by going to high school, working days, saving his pennies so he could attend M.A.C. in Lansing. A Yankee borrowed the money Mr. Skow had saved. The fellow left – money and all. Also working in Iowa and Wisconisin, he came to Ironton and worked for the Iron Furnace Company. He then moved to Ellsworth. The first time W. P. Smith saw Mr. Skow was when Skow was driving a yoke of oxen down Reamsma’s hill, hauling a load of rail ties. He must have enjoyed ocean voyages. Crossing the ocean the seventh time he brought the girl, Christine Sandberg, of Denmark to be his bride. They were married Thanksgiving Day in 1889 in the Congregational Church by the lake in Ironton.
They located in Ellsworth, and lived in the log house, the Hardy log house in the center of our own village. Two daughters were born in that log house, Margaret and Ann.
Through hard work and shrewd applications of his native intelligence, he became a lumberman, farmer, dealer in real estate, and owner of a successful merchandise store. He dabbled in all civic affairs. A short stocky built man, effectively decorated his face with a mustache. He was a devout Christian, and lived his faith seven days a week, never letting his left hand know what his right hand was doing, as the saving goes. And even today there are incidents that come to light of the hand stretched out to those in need – maybe a train ticket to one person, or a suit of clothes to another, so he could attend the funeral of a loved one in a far away city, or, some groceries to another who had many mouths to feed and no where withal to pay for them. Then, the many donations to improve our village – Every new church was given a boost.
When the time came to name our streets – No. He declined that fame for naming a street in his honor and his memory. When the railroad came through, he donated the land for the new depot in 1892. It was in that same year that Mr. Skow built the house now owned by D. E. Clow. He did much to promote the local canning factory, and I worked as manager for a few years, seeing the factory through a difficult period.
Mr. Skow passed away in September of 1937, having left his mark for all generations to come.
Another man of prominence, not only in our village, but in our county was Ernest R. Harris, Judge of Probate, dealer in real estate, farmer, business man, postmaster, school board member, and a politician.
Mr. Harris moved with his parents from Battle Creek to Norwood in 1866. His father, William Harris was the first postmaster at Norwood. Mail was carried by Indians on horse-back over old Indian Trail.
His sister, Bertha Harris Moore was the first white female child born in Norwood Township. Marion Township was named for his mother, Marion Harris.
Parents of Isabella Wilson Harris landed in Norwood about the same time, coming from New York State. Mrs. Wilson told about the wigwams on the shore at Antrim and Norwood and of many Indians. When they came to call, they would first peek in the window, then open the door and walk in. They were friendly Indians and did the white invaders no harm as the people encroached on their terrain.
Mr. Harris was an active personage, in business and otherwise. In 1901 be built the Blue Store, now our hardware store. This was after a disastrous fire that wiped out the south side of Center Street. Why named the Blue Store? – It was his favorite color, and be had the trim of the store painted blue. Public meetings were held upstairs. His latter years were spent in Detroit, where he passed away.
William Anthony Boss also came to Michigan in the spring of 1866, at the age of 18, with his parents, William Anthony and Nancy Moore Boss, and three sisters. They followed a footpath from Antrim, where their boat landed.
The elder William took up a homestead which for years was known as the “Boss Farm”, which is now the Roy Strange farm, one mile north-west of town. They lived in a bark house the first summer. The men made several trips back to carry in supplies. The father carried a stove on his back. Tracy Boss told how his father blazed a trail to Charlevoix, and it was an event if he could accompany his father on one of those trips and help him carry supplies. First, the trips were made on foot then, when the trail was wide enough for horse, on horse back. Later, these trips were made with a team of oxen and wagon. That was a red letter day. This was before there was a “Needmore” settlement.
Helen Boss, “Nell”, told how Indians passing through and peering into the windows would walk to the door, lift the latches and drift silently inside, scaring the women and children, and probably those brave he-men, out of their senses.
In later years, Mr. Boss and his sons became prominent business men in Ellsworth, owning and operating the Ellsworth Hardware store from 1899 to 1925.
William Anthony Boss was born November 24, 1847 and died October 1941.
In this parade of names of people that helped to form a village of lumbermen and their families, we find each taking their place in clearing the land, and hewing down the beautiful virgin trees. The lakes that flowed encumbered by vast drives of logs which each spring covered its placid bosom as the boom was on.
R.T. Sleeper; John and Milton McKay; Frederick J. Meech; Louis Hanson; B. Madill; Sam and Henry Brown, brothers of Mrs. Louis De Line; Mr. Louis DeLine, our first Postmaster, store-keeper, boarding house owner.
Garrett V. Nash; _____ Mears; Dick Orr; Robert Fulton; Bowers; Dryer; Van Orman; Frank Wrisley; Wm. J. Crego; Eugene Best; Charles Gotham; George Filer; Claud Wood; Fred Smith; Charles Nelson; Ike Loague, Frank Dewey; T. J. Stevens; Robert White; Harry Taylor; Jefferson M. Bearss, A.B. Meech; August Bohles; Joe Cooper; W. H. Hubbard, Freeman; St. Clair, Charles Hillman. The farm now owned by Miner Veenstra was purchased from Alex Dryer to whom it had been granted by the U. S. Government. It was held by the Hillman family until Leonard Charles’ youngest son sold it to M. Veenstra.
Dodatus O. Parks came to Ellsworth from Cayugo County, New York in 1880, and purchased 46 acres in Ellsworth, which later was plotted into our village. north of Center Street.
With the coming of the railroad in 1892, the picture changed.
Because Mr. Sleeper was unrelenting, who would not allow the depot to be built on his land in Old Ellsworth, F. H. Shaw donated the land. Mr. Skow owned the land at that time south of Center Street and Datus Parks owned the land north of Center Street. Frederick and Polly Meech owned some land north of Center Street also.
Thus the new Ellsworth was born. The Hardy log house was wrecked. The Ellsworth Lumber Company, owned by Nash Harris and Meeck store building was built on the southeast corner of Center Street. It housed a grocery store, Post Office and telephone exchange. The east half of the building was used for a pool room by Fagan and Todd, when the building burned.
During 1892, the village of Ellsworth was plotted by Frederick L. Church, surveyor for Parks, Skow and Meech. The following buildings were built during 1892: Large store building of Pine Lake Lumber Company (40 x 100); depot building was finished June 1, 1892; H. W. Hubbard built two store buildings with residences over them, and one other residence; Ezra F. Meech store building (22 x 48); F. H. Skow residence; Felix Coon residence; Thomas Denton, small house; Andrew Mackie, small house; Joe Cooper, two small houses; large boarding house for Pine Lake Lumber Co.; residences for E. R. Harris, R. T. McLean, Gus Case, Thomas Thorpe, F. J. Meech, Wm. Thorpe, Benjamin Madill, and a livery stable for Jeff Bearss.
On January 1, 1893 the town had 25 residences, with 30 families living in them.
Needmore, the cluster of houses in the bend, where Alward, James and Van Stedum houses now stand, experienced a boom of new buildings, and on January 1, 1892 had as follows: The “Ellsworth House” home and boarding house; Post Office, owned by Mr. and Airs. Louis DeLine; Store building by Jerry Moblo, also used by Newville for railroad supplies during building of the railroad; The Hanson House, boarding house; residences of Mrs. Miles; Deodatus Parks; Herman Cramer; Charles Gotham; Benj. Madill. The Dean’s; Davis; Campbells had homes near “Big Fish Inn”, called Ox Bow. Mr. Dean died in 1944, and Mr. Davis died in 1907. Mr. Davis was ten years older than Mr. Dean.
To those that came looking for a new home, the ring of the woodman’s axe and the whine of the band-saw was a challenge that provided the background music for the lumberjacks call – “Timber”.
The boom was on, – Sawmills, one where Levi Donaldson home now stands, the Sleeper Mill -the Davis and Dean Mill; Skows’ shingle mill; Camerons mill; MacKay’s mill. In 1897, broom handles were manufactured, and the R. Fulton mill.
Drownings, accidents happened far too often. A Van Orman’s son was scalded to death in a soup-hole. Ben Madill’s mother was drowned near the iron bridge.
In January of 1899, R. T. Sleeper employed 55 men and had 2,000,000 feet of hardwood at his mill, and Cameron Bros., the largest mill, had many more.
Another early settler were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Campbell. They owned the land where the Big Fish Inn was built in later years. Campbells moved here from New York. He was a lawyer by profession. Tis said they were reserved people, not having many friends. I can remember Mrs. Campbell walking to town with her two large greyhound dogs on a leash. She habitually wore a Davy Crockett cap which always fascinated me. Campbells lake was named for him. For years it was called Camels lake. If it was pronounced too fast that we didn’t get the proper name – but Camels Lake it was. When their large home burned, they moved their elaborate horse barn to the foot of Center Street, now owned by Mrs. Mable Liberty.
CHAPTER III –
Railroading has played an important role in the history of Ellsworth. It is a vital part of the economy of the community.
Today the railroad’s part is confined almost entirely to transportation of freight, but its past should not be shunned, as it is a community link with the outside world. The railroad also played an important part in the lumbering era. In 1890 rumors had it that a railroad was coming through from Traverse City to Petoskey. That was before Ellsworth proper was in existence. One land owner in old Ellsworth would not have a depot on his property. F. W. Skow at that time owned the land south of Center Street. Being of a far sighted nature, he quickly donated the site for a depot.
By 1891 the railroad was under construction, which was not only a big undertaking, but was slow and difficult and hazardous. The workers chopped their way through forest, swamp, across rivers and sink holes. Eugene Best, one of the men working on this project, told me the first ties were of bass-wood. Men who species of wood claimed these must soon be replaced. This proved true, and Mr. Best also worked on the replacement of cedar ties. The Chicago and Western Michigan. sold in I900 to the Pere Marquette Railroad Company. In June, 1947 the company again changed hands, this time to the Chesapeake and Ohio lines; Pere-Marquette District.
The high wage scale in 1891-1892 was an inducement. Men came long distances to work on the road. For a long day’s very hard work, the consideration of $1.15 was paid to the laborers. Seventy-five cents per day was the minimum wage for other work. At that time butter sold for 12 cents a pound, eggs were 10 cents per dozen and flour brought 40 cents for a 25 pound bag.
At last the much looked for day arrived. On July 3, 1892, the first passenger train of the Chicago and Western Michigan came roaring into town. The whistle that echoed through the hills as the train pulled in was sweet music to the ears for the people in the community. Harry Taylor and Tracy Boss were two young men from Ellsworth (there may have been others) who boarded the train for that all-eventful trip to Charlevoix. Charlevoix was unprepared for such an influx of population and soon the passengers cleaned out the hotels, restaurants and grocery stores of all their food.
Railway sidings and spurs jutted out, like that many fingers. There was Crego siding,. Crampton siding, Phelps siding, and a spur ran into Essex. These sidings served to get the timber, lumber, shingles and lathe to market. M. E. Hoadley had the honor of being Ellsworth’s first station agent. Charles Nelson replaced Hoadley. Then there was Burton Ford. Next came William Slough, first coming in 1903 or 1904. Then Leonard Clark, and Mr. M. R. Dresher served as station agent. William Slough returned, and he held the position for 35 years. He was employed by the Pere Marquette Railway for a total of 56 years. He was born October 5, 1859, and died December 10, 1937. Upon his retirement, a few relief agents held the office until Lester Arndt came in 1938.
On July 1, 1900, the first “Dummy” excursion train made its run between Bellaire (Comfort) and Bay View and Pellston. Just south of Bellaire – 4 miles the railroad built a “Y”, and every Sunday morning during the summer months fishermen, especially, traveled by this train. It stopped anywhere a passenger wished to get on or off. Then there were the big excursions every October. This was the year’s big event – the railroad company offered special ten-day excursion rates to Grand Rapids, Chicago and Detroit. One section of nine coaches started in Petoskey, all filled. Another section of ten coaches started in Ellsworth. and were all filled by the time they reached Traverse City. The third section started from Traverse City, and was also a heavy train. In 1904, one hundred and sixteen excursion tickets were sold from Central Lake alone.
In May, 1911, the first parlor car was added to the passenger train., Every summer the Resort Special northbound passed through Saturday morning, (coming from Chicago and Detroit, and returned late Sunday evening. Ellsworth was just a flag stop. When the Special stopped on Saturday morning, one could find the three “guides”, Rock Miller, David Denny and George Liberty, waiting to assist the visiting fishermen. Ellsworth entertained V.I.P.’s at the Orient Hotel. Such notables included the Governor Harmon of Ohio and Earl Babst of -New York City, enjoying the fishermen guides famous fish fries on Six Mile Lake. Coming home with 17 nice Black Bass, the Governor said “he could catch bass almost as well as he can votes.” “I will return”, be was quoted as saying In May 1947, the picture changed. Four new stream-lined diesel engines were put into operation on our tracks, 2,000 horse-power each.
Gradually, travel by automobile took over, and on Saturday, September 1, 1962 the departure of the south-bound Chesapeake and Ohio passenger train marked the end of the regular passenger service. Lester Arndt served our station from March 16, 1938 to December 19, 1959 when he was promoted to the Charlevoix depot. Richard Petzak is our present station agent. In May, 1962, the service on the spur between Bellaire and East Jordan was discontinued and the Ellsworth station is now the rail line for East Jordan.
The first run of the Greyhound bus through Ellsworth – Charlevoix to Detroit – on June 10, 1947 drew a crowd of spectators on its initial run.
Probably no branch of government touches so many lives each day as the Post Office Department.
The people in the two small settlements, Needmore and Oxbow decided they should have a post office of their own. The first carriers walked or rode horseback over rough trails through the forest from Eastport to East Jordan and delivery was uncertain. Mr. Lewis DeLine, Erwin Dean, August Davis, also Sam and Henry Brown, brothers of Mrs. DeLine, walked through the forest to Bellaire to enter a petition for the post office. Mr. DeLine drew up the original petition for the establishment of the office and spent much time in circulating it. He was appointed to be our first postmaster, and held the office for seven continuous years. A name had to be decided upon, and to settle the controversy among the settlements, Mr. De Line selected the name Ellsworth, in memory of Colonel Elmer Ephriam Ellsworth, the first Union officer to be killed in the Civil War. Colonel Ellsworth was Mr. De Line’s commanding officer, and fell by his side during one of the great conflicts. By the way, Lewis De Line enlisted in response to President Lincoln’s first call for volunteers. He received his honorable discharge in the Autumn of 1863.
Our first post office was established in a cabin, or small shed, home of the De Lines. He also carried a small line of groceries. Up to a few years ago, this building stood at the rear of the home of Mrs. Rhoda Evans, in what is now known as Old Ellsworth. The first quarterly report of the Post Office of Ellsworth showed a gross receipt of twelve cents. There was one letter registered during that quarter. On January 1, 1899, during E. R. Harris administration, our post office was authorized to issue money orders. According to records of Post Office Department now in the custody of the National Archives and Records Service, the following names of postmasters and the dates of their appointments were: Louis De Line, February 1, 1884; Jane E. Campbell, December 4, 1891; Pembroke S. Gardner, February 21, 1894; George F. Frink, September 4, 1896; Ernest R. Harris, September 10, 1898; Albert E. Pickard, February 14, 1910. Delbert E. Clow, August 6, 1915; Hiram L. Dawson, May 18, 1920; Marvin J. Elzinga, September 25, 193.3; Isabel M. Elzinga, (Military Acting); Marvin J. Elzinga, April 30, 1946.
Rural Route No. 1 was established at Ellsworth on September 15, 1904. Ira L. Bearss was appointed rural carrier on that date. Mr. Bearss resigned February 14, 1906, and was succeeded by Fred Chrispell, who carried the route from February 15, 1906 to September 30, 1906. Donald Patterson served from October 1, 1906 to September 15, 1922. His son William G. Patterson took over September 16, 1922 and retained this position until September 26, 1959. Max Bolser served as a substitute and received permanent appointment July 23, 1960.
Our Post Office has been housed in many buildings. Starting in Old Ellsworth, when Lewis LeLine was postmaster, a little cabin served as a combined Post office and grocery store-. From there it was moved to the Campbell residence. It was moved to Ellsworth proper to a building that stood where our Ellsworth Farmer’s Exchange is now. This building burned while George Frink was postmaster. The family lived upstairs, and they too lost all their possessions in that fire. It was October 18, 1896. The post office was then moved to the E. R. Harris building, and it burned when Albert Pickard was postmaster. The post office was then housed in what was once the Ellsworth Electric Co., next to Smalley’s store. During the time that Delbert Clow was postmaster, the post office was in the Blue Store. Postmaster Hiram Dawson used the building on the corner of Cenret and Main, now where Ellsworth Farm Store is located. Postmaster Marvin Elzinga moved the office into the Ellsworth Citizens Bank in June of 1940, from the Zylstra building, until Saturday, October 10, 1959 when our new red brick post office was dedicated, located on the corner of Main and Hardy streets, The public was invited to attend Open House and a program with Congressman Victor A. Knox, Representative from this district as one of the speakers. Mr. Clyde Layton, Field Service Officer, represented the Post Office Department. and delivered the dedication address. Postmaster Marvin Elzinga is efficiently assisted by his wife, Isabel Elzinga; Mrs. Ruth Staudenmeyer; and Rural Carrier Maxwell Bolser, who travels sixty-one miles per day to service 209 patrons. Anthony Shooks is our substitute carrier.
The Star Route was inaugurated Monday, January 7, 1946. Starting in Kalkaska, through Rapid City, Alden, Bellaire, Central Lake, Ellsworth, and terminating in Charlevoix, this greatly improved mail service has fit in well with the north and south bound Pere Marquette train service.
October, 1950, James H. Elzinga, 70, clerk at the Post Office for fifteen years, retired due to age limitation in the regulations.
An incident happened in the long ago yesterdays, when Mr. William Coulter carried mail on his back. An Indian carried the mail from Elk Rapids to Atwood, and Mr. Coulter carried it f rom Atwood to East Jordan. One day when he was traveling on snowshoes, he fell through the ice by Dufore bridge. Lawrence Isaman’s father heard his cries and saved him from drowning, took him to his house, dried him out and sent him on his way again. This William Coulter Was Mrs. Melvin Smith’s father, and Mrs. Lloyd Reibel’s grandfather. Mrs. Smith’s grandfather, Kimball Bagley was postmaster in Atwood at the time on Isa Alward’s farm, which he had homesteaded.
