The Founding of the Port of Marquette – Spring 1976

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Ernest H. Rankin, SR.

Marquette, Michigan, roughly 160-odd miles west of Sault Ste. Marie, and located on the south shore of Lake Superior, came into the existence as a port for the shipment of iron blooms and iron ore late in the 1840s. The area at that time was generally known as Carp River, so named for the stream which flows from the rugged hills to the west into the Lake. The stream was navigable only for very small craft-canoes and row boats-and for only a few hundred yards in the slack waters near its outlet. It flows into a broad bay with sandy beaches intercepted at irregular intervals by rocky outcroppings, later to become known as Iron Bay. The only protection for the bay is provided in the northwest quadrant, a long ridge from the west which extends to, and disappears out into the depths of the Lake about two miles west of the mouth of the Carp. This extremely irregular outcropping in due course of time became known as Lighthouse Point; its light and mournful fog horns are still in active use.

It has been suggested that the name “Carp” for this rather small river was chosen by the early French explorers and Jesuit missionaries because of the speckled trout with their reddish markings which abounded in its waters, not unlike the “carpe” of the Europeans. As a matter of fact there are three streams with this name in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Of the other two, one is at the eastern end of the peninsula and the other towards its far western end. None of these three Carps are very long-thirty miles at best-nor are they of any particular importance other than for their natural drainage and, of course, for their trout.

Image of Carp River.

Not far upstream from the mouth of the “Marquette” Carp in the early days, were the remains of a very small log cabin-just a few notched, rotted logs, suggestive of a rectangular structure. According to folklore, as related to the pioneers by the Indians, Jacques Marquette, the French missionary/explorer, built this cabin at an unknown time in the distant past. While it is entirely possible, for he did travel the length of the Lake along its south shore several times in a birch bark canoe with his Indian guides and paddlers, there are no records to confirm this. It was not unusual to find such abodes hidden in a dense grove of alders on the banks of the rivers near the shore of the great Lake. Mr. Chocolate, a French fur trader, gave his name to a local river, its outlet being about two miles east of the Carp. It became known to the first settlers as the Chocolay River and is so-called to this day.

Another structure was located about a hundred feet inshore in a stand of alders at the mouth of the Little Garlic River, roughly fourteen miles northwest of the Carp. Its four-foot-high walls of small logs were still standing in the early 1900s; however, its roof and narrow, low door, both probably of hemlock bark, had long since disappeared. There was no window. The inside width might have been five feet at most, and its length, possibly seven feet. The peak of the low gabled roof could not have reached the height of six feet. The floor was the bare ground, one side slightly elevated to form the base for a narrow bed. The mattress would have been either marsh grass or the tips of coniferous trees, both in abundance in the neighborhood. The bedding was probably the hides of black bear or deer which were also in plentiful supply: a small, but a welcome refuge for a weary trapper.

The quarry of the trapper in the very early days would have been largely the beaver. There were extensive colonies of them-from the Chocolay up into the headwaters of the Carp, and up to, and far beyond the Little Garlic into the Huron Mountains. These amphibious rodents with their engineering skills, dammed the streams and created ponds and lakes. In these, they built of sticks and mud their impregnable dome-shaped houses. Not only did the trapper profit from the beaver pelts, but he enjoyed the succulent meat of their flat tails, broiled on a stick over the coals of the fire in his log hut. He also dined lavishly on the speckled trout for they, too, were also in great sufficiency in the tea- colored waters of the streams and small lakes.

Unfortunately, at some unknown time, during the early years of the 20th century, nature destroyed the remains of the miniature dwelling at the Little Garlic. A violent gale out of the northeast caused the Gitche Gumee of Hiawatha to become outraged. High seas crashed far inland and washed away the remnants of the cabin and filled the area deep in beach sand.

Of the first white men who came to explore the southern shore of Lake Superior none ventured very far inland- only a few miles at best. The first expedition of note was under the leadership of General Lewis Cass. He was appointed Governor of Michigan Territory on September 29, 1813. In 1820 an exploration party was organized. It included scientists, journalists, a number of soldiers, interpreters, Indians and coureurs de bois. They traveled in birchbark canoes from Detroit to Mackinac island, to Sault Ste. Marie and along the south shore of Lake Superior. Some members of the party, following the many waterways, got as far as the Mississippi River. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft accompanied this party as a geologist, however, no important mineral finds were made.

