THE ORGANIZATION OF LONG RAPIDS TOWNSHIP
In 1873, the Township of Alpena was subdivided into the townships of Alpena, Long Rapids, and Wilson. At that time, Long Rapids Townships included part of the present Montmorency County and all of Maple Ridge and Wellington Townships. March 15, 1873, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Alpena met for the purpose of forming Long Rapids Township. Three electors were chosen: W. H. Marston, J.O. Carr, and John Lauden. They were the ones whose duty it was to preside at such meetings, appoint a clerk, open and keep the polls and exercise the same powers as the inspectors of elections at any township meeting. On April 7, 1873, the first annual meeting for Long Rapids Township was held at the Jones School.
The village of Long Rapids, platted in 1888, is located in Long Rapids Township of Alpena County, Michigan. In 1888, Hugh Mellon sold the land to the County of Alpena for the purpose of establishing the village. It was named Long Rapids after the township in which it lies. Population in 1885 was 160. Population in 2000 was 1,019.
Early settlers who settled near the present village of Long Rapids, were Andrew Goffrey, William Lewis, Henry Hodgins, William E. Jones, Albert Merrill, John Louden, W.H. Marston, and Charles Keating. Others who settled on farms in the vicinity during the 1870’s were John Ferguson, John Dunford, John Farnell, W.H. Fox, W.W. Hicks, David McNeil, George Thwaites, Dan Currie, Richard Atkinson, John Bitler, D.R. Martindale, Pat Kelly, William Lumsden, Peter Wilson, Dan Brown, Cyrus Martin, H. Soper, George Lumsden, William LeRoy, John Martin, Francis Horton, Albert Scott, John Sanborn, John Richard and Patrick Burns.
During the 1880’s Richard Hamilton, James Reynolds, Archie MacArthur, Alexander MacArthur, Hugh Fitzpatrick, Eular Thorne, Sam Smith, Arthur Smart Sr., John MacConnell, John McClure, and Thomas Boynton were among the newcomers in Long Rapids.
SUPERVISORS- The first Township Supervisor was John Louden. Others Supervisors in the township included John Ferguson, John Butler, D. R. Martindale, E. H. Fox, Frank Monroe, Everett Horton, Walter Morrison Sr., Walter Morrison, Jr., Allen MacArthur, Milo Thorne, Melvin Wong, William Kraft, and Mary Ann Wikaryasz. Howard Lumsden is the current supervisor.
TOWNSHIP HALL– The Maccabee Hall was the center of recreational activities for the community. After the Maccabee’s were discontinued, Long Rapids Township purchased their hall. At a town meeting in 1935, it was decided due to the condition of the hall, that the old hall would be torn down and a new hall built on a site that is located on M-65 North near the Thunder Bay River.
THE VILLAGE OF LACHINE
In 1854, the State of Michigan sold the land which is now the village of Lachine to Charles Richardson, a lumberman. Many settlers came to the area before the village of Lachine was founded. Some early settlers came from Pennsylvania, namely the Sniders, Kinsingers, and Millers. They engaged in farming and lumbering. The Walter Morrison’s settled in the area around 1887-88. The name Lachine is of French origin. Lumber camps were very plentiful in the Lachine area and sometimes entire families spent the winters at the lumber camps working clearing land which were then turned in to farms. From April 1916 to January 1917, farm goods were shipped from Lachine valued at $100,000. $24,000 was from the sale of butter. Maple syrup was made by the Sanborns at Andrew Sanborn’s farm north of Lachine.
POST OFFICE – The Lachine post office was established in 1910. The first postmistress was Jennie Moore. Others serving as postmaster or postmistress were Herman Goodman, Bessie Burns, Frank Nugent, Glen Nugent, Mrs. Charles Burns, and Mrs. Roscoe Adams, Lucille Manning, June Newton, Denise Clemens, Vivian Koss, and Jeanna Gersewski.
