County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

History Found in the Darnedest Places

Spike Horn Ephemera Found at Midland County Road Commission

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Ashley Rockefeller, an employee of the Midland County Road Commission was scanning old traffic control orders when something different fell out of the file.

That something different was a little piece of history from John E. “Spikehorn” Meyer. Spikehorn hand wrote a letter to the Midland county agent asking to rent the fair grounds for his Wild Life Show. [See box and photo.] The response wasn’t favorable, and we aren’t sure if he held a show in Midland or not. According to the letter Spike would be holding a show in Mt. Pleasant right before his proposed Midland dates.

The Cleaver archive reveals a story on the cover of the Aug. 27, 1942 issue announcing Spikehorn’s upcoming wild life show. Only the Mount Pleasant show is mentioned. The Cleaver often ran stories about Spikehorn whether it was his legal troubles, lost bears, or something he cooked up to get attention.

Spikehorn stapled postcards (shown) to his letter and it all remained in the files of the Midland County Road Commission since 1942, 79 years ago. To the chuckling of her co-workers, Rockefeller commented, “We save everything here.” The Midland County Road Commission donated the file items to the Clare County Historical Society.

The papers show the business side of Spikehorn’s operation. While he was a natural promoter, it took planning and work to parade around the state with bears and other animals.  

Members of the Clare County Historical Society were happy to receive the items. The handwriting matches other known samples, so the letter appears written by Spikehorn himself. It’s also interesting to note that most articles about him (including this one) refer to Spikehorn in one word. In fact, Spike himself always separated the two words.

A little more history is discovered every day and we never quite know where it will be found.

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