Schoolcraft County
Seney Michigan
The Wild and Woolly
Lumberjack Era
 
 
 
 
Source:  Schoolcraft County Pioneer, Wednesday April 8, 1885
 
We have not the full particulars of the way the election resulted at Seney but will give them Saturday.  The report so far is that Mr. Chisholm, for Supervisor made almost a clean thing of that race; out of a total vote of 150 his opponent got 30, thus giving Mr. C. the handsome little majority of 90.  Well, Seney has now one of the most popular men in the county as head of affairs and no one need have fears of any crookedness in township matters.
 
As a matter of local pride, Seney, of course, gave a majority in favor of making that the county seat, but the majority was small, as everybody realized that such a move as that would be the heighth of folly.
 

 
Source:  Tri Weekly Pioneer, February 14, 1887
 
Seney people have a hard row to hoe and at times the rough element seems to have full swing:  but it certainly is better and more orderly than it was a few years ago.  The apprehension and punishment of a few of the worst cases cannot help but have a good effect.
 

 
Source:  The Kalamazoo Gazette, April 14, 1887, Page 2
 
The libel suit brought against the Cheyboygan Democrat by John McCaig, for accusing the latter of running a house of ill-fame at Seney was tried Tuesday afternoon and the judge took the case from the jury.  "No cause of action" was the verdict rendered.
 

 
Source:  Lake Superior Review and Weekly Tribune, September 15, 1888, Page 4
 
Major Quinn arrived Thursday night from his trip down the lakes and narrated some queer experiences through which he passed.  In going from Seney to Grand Marais, Mich, he was compelled to ride twenty five miles or so over a corduroy road on a buckboard.   When he arrived there he found the only so-called hotel full and as there was only a handful of houses there he was compelled to ride back over the rough road at night, arriving at Seney at 2 a. m.  But this isn't the first experience of roughing it that the major has had and so it didn't trouble him much.
 

 
Source:  Jackson Citizen Patriot, June 22, 1891, Page 7
 
A shooting scrape took place at Seney Saturday.   A notorious character named Stephen Harcourt,  proprietor of a house of ill-fame, was shot and probably fatally injured by Dan Dunn, keeper of another den of infamy.
 

Source:  Chicago Tribune, July 27, 1891
 
Shot His Brother's Murderer.
 
Trout Lake, Mich., July 28,—[Special.]— Dan Dunn, who shot Steve Harcourt at Seney about a month ago, was shot dead here today by James Harcourt, a brother of the man shot by Dunn.  Dunn had his examination and was discharged at Manistique yesterday. He had sworn out a warrant for the arrest of James Harcourt for threatening to kill him.  The sheriff had Harcourt under arrest and was on his way to jail with him when they met Dunn.  Harcourt pulled his revolver and fired.  Dunn died almost immediately.
 

 
Source:  Inter Ocean, July 27, 1891 Page 1
 
MADE GOOD HIS THREAT.
A Michigan Man Puts  Five Bullets Into
the Murderer of His Brother
 
TROUT LAKE, Mich., July 20.—Dan Dunn, who shot Steve Harcourt at Seney about a month ago, was shot dead here today by James Harcourt; a brother of the man shot by Dunn.  Dunn had his examination and was discharged at Manistique yesterday.  He immediately swore out a warrant against the three Harcourt brothers for threatening to kill him, and Sheriff Heffron, of Schoolcraft County, arrested them in Seney today and was on his way with them for trial at Manistique and stopped off here to catch the train for that place.
 
The brothers went with the Sheriff into the saloon of John Nevins here, where Dunn was, and as Dunn was in conversation with Frank Peters, his back was toward James Harcourt, who immediately pulled a revolver and fired five shots into him, causing death in two minutes.   Sheriff Heffron secured the murderer and went on his way to the Soo with his prisoner.

 
Source:  Grayling Avalanche, July 30, 1891
 
James Harcourt, brother of the man killed by Dan Dunn, shot and killed Dan in a saloon at Trout Lake, Monday.  Dunn had been acquitted, at his examination last Saturday, hence his shooting by James Harcourt.   No one mourns his end, and it is a wonder he was not killed long since.
 

