County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County
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Spikehorn’s Wildlife Park, In Color


Cleaver Managing Editor

I recently purchased a set of color slides from an online auction. I was really excited at first because they are in color and from the 1950s. They were taken at the Wildlife Park of John “Spikehorn” Meyer. While still a great find, I was disappointed the man himself wasn’t a subject of any of the slides. My assumption would be by the time the photos were taken Spike was aging and probably in Gladwin at the nursing home where he died in 1959.

The song by Jamey Johnson, “In Color” was running through my mind when I first saw the slides. The only other color photos I have seen of Spikehorn was a short clip from a 1950s era tourism promotional film. The clip is on YouTube, and I will link it when this article is online on the Cleaver website.

Born in Ohio but raised on a farm near Shepherd, Spikehorn came to the Harrison area in the late 20s. On 80 acres south of Harrison he continued various businesses such as his Green Mountain Tree Company. Already claiming to be in his 80s he began Spikehorn’s Bear Den and Wildlife Park in the 1930s. Wearing homemade buckskins and sporting a long beard, his business was visited by 1,000s of tourists each year.

The Chambers family began working with Spikehorn in 1951. They quickly assumed nicknames; Lonnie Chambers, alias Chief Red Eagle, his wife Willa Maye was “Starr”, his son “Little Beaver” or “Blue Eagle”, his oldest daughter “White Horse” and the youngest “Little Violet” as part of their “Indian” personas. They were not Indigenous people but a Black family from the Detroit area.

Disagreements between Spikehorn and his associates were not unusual and usually involved non-payment. Chambers had his share of disputes with Spikehorn. Spike would defend Lonnie and his family claiming heritage as “Indians in the Blackfoot Tribe” and later he would …   More

Local History Best Told by Community

Slightly more exciting than my local matchbook collection is the centennial book collection I began for the Harrison District Library. While we are committed to keeping our collection local Clare County items and specifically, Harrison, the centennial books are an exception. They are fun to read through and a contain a lot of genealogical information.

Small towns throughout northern Michigan began creating commemorative centennial guides when their community turned 100. That puts most of the books published between 1960 and 1980 considering a lot of northern communities were logged and settled after the Civil War.

The books are simple, unsophisticated, and usually self-published in each locality. The photos aren’t great quality. There was no Amazon print on demand or internet self-publishing. What they lack in print quality they make up for in content. Histories of founding families, businesses, churches, local lore, and lots of photos. The photos are usually labeled who donated them or where they came from which makes a great lead for finding out more from the families today. Most of the folks that produced those books are gone now but their knowledge of local history is preserved.

The books were a lot of work and was almost always done by volunteers. A committee usually was formed to compile, organize, and edit a large amount of local history. The end result is local history preserved and shared for generations.

Harrison produced a Diamond Jubilee guide in 1966 when Harrison celebrated 75 years as an incorporated city. It is a photo heavy book and has pages of sponsored ads which are a great source of information about local businesses. It’s worth noting that the cover art on the 1966 jubilee book is incorporated into the City of Harrison logo today.

Harrison did a centennial guide in 1991 with the title Timber and Rail Dominion of Old. Both guides, though 25 years apart had covers designed by local artist Thelma “Tem” …   More

Morton Hardware Clock Still Keeps Time

Don Morton happened to come into the Cleaver office to do some business and his paperwork was in a Morton Hardware envelope. The Morton’s have made several donations to the new history room at the library, so I asked him if he had any more of the envelopes. I collect ephemera and advertising items from local businesses. Well, you all know…I’ll collect anything local.

Don returned a short time later with more than just envelopes! Don brought in a custom clock, ashtray, envelopes, postcards, and a seat cushion. All the items will be available to view soon in the history and genealogy room at the Harrison District Library.

Morton Hardware was founded in 1948 by Howard Morton on Second Street in Harrison. Howard passed away a year after the 40th anniversary of the store and it was taken over by his son Don Morton. Previous to 1948, it was Harrison Hardware.

The clock is not only special because it marked the 40th anniversary of Morton Hardware but it was made by Thelma Hubbell as a gift to the Morton family. You may remember Hubbell created the original 20 Lakes in 20 Minutes sign I wrote about last week.

