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-History of Manistee, Mason & Oceana Counties, Michigan, Illustrated.
Published 1882 by H. R. Page & Co., Chicago.


This is a fractional township, in the northwest corner of the county. It is bounded on the north by Benzie County, east by Pleasanton, south by Onekama, and west by Lake Michigan. The town embraces about twenty square miles, and has a coast line of six miles.

In assorting the contents of various pigeon holes, we came across a historical and descriptive sketch of Arcadia, written in 1879, by one well acquainted with the town. As it serves our purpose here, we copy it as follows:

"Early in the Fall of 1866 a number of families sought homes in the northwestern corner of Manistee County, near the shores of a small sheet of water that lay glimmering smilingly in the sunlight, like a beautiful gem upon the brow of mother earth; and this sparkling jewel was known to the newcomers by the unmusical but appropriate name of Bar Lake; so called on account of the sand bar which crosses the channel opening into Lake Michigan.

"The first settlers who wandered into this part of the great wilderness were Dr. D. L. DEMPSTER, from Chicago; G. W. BOSS, from Pennsylvania; H. HUNTINGTON, from Indiana, with their families. Other families followed in quick succession, until the central part of the town now was nearly all taken up.

"These pioneers were not exempt from hardships and discouragements; pioneers seldom find their paths lined with thornless roses. And though many about to immigrate build splendid castles in their day-dreams, they seldom find their visions realized.

"But with much to try the patience of our new settlers, and not a little to encourage them, the years glided away, and with them the forests, and in place of these monuments of slow but sure progress, cozy home-nests sprang up as if by magic; broad fields of waving grain were everywhere to be seen, and by the side of the numerous murmuring streams and mirror-like lake, herds of cattle found pasturage, where for centuries the timid deer had nipped the green herbage and slaked its thirst.

"In 1870 the town was organized, and named Arcadia. The first election was held April 4, 1870. The following are the names of the officers: W. H. COTTON, supervisor; W. H. ROSS, town clerk; J. D. PADDEN, treasurer; M. O'RORKE and J. NORTON, highway commissioners; S, CALKINS, school inspector; S. TONDU, W. L. DEMPSTER, H. BOWEN and H. CHAPIN, justices of the peace; S. HOTCHKISS, L. MOORE, J. MORTON and W. L. DEMPSTER, inspectors of election.

"In 1874 the total population numbered 1,229. The town contained 11,512 acres of taxable land; 636 acres of improved land. In 1873 there were raised 1,821 bushels of wheat; 2,895 bushels of corn, and all other grains 3,397 bushels; also 3,771 bushels of potatoes; and 234 tons of hay; 3,155 pounds of butter were made, and in the Spring of 1874 there were 2,610 pounds of maple sugar manufactured.

"Arcadia has one sawmill, built ny C. HUNTINGTON & Co., it is operated by steam, and by the census of 1874 employed five persons. There were 3,000,000 feet of lumber cut, which was valued at $7,500.

"Education claims its share of attention, as may be seen by the handsome frame school, which was erected a few years ago, at a cost of $800. The inhabitants can boast of a good town library, which is a never failing source of instruction and amusement.

"Much of the soil along the lake shore is naturally rather light, but when well cultivated is made capable of raising excellent crops. The timber is of pine, hemlock, maple and beech, all of which is as good as a gold mine to the owners. Large quantities of this timber are exported to Chicago and Milwaukee every year. As yet no public buildings have been erected, but the farm houses that are rapidly taking the place of the pioneer cottages are a credit to the town's people. And the years will not be many 'ere we shall see stores, machine shops, and churches rearing their architectural forms equal to any in the county of Manistee."

The sawmill of HUNTINGTON & Co. was operated until 1880, and then abandoned.
Seymour CALKINS, one of the early settlers of Arcadia, is now a resident of Pierport.