Schoolcraft, as Indian Agent, skirted the shore in the 1830s and vaccinated the Indians against small pox. Douglass Houghton, Michigan’s first state geologist, discovered copper at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula early in the l840s -the location to become known as Copper Harbor. On one of his expeditions he had gone ashore somewhere near the centrally located Carp. He had wandered inland, perhaps fifteen miles or so, and had found a gold nugget. It was large enough to make the frame for a pair of lady’s eye glasses, He made no known record of the location of this find. It was probably at the site which later became Ishpeming’s Ropes Gold Mine. Why he did not pursue his gold discovery is unknown. He had walked over lands under which untold millions of tons of iron ore lay, without knowing or realizing the great wealth immediately underfoot. His forte was precious metals-copper, silver and gold.

William Austin Burt made his linear survey of the Upper Peninsula in the 184Os, leaving his marks on the witness trees at the township corners. Two members of his party, S. T. Carr and E. J. Rockwell, found an outcropping of iron ore in the vicinity of a small lake and a minute specimen was secured. They shot some ducks and bestowed the name of the species, “Teal,” upon its waters. They were surveyors, not geologists per se. They had lines to run, and they made no attempt to expand on their discovery, but, as instructed, did record it.

The fact that there could be three rivers in the Upper Peninsula with the name “Carp,” the distance between the one on the east and the one on the far west being only about 250 miles as a crow flies, emphasizes the lack of knowledge caused by the remoteness and isolation of the region. It is suggested that three French explorers, probably at different times, went ashore at these places, found the fishing for their carpe to be excellent, and so designated the streams with this name, which the English cartographers later changed to “Carp.” And little did the Michiganians of the Lower Peninsula realize the great bargain they were getting when they were forced by the bloodless “Toledo War” of 1835, to surrender the ten-mile strip of farmlands and the Port of Toledo to Ohio, and in lieu of same, to be burdened with the then considered worthless Upper Peninsula.

This is the region rich in Carps and similar small streams which Philo Marshall Everett first visited in 1845, a vast wilderness largely unknown except by a few French and English missionaries and explorers, fur traders and trappers. It was still a land of Indians; family groups living in their oval-shaped, birchbark wigwams near the outlets of the streams which flowed into the cold waters of Lake Superior. These, for the most part, were only temporary summer homes. The Indians came north in the spring to make maple sugar, pick berries and smoke fish, largely sturgeon, as well as to smoke the flesh of the deer. In the fall they gathered up their few possessions and followed the streams and trails south across the peninsula to the warmer shores of Green Bay and Northern Lake Michigan for the winter.

Portrait of Dr. Douglas Houghton. Image from Wikipedia.

Basically, three men should be given the credit for opening and making possible the development of the little-known Upper Peninsula of Michigan. One of them was, of course, the famous Dr. Douglass Houghton (1809-1845), physician, geologist and politician, his efforts giving the impetus to the development of the copper mines on the Keweenaw Peninsula. He has been well documented in history during the past century and a-half.

The second man, and one of equal courage and conviction, is but little known. Philo Marshall Everett was the prime mover in opening the Marquette Iron Range, which resulted in the development of much of the north-central region of the Upper Peninsula. He had none of the higher qualifications of his contemporary, but was an ambitious down east Yankee with an inborn desire for advancement and with a willingness to take advantage of every opportunity, win or lose.

The story of John Burt (1814-1886) is as intriguing as that of Everett, for he too realized the potentials made by the discovery of iron ore in the Carp River area. His original interest in the Upper Peninsula took place in 1840 when he arrived at St. Ignace as a member of the survey party headed by his father, W. A. Burt. John became a certified United States deputy surveyor in 1841, and from then on conducted his own party. He was not with his father’s party when iron ore was discovered near Teal Lake in 1844. John Burt had many “firsts” in connection with the opening of the Marquette Iron Range, as well as the Upper Peninsula. Before the decade was out he was the first to follow in the footsteps of Everett in developing the Carp River area. However, many who have written about the founding of the Port of Marquette have overlooked this fact. (It is not, however, the purpose of this article to relate the full story of John Burt for it is far too extensive to be included here.)

