Muskegon County, Michigan


Including town of Lake Harbor

Lake Harbor MI - Boardwalk 1908 - Contributed by Paul Petosky

This township, which formerly included Fruitport was organized in 1800. The first settler was Ben. Brist, a German, living near Mono Lake, and his children were probably the first while children born here.

The first regular road was laid out in 1860. Prior to this there were only Indian trails. The mail had to be carried along the beach and round the end of the pier at Lake Harbor, and the trail can still be traced.

The first teacher in District No. 1 was Martha Bowe, now Mrs. A. B. Palmer, of Muskegon, who taught in 1860.

The Harbor of Black Lake has been neglected by the authorities and nothing has been done except by Senator Ferry, whose object has been to secure a passage for his logs to the saw mill at the mouth. He has made some slab piers and dredged so as to allow vessels drawing four to five feet of water to enter. With an expenditure of $5,000, a depth of six or seven feet could be secured. The channel for about half a mile is narrow and tortuous, and generally nearly filled with logs. The banks are steep especially to the north. At the upper end of the channel it expands at Black Lake, and at this point there is a swing bridge. The banks become low and flat and on both sides are fine fruit farms. It is difficult, to conceive of a more beautiful pastoral scene than from this point, and it, is not to be wondered at that in summer this locality is visited by many tourists from Chicago and elsewhere, that every house is full of guests, and there is a prospect of a summer hotel here. The whole lake, has been called Black Lake, while of late the upper end has been named Mono Lake, from the name of the daughter of Col. May, late Superintendent, of the railway. The railway station at the upper end is called Mono Lake Station, where there are bathing houses and fishing boats, and hundreds of pleasure seekers resort to it from Muskegon, Grand Haven and other cities. Lake Harbor is applied us a name for the western end of Black Lake, but it is more properly the name of the post office, which was kept by Daniel Upton, J. P., who is also store keeper and book keeper for Ferry & Bro., and came from Jackson County, where he had been a representative in the legislature, settled eleven years in Muskegon and dispensed justice for years. He has his residence and fine grapery on the north side of the lake. The post office in Jan. 1, 1882, was transferred to Miss Nettie Martin, who resides about half a mile south of the bridge. At the present the most prominent question iu the township is the project of building a floating or pontoon bridge across the lake from opposite Rowe's Point to Cobb's Factory. The project has many warm advocates.

The Lake Harbor Union Society was organized Jan. 2, 1882, under the statute provided for that purpose, to erect a building for religious and benevolent purposes. The first Trustees are: Daniel Upton, Sr., Milo Rowe, Edward Hendrick, J. 0. Antisdale, Frank Dorn, Jas. Dean, W. L. Bartholomew. This board of Trustees elected D, Upton, chairman; J. 0. Antisdale, Treasurer; Frank Dorn, Secretary. The building of the society is on the Muskegon and Ferrysburg road on the hind of Mr. Antisdale, and is 34x00 feet, with 20 feet ceiling. It is finished with a spire and will cost about $2,000.


Since "the lumbering interests of Black Lake which first induced settlement in that region have passed away, the inhabitants have found a new and more permanent and profitable occupation in the raising of fruit, especially of the smaller varieties. This beautiful little lake is about four miles long by half a mile wide, and on its banks is one of the finest fruit regions in the fruit belt, and this arises not only from the superior soil, elevation and position in regard to Lake Michigan, but to the entire devotion of the people to the one idea of fruit raising.

The soil is chiefly a sandy loom with here and there are patches of clay with no stone but a small amount of gravel. The west side of the township contains a line of sandy bluffs from one to one and a half miles wide. These are generally covered with pine, hemlock, oak, hard maple, white ash, butternut and beach, and the bluffs must be of considerable age to have such a growth of timber upon them.

The lands were supposed to be almost valueless and little would have been done with them had not that enterprising, public-spirited citizen, the late Ira Porter, planted an orchard on what is now Milo Howe's place, on Section 12, and thus revolutionized the fortunes of the county by demonstrating the fact that Muskegon sand would bear fruit.


In this connection it may not be inappropriate to give a brief notice of the man who did so much to develop this region He came from New York State to Illinois and thence to Black Lake in 1850, operating a saw mill and planting an orchard which still remains. He never craved official honors, and is said to have been a man of line presence and unusual intelligence. He died suddenly in 1874. After stripping oil the pine the land was being abandoned and sold for taxes, when his experiment sent the price of land up. We should honor the man who makes two blades of grass grow where but one grew before. He was by profession a lawyer, and represented St. Clair County in the Michigan legislature, and was also register of the land office in Ionia four years. His nephew, James Porter, the present supervisor, land surveyor, and who laid out many of the early roads and still resides near the mouth of Lake Harbor, came in 1854.