 
Source:  Michigan Report of Prooceeding of the Advisory Board in the Matter of Pardons for the Year Ending December 31, 1898. LANSING.  ROBERT SMITH PRINTING COMPANY.   STATE-PRINTERS AND BINDERS 1899
 
JAMES HARCOURT. No. 313 (File No. 89).
The advisory board in the matter of pardons have had under consideration the application of James Harcourt, convicted of the crime of manslaughter, in the circuit court for the county of Chippewa, and now confined in prison at Marquette, for the term of two [SIC: ten] years from September 26, 1891—his prison number being 313— and we hereby submit our report and recommendation as follows:  The facts in the case are that on or about June 24. 1891, Daniel Dunn shot and killed Stephen Harcourt. a brother of the applicant, in Dunn's saloon at Seney, Schoolcraft county.  Shortly thereafter Dunn was arrested on the charge of murder and taken before a justice of the peace at Manistique, and there discharged after only a partial examination.  As soon as Dunn was discharged, and before he left the justice's office, he paid Riggs, the prosecuting attorney of Schoolcraft county, quite a sum of money. It afterwards developed that the prosecuting attorney was more or less implicated in his discharge. Some time thereafter Riggs resigned his position and left the country.  Dunn, immediately on being discharged, caused John Harcourt and Richard Harcourt, brothers of applicant, together with applicant, to be arrested, claiming that they had made threats against him. They were arrested at Seney on Sunday, July 26th. 1891. The sheriff started with them for Manistique, by way of Trout Lake Junction, where it was necessary to change cars, and while there waiting for the train for Manistique, the sheriff took the three Harcourt brothers to a saloon situated near the depot. Upon arriving at the saloon they all stepped up to the bar, and while there, Dunn, who had been occupying a room over the saloon, came down in his shirt sleeves with a revolver in his front right hand pants pocket, and passed up to the bar.    He was told before reach ing the foot of the stairs that the Harcourt brothers were in the bar-room and was asked not to come into the bar-room while they were there. It appears from the testimony that Dunn had threatened to shoot applicant on sight, and that such information had been conveyed to applicant, who was fully acquainted with Dunn's life and character, and believed that he would carry out his threats if he got the least opportunity.  It satisfactorily appears from the evidence that applicant was standing at the farther end of the bar from the stairs, that he did not see Dunn when he came through the room, and not until applicant turned from the bar to go out of the door.  At the same time Dunn turned his head, saw applicant and immediately reached for his revolver, and was in the very act of turning around and trying to get his revolver from his pocket, when applicant drew his revolver and, as he maintained, immediately shot to save his own life.   Just before the shooting, the sheriff and John and Richard Harcourt had stepped out of the bar room, leaving applicant to make change at the bar. Dunn's revolver was partially out of his pocket when he fell, and another revolver was found in his right hand hip pocket.
 
A full stenographic report of all the evidence and proceedings had on the trial is on file in this case, and we have carefully examined the same.  We find from it that Dunn was a desperate villain, and had been charged with several murders prior to the killing of applicant's brother. It also appears that he had been guilty of a number of unprovoked brutal assaults, and that he was proprietor of, and had kept for a number of years, a low dive, which was the resort of the most degraded women and toughs.  He was a large powerful man, and had the reputation of always going armed, and of having no regard whatever for human life.   He was frequently called "Dunn the cutter" from his practice of always being armed with a dangerous knife which he had used in his quarrels with other men. From the evidence in the case we conclude that Dunn was one of the most desperate and brutal villains that had ever disgraced the state. He had served time both at the State Prison and Detroit House of Correction.
 
It further appears that applicant is a man of medium size, and before the killing of Dunn always bore a good reputation and was a law-abiding and industrious citizen.   Applicant's pardon has been recommended by a great number of reputable citizens of the locality in which he lived, and by prominent citizens all over the State, as will be seen by the numerous letters and petitions on file with the board, and to which we refer.  It is further made to appear that the conviction could not have been obtained had the jury thought that so severe a sentence would be given and it is further claimed with reason that Harcourt would have been acquitted altogether but for the fact that a man charged with murder in Chippewa county had a few months prior to applicant's trial been found not guilty, but had subsequently confessed, creating in the community a strong sentiment against any person charged with the crime.
 