Everett was born on October 21, 1807, at Winchester, Connecticut, one of the sons of a farmer. No pertinent information is available on his early years other than that he attended the public schools, learned the three R’s, as was a requirement of the day, and took part in the chores on the farm. When he reached eighteen he moved to Utica, N.Y.

Negative portrait of Philo Everett. Image from the Marquette County Historical Society.

The Erie Canal had been opened in 1825 providing an expanding impetus to the westward movement and he became a part of it.

He did fairly well in the business activities in which he became engaged, and in 1833 married Mehitabel Johnson. Not only did she remain his marital partner for life, but her brother, Charles Johnson, became Everett’s associate in various projects for many years. In 1840 Everett, with his family, moved to Jackson, Michigan, and a short time later his brother-in-law and his family joined him there. Here they engaged in merchandising and in the wheat commission business.

Partially through the discovery of iron ore by the W. A. Burt party in 1844, but more particularly because of the publicity given to the copper finds, Everett became deeply interested in the Upper Peninsula. He was intrigued by the reports about the great wealth of copper which had come to light-and why not have a mine of his own? Through business friends he had heard of and met Professor Charles T. Jackson of Boston, a geologist, who had been to the copper region and who was responsible for much of the publicity. This spurred Everett to further effort.

During the winter of 1844-45 Everett discussed copper with his friends, and with some difficulty, but finally with success, persuaded twelve of them to join with him and organize a company to mine copper. It was called the Jackson Mining Company, named for the professor rather than for their city. Everett was elected treasurer and agent to explore and to establish the location for their mine-or more hopefully, their mines. It was a speculation, and some risks would be involved. Each member of the organization paid in $50 for 200 shares in the new company and 500 shares were set aside as nonassessable company property. This provided $650 in working capital which was quite a large sum in those days.

As permits were required to obtain mining sites, Mr. Everett, with the assistance of his State senator, received twelve of them from the Secretary of War, Washington, D.C. These permits were granted for a period of three years, with several restrictions or reservations, and each permit entitled the company to claim a square mile of property for mining purposes on the southern shore of Lake Superior.

With the documents in hand, Everett, accompanied by three members of the company-two of them had been with Burt during the linear survey-left Jackson for Detroit on July 23, 1845. In Detroit they purchased the necessary supplies for the expedition and then they took passage on a steam vessel for Mackinac Island. Here they purchased, for $45, a small, lightweight, cedar boat. It was probably of the Mackinaw type, easy to handle, seaworthy, with a six-inch keel, and with space for a limited amount of cargo. It has been suggested that this craft was about twenty feet long. It was equipped with two masts and sails, and under favorable conditions was a good sailer.

At the Island they loaded their boat and supplies aboard the General Scott, and a day or so later unloaded them below the rapids at Sault Ste. Marie. Another decade would pass before the first locks and canal were to be built to bypass the rapids and overcome the twenty-foot difference in levels between the Lower Lakes and Lake Superior. At this time Sheldon McKnight was transporting freight across the mile-long portage in his French cart which was hauled by an old gray horse. It might be assumed that Everett and his companions took advantage of this. to get their supplies to the Lake Superior level.

There was reason enough for Everett and his crew to provide their own means of transportation. Shipping on Lake Superior was at a minimum, for at that time there was only one vessel on the Lake. This was the Algonquin, a schooner of 50 tons burden. Her sailings were without a fixed schedule, erratic and not to be depended upon.

In former years the several fur companies, as well as a few early explorers, had built and placed in service on Lake Superior a number of small ships of various tonnages, but most of them had suffered from the storms, to disappear one by one. Some of the traffic in furs was carried in bateaux by the traders, as well as in the birch bark canoes of the Indians. During the open season of 1845, the same summer Everett and his companions made their departure from the Sault, a half-dozen schooners, which varied in size from l5- to 80-tons burden, and built “below,” were hauled over the Sault portage and placed in service on Lake Superior. At the Sault Everett hired Louis Nolan, a French-Canadian half-breed, to act as pilot, cook and handyman, to guide the party to their destination, Copper Harbor, where the bulk of their supplies had been shipped on one of the new vessels.

