Recently the Clare County Historical Society came into possession of two old undated photographs which appeared to have been taken in about the same general time frame. One photograph was of the Samuel E. Saul house which was located on E. Adams Road in Hatton Township, 1 and ½ miles East of Old-US 27. The house is no longer standing.
The second photograph was of the Tatman House built in 1891, located on W. Sixth Street in the City of Clare, formerly the law office of Richard S. Allen, and presently owned by Greg and Jody Robinson, and operated as a B & B.
The historical questions were – When were the photographs taken? And, was there a connection between the two photographs? A small bit of historical sleuthing provided the answers.
The Saul house photograph had on the back side a listing in order of appearance of individuals of the Robert Armstrong Allen family – Everett, Hazel, Perrie, Dorothy, Josephine, Floyd, and Arm.
A newspaper search on the internet at Central Michigan University, Clarke Historical Library, Michigan Digital Newspapers resulted in the finding of Perrie Allen marrying Leo Smock, in 1915, at age 19. In the photograph, Perrie, the 3rd individual from the viewer’s left, appears to be about age 6 to 8 and so the photograph can be reasonably dated to about 1902 – 1904.
On the back side of the Tatman House photo there appears “11-12-__2” and there seems to be a very small zero below and just to the front of the “2” – so most likely the date of 1902. If so, the Tatman House photograph was taken approximately 10 years after the building of the Tatman House.
In providing further evidence of a connection between the Saul and Tatman photographs, Robert Armstrong Allen’s wife was Dorothy …
This typewriter was originally given to the Harrison Community Library in the 1990s. It was loaned to the Clare County Historical Society in the 2000s and recently returned so it can go in the new museum area at the Surrey House, the future home of the Harrison District Library. The serial number reveals this Remington would have been built between 1904 and 1908.
The fire that burned the Cleaver was on December 26, 1925. The Cleaver issue January 1, 1926, reported about the fire and that edition of newspaper was printed at the Clare Sentinel in Clare until the Cleaver could get a press and get back up running. The Cleaver office has been in the same location on Main Street it moved into after the fire at 183 W. Main Street, Harrison.
On October 6, 1998, Merlin (Roy) Allen wrote from Bridgeport, Michigan:
This Remington Model 12 typewriter was used by Jesse F. Allen, publisher of the Clare County Cleaver. He owned the paper from January 1909 to September 1936. Bought used from the Allen Printing Company, Lansing, in 1921, the machine was used in the Cleaver office until he sold the business, after which he used it personally. In 1925, when the Cleaver building burned to the ground, it was among the few articles found.
Typewriters were relatively expensive and scarce during the y ears this machine was used at the Clare County Cleaver office. It is very likely that at that time, fewer than a dozen typewriters were in use in Harrison. I know of one at the post office (an old Oliver), two or three at retailers, two at the school, four or five in the courthouse, one in Quinn’s law office; and that’s about it.
When Jesse Allen died in 1949, the old Remington was passed on to the children, and went from household to household. Since 1975, granddaughter Dolores (Wood) Gronda and I have shared its care and custody. We pass it on now to the Harrison Museum.
This creamer was donated to the Library a few years ago. The giver didn’t want their name on it but said it was given to them on a visit to the Surrey House in the 1980s.
As I’m always researching local history, and the Surrey House in particular I’d seen bowls, plates, and a creamer set online in auctions and internet searches. I had dismissed them as not being from our local Surrey House. I’d never seen Surrey House custom china and anyone I’d asked that worked at the restaurant had never seen any either.
When the creamer was donated, I took a quick look at eBay and it revealed this exact creamer had recently sold. Every chip and imperfection and even dirt spot was the same. Possibly the person who donated the creamer thought they were doing a good deed and returning history to its place.
It seemed unlikely a piece wouldn’t have surfaced as a collectible or a keepsake in all the years the Surrey house operated. The carriage in the logo was also pointed in the opposite direction of all the other ads and signs of Harrison’s Surrey House.