Is the name of a new place recently started on the lake shore. A pier was built there for the purpose of shipping wood, bark, etc. There is a store, hotel, the sawmill of SHAW BROS., and some other business interests. The Good Templars' have a prosperous organization, of which Henry BUTTER is the presiding officer. The post office is named Burnham. There is quite a business of shipping wood, bark, tires and timber.

is another new place recently started by Henry STARKIE, of the firm of STARKIE Bros., Milwaukee. The post office is called Arcadia. In 1880 a sawmill was built there by the firm of STARKIE Bros., and other buildings have followed. There is another sawmill in the township, built the present season by H. BOWEN. There are three schoolhouses in the town, recently built. The present supervisor of the town is L. L. FINCH. Statistical facts about Arcadia will be found in that department of this work.


This township is the second tier east of Lake Michigan, and, as a whole, is the best township in the county. It embraces thirty-five square miles. The soil is mostly of a light sandy loam, with occasional streaks of clay, and is exceedingly productive when well worked. There is a large number of excellent farms in the township, and many of the farmers have accumulated a handsome property. More farms have been cleared up and been put in good condition in this town  than in any other town in the county.

Early History
During the winter of 1864-'65, the tract of land including the present towns of Bear lake and Pleasanton was set off from the Brown Town region, as the Town of Bear Lake. The first election was held at the house of S. ANDERSON, in the Spring of 1865, and the following officers elected: Supervisor, S. ANDERSON; town clerk, H. N. HANAFORD; treasurer,
D. E. SIBLEY; justice of the peace, J. A. AUSTIN; highway commissioners, A. A. COOPER, R. F. SMITH, William PROBERT; school inspectors, G. R. PIERCE and Jerome HULBERT; constables, James PROBERT and Hiram WALKER; directors of the poor, J. B. MASON and Darell HOLLISTER.

About the first beginning in what is known as Bear Lake Township, was made in 1863 by Russell F. SMITH, now a resident of Bear Lake Village. Mr. SMITH was born in New York State  in 1830, and came to Summit County in 1843. September 3, 1855, he was married at Medina, Ohio to Miss Harriet L. CROOKS, of that place. Having heard something about the Grand Traverse region, he visited it in the Summer of 1863. From Traverse he walked to Bear Lake, following the Indian trail, and being favorably impressed with the appearance of the country, returned to traverse and entered 172 acres of land bordering on Bear Lake. He then returned to Ohio, to bring his family to this wilderness world. August 20, they left their home in Ohio, and came by boat to Portage Lake. Leaving his family with a fisherman, he armed himself with a loaf of bread, an ax, and a compass, and started to find the place of their future home, and mark the route, for all that region was a trackless forest. While working his way along, he was surprised at the sound of voices, and soon came upon a man drawing a hand cart loaded with provisions, and a lady with a baby carriage. They proved to be D. E. SIBLEY and family, who were seeking their homestead on the north shore of Bear lake, almost opposite the one located by Mr. SMITH. This was Saturday. An evergreen bower was put up, and Mr. SMITH returned to Portage for his family. He got a pair of oxen, a horse and sled to transport their goods, and she wrapped her babe in a shawl and walked the whole distance.

The first religious services ever held in the town were held at their camp, soon after their arrival. A Rev. Mr. THOMPSON, missionary to Africa, came along and word was sent out to settlers some miles away that he would preach a certain evening, and quite a gathering was the result. A large fire was built near the evergreen bower, and the audience, seated upon logs, or upon the ground, listened to the tidings of the gospel of peace. It was in God's great cathedral, without pulpit or cushioned pew, yet no preacher ever was surrounded by more inspiring circumstances, or spoke to a more appreciative audience.

The first work before them was to build a log house. Mr. SMITH chopped the trees and got the logs in readiness, and then got help from a Norwegian settlement some ten or twelve miles away, to pile them up. This old log house still stands in Mr. SMITH's yard, just back of his present house, and a lithographic view of it may be seen upon another page.

Experiences and hardships followed that would stagger the belief of persons unfamiliar with tales of pioneer life. He had always followed a trade, and was unused to any kind of farm labor, but he possessed a brave heart and a wife no less brave than himself. Together he logged a little spot on the ground, and while he went away to work by the month, she raised vegetables, planting potatoes with a hand spike, and doing many other things in the same rude way.

At one time, while felling trees near the shanty, they came down upon it and demolished the roof. Fearing that this might happen, they had removed the children and dishes to a safe place. Shortly after he repaired the injury a violent storm blew the roof off just at night, and the family were obliged to seek shelter under the bank of the lake, and covering them with blankets, he kept a huge fire going all night.