BUSINESSES – One of the first businesses in Lachine was the Hotel Lachine. It was located near the D& M tracks and it was built around 1909. In 1911, the Stoddard Hotel was built by Floyd & Sarah Stoddard. Their also was a McClure store which was later sold to Wilson-Asselin Clothing Company. The Lachine Mercantile Store was built about 1909 and sold to Herman Goodman in 1911. In 1917, the store burned. A store was built in its place which was named Nugent’s Store, then Gleason’s Store, then Sheldon’s Grocery, and finally Lachine Grocery and Deli. Lachine Elevator was built in 1916 and located near the D & M Railroad tracks. Lachine Bank of McColl Learmont and Company was built between 1911 and 1913.
THE SETTLEMENT OF LEER
Leer is located in the northern part of Long Rapids Township and is called a Norwegian Community. In the late 1860’s and early 1870’s, many Norwegians left Norway for a better way of life, some landed in Alpena at the Lake Huron port. They settled in Alpena’s northside near Lake and Clark Streets. Three men, Bernhard Enger, Otter Olson and Andreas Christopherson went to investigate and the land in the Sunken Lake Area. They purchased land from George Fletcher, the Richardson Lumber Company and other companies. Several other Norwegian families followed suit, the Jacob Andersons, Martin Alfsens, Olef Olsons, Bjorn Halversons, Brent Larsens, Ole Nelson, Ole Markusen, and Sven Rude families.
POST OFFICE – Leer Post Office was organized in 1901. It was named Leer, after Lier, Norway. Carl Alfsen had the Post Office in his store as he was postmaster.
BUSINESSES – Among the many businesses in Leer were Michael Elowsky’s Flour and Sawmill, Neil Bensen’s Blacksmith Shop, Byron Newton’s Lime Kiln, Anderson’s Livery, Jacobson’s livery and Olaf Alfsen’s Store. The first store in Leer was Carl Alfsen’s Store.
SCHOOLS – In 1881, Mr. & Mrs. Otter Oleson deeded land on Leer Road to the Public Schools of Long Rapids Township for the building of the Norwegian School. In 1908, the first Leer School was built on land once owned by Karl Anderson. In 1927, Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Bensen deeded property to Long Rapids Township to build a new school in Leer. The Leer School was south of the Leer Lutheran Church on Leer Road. In 1928, the Leer School replaced the Norwegian School and the first Leer School. In 1960, Long Rapids Township schools consolidated.
Churches in Long Rapids Township include:
1) The Leer Lutheran Church is located on the corner of Leer Road and Carr Road. It was started in 1882 and the original name was the Norwegian Lutheran Church. In 1883, Karl Buruel donated land for the cemetery and church. Each man who helped clear the land, was given a cemetery lot. Mr. and Mrs. Howard Barsen donated land for future cemetery expansion.
2) The Grace Episcopal Church was also started in 1882. It are located on Long Rapids Road approximately ½ mile west from the intersection of Long Rapids Road and M-65 North.
3) The First Congregational Church of Long Rapids originated in 1909 and is located on Long Rapids Road ¼ mile east from the intersection of Long Rapids Road and M-65 North.
4) The Community of Christ Church is located on M-65 North just past the village of Lachine. It was originally established in the Village of Lachine in 1911.
5) The Methodist Episcopal Church existed in Long Rapids Township was erected in 1882 and discontinued use around 1924-25 because it needed a lot of repairs. The church merged with the First Congregational Church of Long Rapids in 1925.
SCHOOLS - Schools in Long Rapids Township include the Jones School, which was the first school in Long Rapids in 1872. Other schools included Thwaites (Collins) School in 1886 (originally in Long Rapids Township and then located in Wellington Township after it was formed), Merrill (Beatty) School in 1887, White School near the corner of Graham and Fitzpatrick Roads, Brown School around 1896, Truax School, Lunney School, Greenwood School (1889), Long Rapids School in 1914, Soper School in 1881, Bean Creek School, Reynolds School, Towes School, Sabourin School, Lachine School, and the Erskine Dam School.