Thelma Hubbell was a local commercial artist who worked for Murton Gas and Oil and ran her own business. She was a volunteer at the Harrison Community Library for many years and made a puppet theatre, a historical village representing historic Harrison, and many children’s displays. She was a prolific and serious artist, a military veteran, and community staple in Harrison for decades.

Hubbell’s gift of the handmade clock included a custom storage box.

Don’s donation also included an ashtray. Probably from the 1950s or 60s. This seems quite funny today, but most businesses gave away free matches at their checkout counter and branded ashtrays were a common giveaway to advertise one’s business.

A seat cushion was also donated. It was sold by the Kiwanis as a fundraiser and features a who’s who of …   More

20 Lakes in 20 Minutes Sign: Then and Now

Most people who are familiar with Harrison have heard the phrase and the area’s claim to fame, “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes.” A sign with arrows pointing in the general direction of those 20 lakes has been on First Street in Harrison for over 70 years.

The first mention of the slogan “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes” in the newspaper is in a 1933 Cleaver article. It touts the areas trout streams, lakes and natural beauty.

The “20 Lakes” sign at Murton Oil Company was branded with their name and the Texaco brand. They also sold Firestone brand tires and offered tire repair. The Murton station also had a slogan of their own which was “Be Certain, See Murton.” And “Harrison’s Downtown Station.”

The original sign was created by Thelma Hubbell, artist and longtime Murton Oil Co. employee. It was located near the station across the street from the State Saving Bank in the area near the current Rite Aid parking lot. The bank can be seen in the oldest photo of the sign.

The “20 Lakes in 20 Minutes” slogan was originally coined by Harrison resident J.M. Van Deusen but widely used by real estate developer James A. D’arcy. D’arcy used the slogan in advertisements selling small cabins and lots in subdivisions he developed.

James A. D’Arcy purchased a large tract of land from the Weatherhead family, and it was platted into the Weatherhead-Hughes subdivision and included all the lake lots north and south from Hughes Point on Budd Lake. D’Arcy developed the unique idea of selling cabins and lots as a package deal. The affordable, ready-made vacation getaway between $495 and $795 was marketed to factory workers in the Detroit area. D’Arcy also originally developed the Snow Snake Mountain Ski Resort in the late 1940s.

D'Arcy also developed the Piney Woods subdivision just north of Harrison. The draw for these small cabins was the proximity to lakes and state …   More

The Who and Where of Local History: or Not

When I do genealogy it’s easy to track and be familiar with families that aren’t yours but have similar names and live in the same places. The same thing happens when researching locally. Budd Lake, New Jersey, the half dozen or so Surrey Houses in the United States, Harrison Township, St Clair, Harrison, Ohio, even Clare, Ireland - all these places and others are sometimes confused with places in our Clare County.

Researching Lake, Crooked Lake or Lake Station is difficult too. If you try to search Lake Michigan, you can imagine the thousands of results that come up.

I’ve addressed this before when a little creamer pitcher was donated to the Harrison District Library that was branded with a Surrey House logo. It wasn’t our Surrey House, but I kept the piece anyway, labelled and stored with the proper information.

I recently saw this postcard of Lily Lake and it was identified as Clare County. I got excited for a moment because I don’t have many historic photos of Lily Lake in Greenwood Township.

On inspection though the terrain and shape of the lake doesn’t match. The seller online of the card gives no other information about it the card and it never says it’s from Clare County. The front says Lily Lake and the back is blank. There is a Lily Lake in many states in the U.S.

Even after a long discussion with my friend and history buff Cody Beemer we couldn’t really say for sure it was or wasn’t ‘our’ Lily Lake. I lean strongly that it is not. I invite anyone else to weigh in!

I was given this photo of an older gentleman with the possibility it could be Spikehorn Meyers. I was so thrilled and taken aback by the photo at first, I couldn’t think critically. A somewhat cleaned and trimmed up John E. Meyers that could only be toward the end of his life in the late 1950s. The photo was taken by local photographer Leonard Hawks. That he would photograph Spike wouldn’t be out of …   More

A Simple Postcard from Clare To Harrison

This early 1900 postcard is not out of the ordinary but that is what I like about it. A collage of early Clare buildings in Clare colorized and published by a company out of Toledo, Ohio.

It was mailed from Clare to Harrison to Mrs. Jos. Newbound.

