-Clare County




In the City of Clare Park there is a monument holding a 50 pound solid bronze ‘badge’ located just to the West of the Veteran’s Memorial Board commemorating the H.M.S. Clare.  The H.M.S. Clare was one of 50 “Four-Stacker”, also known as “flush deck” destroyers  sent to the British by the USA in 1940 under the lend-lease program at the outset of WWII.  The H.M.S. Clare was formerly the USS Upshur, named after Abel P. Upshur, a US Secretary of Navy and US Secretary of State.  It was renamed the H.M.S. Clare in honor of Clare, Michigan, because there is also a town named Clare, in County Suffolk, England, and 43 of the 50 ships were named after towns of the same name in Britain and the USA.  They are often referred to as the “Town” destroyers and there was a book published in 1988 about them.  During WWII the H.M.S. Clare served in anti-submarine activities escorting supply ships across the Atlantic for five years and one occasion may have sunk a German U-boat; on one trip it went from Gibraltar to the USA and on another from Argentina to Cardiff, England.  It was scrapped in 1947.

MonumentRecord Book










In 1950 a British delegation came to Clare and presented the ‘badge’ and a ‘record book’ of the WWII history of the 50  ‘Four –Stackers’.  The Clare Sentinel, September 1, 1950, reports the event and states that the “record book” of H.M.S. Clare was given to the City of Clare and the “record book would be on display in the city clerk’s office”.  An inter-net search finds a British book published in 1949 about the 50 “Town” destroyers.  It is not clear whether the “record book” was a book as to the history of the 50 “Four-Stacker” destroyers or the ship’s ‘log book’ of the H.M.S. Clare detailing its specific activities in WWII.  In either event, a very thorough search by several Clare County Historical Society members of the Pere Marquette District Library and the Clare City Hall vaults has failed to find the “record book”. 

Should you have information as to the lost “record book” please contact the Clare City Hall or the Clare County Historical Society.

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society



Statue of little JakeOnly 4’11” tall Jacob Seligman, best known as “Little Jake”, Little hooked up in 1873 with Winfield S. Gerrish to sell lumberman’s supplies in Farwell.  He was an early promoter in merchandizing clothing.   He moved his business interests to Saginaw and in 1890 purchased the ‘Flat Iron Building” placing in a tower on top of the building a $4,000 clock and a life sized bronze statue of himself.  Later on, following a severe windstorm in 1940, the statute toppled and was discovered to be a statute of a Civil War Officer, not one of “Little Jake”.

 Jim Groves, Sr., a Clare County historian, collected mementos  

of Clare County’s early days and took a great number of photographs.  He obtained a life-sized painting of “Little Jake” following the death of John Schuch, the owner of the Schuch Hotel in Saginaw.  Jim Groves, Sr., displayed the painting for many years  at his store in Clare until the life sized painting was purchased from him in 1973 by Milt Greenebawn, the president of the Saginaw Hall of Fame.  The painting was restored by an expert in Grand Rapids.  A 135 year old life-sized painting of “Little Jake” in an elaborate frame is displayed at Jake’s Old City Grill, 100 S. Hamilton Street at Court Street in Old Town Saginaw.

A small part of Clare County history that was not lost (no pun intended as to “Little Jakes” diminutive stature) !

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society

Big Crystal Lake



The Clare County Circuit Court legal case of Marrow v Weber, et al, April 12, 1909,  is about quieting title, that is, removing a ‘cloud’ on the legal ownership of property.  However, of greater interest is the story behind the scene:   In the present day Clare County Cleaver office, hanging on the wall, is a framed “Plat of the Budd Lake 1st Addition to the City of Harrison”.  Of course all Harrisonites know that the City of Harrison, consisting of 4 square miles, was Michigan’s least populated city on incorporation in 1891.  And most likely the distinction continues in 2018 with a population of just 2,114 in the 2010 census. However, the City of Harrison once might have been even larger than it was in 1891 and today. 

On June 3, 1893, I. Wixom Whitehead sub-divided 155 acres in the Northwest corner of Grant Avenue and Townline Lake Road, creating the Plat of the Budd Lake 1st Addition to the City of Harrison.   It is possible that the City of Harrison annexed the newly created plat into the City, making an even larger city in land mass.  The Budd Lake 1st Addition to the City of Harrison had 1,490 lots and the sale of lots resulted in 47 different owners in over 8 States.  A real head-ache for the County or City Treasurer, to be sure, in sending tax notices and collecting tax payments.  Probably because the majority of lot owners were not paying their taxes, the Michigan Legislature in 1899 vacated the plat of Budd Lake 1st Addition and the City of Harrison became 155 acres smaller.