Fletcher Fowler, who died in 1871, was a supervisor and early settler, was one of the first to plant a peach orchard in the northwest of the town.

Mr. John Parks was also an early settler and fruit grower near Mono Lake. John Kettel, a German settler, near the mouth of Lake Harbor, came about 1854, and had a large farm and orchard. Among the prominent fruit growers are Messrs. Rowe, O'Hara, Jas. Whitney, at the head of the lake; Ellis, Antisdale, H. L. Rood, Tomlinson and Newkirk, Bartholomew and Roussell.

The fruit is shipped partly by team to Muskegon, partly by railroad from Mono Station at head of lake, and the hulk of it by water. In one day in 1881 a vessel took 700 bushels of strawberries, and it is probable that there were by all channels shipped that day 82,000 quarts. Grapes axe also largely cultivated as well as peaches and small fruits.

Among the farms beautifully and romantically situated we may particularize that of J. 0. Antisdale, a native of Ohio, who purchased in 1809 the property of Jos. Stocking, the farm on the south side of Lake Harbor near the mouth. He has a shipping wharf near the bridge. There are seventy-five acres of apple orchards, chiefly Red Camilla, Greenings, Baldwins, Russets and King of Tompkins County; but there are in all fifty varieties. There are 4,000 peach trees and about twenty-five acres of small fruits, largely strawberries, of which Wilson's Albany gives the best yield, bears transportation and markets the best. Hide's early peach will not stand shipping as well, hut its being early is an advantage. His strawberries last year yielded him §150 to $200 an acre, and as to how peach raising will pay he says that peach trees in full bearing will yield four bushels each, and this at ten cents a bushel and one hundred and sixty trees to the acre, will be $64 an acre. In 1881 the price of one-fifth of a bushel basket was sixty-five cents. Mr. Antisdale's old residence, to the east of his present residence, is the oldest house in this region and was formerly Ira Porter's.

The second school house was in the Kittel district. Section No. 17. The first saw mill was built about 1847, the Robinson mill, an old water mill, at the head of the lake.

The first steam saw mill was erected by a German, Jos. Ackem, on section 18, who sold to W. M. Ferry, and he to Ira Porter, when it was burned, in 1850, and rebuilt and sold to Rowe, who sold to Swartout, when it was burned and never rebuilt.

There is a saw mill still being run by Mr. Peter Jeannot, for Senator Ferry, which cuts 50,000 feet per day. Benjamin Brist, Jacob Winhofer, John Klein and Elijah Porter were all in the town previous to 1860.

Micheal O'Hara is perhaps the largest and most successful fruit grower—in grapes especially, his Concords and Delaware* being the varieties that give the best yield.

There was a new school house built on section 18, in January, 1881, at a cost of §500, in which a teacher is engaged at $80 per month.

Mr. Bartholomew has a very fine fruit farm.


G. N. Cobb A Son, originally from Connecticut, but who came from Missouri, in July, 1869, started a factory for the manufacture of fruit packages, boxes, etc., in 1871; the factory was burned down in two or three years after, but has since been rebuilt on a larger scale. The building is 20x40 feet, two stories, and the machinery is propelled by a twelve-horse power engine, furnishing employment to from three to six men, and the same number of girls. They have also a planing mill in connection and the factory serves a useful purpose. They have also a fruit farm with twenty acres improved.


Wm. L. Bartholomew was born in Kirkland, Oneida Co., N. Y., in December, 1881, and was brought up on a farm until 19 years of age, when he learned the carpenter trade. From 1859 to 1869 he carried on a planing mill and sash and door factory. In 1861 he recruited a company for the 8th N. Y. Cavalry, and on May 13th, 1862, he was discharged on account of the consolidation of companies. In August, 1862, he recruited a company for the 117th K. Y. Vol. Infantry, and in 1802-63 was in the defense of Washington. In April, 1863, he was ordered to Suffolk, and until August 10th was engaged at the siege of that place. He then helped to build fortifications at Norfolk, and stayed all winter at Folly Island, off Charleston, and assisted in building the famous "Swamp Angel" fortifications near Ft. Wagner. In the Spring of 1864 he was promoted to be First Lieutenant and ordered to Gloster Point, General Butler in command. They went up the James River, built fortifications across the Appomattox to the James, and on May 16th his regiment was engaged at Drury's Bluff. On the 1st of June he was ordered to White House Landing to form a junction with Grant's army, and on the 3d was at the battle of Cold Harbor, and for the ten following days was engaged fighting. They were then ordered back to City Point, and stormed the fortifications around Petersburg on the 15th, and for the rest of the hummer he was engaged in front of Petersburg and Richmond. On the 29th of September they stormed Fort Gilmore, his company losing 18, killed and wounded, out of 27 men in all. On Oct. 3d he was promoted to the captaincy; on the 7th he fought at Chappin's farm, and on the 17th was at his last battle iu Virginia. He then went on the Ft. Fisher expedition, at which Mr. Bartholomew opened the battle with eighty sharp-shooters, and ended as commander of his brigade. For bravery on the battle field ho was promoted to the rank of Major. After the war he was engaged in farming in New York until 1877, when he came to Norton, where he still resides, extensively engaged in fruit farming. In 1860 he married Marian E. Page, of Marshall, Oneida Co., N. Y., by whom he has four children.