After a most thorough examination of all the testimony given on the trial, and the evidence before the board, we are convinced that the shooting of Dunn by applicant was justifiable.  We therefore respectfully recommend, in consideration of the premises, that a pardon be granted.
 

 
Journal of the Senate, State of Michigan, 1897, Vol. I, Page 50
 
JAMES HARCOURT.
 
State House of Correction and Branch of the State Prison in the Upper Peninsula at Marquette.   Convicted in the circuit court for the county of Chippewa, of manslaughter, and sentenced for ten years from September 19, 1891.  Sentence commuted May 6, 1895, so as to expire May 8, 1895.  While the evidence at the trial failed to convince the jury that the shooting was strictly in self defense, it does show that Harcourt had reason to believe that Dunn would shoot him at the first opportunity.  After a thorough investigation of this case the conclusion has been reached that in view of all the circumstances Harcourt has been sufficiently punished for the offense. This position is sustained by the recommendation of the jury before whom he was tried, by two separate and distinct pardon boards and by a very large number of prominent citizens of the State, acquainted with the two men and with the circumstances of the shooting. Interested friends have raised a small amount of money to aid him to start anew in life, far from the scenes of his past life, where he will follow an entirely different occupation from that in which he was formerly engaged.
 

 
Source:  Kalamazoo Gazette, December 26, 1894, Page 1
 
MURDERED AT SENEY
As the Result of an Old Grudge and Too
Much Drink.
 
Seney,  Dec. 25.—Timothy Kane, camp foreman for the Manistique Lumbering Co., was murdered by Isaac Stetcher last night in front of the Board of Trade saloon.  Though there were several witnesses to the deed, no attempt was made to arrest Stetcher at the time, but when the awfulness of the crime became known the friends of Kane became so violent in their threats to lynch or mob Stetcher that the officers arrested him.  They are trying to protect him for trial.
 
The trouble arose from an old grudge in camp.  Kane and Stetcher came to town in the morning, had their vouchers cashed, and proceeded to have a good time.  Stetcher walked up to the bar in the Board of Trade saloon, called for a drink, and invited Kane to imbibe.   Kane refused at first, but finally consented.   After drinking Stetcher turned and said: "Kane, you don't know any more about running a camp than a boy."  Word after word followed, and Kane invited Stetcher outside, but bystanders interfered.  They finally went outside.  Kane struck twice at  Stetcher.  Stetcher dodged the blows, saying, "Don't strike me;  I'm not a match for you."  Kane, who had the name of a bully, heeded not his warning.  Stretcher drew a large jack knife from his pocket and stabbed Kane through the heart.  When Stetcher saw what he had done, he broke down and cried like a child, saying. "I didn't want to kill anyone.  What have I done, boys, what have I done."  Kane spoke not a word, but expired instantly.
 
Threats have been made to burn the jail and lynch Stetcher, but a huge force has been deputized and will protect the murderer.  Kane was a Canadian, Stetcher an American, born at Port Huron.
 

 
Source: Jackson Citizen Patriot, Thursday, January 30, 1895, Page 2
 
During the terrible snowstorm last week, a man who was walking from Seney to a lumber camp in the vicinity, was overcome by fatigue and the cold and while in this condition was found by another pedestrian.  The latter tried to help the first one back to town, but was unable to.  He then dug a hole in a snowbank, told the man to crawl in and covering him well with brush, put some snow over that.  He then went on his way, and when the storm cleared the next day returned with a party to find the man he had covered up.  The latter was sleeping soundly when found, and had not suffered in the least from the cold.
 

 
Source:  Boston Journal, May 5, 1895 Page 9
 
WHOLE ROLL WAYS IN FLAMES
Michigan Forests Falling Before Widespread Fires
 
Seney, Mich . May 28 —Forest fires are doing a vast amount of damage in Eastern Luce and Northern Schoolcraft counties.  The Perry Lumber Company's last winter's cut is a mass of flames.  It is valued at $400 per thousand feet.   Mick Baker's logging camps were burned, one man barely escaping death. The Manistique Lumbering Company has shut down and ordered its men to fight the fire.  Whole roll ways are in flames.  The fire is supposed to have been started by hunters who were trying to smoke mosquitos from their tents.
 