All supplies came from Manistee or Traverse. When they first came an Indian carried the mail once a week through from Manistee to Traverse. The nearest post office was Norwalk. Often a barrel of flour would be brought for them to a point a few miles distant, and taking a handcart, the two would bring it to their cabin.

For the first four months Mrs. SMITH never saw a woman, except at the time of their first arrival. The first Winter the entire family were sick with small pox, and the heroism of the wife and mother were severely tested. Mr. SMITH was taken sick at Lincoln, where he was at work for Charles MEARS. It was twenty-five miles to his home, and the snow was deep and unmarked by any  road. Weak as he was, he walked the entire distance, though often sinking down upon the snow from exhaustion, and when at last he reached home, he found every member of the family sick. There were no doctors, but the nursing of the mother brought them all health, and without a single scar from the dreadful disease.

For a long time their house was the only stopping-place on the trail, and by Spring their year's stock of provision was gone, and their money nearly gone, but he was always able to supply actual necessities, and amid all their hardships, the family never knew the want of plenty to eat and comfortable shelter.

In time, however, other settlers came in. He cleared his land and prospered. Most of the present Village of Bear Lake  stands upon a portion of his original farm, and he has recently platted an addition of thirty acres. For some time he kept the principal hotel  in the place, having used his dwelling for that purpose, and named it the Russell House.

The first postmaster was Jerome HULBURT, who took the office in 1867. He was succeeded by J. B. MASON, and then, J. N. TILLSON, the present postmaster.

J. EDMONSON and James SMITH came in the Fall of 1863, and located about two miles south of Bear Lake. Simon ANDERSON had already taken up a homestead, chopped some trees on it, and went away, but he returned in the Spring of 1864. Settlers gathered in, gladly welcomed by the oldest inhabitatants. Openings were made in the forest, and fruit orchards planted.

During the Summer of 1866, Henry ERB brought in a few goods from Milwaukee, and partitioned off a small room, possibly 6x8 feet, in his log cabin; put up a counter and shelves, and called it a store. And there the settlers flocked for needles, pins, sugar, tea, etc. The Rev. Mr. LEWIS also had an accommodation store, containing the same commodities with the exception of tobacco.

Immigrants from the east, west and south were at this time coming in crowds to take up the government land, and the business of cutting trees was constantly increasing. But with the hurry of clearing land, building houses and putting in crops, the future well-being of the children was not forgotten. They must be educated, for to them would belong much of the future weal or woe of the town. A district school was started, and a good log house built near the farm of J. B. MASON, who was the second postmaster of the town. The house was comfortably supplied with school apparatus, and Mrs. J. GUERNSEY, who years before had much experience in teaching, was again induced to put on the teachers' harness.

During the Winter of 1867-'68 the township of Pleasanton was set off from Bear Lake Town. There was now a much smaller range of territory, but the inhabitants were no less enterprising. Thorough going intelligent men found here a chance to begin a thriving business, on comparatively small capital. The first grist mill and saw mill was built by Messrs. CARPENTER & HARRINGTON. Meanwhile, two good stores had been added to the town by T. A. TILLSON & Co., and S. A. ANDERSON.

Good schools dot the town, and show how deeply the people are interested in education. A good library was supplied by the early settlers, containing a large number of well-selected books, and newspapers and periodicals are found in almost every home.

The present officers of the township are as follows: Supervisor, James DODD; clerk, John M. BRODIE; treasurer, G. K. ESTES; justices of the peace, D. D. SMITH, Jerome HULBERT, Isaac HILLIARD, A. B. CHAMBERLAIN; road commissioner, E. A. BODWELL; school inspectors, George McKNIGHT and William KINGSCOTT.