The Plat of the Budd Lake 1st Addition depicts two lakes – Big Crystal Lake and Little Crystal Lake.  The 1906, 1916, and 1930 Plat Maps of Hayes Township do not provide a name for either lake.  The 1977 Plat Map names Big Crystal Lake as McWatty Lake; however, the 1996 Plat Book has it named Hayes Lake, the name it goes by also in the 2018 Plat Book and on several other maps.  A former camp cook when the Mitten Bay Girl Scout Council owned the property related to this writer that the Southern lake was called McWatty Lake during the period of 1998 through 2009.  And, Michigan County Atlas, 3rd Edition, Back Roads & Forgotten Places, at page 143, has the Northern lake – Little Crystal Lake as Hayes Lake and the Southern Lake --- Big Crystal Lake as McWatty Lake.  This writer’s best ‘educated guess’ is that the Northern lake is Hayes Lake and the Southern lake is McWatty Lake. 

So take a historical quick trip back in time in visiting the Clare County Cleaver office to see the “Plat of the Budd Lake 1st Addition to the City of Harrison”.  And, consider answering the question – Just what was I. Wixom Whitehead up to in platting 1,490 lots in the Plat of the Budd Lake 1st Addition to the City of Harrison?

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society






J.L. Hudson Flag

Pictured is the Roscommon County J.L. Hudson County Flag.  This writer and his spouse camped in the Fall of 2017 at the Arenac County Camp Ground in Au Gres, Michigan.  Always on the lookout for a bit of history a visit was made to the Arenac County Museum.  At the museum a large flag was observed and an information sheet related its origin along with 82 other flags to be from the J.L. Hudson store in Detroit. A flag had been made for each Michigan County in 1941 and they were displayed at the J.L.Hudson Store in Detroit. Then each flag was donated to an organization in its respective county.   The Clare County flag story was reported in the Clare Sentinel, September 12, 1941:


COUNTY HEALTH ASSN. RECOGNIZED FOR WORK HERE  Beautiful County Flag Presented in Impressive Ceremony.  The members of the Clare County Health Unit are justly proud of the very beautiful county flag that was presented by the J. L. Hudson Company, of Detroit, in an interesting ceremony held in the Harrison Gymnasium, Friday morning, September 5. The program was opened by two numbers by the Rhythm Band of the Temple school, who presented a pleasing sight in their pretty uniforms, and their very attractive drum major was not afraid to strut her stuff.


* * *  The flag was presented to Mrs. Madge Lamb, who has always taken a leading part in any movement for health betterment. The flag is five by eight feet in size, made of heavy white silk with a wide border of blue. In the center is a load of grain or hay drawn by a fine team of horses. Mrs. Lamb expressed her pleasure that the health unit should be thus recognized. She said this county was one of the three in the state to be so honored . . .  She thanked the Hudson Company in behalf of the County, for the fine gift.


The program closed with the singing of America led by the Harrison High School Band. Mrs. Evelyn Ettingson, of the State Health Department was present. The meeting was in charge of Supt. Chas. Amble of the Harrison school.


In 2016 the Roscommon County J.L. Hudson flag was ‘discovered’ hanging in a plastic dry clearing badge in a  District Commissioner’s office.  Most   unfortunately it is not known where the Clare County J.L. Hudson flag is today.   Apparently it has been lost to Clare County history!

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society



Lost in History -roadside park

Almost as well known as the Doherty Hotel, Spikehorn, Cops & Donuts, and Jay’s Sporting Goods is the Old U.S. 27 Roadside Park.   It is located in Hatton Township 6 miles North of Clare and 4 miles South of the T – intersection of Old-U.S. 27 and M-61. 

 In September of 1998 William (Bill) J. White wrote of the history and his memories of the “Clare County Roadside Park”.  His father worked for the State of Michigan in constructing the park probably in 1936 following the then U.S. 27 roadway being paved in 1934.  Bill White’s father had a roadside lunch stand across from the park and even ran a pipe under the road to the lunch stand to obtain the cold, clear and pure spring water originating above the park.  On the building of the US-27 Freeway in the early 1960s about ½ mile West of the park, the State of Michigan handed the park over to the Clare County Road Commission.