 
Source: Daily Inter Ocean, July 18, 1896, Page 7
 
HEAVY CROP IN MICHIGAN
Berry and Fruit Crop in the Vicinity
of Seney Ruined.
 
Seney., Mich., July 17-—Special Telegram-—This entire section of the state was visited last night by frost, which completely ruined the largest berry and fruit crop ever seen in this country.  Ice to the thickness of a half inch formed on several neighboring lakes.
 

Source:  Duluth News-Tribune, October 28, 1910
 
MANISTIQUE RY QUITS OCT. 31
Official Notice of Discontinuance of The Line Is Received In Duluth
PORTION OF THE ROAD WAS BUILT 25 YEARS AGO
 
Is Now 50 Miles Long and Tracks Probably will All Be Torn Up
 
A dispatch was received in Duluth from Seney, Mich., last night, stating that the Manistique railway, which crosses the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic at that point, would cease passenger and freight business on Oct. 31, and it is presumed that the tracks will be torn up, although this has not been authentically stated.  John Millen of this city, vice president and general manager of the Alger-Smith company, is president and general manager of the Manistique Railway company, and is out of the city.
 
The Manistlque railway is about 60 miles long, running from Grand Marais, Mich., on the south shore of Lake Superior, about 75 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie, south to Germfask township.  Seney is 32 miles south of Grand Marais, and is the transfer point for all freight and passengers from the South Shore to the Manistique road.
 
Started 25 Years Ago.
A portion of the road was built over 25 years ago, running north from Seney and was a strictly logging line, bringing the timber of the Alger-Smith company to that point where it was dumped into the river for driving early in the spring to the mills located at Manistique on the north shore of Lake Michigan.
 
In 1894 the line was extended north to Grand Marais, where the company built a large saw mill and the logs were transformed into lumber at that point   It was from that time on operated as a regular freight and passenger road,  and was extended south to the rich farming district of Germfask, where there also abounds a large amount of hardwood timber.
 
Inhabitants Leave
The pine timber in that vicinity has now all been cut and the mill has been discontinued.   A large number of the inhabitants have moved away and there is not enough business left to support the road and hence it is to be discontinued.  Prior to the extension of the railroad to Grand Marais, the headquarters of the Alger-Smith company and several other lumbering concerns were at Seney.  At that time Seney had the reputation of being the toughest town, big or little, in the whole country.  There were about 26 buildings in the village and more than half of them were saloons and lumberjack boarding houses.  Every spring and fall hundreds of woodsmen gathered there, either coming out of the woods or going in, and the result was that the little town was wild and woolly.  But with all of its reported toughness during all of the 12 or 15 years that Seney was in the height of its glory, but two murders were committed, and never a robbery of any importance.
 

 
Source:  Duluth News-Tribune, October 30, 1910, Page 7
 
Duluth Man Recalls Days When Little Town of Seney
Was of Wild and Woolly Sort
 
The action of the Manistique railway company of Michigan, in abandoning its line of 50 miles of road from Grand Marais, Mich., to Germfask, old time residents of that vicinity, now living in Duluth, are reminded of dramatic and amusing incidents that occurred in the early days of Seney, which will, after tomorrow cease to become a railway junction point, and continue merely as a way station on the line of the Duluth. South Shore & Atlantic railway, 75 miles east of Marquette.   A resident of Duluth, who was formerly engaged in the lumbering business at Seney, was in a reminiscent mood at the St. Louis hotel last night.    He said:
 