The first efforts toward starting a village were made by Russell F. SMITH, of whom mention has already been made. He gave land for a mill site and otherwise encouraged immigration and business enterprises.But little progress, however, was made until 1873, in June of that year, when George W. and David H. HOPKINS, under the firm name of HOPKINS BROS., purchased the present site of Bear Lake Village. The operations of this firm so largely concern the commercial interests of the village, and, in fact, the entire county, that this work would be incomplete without a brief sketch of its career and interests.
(See Manistee County Biographies for these sketches)


In February, 1879, the village of Bear Lake was described, by a local writer, from whom we quote, as follows:
"Bear Lake Village has about seventy-five buildings, all of which were put up substantially  and in a comfortable and secure manner. The HOPKINS Manufacturing Company's store is the largest building in the village. It contains on the first floor, two large store rooms, one for groceries and dry goods, and the other for hardware, crockery ware and other such merchandise. The second story contains a number of rooms which are used as private rooms by persons connected with the store or or in the employ of the firm. The third story is a public hall, about 75x35 feet in size, furnished with staging, scenery and seats for public entertainments, lectures, etc. The private residences of the village are a good deal better, on the average, than will be found in many larger villages. Messrs. George W. HOPKINS and D. H. HOPKINS have not only comfortable, but very elegant residences. They stand upon an elevated part of the village, giving a beautiful and magnificent view of the lake and surrounding country. They are both furnished with all the modern conveniences, such as heating apparatus, and are designed in the latest style. They are surrounded by nicely laid out yards, and would be considered very desirable residences in Chicago, Milwaukee, or any other large city. They are worth about  $10,000 each.

Main Street, Bear Lake 1915


This was one of the original townships into which the county was divided at the time of its erection in 1855. At that time it embraced nearly or quite three-fourths of this entire county.

At the present time it is next to the largest town in the county, embracing 108 square miles. Its boundaries are as follows: North by Bear Lake, Maple Grove and Marilla; east by Wexford County; south by Stronach and west by Manistee.

The township contains a variety of soils, ranging from pure white sand to the heaviest clay. The timber is pine, maple, beech and elm. The land is watered by numerous springs, and the Manistee River runs through the whole length of the township.

Brown Town Hall

Pioneer life is much the same in all parts of the country where the first work of the newcomer is to clear away the forest. The early settlers in the region, afterwards included in the limits of Brown Township, were surrounded by a vast expanse of wilderness and solitude. A large part of the county was forest.

In the years 1853-'54 several families pushed their way into this locality and founded homes. Among those early settlers were Henry L. BROWN, Oliver MILLER, Charles DANFORTH, James O'NEAL, Stephen SMITH and Harvey COUR. They felled trees, built log cabins, battled with discouragements, and performed the labors of seed time and harvest.

The months rolled by and other families came and settled upon sections here and there.

The first town meeting was held in the Spring of 1855, and the following officers were elected: Supervisor, Stephen SMITH; town clerk, H. L. BROWN; treasurer, Oliver MILLER; school inspectors, Oliver MILLER and Harvey COUR; justices of the peace, Stephen SMITH, one year; Harvey COUR, three years; James SIVERLY, four years; commissioners of highways. Oliver MILLER and James O'NEAL; constables, Murdock McNEAL, Edwin SECOR, John SHORES and Richard FLANDERS. The whole number of votes cast was thirty-three, and most of these were transient votes.

In 1857 Messrs. POTTER & ROGERS opened a store on a small scale, where the women could supply their meager wardrobes and pantries, and the men could gather for a friendly interchange of "yarns" and jokes.

In 1859 a township library was purchased, which in 1877 was divided into six district libraries.

Most of the men worked out by the day or month, in order to earn money with which to secure the necessaries of life. On this account the work of clearing progressed slowly. The forests along the water courses were made up of grand old pines. After the river was cleared of its debris, these pines were cut down to be manufactured into lumber. The business of logging gave employment to settlers at good wages, and so long as lumbering continued brisk, but few improvements were made.

In 1873 there were produced 250 bushels of wheat, 1,535 bushels of corn, 3,742 bushels of all other grains, 5,111 bushels of potatoes, 691 tons of hay. There were 380 pounds of wool sheared, 6,410 pounds of butter made.

According to the census of 1874, the total population numbered 526. There were 65,483 acres of taxable land, and 1,147 acres of improved land. There were made that year 1,295 pounds of maple sugar.

There was one flouring mill and sawmill combined, operated by water. Two persons were employed in operating it, and the capital invested $4,000. Two hundred barrels of flour, valued at $2,500, and 200,000 feet of lumber were manufactured.

