Elizabeth Allen White
Contributed and Transcribed by Susan M. Heric, Miesel, Stepka (Great, Great Granddaughter)
RITES HELD FOR LOCAL PIONEER
Funeral Services Conducted Sunday For Mrs. White
Impressive rites were held Sunday afternoon for Mrs. Elizabeth White 82, one of the most colorful pioneers of Schoolcraft county, whose death occurred the preceding Thursday as a result of complications due to senility. The deceased had been bedridden for three months preceding her demise. Funeral services were conducted at the White residence, Garden avenue, by Rev. Deloyd Huenink, pastor of the First Presbyterian church. Interment was made in Lakeview cemetery under the direction of Gunnarson and Kefauver, local morticians.
Relatives of the deceased who served as pallbearers were: George Gray, Jr., Vernon Kolb, Vic Deemer, G. Leslie Bouschor, Ed Gray, and Nels Bouschor. A large attendance and numerous beautiful banks of flowers were testimonials to the high esteem in which Mrs. White was held by her many friends. One of the most beautiful of the floral offerings was a huge blanket of roses, containing 300 flowers, which was presented by the daughters of the deceased.
In Mrs. White's death, Schoolcraft County and this vicinity of the upper peninsula probably lost its most picturesque and colorful character, a definite link between pioneer and contemporary times. The distinction of being the first white child to live in what is now called the Garden peninsula, the first girl to carry United States mail between Garden and Manistique on horseback, and many pioneer days, gave to her life an eventful history.
Fate started her picturesque career when she was born on a canal boat in Monroe County, New York, on February 15, 1852. Soon after her birth her parents moved to Chicago where her father, Reuben Allen was employed as a carpenter. Two years later occurred the happenstance whereby, the infant Elizabeth became the first white child to live in Garden Bay, Mrs. Allen her mother, became ill with typhoid fever, and physicians advised her to go north to recuperate. Taking her two-year-old baby with her, Mrs. Allen came north to Garden to live with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Gray, the first white people to locate in that vicinity. Six months later they were joined by Mr. Allen, who in his new environment, devoted his time to fishing and trading.
Here Elizabeth grew up in a wilderness scarcely peopled by white folks, lived the crude hard life which is common to all pioneers who attempt to bring civilization into a new territory. When she became older she would go out on the lakes with her father, helped him pull in his trout-laden nets, while standing on the stern of the little fishing smack, clad in corksoled shoes which prevented her from sliding off the slippery deck.
The catch used to be salted away in barrels and half-barrels until some trading vessel would call to take them to Chicago where they would be sold on the market. Later on Mr. Allen used his knowledge of carpentry by building a sailing vessel at Sac Bay and began trading provision and clothing which he would purchase at Green Bay and sell in the various fishing ports along the shores of Lake Michigan at points such as Garden, Sac Bay, Mackinaw City, Escanaba, Beaver Island, Washington Harbor, etc. Elizabeth always accompanied him on these trips and soon came to know almost every mile of the shoreline from Green Bay to Mackinaw City. They encountered many storms, but it was Mrs. White's opinion that storms are more prevalent and severe now than at that time.
But all of her adventures were not of a seafaring nature. Perhaps her most daring feat was the charge of carrying the U.S. mail from Garden to "Monistique" on horseback, taking a trail which was just wide enough for a single horse. It would have been quite a task for a man to take this semi weekly 25-mile round trip, but 16 year old Elizabeth accomplished this throughout the summer of 1868. A small sawmill was running here at that time and it was the only means which enabled the lumbermen to obtain contact with the outside world. Mail boats from Escanaba called at Garden twice a week, with a packet destined for Monistique.
On her return trip she forded the Indian River from where the trail skirted the shore of Indian Lake. Here lived the Chippewa’s who were very friendly with the girl with the long brown curls and who called her "The White Queen,” It was her custom to have lunch with the old chief after she had dispatched her mail. The following winter, the mail was entrusted to the care of an Indian who mushed over the deep snow with his dogs and sled.
The trail across the plains she described as leading through the most wonderful scenery she had ever seen, with virgin forests of tamarack and pine closing in on all sides.
Fifteen children were born to her, four having passed away. All of her nine daughters are married. She has 21 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.