Main Street really isn’t the main street. Center Street is the main street.
All streets running east and west, south of Center Street have been named for trees, maple, Elm, Ash and Cherry. North of Center Street, the streets were named for prominent men of the time.. Church Street never had a Church building erected on it. It keeps in memory the man who surveyed the land into lots, streets and alleys, F. L. Church. Surveying was not an easy task in 1892, with the smell of sawdust from freshly cut trees still in the air, tripping over and around stumps with tripod and tape. Streets were mapped out on four elevations from River Street to High Street.
Park street was named for Datus Parks, who at that time owned the land North of Center Street. Someone in the long ago nick-named Park Street Monkey Run. The name is still used by older folks. Harris Street was named for E. R. Harris. The lower section of this street was nick-named Skunk Hollow, and that name is still used in referring to that neighborhood. Hardy Street was named for the Hardy sisters, who homesteaded the land that is now our village. There were other influential men in those days who did not want to be so honored, and left their mark in some other manner for all the tomorrows to come.
In August of 1943, traffic regulations were enforced by placing yellow lines. Stop signs were also installed.
In May of 1947, Park Street was extended from Center Street-to Elm Street, cutting across the Skow estate. This eliminated two dangerous curves for traffic coming from Essex Road. Soon, new homes were built on this new street – Mrs. Gertie Doeter was the first to build a home on the corner of Park and Maple Dean Fiedler built three houses on the west side of the street, and Lester Arndt and John De Young, also James Huris and Elmer Rood each built dwellings on Park Street.
In July, 1925, the laying of sidewalks was the order of the day in our village, which added to the looks of our town, and great pleasure to pedestrians.
In the name of progress, old land marks must go. Thus also the Iron Bridge met its fate in May of 1948. The bridge built in the long ago that even the oldtimers cannot recall by whom it was built, only that the first bridge was a wood plank bridge. It was picturesque. It still is the only gate-way to the east side of Ellsworth in village limits. With a steep approach, the bridge had necessarily been built high for the passage of boats.
Many pleasure boats graced our lakes in the early days. Excursion outings by large groups or families, churches, lodges and business men and women used the waterways for pleasure. Each spring the channel was dredged before the logs started rolling through the lakes and deep swift current took them on their long way. The tug, Bella, owned by the Cameron Lumber Co. dredged the river.
The top structure of the bridge was built like a box. The four corners were large iron posts, supporting the heavy iron girders that laid across the top. They also supported the neat railings on the sides. The bridge’s one major drawback was that it was built too narrow for today’s traffic, so in May of 1948, the upper part was cut off and the road was black-topped. In 1961, the entire bridge was replaced with a lower and wider bridge, and the road was resurfaced. But today, as in the many long yesterdays, it is still the site for the “ol- swimming hole”.
In 1958 our village streets took on a new look. Hodgkiss and Douma, contractors of Petoskey, curbed our streets and a new coat of black-topping added to the appearance of our town. In October of 1965, the Consumers Power Co. replaced our street lights with the new mercury vapor type lighting.
Indians followed the trails laid out by the wild animals. The white man blazed his trails by chopping notches in the trees, and by those notches, found his way to and from civilization. Later, the surveyor changed the crooked trails, as he laid out the section lines, and roads were planned to follow these section lines as much as possible. Progressive mossbacks worked hard to improve the trails and paths into roads.
The elections, or town meetings as they were called in 1898, were held in Atwood. The spring meeting passed very quietly, there being only one Township ticket. It was voted to raise $700 special high way money, and $500 contingent money. The commissioner was instructed to purchase a road plow and five, wheel scrapers to use on the hills, which were very much in need of being cut down. In September, 1898, Highway Commissioner Hansen expended $120 on the Bentley hill, which completely transformed the two hills into one hill, and made it quite passable for loads. Eugene Best, with the help of his brother-in-law, George Potter, cleared the land through solid woods to built the road from Ellsworth to Gerrit Rubingh’s farm. Before that, one traveled over the Coeling road through old Ellsworth to the Best farm, turned; west and came out at the Rubingh farm. Grandpa Arthur Ruis told of his experience one black, rainy night when he traveled the newly built road. He had to come to town to get a doctor to be on hand at his house at the arrival of a baby (now Mrs. Stuart Baar). The horse picked his way, as the wheels of the buggy bumped into tree stumps and mud, hub-deep, which gave for rough travel.
In the spring of 1924, it was decided to gravel the road running north from Ellsworth to Garret Rubingh’s corner, “the balance of improvement fund to be expended on Essex road corner at Essex hill and going west as far as the money holds out”. It was hard labor for many men, and men who owned teams of horses to move our hills with scrapers and wagons. The wagon boxes were made of planks fitted together without nails – so they could, with a man on each end, tip the boards and let sand or gravel fall, and the horses moved on.
The Township Road Commissioner was up for election each spring. Louis Hanson, one of the first to hold the position was followed by George Bradford, J. R. Peebles, E. E. Chellis, W. P. Smith, Robert White, John Essenberg, Frank Foster, Andrew Essenberg, Daniel McPhee, and Gerrit Essenberg.
I recall two men that worked on the roads many years, Ben Madill, and Tom Sutherland – also George Heller. When lumbering the forest was finished, many of the men found work making new roads. Hard work and small wages prevailed during the depression. For instance, in April, 1932, the Township Board met for the purpose of discussing wage scale for road laborers – motion by Peebles, and supported Vanderlerk that 20 cents per hour be paid for common labor, and that motion carried.
Now back to the Ellsworth-Atwood road. Work of widening and grading began in December of 1946. Through the years, from 1895, from stumps, sand, gravel, to black-topping, the Ellsworth to Atwood road was completed in the summer of 1948. In 1946, the Ellsworth-East Jordan road was closed for four months for improvements. In the long ago yesterdays – Mrs. Lewis De Line taught school in the Miles District. There was no road at all through St. Clair swamp at that time, and Mrs. De Line took two boards and laid them across fallen logs, picking them up and replacing them as necessary until she crossed the swamp. Folks coming from Eastport, Atwood or from our own vicinity stabled their horses in St. Clair’s barn, (Mrs. Lillian Miller’s parents farm) now owned by Ivan Coolman. From there the travelers crossed the swamp by the same method Mrs. De Line used. Only they had a rig waiting for them on the other side to take them to their destination.
It was truly a happy day in 1921 when Thomas Edison moved into town. No more lamps to fill with smelly kerosene, no more lamp chimneys to wash or wicks to trim.
We had purchased a Delco system which would generate power to electrify our homes and business establishments. A small addition was built on the back of Elzinga Bros. Garage. That housed the magnificent machinery that was to light up the world for us. We soon learned, it too had its pitfalls. We had dim-outs. Mondays, too many women washing family laundry, eager to use the new inventions – Tuesdays, same thing. Too many ladies at the ironing board, trying out their shiny new gadgets, are electric iron.
In July, 1925, after a lot of paper-work and red tape, we were hooked up to Michigan Public Service of Elk Rapids. Then we really were lit up. In 1926 street lights were installed – $1.50 a month per light, and total cost not to exceed $300.00 per year. In September of 1950, the Consumers Power Company purchased the property of the Michigan Public Service Co., and, again we made improvements. Additional street lights were installed, and a well lighted ball field that we were proud of was hooked up to electricity.
In April, 1954, Consumers Power Company, working in cooperation with the County Board of Supervisors, and the County Road Commission and Superintendents developed an official county road map named and indexed, with all villages and cities, platted all houses and business establishments so each is named and numbered. In October of 1965, new mercury vapor street lighting was installed.
Our village is well blessed with natural water resources. Not only in the beauties of our lakes, rivers and streams, but our hills percolate with springs that meander between trees and crags and eventually finds its way to lower levels.
This water was pure. Each family home had its own pump or well. Some people tapped the springs. The people living on Park Street were fortunate to have the hill behind their property, and water bubbled out of the hill and ran in little rivulets down beside their homes. Residents often piped the water into the house and barn. F. H. Skow built a large barn on Park Street (no street until 1947.) He was the first to pipe water from the springs from head-waters of the creek, to his barn and home. This creek we wrote about in previous chapters. It flowed back of the stores, with only a board side-walk for people to cross. The horses splashed through it (so did the children). Livery barn owner in the business block made a complaint, for he could turn his horses out of the back door to drink from the creek that flowed by his barn. F. H. Skow, a man of affluence again came to the fore-front. He met with Township officials, and asked permission to lay water main along the side of the street to his bountiful supply of springs that bubbled from his land south of the village. His petition was granted on April 3, 1907. He laid the pipe line to his own home and barn, and also to the houses he owned. A cement drinking trough for horses was made by Fred Smith near the southwest corner of Main and Center Streets.
Soon, residents asked Mr. Skow’s permission to hook-up to the pipe line. As this was done, the gravity force often dwindled to a mere trickle until the small reservoir was filled again.
In the spring of 1938, F. H. Skow’s widow sold the water rights to the village. March 15, 1939, the voters approved a $11,000 bond issue to construct a new water supply system. Construction of the water mains was made possible by a W.P.A. grant of $24,789. Work started May 12, 1939, with engineer Fred Patterson of Central Lake in charge of 55 W.P.A. workers, and the project was completed on December 26, 1939, with a two week lay-off during the summer.
Mr. Patterson was quoted as saying that “Ellsworth has the finest water supply of any village of its size in the state. The reservoir had a capacity of 90,000 gallons – its size 50 feet long and 24 feet wide and 11 feet deep. The system contained 3,500 feet of 6 inch pipe, 7500 feet of 4 inch, 3900 feet of 2 inch and 3000 feet of 3/4 inch pipe, two 6 inch valves, seven 4 inch and seven 2 inch valves. The labor allotment on the job, furnished by W.P.A. was $21,509, and actual cost of labor on the project was $18,056 and the cost of material was $11,543. $4,000 was spent in securing right-of-way, fencing and incidentals.
As industry moved in, the water supply again proved inadequate. The Village Council and Water Commission decided to tap new springs. Two reservoirs were built to filter and refilter the water. The pipe line leading to storage was finished by a few rods when it was condemned. In December, 1959, the village taxpayers turned down a proposed $27,000 bond issue to improve the water supply. The State Health Department had given the village no alternative in seeking another source of supply because the present springs were contaminated. The Village Council purchased land from the Jack Parsons estate on the north edge of the village, and on November 18, 1960 the valves were turned on the new water system. ne system is supplied by two driven wells – one 12 inch and one 8 inch, 100 ft. deep, pumping 250 gallons of water per minute into a 6,000, gallon storage tank. A neat brikcrete building houses the two electric motors and one gasoline powered auxiliary emergency motor, giving a constant 40 pounds pressure. Meters were installed in each home, business place and school and factory. Fifteen fire hydrants are hooked up to the water mains. The old water system is leased to the Michigan Fruit Canners, Inc.
Unfolding yesteryears, the news of yesterdays is read with interest in “The Oxbow Pin” newspaper. The last issue is in possession of the writer, being given to her by Mrs. George Frink, who assisted in setting up the type for the printing of the last issue. Mr. Wilbur E. Campbell, publisher, presented Mrs. Frink with a copy in making a little speech “for posterity’s sake”, Mrs. Frink, then the young wife of our Postmaster, George Frink, saved that issue all through those years and when she learned of my interest in Ellsworth history, she sent the copy to me, along with other interesting data.
The weekly newspaper was short lived. The first issue was published August 16, 1895, and the last issue was dated December 13, 1895. Subscription rates were $1.00 per year.
Mr. Campbell published and edited “The Ox Bow Pin” in the store front building owned today by Mrs. Winnie Hoffman, and more commonly known as “The Tornga Shoe Shop”. Mr. Campbell consolidated “The Ox Bow Pin” with the “Elk Rapids Progress” and he later purchased the “Leelanau Leader”. A correspondent from Ellsworth sent news items to the “Central Lake Torch” and signed himself “Oxbow”. He first used the caption “Ellsworth Echoes” in the May 11, 1899 issue. This heading is now being used by our school paper.
In the early twenties, a Mr. and Mrs. Harry Nash moved into town and set up a printing press in the basement of their home, publishing “The Ellsworth Tradesman”. They, outgrew the basement quarters and moved their business into the building now “The Tavern”. This newspaper was of short duration, lasting from September 30, 1926 to June 29, 1933. George A. Lisk, of the East Jordan Herald, combined the two newspapers for a time, with Miss Dorothy Horrenga being the field representative from Ellsworth. When this news media was discontinued, Ellsworth News was presented in a section of The Central Lake Torch. A long list of correspondents serving our community in the past include: Mrs. Peter Wieland; Mrs. Ira Springsteacl; Mrs. Jennie Essenberg; Grant Hastings; John Timmer; Opal Hastings; Mrs. John Timmer; Karen Johnstone; Mrs. Earl Denny; Geraldine Hoeksema; Mrs. Evelyn Fielder; Mrs. Gordon Reeves; Mrs. Joyce Petter; Mrs. John Oosterbaan.
Information on our new telephone system is scarce before 1896. At that time we learned the Michigan Telephone Company had a line here. The exchange was shuttled around from one building to another. The switchboard, at one time, was in the building where the hardware store is now located, until it burned. It was then moved to Boss Hardware. The last location was in the building on Center Street, now used only for storage by Traverse Bay Telephone Company.
When the dial system was inaugurated in 1954, the Traverse, Bay Telephone Company erected a building that holds all the mechanism that gives for excellent telephone service. The switch-over took place midnight, March 31, 1954.
Telephone operators also served as Township Librarians, and were to the best of knowledge: Miss Isabel Wilson, 1900 – 1908 – 1909 – 1910; Miss Helen Boss, 1910 – 1911 – 1912 – 1913; Mrs. Maude Reeves, 1914; Miss Effie Larson – Gladys Larson, 1916; – 1919; Mrs. Jennie Coardema, 1920 – 1922; Mrs. Harry Nash, 1923 – 1925; Mrs. Laura Wilson; Mrs. Rhea Dawson; Mrs. Jennie Essenburg; Mrs. Henrietta Morrow; Mrs. Grant Wilson; Mrs. Harold Sustad; Mrs. Roy Earl; Mrs. Florence Stucker.
It was mentioned before that the first cemetery is where James Ruis’ Garage now stands. When the first burials took place in Boss Cementary, two miles west of Ellsworth is not known. -No maintenance was given, other than a man was hired by the Township Board to cut the weeds. At a Township Board meeting on May 15, 1915, the motion was made and carried to hire F. H. Brooks, carpenter, to build two tool houses, 10 x 20 ft. in size, one in Boss Cemetery and one in Antrim Cemetery.
September 27, 1920, three ladies, namely Mrs. Benjamin Madhill, Mrs. Frank Peebles, and Mrs. Benjamin Boes met with the Township Board and expressed their desire to form a Cemetery Association. Permission was granted, and turned over all maintenance to the Association. A meeting was called of all lot owners. Mrs. Bing Madhill was elected president; Mrs. Frank Peebles, secretary; and Mrs. Benj. Boes, treasurer. Dues were set up at 50 cents per lot, a year. Gerrit VanderArk, sexton, also served as work supervisor. On August 3, 1937, the Township Board purchased the south addition from Gerrit VanderArk for $125.00. Before Memorial Day, clean-up bees were held, and improvements were, made as long as the funds could be stretched.
On November 2, 1954, Banks Township electors cast their ballot for the erection of a storage vault on the Ellsworth Cemeterv grounds. Of Brikcrete construction, this vault is used by four cemeterys in Banks Township: Antrim City, Atwood, Catholic and Ellsworth Cemeteries.
May 30, 1956, the Jansen-Richardson American Legion Post dedicated a War Memorial, dedicated a War Memorial, honoring all war dead in Banks Township. The construction of this memorial was made possible by donations of several local people and the efforts of the officers of the Ellsworth Cemetery Association. The inscribed plaque was donated by the Rickerd Monument Company of Traverse City, and its local agent, Grant Hastings; Brikcrete by Drenth Bros.; cement by Ellsworth Farmer’s Exchange; steel by Morweld Steel Corp; and labor by Maxwell Bolser, Bruce McElroy and John Timmer. The lot, centrally located, was donated by the Banks Township Board. The Gold Star parents, Mrs. Merrill Richardson and Mr. and’ Mrs. John Jansen sat in places of honor in front of the memorial during the service.
According to records, the following died in service: Floyd Russell and Harry Potter (World War 1); Delta Richardson, Richard Vail and Henry Jansen (World War II). On May 30, 1962, at the Memorial Day services, Banks Township officials announced formally their decision to take over care and maintenance of the Ellsworth Cemetery. The Ellsworth Cemerety Association which had its beginning on September 27, 1920 was dissolved on July 27, 1961.
Mention should be made of those who served the association for many years are: H. J. Timmer; William Patterson; John Kooyer; Bruce McElroy; Gerrit VanderArk. Mrs. John Timmer held the position of Secretary-Treasurer for 42 years, taking the position as Mrs. Benjamin Boes. Nathan Carpenter, Bruce McElroy, Mrs. John Timmer, Harold Jansen, and Roy Straudermeyer were our last board members. Thanks to these pioneers and many faithful unsung people during these years, our cemetery is now a place of beauty and quiet dignity.
Government is people.-
Basically, we have two types of government: Township and Village, and at times they entertwine. Of course, we have our county and State and National government also.
Townships had been organized in Antrim County, and Banks Township seat of government came from men in Atwoodl. As our village grew in population, our men felt the need to dabble in politics to come from this part of Banks also. Mrs. George Frink, a former post-master’s wife, told me of the night a fire razed the post office and an adjoining building as well as their living quarters over the post office. It was her 21st birthday, October 18, 1896. They had been to Atwood to attend a political rally, and she played the piano for the male quartet who sang for the William Jennings Bryan meeting. Banks Township politics were controlled by Atwood, for all the officials were Atwood people.
The roads between Atwood and Ellsworth were always impassible in the spring at caucus and election time. The township officials were always Atwood people, for Ellsworth citizens could not get over there to vote. But one spring, a group of Ellsworth people managed to get over to Atwood for caucus, and Atwood not expecting any opposition were not prepared for the onslaught of Ellsworth people. Ellsworth controlled the caucus. From that time on the Ellsworth folks were represented.
