Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Historic Elberta’ Category

Elberta Land Holding Company Seeks Marina Permit

In Community Alert, Council Meetings, E Beach, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, Life Saving Station, Open Season, Village Money Situation, Water on January 9, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Sign Sale Today: So Far Successful

In Community Alert, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, Transportation, Village Money Situation on December 3, 2016 at 11:11 am

UPDATE:  Here’s an updated list of the remaining sign inventory. Call or visit the Village Office during regular office hours or schedule an appointment.

It’s 11 am and there’s been good turnout for the antique street sign sale at the Village Office. Each corner array costs $50, with some single signs available for $20, including the misspelled “Geo McMannis”. The tally of monies raised is at about $730, with more than half the signs still available. Here we see Andy Bolander, local historian, with one of the biggest prizes: The Furnace Furnace Furnace Bye sign, surely unique in the world. From left, volunteers Linda Manville (who spearheaded the project), Sue Oseland (next to Andy), and Rosemary Tanner. Not pictured are other volunteers Cathy Anderson (showing a customer signs in the garage) and Mary Kalbach (outside frame). The sale continues today until 3 pm. Come on down!—Emily Votruba


Historical Photos Related to the Elberta Mercantile Co.

In Historic Elberta, On and off the Apron on August 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm
Maggie and Margaret McManus, 1954

Maggie and Margaret McManus, 1954

In their June 23, 2016 edition, the Betsie Current published my story about the new Elberta Mercantile Co. and the history of its location, the Gilmore Township Library building at 704 Frankfort Avenue. If you missed the paper copy, you can read the story, “Everything Old Is New Again,” online here. While doing research for this story, Andrew Bolander, Jeanne Edwards, and I (but mostly Andy and Jeanne) dug up a lot of really great historical photographs. We thought we’d share them here in a slideshow. —Emily Votruba

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In Memoriam: Lawrence W. Crane

In Culture Bluffs, Historic Elberta, On and off the Apron, Sunset on September 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm

The man was one of the most important figures in the history of Elberta, and Andrew Bolander was unable to find an obit for him aside from a half paragraph in the Free Press and a mention of his passing in the Benzie Banner. So, on the anniversary of his death, Bolander thought it would be nice to give Lawrence W. Crane an obituary fitting his influence on the area. 

Lawrence W. Crane died on the 18th of September, 1899. Mr. Crane was a strong and occasionally abrasive presence in the early development of Benzie County. He was an impressive lumberman who came from modest beginnings—a poor youth in Chicago. The stories of his fights and supposed acts of arson strengthen the lore of the lumbermen of Northern Michigan. Mr. Crane could look at the exterior of a log and discern its interior arrangement.

He was born in County Wexford, Ireland, in 1841. He immigrated to the United States when he was 12 years old and settled in Chicago. Mr. Crane then crossed paths with Harrison Averill, of Herring Creek, and went to work in Mr. Averill’s mill in 1855. He then moved to Muskegon and Manistee where he honed his skills as a sawyer. Mr. Crane then moved to Frankfort under the employ of George S. Frost and the Frankfort Land Co. in 1868. Mr. Crane cleared the Betsie River of logs and obstructions and straightened sections of the river to make drives more manageable. He also was the head sawyer at the Land Company’s mill.

In 1870 Mr. Crane entered the lumber business on his own account and in partnership with Ramiro Evans built his first mill on the south side of Lake Betsie in 1873. Mr. Crane bought out Mr. Evans’s interests in 1881 and built a shingle mill and a planing mill in addition to his original sawmill. Lawrence W. Crane married Miss Annette Rawlinson on November 21, 1886. Mr. Crane was survived by his widow and eight children. It is said that Lawrence W. Crane’s knowledge of the woods of Benzie County was second only to that of Joseph Oliver. Mr. Crane was 62 years of age.

Crane's Island Mill, 1900. Allen Blacklock Collection

Crane’s Island Mill, 1900. Allen Blacklock Collection

Crane Lumber Crew 1895

Crane Lumber Crew 1895


Who Were Elberta’s First Settlers?

In Gov't Watch, Historic Elberta, You Mist It the First Time on July 3, 2015 at 11:10 pm

By Andy Bolander

A proposal has recently been presented to the Village Council to honor John and Caroline Greenwood’s contributions to the development of Elberta. The proposal includes the installation of a sign under each of the village limits signs stating: “First Settlers John and Caroline Greenwood 1855.” A second part of the proposal changes the name of Furnace Avenue to Greenwood Parkway.

John and Caroline Greenwood contributed greatly to the development of Gilmore Township. John was a blacksmith and operated shops in both Frankfort and Elberta. He also carried the mail from Manistee to Frankfort when the trail was less than developed. John and Caroline built a house at what is now the southwest corner of Furnace Ave and Sherman St., which was commonly referred to as the Cedar Log House.