This card also calls Clare, “The Market City”. I was curious about this title and sure enough found a mention of ‘Market City’ on the front page of a 1909 Clare Sentinel. It read, “In accord with a movement on in many cities Clare has fallen in line and adopted a slogan. “THE MARKET CITY.” The adoption was made Monday, a committee determining that A. E. Maynard’s suggestion as given above be the city’s choice. This is an admirable one as interpreting what Clare does today. It is much to be doubted if any other town in Michigan in proportion for her size can show such an array of wagons and buggies as come to Clare, especially on Saturday. “One and all” for “The Market City”, not to inject it into our political differences, not to boost just on the eve of a municipal election and forget it immediately, but on a sane, consistent basis let us all boost for better markets, a greater Clare and a city of pure homes and ambitious lives.”

What I like about this card is the simple message on the back. It is a quick communication between two friends when a letter wouldn’t suit and not everyone had phone service. The card reads, “Hello Fannie, how are you coming? Trust everything is O.K. Think I am going to like it fine when I get acquainted. Ans soon. Laura” It was mailed in August of 1910. Since I’m naturally curious, or nosey as my husband likes to say when it comes to my genealogy, I looked up the receiver of the card. It went to Fannie (Melvin) Newbound. Fannie was born in Highland in Oakland County and died in Harrison in 1942. Her husband Joseph was born in England and died in Mt. Pleasant in 1947. They appear …   More

A Look Back at Gateway Lanes

Clare Sentinel, 29 October 1948

75 Years Ago

Gateway Lanes Grand Opening Friday Evening Mayor Pro Tem Albert Haley Dedicates New Recreation Center in North End

The grand opening last Friday evening of Gateway Lanes, Clare’s new bowling alley and roller skating rink, marked a red letter day in the community’s recreational life. Larry Beck, secretary of the Clare Bowling Association presided as master of ceremonies and presented Leo Russell, president of the association, who complimented Peter and Thomas Caredis, owners of the business, and mentioned that the alleys and rink would provide wholesome recreation for people of all ages. George Wisler, prominent local bowler, was presented and voiced his approval and pleasure of the opening of the alleys.

Peter Caredis was called up on and said that when he first came to Clare he was a little skeptical of living in a small city, but after living here a year found it to be as good a town there was anywhere in the United State. He said he was happy to have a place for the children to enjoy, as well as the bowlers.

Peter Caredis’ son Jerry Brown, manager of Gateway Lanes, and his assistant Albert Church, were presented and each responded with a few appropriate remarks. Mayor Pro Tem Albert Haley then dedicated the alleys, saying that this recreation center was something we have needed a long while and wished the management all the success in the world.

Although the alleys have been open for bowling, the moment Mayor Pro Tem Haley, no mean bowler in his own right, broke the ribbon and sent the first ball rolling down the alleys was an eventful inspection and are A.B.C. approved. Robert Chapman with 226 and Phyliss Schaaf with 251, were each awarded a bowling bag for high score in the bowling contest. Steve Lemmen with 95 and Betty Hahn with 30, were presented with shoe bags as consolation prizes. Mrs. Louise Gibbs, who named the alleys, Gateway Lanes, won first prize in the “name it …   More

Ideal Theatre: Perfectly Ideal for a Small Town

Our family was very excited to see a show at the newly remodeled Ideal Theatre last Sunday. It felt really good doing one of our favorite pre-pandemic activities.

The newly remodeled theater didn’t disappoint. The balcony that held so much intrigue for my kids was available to sit in and I agreed now that they are older. It gives the best view of the scope of the work done in the building.

A little part of me wanted things to stay the way it was when I was a teenager and movies were $1. And for the last 10-12 years taking my growing pack of boys to the movies every time there was a child-friendly film.

For some reason my boys always saw the opportunity to go to the movies as a time to dress up. They went to movies as cowboys, police officers, civil war soldiers, and many other characters. Perhaps they thought they’d be in a movie instead of watching.

No amount of nostalgia can begrudge the beautifully remodeled theater. True to its original but thoughtful to modern amenities, it’s a tribute to downtown one-screen theaters everywhere. The seats are comfortable, the surround sound (gently) shakes your seat, and the popcorn is delicious.

In this week’s history section, the young men of the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corp, attend a movie at the Ideal Theatre in the 1930s. It’s just one of the many memories and historical footnotes the theater is a part.  For the Clare community to hold on to this tradition is truly an asset.