The roads began to become passible all over the township, and all was serene, and no hard feelings. In March, 1898, the caucus was held here, as well as one in Atwood. This did not work out well, and on March 19, 1902, at a meeting held in the K.O.T.M. Hall, the election board of Banks Township was organized, and thereafter, all meetings were held here by order of Clerk E. R. Harris. Such names as: G. T. Bentley; Ethan Jolliffee; Philip Mudge; John H. Smith; Fred Dean; Charles Brush; Fred LaDue; John Stevens; Tracy Boss; Robert Fulton, Charles Smith; Wm. P. Smith; Wm. E. Byers; George Bradford; Evert Vander Ark and many, many more were nominees on that important meeting.
Through the years to come, they, and the next generations surmounted obstacles along the way, and results brought new industrial and commercial life, not alone, because of their faith and ability, but because they had faith of all the people behind them. One example. Because of our bountiful pure water supply and productive farm land, a canning factory came into being.
In March of 1938, Ellsworth citizens decided to ask Incorporation. With a vote of 50-6, petitioned the Board of Supervisors in incorporate the village. On November 19, 1938, a special election was held on a proposal for incorporating the village and election of members of a Charter Commission. At this election, the voters approyed proposal to incorporate, 77 to 49.
The members elected to the Charter Committee were: Peter Wieland, Henry Elzinga; Glen Supernaw; John Timmer; and Koo Klooster. The Charter Commission set Tuesday, January 3, 1939 as the date for the first village election to approye the yillage charter and elect officers. At that election the new village charter was adopted by a yote of 84 to 24, and the following officers were elected: President, Elmer H. Rood; Clerk, Glen S. Supernau; Treasurer, James Ruis; Assessor, John A. Parsons; Trustees, Charles D. Edson, Henry E. Yander Ark, Emery J. Wilson, John Kooyer, August Vander Ark, and Herman Tornga.
Village Presidents who have served Ellsworth are: Elmer Rood, Harry Vander Ark, Henry E. Vander Ark, James Elzinga, Charles Edson, Robert Smalley, Henry Ruis and Marvin Wynsma.
Behind every community there must be a driving force – a group of people with an initiative – a motivation for good.
As early as 1897 – 1898, the K.O.T.M. and the L.O.T.M, Maccabee’s Lodges were effectual in the village. In March of 1898, a “Business Men’s Association ‘ was organized. It was to boost our immense amount of timber, and to make famous this place for a summer resort. “There was no reason why Ellsworth could not be made one of the finest towns in Northern Michigan”. In the early nineteen hundreds, Ellsworth boosted a “Ellsworth Board of Trade”, F. H. Skow, president; Matthius Struik, vice-president; E. R. Harris, secretary; and Louis VanSkiver, treasurer. Their motto, “The Land of Fruit with Flavor”. One thing I must say for them, they had very attractive stationery, which advertised our ‘Farm Lands, Fruit Lands, Dairy Lands, and Resort Lands”. They advertised our lakes – Boating and fishing at our front door, as well as fine hotel, good creamery, fine school, churches, produce warehouse, pickle salting station, saw mill, bank, stores, and good band of 17 pieces, railroad and steamboat landing, and a network of telephones.
You will find here a Christian Country and Christian People, with money in small fruit, poultry, sheep, bees, stock, ginseng and farming. They still wanted a canning factory, cold storage, fruit evaporator and wood-working factory, and more. This was a stationery few excell today.
In 1936, a Banks Township Boosters Club was organized. This wide-awake club, full of vim and vigor, was instrumental in the purchase of a large number of chairs, piano, and back- drop curtains and scenery for the stage of the new Community Hall.
The Ladies Literary Club was organized in 1932 – Federated in 1933, and after 1942, the club disbanded.
August 18, 1915, the Ellsworth Business Men sponsored the first Grand Barbecue in Campbell’s Park – everything was free.
October 3, 1933, the Ellsworth Board of Trade held a special meeting in the Blue Hall. There was a large crowd present, with conservation officer, C. W. Bonneyand Prosecuting Attorney Arthur Fitch of Charlevoix in attendance. A Rod and Gun Club was born. Resolutions and by- laws were drawn up, by committee and accepted. This Sportsmen Club was headed by I.O. Isaman, president; William Petter, vice-president; Lloyd Armstrong, secretary. The directors were: John Peebles, Charles Edson and Henry J. Elzinga.
March 12, 1943, the first “World Day of Prayer” was held in Atwood Reformed Church, with Mrs. Gradus Aalberts, leader. This is an annual meeting, held by ladies of four community churches.
In May, 1945, an Honor Roll Board was placed in front of the Ellsworth Community Hall. Names and ranks of our men and women serving in our armed forces from Banks Township are listed here.
March 6, 1946, all veterans of World War I and World War 11 were urged to attend the organization of the American Legion Post. They chose the name, Jansen-Richardson Post 488, honoring the two men of Banks Township who gave their lives for our country. In 1953 the veterans purchased a building on North Main Street. This building was intended for use as a garage by the Antrim County Road Commission. The walls of the building were built by W.P.A. labor in 1984, but the building was never completed. The veterans put on a roof, but before work on the interior was started, a windstorm and the snow and ice on the roof caused this 40 x 60 building to collapse on March 23, 1955. Determined to win, the boys pickecl themselves up from the rubble, and today, have a Post building to be proud of. On Memorial Day of 1957, a 86-ton surplus Army tank was placed on a concrete slab in front of their building. It was given to the Post on paying of $100.00 for transporting it from Camp Grayling. In July of 1947, the JansenRichardson Post 488, American Legion Womens Auxiliary was organized. Mrs. Emery J. Wilson was chosen chairman, Mrs. Leonard Hillman acted as clerk. Officers elected were: President, Mrs. Max Bolser; ist Vice-President, Mrs. Emery Wilson; 2nd Vice-Presiclent, Mrs. Anthony Shooks; Treasurer, Mrs. Donald Edson; Chaplain, Mrs. Roscoe Woodcock; Sergeant-at-Arms, Mrs. Wm. H. Drenth; Historian, Mrs. Maynard Fielstra; and Musician, Miss Alice Hillman.
February 28, 1949, the Ellsworth Community Chamber of Commerce was organized, electing Wesley Shooks. President; Vice-Pres., Melvin Essenberg; Sec.Treasurer, Fred Schoenfelder. Directors were: Earl M. Jones, W. L. Chellis, Sr., Dr. Jerrien VanDellen, Rev. Gerrit Lyzenga, Darwin Penfold, D. E. Clow, Wm. Petter, Conrad Klooster. Earl M. Jones read the constitution of the Gaylord organization, which was adopted as a whole.
Rex Wood received the honor of being the Charter President of the Ellsworth Lions Club, which was organized at a supper, January 7, 1954 at the White Swan Restaurant. Other officers elected at that meeting were Joseph F. Rugai, VicePres.; Richard Lather, Sec.-Treas; Donald Campbell, Tail Twister; Marvin Elzinga, Lion Tamer; Anthony Sbooks, Maurice Taylor, Darwin Orcult, George Brown, directors; and Claud Dawson, Constitution and By-Laws Chairman. Charter Night, meeting on February 25, 1954 was a gala affair. The Lions hold their meetings in the AmericanLegion Hall – and their trade-mark, a stone lion, a gift of James C. Timmer, stands in front of the post building.
The spiritual life of the community was a concern to the Christian people and those religiously inclined. The seed of faith implanted at an early age now wanted to be placed in fertile soil for themselves and their children. Some of these parents took their children by the hand and walked two miles through the woods every Sunday to the Boss School house to attend worship services. A Mr. McClellan, a layman of Atwood, conducted the meetings. Services were also held in the Miles School, three miles east of Ellsworth. Rev. Wakeley, a kind unassuming Christian gentleman, proclaimed God’s word to the lumberjacks and their families.
The need was felt to have a place to worship. A church in the village was their heart’s desire. Meetings were held in homes – One that was used is now the Joe Tornga home, also the buildings on Center Street, the former Tornga Shoe Shop. The folk of Congregational persuasion met and organized. The members voted to erect a permanent place of worship. A site was selected, a foundation was started, where today it would be pointed out to be where Park Street joins with Center Street, west of Klon Johnstone’s house. The work on the foundation was halted when one-lady of the village could not see eye to eye with the other embers, and caused a dissension. During the controversy, she invited the Rev. William H. McCourtney of Charlevoix to come to Ellsworth to preach. Mrs. Mears had her followers, and from this group stems the Methodist Church.
For years the Methodist Church members struggled for want of proper pastoral care and vigorous supervision. The group dwindled to a mere handful, but they took hold of the work with zeal and determination to finish a church. In February of 1900, Boyce and Foss closed the contract to complete the new church structure on the corner of Main and Hardy street, one block north of Center street. During the building period, services were held in the Lewis De Line home. April 29, 1900 was a joyful day for the congregation. Dedication services were held with the able assistance of Rev. Carrell, presiding elder of Grand Traverse District, Rev. A. F. Nagler of Charlevoix, and Rev. E. E. Sprague of East Jordan, and the Rev. G. W. Howe, circuit pastor, participating. The indebtedness was $681.00. The people responded liberally and a trifle over $700.00 was raised and the church was dedicated free of debt. The congregation had another special day for Thanksgiving when in May 1901, the church was detached from the circuit and had a minister of their own. Rev. G. W. Howe of Norwood was assigned to become their pastor. – Rev. J. O. Deets first pastor – not circuit. To have a pastor of their own was not for long. The congregation again attached itself to the Central Lake circuit.
In 1923 – 1924, the members of the congregation purchased the Congregational Church on West Center Street and remodeled it into a parsonage. Rev. Lawrence a single man, was the first pastor to reside in the newly remodeled manse. Mr. and Mrs. William Y. Coeling and family made their home with him. Other pastors and their families to occupy the manse were; Rev. C. J. Kendall, and his musically talented family, Rev. George Stanford, Rev. C. M. Conklin and family. Earlier pastors resided in the Peter Wieland home: Rev. Frook, Rev. Floyd Vane, Rev. E. E. Clark. The Rev. Hewitt resided in the Al Taylor home. September, 1988, the membership combined with the East Jordan M. E. Church. Other pastors serving the church resided in Central Lake.
Members of the Congregational Church organized earlier, had a brief interruption in their building project. In 1900 they hired Mr. Belding of Central Lake, contractor, to build the new church. This was erected on a lot, east of the foundation started earlier. Sunday, February 3, 1901 was a happy day for the Ellsworth Congregational Church was dedicated with all due and appropriate ceremonies. It was a perfect winter’s day and friends from Central Lake and Charlevoix and Ironton came to rejoice with the members of the church. There were three services that day. At the morning service, Rev. C. J. Strang delivered the sermon, and spoke on the text taken from Joshua 1-3. Four children were brought by their parents for baptism and christening. Three new members were received into the church, and Communion service closed the morning program. In the afternoon, services were continued by Rev. James Hyslop, of Charlevoix who prefaced his sermon in presenting to the church as a gift of the Sunday School of Charlevoix, a large and beautifully bound pulpit Bible. He then gave a most edifying and stirring address, encouraging the church to be worthy of the name Christian.
The building committee’s report was then given by the chairman, F. H. Skow, and was as follows: Cost of church, $1205.00, all of which is paid, except $68.00, which, is provided for by subscription. A responsive dedicatory covenant, a souvenir from Rev. Dr. Warren, of Lansing, was then given. The prayer of dedication was by Rev. J. Hyslop. The hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” by the congregation, completed the dedication of this House of Worship. The evening service opened with a song service, selections from the new hymnals, a gift of the Ladies Club of Ellsworth. The Rev. Carroll, of the M. E. Church of Ellsworth, followed with an earnest and heartfelt prayer for union of heart and hand in the work of soul saying. The pastor, Rev. F. P. Sprague, most fittingly closed the day with an inspiring sermon that all felt was good to hear. It was a glad day for all and the last hymn, “Blest be the Tie that Binds” finds an echo in our hearts; that the tie that binds pastor and people may grow stronger and result in greater service for the master. The officers of the church were Rev. F. P. Sprague, pastor;
William Boss and Robert Fulton, Deacons; Tracy Boss, secretary; and F. H. Skow, Treasurer. R. T. Sleeper, F. H. Skow, Robert Fulton, and Wm. Boss were members on the building committee. The preceeding dedication services were copied from the February 7, 1901 Central Lake Torch.
Rev. A. A. Wall was a circuit pastor, from 1895 – 1898. Revs. C. W. Davis and J. L. Donovan.
While Rev. J. L. Donovan was pastor, meetings were held by D. H. Whybrew, a Quaker. This was the beginning of the Pilgrim Holiness Church. Members left the church, and affiliated with the P. H. Church
The approximate date of the beginning of the Pilgrim Hcliness work in Ellsworth and Phelps would be 1903 or 1904. Two young men, Charlie Cliff and Dan Wybrew came into Marion Center School District and put up a tent on the school grounds to conduct a revival service. A number of families from the Phelps community attended and upon hearing the Bible Doctrine of the new Birth and Sanctification, accepted it and several gave witness of receiving these experiences. The next year the same men came again with their tent to the Phelps area. These tent meetings were held for three of four years in this location. People from Ellsworth became interested and meetings were held in the Congregational Church, and summers, revivals were held in a tent. This resulted in the organization of two churches one in Phelps in 1906, and the other in Ellsworth in 1908. Organization was entered into under the name of The Apostolic Holiness Church. Rev. Higema was the first pastor at Phelps and Rev. E. F. Evers at Ells,worth, with eight charter members. The Phelps church was built about this time and meetings in Ellsworth were held in the Hall that later became the Telephone Office. The first three pastors, Rev. Higema, Rev. E. F. Ewers, and Rev. William Joppie lived in Phelps. The next pastor, Rev. Charles Spears, coming in 1911, lived in the present parsonage. During the pastorate of Rev. B. O. Shattuck, form 1913 to 1917, the present stone church was built. In 1941, the Phelps Church and Sunday School united with the Ellsworth congregation under the leadership of Rev. Ellsworth Swanson. About this time, the church name was changed to Pilgrim Holiness.
Increased attendance began to indicate the need of larger facilities. The basement was rearranged to accommodate class rooms and a new furnace and a tile ceiling placed in the Sanctuary. Pastors up to now had served both Phelps and Ellsworth churches. Rev. Henry Alexander came in 1945 and while he was pastor, the parsonage was remodeled and enlarged and a cement walk leading to the church was built. In the years around 1950, more room became necessary – consequently a small part of the previous addition was removed and a basement enlarged to accommodate more class rooms, rest rooms and space for additional furnace and fuel bin. This enlargement extended the sanctuary in length twenty feet east sufficiently that a class room on the main floor could be used as an addition to the worship area. Maple flooring covered the entire first floor. Rev. Herbert Diller proved a faithful guide as well as pastor during this enlargement program. The Church was rededicated September 28, 1954, by former pastor, General Superintendent L. W. Sturk.
In 1955, Rev. W. L. Silvers with his family, came to serve as pastor. He was with the church for seven years, and during that time a building fund was started with the thought of building a new entrance and replacing the remaining old stone with brikcrete, which had been used in the last addition. An interest in new pews became evident in early 1962. In May, Rev. Silvers resigned to take up the Pastorate of Muskegon. In July the Silvers family moved and Rev. Fred W. Gibbs came to be our pastor. The interest in new pews and pulpit grew as did the funds, and they were purchased and installed the second week in December. Rev. Clyde Marshall, District Superintendent, gave the dedicatory address December 16, 1967. The old Phelps church building was sold to the Traverse Heights Congregation, who put the useable lumber into their present place of worship.
The church has been served by the following pastors: Rev. Higema, 1906-1907; Rev. E. F. Ewers, 1909-1910; Rev. Wm. Joppie, 1910-1911; Rev. Charles Spears, 1911-1918; Rev. B. O. Shattuck, 1913-1917; Rev. Albert Kridler, 1917-1919; Rev. W. B. Sturk, 1919-1924; Rev. B. E. Maker, 1924-1929; Rev. Albert T. Harris, 1929-1933; Rev. Asley Osborn, 1938-1986; Rev. Theron Bearup, 1987-1988; Rev. E. C. Swanson, 1939-1945; Rev. Henry Alexander, 1945-1948; Rev. J. F. Muelman, 1948-1950; Rev. Herbert Diller, 1950-1955; Rev. W. L. Silvers, 1955-1962; Rev. Fred W. Gibbs, 1962-___.
We, as a church, thank God for these, His servants, who under Hie leadership, have been so faithful to us, each leaving a more indelible imprint of the call and meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to each of as. Our blessings are many today through our present pastor, rich in experience and background, faithful in teaching and leadership, God’s man wherever you find him. There is every reason to expect the church to move ahead to number and spiritual strength.
Through the years the church branched out to reach different communities, and the following were included in these efforts: Ironton, Bentley Hill School, Walker School, Atwood, and East Jordan, where they purchased the old Episcopal Church and used the old pews from the Ellsworth Hall. This work continued for several years, and meant three appointments each Sunday for our pastors. It was later taken over by the United Missionary Church. A work was also started in Gaylord by Rev. Silvers, and is being continued by our present pastor, with the thought of eventual organization.
The membership of the Ellsworth church has increased from eight charter members to the present forty-three. Our record Sunday School attendance was 165, last Rally Day.
From this church, two have gone out in foreign missionary work. Miss Nettie Ecklund to Barbados, and Miss Ella Gilkerson to Jamaica. One minister, Rev. Wm. Gilkerson, pastoring the Pilgrim Church at Columbus, Ohio, and James Campau, studying for the ministry at Owosso College. Twelve of our youth have attended Owosso College and several have attended other Christian Schools. Owosso College received strong financial support from one of the church’s early members.
Looking forward to our future endeavors for God we express our desires in this verse:
Build it well what’er you do
Build it straight and strong and true
Built it clear and high and broad.
Build it for the eye of God.
Written Feb. – 1968
The twelve charter members are: D. D. Donaldson, Mary Wells, Edith Donaldson, Martha Hodgkin, John Hodgkin, F. H. Skow, Christina Skow, Mary Nixon., Leah Hubbard, Lee Donaldson, George Bradford, and Hattie Bradford. February 27, 1940, the ladies of the Pilgrim Holiness Church met at the home of Mrs. James Elzinga to organize a Missionary Society.
