Missaukee County Michigan


Missaukee County

This county was laid off by act of the Legislature approved April 1st, 1840, and it was organized in pursuance of an act approved March 11th, 1871, which organization was perfected on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in April, 1871.

Lake City is the county seat.

This county lies upon the western portion of the central plateau, with a drainage almost wholly southeastward into Muskegon river; although the Manistee river crosses the extreme northwest corner, and its branches drain the northern margin.

The county has an elevation of six or seven hundred feet above the level of Lake Michigan. Its most convenient outlet at present is by way of the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad, which passes through the eastern portion of the adjacent county of Wexford, lying west of this county, the construction of which about the beginning of the last decade, afforded the access needful for the settlement and development of this, as well as adjacent counties.

The county is even yet too recently settled to have properly demonstrated its capacities as a fruit-growing or horticultural region, although its wild native fruits are assurance of abundant capacity for the production of what are usually designated as small fruits.

The census of 1884 affords some indication of the condition of fruit culture at that time, when the county reported of apple orchards, 137 acres, 1,122 bearing trees, yielding in 1883, 425 bushels of fruit. Peach orchards, 5 acres, 70 bearing trees, yielding in 1883, 35 bushels of fruit. The value of orchard products of all kinds, sold or consumed in 1883, was $356.00.

Vineyards, none.

Nurseries, none; products sold in 1883, $150.00.

Market garden products sold in 1883, $956.00.

That the soils here possess the requisite elements for the successful growth of fruits, and that the modifying influence of Lake Michigan is potent, even at this distance, would seem to be obvious from the foregoing census reports.
History of Michigan Horticulture: A Part of the Seventeenth Annual ... By Theodatus Timothy Lyon 1887


Missaukee County
A History of Northern Michigan and Its People, Volume 1
By Perry F. Powers, Harry Gardner Cutler - 1912

Missaukee is one of the central counties of Northern Michigan, east of Wexford. It is chiefly drained by the head streams of the Muskegon river and a branch of the Manistee, which rises a few miles northeast of Lake City, the county seat, and runs northwest into the parent river. Although Missaukee county lies east of the trunk lines of the Grand Rapids & Indiana and the Ann Arbor railroads, its chief centers of population are well provided with transportation facilities, and raisers of produce, fruit and grain crops have no trouble in reaching good markets. Lake City, Jennings, Missaukee and other stations rely upon the eastern branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana, which runs from Missaukee Junction. Wexford county, to Missaukee, this county; a spur from the Missaukee branch running south to Falmouth, the old county seat, and east to Ardis, McBain and Lucas, the former the largest village outside of Lake City, and in the southwestern part of the county on the Ann Arbor line, while Stratford, near the northern county line, is a station on the Kalkaska branch of the Pere Marquette Railroad, which pushes down from the northwest.

Products of the Soil

Missaukee county has an area of three hundred and sixty-two thousand two hundred and forty acres of land, some one hundred and twelve thousand of which is in farms, and another two hundred thousand acres available for fruit raising and general farming. Its northwestern and southwestern portions are generally rolling and the soil somewhat sandy and gravelly—especially well adapted to the raising of fruit, corn and potatoes. The central and eastern portions are generally level, with heavier clay loam soil, more adapted to raising wheat, hay and such crops. That, of course, is the rule, but one can find the various kinds of soil, from heavy clay and black muck, to light, sandy soil. Wheat, oats. peas, beans, rye, barley, buckwheat, clover and timothy, alfalfa, Cucumbers, (there are two salting stations in the county); potatoes, sugar beets, celery and all kinds of root crops; apples, plums, cherries, pears, peaches and all kinds of small fruit; all are raised in Missaukee county, the profits realized from the crops depending almost entirely on personal effort and aptitude. The favorable conditions are there, and the good farmer, gardener or fruit-raiser will do well.

Population and Property.

As judged from the standpoint of population, also, Missaukee county is well-to-do. and has been advancing more rapidly than many of the. other interior counties of Northern Michigan. The national census figures show her population at the end of the last, three decades.