An informal school was held at the Cedar Log House from 1855 to 1860. John and Caroline moved south of Elberta to Greenwood Lane, which is the stretch of road extending from Grace Road/M22 to Lake Michigan. The Cedar Log House became the Cedar Log School in 1860 and Mr. B.W. Perry taught the classes.

The Greenwood family relocated to their farm by Lake Michigan which included a big red barn that was visible by sailors on the lake, and it frequently was used as a navigational aid. Shipwrecked crew members received aid and refuge in the Greenwood home.

John and Caroline Greenwood contributed greatly to the development of the Elberta area, yet I am not in favor of adding the proposed signs along our roadways. Why?

1- My first argument is ideological. Renaming roads and placing signs honoring individuals doesn’t fit the image of the Village of Elberta. The town is known for the Iron Works, the railroad and the car ferries. These undertakings created and supported a blue collar and everyman image for the town that refreshingly contrasted the religious and business interests which developed the other regions of the county. Streets are named after important people within the village. Most are named after generals or governors that were popular in 1866 when the village was platted. The street names have remained the same since some street names were changed to honor a number of servicemen who died during World War II. Naming streets after individuals contrasts with the identity of the village. Furnace Avenue is an apt title for old M168. It draws attention to the fact that a large and regionally important iron furnace was located there. It pays attention to the impact the Iron Works had on the development of the county. It also pays tribute to the diverse group of immigrants who worked the long days to keep the furnace profitable and successful for more than a decade.

2- John and Caroline Greenwood were not the first settlers of the area. Joseph Oliver had lived around Lake Aux Bec Scies (now known as Lake Betsie) for ten to fifteen years prior to the arrival of the Greenwood family. There is already a memorial in Gilmore Township Cemetery honoring Joseph Oliver as the first settler of the area.

The Cedar Log Home was the first documented dwelling in Elberta, but I wouldn’t consider the Greenwood family as the first permanent settlers of Elberta. Residences were temporary and fitted the needs of families who lived off the land. The Greenwoods were less than permanent residents of Elberta. Although John Greenwood maintained a blacksmith shop in the village, the family resided in town for a total of five years.

3- The Greenwood’s Cedar Log House wasn’t the most important building at the corner of Furnace and Sherman. The American House Hotel was built in 1887 after the Greenwood edifice burned in 1885. The hotel also served as the township library and election hall, and the building was used for public meetings until the 1940s. The American House was torn down in 1972 after unsuccessful preservation efforts.

So my counter proposal is this: Leave Elberta’s signs as they were. The signs would not be factually accurate and they would detract from the character of the town.

I obtained the facts and dates for this piece from Blacklock’s History of Elberta and Sivert Glarum’s Our Land and Lakes. Both books, and many other books on the history of Elberta and Benzie County, are available to be checked out at Benzie Shores District Library.

Andy Bolander moved to the Village in June 2014 and volunteers at the Benzie Area Historical Museum and other area organizations.

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Friends of Elberta Meet Tonight at Mayfair

In Activism, Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, GOOD NEWS, Historic Elberta, Open Season on February 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm

A new NGO, formed in late January, meets for the fourth time tonight at the Mayfair Tavern at 7 pm. The mission is “to preserve, promote, celebrate, and enhance the quality of life in Elberta.” All are welcome.

Agenda items for this meeting include a recap of the Fire & Ice Skating party the group held on Sunday, February 9 at Penfold (Farmers’ Market) Park. About 50 people attended that event, including many children. Some ice skates were provided along with hot dogs and hot cocoa. Torches lit a pathway to the rink, which was cleared by volunteers. A large bonfire warmed participants.

Future projects to be discussed include creating a walking map/brochure for the Village, fundraising for park preservation, a tribal and immigrant historical marker and flower garden at Penfold Park, a summer block party, and enhancements to the Farmers’ Market.—Emily Votruba

A Soaring Letter regarding the Financial Crisis

In Alert Reader, Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, E Beach, Historic Elberta, Soaring on October 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

The Alert received this letter and photo from Mr. Embertson on October 12. Note that Elberta does not in fact own all of the beach area in question, and so far the Village Council has not proposed to voluntarily sell any beach access to satisfy the Treasury Department.