Christian Reformed Church
On January 30, 1901, thirteen pioneer families met in Mitchell School House to organize a congregation. Pastor G. G. Haan, of Atwood, and Rev. DeBoer of Prosper, were there to help. The charter members were: I. Tornga, G. Dekkenga, Peter Hennip, H. Cooper, H. Sitzema, H. DeGroot, J. Oosterbaan, P. DeJong, S.Goeman, R. Van Kuiken, T.K. Weilenga, F. Kass, and H Vander Ark.
Two acres of land, donated by the Central, Lake Lumber Co., was the site of the original church, which was built and dedicated by December 19, 1901. That land is now part of Dick Oosterbuan farm, two miles south of Ellsworth.
With the coming of the first pastor, Rev. Van Vliet, in 1904, a parsonage was built on what is now part of M. Rubingh farm. Besides Rev. Van Vliet, Revs. .John De Jongt, Gerrit Hoeksema, Richard Posthumus, Hiram Beute, B. H. Einink, John T. Holwerda, Henry Rikkers, Gerrit Lyzenga, Edward Boeve, Henry Zwaanstra, and present pastor Vernon Guerkink. The church was called the “Dutch Church” as all services were in the Holland language.
Joe DeBoer donated a bell in 1909, and the first organ was installed in 1910.
All singing was “a Cappela” of necessity, and H. Vander Ark was song leader. In later years, conveniences increased, and in 1912, a telephone was installed in the parsonage. People came to church by horse and buggy and cutters and sleighs in winter, or walked when roads were impassible.
During Rev. H. Beute’s ministry, 1919-1924, the English language was introduced with one English service a month. As the members became more Americanized, English was used more and more. When Rev. Einink became the pastor, in 1925, a house was rented in the village. The parsonage was moved later, and a new church was built in Ellsworth on Main Street, and was dedicated, on February 9, 1927. A pipe organ was installed in 19810. In 1930, mission work was begun at Echo, and in 1948, was expanded to Vance district. Due to people moving away, Echo was disbanded. Sunday School is still conducted at Vance every Sunday morning.
Christian Reformed Church
“The children of today must be better equipped than were their father and mother, that they may be able to perform well their part in this busy and progressive world”, so said the parents where Ellsworth was new. And . . . we hear their echo today, though their aim was a far cry from ours. The motto of, every prominent educator was ” let us build a school house on every hill top, and in every valley”,
By Mrs. Grace McElroy, we were told the earliest settlers, north of Ellsworth, built a log school house, and the children of the lumberjacks attended. These lumberjacks were called “drifters” as the men went from camp to camp, wherever they could get work, and these children never stayed in one school for long. A log school stood on the south side of the driveway, of the former Sitzema Klooster farm, about a mile and a half north of Ellsworth. It set in the deep woods. This was in 1880. As more families moved in, a frame one-room school was built on “Boss’ corners”. To us, today, it was across the road from the Peter Vander Ark home. This was district No. 4. On Sundays it did double duty for worship services.
As our village grew, bringing in more children, the need for the 3 R’s became a problem that had to be met.
Our school had its beginning in a home belonging to William Eastcott, on Harris Street, back of the large Ellsworth Lumber Co. store, with Marie Hebden as teacher. This house soon proved too small, and the smaller grades mcved to the house now owned by Mrs. Hattie Bergsma, across the street from the Christian Reformed Church, with Miss Cassie Winters the teacher. Marie Hebden later married George Clow, Delbert Clow’s parents. The Ellsworth School became District No. 9. In 1895, a two room frame school was erected on the top of the hill on Center Street. Mr. Winters taught there, and his sister, Cassie Winters, taught the primary grades in Mrs. H. Bergsma’s house. By 1897, Mr. E. E. Perry and wife taught in the new school, till 1901.
School Board members whose names have been recorded most frequently were: E. R. Harris, E. A. Dean, A. E. Pickard, F. H. Skow, Lewis Van Skiver, W. A. Boss, Donald Patterson, Wm. Eastcott, George Bradford. As the years passed, James Elzinga, William Kooyer, D. E. Clow and Glenn Townsend also were elected to serve as Board members.
In 1912, wages were a mere pittance. A janitor, Yernon Clark, receiyed $10.00 per month, and the principal, Minnie B. Keith was paid $50.00 per month. Anna Skow, Margaret Skow and Hazel Holiday each received $40.00 per month. In 1913, Mrs. Lydia Peck was hired at $12.50 per month for janitor work, and later, Mrs. Benj. Madhill received $15.00 per month.
In 1912 this two room frame school burned, and on July 8, 1912, a special school meeting was held for the purpose of deciding to build a new school. The building and furnishings were to cost $5,000.00 and the district was to be bonded for $2,500.00. The School Board members were: W. A. Boss, E. R. Harris, F. H. Skow, Lewis VanSkiver and Donald Patterson. The new school, a four-room structure stood prominently on the same site. Its belfry pointed skyward, and was a land-mark for miles around. It too, had a short span of service. On Tuesday, 6:30 P.M., on January 16, 1917, it met its doom by burning. It had been insured for $4,000 and mortgaged for the same amount. Again, a succession of special meetings were held to determine the fate of the numerous children who needed educating. Empty storm buildings and the M. E. Church served as temporary class rooms. On May 14, 1917, the school board engaged C. H. Hansen, an architect, of Petoskey, to draw plans and superintend the building of the new school, at the usual fee of 5 percent of the cost. A plot of ground was purchased from Henry Yettaw, for the sum of $400.00. The work progressed rapidly on the red brick structure, full basement, four class rooms, entrance doors, one facing east, one west, with the belfry facing Main Street. Again, Ellsworth citizens were proud of their educational center.
D.E. Clow, secretary, and director at that time can be recommended for his excellent job in recording the minutes. Previously all School Board meetings were held in the Blue Hall, Maccabee Hall and Boss’ Hall. The board members held their first meeting in the new school on March 28, 1918. September 1918, the children had a brand new school to go to.
The first students to graduate from High School in 1922 were John Beuker and Henry Elzinga. L. S. Glidden was Superintendent. The following were superintendents through the years: George Wride, Ernest Erickson, Howard T. Burt, A. J. Reynolds, Erwin J. Kleinert, Ward H. Apsey, Hollis Fickle, Earl Jones, Henry Smith, Rex Wood, Richard Latber, Loren Hulsizer, Jerry Albright, Nelson Spoelman.
The “Pit” (the south end of the basement) served as our basketball court. This pit, approximately 6 feet deep, had cement floor and walls. Along the outside walls ran a 4-foot shelf which was used as a balcony for the spectators. Dangerous it was – no guard rails to keep one from falling in the pit. Crude as it was, our boys did well, winning the finals in the tournament in Lansing in 1928. After this, the M. E. Church was used for all the games, until the Town Hall was completed in 1937.
The addition of another class room was made by closing the west hall section, now our chemistry room. In November of 1946 voters in our local school district unanimously endorsed a proposal that Ellsworth School consolidate with eight other schools in Banks Township, and form a unit school. In August, 1944, voters approved the consolidation, but residents of See, Mapleville and Mitchell districts brought injunction proceedings in Antrim County Circuit Court to prevent the organization, charging the election was illegal. Circuit Judge Ward I. Waller, of Cheboygan, ruled in favor of the three districts, making it necessary to submit the issue the second time. The name, Banks Township Public School, was chosen. This name proved confusing, so the school board members asked for the people to submit a good name for our school. At the July, 1961, board meeting, it was announced that our school would henceforth be known as the Ellsworth Community School.
In May of 1947, Herman Tornga, custodian for 30 years, decided he would “take his books home”, at the end of the school term. “Harm”, as he was well known to old and young, was honored at a 25th anniversary surprise party, by the school board members, and was presented with a $25 Savings Bond, among other gifts. He chose to work another five years. For many years, he also was janitor of the Christian Reformed Church. His plans were to devote his time to his Shoe Repair Shop business. Instead, he took a “busman’s holiday” and accepted a job as custodian of the Ellsworth Community Hall. Since 1947, Maynard Alward has been our capable custodian.
January 29, 1948, Harold Edson received honors for changing the name of our basketball team from Flying Dutchmen to Lancers.
A five stall bus garage was completed in September, 1950. This is built of reinforced concrete with brick front, and pillars, and is located opposite the school site. The building is 40 x 72 feet and was built into the side of a hill to secure natural insulation for three sides. It was financed by donated labor and freewill donations of Ellsworth merchants and members of the district. The cost was $7,000.00.
The new four room addition to the school was also completed early in September of the same year. Used by the kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grades, and, the shop classes. It is constructed of brick and provided 5,200 feet of additional space, and was built as a cost of $45,000. Modern fixtures and materials in the structure include indirect lighting, asphalt tile floors, ample windows facing north, new sanitary facilities, and green chalk boards. Furniture is of moveable chairs and desks. The purchase of equipment was at a cost of $7,000.
June 11, 1953, Banks Township Athletic Field was dedicated. Two games were played that day – the first one between Oldsters of Atwood, and Ellsworth Oldtimers, with Atwood winning by a score of 8-1. The main game was between Charlevoix and Ellsworth, with the identical score of 8-1. Between games, village President James Elzinga and Banks Township Supervisor Bert De Young spoke oyer the loudspeaker system about the progress of the field and of how and when the idea was first suggested in a Chamber of Commerce meeting how this idea caught fire, and today, the dream came true, in dedicating the new lighted ball field, at the cost of $3,000.00, not including donated time, labor and material. This project was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
In 1957, we again advanced to a new school auditorium and gymnasium. Voters approved a $195,000. bond issue to build four additional class rooms and a 92 x 98 foot auditorium/gymnasium. It has the regular basketball court and includes accordion-type bleachers, with a seating capacity of 800, which with the use of the floor, will seat 1,000. Four class rooms adjacent to the existing elementary building feature the most modern lighting and ventilation systems. Dedication Program, Monday, November 4, 1957, climaxed the building program when Lynn Carpenter President of the School Board, accepted the keys from J. Daverman architect, of Grand Rapids. Charles Langdon, of the Michigan Department of Public Instruction, was guest speaker. John Apfel, building contractor from Bellaire, who completed the structure, was present. Superintendent Richard Lather was in charge of the dedication service. Music was provided by the school band, under the direction of Dean Fielder. The Board of Education for the period of 1957-58 consisted of: Lynn Carpenter, President; Marvin Elzinga, Secretary; Anthony Kuiper, Treasurer; William Goeman, Trustee; John De Young, Trustee.
Through the instrumentability of many people, we give our children the best in education. All this since 1895, with just one thing missing – the ringing of the school bell of yesteryear.
The first issue of our school paper, “XRay” was published November 8, 1903. Miss Minnie B. Keith was the teacher, and contributors were: Glen Compton, Levi Bohls, Lavator Meech, Pearl McDonald, Mabel Mudill, Hazel De Line, Margaret Skow. The Ellsworth Echoes was first printed in 1934.
One day in the fall of 1926, Mrs. Hiram Dawson, Mrs. Henry Elzinga and Mrs. William Patterson met on the street. In the course of conservation, the idea was born of organizing a P.T.A. They decided to talk it over with Supt. Howard Burt. On October 12, 1926, a meeting of Parents and Teachers was called. About 18 or 20 met in the basement “hall” overlooking “The Pit”.
The object for organizing a Parent-Teachers Association is to bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in training of the child. Mrs. Wm. Patterson was honored by being elected the first President. Mrs. J. Vander Ark was elected Vice President, and Alex Sinclair, Sec.Treas.; Father Vice President was George Rubingh, and Mrs. Henry Elzinga was Mother Vice President, while Teacher Vice President was Howard Burt. The Program Committee consisted of Cornelia Elzinga and Evelyn Ruis. Mrs. Bowers and Mrs. Malone came from Central Lake and told the group what they did at their meetings. They had been organized for a few months. At the first meeting, Cornelia and Eyelyn each taught a class.
Landscaping in, the spring was the first project, and they also purchased the first playground swings. All the P.T.A.’s were invited to attend a county meeting at Bellaire. Mr. Jewell, County Agent, was the speaker. He was asking each President to give a short talk about their P.T.A. Mrs. Patterson became nervous and ill at ease. She quickly wrote a note to Mr. Burt, who was sitting a short distance away. She wrote “What must I do? What must I say?” He wrote back, “Tell them we recently organized, and we are all active members, then ask all the Ellsworth people to stand.” Nearly all of our P.T.A. attended, and were given a good round of applause.
Ellsworth’s first Mother and Daughter Banquet was sponsored by the P.T.A. on May 12, 1933. Some 90 mothers and daughters were present, with Mrs. Henry Elzinga acting as toastmistress. Others in the program were: Mrs. C. G. Kendall, Janet Kooyer, Mary Jean Patterson, Marguerita Bolser, Mrs. Geo. Liberty, Mrs. August YanderArk, Betty Elzinga, Irene Bashaw, Frances Kindall, Harriet Spyers, Geneya Edson, Mrs. Ira Springstead, Mrs. John Drenth, and Eyelyn Ruis. Six men served the ladies a three-course dinner in the parlors of the Methodist Church. On December 7, 1939, the P.T.A. held its first annual Harvest Sale.
Rural Schools Sold
In September, 1947, the Banks Township Public School Board announced that sealed bids would be accepted for rural district schools. Wm. Petter, secretary, stated the following for sale:
Former District No. 1, known as the Antrim City School Building, woodshed, and one acre of ground.
Former District No. 2, Atwood School, all out buildings and three acres of ground.
Former District No. 3, Bentley Hill School.
Former District No. 4, Wright or Bearss School.
Former District No. 5, See School
Former District No. 6, Mitchell School.
Former District No. 7, Pleasant Hill School.
Former District No. 8, Maple Hill School.
By May 26, 1949, five rural schools had been sold.
District No. 2, Atwood, was sold to Paul Doctor for $1,550. Maple Hill, No. 8 went to Atwood Reformed Church for $300.00. Bentley Hill Farm Bureau paid $200.00 for Bentley Hill No. 3 School. Pleasant Hill No. 7 went to Mrs. Nixon for $500.00. and Mitchell No. 6 was purchased by V. Gallop for $320.00.
Mitchell District No. 6
August 19, 1897 School District No. 6 of Banks will haye a new brick school before the snow flies. It will replace the old log cabin building near Church’s corners, and the district board claims that instead of having the poorest school house in the county, they will have the best district building in Antrim County. Fred Washburn has the contract.
Wright School District, No.4
Wright School House, north of Ellsworth was destroyed by fire during school hours on March 13, 1940, Wednesday afternoon. The teacher, Miss Bonnie Lou Anderson, of Alden, and six students were present when the fire was discovered, and all retired from the burning structure safely. The teacher was able to save her desk and all the text books. A defective chimney was believed to have caused the fire. This was the former ‘Boss’ School, which moved to Wright and Bearss District.
Ebenezer Christian School
The desire for Christian Instruction for Covenant youth was envisioned as early as 1938-1939, by members of both Atwood and Ellsworth Christian Reformed Churches. In unity, there is strength, and after all obstacles were hurdled, land was purchased and a building was erected in old Ellsworth by the members of the Ebenezer School Society. On November 16, 1945, dedication took place in the Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church. Mrs. John Brock and Miss Susan Boyer were the first teachers. Soon, two rooms were not sufficient, and another school room, was added. A staff of three teachers now teach the children, grades kindergarten through eighth.
Ebenezer means: “Hitherto hath the Lord been our help”.
Fires took their toll through the years. Time and again our village picked itself up out of the ashes, especially in the early years. Twice the business district on the south side of Center Street was wiped out. In one fire, Shooks store, then the Maccabee Hall, was the only one sayed. It was later moved to its present location on the corner of Center and Main Street.
Saw mills, a tinderbox in those days as lumber piles grew, and the amount of sawdust increased by the minute. A spark from the mill’s chimneys could cause extensive damage. Some of the mills maintained their own fire equipment and trained their employees in fire fighting. Makeshift contraptions could not always be relied on when an emergency arose.
Just such an occasion happened in March of 1900. Mr. Salchow, of the Cameron Lumber Company had taken considerable precaution and heavy expense to arrange a fire protection system for the mill and lumber yard. In order to test the apparatus, and the efficiency of the men, he turned in a false alarm a few minutes before quitting time and then watched the fun. The man whose duty it was to unlock the horsecart house was so excited that he could not work the lock, and the engineer found that the water in the pipes had all condensed or something of that sort, so he was not prepared to throw any water, but fortunately it made no difference, for the coupling would not fit and the nozzle was the wrong size. Needless to say, that was soon changed and a month and a half later, their training and equipment was again tested – this time for real. It was noon, May 14, 1900, when the fire whistle on the Cameron Lumber Co. gave the alarm, and in a very short time, 850 feet of hose was laid to the fire, which was in a lot of cedar refuse only 900 feet from the mill. F. H. Skow also had considerable property in the path of the fire. The men from Sleeper’s Mill also ran over to lend a hand and assisted in getting the fire under control.
In April of 1903, fire destroyed about 60,000 shingles belonging to F. H. Skow.
On Sunday eyening, May 30, 1897, the Old Water Mill in old Ellsworth, owned by Charles Campbell, went up in flames. The “firebug” not satisfied with the results of having set the mill fire, struck a second time on Tuesday evening. This time the fire was discovered under the porch of Mr. Campbell’s house and extinguished before the kindling wood used to start it was consumed. Mr. Campbell was unpopular with a portion of the Ellsworth citizens, and this was the method adopted to wreak vengeance. How many fires were set will never be known. In February of 1899, a pyromaniac was again at work. This time, the saloon, owned by the Yettaw Bros. was discoyered to be on fire. It was soon extinguished. A hole burned in the floor where it had been set. The Slot machine had been broken into and considerable money bad been taken. The next night the building was again discovered to be on fire. This time it had progressed too far to be saved. It, and nearly all its contents were destroyed, together with a small warehouse. Also, the building occupied by Mr. Grayes and Mr. Moblo, and owned by Mr. Hubbard was destroyed, as well as the Hubbards Hall. Four buildings in all were lost to this act of arson.
Mr. Hubbard lost three buildings that winter, and for the second time that winter, Mr. Graves was forced to move into the street at a moments notice. Others temporarily out of business were: W. G. Campbell, barber; he grabbed his shaving mug and razor and was on duty to trim whiskers and hair at J. Bearss. Lewis YanSkiver and Liscom, were located in the Hubbard Hall. Before the embers had died, they were transacting their meat market business in the building beside the Congregational Hall (now the old Telephone Office).