So, I spent some more time researching the creamer. It was made by the Jackson China Company, located in Falls Creek, Pennsylvania. They manufactured restaurant tableware as well as several lines of fine china between 1917 and 1985. There is an entire book dedicated to the dating, identification and company history and information about Jackson China.
There are dozens of backstamps in many styles and types that can date any piece made by Jackson. They produced custom tableware for many hotels and restaurants across the country.
This creamer dates from the 1960s. Which does fit the time frame of the popularity of the Surrey House as a regional destination. I believe this creamer came from the Surrey House on Hwy 10 in Virginia. It matches other memorabilia from the restaurant like ashtrays and matchbooks. There were many other Surrey Houses in operation across the country …
Clare Sentinel, 1988
34 Years Ago in Clare, Michigan
Clare’s ice tree in the city park was turned on last Tuesday and is growing daily. A steady stream of water sprays from the top falling on several Christmas trees inside a thirty-foot steel framework.
Gaylord has had an ice tree for years and was very helpful in providing information for the design of the Clare tree.
A number of years ago an ice tree was started in the then vacant lot in downtown Clare, now occupied by Her Place, next to Downtown Drugs. The tree was forming nicely until winter weather turned fickle-thawing, freezing, sunshine, thawing, freezing. The spray at the top of the tree was coming from a sprinkler can nozzle. The water had to be turned on and off whenever temperatures were above freezing. Al Iacco, A.J.Doherty and I [Al Bransdorfer] took turns turning the water on at night and off during the warming days..
An Irish flag was placed at the top of the tree. That disappeared and was replaced with a MSU flag, replaced by a UofM flag, replaced by a Clare Fire Association flag, replaced by a Polish flag and on and on. You never know what flag would be at the top.
Sand was needed around the tree to keep the water from spreading. A truckload of sand was brought in. Unfortunately, the sand contained chloride-great for melting ice.
That lot had been occupied by the Dunlop Building which burned in a fire nearly twenty years ago and had a common wall with Downtown Drugs building.
Where was all the water going? Walked next door and asked Bill Barz to check the basement of his drug store.
That’s where all the water was. A lot of merchandise was stored in the basement but fortunately the basement floor sloped east and few items were stored there.
The water to the ice tree was turned off and so ended Clare’s first attempt at an ice tree.
This year , Iacco presently Clare’s mayor, visited Gaylor and received some up-to-date detailed …
An ice storm blanketed most of the upper Midwest including Clare County. Tomorrow, on 2/22/2022, an ice storm is expected but Clare County totals are predicted at ice accumulations of one tenth to one third an inch.
The Clare Courier reported that they installed a gasoline engine in order to print the edition of paper reporting the storm. “Hand composition being necessary the Courier will not present its usual appearance.”
Trains ran late, if at all and “the streets of Clare are covered with the shiny surface from door to door, and the trees, poles and wires glisten in their icy mantle. How long we will be without light, power and telephone is hard to say. It is certain no new poles can be installed until the frost is out of the ground and even temporary repairs cannot be made until warmer weather and the ice is gone.”
The Clare Sentinel reported in their 2/24/1922 issue, "The oldest inhabitant have never seen the equal of this Storm, which is reported to be tbe worst of its kind in state’s history. The storm was general across southern Michigan, up Saginaw Valley and across the central portion of tbe state. Clare county is entirely shut off from outside telephone and telegraph communication, being reported down for miles every direction."
Every community reported about the storm. Also from the Clare Courier, “People of Farwell and vicinity, have sure suffered their share of loses by the unprecedented sleet storms of last week which has destroyed fruit and shade trees, forest trees both young and old, telephone, telegraph and electric light equipment, and nearly cut us off from the outside world, Pere Marquette trains and auto traffic have been our means of hearing from outside. Many of the present generation will never again in this territory see fine fruit and shade trees we have been privileged to enjoy.”
In the weeks following the storm professors from the Michigan Agricultural College arrived in Clare to …
Place names are important to historians. How things are named is always interesting and historically telling. Recently, a Budd family descendant came to the Cleaver office with a letter that proved the naming of Budd Lake in Harrison after the Budd family.
Before Harrison was named, the lake was called Budd Lake.