Dear Alert and Elberta Village Council:

I am a hang glider pilot of 38 years, former president of the Green Point Flyers Association, landowner at Green Point, and have been flying with my hang glider and paraglider friends and group/club members on the Elberta ridge since 1979.  As pilots we see the Elberta area from a very special perspective, and all of us have enjoyed recreation in a myriad of other ways in the Elberta area for as many years.  We are exceptionally grateful that the village of Elberta has allowed us wonderful and easy access to the resources of the village, the land on the ridge, the woods, the beaches, the piers, and the water – all owned by the village and the public for so many years.  Thank you so much for the extraordinary beauty and natural resources that are available to all of us!  We have landed our gliders at Elberta beach for 35 years and love the place!  Some of us remember the days of our partnership with the village of Elberta and City of Frankfort during the Annual Soaring Festivals of the late 70’s.

When we land there, or recreate there, we have so many great conversations with tourists, beach goers, and visitors from out of town and out of state.  We share our love of the area with people we meet, and I want to believe that we (and those conversations) are part of the reason that people return to visit Elberta and all that it offers.

More personally, my family – my wife and four children (ages 19, 19, 17, and 14) have been blessed to have the Elberta area and Lake Michigan environment to enjoy as a family.  We have been enjoying swimming, kayaking, kite boarding, rock hounding, playing, and lounging on the spectacular beach and dune areas that Elberta has managed.  We are so grateful to your village for allowing us to enjoy these things for so many years!  We have hundreds of family memories, family videos, family pictures that have captured the days, moments, sunsets, and family togetherness that has made our family closer and stronger. My children have grown up at those places in Elberta I mentioned above. Elberta and all that is beautiful about Elberta is a part of my children’s lives. For 19 years, they have returned to Elberta with us parents every spring, summer, fall, and even in winters. We were together at Elberta and Green Point this Labor Day 2013 weekend!


Now we hear that your village is facing challenges, and considering selling properties and land, possibly and dramatically changing access to the places we love to come?

PLEASE do not do that!  Problem solve this!  Creatively find alternatives! Plan for long term impact not short term gain. Please do not take away from so many thousands, the natural beauty and places we all love dearly.


Dave (and Linda) Embertson, Isaac, Elizabeth, Joshua, and Timothy

Lake City, MI 


The Embertson Family

The Embertson Family



A New Life for Perry’s Place

In Historic Elberta, On and off the Apron, Post Office, Uncategorized, Village Homes on September 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Art and Joan Moseler fulfill their dream of a return to Elberta.

Art and Joan Moseler, summer 2013. Photo courtesy of the Moselers.

Art and Joan Moseler, summer 2013. Photo courtesy of the Moselers.

By Rebecca Hubbard

“I was sitting in the front room after school one day and we had an early TV. I was watching Howdy Doody, and I looked out the window. The library [building, at that time] was Buckner’s Garage—and it was on fire!” And so Art Moseler bears witness to another moment in Elberta’s history. Born in his grandparents’ house on Steele Street in 1941, Art spent many of his childhood days exploring the bustling village. His parents’ restaurant, Joanne’s,* served as a home base, and his guardians were the townspeople and relatives scattered on every street. “At one time I knew every family in every house in the village.”

Art and his wife, Joan, are looking forward to rejoining the village with their purchase of the Richley house on Frankfort Avenue. After a full life involving numerous homes and jobs, they intend to return to Art’s hometown to make their last home. Over the years, as they came and went, the Moselers kept in touch with Perry Richley’s grandson Tom Warner, and frequently reminded him of their interest in the old green house located across from the Lighthouse Café. Warner was reluctant to part with the house, which had been in his family since they acquired it, in 1923. It took ten years before Warner was finally persuaded to sell it, when Moseler wrote a heartfelt letter and shared the many warm memories he associated with the building.

Moseler paints Cattonesque portraits with his words about the residence. As young boys, Art and his friends would pass through the property on their way to the dump to look for treasure. Perry Richley owned the home, along with horses and an actual jackass—“not a mule, because it’s a horse-sized thing.” He taught the boys how to handle and ride the animals. Sometimes he would even let little Art take the horses and his rig around town to plow, which was a big deal. The boys played in Richley’s barn, and when Art eventually had his own horse, he was able to board it in Perry’s barn when he summered at the family’s cottage. Perry’s somewhat reclusive daughter Bertha would occasionally bake cookies for the boys or bring them water when they were thirsty. Perry Richley himself was a busy man. He would pick up the mail from the train in the morning and deliver it to the post office, returning with local mail for the train to deliver out of town.

And in this way, many of Art Moseler’s early memories were formed, the very memories that would draw him back to Elberta. The Moselers knew they wanted their final home to be in Elberta, whether or not they were able to acquire “Perry’s Place,” as they will now call it. “The village is in my heart and soul.”

Art and Joan will take their time with this project. At this time, they envision renovating the house and possibly offering it as a rental unit, while they plan to build a new home for their own residence on the same lot. The Richley house needs extensive work, but the couple hopes to maintain its architectural integrity. An early quote at replacing the glass within the existing window frames came in at over $3,000. “[The renovation] will be piecemeal,” says Art.