The Wednesday morning, March 8, 1899, following the Saturday and Sunday nights fire, another disastrous fire hit the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gotham and destroyed it. Their daughter, Miss Kati, discovered her little sister, Belle, was in the burning house and dashed in through smoke and flame, rushed upstairs and saved her sister from a flaming bedroom, which nearly cost the lives of both, before she emerged to safety.
During the administration of Postmaster George Frink, 1896-1898 our Post Office building, including the upstairs living quarters of Mr. and Mrs. Frink (this building was located where the Ellsworth Farmers Exchange is now located) and another building adjoining the Post Office also burned.
The one BIG FIRE, that has not been forgotten by the old timers, occurred on January 20, 1901. Four large business places were completely destroyed. The fire started in the Schombergers Store, located about where the Ellsworth Electric Shop building is now located. The fire extended both ways. The Maccabee Hall, barely saved by bucket brigade and hard work. This fire too was believed to be of incendiary origin. A door leading to a small basement room was found broken open and all indications were that the fire was started with the aid of kerosene oil.. Fire was discovered between three and four o’clock in the morning in the Dry Goods Store, owned by R. Schomberger of Central Lake. Messrs. Baker and Gottlieb who were clerks for Schomberger also slept in the store, and were awakened by the dense smoke and only had time to escape from the burning building. The fire spread rapidly to the buildings on each side, and were soon a mass of flames. A crowd soon gathered and the contents from E. R. Harris’ store were soon carried into the street. William Patterson, our late mail carrier, then a little fellow, and his boy friends ate their fill of candy snitched from the show cases which were set across the street, all the while having a ringside seat to the big blaze. The E. R. Harris store also housed the Post Office and Telephone Office. A pool room between Schomberger and Harris’ store was also soon diverted of its furnishings, as was the saloon on the east side of Schomberger’s store.
All the buildings burned, and one double store, which was owned by J. J. Fagen burned too. W. J. Crego, who had a stock of hardware in the Maccabee Hall was saved. The air of defeatism didn’t last long. E. R. Harris said, “I’ll rebuild right away.” August 15, 1901, “the Ellsworth Hustler’ as E. R. Harris was dubbed, moved into his new “iron” store building on the corner of Center and Main Street. In the meantime he had temporarily located on one side of Crego’s store and had a fire sale of ‘mussed’ up goods. Mr. Harris’ favorite color was blue and the new building had window casings and trim painted blue. This was the building that has always been referred to as the ‘Blue Store’. Today, this building houses the Ellsworth Hardware.
The “Bee Hive”, a large, long two-story boarding house for lumberjacks, also was destroyed by flames. This building was located where the new part of the canning factory now stands. Ellsworth also lost two schools, both on the same site, on the west end of Center Street, on the hill top. The first one was in 1912. The second one was January 1917. The cement foundation still stands today as a monument to the memories of former halls of learning.
Indelible on the minds of the people who witnessed the following tragic fire which happened on March 1, 1914. This Sunday evening, Henry P. Vander Ark and his wife, Margaret, tucked their children, Kenneth and Thelma, in bed, and decided to step across the street for a short visit with their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Van Skiver, proprietors of the Orient Hotel. Erelong, it was discovered that their home was on fire. Teddy, their pet dog awakened the children and the three made their escape by the rear door. As they were making their way to one door of the hotel, the children’s daddy dashed blindly into the burning building through the front door. Henry, a young man of 28 years, and our village barber perished in the flames. This same spring, Mrs. Hielke Hoogerwerf, a farmer’s wife, living three miles west of Ellsworth, lost her life, when she built a fire in the kitchen stove, as she poured gasoline into the stove from a kerosene can. Someone had carelessly put gasoline in the kerosene container. She was survived by a husband and four little children. A visiting neighbor girl, four-year old Julia Dennis, also lost her life from burns received in this blaze.
In July, 1928, Mrs. William Slough decided to visit relatives in Bad Axe. As she boarded the train, she called back to her husband, the Station Agent, “Don’t burn the house down while I’m away.” That’s exactly what happened a few mornings later. Believe me, Mr. Slough did not cause the blaze. The new home, which they built on the same site, now belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Darwin Orcutt, on Harris Street.
Two produce warehouses burned on the exact location. One burned when Ralph Dayis was acting manager. At this fire, all the early township records were destroyed. The records since are dated no earlier than 1907. Mr. Dayis was our township clerk at the time. When the Ellsworth Produce Company was rebuilt, Chatterton and Son of Mt. Pleasant leased the building which was owned by stockholders. Murray E. Nelson managed the company for many years, dealing in potatoes, feed and coal.
Our village was in desperate need of fire protection, so in 1920, Louis Van Skiver, Arthur Ely and Stuart Baar raised by subscription, $190.00 and purchased from the American LaFrance Fire Equipment Co., in Milwaukee, a two wheeled chemical apparatus. It could be drawn by hand, or pulled back of a vehicle. Today, it is an antique, and can be seen in our fire hall.
It was Sunday, April 16, 1922, when Mr. and Mrs. Louis Van Skiver, proprietors of the Orient Hotel, and Mr. and Mrs. George Heller decided to spend the evening in East Jordan. Soon smoke was discovered issuing from the basement windows of the Hotel, and before help could be secured, the whole interior of the building was in flames. Both Charlevoix and East Jordan fire departments responded, but before they could reach here, the hotel, hotel barn, and the tenant house of Wm. Eastcott, occupied by the Hellers, had ignited and was a mass of flames beyond control. For a time it was thought the Citizens Bank and Klooster Store would go. It was stated, if the bank had burned, the whole north side of Center Street would no doubt have been wiped out. This large, three story pretentious, twelve gable hotel was a landmark a hub to the wheel that revolved around our village. More than. one family gathered important papers and treasures, ready to evacuate, should the flames spread. The writer’s little sister wasn’t going to let the big fire get her treasures. She gathered all her dolls and hair ribbons and put them in Dad’s big arm chair by the door. She was ready to carry them out doors at a moment’s notice. Mr. Van Skiver did not rebuild on the same location. He chose to purchase land from Jane Campbell, and built the Big Fish Inn.
Two stores, the former M. Struik store, also occupied by Wallace Weiss for a period of years, burned in December of 1924. At the time of the fire it was owned by Clarence Fales, and the other building, once the Tom Routley Pool Hall, had been occupied by numerous people through the years. Living quarters upstairs were occupied by Thomas Sutherland at the time of the fire. The building was owned by F. H. Skow. These buildings stood where our Community Hall stands today.
In August, 1928, there was a new spurt of enthusiasm, and a fire department was organized, with Peter Wieland, Chief; Ira Springstead, Assistant Chief; and Roger Spyers, Captain. A water reservoir was built for fire protection. The Township purchased a chemical tank truck of Boyer Chemical Co. for $400.00. On December 13, 1933, the fire department got a new lease on life and reorganized, when they got an eyeopener that fire insurance rates would increase if they did not have better fire protection. This time the members were: Peter Weiland, Chief; Henry Elzinga, Assistant Chief; Bernie Klooster, Captain; Charles D. Edson, Lieutenant.
In July, 1941, the Township Board met in the Community Hall with the Village Council, to discuss the purchase of fire equipment, and resolved to purchase a truck and pump, complete. September, 1958, the Banks Township and the Village of Ellsworth jointly, put in use a new $6,000 fire hall. The brikcrete structure was largely built by donated labor. It houses the pumper and the auxiliary tank truck. It’s location is on the site of the former Orient Hotel.
In 1966, our fire department is manned by fourteen yolunteer firemen, including Chief Grant Hastings. All are trained in the technique of fire fighting. The department if efficiently equipped with a system of seven phones that ring simultaneously in firemen’s homes when one dials LU8-2100.
When the railroad came through, prosperity started looking up. Before this, money was nonexistent. The medium of exchange was “scrip” or “maple slivers”. In reality, ‘due bills’ that were received by laborers, and could be turned in at the stores for merchandise. Gene Best told how he had to work elsewhere for currency so he could buy postage stamps.
Men working on the railroad received money. F. H. Skow had a small building on the south side of Center Street, about where the tavern is now. He carried a few groceries- no shelves or counters, just barrels and boxes along the walls. The big store, where Denny’s store is now, was built by an Iron Company, from Manistique, Mich., and was operated by Mr. Cherry and his two sisters, Miss Cherry and Mrs. Adams. This iron company was getting wood for their iron ore furnace at Ironton, where the wood was put into kilns, (like big bee hives) to make charcoal, to be used in smelting the iron ore brought from Upper Peninsula by boat. Later, Miss Cherry and Mrs. Adams operated a store at Ironton.
Mr. Skow bought the big store, which be sold to Henry of Atwood, and brother. George Klooster of Reeman in March 1910. A short time later, Henry Klooster sold out his interest in the business to George Klooster and son Koo.
Henry E. and August Vander Ark, Bernie Klooster and Henry J. Vander Ark were the next proprietors, until the store burned. The first store on the corner was built by the Ellsworth Lumber Co., and was owned by Nash, Harris, and Meech. It was a one-story building and housed the grocery store, Post Office and Telephone Exchange, and was run by E. R. Harris. The east half of the building was used by a pool room company, owned by Fagan and Todd, when the building burned, then E. R. Harris rebuilt in 1901. He sold his stock to Diepenhorst and Westrate in the fall of 1909, when Mr. Harris became Judge of Probate. Diepenhorst and Westrate enlarged stock to include dry goods and shoes and boots. Westrate finally sold out his interest to Diepenhorst. Diepenhorst sold to D.E. Clow in 1914.
The Blue Store building, was sold to Inda Weiss, widow of Wallace Weiss, a Russian Jew. He died June 16, 1921. Mrs. Wallace purchased the store September 6, 1921. Previous to Mr. Weiss’ death, they operated the store. Before this, they owned Struik Store, where our Community Hall is now located. June, 1924, Koo Klooster purchased the Blue Store and from then on it has been a Hardware store. By the way, Mr. Weiss was a comparatively young man at the time of his death, being only 36 years old. His wife, Inda Finer Weiss and son Isadore, and daughter Bessie moyed to Denyer, Colorado. One time when he was located in the Struik store, to promote business, he advertised that on a certain Saturday eyening, a man would jump from the roof of the front of his store into a tank of water. The people came from far and wide to witness a dangerous feat as that would be. At the appointed time, a man appeared on the roof, peeked over the top of the store front, at last, at, dusk of the summer night a figure plunged over the top, into the tank. No struggle was made. Was the man dead?’ That was feared, until someone picked up courage to go to the tank. Such a disappointment. It was a dummy.
Now, back to the Blue Store. Harry Vander Ark purchased an interest in the Koo Klooster Hardware store. Due to illness of Koo, Harry ran the store with the help of his wife Dorothy, and hired clerks. In September of 1944, Gerrit, John Drenth and Henry Drenth, of East Jordan purchased the interest of Harry Vander Ark in the Hardware Store. Harry decided to resume his education in Calvin College, and Seminary to follow his calling to become a minister of the gospel, and is now pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church in Fremont. Henry Drenth later dissolyed partnership and returned to East Jordan. Today it is a family business, which includes John Drenth, Father; and sons Gerrit, Arthur, and Gerrit’s son, Robert. The building is owned by the Koo Klooster estate.
Let’s go back across the street. We have written elsewhere in these pages about the large three story hotel, The Orient, built by F. H. Skow. Some of the early operators were: A. E. Pickard; Mrs. Shores and daughter, Mrs. William Supernau; Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Squires and in the summer of 1899, Louis Van Skiver purchased the hotel and operated it until it burned in 1922.
There was a small building west of the hotel that a Dr. Gardner, Dentist, used for his office and residence. Later, Fred Smith, town handyman, used it to repair watches, clocks, and lived there as well. West of this building was a saloon. John Alleman, was the saloon keeper. This was in 1898, on the same site that today is the bank building. Tom Routley built a poolroom and barber shop next door. Rooms upstairs were rented to bachelors. In 1900, Matthias Struik left his farm in Atwood, built the store next to the Routley store, and started another grocery. Wallace Weiss and Clarence Fales also, owned it. When the Gidley Store on the corner was built, we did not have the facts on that. It was used for a saloon, shoe shop, Post Office, grocery. Harry Dayey had a grocery in 1925 Mrs. Anna Meyer and her two sons, Herbert and Ralph closed out their grocery stock in September of 1933, and moved to Trayerse City, opening a store there. Leonard Hillman purchased the property, tore down the building and erected a gas station in 1934. Leonard sold to Charles Edson in 1936. “Charlie” as he was known to young and old, started in the gasoline business in May, 1921, and completed nearly 30 years of service when he sold the business to the Ellsworth Farm Store, which was then operated by Paul Doctor and Melvin Essenberg, on October 10, 1950. Personnel operating the business for the new owners include Milford McElroy as mechanic; Donald Edson, tank truck driver; and Marvin Wynsma and Marvin Postmus, station attendants.
Melvin Essenberg, purchased the M.E. Church in Noyember of 1944, to be used for an implement building to be known as the Ellsworth Farm Store. Tracy Boss, bookkeeper, also had his Township Clerk’s office in the old Church building. For a time, James Ruis was a partner in the company, until be sold his interest to Paul Doctor, of Atwood in February, 1950. In 1959, this business was discontinued in the church, and the building was sold to Marvin Elzinga. It was torn down and a red brick U.S. Post Office building was erected. In the autumn of 1965, Paul Doctor sold his interest in the firm to Melvin Essenberg. October, 1900, the Maccabees erected a 30 x 60 foot two-story building, with the upper story to be used for a lodge hall and the lower floor for store purposes. The big sign New Grocery stretched out like an arm over the board walk. It was the only building not burned in the big fire in 1901, on the south side of Center Street. It was later moved to its present location by Cameron Lumber Co., Crego and Peltoll. W. A. Boss purchased the store and hardware business from William Crego, and Mr. Boss sold stock to Koo Klooster, and Ira Springstead purchased the building in April of 1925, and it became a grocery store again, and Tony Shooks bought the business and building in 1930. In December, 1946, Anthony M. Shooks and Wesley Shooks purchased the grocery store stock of their father, and later bought the building. On the l0th anniversary in April 1940, Mr. Shooks, Sr. inaugurated the self-serve system and renamed the store to Shooks Economy Market.
The Elzinga brothers, James and Henry, built the cement block garage about where the Mccabee Hall was moved from, along around 1916, and sold to James Ruis in September 1932. In September 1946, extensive remodeling was done, so that larger buses and trucks can be worked on inside.
The Ellsworth Lumber Company was built by William Drenth, Sr., in 1920, and operated the business until 1938, when he retired, and sold to Joseph Bugai, of East Jordan. After Mr. Bugai’s accidental death on January 6, 1962, his son-in-law, Arnold (Bill) Muha purchased the firm. Acquainted with the business and our community Mr. Muha had worked for Mr. Bugai for a few years. Bill worked for a brief period in Saginaw before returning here in 1962.
The Ellsworth Shoe Shop, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Herman Tornga, closed its doors in March, 1957, after three different locations since starting the repair shop in 1915. In his shoe repair, he used the same wooden last his grandfather used l00 years before, “Harm” being the third generation of cobblers.
October 19, 1933, Emmet Denny opened a “Modern Beauty Shop” in the Zylstra building. In August, 1945, Mrs. Edna Wilkins opened a new “Edna Mae” Beauty Shop in the John James barber shop. Her sister Mrs. Floy Burnett acted as manager and operator. Other operators of the Beauty Shop during its location in the Barber Shop were, Mrs. Edith LaClair, Carrie Kemp, Cornelia Fielstra, Rose Essenberg De Young.
After serving the community more than twenty five years, the Citizens Bank of Ellsworth, a private bank, owned by C. M. McPhail of Grand Rapids and Walter S. Richardson, closed its doors on November 27, 1935, much to the sorrow of the town and community. Its inconvenience was felt. Later, the Charlevoix County State Bank cashiers Maurice Foster or Pat Hawley, served the public in John’s Health Center. On Friday, June 24, 1960, the old Citizens Bank was opened by the Charlevoix County State Bank, by holding open house, and made; the announcement that the Ellsworth Branch Facility would be open for business every Tuesday and Friday forenoon, 10 to 1 P.M.. This convenience is accepted with felicity by the patrons.
The Big Fish Inn, on Campbell’s Lake was built by Lewis Van Skiver in 1924. He sold to Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Algire, of Lima, Ohio in May of 1926. In April of 1931, Mr. and Mrs. August Vander Ark became the new proprietors. They sold to Mr. and Mrs. George Lambie, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sommeryille, of Detroit in April 12, 1945. September 19, 1949, Mr. Robert Sommeryille announced the sale of the hotel and cottages to Mr. and Mrs. William Dawson, Sr., and Mr. and Mrs. William Dawson, Jr., of Dayton, Ohio. Present proprietor is Oliver North, of Dayton, Ohio.
Our tonsorial business men, all young aspiring shavers of their period, also made a name for themselves through the yesteryears. There was W. G. Campbell; Henry Peter Vander Ark; Arthur Ely; Philip B. Gothro; John Hodgkins; Forrest Dewey; and our present barber, John James, in the business at the same location since 1944.
Before 1920, the services of an undertaker had to come from one of our neighboring towns. Hiram Dawson, our first local mortician, moved here from Eastport. He also was our postmaster. He died October 13, 1941. Grant Hastings and family moved here in October of 1942, and is presently located in his newly remodeled Funeral Home on Main Street.
In 1931, Isaac Horringa, and a son-in-law, John Timmer, purchased a lot on the corner of Main and Center Street from Mrs. Alfred Moblo, of Trayerse City. A Feed Mill, 42 x 70 feet was erected, and on October 1, 1931, was opened for business. Feeds, seeds, flour, fertilizers and their by-products were sold. A Gas Station was also added. Due to failing health, Mr. Horrenga retired from the business in 1937. Jolin Timmer took over the entire business until his death in April of 1959. Mrs. Timmer closed the doors on December 19, 1959. The Cadet Club purchased the building on October 28, 1964.
Donald Patterson, Henry Yettaw and Alfred Moblo were three well-known blacksmiths that held reign during the lumbering era. There may haye been many more as each mill had a blacksmith of their own. Donald Patterson had a shop east of the depot. He also was a farmer and owned the John Burns farm. Later, he became our rural mailcarrier. Henry Yettaw, died at 80 years of age in May, 1950. He operated his shop next to his home for fifty years. This old landmark on Lincoln Street was razed in 1951. The home of Marjorie Drenth was built on its site. Alfred Moblo owned the building that is now the Swap Shop, Clyde Iryin. There he operated a blacksmith shop and garage for 22 years. He moved to Traverse City in 1923, and passed away in 1930. George Wright of East Jordan purchased the Blacksmith Shop of Donald Patterson in March, 1906.