The assessed valuation of property in the county, made in 1911, amounts to $2,120,310 in real estate and $436,177 in personal property.


Missaukee county was first attached to Manistee and then to Wex- ford, when the latter was organized in 1869: it did not form an independent body, civil and political, until 1871. Prior to the latter year settlement had been scarce and spasmodic.

The enabling act of the legislature provided that the county seat should, for three years, be located at Falmouth, or Pinhook as the settlement of a few houses was then called. When the vote for relocation was polled on June 3, 1873, it was found that the rival settlement on the northeast shore of Round lake had won by 131 to 95. One vote was east for "center of county."

First Events, Persons and Things

One of the best general sketches of pioneer times in Missaukee county was prepared by Mrs. Mary Reeder and read as a paper, in 1902, before the old settlers' reunion of that year. The Reeder family was the third to permanently settle in the county, in the fall of 1868, and the township which embraces most of Lake City was named in its honor. Washington and William Reeder, Canadians and brothers, were leading merchants of the county seat from the early seventies to 1888, when they became successful agriculturists. From the paper mentioned, prepared by Mrs. Mary Reeder, are collated the salient facts comprising the county's early history:

"The first survey in the county was made by W. L. Coffinberry, about 1853 to 1856. The first and second homesteads in the county were taken by A. H. Clark and Laird, who abandoned their claims before final proof. The third was taken by H. A. Ferris, who made final proof but never actually resided on it. and sold it soon after- ward. W. Richardson was the first who made a permanent home in the county, the date of his claim being December 27, 1867. William J. Morey also homesteaded his land during the same month.

"The first recorded election was held April 3, 1861, for justice of the supreme court and other state offices; forty-one votes were cast, all republican. Of the first election of county officers, the records in the county clerk's office tell nothing. All that can be ascertained is that some time in the spring of 1871 a special election was held at which the following officers were chosen: John Vogel, judge of probate;

Willis McBain, sheriff; E. W. Watson, clerk and register; Ira Van Meter, treasurer; A. Stout, surveyor. The circuit judge, T. J. Ramsdell of Traverse City, appointed L. H. Gage of Traverse City, prosecuting attorney for this county, there being no attorney within its limits.

"The first board of supervisors met at the Perley farm, about two miles northeast of Falmouth (Pinhook), on June 6, 1871. Those present were William J. Morey of Pioneer, James White of Quilna (now-known as Caldwell and Bloomfield; the name was changed to Caldwell a year or two later), Daniel Reeder of Reeder, John Vogel of Clam Union, and Henry Van Meter of Riverside. Mr. Reeder was elected chairman. The salaries of county officers were fixed by this board as follows: Clerk. $500: treasurer, $250; prosecuting attorney. $200; judge of probate. $100; sheriff, $100. At this session the Osceola Outline of Hersey was designated as the official paper of the county.

"The first general election on record was held in November. 1872. during the Grant and Greeley campaign. There were one hundred and nineteen national ballots polled. Grant receiving one hundred and eleven and Greeley eight. On the county ticket John Vogel was reelected probate judge, Otto Schaap sheriff. M. I). Richardson clerk and register. Washington Reeder treasurer. Arlington C. Lewis prosecuting attorney. B. C. Bound) surveyor, and Thomas T. Caldwell and Addison T. Smith coroners.

"The first birth that occurred in the county was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Vogel; the second, Etta, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. I). Richardson, was horn March 28. 1870. The first marriage was John Cavanaugh and Miss Caroline Van Meter, on March 1, 1871. solemnized by the Rev. W. Richardson. The first death that occurred was that of Albert Richardson, March 21, 1870.

The first physician was Dr. Moorehouse of Falmouth, and the first resident attorney. A. C. Lewis; both moved to California.