In January 1878 the Times Herald and the Lake County Star reprinted news from the Farwell Register. “The Board of Supervisors of Clare county at their late session, voted to remove the county seat from Farwell to Budd Lake, near the geographical center of the county.” Few copies of Farwell Register exist so fortunately news was often reprinted from newspaper to newspaper.
By November of 1878 the name Harrison still wasn’t being used but the name of the lake was still Budd.
The Clare Press reported, “The committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors to locate the county seat, have been making an Examination of the ground, and from present appearances will probably make two reports, one favoring the vicinity of Budd Lake, and the other a location as near the center of the county as the nature of the ground will admit.”
The family story in the letter outlines several Budd brothers living near Budd Lake in the mid-1870s.
“When Isaac, and his wife Cornelia were building their log cabin, Isaac was on the roof laying shingles, when in the distance he could see sun shining on a lake, that no one knew was there, because of his discovery, it was named Budd Lake.”
We can appreciate this family story for it’s storytelling drama for the benefit of the next generations. However, the lake was on surveys and used by Native Americans on the trace to and from Isabella and Roscommon counites. The story is not unlike many other white settler tales since Columbus discovered the new world. A wonderful family lore for naming a place.
While there were no permanent Native American settlements on …
A winter scene at the top of James Hill about 1900. James Hill is one of the most recognizable land features in Clare County. It rerouted railroads and caused issues when the automobile became popular and good passable roads were demanded by citizens. Today locals swear the weather forecast is different north and south of James Hill. Certainly, glaciers pushed good farming soil south of James Hill and the view is spectacular in all seasons.
Over 100 Years Ago
Clare Sentinel, 23 August 1912
Mr. R. Emerson said the James hill would be fixed and fixed properly before the threshing machines started north. Good. Thanks, Bro R.
Clare Sentinel, 13 September 1912
We are nearly ready to draw our grain over the James Hill. Is it in good condition? Kindly help us out as it is a tough proposition for loaded teams. You Clare people touch them up a little.
Clare Sentinel, 28 June 1917
The people of Harrison will be able to resume their former state of cheerful contentment after July 1st. On the following day mail will be delivered to them every twenty four hours, which isn't so long to wait after you've got into, the habit of hearing the train whistle “down brakes” only every other day, to say nothing of Sunday which comes along regularly most every week. Motor car service will start from Clare to Harrison July 2nd, leaving here after the train arrives from the east in the morning, but not later than ten o’clock, one and one half hours being allowed to make the ascent (including up or around the James hill) The return starts at six p.m. Nate Trubull has expressed a willingness to stick to the job for two years at $950 a year if he could layoff on Sunday. The department said he probably would need to. Also he can carry passengers, which should help to keep his mind off the job (and theirs off the regular tariff rates) He does not deliver mail along the way.
It’s rare we find a new photo of the Cleaver office. Despite its location on Main Street in Harrison in only two locations, we have surprisingly few early photos of the office.
As we wind down our 140th anniversary year this photo feels a bit like a gift from the history gods, but it was actually found by local genealogist Linda Bailey in the McKenna family papers. Linda knew I would be excited to see it and allowed me to scan the postcard.
The card itself was mailed in 1956 but the inscription on the back said “How about this-it was taken along time ago-wasn’t it? Even before the road was paved.” This simple card and communication may not seem out of the ordinary, but we are grateful it was kept, and we can share it.
The rest of the post card inscription is a simple note to a McKenna family member. “Just finished the washing and am on my way home. Going up to Higgins Lake tonight with Clarabelle. Love, Mom and Dad.”
M-61 through Harrison was completed in 1938 as part of connecting M-61 from Standish through Gladwin to Marion and beyond. This photo was probably taken in the early 1930s. The Cleaver reported in 1936 M-61 will be paved with an oil-aggregate surface from Harrison west four miles as part of a $30,000,00 worth of road upgrades in the State of Michigan. It’s hard to say if the portion in the City of Harrison was included in this paving.
The post office was in this location next to the Cleaver until June of 1957 when they opened their new building on the corner of First and Oak Streets.