It is doubtful if any of the early voyageurs, be they French, English or American, had an easy time when they coasted along the south shore of Lake Superior. Within minutes violent winds out of the northern quadrants can kick up high seas and the only refuge for small craft is to get ashore, unload the supplies and beach the boat. Everett and his crew were forced to do this many times. It wasn’t unusual for them to be soaked to the skin for days at a time and to sleep under wet blankets. When forced ashore, or when they stopped at night, they explored short distances inland, always with the hope that they might discover an El Dorado. It has been suggested that they stopped at Carp River and searched for iron ore, but were unsuccessful in finding any. Nolan had told Everett along the way that a very “heavy rock”-he knew nothing about iron ore-was to be found in the vicinity of Teal Lake.

They arrived in L’Anse, which is located at the foot of Keweenaw Bay, late in August 1845. This was largely an Indian settlement at the time. Here they met the Indian, Chief Marji Gesick. He and his family were as usual encamped for the summer at the outlet of a small stream which later became known as Whetstone Brook, a mile or so north of the Carp River. He happened to be at L’Anse on a mission known only to himself, but would be pleased to return, for a consideration, to Carp River and show Everett where much heavy rock was to be found. Copper was quickly forgotten.

Image of nine Native American Chiefs accompanied by Reverend J.H. Pitezel (far left). Chief Marji Gesick is seen standing in the center. Image from Library of Congress.

Upon arrival at the Carp two members of Everett’s party, Carr and Rockwell, accompanied Marji Gesick through the dense forest and ever-rising, rugged, rocky terrain to a point not far from the southern end of Teal Lake. The Indian would go no farther. The heavy rock which they were looking for was the source of evil spirits and the Indian was unwilling to take any chances. However, he pointed out the way and in a short time Carr came upon the high mound of specular iron ore which was to become known as the Jackson Mountain. Not far beyond was a similar mound. This was later acquired by the Marquette Iron Company and known as the Cleveland Mountain. (The fear of the Indians was due to the fact that they did not understand the reflections made by the sun on the many facets of this particular species of iron ore.)

Everett then made a personal inspection of the find, and a square mile of land, which included the mountain, was staked out, exercising the use of one of their permits. He left the second mountain that others might benefit from his discovery. As the United States Mineral Land Office was then located at Copper Harbor it was necessary for Everett to go there and register a claim on October 4, 1845. While on the Keweenaw Peninsula Everett made a casual search for copper in the vicinity of Houghton, but did not discover any visual signs of the metal.

By fall there were sufficient ships operating on Lake Superior that one could travel between the few ports of call without too much difficulty. Everett returned to the Carp, obtained a small quantity of ore from his “mountain”- possibly a hundred pounds or so, enough to make an iron bloom-and with his party returned to Jackson, arriving there on October 24, 1845. Nolan and a few Indians were left at the Carp to guard their property during the winter months.

Everett made no secret of his mineral discovery as others might have done. It was his desire that the Carp River country be opened for further development. There was not only great excitement in Jackson, but the news of his find spread rapidly to the eastern seaboard, and iron, just as copper had done only a short time previously, became the principal subject of the day.

The specular iron ore which Everett brought back with him was taken to a forge at Hodunk, a small village just north of Coldwater, some forty miles southwest of Jackson. Here it was passed through a series of intensive heatings and violent hammerings to remove the dross, first to appear as a bloom, and then shaped into small wrought iron bars of high purity. In this process the ore lost more than half its original weight. Everett returned to Jackson with his iron bars and here they were processed in a crucible and made into steel. From one of them a knife blade was made, its edge ground to a keenness that would cut hickory, one of the hardest native woods, without turning. Now that Everett’s mountain of iron ore, and of such high quality, had become a matter of national interest, the Jackson Mining Company had no difficulty in obtaining the necessary capital to open their mine and set up a forge.

North side of Jackson Mine taken in 1860. Image from North Jackson County Environmental Science and Engineering.

Everett remained in Southern Michigan during 1846, handling the affairs of the company and obtaining the necessary machinery for the forge, a water- wheel, mining equipment and supplies. Early in 1846, a party of a dozen men under the leadership of Colonel Abraham Berry and Frederick W. Kirkland was dispatched to Carp River to take care of matters there. Some confusion existed as to the exact location of the property, as well as Teal Lake, which had to be corrected, making it necessary to re-enter the claim.