Jefferson Monroe Bearss came to Ellsworth at the age of 16. For several years he worked as a lumberman, then opened the first livery barn in the village, and operated the first stage route between Ellsworth and East Jordan. He later purchased a farm, three miles from Ellsworth, where he lived until 1940. This pioneer died at the age of 88, in 1946. Norman P. Griffen and Sandy Martin also operated the livery barn. The row of chairs in front of the barn were usually occupied by men of the town, catching up with current news, good and bad.
In 1919, a group of farmers formed a farmers warehouse, and named their cooperative Banks Township Marketing Association. John Boss of Atwood was hired as manager. He and his family moved from Atwood to Ellsworth and resided in the now, Peter Weiland home. The Board of Directors rented the Tom Routley Store from F. H. Skow, and started the business of dealers in feeds, grains, fertilizer, and all the other commodities farmers use. A building project was soon underway. They erected a large warehouse next to the railroad on Center Street. Due to ill health, John Boss was forced to resign, and F. H. Skow filled in until Julius Elzinga became manager. Rock Miller worked there as potato sorter for 22 years. Isaac Horrenga was cream tester for 12 years. Another large warehouse, a potato basement, was built in 1929, just south of the original warehouse. The size of this building was 45 x 125 ft., and in 1940, a warehouse over basement was erected for storage of merchandise and trucks.
Ennis Shaver followed Julius Elzinga as manager, then John Timmer took over on October 1, 1923 and remained in this position until August 1, 1931. Bernie Klooster came next and managed until Darwin Orcutt accepted the position in March of 1944. The name has been changed to Ellsworth Farmers Exchange.
The cement-block Corner Garage was built by Lorence Isaman in 1921. The west wall was near completion when we had a severe electrical and wind storm on a June evening, and the wall came tumbling down. Lorence had the Ford Car Agency, and Milford McElroy, was his chief mechanic. Lorence sold to Elmer Klooster in 1936. In March, 1948, Elmer leased his business to Ray Bazella of Trayerse City. Robert Evans, Sr., also rented the place for a time.
In November of 1950, Elmer leased the downstairs to a new manufacturing plant, namely the Morray Steel Products. This name later was changed to Morweld Steel Products Corp. To expand, Elmer built an addition 40 x 60 feet to his building on the south end of the garage in August of 1951. This arrangement did not prove satisfactory. No space was available for outside storage, it being in the center of our village. The Morweld Steel Corp. moved their operation to new quarters on a new site cast of the railroad tracks, near the lake. Klooster again rented the building, this time to the canning factory for storage. The winter of 1959, he rented the new south addition to John Timmer for storage. That was the winter of the big snow, and on January 29th, the roof caved in and the cement block walls crashed out, with a loss of not only the building to Klooster, but the loss of 65 tons of fertilizer, tons of turkey supplies and a warehouse truck, as well as Ben Timmer’s car and John Timmer’s car. That part of the building was never rebuilt. Mr. Klooster sold the Corner Garage to L. P. Jackson in 1965.
Restaurants and Bakery
Place to eat? – We had them as early as 1898. Mrs. Abbie Madill served meals and sold fresh baked goods at her Boarding House on Harris Street. Mrs. Luke Hyman had a bakery in the former Harm Tornga Shoe Shop. Mr. and Mrs. Albert Parsons had a Restaurant in what is now the tavern. Mr. and Mrs. James Zylsta reserved meals at meal time only. Mr. and Mrs. Lambert Aardema also ran the restaurant for a time.
In 1943, Mrs. Armina Allen purchased the property known as the Dawson Funeral Home, one time Moblo Blacksmith Shop, now the Swap Shop. She remodeled and opened up a Bakery and Restaurant. Mrs. Martha Bolser operated the “Aunt Martha Cafe” at the same place. Also Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Oosterbaan, then Mrs. Ira Springstead and her sister, Mrs. Margaret Boice served meals. D. C. Williams was the next owner. Mr. and Mrs. Don Campbell followed and operated the restaurant, and did a fine job of serving the public, as well as all the previous ones had. In October 1949, Mr. and Mrs. Henry E. Vander Ark purchased the restaurant from D.C. Williams, remodeled, and on April 22, 1950, had a Grand Opening Day for the new Variety and Dry Goods Store. In 1952, the Vander Arks moved back to the main store, and now Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Irvin opened the White Swan Restaurant at the same location.
The Rowe Inn, east of town, on the East Jordan Road was built in 1947 by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Rowe of Dayton, Ohio. They opened for business only through the summer months. John and Agnes, of John’s Health Center, serve meals the year around, that satisfies any appetite.
In 1952, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Denny purchased the land of Edward Klooster, that one time was the site of Klooster Vander Ark’s Store. The Denny’s built a Bait Shop, which they operated until 1959, when they built a grocery store, and is now known as the Denny Shopping Center.
The Mortar and Pestle the Apothecary used to mix a pinch of this, and a drop or two of that, has gone with the yesteryears. Early doctors, too, dispensed Medicine. General stores sold remedies and patent medicine for man and beast.
In 1913, Gidley’s Drug Store of East Jordan put in a branch store in Ellsworth, and placed George Hunter, one of their pharmacists, in charge. In 1918, Mr. Hunter moved to Detroit, and W. J. Donaldson took the position until May of 1924, when Arthur Gidley, of East Jordan, bought the business from Mr. Donaldson, who moved to Petoskey. Harry Gregory and family moved to town and Harry sold drugs in Dayey’s Grocery. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Supernaw purchased the Drug Store and moved to the corner building, Blue Store. In 1947, Glen’s Pharmacy sold to Mr. and Mrs. Emery J. Wilson, and changed the name to Wilson’s Health Center. Mr. Supernaw was our last pharmacist. March, 1949, the Wilsons sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. John A. Klooster. The Kloosters erected a new red Brikcrete store on Main Street. September 11, 1954 was selected for the grand opening day. They named the store John’s Health Center.
Approaching the manager, Mr. Elmer Rood, in 1954, about a history of the Ellsworth Canning Plant, Mr. Rood volunteered to write one. Here it is:
Since this was written, changes have taken place, namely the retirement of Mr. Rood in June of 1959. He was honored by a testimonial dinner on July 8, 1959 for his years of service as Village President, and on the council, and manager of the Columbia Foods Ellsworth Plant. The firm now is associated with the Michigan Fruit Canners, Inc., Columbia Foods Division, with Henry Ruis, general manager.
A Brief History of The Ellsworth Canning Plant
By Elmer H. Rood
In 1922, a few progressive local citizens, led by the cashier of the Citizens Bank of Ellsworth, Mr. Stuart P. Baar, decided that what Ellsworth needed was a small canning plant to create a market for diversified crops that could be grown in this part of the State of Michigan.
Mr. C. O. Bigler was contacted through the American Can Co., of Chicago, and he in turn took over the promotion of getting capital, the erection of a suitable building, and a location for it.
This was done and the actual construction started April 1, 1923, but the subscription of stock was slow in coming in, and a real problem developed. It fell to the lot of Stuart Baar and Elmer H. Rood to make delivery of stock to subscribers and collect for it on each Saturday so as to be able to pay the workers. Materials were bought on credit, and our credit was questioned several times, but we were able to continue until the building was completed. To make it even more difficult, the promoter, who was also the Manager, subscribed a substantial majority of the stock but had no money to pay for it. This had us stopped for a while, but not for long, and it did not stop the work on the building. It was finished, in spite of all the handicaps so far.
Then the real problem was on. There was no money for machinery, equipment, or operating expenses, but contracting for growing of crops was arranged, and seed was secured and deliyered to growers.
When the crops were ready, which consisted of Sweet Corn, String Beans, Apples, and some small fruits (Strawberries and Red Raspberries), the plant started without any equipment except a boiler, four pressure cookers, ten apple peelers, and two Continental closing machines. This was a “Belieye it or not” canning plant. Such a statement was made by a prominent Chicago Food Broker who was invited to come up and see us in action.
Everything was prepared by hand, the cutting of corn, snipping of beans, peeling of beets, filling of cans, etc., but the canning was completed with a total of around 15,000 cases.
This, of course was not sufficient pack to pay the bills due. The manager saw this, and after some desperate deeds, and juggling of funds, he finally disappeared, leaving the rest of the stockholders holding the bag. The situation became desperate, and something had to be done, and quick. So, the Board of Directors was called together. This board consisted of George Klooster, William Drenth, Koo Klooster, Elmer Rood, Stuart Baar, and C. O. Bigler. The manager (Bigler) had disappeared, so it was decided to put their holdings into the hands of a Receiver. This was done early in 1924. The books were audited and a true picture of all obligations revealed. Then several meetings were held to decide what to do.
Finally, a mass meeting was held in the Blue Hall, and it was agreed to find ways and means to operate the factory if finances could be secured. A committee was appointed to work on this, consisting of Mr. F.H. Skow, the Receiver, Elmer Rood, the Superintendent, George Klooster, Peter Wieland, William Drenth, and Koo Klooster. The East Jordan Banks were contacted and small loans were arranged with both of them. With finances assured, the Receiver and Superintendent obtained a permit from the Court to operate the factory for one year. This same arrangement was continued for a total of six years, both with the Court and Banks.
During these 6 years, contacts were made by the superintendent with several wholesale grocery firms, who could buy our goods and pay for them promptly, as financing was the number one problem. During this period, Reid Murdoch & Co. of Chicago were called on and a small order was received from their buyer in 1928. The following year a large order was secured from them in the early spring before planting time, for delivery when packed. Delivery was 95 percent of the order, and it called for a visit to their Chicago office. In the course of conversation the remark was made by the caller, “Well, we have no more goods to sell, so let us sell you the plant”. The Reid Murdoch buyer at that time took it as a joke first, but asked if he had heard right, and he was told that he had. This was the beginning of the deal that ended in the sale of the Ellsworth Canning Co. plant to Reid Murdoch & Co. in 1929. The deal was completed in January, 1930, during the session of the National Canners Association Convention. This entire transaction was handled by myself, and the same was made without anyone from Reid Murdoch & Co. even seeing the plant until in April 1930 when the General Manager of Reid Murdoch came to Ellsworth to see what they had bought. His remark was “Rood, you sold us an awful pile of junk, did you not?” I had an answer for him, but to no avail. He did not like it, and told me so, and said as soon as he could find another location, he would close the Ellsworth plant. A personal feud developed between him and myself from that point on. However, the plant was almost lost to the community in 1931, when Kalkaska County made a strenuous effort to have it moved to Kalkaska. This resulted in another trip to Chicago by myself, Richard DeYoung, and August Vander Ark. In this meeting with the Board of Directors of Reid Murdoch & Co., a compromise was reached that we, the people of Ellsworth Community, would erect a new factory building. This was done in 1932, and the new building was used for canning operations in 1933. It was 60 feet by 225 feet, with a smaller second floor for can storage and syrup room. A new boiler room and a new boiler were installed.
After these buildings were added, the plant needed more packs. A meeting was called in Chicago, and it was decided to add Cherries to our pack of Beans and Beets. Our first year of packing Cherries was 1934, and we packed 25,000 cases. We had 3 cherry pitters and 4 soaking tanks. In 1937 more pitters were added, and in 1940 there were three more pitters added more tanks.
In the year 1926, we made a very important discovery in striking two flowing wells. In 1928 we drove two more. In 1935, we changed the location and drove seven more wells and erected a well house. All of these wells were driven by Harry Taylor, an old resident of this community. In 1945, his son, Ernest Taylor, drove five more wells so as to make a total of 16 flowing wells, each flowing about 25 gallons per minute into a concrete storage, having a capacity of 80,000 gallons.
This plant has the most unusual water supply in the U.S.A. The water has a temperature of 42 degrees the year around. The temperature and purity of this water supply is the most important asset to the Ellsworth canning plant, and is especially important in the canning of cherries. This pack has grown from 25,000 cases in 1934 to 145,000 cases in 1944, the largest pack we eyer had. Snap beans haye also shown progress from 1923 with no snippers, to one in 1925, to 7 in 1932, to 9 large capacity machines and 4 older type in 1950; from 40 acres in 1923, to 900 acres in 1943. Beets from 40 acres in 1923, to 365 acres in 1949. Carrots were also added in 1932 and 20 acres were grown. We contracted 130 acres in 1945. The canning of Onions was started in 1950 and has grown considerably.
All in all, the growth of this factory has been almost phenomenal, due to several factors our ability to produce and pack top quality on every pack and commodity; the plant being owned by the largest wholesale food concern in the U.S.A., Consolidated Foods Corp., Chicago, Ill., with a sales force covering the trade from coast to coast; constant improving and streamlining production with new machinery and new methods of handling procedure.
This plant has grown from the smallest in 1923 to one of Michigan’s most important, employing from 2025 people in 1923 to 250 or more at the present time; extending our operating season from 4060 days in 1923, to between 5 and 6 months at present, depending on crops and weather; from a payroll of about $300.00 per week in 1923 to $15,000.00 per week during the packing season now.
We now take in many parts of the State to obtain acreage and produce so as to be able to keep the production going at a steady pace, and provide the maximum of employment and volume of merchandise to sell for our Company.
All of these things mentioned above have been accomplished only because of our policy of fair and honest dealings, and the most progressive and intelligent management from the field to the finished product.
The management would like to go on record that we intend and hope, to continue to play as important a part as possible to grow and prosper with Ellsworth and the community for many years to come.
These Memoirs have been written by an “Old Timer” who had one thing in mind to make Ellsworth a better place to live in June 12, 1954.
Sorting out the yesteryears, I wondered if it would be as interesting to you as it is to me to learn who built our early homes.
Keeping up with the Jones’ was as much a social prestige as people like to think it is today. As each house was erected, one was just a little bit more adorned with gingerbread trim than the others. A vestige of its prominence can still be seen.
Let’s begin in old Ellsworth. Mrs. Rhoda Eyans home is still the oldest in that section. It was built by our first Postmaster, Lewis De Line. The C.N.M. Railroad Company bought up all the land in 1871, and the first private owner of the Maynard Alward property was Hiram B. Chapman, in 1883, and Augustus Davis and Erwin Dean took possession in 1884. We have been unable to learn who built the first house there, but we do know that Ben Madhill’s mother lived there. She drowned in the river while living there in those early lumbering days. Across the street, Edwin Petters’ house was built by George Rubingh. A. M. Klooster’s house was moved from the John Burns farm in 1932, when Corneilus Vanden Berg owned it. Peter Jake Drenth built his own house. Fred VanStedum built his house in 1947. John James’ house was once the Christian Reformed Chapel, moved to its present site from two miles, south of town. In 1946, Ethan Edson built the Jerroll Drenth home. Gerrit Bergsma built two houses in 1947, selling one to Alvin Denny. The other one was never finished.
William Coeling built the home now owned by Robert Smalley. Al Hecht, of Detroit, built a summer home near Campbell’s Lake, now owned by William Muha. Paul White built Jack Van Loo’s house. Lewis YanSkiyer built Big Fish Inn. Herman Drenth built both Dr. J. VanDellen’s house, and Claud White’s house. In 1947, Edward DeYoung built Neil Kruse’s house. Mrs. Ida Drenth and her late husband Gerrit, built their home. Paul White built the cottage next to her home. Dr. J. Van Dellen had two homes built at different years, and used the basement for office rooms. One of these homes is now owned by Emery Wilson, and the other by Arthur Drenth. William Drenth Sr., built the Anthony Shooks home, also the Ellsworth Lumber Company building. George Liberty move four houses from the East Jordan Fair Grounds in 1932. One of these, the square house across the street from A. M. Klooster’s, one was the Finch, now owned by Robert Vanniman, and two cottages owned by Mrs. Gerrit VanderArk.
Herman De Young built the Mettie De Young Vander Ark home in 1946. Mrs. Mabel Liberty’s home was moved from the Big Fish Inn property by Charles Campbell. It once was a glorified horse and carriage barn. The house owned by Robert Johnstone was built by Robert Fulton. Rendle Madden now owns the home built by R. T. Sleeper. Charles Barrow’s house, built by Albert Supernaw, was for a number of yesteryears, the home of different saloonkeepers, Myers, Besteman, Frank Davey. Hiram Dawson, local undertaker, also lived in the house for several years, as well as school teachers and station agents, and many more. James Ruis home was built by William Supernaw. Claude Wood built a house close to the street next to the James Ruis house. That house was torn down and Walter Rood built his home there in 1942. Chester Farrell’s house was built by Henry Supernaw. Earl Denny’s house was built by Dolfus Supernaw, brother of Henry and Albert Supernaw. It is not known who built Edward Denny’s home.
Tom Denton built a little house where Peter Burns’ house now stands. Herman De Young built Peter Burns’ house. He also moved the house now owned by Wesley Veenstra to its present location from the Canning Factory hill. It was built by Benjamin Beneker of Grand Rapids for a summer home. The Joe Tornga home was built in the early days. Some Congregational Church meetings were held there. Mr. and Mrs. Covert, a sawyer built the Pilgrim Holiness Parsonage. John Klooster’s house was two houses, moved together. James De Young built Elmer Rood’s house in 1924. August Bohls built Rhea Dawson’s house. William Armstrong’s house, an old Doctor put up the shell, then Mrs. Hudson had it, and Lila Madhill purchased it and fixed it up for her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Madill. Tyce Coeling built the John Timmer home in 1921. F. H. Skow built the D. E. Clow home in 1892. Mrs. John Doctor had her home built in 1947, now owned by Mrs. Hattie Goemon Shooks. John De Young built Marvin Elzinga’s house. Lester Arndt built his own home. Dean Fielder built three houses, one now owned by Allen Ray Klooster, one sold to Roxy Van Loo, and Edith LaClair owns the smaller one.
