The Early Town of Arcadia

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Area construction escalates to support the booming lumber industry and the necessities of a growing town.

A sawmill is built by the Starke Bros. in what is called Starkeville. A second sawmill is built by H. Brown. The Huntington sawmill closes.

Construction begins on the 130 ft. bridge pier in Lake Michigan at the end of Lake Street. The pier would later be extended to 1000 ft.

US Census for Manistee County lists: "William Quimby, 46, Farmer; Ursula M., 46, Wife, Keeping House; Kittie [Helen], 10, Daughter, At Home; Hattie [Harriet], 5, Daughter"

Ursula Quimby's herbal medicine, Quimby's Liver Invigorator and Blood Purifier, is available to the public.


Arcadia village lots are platted. They are sold for $25 per lot.

The first lumber is shipped from the Arcadia pier. The schooner Arab makes regular trips back and forth across the lake.

Construction begins on the road east to Pleasanton and a narrow gauge railway, the beginning of the  Starke Land & Lumber Company railway

Pierport's Population: 175 -- R. L. Polk's Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1881  

May 17: William Quimby purchases "B. Wheat & feed" at C. W. Perry in Pierport for $7.00.

July 21: A testimonial for Quimby's Liver Invigorator and Blood Purifier appears in The Manistee Times.  


The Burnham Piering Company builds a pier two miles north of Starkieville on the shore of Lake Michigan. The village of Burnham is founded. The Manistee City Directory describes a sawmill at Burnham owned by the Shaw brothers.

Arcadia Township Assessment and Taxes for William Quimby: Value of Parcel: $960. Personal Estate: $80. Total Taxes: $31.74.

The tram in Pierport is replaced by the Bear Lake and Eastern Railway.

March 9. "The company is erecting a blacksmith shop in Arcadia, size 28 X 50, and Mr. Cady will run it." -- Manistee Times & Standard.

October 28. "The town hall is to be over the new wagon shop of Burnham Wood & Piering Company. ... The new school house will be completed at an early date." -- Manistee Times & Standard.   

October 28. "A very nice school has been built in the Tondu district." -- Manistee Times & Standard.

November 23. The Thomas Simms, a two-masted schooner, sinks in a storm near Pierport.


A post office is established in Arcadia Township, and the village is renamed Arcadia. The area and its businesses continue to grow and thrive.

"There is a school house built at a cost of $800, with modern improvements, capable to accommodate 60 scholars. The present attendance is 28." -- Manistee Daily News. Date unknown

The Manistee City and County Directory describes four school districts in Arcadia Township:

  • District #1: Gabel School. NW corner of St. Pierre Rd. and M22.
  • District #2: Swamp School. St. Pierre Rd. south of Chamberlain Rd. at the bottom of the hill.
  • District #3: Arcadia Village School. NE corner of Lake and 4th Streets.
  • District #4: Burnham Village School. Located in Burnham just north of Arcadia. 

The Schooner Arab wrecks twice. The second one is a permanent loss.

August 2. "C. W. Perry is building a 25 X 64 store with tall overhead." -- Manistee Weekly Times.

Pierport's Population: 250 -- 1883 Manistee City and County Directory

October 13. Burnham: "Our village school house is a fine new building, well finished, and will seat comfortably 120 scholars." -- Manistee Standard.  

November 13. The Arab, a two-masted schooner, sinks in a storm well off Arcadia about 25 miles.

November 15. The Flying Mist, a schooner, sinks at the Burnham pier.


March 15. Pierport: "C. W. Perry and Abe Armstrong are preparing to put up a Wind Mill Factory." -- Manistee Standard.


Arcadia: 200
Burnham: 250
Pierport: 225 
-- R. L. Polk's State of Michigan Gazetteer for 1885  

June 11. William and Ursula Quimby take out a $300 mortgage on their property.


A Methodist group organized in 1876 builds the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pierport.

November 19. The Marinette, a schooner-barge, sinks in a storm near Watervale.

November 19. The Menekaunee, a 3-masted schooner-barge, sinks in a storm near Watervale.


Henry Starke donates land, and work on the Lutheran Church begins.

Typhoid fever hits Pierport, and many people die within a week of contracting the fever.

June 22. William Quimby and his wife take out a second mortgage for $2000.

July 2. William Quimby and his wife pay off the first mortgage.

August 16. Helen "Kittie" Quimby marries Frederick Rasmussen in Bear Lake.

October 30. The Napolean, a schooner, sinks in a storm at Pierport.


The Lutheran Church is finished and dedicated. It is 40 ft. x 60 ft. with a 106 foot tower. The wood came from the Starke Sawmill. William Wollschleger carved the pulpit, altar, and stairwells. The pews were manufactured in Milwaukee from Arcadia birdseye maple. The highly accurate Century Tower Clock was made by Nels Johnson of Manistee. Other materials came from the Pritzlaff Hardware Co. of Milwaukee. Total cost: $4,080.33.

Timbers and planking are cut in the local mill and shipped to Milwaukee where the steamer Arcadia is constructed. The Arcadia is used primarily to haul lumber.  