Check your old postcards and letters, you never know what historical gem could be hiding!
A letter from Orville J. Glerum of Evart dated March 22, 1938, and directed to Samuel V. Blair of Flint begins the matter. The letter reads
“You were at our office today and made inquiry about a certain stone. Because of the attitude which predominated your visit, the writer had determined, that the stone to which you referred is of such value that under no circumstance would any disposition of same be considered.
I wish to inform you now that any trespass upon my property where stone is located is strictly forbidden.”
On reviewing an Affidavit for Writ of Replevin by Sam V. Blair, JP Kyle McKinnon issued a Writ of Replevin on April 1, 1938, for the seizure of “One stone with granite base and variegated formation on one side, weighing approximately one and a quarter ton” from Orville J. Glerum, apparently the owner of Northland Dairy Company, of Evart. The stone had been present on the street in Evart for over 20 years, however Orville J. Glerum seemingly with permission removed the stone and placed it as part of “water barrier wall” at the “summer cottage” property owned by his wife, Lottie Glerum, located in Clare County, Section 29, Garfield Township on 8 Eight Point Lake.
On Clare County Under-Sheriff Deputy Henry Doll, ‘protected’ by a $2,000 bond provided without surety by plaintiff Blair, seizing the stone, it was appraised at $20 by E.B. Collins and Lance Thayer. Under-sheriff Doll ‘returned’ the stone to plaintiff Blair. The interest /ownership of the stone on the part of plaintiff Blair is not disclosed in the legal paperwork, however, in the opinion of this writer it may well be that plaintiff Blair had ‘second thoughts’ as to keeping the stone or for some undisclosed reason wanted to ’jab’ defendant Glerum.
Attorney William …
A few clips from Clare County newspapers over the years about Spikehorn.
Clare Sentinel, 21 October 1938
A deal was completed this week in which J. E. (Spikehorn) Myers contracted to sell all the oil and gas rights on section 11, Hatton township. He states that he expects to use 500 acres for a wildlife reservation and proposes to build a fence around same suitable to hold bears, so that they may run at will. He expects to import about 20 to 30 cubs from Canada and the states in the spring.
Clare Sentinel, 20 July 1945
BEE SUPPLIES FREE—I have designed and built a new type of bee hive honey rack to hold the starter foundation combs, and now have no use for old style honey rack. Parties that have bees can have these at no cost. I also have some eight frame hives I have no. use for. My bees are all inspected, and supplies are all standard equipment that I am giving at no cost to anyone that is short of beehives or supplies.
Clare Sentinel, 10 May 1946
Wanted-Someone to make 1000 bee hives. Will furnish lumber. Spike Horn Meyer, Harrison
Clare Sentinel, 8 January 1954
'SPIKE' MEYER WANTS TEENEYBACK’ Spikehorn Meyer is rather sad these day’s, all because his favorite bear “Teeney” has. not been home since the deer season. It is believed that the Wear was shot and crippled by some hunter. However, on Sunday, December 6, according to Spike, the bear was seen playing with three children about a mile south of Spike’s bear den. Mr.' Meyer claims this is his most valuable bear, and would like to get her back. He claims it to be well trained and behaved and if returned a liberal reward will be forthcoming to the party that returns her. If you have seen this bear, Spike would like to be notified so that he could send candy to feed the bear in case it returned to the same place later on.
Clare County Cleaver
December 15, 1933
HARRISON TO HAVE COMMUNITY BUILDING Work to Start Immediately on $18,000 Structure. Must be Finished by Feb. 1-5
If plans which began to take form this week do not go awry Harrison will have a new high school gymnasium and community hall before the end of winter. At a meeting held in the council room Monday evening a committee consisting of Mayor Burns, Mynard Maybee, and Bryan Fanning was appointed to confer with the powers in Lansing relative to securing Federal funds for the work. At the state capitol officials of the C.W.A. [Civil Works Administration] were willing to approve the project provided assurance was given that the work would be completed without delay.
On Wednesday a public meeting was held at the court house and a committee appointed to have charge of the work. Fred Zubler, Maynard Maybee, Frank Stuckman, B.F. Hampton and Bryan Fanning are members of the committee.