In May of 1965, Elmer Rood purchased the lot of Neil Kruse on Park Street, placed a large trailer house on it and built a garage and glassed-in porch, and lives in a comfortable home. James Heeres. Sr. built his red brick house on the corner of Center and Park Street in 1953, and it is now owned by Earl Balch. Klon Johnstone’s house was one time the Congregational Church, remodeled into the M. E. Parsonage. Felix Coon built Peter Wieland’s house. The Patterson house was built by Arthur Meech. It was built a little later than the Skow House. Murray R. Nelson built Mrs. Rena YanderArk Shook’s house. The big square house now owned by Maurice Taylor was built by Henry and Alex Yettaw in 1893, a hotel, “The Columbia”. It also was used by the two Dr. Ford’s as a sanitarium. It was used by others as a rooming house, restaurant, Tornga Shoe Shop, and private home.
Willard Vander Ark’s house and John Drenth’s house were once the Creamery, moved from what is now the Christian Reformed Church parking lot, in 1925, by Will Yettaw. The Vander Ark’s house was used as a store. Tyce Coeling built Leir Donaldson’s house in 1924. Dick Orr owned the property on the corner. Mrs. Richard Dennis was built by Mr. and Mrs. William Cole. Max Bolser built It is said he had a log house on it. The house now owned and occupied by Mr. and Sebe De Vries’ house. James Zylstra built the beginnings of Bill Wynsema’s house. Louis Oosterbaan built the HiTest Creamery across the street on North Main Street. Arthur Ruis built his own home. In 1963, Andrew Essenberg purchased the property of Ernest Brown, the former vohn Tornga home. Mr. Essenberg erected a new home and converted the old home into a garage, for what it was intended when it was built by William Drenth, Jr. John De Young built Melyin Essenberg’s house, August, 1939. Melvin built an addition in 1946.
John W. Parsons moved Solomon Goeman’s house to its present site from the John Van Straten farm south of town. Wesley Vander Ark built Egbert Wynsma’s home. E. R. Harris built the large William Petter home. Matt Routley built Kenneth Boss’s house. Bertha Harris built Al Taylor’s house, originally known as the Thorpe place. James De Young built the house now owned by Mrs. Gerrit Vander Ark, and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John DeYries. William Lemioux built Fred Denny’s house in 1895. Dayid Denny purchased it in 1900 and it has been in the Denny family since that time. A. E. Pickard built the Charles Saunders’ home. Mr. Stephen, Mrs. Eyert Denny’s father, built the beginnings of William Kaley’s home, later purchased by A. E. Pickard. He also built a small square house that was the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Emery. Mr. and Mrs. William Slough built the Darwin Orcutt home.
William Eastcott owned a home on the same street where the first school classes were held. Frank Pearl built Jake Klooster’s house on the hill on Center Street. Koo Klooster built his home in 1915. Henry Elzinga’s house was built by a Mr. Matthews. Fred Yettaw built Mrs. Joe Cooper’s home. Mr. Lathrup, a carpenter and mason by trade, built Eugene Best’s house, now owned by Walter Hoag. Mr. and Mrs. Mears built the James Elzinga home. Herman Cramer built Harry Cooper’s home. Fred Gillette built Harold Heere’s home. Mr. Gillette, a jack of all trades, used John Kooyer’s house for his tool shop for years. The big square Gillette house was an early house, now the Koster Apartments. John Stephan built Herbert Peeble’s home.. Frank Scism built the house belonging to Mrs. Joe Cooper, occupied by Flossie Somerville. Clarence Fales built the house next door in 1925, now owned by Mrs. Joe Cooper.
Norman Perry, of Detroit, now owns the former Arthur Ely house on the north end of Park Street. The big square house on top of the hill was built by John and Hattie Stevens in 1899. Howard Elzinga is the present owner. Andrew Kooyer built his own home. James Heeres built Herman Heeres house. George Drenth, Sr. built the house now owned by Gerrit Rubingh. Marjorie Drenth had her home built. Henry Yettaw built the John Jansen home. Albert Fielstra built the Fielstra home in 1947. Mrs. Charles Edson’s house was known to the older folks as the Parks place, and Calvin Supernau started the cobblestone masonry on the exterior.
Louis Shaver moved his home on a scow through the Chain of Lakes from Bellaire. The house is now owned by Henry Ruis. Gus Case built George Koster’s home. George moved here from Atwood in 1937. Frederick Meech built Mrs. Hattie Bergsma’s house. Evert Denny built the little square house of Mrs. Tena Bolhieye. The dwelling now owned by George Koster in the front lot was once a Meat Market, owned by David Denny and son Fred. William Drenth, Sr., converted it into a home in 1920. In April, 1932, Mr. and Mrs. Elyert Glas purchased the farm of Mrs. Cornelis Eastcott on the west hill. July, 1952, the bath house was built at the swimming hole. Mrs. Roy Staudenmeyer moved to the Charles Edson farm west of town in November, 1952. 1966 the new addition, “Steeple View” on High Street, realized the new street and Maryin Wynsma built the first new home on the corner of Ash and High Street. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Shooks built a new home on the corner of Park and Maple.
Incidents In Early Pioneer History of Northern Michigan
In June of 1858, sixteen men who were residents of counties of Branch, Hillsdale, and Jackson, in southern Michigan started for the Grand Trayerse Region, located in the northern part of lower peninsula, with the idea of homesteading somewhere in that locality. They met in Jackson and boarded a Michigan Central train for Grand Rapids. From there, equipped with bedding rolls, cooking utensils, guns and some food. They began their journey northward through an almost then unbroken wilderness in that part of the state. They depended entirely on the wild game they could kill for meat, and slept in the open, except occasionally they came upon a settler’s log cabin. There is a case of first come, first served, and they were given a place to sleep under cover for all the cabin would accommodate, and the remainder of the men slept out-of-doors under the stars. All were fed, the guests contributing toward the food the settler’s wife cooked. These few times were red letter days for the travelers, as well as for the settlers, as they seldom had visitors.
I can recall the names of three of these sixteen men. Hiram B. Chapman, whose home in Reading, Branch County, who did not come back to locate on the 160 acres that he selected, but he did come to Charlevoix in 1880 to spend a few weeks, as he did each summer until 1884, when he built a hotel at the head of Pine Lake, called the Chapman House, at a place called Bay Springs, and at the present time, North Boyne. This building was never a success as a hotel, and in the succeeding years was used first as a school called the New Valpriso, and later as the Beulah Home for boys.
The other two men were Ira W. Skinner, from Napoleon, Jackson County, and Amos Noyes, of North Adams, Hillsdale County. Both these men located on land in Banks Township, Antrim County, three and a half miles apart. Mr. Skinner’s is on the highway between Ellsworth and Atwood, and Mr. Noyes’ land was on a sideroad a mile and a quarter northwest of Ellsworth. Only these two came back to “Prove up” and build homes on these located homesteads, and then not until 1864, because of the unsettled condition of our country and the outbreak of the Ciyil War. With their families, they arrived in Northport, Leelanau County in 1864. There were Mr. and Mrs. Ira Skinner and Mrs. Orr, mother of Mrs. Skinner, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Noyes and son, Frank Noyes. They traveled by train from Jackson to Detroit, and then took the steam boat to Mackinaw City. From there, they loaded a small steamboat called Sunnyside, which landed them at Northport, with their goods, consisting of meager household furniture, one yoke of oxen, and two cows, and their own personal belongings. Another sister of Mrs. Noyes, Mrs. Charles Wisner, had come with her family to Northport the previous year from Des Moines, Iowa, where they had gone from Hillsdale County in 1860, in a covered wagon, in search of health for her ailing husband. He was afflicted with tuberculosis, but they called it “lingering consumption”. Not receiving benefits, they decided to return to Michigan and chose Northport as their home where they kept the only hotel in the town “The Exchange”. It was here that the two families stayed for about two weeks until they could get transportation for themselves and their household goods, by sailboat across Grand Traverse Bay to Antrim City, on the opposite shore. Here also they procured the services of a man named Giles to drive their cattle around the shore of the bay to the home of a settler named Ed Pearl, where the two families were hospitably housed until road (which the early land lookers) had marked with blazed trees in 1858 could be opened up to their located lands and they could build cabins for each family to live in. Mr. Giles was to spend the summer and help build the houses. Mr. Skinner’s land was the nearest to the bay, so his house was built first, and the logs were gotten out for Mr. Noyes’ home. An early winter set in the last week in October, and the snow became so deep that it was impossible to continue the work until spring, so it was decided that both families would have to live in the Skinner house during the winter, but separately. They divided the house by a crack in the punchean floor as near the middle of the building as possible. Each family had an “elevated oven” cook stove. They set up their stores in the middle of the room, back to back, the stove pipes from each stove being connected with a “T” and with only one pipe running through the upper floor and roof. The upper part was divided as the lower floor and each family occupied their end of the house. A bunk was made under the stairway for Mr. Giles. There had not been time to build a barn to house the stock in, but a crude shelter was erected, covered with boughs, to keep the snow off them at night, and they were turned out to browse by day. The cows were “slopped” as they gave milk, but they had very little feed for any of the cattle that first winter, and as a result, in the spring, the oxen were so poor that one died.
Before navigation closed, Mr. Skinner and Noyes made a trip to Traverse City by sailboat, to purchase their supplies for the winter. Among the items were a barrel of flour for each family and a barrel of salt pork. Wartime prices for these; namely $50.00 per barrel for flour, and $60.00 per barrel for pork. Mrs. Noyes got cloth for herself a dress, 10 yards of calico, at $1.00 per yard. This summer had been a busy time for all concerned, for when they landed on the east shore of Grand Traverse Bay at Mr. Pearl’s, there were no roads to the land they had located in 1858, only blazed trees the early land lookers had marked to the bay when they filed their claims with the Land Commission Office at Traverse City, then called “Boardman River”. Charlevoix was called Pine River, and Petoskey was “Bear Creek”. Harbor Springs was called “Little Traverse”.
The mail was carried by an Indian who had a pony and the route was from Mackinaw City to Traverse City, Antrim City, with its one inhabitant, was a Post Office, and Mr. Ed Pearl was the Postmaster. The easiest means of transportation was by water, so travel by sailboats was the usual method. When Mr. Skinner and Mr. Noyes procured a sailboat to take them from Northport to Antrim City, the man who owned the boat was not an expert as a sailer, and he hired a boy of 14 years, who lived at Northport to sail the boat for him. This lad was none other than Oscar F. Wilbur, who for many years was Captain of the “City of Grand Rapids” of Grand Rapids, and the Steamer Faxton of Lake Michigan. In later years, after he returned from the Great Lakes, he owned and operated a warehouse and dock at Charlevoix.
The winter of 1864-1865 was a long one, but the men kept busy getting out themselyes occupied with various duties to furnish and beautify their pioneer homes. They made rag carpets, quilts and comforters and with eight people living in this small house, they were, rather crowded, but with all the inconveniences, they were happy, and had their fun, as the following amusing story will show: One day while at Northport, Mr. Skinner and Mr. Noyes were on the dock when a boat came in from the Straits of Mackinac, and among other freight, they landed a barrel of whiskey to be used either barter or trade with the Indians. Of course, this was unlawful, but in the early days, laws were not enforced too strictly, so it was generally winked at. Mr. Noyes had a brilliant idea which he proposed to Mr. Skinner as follows: They would procure a jug and draw off a gallon of liquor and to ease their conscience ( ?) they would put in a gallon of water. What they would do to the poor Indians in reducing the strength of the liquor would overcome the evil of taking it without permission. As the barrel was left on the dock for some hours, the had plenty of time to carry out their plan, much to the disgust of Mrs. Noyes, who was a strict prohibitionist. But her good husband’s argument to justify himself was, that they were going into the wilderness, far from a doctor or medical aid and in the springtime, they would need some “bitters” which he as a pioneer knew how to prepare. But they would also need some hard liquor to preserve the bitters from spoiling by fermentation. So the “little brown jug” went with the rest possessions to the Skinner log house and in due time the bitters were brewed.
Mrs. Noyes had brought along with her a family doctor book, and a homeopathic chest of medicine, but evidently her husband did not have much faith in that school of medicine, so in due time he set about gathering different kinds of logs for the barn, cutting wood for the stores. and the women of the household kept barks from the trees that grew in that vicinity, such as the prickly ash, red cherry, blue cahush, sassafras and other species. Putting these different ingredients into a kettle, he added water and boiled them until every bit of juice from the bark was extracted and boiled down to proper strength. This with the bark was transferred to a water pitcher and a cup full of whiskey, added to preserve it. As spring drew near, each morning before breakfast, the men took a swig of the concoction for their “stomach sake” until it was gone. Then being busily occupied getting out logs to finish Noyes home, he asked Mrs. Noyes if she would prepare them some more “spring bitters”. This she readily consented to do but she did not follow his formula. Gathering only the bark of the poplar (which she used to brew and give her children for worms) she steeped this bark, making it as strong as she could. When finished she poured the liquid over the barks left in the pitcher from the first batch, and omitting the cup of whiskey, she put the pitcher in the usual place, ready, for the men the next morning. thinking if the men wanted bitters, they could have no complaint as to the taste. When morning arrived, the men lined up for their morning dose. Mr. Noyes first sampled it, by taking a generous swallow, and believe it or not, without batting an eye, handed it over to Mr. Skinner, who did likewise, and he in turn passed the pitcher and cup to Mr. Giles and he did the same. Not one of them wanted to give the women the satisfaction by showing they had been fooled, so they could laugh at them. The next morning they forgot to take their bitters and so on the day after until one morning mother exclaimed, “If you folks are not going to take those bitters, I’ll throw them out, as I need my pitcher for use.” Each answered that they were feeling fine and didn’t need more. Afterwards, Mr. Noyes confessed that in his “fever and ague” days in southern Michigan he had taken plenty of quinine in powder and liquid form, but he had never tasted anything so bitter as the poplar bark bitters.
As soon as the house was finished in the spring of 1865, the Noyes family moved into their new abode on the homestead one and a quarter miles from the town of Ellsworth.
The land on which this town is built was one hundred acres, selected as a homestead by Miss Lois Hardy, sister of Mrs. Noyes. She filed on it in 1866, built a log cabin and lived there with her older sister, Almeda, and her brother Charles, who was a cripple (club foot). The lake is one of the Intermediate Chain of Lakes, at that time known as Hardy Lake, and was at the head of Oxbow. Her home stood at the top of a knoll in the middle of main street of the town, and her barn was built on the present site of the station of the Pere Marquette Railroad.
The first night that the Noyes family stayed in their log house on the homestead, the building was not completely finished. The gable ends had not been closed above the log structure, but Mr. Noyes locked both front and back doors, so to be ready for any emergency. You will realize that their neighbors were neither near nor numerous, and to the east there was a family living at the head of South Arm of Pine Lake, now Lake Charlevoix, which was six or seven miles as the crow flies, and they were nine miles from Pearl’s family at Antrim City. In a few years they had a clearing around their house, had built a log barn, had a span of horses instead of oxen, and raised vegetables and grains on the land around the stumps in their clearing. A big flat stone found near where the house was built was used as a doorstep for the front door, and many a time the writer remembers when she was to set to watch until the sun got to a certain spot on the door step, then it would be noon by sun-time, so we could set the clock correctly.
Mrs. Noyes had brought to her new home in the wilderness cuttings of roses from the garden of her former home in North Adams, yellow – red – white – and moss and some roots from her lilac and snowball bushes and many other varieties of shrubs to make her home beautiful. They had to leave with relatives and friends much of their furniture, but they did bring a four-poster, canopied-top bed and two beds of the spool variety, and a crib bed for the children. The later is still in possession of the writer. It was used by every child of Amos Noyes family. He had seven children in all, one daughter, Clara, or “Caddie”, six years of age died in it. This article of furniture is of historical value to Michigan, as the wood from which it was made was cut from trees growing on the homestead of Mr. Noyes’ father, Gershon Noyes and second who came by covered wagon to Michigan Territory in 1829 from McDonough, Chananago County, New York, when Amos was ten years of age.
The Right-of-Way of the first railroad built in Michigan from Toledo to Kalamazoo in 1835, called the Erie and Kalamazoo, cut off a small corner of this homestead and they gave the timber growing on this land to Mr. Noyes, from which he selected logs of red cherry and cut them into boards. These he took to a cabinet-maker and had the crib-bed made. This has a spool frame also. The slats were made of black walnut and in 1880 Mrs. Noyes used these slats to have picture frames made to frame oil chromos, which came as a prize with certain magazines.
Another incident occurred in 1866 was as follows: Charles Wisner, brother-in-law of Mrs. Noyes was afflicted with tuberculosis or lingering consumption as they called it then. As told earlier in this paper, they lived in Northport and in June of that year he was very ill, so Mrs. Wisner sent an Indian to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Noyes requesting them to come at once, as she was fearful he was going to die. Lois and Almeda Hardy were still living at the Noyes home so they volunteered to stay there alone and care for the stock while the Noyes’ went to Northport. There were no neighbors closer than the Pearls at Antrim City at this time, for after the death of Mrs. Orr, during the previous winter, the Skinners had moved back to Jackson County, and gave up the homestead rights. Mr. and Mrs. Noyes packed a few necessary things in a satchel and set out with five-year old Frank, to walk to Antrim City, where the Indian messenger was waiting to take them across the bay in a sailboat to Northport. It was a long and tedious hike the way the road ran, at least ten miles. They would walk for some distance and then rest, first one and then the other carrying the satchel and little boy. At last they arrived at the Pearl home where they spent the night and started early the next morning across the bay with the Indian. They stayed six weeks until after the death and burial of Mr. Wisner, and then they returned home, bringing Mrs. Wisner and the two boys, Charlie and Arthur, with them to live in the log cabin. A few years later Mrs. Wisner married Elmore Clark, but the two boys always made their home with the Noyes. Before Mrs. Wisner married, she went to Pine River, now Charlevoix, and kept the first hotel or boarding house for Amos Fox at that place. It was built on the present site of the Fountain City House. This was in 1867 or 1868.