Had Bad Reputation
 
"Those were wild and woolly days when I first went to Seney, Mich., in the early 80's. I was a logging jobber then, and remained there for several years, and saw the little lumbering town in the height of its glory. While the place was flooded with lumberjacks every fall and spring, it was never so bad as it was painted. I think it was in the winter of 1886-7 that it attained its reputation in the outside world as being an especially tough town. During that winter a woman temperance lecturer from Detroit was touring the upper peninsula of Michigan.  She communicated with a man named J. B. Wheeler, who was the agent at that place for the Chicago Lumbering company and who had a large number of camps in that vicinity, expressing a desire to deliver a lecture at Seney. She came and was entertained royally by the lumbering people. The woods boys dressed up in their best and attended her lecture, maintaining their best deportment. She remained over a day or two and was taken in a large sleigh to visit some of the camps, and was apparently interested in what she saw.  The woman was a thoroughly honest old dame and I never believed that she really intended to work the harm that came from her visit. But before she got away some of the hoys who attended her lecture, besides others who drifted into town during her stay, got drunk and shook things up quite a bit. We who were used to their pranks thought nothing of it, but it evidently got on the nerves of the temperance lecturer. Then to help things along, a party of traveling salesmen got in conversation with the woman and filled her full of all the bad ideas of Seney that they could think of and they were mighty prolific along that line.
 
'They made her believe that one half the town was composed of saloons and that the others were disreputable houses. On her return to Detroit she was interviewed by several newspapers, and the stories that they printed were something awful to behold.
 
Hurt Alger's Chances
 
"One of the heaviest operators in that vicinity at that time was the Alger-Smlth company, under the name of the Manistique Lumber company. General R. A. Alger was just then being boomed by his friends for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, and the stories that this temperance lecturer told of the alleged doings at Seney and in the lumber camps belonging to the Alger-Smith people were reprinted in every large newspaper from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and besides that they were most highly colored, especially by the opponents of the general, who by the way, was especially popular with all the woodsman who knew him. It was related that General Alger sanctioned the sale of liquor in his camps, while in fact it was exactly the reverse, and any employe known to carry liquor to any of the company's camps was promptly discharged. This was not only from a moral standpoint, but as a matter of business as well.  Everybody who has had experience in the lumbering business knows this.
 
“Many amusing things happened around there in those days. The lumbering concerns carried but little cash at Seney, for the reason that there were no banking facilities, and they did not wish to incur the risk of robbery or fire. Hence they always paid in checks which were cashed at the banks of St. Ignace, with the exception of cash enough to pay their fare to that  place, which 1 think was $3.05. One day there was a party of 12 lumberjacks paid off, each receiving his check and the amount of his railroad fare in cash. Then the fellows conceived the idea of spending the cash balance for Seney 'booze' and beating the conductor out of their fares, expecting that he would he awed by a force of 12 fighting lumberjacks. They reckoned without their host, however.  The conductor that day was James Connell. who had a run on the South Shore for many years, who only left the service a few years ago, and is well known to many Duluth people. As soon as the train pulled out of Seney, Connell started to collect his fares, and promptly ran up against the dozen woodsmen.  Although somewhat slightly built, Connell was a wiry fellow in those days. Throwing off his coat he waded into the bunch, and licked each one as he came to him.  In about 10 minutes he had every one of them so badly cowed that they gave him their checks and when he reached St. Ignace, went with them to the bank, cashed the checks, deducted the amount of his fare, and handed over the balance to the crestfallen lumberjacks.
 
Robs Train; Wins Bet.
 
"There was a 'train robbery' perpetrated in the early  80s, and its result was both amusing and serious in its ending, especially for the instigator and the fellow who carried it out. An old-time lumberjack named P. K. Small, who made his headquarters around Seney, working just enough to keep himself supplied with whisky, one day displayed a couple of old Colt's revolvers and offered to bet $2 that he could take the ‘guns’ and hold up the South Shore passenger train which was then about due at the station. One of the revolvers was without a cylinder and the other was minus a hammer, or trigger.  His wager was accepted, and Small proceeded to carry out his ‘job’of hold-up and general bad man. He entered one of the passenger cars as it slowed up at a water tank just outside of the village and, drawing the guns, ordered the passengers to hold up their hands and stand on the seats. His orders were obeyed implicitly, and Small walked through the car and jumped off the rear platform. He collected the bet, but was later arrested, charged with holding up a train carrying the United States mail, and was sentenced to the Michigan penitentiary for a term of two years.
 
"After his release Small returned to Seney, and was a familiar figure there and at Grand Marais for a number of years."
 
With the passing of the Manistique railway, one of the richest pine forests of the upper peninsula of Michigan has been stripped of its wealth, and while a large amount of the territory once covered with the finest of white pine will become an excellent farming country, a large percentage will become a worthless tract of untillable wilderness.