The building as planned will be 50x150 feet in dimensions, with basement. It is to be provided with a heating plant. Several sites have been suggested, but a lot adjoining the school grounds on the east will probably be selected. Work must be started immediately and completed by February 15, 1934. The estimated cost will be about $18,000. Projects to rebuild the present water tank and make other improvements to the municipal water system at a cost of $4,000 and another to improve the west wing of the school house by finishing up the basement for a manual training room, also for the building of two tennis courts have been approved by the C.W.A. officials.
Clare County Cleaver
June 22, 1934
COMMENCEMENT FIRST EVENT IN NEW HARRISONCOMMUNITY BUILDING
Brief Dedication Ceremony Precedes Exercises, Mr. Robinson and Dr. Beck First Speakers
A crowd of about 600 people gathered at the new Community Building, Thursday evening, June 14th to witness the Commencement exercises of the 1934 graduating class, and the …
This photo is extraordinary for several reasons; it’s size, that it captured the log marks so clearly and the photographers who took the photo.
The cattle brand of the lumbering business, log marks were important outposts of law and order in pioneering communities where law enforcement was often weak. A mark on a log carried the right of ownership and was recognized on every lake and stream in Northern Michigan.
The owner of the log is Patrick Glynn, an immigrant from Ireland who started his career as a land looker and then went into lumbering by buying 4,000 acres in Midland and Gladwin Counites with several Saginaw businessmen in 1871.
Glynn’s camp was located four miles east of Coleman which was on the Flint and Pere Marquette rail line. The camp was located at the junction of MacGruder and Shaffer Roads.
William Goodridge, photographer, visited the camps in the winter of 184-75 and took a set of 12 stereo views of the operation. Goodridge and his brothers operated Goodridge Brothers Studio out of East Saginaw. The family is known as one of the most prolific African American photographers in North America. Their work was highlighted by John Vincent Jezierski in 2000 with a book called Enterprising Images: The Goodridge Brothers, African American Photographers, 1847-1922.
Several other photographers created stereo view sets of logging in Michigan, including a Goodridge competitor J.A. Jenney. While Jenney or Goodridge didn’t create any stereo view sets in Clare County, the men and the logging processes highlighted in the photos were on their way to Clare County in a few short years.
Essentially a ‘running gear’ assembled/manufactured from 1928-1935 Ford vehicle axles, wheels, and tires provided by the customer to Everett Allen, Dover, Michigan.
A write-up by Leo J. Fitzpatrick in December 2007 on donating a Dover Wagon to the Clare County Historical Society tells the ‘story’:
This wagon was built by Everett Allen at his blacksmith shop in Dover in 1943. The person ordering the way furnished the front axles that were used from Ford vehicles built 1928 to 1935. Ford Motor Company used 15-inch wheels in their 1935 vehicles. The person ordering also furnished wheels and tires. Everett Allen used Ford axles because they had a bow in the axle. The bow allowed the axle to be used upside down for better ground clearance and strength for the design of the wagon. He said he built 68 of these wagons between the late 1930 all through the middle of the 1940’s. Everett could build a wagon in a day and a half using his own iron and wood for a cost of $35.00 for material and labor.
This wagon was the 34th wagon that he made. Bernard Fitzpatrick ordered in 1943. It was the first rubber-tired implement on the Fitzpatrick farm. [ A Centennial Farm]. There was never a mechanical bread down in all the years it was used. It was a very good wagon to sue with a team of horses and it was an excellent tow trailer on the road. It was used regularly on the Fitzpatrick farm for a period of 40 years.
In 2007 it was rebuilt and donated by the Fitzpatrick family to the Clare County Historical Society.
Leo J. Fitzpatrick provided this information from is personal knowledge.
Before the Hayes Township Civic Center was built, Bob Miller was working on a cleanup crew pulling stumps and clearing brush with heavy equipment. On his lunch break he happened to look down and find a bottle.