"The first road was built in the fall of 1867. From the Watson farm to Falmouth, by a Mr. McDonald; Oscar Noble constructed the first state road throng)) the county, the Houghton Lake state road. "The first logging camp in the county was built by W. Windson in 1865. on section 34. town 21. north range 6 west, on the bank of the Clam river two miles below Vogel Center. The first pole logging road was built by Paul Lux in 1877, running from section 35. town 23-7, to the bend of the West branch, or what is known as the Gerish dam. It was operated during the spring and summer of 1878 and brought three million five hundred thousand feet of logs to the West branch. "The first railroad for running logs was built by Watson Brothers. Tom Simpson also built one about the same time in 1876-7. the rails being part iron and part wood. One road ran from the No. 2 farm on the Butterfield to the main Muskegon river. The others ran to the Clam. The first passenger road was completed in December, 1885, by Mr. Cummer of Cadillac. In the spring of 1890 the Missaukee branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana was extended to Lake City.

The first saw and shingle mill in the county was built by Pearly, Palmer & Company in the winter of 1871-2. The first grist mill was erected at Falmouth. The first hotel was also built at Falmouth in 1871 and was managed by John Cavanaugh. Indians had occupied the land long before white people settled here, but John Green and John Wagan were the first who located in the county in late veal's. The first deer, bear or wolves were killed by a man named Hicks in 1866. "A temporary courthouse was built at Falmouth in 1871. In 1873 a courthouse and jail were built at Lake City and in 1883 a new court- house was erected at a cost of $10,000. The new jail was erected in 1886 at a cost of something over $7,000.

"The first sermon was preached at Lake City in January, 1874. by John R. Robinson. n half-breed Indian. The agricultural society held their first fair in the year 1880 in Lake City, south of the house now owned by William J. Morey. Since then it has been held on the grounds purchased by the society.

"The nearest markets long ago were Hersey (Osceola county), on the south and Traverse City on the north. The first post office was at the home of Daniel Reeder at Reeder (now Lake City), in the spring of 1872, but mail used to he brought to the settlers in the county by those who made long trips for provisions, the settlers coming for their mail when the trains returned. The mail averaged perhaps one every two months.

"The first store was built by John Koopman in October, 1869, it being a log house-residence and store combined. In 1879 he built a store at Falmouth."

Lake City

The settlement formerly known as Reeder was incorporated as a village, under the name of Lake City, in 1887. It is now a pretty place of nearly eight hundred people. Lake City is a leading receiving and shipping station on the Grand Rapids & Indiana line, the productions of the surrounding country being largely confined to potatoes and fruit. Its industries are a glove factory, and flour and saw mills.

The Lake City State Bank is capitalized at $20,000, while the Missaukee County Bank (not incorporated) has a capital of $10,000. As the county seat and a place which enjoys an especially healthful location. Lake City has long added to its other attractions and advantages. It is lighted by electricity and has also a good system of waterworks. Its churches include Catholic, Free Methodist, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Brethren, and its Union school is well deserving of the hearty support it receives. Of the higher departments of the village system of public education the high school has an enrollment of eighty-two pupils and the County Normal of twenty. Grammar, intermediate and primary grades embrace the remainder of the village pupils, whose total enrollment is two hundred and eighty-two.

McBain and Other Centers

McBain was incorporated under a village government in 1893, and as a city in 1907. It is a place of less than six hundred people, on the Ann Arbor Railroad, ten miles south of Lake City, the county seat. McBain city is in a fertile district in the southwestern part of the county. Among its industries are a flour mill and a pickle factory, and it is the center of quite a trade in produce and live stock. Falmouth, twelve miles southeast of Lake City, on a small spur of the Missaukee branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana line, is chiefly of interest from its associations as the first county seat and the earliest settlement. There is a good country around it and the settlement itself claims a creamery and a saw and grist mill. It is a banking point for a considerable district and has somewhat of a trade in agricultural implements with the farmers of the vicinity.

Jennings, seven miles west of Lake City, on the Missaukee branch of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, was first settled in 1881. It is quite a busy place, being the headquarters of Mitchell Brothers, large lumber business and the site of a substantial plant for the manufacture of wood alcohol.

Lucas is also a postoffice and small settlement. It is located on the Ann Arbor Railroad, in the southwestern part of the county, four miles west of Bain City, and has a good produce country upon which to draw.

A History of Northern Michigan and Its People, Volume 1
By Perry F. Powers, Harry Gardner Cutler 1912