Inside the house, one finds the original tongue-in-groove flooring, along with charming nooks and crannies. The staircase to the second floor is exceptionally narrow, as was the style of the time. Through the years, two additions enlarged the original small structure. Paneling was added in a few rooms and some of the wiring has been updated. While the structure is surprisingly sound, not everything is perfect. For years, water and dirt have drained from the roadside into the basement, creating quite a mess. When asked about roadside issues, Moseler said he isn’t worried. He plans to work with the village to resolve the matter and he doesn’t anticipate any problems, stating that he isn’t coming to town to stir things up.

The couple doesn’t mind all the cars parked up and down the road when business is booming in town. “I don’t even know where the exact property line is yet between our property and the village roadside,” he says with a contented shrug. He nods affectionately toward his wife: “She wanted to be on main street.” One idea the couple has is to add a drive to the side street when the new house is built. “We will need a driveway,” he continues, and then launches into a story about the renaming of side streets in honor of Elberta’s World War II veterans.

A few things haven’t changed. Art recounts that if he and his young friends were causing trouble, there always seemed to be an adult nearby with a stern reminder to be good. “And just as they say these days that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ so it was then,” he says with a gentle smile. Ψ

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* Art’s parents were the second owners of Joanne’s restaurant. The restaurant later became the Village Green; still later, the building was Bob Rommell’s bait shop and it’s now the Conundrum Café. Art says this building was moved three times and he believes it’s the oldest building in the Village. “It started out down by the Cabbage Shed as George Rupright’s store, then it was moved just across the street from where the Mayfair Tavern is today, and then to its present location.

What Do You Think of Our Plan?

In Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, E Beach, Farmers' Market, GOOD NEWS, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, Kid Stuff, Lakeside Shakespeare, Open Season, Transportation, Water on September 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

The final draft of the Village of Elberta Parks and Recreation Plan for 2009–14 is now up on the Village website. As soon as the official notice is published in the Record-Patriot this Wednesday, the official five-week public comment period begins. This is a very important document for the Village and the community at large. In it Parks and Rec spells out residents’ desires for improvements to all of Elberta’s many parks, including the Waterfront Park, Elberta Beach, Elberta Dunes South, and our portion of the Betsie Valley Trail. This document is the product of many hours of discussion in council meetings, Parks and Rec meetings, and the public input session we held on April 18. Please take time to read the document and offer your input and insight. We want to enhance the Elberta experience for everyone. The final public hearing on this plan will be held October 17 at 7 pm, before the regular council meeting at which it may be adopted. Download the pdf using the link below and/or get yourself a hard copy at the Village Office. Submit your comments by mail to the Parks and Recreation Commission, PO Box 8, Elberta, MI 49628 or by e-mail to—Emily Votruba, Parks and Rec member

Village of Elberta Recreation Plan 2014–2019 final draft for public hearing

Council Contemplates Selling Old Library…And Much, Much More

In Breaking, Community Alert, E Beach, Fishing, Gov't Watch, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Politics, Public Safety on August 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm

It was another nearly three hour meeting, with lots of decisions made and some deferred. President Reggie Manville was back, after a three-meeting absence. Employee benefits were discussed and a vote was taken on Linda Manville’s proposal that employees begin contributing 20% toward their health-care premiums. This motion was voted down three to two (Reggie Manville, Ken Holmes, and Joyce Gatrell voted no; Diane Jenks and Linda Manville voted yes). Absent from this meeting were Jennifer Wilkins and Matt Stapleton. The question of whether Reggie Manville, a member of the employee relations committee and the husband of one of the employees, Laura Manville, should have recused himself from the vote due to conflict of interest.

Corey Toms, the new DPW assistant, will start work on Monday. Apparently there was some communication glitch whereby no one formally told Toms he had been hired right away, so instead of starting in two weeks from the hire date, it will be three.

The safety/parking situation along M-22, especially near the Duck’s Head, was discussed. A preliminary plan was drawn up to create better visibility from side streets entering 22. Council discussed asking MDOT to reduce the speed limit to 25 through the Village and add crosswalks.

Council voted to get a commercial appraisal and survey of the Old Library Building and its lot in preparation for possibly selling it. This evening’s meeting was actually a public hearing on that subject, but no notice was posted in the post office, just in the Record-Patriot, and only the usual-suspect members of the public were present for discussion. Joyce Gatrell herself, a member of the municipal buildings committee, seemed confused at the beginning of the meeting, saying she didn’t know the hearing was tonight.

More listener notes to come …. —Emily Votruba