It was a Nehi bottle, bottled right here in Harrison, Michigan. At the time, Jeannie Morton told him the plant was in the old meat packing plant in the area of the new city hall and fire department just west of Harrison today.
Nehi (pronounced knee high) was a flavored soft drink (we call it pop!) first made in 1924 by the Chero-Cola/Union Bottle Works. They were found in Georgia by a grocer named Claud Hatcher. IN 1928 they adopted the name the Nehi Corporation. In 1955 they became the Royal Crown Company after the success of the RC Cola product. In April 2008, Nehi became a brand of Dr Pepper Snapple Group (now known as Keurig Dr Pepper) in the United States.
You can still find flavors of Nehi today in orange, grape, and peach. Mr. Miller is donating this bottle to the Clare County Historical Society.
If you know anything else about the Nehi bottling operation in Harrison please contact the Cleaver at 539-7496.
Clare Sentinel, 8 May 1931
A.M. Henderson has his Ne-hi bottling plant nearly completed. He will be ready to deliver from the local plant the middle of the week.
This product by its name might suggest a connection to Clare County given that the Clare County seat is named Harrison – however, such is not the case. The Harrison Wagon, while most likely purchased and used by Clare County farmers, was manufactured in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from about the 1850’s to 1907 when the company produced the Harrison automobile and was renamed the Harrison Motor Car Company.
A Better Surveying Instrument
In 1850 William Austin Burt had surveyed the section lines in Grant, Sheridan and Surrey Townships in Clare County and most likely used a solar compass which he invented and patented in the 1830’s. The solar compass (a/k/a sun compass and/or astronomical compass) was particularly important when surveying in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because the solar compass was not affected by the Upper Peninsula’s iron ore deposits as was the usual surveying compass. Note that the Upper Peninsula’s iron ore deposits created a magnetic field which interfered with the common surveying compass in finding magnetic North. Wm. A. Burt’s invention got around the problem. See Meek, Michigan’s Timber Battleground (1976), pages 4 and 15 and Wikipedia.
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker…none are found at the oddly named newspaper in Harrison, the Clare County Cleaver, that marks 140 years in business this July. Nursery rhymes aside, just why is this newspaper named the Cleaver? Most newspapers use Gazette, News, Journal, Post, Mail, Examiner, Chronicle, and more. In Clare County there has been the Clare Sentinel, the Clare Courier, the Farwell News, the Harrison Herald, Harrison Echo, the Clare Democrat and Press, and the Farwell Register.
The Cleaver was first printed in the back of butcher shop on Main Street in 1881. The office and press room shared space with a butcher shop and later the post office. The first printers were John Quinn and John Russell, later taken over and published by two generations of the Canfield family; John and Alfred. Russell had published the first Harrison paper the Harrison Herald earlier in 1881. Alfred Canfield went on to publish the Clare Courier.
Harrison was a lumber boom town for most of the 1880s. Businesses opened and closed at a furious pace as fortunes were won and lost both in the woods and at the saloons. It was thought it would take decades for the big timber to be lumbered off in Clare County. Due to new lumbering technologies and the railroad, it took a scant decade.
The seat of Clare County was moved to Harrison in 1879, a more central location in the county after the courthouse burned at Farwell in 1876. The county seat likely saved Harrison and the Cleaver from becoming a ghost town. The county seat brought an influx of business and visitors to Harrison and impacted the economy greatly. The Cleaver still publishes notices and does print work for county business as it has done since the beginning.
As the lumber business declined many businesses failed, shanty boys moved on to timber farther north and farming communities replaced wild saloon towns. During this decline in 1899, the Cleaver briefly stopped publishing for a few …
Civil War Medal of Honor Winner Lived in Farwell
When I ran across this postcard of “The General” and it mentioned W.W. Brown from Farwell my interest was piqued. I had not heard his name, or this story connected to Farwell and Clare County when I researched Farwell (Arcadia Publishing, 2016.)
I still cannot find a census or other proof beyond newspaper clippings that Wilson Wright Brown lived in Farwell. In researching Brown, I’ve found his rank to that of a private, a lieutenant, a sergeant, and a captain!