There are four burial grounds laid out, one of which is fenced and improved.

In the Fall of 1877 a Catholic Church was built.
The present supervisor is Erastus POTTER.


The township of Cleon was erected by the board of supervisors at their annual meeting in October, 1868. The town is situated in the northeast corner of the county, being town 24, north of range 13, west. The first annual meeting was held at the home of Thomas N. COPLEY, the first Monday in April, 1869. M. P. GRINNELL, E. A. GILBERT and jacob SEARS were inspectors of election. It was subsequently set off to Wexford County, and was only re-united to Manistee County last year. (1881)

The present supervisor is C. B. CANIFF.
Such statistical information of the township as is connected with the county is given elsewhere.


Filer Township is located just south of Manistee City in the extreme southwest part of the county. It embraces about thirteen square miles, with a frontage on Lake Michigan of four miles. It is bounded on the north by Manistee, east by Stronach, south by Mason County, and west by Lake Michigan. The soil is sandy loam, and is especially adapted to fruit raising. There are four school houses in the township. The lumber interests are elsewhere as mentioned. Filer Town and Filer City are both the outgrowth of of the vigor and enterprise of the well known lumber firm of  D. L. FILER & SONS. Delos L. FILER, the founder of this firm, was during his life one of the most remarkable business men upon this shore. A partial biography of Mr. FILER, covering his business career at Ludington, from 1869 to the time of his death, appears in the history of the city of Ludington. While he was a very conspicuous figure in the early history of manistee, yet it seems appropriate, and, in fact, necessary, to speak of him and the firm he founded in immediate connection with the town and village which they developed.

Mr. FILER's first connection with Manistee was in 1853, when he came here from Racine, in the employ of the CANFIELD's, in whose employ he had been at Racine. He was a poor man, well towards middle life. Soon after coming here the natural business ability and energy of the man began to grasp hold of the opportunities here afforded for making money. He began making plans for future execution, and laid the foundation of his subsequent enterprises and fortune by purchasing pine lands as he had the opportunity.

About 1858 or 1859, in company with the late L. G. SMITH, he bought the BACHELOR mill, and in 1861 or 1862 bought the McVICKAR estate, with with his previous purchase covered nearly two-thirds of  the present city of Manistee. In 1866 he sold out his Manistee interests, and the firm of D. L. FILER & SONS was established, the sons being E. Golden, and Delos Warren FILER. About 2,500 acres of land, known as the Norton lands, lying south of Manistee, and extending back from Lake Manistee, were purchased. The mill still operated by the firm was built and commenced running in 1867.

At the time they began operating at this point, the whole region was a dense forest, and was reached from Manistee by a logging trail which extended along quite a distance back from the lake and came out at the head of the lake, some distance above the site of the present mill.

The following year Filer Township was organized and Filer City was platted. About this time Mr. D. L. FILER purchased the Ludington Interest at Ludington, and in 1869 removed there and until his death devoted his attention to the interests of the Pere Marquette Lumber Co., of which he was president, and in that connection appears an elegant steel portrait of Mr. FILER and a biography of his life. No change has ever been made in the style of the firm, although since Mr. FILER's death the firm has really been composed of the two sons, E. Golden and Delos Warren FILER.
(See Manistee County Biographies)


Manistee township is one of the three original townships, and its early history has already been given, being inseparably connected with the early history of this county. It is bounded on the north by Onekama, east by Brown and Stronach, south by Filer and Stronach, and west by Lake Michigan. The township contains thirty-five square miles. There are both clay and sand soil. In the north part of the town is considerable hard wood.

The poorhouse is located in this town, about three miles from the city. The city of Manistee is situated in the southwest corner of the township.


Maple Grove is bounded on the north by Springdale, east by Marilla, south by Brown, and west by Bear Lake.
It is comparatively a new township, having been organized four years ago.
The town embraces thirty-six square miles, and is heavily timbered with hard wood. The soil is clay and black loam. Bear Creek and its tributaries traverse the town, thus giving excellent facilities for putting in logs during the winter.
The present supervisor is P. H. GAFFNEY.

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