After about 50 years of maintaining the park the Clare County Road Commission leased the Old U.S. 27 Roadside Park to the Clare County Historical Society in 2014 for 99 years.  Since 2014, in a maintenance partnership arrangement, Cops & Donuts pays for the lawn mowing which is done by Elm Creek Lawn & Landscape, and members of the Clare County Historical Society perform other maintenance as needed.   Thankfully the Old U.S. 27 Roadside Park was not closed and lost to history. 

As Bill White wrote in September of 1998,  “. . . . if God gave you the chance to enjoy it in your lifetime and you drank of it’s clear waters, would it not be nice to be able to pass . . .  it along to our children and grandchildren?  Hopefully your answer to Bill White’s question is a resounding “YES”. 

By Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society





Gold Leaf Scones


Nettie Holbrook in her 1971 Centennial booklet History of the First One Hundred Years of Clare United Methodist Church, 1871 – 1971, sets out a list of gifts given the church.  Mentioned in the listing are:

   1.   1943 -- a large silk WWII Service Flag with the names of service men and women on the stars

   2.  1946  a pair of gold leaf scones given in 1946 given by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Dice

    3.  1963 – an ebony African head brought back by Roxanne Schroeder from Ghana, Africa

Not mentioned in the listing, but noted elsewhere in the Centennial booklet are two other items:

    1.  a diary of Mary (Matie) B. McKinley, a missionary to India for 5 years who had prior to that time taught at the Eagle School after graduating from Albion College in 1899, and after her return from India married Rev. Mr. William N. Younglove, the minister in 1884 -1886

    2.  the Bible of Rev. Younglove used at the Clare UMC which was given to Dr. A. E. Mulder, a Clare dentist

The 1943 WWII Service Flag, the pair of gold scones, and the ebony African head are not to be found and most likely have been lost in history.  One of the missionary diaries of Ms. McKinley was held by Mrs. William Garchow, Jr.,  presumably when Mrs. Holbrook wrote the Centennial booklet because Mrs. Holbrook references an entry in the missionary diary.   But now that diary seems also to have been lost in history. 

Rev. Younglove’s Bible is pictured above and can be seen in the basement Chapel room showcase at Clare UMC.  It is in an extremely fragile condition, but fortunately has not been LOST IN HISTORY !

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society




Where did it go?


This picture of Spikehorn, the moniker of John Meyers, has him with his large gun, perhaps a ‘blunderbuss’,  a short-barreled large-bored gun with a flared muzzle, used at short range.  Spikehorn called the blunderbuss “Old Sally” , claimed her to be over 100 years old, came from Switzerland, and “she shoots just as hard and straight as any of your new-fangled guns.”  Spikehorn  (1994), page 60, by Tom Sellers .However, with Spikehorn’s bent of putting on tourists and his penchant for a bit of deception, the ‘blunderbuss’ just might have been some sort of home-made contraption.  After all Spikehorn had ability in construction—he was an architect in building log houses and an inventor/draftsman of sorts in that he drew a plan for two tunnels under the Straits of Mackinaw, one tunnel for north-bound traffic and one tunnel for South bound traffic.   So he certainly had the ability to manufacture what might appear in the picture to be a real gun.  

One of Spikehorn’s stories about ‘Old Sally’, related by Tom Sellers in Spikehorn (1994) page 61,  was that “Crows were worth a dime a piece and Spike, wishing to attract as many as possible for the state bounty, shined an automobile headlight up in the branches of a big pine tree to help the crows find a roosting location on dark nights.  He loaded his flintlock blunderbuss with a quart of gunpowder and three pounds of number 4 shot.  The crows fell like rain . . . There were 364”.  A sure $36.40!

Spikehorn died on September 19, 1959, at age 89.  His property would have gone into his Estate of which Judge Donald E. Holbrook, Sr. and  Marie Bailey Beemer were two of the three co-executors.  The inventory of the Estate does not include a gun and so it is possible that it disappeared before his demise or was ripped off by scalawags on his demise before an Inventory of the Estate occurred.   Tom Sellers, in Spikehorn (1994), page 61, states that the blunderbuss was loaned by Spikehorn “for display” and then it was “lost track” of.   In short, ‘Old Sally’ has been lost to Clare County history.