October 17. "Al Stockman is building a new photograph gallery at Arcadia." -- Manistee Times Sentinal.

Leo Hale purchases land at what would become Watervale and builds a sawmill, a pier into Lake Michigan, and a narrow gauge railway used to haul lumber to the mill.


Construction begins on a channel between Bar Lake and Lake Michigan and a harbor, so ships can enter the lake and tie up at docks built along the shore line.

May 6. "F. M. Stockman is erecting a store building in Arcadia." -- Manistee Times Sentinal.

July 1. "The contract to build the large German school house in Arcadia has been awarded to Fred Gerndt. ... Henry Starke is building a planing mill at Arcadia, and will make the manufacture of hardwood flooring a specialty." -- Manistee Times Sentinal.

August 30. The City of Toledo, a propeller-driven wood ship, sinks north of Pierport.

October 10. Pastor J. Schinnerer begins teaching at the newly constructed Lutheran School, which was built just north of the church.

Watervale: Leo Hale's settlement is incorporated as Watervale, the name of Hale's company.


The channel and harbor are completed. Bar Lake becomes a safe harbor for shipping on the Great Lakes.

The pier in Lake Michigan is no longer used.

The conversion from narrow gauge to standard gauge begins for the Arcadia & Betsey River Railway. The goal is to connect the railroad to the Chicago and West Michigan Railway at Henry.

October 6. "M. Stockman is building an annex 30 X 20 ft. to his store." -- Manistee Advocate.  

October 14. The Minnehaha wrecks in an autumn gale. Pieces of this 200 ft., 4-masted schooner wash up on the shore near Arcadia.


At least 507 large vessels use the harbor. Many more smaller, uncounted vessels use the harbor too.

March 16. "A large ware-house has been built and completed, on the east shore of Bar Lake." -- Manistee Advocate.


By September, the A&BRR extends 17.5 miles to Henry, where it connects with the Chicago and West Michigan Railway. The Arcadia & Betsey River Railway (A&BRR) standard gauge railroad is in operation.

The combination of lumbering, farming, other local industry, and good transportation by both rail and ship makes Arcadia a major hub in northwest Michigan.  

Disillusioned with the "wild community of Arcadia," the Stockman family closes their mercantile business in Arcadia and moves to Benzonia. As Dora Stockman described it in her memoirs, The Story of Myself, "A saloon and two blind pigs, together with a German beer garden decided us to move to Benzonia, in 1895, which was then the home of a Congregational College."

The sawmill for the Burnham Wood & Pier Company closes.


By December, the A&BRR reaches Copemish, where it connects with the Ann Arbor Railroad. Passenger service is added.

The A&BRR might interchange with the Manistee & Northeastern Railroad in Copemish and the narrow gauge logging railroad, the Bear Lake & Eastern Railroad, at Springdale between Henry and Copemish.  


A telephone line is installed running 21 miles from Arcadia to Copemish.  


Henry Starke, founder of the village of Arcadia, dies.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show performs in Manistee.  


The A&BRR provides passenger service twice a day and carries 3,000 passengers and the mail.  


The Chicago & West Michigan Railway, which connects to the Arcadia & Betsey River Railway at Henry, merges into the Pere Marquette Railroad.

At least 514 large vessels use the Arcadia harbor.  


The pipe organ is added to the Lutheran Church. It was manufactured by the J.G. Pfeffer Co. of St. Louis and cost about $675.


October 30. A group of Methodist Christians purchase land at the northeast corner of 4th and Division Streets for $1.00 from the Starke Land and Lumber Co. A. H. Stockman razed his barn and hauled the lumber to the site in a wheelbarrow. By December the the Methodist Church is built. The total cost for materials was $1,376.

Act of 1902 orders an examination of the Arcadia harbor to estimate the cost of maintaining the piers and channel. District Officer of the Corp of Engineers states that, for proper maintenance of the harbor, both piers would have to be rebuilt and the north pier extended at a cost of about $90,000. (The harbor was built and maintained privately from 1892 through 1906 for about $75,000.) In their review of this report, the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors agrees with the District Officer that the expenditure of $90,000 plus $5,000 annually for maintenance is justified by the amount of local commerce. However, the Board decides to dredge the channel for five years at $3,000 per year and decide at the end of that time whether to do more.  


The Lutheran congregation builds a new house north of the school for their school's teacher. The pastor's house, which had been given by H. Starke, was extensively renovated.

Private interests continue to improve and maintain Arcadia's harbor, which is free for public use and open from the earliest to the latest dates of navigation each season. Throughout this 13-year period, the channel is dredged properly to a depth of 14 feet, and the piers are kept in good repair. Arcadia's harbor supports interstate commerce between this area and cities across Lake Michigan.


Federal support for the channel begins. The US Government begins a program of trying to keep the channel open by dredging only, not by making any repairs to the piers.

Populations Arcadia: 400 Pierport: 160 -- R. L. Polk's Michigan State Gazetteer for 1905

November 8. The Abbie, a 2-masted schooner, sinks in a storm at the entrance to Portage Lake in Onekama.

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