An interesting account of the discovery of iron ore and the opening of the area was carried in the September 7, 1872 issue of the Marquette Mining Journal. It was apparently taken from a Jackson newspaper reporting on an interview with usually called “Thayer” Carr: S.T.,

The right of discovery [of iron ore] belongs to Thayer Carr . . . a resident of Jackson . . l . In January, 1846, Carr, in company with 11 others, returned to this locality [Marquette]

by way of Chicago and Milwaukee. They came from Chicago to Milwaukee in the stage, and from thence to the Jackson Mountain on foot, the trip occupying about three weeks. They remained in the country till the opening of navigation in the spring, having in the meantime packed out about 150 lbs. of ore. They went down to the Sault in the little schooner Fur Trader, taking their ore with them. This ore they took to a little furnace near Coldwater, where they had a few small bars of iron made, the ends being sharpened into knife blades, and tempered, to show the quality of the iron. In the meantime the Jackson Iron Company had been organized, and Carr came back with a party the same spring and cut a road through from the lake to the mountain. Arrangements had been previously made for the erection of a forge, which was commenced the same year.

While not mentioned by Carr in this interview, one of the assignments of the early 1846 party to the Carp, in addition to building a road, was to erect a log cabin at the proposed site of the forge. This was necessary to hold their claim.

Just as necessary to the mining of ore and forging it into blooms was the establishment of a beachhead-a warehouse for the protection of their supplies and a dwelling to provide living quarters for a watchman and others who might visit the shore. All three units were of prime necessity to the operation. These first buildings were located not too far inland on a site which is now within the limits of downtown Marquette. There was reason enough for these buildings. None of the ships operating at that time on Lake Superior were on any fixed schedules. They arrived at, and departed from the various ports as cargoes demanded. It was necessary to have a man stationed at the shore at all times to receive supplies and place them in storage until they could be transported to the forge and mine locations, a dozen miles or so back up in the woods. There was also the matter of handling mail. It had to be held ready at the shore to be dispatched to points “below” on the first vessel which might arrive-no one knew exactly when, for there was as yet no organized postal service. It was handled by the captains of the vessels. Some charged a small fee for this service while others did it as a matter of courtesy.

Such protection as the open beach landing enjoyed was provided by Ripley’s Rock, which was totally inadequate. In the event of a blow out of the northeast quadrant any ship moored at the Rock would have to put out to sea to ride out the storm or sail on to another port. Any communication with the outside world had to be provided by the few ships which would visit Carp River.

Ripley’s Rock was, at the time, an islet consisting of a rugged, irregular outcropping of granite, its greatest height possibly a dozen feet above water level. Its area was perhaps a quarter-acre in extent and its location some 1,200 feet offshore. (It is still there near the end of an ore dock, but greatly reduced in size.) The rock was named for Calvin Ripley, master of the Fur Trader. He has been credited as being among the first to moor a ship there. If the weather permitted, materials, supplies and passengers could be unloaded directly on the rock and then brought to shore in small boats. Cattle and horses were pushed overboard and encouraged to swim to shore.

Although members of the Everett party were the first white settlers in the Carp River area, they were not completely alone in this frontier wilderness. Located south of them, within a mile, was the small stream which became known as Whetstone Brook. On its banks was an Indian family encampment, that of Marji Gesick, mentioned earlier. Such groups might consist of anywhere from a few, to thirty or more persons, including “braves,” squaws and children. They were pleased to welcome the white settlers for it meant many improve- ments in their way of living-blankets, clothes, kettles, axes and other utensils. Everett would have given the Indians no “skittiwabbo” for he was a temperate man in all respects. If he had brought any firewater with him it would have been for medicinal purposes only. (One of the popular remedies of that era for almost any illness, and for a half-century or more after, was to put a teaspoon of black pepper in a large spoon, cover it with whiskey and take internally. It was a sure cure, or kill, for almost any disorder!)

The year 1846 was a busy one for the Jackson Iron Company. The company had been reorganized, its name being changed from “mining” to “iron” to better describe its purpose. William B. McNair, a master forge builder of Pennsylvania was hired, along with a work force of some forty or fifty men, to go to the Carp and erect the forge, construct a dam nearby on the River, build log houses and make such arrangements as would be necessary for the manufacture of bloom iron. Ship after ship brought materials and supplies to be unloaded at Ripley’s Rock, some to be hauled directly to the forge location and some to be held in storage at the warehouse. There were the heavy parts for the forge, the hammers and anvils; parts for a large waterwheel required to furnish the power to operate the machinery; the large bellows and mining tools.

