Mill Town Era History
The Chicago Lumbering Company of Michigan
The Chicago Lumbering Company
Lumbering operations began along the mouth of the "Monistique" River as early as 1848 with the arrival of James Haynes of Port Huron.
In 1860, Charles T. Harvey, the engineer who designed the Soo Locks, built a dam on the Manistique River. Harvey had purchased some timberland and sought to encourage further development of the lumber industry in the area. The tiny settlement was first known as "Epsport" in honor of Mr. Harvey's wife whose family name was Eps.
During the period from 1855 to the early 1860s the firm of Spinney and Boyd had been harvesting timber for a small sawmill which they owned near the mouth of the river. The firm of Spinney and Boyd was followed by Reed, Cutler and Whitbeck. These three men organized the Chicago Lumbering Company of Michigan during the summer of 1863 with their headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. In 1867, Reed, Cutler and Whitbeck sold their stock and all of their holdings to Cunningham, Slauson and Deane of Racine, Wisconsin.
By the mid 1860s the little settlement then known as "Monistique" consisted of a sawmill, a store, a boarding house, and four homes. Two slips about 400 feet in length were built near the mouth of the river.
Abijah Weston and A.J. Fox, two wealthy lumbermen from Painted Post, New York, purchased the assets of the Chicago Lumbering Company in 1871. These included the river rights, timber and saw mill which operated with two circular saws and one gang saw.
The gang sawmill built by the Chicago Lumbering Co. in 1876 - Photo Contributed by Paul Petosky
Source: Manistique Centennial Book, 1960
"The period 1872-1880 marked the build-up of the Chicago Lumbering Company, and the community's development. In this span, new houses were built as the population increased. In 1876 the old sawmill, consisting of a gang and two circular saws, was replaced with a new mill which had three gangs, a circular saw, two edgers, two trimmers, a shingle mill and a lathe mill. It remained in service until destroyed by fire in 1907. Other developments in this period included an elaborate system of lumber docks, considered the finest of any lumber company in the nation."
Another view of the Chicago Lumbering Company Mill showing the sawdust burner.
Photo Contributed by Paul Petosky
Chicago Lumbering Company
Officers & Company Foremen
Abijah Weston was the principal owner along with Alanson .J. Fox. Weston owned 50 percent of the stock. Other officers and board members included: John D. Mersereau, Secretary and Treasurer; Martin H. Quick, General Superintendent of the Mills and Yards; George H. Orr, General Woods Superintendent; William H. Hill, William E. Wheeler, N.P. Wheeler; Board of Directors.
In 1882, Weston created the Weston Lumber Company with mills on the west side of the Manistique River. The same group of men were officers and stockholders in both companies.
During the 1880s and 90s the Chicago & Weston Lumber Companies owned most of the land, houses and businesses in Manistique. The company was involved in virtually every aspect of the business life of the community. Listed among the companies departments were the cemetery and the post office.
Some of the company managers and foremen included the following:
John Quick, Chicago Lumbering Mill
W.C. Bronson, Weston Lumber Mill No. 1
Sam Mix, Weston Lumber Mill No. 2
John Woodruff, Chicago Lumbering Lath Mill
E.A. Rose, Weston Lumber No. 2 Lath Mill
R.B. Waddell, Weston Manufacturing Co. Planing Mill
H. Duval, Weston Furnace Co.
Arthur DuBois, Manistique Telephone Company
C.P. Hill, Chicago Lumbering Co. Store
I.S. Phippeny, Weston Lumber Store
E.W. Miller, Warehouses and Docks
Captain Lossing, Chicago Lumbering Co. Dredge
Captain John McWilliams, Tug "Elmer"
R.P. Foley, Ossawinamakee Hotel
George Wickwire, Retail Lumber
Frank Havilchek, Chicago Lumbering Co. Machine Shop
A.D. McNair and J.A. Hamill, Chicago Lumbering Co. Blacksmith Shop
Fred Dezeng, Chicago Lumbering Co. Harness Shop
A. Orr, Chicago Lumbering Co. Barn
M.W. Cutler, Weston Lumber Co. Barn
E.C. Brown, Shipping and Yards
C.J. Thoenen, Chicago Lumbering Co. Hardware
W.F. Kefauver, Chicago Lumbering Co. Furniture and Undertaking
H.W. Clarke, Cashier of Manistique Bank
Ed Cookson, Woods Walking Boss
Camp Foremen and Jobbers
George L. Hovey
"Red Jack" Smith
George Johnston Scott
Furgeson Bros. of Munising
Consolidated Lumber Co. (Circa 1916) - Photo Contributed by Paul Petosky
The assets of the both the Chicago Lumbering Company and the Weston Lumber Company were purchased in 1912 by William S. Crowe and Louis Yalomstein, and they renamed the enterprise "The Consolidated Lumber Company."
Source: Milwaukee Weekly Wisconsin, Sat., June 11, 1898, page 8
ABIJAH WESTON IS DEAD
Man Who was Heavily Interested
In Northern Michigan
Detroit, Mich., June 6 -- Abijah Weston, one of the largest dealers and owners of Michigan lumber in the United States is dead at Tonawanda, N.Y. Mr. Weston was a partner of A.J. Fox of this city, with whom he has been associated for many years. His home was at Painted Post, N.Y., and at the time of his death he was on his way home from a business trip to Manistique, Mich. He was 75 years old and embarked in the lumber business in 1872. At the time of his death he was president of the Chicago Lumber company, the West[on] Lumber company of Manistique and the A. Weston Lumber company of Weston's Mills, N.Y., the Manistique & Northwestern Railway company of Manistique, and the Weston Furnace Company of Manistique. He was also largely interested in lumber operations in New York, Pennsylvania and Canada, and had amassed a considerable fortune. A.J. Fox was secretary and treasureer of the companies of which Mr. Weston was president, and together they organized the company which afterwards became the firm of Alger, Smith & Co., in Manistique.
Elmira, N.Y., June 6 -- A. Weston & Co., bankers at Painted Post, N.Y., and the Weston Engine company has made a general assignment. Assets large and liabilities larger, but amount not known. Enterprises at North Tonawanda, N.Y., Manistique, Mich., Ottowa, Ont., and Governeaur, controlled by A. Weston may be involved, tying up from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 worth of property