Benjamin Brist was born in Reinsheim in Baden, Germany, in 1820, and when fourteen years of age landed in New York, and settled first in Berne, Albany Co., N. Y.. and after twenty-two months he removed to Lewis County. In 1843 he came to Kalamazoo, Mich., and after remaining there four years came to Ottawa County, and in 1853 purchased his present farm on section 21, town of Norton, where he has ever since resided. In 1845 be married Miss Angelina Harlan, of Kalamazoo, by whom he has three children.

Francis Boutell was born in Essex Co., England, in 1818, and, his father having died when he was four years old, he was left in the cave of his mother's brother, who lived near Newcastle, where he worked two years in a cotton factory. At fourteen years of age he went to East Oxford, Ontario, and worked for seven years among the farmers, when he married Miss Sarah Jane Ranger, of Oxford, by whom he had six children. She died Nov. 25th, 1877, and in September, 1880, he married Miss Harriet Southworth, of Van Buren Co., Mich. In 1870 he bought land in section 19, of Norton, where he has a good farm with some fruit on it, and bids fair to become a wealthy man.

L. R. Coston, fruit grower on Black Lake, below Cobb's factory, was bora in Philadelphia in 1812, and came to Lake Harbor in July, 1878, having previously been in Chicago from 1857 to 1878. On July 27th, 1864, at Chicago, he married Emma I. Holmes, by whom he has two daughters and one son. He enlisted in DeKalb Co., Ill., in 1861, in Co. R, 42d Ill., Regt., and served for eight months, when he was obliged to resign through illness. He has a line fruit farm of 22 acres, of which about eight acres are cleared, and mainly in orchard, with two acres in grapes.

Wm. Churchill, fruit grower on section 18, Norton, was born in New York State in the fall of 1827, came to this State in the Fall of 1866, and to Norton in the Spring of 1872. He first settled in section 24, on a farm of eighty acres, which he sold in 1881 to John Davis, Jr., of Ohio, and in June, 1882, bought his present place of seventy-three acres. lie intends to devote it to grapes, peaches, etc. He was Supervisor in 1877.

John B. Dupuis, the engineer of the Ferry mill, was born near Montreal in 1846; came to Illinois in 1850; to Lake Harbor in 1855; was also several years on Muskegon tugs. He married, in 1869, Olive Gates, by whom ho has one son, Alfred, born in 1874. After her death he married, in 1876, Dell Thebault.

John Geiger was born in Wurtemburg in 1840, and came to America in 1867, settling first in Wyandotte. In 1869 he settled in section 21, Norton. In 1871 he married Miss Ariadne Brist, of Norton, by whom he had five children.

George Hanvill, saw filer of the Ferry mill at Lake Harbor, was born in New York State in 1814, came to Grand Haven in 1869 and has resided in Lake Harbor since 1870. He is a veteran of the late war, having enlisted in 1862, in Co. H, 2lst Wisconsin Volunteers. He was discharged on account of two severe wounds received at Perryville, Ky. He married in 1872, Elizabeth Ryan, of New York State, and they have one daughter, May, born July 12, 1879.

William Hile was born in Northumberland County, Pa., April 18, 1840, and at 6 years of age he moved with his parents to St. Joseph County, Michigan. In 1804 he enlisted in the 15th Michigan Infantry, Co. C, served until the close of hostilities, and although in a number of engagements, escaped unhurt. In 1801 he married Miss Margaret A. Reed, of St. Joseph County, by whom he has six children. In 1867 he purchased land in section 24, Norton, where he has ever since resided, being very successfully engaged in fruit growing.