While it’s not a dollar to see a show, it’s still about half the price paid the last time we went to a multiplex theater, and much more than the nickels the CCC boys paid over 90 years ago. Tickets cost $6 for adults, $5 for children under 12, and $5 for matinees.

One thing that hasn’t changed, it’s still Citizen State Bank Time at the Ideal Theatre according to the familiar clock next to the theater screen.   More

From One Girl to Another

In March the Harrison Chamber and Tammy and Trish Galloway of Longer Table hosted a gathering for women in business. They expected a few people to show up and were surprised when more than 25 women and one supportive gentleman attended.

The gathering was one big conversation about the unique challenges and opportunities for women owned and operated businesses.

"It's very exciting to see the growth in Harrison coming from so many small businesses owned by local women." said Wendy Heinig of the Harrison Chamber when I spoke with her about the event. Heinig emceed the event and helped make introductions.

Women in supportive positions were there too, like Sarah Adkins of Michigan Works! and Maye Rood from Hayes Township. It reminded me of the connections at Harrison’s Rotary Club meetings. Unfortunately, the club was disbanded after the pandemic.

The Harrison Rotary Club was unique in that the membership split was 80/20, with 80% women. Most Rotary clubs are the opposite, the 20% is female and there is a push to recruit women for membership.

Clare County has a lot of women in leadership positions, both elected and appointed. This is a sign of the times. When I look in the Cleaver archives in the ’50s and ’60s the pages are full of men in suits and ties in election announcements and local government.

We have certainly felt the pain of our she/her pronouns here at Cleaver. Women have always worked, and worked hard at the Cleaver, but there was never before a woman at the helm. Numerous times I have been referred to as the girl, the gal, and the little girl. I’m hardly a girl – I’ll be 50 this year!

Another gathering will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 20 at Longer Table on Second Street in Harrison. All women in any stage of business ownership or leadership are welcome.

The supportive camaraderie and the food prepared by Longer Table will make a fun “girls” night out.   More

Clare to the UK: Mystery Woman

I recently purchased this beautiful CDV (Carte de visite) from an auction site that came out of the UK. It was mailed from Kettering, Northamptonshire, England. The woman is not identified adding to the dozens of unlabeled photos we have in local collections at the library and historical society.

It’s not impossible to eventually identify old photos. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a duplicate online or in a family tree and be able to make a match.

This photo intrigues me because I’ve often wondered if photo albums in other countries our ancestors immigrated from are full of unidentified ancestors who sent photos back to their remaining relatives. I rarely local items for sale from other countries. How did a Clare photograph come to be found in England?

Another way I have often been able to narrow down a photograph from another place is by searching for people using both known locations. If matches pop up on ancestry sites, then I can look at family trees and see if family members match the places and dates and look for photos and information that might lead to identification.

It's tedious work but if it leads to success those moldering photos albums of unknown relations can be identified and shared.

We do know that the photographer E.H. DeVogt (Eugene Henry) was a photographer in Clare from 1884 to 1911. This style card was most likely in the 1880s or early 1890s.

My searches were unsuccessful to find a match for this mystery woman but perhaps someone will see a resemblance or owns the same photograph, and she can be identified. Either way, she’s right back home in Clare County.

Recognize this photo? Would you like help identifying any local family photos? Contact Angela Kellogg at or 989-539-7496.

Clare County Press, 22 August 1884

Mr. Devogt, of the firm of Nix and Devogt, photographers, left this week for Clare, Mich., where he will engage in the photograph business. Mr. D is an …   More

Sleuthing in History-The Tatman House in Clare

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 …   More

The Typewriter That Survived a Fire

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.


A Little Pitcher Doesn't Fit the Picture

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 …   More

Clare's Ice Tree from the 1980's

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 [1988], Iacco presently Clare’s mayor, visited Gaylor and received some up-to-date detailed …   More

Ice Storm of 2/22/1922

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 …   More

How Budd Lake was Named-Harrison, Clare County, Michigan

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 …   More

James Hill in Clare County: An Up North Landmark

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.


Main Street History on Old Postcard

 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!   More


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 …   More

Spikehorn Meyer: Not just bears

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.

SpikeHorn Meyer.

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.   More

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