**UPDATE**April 2018

This ran in the Clare County Cleaver several weeks ago and a local resident brought in a photo of Jim Grove of Clare.  Mr. Grove was holding the gun in 1959 though it didn’t belong to him but a friend, William Hunter.  Mr. Hunter and Mr. Grove both enjoyed collecting guns and telling tales about Spikehorn.  They have both passed away.

Even though the gun hasn’t been found (yet!) great leads like these may lead to a historical discovery.  Perhaps a gun collector has the old blunderbuss in their possession and doesn’t even know it’s infamous history.




Presidents at PMDL

About 1990 a friend called me asking for help in moving some benches and tables for a surplus goods/yard sale by St. Cecelia’s Church in Clare.  My oldest son and I went to help and on finishing the volunteered work checked out the sale goods.  Immediately noticed were two very large framed prints, about 3’ by 4’, of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln.  These had been apparently donated or purchased in the 1930’s for the parochial school at St. Cecelia’s and were no longer needed.  Inquiry was made as to the price and on being informed, the stated price was quickly paid.  For the next 10 plus years they were displayed in my law office above the American Dry Cleaners. 

On closing the law office the presidential prints were stored at home and research was done was to their origin.  No record or information was obtained from St. Cecelia’s Church.  The framing of the prints was done by two different frame shops in Detroit, Michigan, and this explains perhaps the different frames.  In about 2014 the presidential prints were donated to the Pere Marquette District Library and they were hung in the reading room above the doorway.  So, if and when at the Pere Marquette District Library in Clare, go to the reading room and take a moment to view a bit of Clare County history that was NOT LOST!

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society






Around Christmas In 1893 Mrs. Caleb Stearns donated a five piece silver plate communion set to the Clare United Methodist Church.  She died in 1894.  She was the 2nd wife of Caleb Stearns, an early Village of Clare hotel and stage coach operator.  The communion set was manufactured by Meiden B. Company as quadruple plate with an accompanying number 12 and has some value.    The communion pitcher was almost lost.  In the First 100 Years of Clare UMC (1971) by Nettie A. Holbrook, the wife of Judge Donald E. Holbrook, Sr., she relates at page 140 the finding of the communion pitcher:

“The Near Loss of the Old Silver Communion Pitcher.  “. . . an elderly lady told me about the beautiful Silver Communion Set . . . A search  . . . revealed no pitcher, but disclosed the two bread plates and the two chalices. * * * When the old parsonage was sold  and to be moved . . . It was necessary to tear off the roof . . . I went there almost every day . . . One day . . . a man came down the ladder with a black cloth bag in his hand.  He said, ‘Could this be what you are looking for?’ “

This writer attends the Clare UMC and on reading Nettie Holbrook’s story looked around the church.  The pitcher was located in a locked show case and the two cups and two bread plates were found in a nearby cupboard.  These pieces were apparently still being used.  Attention was called to the point that the set had a bit of value and the fear that if separated, pieces of the set might be lost.  The complete set was put together and is now in a locked display case in the downstairs prayer room of the Clare UMC.  The 125 year old silver plate communion set is NOT lost to history!

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society



Where did it go?


Rust house

The Rust Hotel was built in Farwell in 1872 - 1873 at 3 stories in height.  The 3rd story was subsequently removed after a fire in 1890.  The Rust House was also known as the Farwell House, Park View, Parkview, and The New Farwell Hotel.  The structure was demolished in November of 1998.   Forrest Meek, in Michigan’s Timber Battleground (1976), at page 351 states:

“Many of Clare County’s notables registered in the big Rust House registration book
that year of 1880. The roster reads like a Who’s Who of Clare, Saginaw and
Muskegon Counties. All of the big mills sent their representatives, as did many of
the local business houses in Clare and Evart. A frequent type of guest was the  
lawyer. These men made many trips to Farwell, and of course made the Rust
House their headquarters. In addition, all of the traveling dramatic troupes and
salesmen signed into the big book, now owned by Richard and Mrs.Foutch of Harrison.”

This writer was prompted to investigate the whereabouts of the Farwell House guest registration book.  In 2013 contact was made with Richard Foutch’s son, Rick Foutch.   Information was received in a telephone conversation that the “big Rust House registration book”  of the Farwell House, if it was possessed by his father, was either sold or destroyed in a  house fire.   Most unfortunately it seems that the “big Rust House registration book” with all its famous names has been lost to Clare County history.


by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society



Where did it go?