Peter Jeannot was born near Montreal, Canada, in the year 1829. His parents were in very limited circumstances, with a large family of children, and at the age of 16 years, with scanty clothing and only sixteen cents in his pocket, without the knowledge of his parents, but with resolute and determined mind, Peter and some other boys about the same age, left their parental roof for the city of Chicago, at which place he arrived in the fall of 1845. For three days of the time after leaving home he did "not taste of food. He had an acquaintance in Chicago with whom he stayed for two weeks. From there he went in the lumber region of Northern Green Bay, remaining there engaged in saw mills until the fall of 1855. From Green Bay he went to Manistee, Michigan. Since 1864 he has been superintendent and general manager for Ferry's mill at Lake Harbor, and has also been for years postmaster. Mr. Jeannot was married in the month of June, 1859, at Bourbonnaise Grove, Ill., to Mary Lambert, daughter of Lewis and Mary Lambert, and has had thirteen children, nine of whom are living. The eldest son William is graduating at Notre Dame College, Indiana.

S. B. Marstiller was born in Randolph Comity, W. Va., in 1883, worked with his father until he was twenty-two years of age, when he went into the carpenter trade, which he has ever since followed. In May, 1802, he went to Marion Co., W. Va., where, after residing nine years, he went to Belmont. Ohio; after remaining there seven years he came to Norton, purchasing land in section 13, where he still resides. In 1857 he married Miss Anna Ryan, of his native county, by whom he has five children. Although he still works at his trade, he intends to make fruit growing his chief business. In February, 1864 he enlisted in Co. H, 12th W. Va., Regiment, and served till the close of» the war. He was in five general engagements, was wounded, and draws a pension.

Elizer Porter, was born in New Haven county, Ct., June 9, 1815, and resided in his native place until 23 years of age, following the cooper business. He then went to New York State, remaining six years. In 1844 he settled in Monroe county, Mich. In 1855 he went for one year to Minnesota, returning he settled on section 12, Norton Township, where he still resides. In 1844 he married Delia Town, of Burgess, Genesee county, N. Y., who died after having borne him three children. In 1852 he married Miranda Nokes, of Monroe county, Mich., by whom he has sis children. Mr. Porter settled in Norton when it was nearly all in a wild state and there was but one store in Muskegon.

Stephen Porter, who has a fruit farm of 26 acres on Black Lake a short distance above Milo Howe's, was born in Courtland county, N. Y., 1819, came to Norton in 1877, his family following two years after. He has a line place, with seven acres of grapes and small fruits, about one acre each of black caps, blackberries and red raspberries, 240 crab apple trees, 400 cherries, etc. His grapes in 1881 weighed about 4.1 tons, averaging six cents per pound,

Joseph Edward Randall, fruit grower on Black Lake below Coston's, has also an 18 acre fruit farm, of which 14 acres are improved, containing 8,000 grape vines, 1,000 peach trees, 100 apple, 50 pear, with four acres of strawberries and an equal quantity of raspberries. As an instance of the fertility of his place, he reports 150 bushels of strawberries from 1 1/4 acres, sold so as to bring a net profit of $100, and from 150 grape vines 600 pounds at six cents per pound, brought $36. Mr. Randall was born in England in 1846, came to Chicago in 1867, and to Norton first in 1878, remaining only one summer. In the spring of 1880 he returned from Chicago and bought his present place. He married Oct. 10, 1868, Sarah Knight, and has one surviving daughter, Frances Louise.

James Reed was born in Columbia county, Pa., March 8, 1808, and when 22 years of age went to Jefferson county, Pa., where in 1830 he married Miss Margaret Millson. In 1844 he removed to Park, St. Joseph county, Mich., where he farmed until 1865. In 1850 his wife died, leaving six children. In 1851 he married Miss Barbara Milieu, by whom he has two children. In 1865 he removed to Norton, purchasing laud in section 24, on which he successfully raises fruit.

Oscar C. Roy was born in La Grange county, Ind., and in 1839, at ten years of age came with his father to St. Joseph county, Mich., but after a two years' sojourn there he returned to Indiana for ten years. For a few following years Mr. Roy alternated, the summers in St. Joseph and the winters in Indiana. In 1864 he removed to Iowa,"remaining there until the fall of 1872, since which time he has made his home in Norton. In 1873 he married Louisa M. Fisher, of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Milo Rowe, one of the oldest and most respected residents of the town, was born in Broome county, N. Y., in 1818; at eleven moved to Pennsylvania, and to this State in 1858, first coming to Lamont. He settled in Norton in 1804, and two years after on his present beautiful fruit farm on the north of Black Lake, where he has 000 peach trees, 25 acres of apple orchard, eight acres of strawberries and other small fruit, and a vineyard of about an acre and a half. He married June 8, 1885, Orpha Beals, of Pennsylvania, and has two children, Mrs. A. B. Palmer, and Captain H. N. Rowe. He has held nearly every municipal office from Supervisor to Treasurer, which latter office, he still Holds. Capt. H. N. Rowe was born in Pennsylvania, May 25, 1836; came in 185-I. to Grandville, Kent county; in 1856 to Lamont, Ottawa county. In 1860 he went to Illinois and the following year he enlisted in the 59th Ill. Reg., and was one of fifty chosen to go on the "Ram" fleet and fight the naval battle near Memphis; he was also at the siege of Vicksburg. After serving two years and rising to be 2nd Lieut, he resigned on account of disability. He then went into lumbering on Black Lake, and ran vessels for eight years, the tugs "Hattie May," "Croton," and "Emma" which was afterwards burned, and then the fruit boat A. H. Petrie, sold Dec. 1860. He is now engaged with his fattier in fruit growing. He married Nov. 25, 1862, Emma Reynolds of Illinois, and has two sons.