During the Noyes’ absence in Northport, Almeda and Lois Hardy had an experience that they long remembered. They were maiden ladies, Almeda – 48 and Lois – 42. They were alone, with the nearest neighbor ten miles away. This evening they were sitting on the stone doorstep, watching the sunset, when out of the woods in front of them came two Indians. Before they had time to go into the house and bar the door, the men were asking for something to eat, and stay all night. Both women were terribly frightened, as they had read and heard of many Indian atrocities, and this was their first experience with any of the race. If they had known, they need not have had any fear, as they were friendly Ottawas, just asking for something to eat and a place to sleep. Almeda said, “No, we can’t keep you, you will have to go on to the next neighbors” but Lois, the practical one, and the housekeeper and cook said, “I’ll give you something to eat and a bed to sleep in”. After she fed them, she showed them the way upstairs to sleep. The women barricaded the stairs with all the movable furniture. You may know they did not go to sleep, but sat up all night in fear and trembling, expecting every moment to be massacred before morning. During the night they heard them talking, then striking matches (likely to light their pipes) but Almeda, in her fright was sure they were setting fire to the house, but nothing happened’, and when at last morning came, Lois cooked them a good breakfast, which they ate with relish and evidently with appreciation, although the “girls” didn’t realize it at the time. One man finished eating sooner than the other and got up from the table and walked around out doors. The one left at the table said to Lois, “Me good Indian, me Methodist.” He pointed to the one outdoors, said “He Catholic.” Before they left, the other man told them the same story, except he said “me Catholic, he Methodist.” They knew the women were afraid of them and this was their way of assuring that they appreciated their hospitality and meant them no harm.
The Indians of Northern Michigan are very devout Christians and are followers of whatever missionary they came under the influence of. They have one failing – their love of strong drink, which they seem unable to resist, and for this can blame the white man, who through the years used this to influence the red man in his dealings with them.
A few years later, the brother, Charles Hardy, brought home from the woods near by two cub bears. The mother must have been killed, as they were very hungry. They gave one to a neighbor and Mr. Noyes raised the other one until it was full grown. In 1896, when the bear was about two years old, he took it by boat to Detroit and sold it to the City Park Commission to be put in one of the parks. For it he received $60.00. It was very tame and followed the family around like a dog. As he grew larger, they kept him chained to a post in the yard, for he got to be a pest and would kill chickens and the other small animals coming within his reach. At times he would break his chain, and when at liberty, he would make for the house and forage for something sweet to eat. One day when he had broken loose, Mr. Noyes called to his wife that Bruin was loose and to close the pantry door, which she did, but overlooked a wooden pail of soft maple sugar setting on the floor under the kitchen table, where she and Lois had been doing some baking. As soon as Bruin was inside, his sense of smell led him at once to the uncovered pail, which he immediately appropriated. Pulling it out, he clasped it in his paws, and rising on his hind legs, walked out of doors with a feast in view. No amount of coaxing or pounding him over his back would get him to release his hold on the find. Finally, Mr. Noyes got a beach switch, and having Mrs. Noyes and Lois stand ready to catch the pail of precious sugar, he began hitting him over the nose with a switch until he dropped the pail and put both paws over his nose for protection, in the same manner as they do when they drop from a tree they have climbed. Thus the sugar was saved, and what a loss it would have been. They would have had to go without until spring, or make a trip to Traverse City, sixty miles distant, which was the only place at that time where supplies could be purchased.
Coffee was bought in the green bean and roasted in the elevated oven in the dripping or bread pan which was a big shallow dish in which they baked three or four loaves of bread. Into this pan they would put two pounds of green coffee beans and roast slowly and by shaking the pan and turning the beans often so they could roast them to a nice brown color without burning them. It was a long, slow job and required the constant attention of one person during the process. They were then stored in a covered can, and at each meal some were taken out and ground in the hand coffee mill fastened to the wall of the kitchen.
Mr. Noyes was the expert hunter. There were no game laws at that time. His table was well supplied with meat, and as he was thrifty and industrious, he soon had a well tilled field in his clearing where he grew wheat, buckwheat and oats. The corn and potatoes could be planted around the stumps without much disadvantage. They set a good table, and Mrs. Noyes was an excellent cook, and as they had enjoyed the hospitality of the Pearl family when they were new comers, then in turn entertained the families of the new settlers coming in and living near them until their house was put up and they could move into their own home.
Whenever there was a new house to be built, the settlers got together to help put it up, and Mr. Noyes was always in demand, as he was expert in putting logs together at the corners of the house. One house that he helped to build still stands, (now used as a part of a barn) on the St. Clair farm about a mile south and east of Ellsworth, on the East Jordan road.
In 1840, while living in Hillsdale County, he made the first bob-sleigh that was afterwards used so universally in the lumbering days in Michigan and other parts of the United States. He never took out a patent on this, seeming only to want his friends and neighbors to profit by his improvement on the old two-runner sled.
Mr. Noyes was a generous soul, not only with his neighbors and friends, but in his own family, and it was not unusual that some of his wife’s relatives were living with him. One time when his three sisters-in-law were there at the same time, a neighbor’s little daughter asked him “Uncle Amos, are you Brigham Young? When he asked why she wanted to know, she said, “Because, you have so many women.
Mr. and Mrs. Noyes lived on the homestead until 1877, when they moved to Norwood, where they built a home, and also had twenty acres of land a mile out of town. While living on the homestead, Mr. Noyes worked during the winter months with his team of horses, lumbering for Dexter and Noble, of Elk Rapids, and after moving to Norwood, he still continued his operation on the Manistee River near Fife Lake and Cadillac, which was then called Clam Lake.
After moving to Norwood, he purchased a threshing machine from Nichols and Shepherd of Battle Creek, Michigan. It was horsepower, with five teams, and he operated this for many years in Charlevoix and Antrim Counties.
In 1875, he took his family to the lumber woods with him. They lived in one of the two camps he operated with Mrs. Noyes doing the cooking in the camp in which they lived . The winter being an open one without much snow, lost him money on the job, as he had to remain until June 1876, to finish getting the logs into the river. He continued this program until 1879, when the threshing machine wore out.
In 1880, he moved his family to Ironton, at the mouth of the South Arm of Pine Lake, where the Pine Lake Iron Company was building a charcoal furnace on the land that belonged to Sam Holland, one of the first settlers of that section. He was there for two years, where he and Mrs. Noyes kept the boarding house for the company. In 1883, he built the first hotel in the town and called it the Pioneer House. This he traded for a house and twenty acres of land near the present site of the Ironton School House and lived there until the time of his death on January 10, 1898, at the age of 79.
During President Cleveland’s first administration, Mr. Noyes was appointed postmaster of Ironton. Being a lifelong Democrat, this was his first reward, but he boasted he had always voted the Democratic ticket except twice, and that was when be voted for Abraham Lincoln, whom he knew personally, as they had trained together on the Fox River in Illinois., where he went as a boy thirteen years old with the territorial troops from Michigan in 1882 during the Black Hawk War.
Mrs. Noyes lived until 1903, and she died on what would have been her 50th wedding anniversary, August 14, at the age of 72. They are both buried at Charlevoix, as is their son Frank, who died in 1889.
Only two of their children were born on the homestead in the log cabin. Charles Pease Noyes, born January 30, 1869 and Nellie J., born June 6, 1870.
It is well for us to remember that we owe much, to these pioneers of our state who came into an almost unbroken wilderness and prepared the way for us to enjoy the comforts we now have for our families and all the generations to come.
This sketch of early history was written years ago by Nellie Noyes Harris of Boyne City, which she read at an Old Settler’s Picnic. It was given to Elsie Timmer by Jud Hardy of Charlevoix, a cousin of Nellie Harris, with permission to use in this history of the Gleanings from Ellsworth’s Yesteryears.
A healthy place to live? Could be – for doctors never resided here for a long period of time.
The earliest Doctors to locate here were a husband and wife partnership, Dr. Elmer Dewey Ford, and Dr. Ruey O. Ford. They established a Sanatarium in the big square house, the Columbia Hotel on Main Street in 1898. They delivered twin babies at the F. H. Skow home on August 19, 1898. Mr. and Mrs. Skow were so delighted with the babies, they promptly named the twins for the two doctors – John Dewey and May Ruey. Dr. Ruey O. Ford also maintained an office in Central Lake, at the Spaulding House. They moved to Gaylord in 1899. A Dr. Susan McNamara also was located here, what years I could not learn. Also a Dr. Prentice practiced here and lived in R. Johnstone’s house. In June, 1901, Dr. J. J. Weitzman, of Detroit, located here, and had an office in the Orient Hotel. He had resigned a practice in the Marine Hospital to come here. In July of 1901, Dr. John Boyd set up a practice here in a new house with a new wife. He came from Williamsburg. In November of 1905, Dr R. B. Smith moved to Crystal, Mich. His stay could not have been long. Dr. L. M. Kanagy had his office and living quarters in the Store Front Building on Center Street, now owned by Mrs. Winnie Hoffman. On May 25, 1913, Dr. Kanagy delivered a baby girl at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Koo Klooster (Geneva Mae). Shortly after the Doctor was called to the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Elzinga, and he delivered a baby boy, Herbert. Coming home, it is thought the tired doctor tumbled into bed. After no response the next day, he was found dead, as he had tumbled into bed. He lived alone, with his pets.
Next was Dr. B. J. Beuker. He was living on a farm, first in Norwood, then in Atwood. The Ellsworth people were fortunate the doctor extended his medical practice here. Dr. Beuker and his family moved to Ellsworth. His family resided here while he served in the armed forces during World War I. Upon his return, he resumed his practice in offices upstairs of the Blue Store. In 1922, he moved to a new location, having his office and home in the house now owned by Al Taylor.
In December of 1925, the Doctor and Mrs. Beuker moved to East Jordan, assuming the practice of Dr. William Parks, who moved to Petoskey. Dr. Jerrien Van Dellen came to our village on July 1, 1935. For a brief interim of nine months he practiced in Lyons, Michigan, before returning to Ellsworth. In May of 1942 the Doctor and his family moved to East Jordan residing there 8 years. In October of 1945, they purchased the red brick home of Herman Drenth on Lake Street and moved the family back to Ellsworth but maintaining his office in East
“Man’s Best Friend”
Ellsworth’s canine population, too numerous to mention, wagged a name for themselves through the years. Mutts of varied pedigree came and went. There were a few owners who could boast of holding certified registry papers, but as a whole, most were plain duke’s mixture. A few dogs left behind a memory of being man’s best friend. For instance, there was Sailor, a four-footed beast as large as a good-size calf. He was loved by everyone in town. He made his daily rounds to the back doors of some of the townspeople, where he was sure of a handout. After his rounds, he would settle himself for his siesta in the Elzinga Garage, dealers in Essex cars. He loved to have someone fondle those long velvety ears that spread like wings in the wind. Those soft, liquid eyes that said “Thanks a million”, if you took a burr out of his silky spotted hair. His owners, the Elzinga brothers, Jim and Henry, boasted of his being the best fox dog in the country.
Then there was Rex Davey, an extra large German Shepherd dog. He did not ask for favors of any one. When he wanted out or in, he turned the door knob with his mouth, of course someone would have to close the door behind him. Woe unto him that dare touch his little master, Dorance, and his playmate, Arthur Ruis. Rex guarded the boys with his life. He was the pet of all the children. Through an accident in puppyhood, Rex suffered a broken foot. When it healed, it was crosswise, and in winter one could tell by his tracks that Rex had passed that way.
Neighbors of William Slough, our station agent, recall the mournful whooooo at meal time at the Slough home. Casper, a homely but likeable Airdale was told by his master to pray. Casper sat on his haunches with his forefeet resting on the edge of the table and on command let out his whoooo. “Watch”, won the hearts in the early years, when our late mail carrier, Bill Patterson, was a youngster. Watch, a huge Mastiff Bull, weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds. He was trained to pull in harness. It was a familiar sight on our streets in the early 1900s to see Mrs. Don Patterson, daughter Lillian, and Mrs. Robert Fulton being drawn on the sled by Watch to East Jordan and back. Bill Patterson told of delightful times he, his brothers, sisters, and their friends had with Watch drawing them around town in a cart or sled.
Year 1918 – Angel of Mercy
With the booming of guns across the ocean, 1918 made its entrance, and to the tune of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, “Over There”, and “Johnny Get Your Gun”, our boys marched off to answer our country’s call.
Parent’s faces were lined with anxiety as they bid goodbye to their sons leaving for induction in Camp Custer. Would their son be a target for the gun of the Hun?
The winter, spring, and summer were like others preceding them, but the autumn, time for harvesting crops began with rain, drizzle, cold and more rain. Sugar beets and potatoes grew soggy in the ground. This continuing rain and penetrating dampness brought an enemy within the whole United States. The enemy in the form of a bug or germ that took more lives and faster than the guns of war. This germ, called “Spanish enfluenza” attacked young and old alike. In October it invaded our village and community a real epidemic. People became ill at work or at play, awake or asleep. The patient, striken with a chill, soon developed into a high temperature and pneumonia set in. The patient became very weak and often delirious. No home was spared, as whole families became ill in a day or night. Schools and Churches were closed, and any public meetings were prohibited. People that could possibly drag themselves around did the chores. Shopping was done quickly, in fear-filled voices, anxious to get out of public places.
An angel of mercy, unafraid that he could become a victim at any time of the same dread disease, moved from bed to bed, in home after home. This Hercules of manhood, weighing possibly 240 pounds, broad hands with a grip that could crush bones, did tenderly and soothingly administer to the needs of the seriously ill. Wetting parched lips and wiping fevered brows, this man, none other than George Klooster, a merchant in our village, gave of his time day and night. Seemingly untiring, and often coming in the nick of time to return a patient to his bed, who left it in delirium, that no amount of coaxing and persuading by those caring for him could get him to do. Mr. Klooster not only cared for the needs of the ill, but filled the woodbox and coal scuttle, and carried out the ashes before leaving for another home, performing the same duties.
Another man who gave of his services, both spiritually and physically, was Rev. Hewitt, pastor of the local Methodist Church. He made his daily rounds, wearing a gauze mask. It was next to impossible to obtain the services of a physician when needed, from any surrounding towns. Too busy to answer all the calls. Rev. Hewitt, a learned man, often advised what to do to keep a patient comfortable, taking temperatures and recommending simple medications.
Whether it did any good, we shall never know, but we obeyed to the letter when health authorities advised every home to keep on the back of the kitchen range a pan of water simmering to which a little carbolic acid had been added. It was supposed to disinfect the air.
Mr. Klooster lost a fighting battle to the grim monster of death more than once. One I shall never forget was at the home of Hugh Nelson. Day and night he kept vigil, keeping the fires burning in the stoves, when the whole family was striken. Mrs. Nelson was expecting, and was very ill. Beds were made for the children by putting chairs together and covering them with quilts. This was to keep the patient warm by the fire, as well as to save time walking up and down stairs. They received no other help other than what Mr. Klooster could give. The losing battle was when Mrs. Nelson passed away, and was buried with a baby in her arms. Mrs. Sandy Martin was another mother who gave her life at the birth of her baby while she too was a victim of the disease.
As New Year’s Day, 1919, was ushered in, relatives, neighbors and friends gathered at the depot to meet the train that brought the body of Mrs. George Liberty, nee Carrie Williams, and the grief-stricken husband and two small children, Josie and Arthur. Mrs. Liberty, too, was buried with a baby in her arms. The Liberty’s had spent a few weeks in Detroit, hoping they could escape the fate of Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Martin. Eleven homes in the community had the family circle broken. The writer was one of these, having lost my husband, Benjamin Boes on October 26th to the terrible disease. Funeral services were held out of doors, on the porch, with relatives and friends standing afar.
The year 1918, of course, is unforgettable. Our community experienced both utmost sorrow, and also happiness. Peace was declared. The armistice was signed November 11, 1918.
While the early years for our pioneers were years of hardship, adversity, sometimes catastrophe and calamity, as I interyiewed the older folks, they were not lacking in pleasant memories as well, as they reviewed the past.
Marvelous, indeed, are the changes which have taken place in and around Ellsworth. The dense and unbroken forest that Lois Hardy chose to homestead 100 years ago, has given place to our Incorporated Village of Ellsworth, with its 136 homes and cottages within its limits; one large canning factory, namely, Michigan Fruit Canner’s, Inc.; The Morweld Steel Products Corporation; Smalley General Store; Shook’s Economy Market; John Klooster Health Center; Ellsworth Farm Store; Ellsworth Hardware; Ellsworth Farmer’s Exchange; Ellsworth Lumber Co.; Ellsworth Auto Service; John James Barber Shop; Fire Hall; Denny’s Store and Bait Shop; Tavern; Standard Products; Irvin’s Swap Shop; Drenth Bros. Brikcrete Co.; Big Fish Inn and Cottages; Rest Haven Cottages; Wildlife Retreat Cottages; Yettaw Cottages.
We also have two churches, The Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church and the Pilgrim Holiness Church, as well as Hasting’s Funeral Home; two schools, The Ellsworth Community School; and the Ebenezer Christian School; C. and O. Depot; American Legion Hall; a United States Post Office; and a large Community Hall.
The surrounding country no longer a forest, has by labor of people of many generations, produced farms, with modern buildings. The trails blazed through the dim forests have gradually given way to corduroy roads, later gravel, and now ribbons of wide, smooth paved highways that are used by our fast moving cars and trucks that transport most of our commodities.
The red man’s canoe is no longer seen gliding along our shores of the lakes. It too, has been replaced by motor-driven speed boats.
Today, in 1966, we live in a push-button age. We have electric appliances and gadgets that make for easy liying. Electric lights instead of candles or kerosene lamps light our homes. Street lights replaced the lantern to light our path in the darkness. The dial telephone system, at our finger tips today can instantly connect us to anyone, anywhere in the world. It is a luxury taken for granted by our generation. Its existence really conquered the isolation which marked the pioneer era. The mail which was delivered weekly by a man walking, or on horseback from Eastport to East Jordan is today replaced with in and outgoing mail daily at our post office. Rural mail deliyery is now by an efficient carrier.
Schools, where our children can receive an education far beyond the expectation of past generations. No longer do the children trudge through the deep snow to the little log school house, as our forefathers did. Later years, the next generation climbed the hill to the school on top of the hill on Center Street. In those days, no busses came to the door to transport the children to school in the lap of luxury.
In turning back the pages of time, when Lois Hardy, with her relatives first set foot on our soil in 1866, the people today who are residents of Ellsworth should in all sincerity humbly bow and thank God for the pioneers who paved the way for the precious heritage we enjoy today. Thank God, we live in Ellsworth in the good old U.S.A., where we still have the privilege of our four freedoms.
These pages may have aroused pleasant recollections of some of the old timers, and hope it may be of interest to the younger generation.
All the yesteryears are past. We cannot see what lies beyond today, but this we know: you and I are leaving footprints on the sands of time, and some day we too, like those that have been woven into the Gleanings of Ellsworth’s Yesteryears shall change time for eternity.
May our Village of Ellsworth be a better place to live because you have made it so.