Arcadia Michigan
Manistee County

Arcadia, MI (1911) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

Arcadia Twp. Pg 83 (History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan H.R. Page 1882)

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1870 the town was organized, and named Arcadia. The first election was held April 4, 1870. The following are the names of the officers: W. H. Cotton, supervisor; W. H. Ross, town clerk; J. D. Padden, treasurer; M. O'Rorko and J. Norton, highway commissioners; S. Calkins, school inspector; S. Tondo, W. L. Dempster, H. Bowen and H. Chapin, justices of the peace; S. Hotchkiss, L. Moore, J. Morton and W. L. Dempster, inspectors of election.

"In 1874 the total population numbered 1229. The town contained 11,612 acres of taxable land; 686 acres of improved land. In 1878 there were raised 1,821 bushels of wheat: 2,805 bushels of corn, and of all other grains 3,397 bushels; also, 3,771 bushels of potatoes: and 284 tons of hay; 3,155 pounds of butter were made, and in the spring of 1874 there were 2,610 pounds of maple sugar manufactured.

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

"Education claims its share of attention, as may be seen by the handsome frame school, which was erected a few years ago, at a cost of $800. The inhabitants can boast of a good town library, winch is a never failing source of instruction and amusement. "Much of the soil along the lake shore is naturally rather light, but when well cultivated is made capable of raising excellent crops. The timbers is of pine, hemlock, maple and beech, all of which is as good as a gold mine to the owners. Large quantities of this timber are exported to Chicago and Milwaukee every year. As yet no public buildings have been erected, but the farm houses that are rapidly taking the place of pioneer cottages are a credit to the town's people. And the years will not be many 'ere we shall see stores, machine shops, and churches rearing their architectural forms equal to any in the county of Manistee."

The sawmill of Huntington & Co. was operated until 1880, and then abandoned.

Seymour Calkins, one of the early settlers of Arcadia, is now a resident of Pierport.


Is the name of a new place recently started on the lake shore. A pier was built there for the purpose of shipping wood, bark, etc. There is a store, hotel, the sawmill of Shaw Bros., and some other business interests. The Good Templars have a prosperous organization, of which Henry Butter is the presiding officer. The postoffice is named Burnham. There is quite a business done in shipping wood, bark, ties and lumber.


Is another new place recently started by Henry Starkie, of the firm of Starkie Bros., Milwaukee. The post-office is called Arcadia. In 1880 a sawmill was built there by the firm of Starkie Bros., and other buildings have followed.

There is another sawmill in the township, built the present season, by H. Bowen.

There are three schoolhouses in the town, recently built. The present supervisor of the town is L. L. Finch.

Arcadia, MI (Lake Street Looking West) (1910s) - Contributed by Paul Petosky