Brown was born in Ohio on Dec. 25, 1839 and died in there on Dec. 26, 1916. He was one of the 19 men who received the Medal of Honor for his participation in the Andrews’ Raid during the Civil War. His citation read, “One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell) penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and tracks between Chattanooga and Atlanta.”
Brown’s obituary leaves no clues about his residence in Farwell. He died at his home listed as 874 Forsyth, Toledo, Ohio. He is survived by fours sons and three daughter all of Ohio.
Clare Sentinel, April 26, 1907
Captain W.W. Brown will give a lecture Saturday, April 27th at 7:30 p.m. in the G.A.R. hall relating to Andrew’s raid of which was engineer.
Clare Sentinel, January 24, 1908
WAR HERO OF FAMOUS CIVIL WAR EXPLOIT
Capt. Brown of Farwell Remembered as Engineer of the “Great Railroad Chase.” A bill introduced in the United States senate to raise the pension of Capt. W. W. Brown, of Farwell from $30 to $50 per month recalls a thrilling story of the great rebellion. In the spring of 1862 Capt. J. J. Andrew with twenty-three men started on an expedition to cut railroad and telegraph communications between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Mr. Brown, then a private from Ohio, was one of the …
Every once in a while, a piece of history pops up that makes me stunningly happy that it exists. Recently, I purchased an unusual piece of Harrison history on an auction site.
While coat checks and baggage tags aren’t unusual, one that is over 140 years old and from a business in a rough and tumble logging town are very hard to come by. This brass tag is from the Johnson House of Harrison that operated from May of 1880 through the 1890s when it was changed to the Lockwood House.
The brass tag was made by John Robbins of Boston. How it got from Harrison into the hand of a metal detector who rescued it near Saginaw is anyone’s guess. We can fictionalize a shanty boy (as lumberjacks were called in the 1880s) that checked his belongings at the Johnson House but somehow left Harrison with the baggage/coat check tag but without his property. Maybe it was a hasty retreat from the saloon or a street brawl, as Harrison was famous for in its lumber heyday.
The tag was found by Mark and his father Archie. Their hobby throughout the 1970s and 80s was weekend warrior treasure hunters. Mark cherishes those days they got up 5 a.m. to enjoy their hobby together. In retirement he is sorting through some of those treasures, researching the history and thankfully with this item, selling them.
The Johnson House opened on May 24, 1880 according to the Clare Press. The building is still standing today as part of the Surrey House, soon to be the new home of Harrison District Library. The southern half and third story were added after 1900.
After it was built it went through many remodels as the rough and tumble business of feeding and sheltering gruff businessmen and entertaining shanty boys took its toll. In the 1880s Harrison had the reputation of being Michigan’s “toughest” town. It was then a sprawling metropolis of 2,000, containing 22 saloons, a dozen restaurants, 5 hotels and many business houses.
The local newspapers report things …
The Cleaver seeks to form a Readership Advisory Committee for the purpose of providing content suggestions. As a subscription-based newspaper our obligation is not just to our advertisers but also our readers. Readers are important partners in keeping the newspaper relevant to our communities in Clare County.
A lot has changed in the world since the Cleaver first printed on Main Street in Harrison in 1881. The Cleaver has survived to serve the community through economic ups and downs, wars, and 140 years of changes in how we live. As the owner and editor of the paper I consider myself just the steward of the Cleaver. If anything, it owns me, and the responsibility to carry it through my working life and beyond is something I take seriously.
Volunteers are sought from a wide demographic, but all must be avid newspaper/news readers and hold the highest regard for journalistic integrity. Ideally, the committee will be comprised of a mix of Democrats, Republicans, and a those who consider themselves apolitical and those ages 15 years and older. The six- to eight-member committee will meet two to four times a year in person or via Zoom.
We will be asking (and hopefully answering) what is important to readers, what types of local, state and national news best serve our readers, and reaching out to our readership at large for feedback.
If you would like to apply and be a part of the next 140 years of the Cleaver, stop by the office at 183 W. Main St. in Harrison for a short application or send a note of interest to the office at P.O. Box 436, Harrison, MI 48625 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.