FAIRS- The first Long Rapids fair was held October 10-11, 1912. It was a grand success. W.A. Comstock was present and said he did not see as fine a fair at the state fair. The largest number of people ever gathered in Long Rapids was present to see the fair. In the horse race, Greeley Boy, owned by Douglas Morrison won the race in three straight heats. “Chester Burt” owned by Homer Goodrich, was second and “AP” owned by Lon Loomis was third. The race was exciting and was run on the main road. There also was a team-pulling contest. A dance closed the evenings’ entertainment. The officers of the fair association were: President – Frank Monroe, Vice-President – J. W. Purdy, Secretary – W. A. LeRoy, Treasurer – E.J. Horton.
CEMETERIES – Land was purchased by the Township for Long Rapids Cemetery in 1879. The Leer Lutheran Cemetery is located on Leer Road in front of the Leer Lutheran Church.
HOTELS/STOPPING HOUSES – Businesses included a Stopping House named The Long Rapids House. Charles Keating owned and operated a hotel called Keating’s Hotel which was located east of Long Rapids Village in 1889. During the early 1900’s Lon Loomis also operated the Loomis Hotel east of the intersection of M-65 North and Long Rapids Road. Others with hotels or stopping houses near Long Rapids included Willis Bartley and Henry Hodgins.
GENERAL STORES – A general store was located east of M-65 North and Long Rapids intersection originally owned by John Ferguson and Joseph Cavanaugh, later owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Marston and known as Marston’s Store, later known as McClure’s Store.
A general store was also located on northwest corner of M-65 North /Long Rapids Road. It was originally owned by John Ferguson in 1887 and later sold to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Niergarth and was known as Niergarth’s Store. Two other stores operating in the Long Rapids vicinity were Mrs. M. Leroy, a small dry goods store, and G.W. Brown, a small general store. The Long Rapids Market that was built in 1962 remains open for business.
GARAGES – The Long Rapids Garage was built in the 1970’s by Dale Manning and is owned by Donald Berry. Another garage was located near the corner of Long Rapids Road and Second Street which was owned and operated by various residents.
CHEESE FACTORY – In the early 1900’s a cheese factory was in existence near John Keating’s farm.
POST OFFICE– John Lauden served as the first postmaster in Long Rapids in 1873. By 1883, the mail came three times a week by stage. The Post Office was usually located in a general store in the village. In 1933, the post office in Long Rapids was discontinued and the Lachine Post Office began serving the area as it continues to do today.
ORGANIZATIONS : The Long Rapids Grange was organized in 1903. John Butler, Mr. & Mrs. W. A. Hall and John Dunford were among those active in the grange. Annual picnics were held. The Grange works with the Department of Agriculture to promote farm education.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized in 1895. Its members founded a system of benefits and helped each other in time of need. Homes were established and maintained to care for the aged and orphans. After the organization, the following officers were elected: N. G. Peter A. Wilson, V. G. Thomas Boynton, Secretary William A. LaRoy, Treasurer John Dunford, Rep A. Harshaw, Trustees – David McNeil, John Dunford, and Peter Wilson.
In 1899, the Rebekah Branch of the I.O.O.F. was organized in Long Rapids. It was organized for visiting the sick, relieving the distressed, burying the dead, and educating the orphans. The lodge was discontinued after being active for several years. At an I.O.O.F. meeting in 1935, a discussion was held about reinstating the Rebekah Branch. In 1937, it was reinstated. It was known as the Long Rapids Rebekah Lodge No. 418.
The Maccabee’s organized in Long Rapids in 1893.
The International Order of Good Templars was organized a lodge in Long Rapids in 1876. It is no longer active.
Centennial Farms include: Matthew T. Barsen – October 20, 1879, Guy D. Christensen – March 17, 1881, Wilma Munro – 1881, Elsie E. Lumsden – 1884, Walter MacArthur – 1888, and Allen MacArthur – 1904.
Much gratitude is expressed to Ruth Cochrane, her writings of which provided invaluable information. Written by Joan Sumerix with assistance of Tammy Sumerix-Bates.