Lost Gun

The Clare County Historical Society was formed in 1969 with over 150 members.  The Clare Public School Board ‘sold’ the Dover School to the Clare County Historical Society for $1 and the Society members began the collection of historical items.   One of the items donated was an antique shotgun and its existence and donation by Mrs. Dillenback family was related in the Bay City Times, March 4, 1971:

“Mrs. Christel Dillenback, former Clare County Schoolteacher and pioneer,
now living in Big Rapids, gave the society  an antique shotgun owned by her
father who homesteaded in Winterfield Township.” 

The 1906 Plat Book, Patrons’ Reference Directory, has the listing of “Dillenback,
Lester, farmer, S[ection] 8, T[ownship] Frost, P.O. Leota.  Settled

in Clare Co[unty]; in 1874 and moved to Frost Township in 1876.”


Most unfortunately the antique shotgun is not to be found in the museum collection.  It is suspected that a Society member with the best of intentions took the antique shotgun to his/her home for safekeeping.  Perhaps misplaced and where it came from not being documented the antique shotgun is now lost to Cle County history.

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society



Where did it go?


Clare County’s first township was not Grant, Sheridan, nor Surrey Township, it was Three Lakes Township.  According to Forrest Meek in Michigan’s Timber Battleground (1976) in “January of 1869, unknown to the [Michigan] Legislature . . . Joseph Bucher, William Crawford and James Green met and organized a township called ‘Three Lakes’ in Clare County.”  The Isabella County Board of Supervisors approved the detachment and thereafter, Joseph Bucher was appointed Supervisor.  The new township continued for about one year.  Unfortunately the Michigan Legislature had detached eastern Clare County from Isabella County in March of 1869, thereby nullifying the detachment of the Isabella County Board of Supervisors.

The real Grant Township was established by a detachment by the Midland County Board of Supervisors and that detachment allowed for the organization of Grant and Sheridan Townships in March of 1870.   One year later Surrey Township was organized.   The entity known as Three Lakes Township included what is today Grant Township (except 40 acres), Hatton Township, Hayes Township, and Frost Township (except 6 Sections). 

Clare County historian Tom Sellers located the Justice Docket of the Township of Three Lakes and it is presently preserved at the Clare County Historical Museum.  It does not contain the ‘official minutes’ of Three Lakes Township, but it does contain the Justice of the Peace docket reports of Grant Township beginning with the case of  T.H. Hinchman & Sons  v Wright E. Fierst and Henry Travidick, July 19, 1871, E.D. Wheaton, Justice of the Peace.

This writer suspects that the Justice Docket was ordered by the officials of Three Lakes Township and by the time it arrived, Three Lakes Township did not exist and so the Justice Docket was utilized for another purpose.  In any event, the Three Lakes Township Justice Docket is not a lost piece of Clare County history, it just isn’t what one would expect it to be!

Note:  The ‘three lakes’ were Perch, Arnold, and Bass;  and then with the construction of a dam ‘three lakes’ was combined into one lake, known today as Five Lakes.   Perhaps this one lake should be renamed Three Lakes since the still existing South Lake and Gut Lake are the other two lakes which made up the original Five Lakes.  And even the name Three Lakes would be a misnomer since numerically speaking the one lake existing today does not make three lakes much less five lakes!

A series of 10 or more articles of items lost to Clare County history.  The thought for this series came about on reading in my deceased Aunt Harriett’s papers that the Grand Haven Christian School in the 700 block of Columbus Street, my alma mater for 1st and 2nd grades, at one time had and was displaying a piece of wood from the White House which was burned by the British in the War of 1812.  By the 1950’s this historical item was lost.  Where did it go?  Similarly in Clare County historical items have been ‘lost’ (and some found) – an antique shotgun, one or more flags, a silver-plate  communion set, a hotel register, a painting, Clare County’s first township book,  a ship’s logbook, wood cuts of famous composers, a film, etc.

If, on reading one of these articles you, the reader, might know or have a solid lead as to where the missing Clare County historical item might be found, please contact the Clare County Historical Society.  Thank you.

by Jon H. Ringelberg
Member, Clare County Historical Society