Frank C. Tyler was born in Stoneham, Mass., March 14, 1855, and in 1857 removed with his parents to Van Buren county, Mich., where he continued to reside until February, 1880, when he came to Norton, purchasing land in section 19. On Oct. 18, 1876, he married Miss Eliza Southworth, by whom he has three children, Mr. Tyler is combined German and Scottish extraction, is a hard- working man, and has fair prospects of success in his business of fruit growing.

Daniel Upton, son of Samuel and Charlotte Upton, was born iu Fishkill, Duchess county, N. Y., Aug. 12, 1818. Several of his boyhood years were spent iu the woolen manufactory and flouring mill of his father. In 1885 his family immigrated to Michigan, locating in the western part of Jackson county. Daniel remained with his father, clearing up the wilderness, until 24 years of age, when he went into the employ of Z. Lawrence, a merchant at Gidley, on the M. C. R. R. On the death of Mr. Lawrence in 1848, he remained to close up the business. He next went into business as general merchant with Messrs. Kassick under the firm name of D. Upton & Co., in Parma. Nov. 2, 1848, Mr. Upton married Mary E. eldest daughter of Edward Strong, who was born in Lansing, N. Y., Nov. 2, 1880. After a partnership of one year with the Kassicks, Mr. Upton withdrew and opened a general store with his elder brother, Samuel; continued till 1856. when Samuel died, when he closed up the business and went into farming, and in 1858 was elected County Clerk of Jackson county on the Republican ticket, and was elected four times in succession, and was then elected Representative for the Second District of Jackson in the State Legislature. In 1857 he removed with his family to Muskegon city, and after one year went to Lake Harbor, his present home. In 1876 he returned to Muskegon where he was elected for four Years Justice of the Pence, and for two years was appointed by the Council Police Justice. During Mr. Upton's residence at Muskegon his fruit farm was managed by his son,Edward S., who was born at Parma, Oct. 20, 1650. His second son, Daniel, was born at Parma, Sept., 26,1853, and his only daughter Cornelia Elma, was born at Parma, Oct. 10, 1858. Daniel Jr. has been Clerk of Norton for four years, and for the past three years book-keeper for Powell & Hovey, of Muskegon. Edward S. has been Clerk for the past three years. Mr. Upton has held the Supervisorship and Treasurership of the town.

James H. Whitney was born at Allen's Hill, Ontario Co., N Y. July 22, 1842. In two years his parents removed to Niagara County; in 1849 they came to McComb Co., Mich. In September, 1871. he went to Muskegon County, purchasing a farm on Section 21, Norton, and on the following October, on the same night as Chicago and Holland were burned, his barn, containing horses and farming implements, was consumed, and he had to build anew. The fire was carried, as was supposed, in some furniture from a neighbor's house that was burned that night. Mr. Whitney has a farm well adapted for fruit growing. In November, 1867, he married Miss Annora Hall, of McComb Co., Michigan.

Wm. R. Wilson was born in Williamsport Pa., Sept. 18,1826. at twelve years of ago his parents removed to Columbia County, where hi: resided six years, learning the carpenter's trade. In 1843 he went to Schuylkill, working there six years; also worked two years in Berks County, and lived from 1852 to I860 in DuPage Co.. HI. He then lived three years in Lucas Co., 0., after which he removed to Mason Co., Mich., settling in the Spring of 1864 in Muskegon Co., building a boarding house for S. N. Wilcox at Bluffton. In 1876 he bought a farm on Section 12 Norton, where he now resides. In December, 1849, he married Catharine Schatz, of Hamburg, Berks Co., Pa., by whom he has had four sons and two daughters. In 1861 he was drafted, but rejected at Grand Rapids on account of physical disability.


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