On January 12, 1847, McNair was appointed the first postmaster of the Carp River area which later was to become known as Marquette. He was followed by Mr. Everett who was appointed on June 19, 1848, and then by Czar Jones on May 11, 1850. Jones had been associated with the company in Jackson for several years and was the prime mover in the reorganization. There was no post office building as such, the mail being held at the lakeshore dwelling until it could be dispatched on a downbound vessel.

The year 1847 was also a busy one. Colliers worked in the deep forests to make charcoal for the forge fires, burning the hard woods in circular, earthen pits. Others were engaged in mining ore and hauling it to the forge location, two miles distant.

Bloomers came to Carp River late in the fall ready to make iron upon the completion of the forge and its machinery. Among the bloomers was Ariel N. Barney, a native of Vermont. The forge was placed in operation on February 10, 1848, and it was his privilege to hammer out the first iron bloom to be manufactured in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The first iron made was sold to Capt. Eber B. Ward. It was used to make a walking-beam for his side- wheeler, the Ocean.

One of the early arrivals at Carp River was Silas C. Smith. He was on a lake cruise for his health and requested the captain of his ship to put him ashore at the Carp. In his recollections he states that during July 1848, “. . . the only building at the lake shore was a log cabin and occupied by a single inhabitant.” He makes no mention of the Indian encampment. He made three summer visits to Carp River, the third time bringing along with him not only his family, but a horse and cow as well. He was an explorer, and in his investigations discovered an outcropping of stone on the banks of the stream where the Indians lived. It was then known as Orianna Brook. Finding the stone suitable for sharpening purposes he set up a small factory and manufactured whetstones. He quickly became known as Whetstone Smith, and this stream, mentioned earlier, is still known as Whetstone Brook.

Another newspaper account of the opening of the Carp River area was published in the March 5, 1975 issue of the Marquette Mining Journal. This story, taken from an earlier paper, The Marquette Chronicle, was included in its issue of June 5, 1909:

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the landing in Marquette of Mrs. Matilda Hodgkins who shares with her sister, Mrs. Mary L. (Hontoon) Campbell the distinction of being the only white women who came to what is Marquette before 1850.

Joshua Hodgk ins, husband of Mrs. Hodgkins, left Jackson, Mich. in the early spring of 1849 with his wife and two children . . . took the boat at Detroit, changed at the Soo and came to this place in the propeller Napoleon, which was the second steamer in the waters about Upper Michigan, the Independence being the first.

They landed at Ripley’s Rock and the party, consisting of the Hodgkins and two miners came ashore in small rowboats. A yoke of oxen were brought ashore by shoving them overboard, in which case they followed their instinct and swam to land, where they were captured.

There was not even a mark of a white man at the present location of Marquette when we landed.

The present location of Marquette was a wilderness and forest; and Indian Town, consisting of four wigwams a little below here, was the only sign of habitation. There dwelt Marji Gezick [sic], chief of the Chippewa tribe, and about a half a dozen other red men.

The party after landing repaired in a jolt-wagon to the Jackson Forge at Carp River, where the men were to be employed. An old cook stove with an elevated oven occupied most of the space in the wagon, and going over the rough trails it jolted about and added to the discomforts of the immigrants.

About 40 workmen were employed at the Carp River furnace, and a log cabin was awaiting the Hodgkins family . . .

Apparently Mrs. Hodgkins wasn’t very observant when she landed on the beach at Carp River. It has been established that the party which arrived early in 1846 did erect a dwelling and warehouse. It is likely that they were set back somewhat into the forest so as to be protected from the cold winds blowing in off the Lake. Also it seems possible that her eyes were fixed on the Indians and their wigwams, entranced by a culture entirely foreign to her.

Prior to February 1, 1849, the Jackson Mine Company would have been a squatter, with their dwelling and warehouse at the lakeshore, for they did not acquire this property until this date. This lot was located toward the south end of Marquette’s present downtown section.

John Burt was the second to buy government lots. He first acquired 92 acres at the mouth of the Carp River- this was during June 1849. Mid-July, 1849, he acquired the 36-acre plat which included a portion of the northern section of the downtown area, and extended to the now residential section-then a forest of tall, slender Norway pines. In November 1849, he obtained title to 1,363 acres adjacent to his Carp River property, and later acquired considerable acreage both in Marquette and in the mining areas.

Amos R. Harlow, representing the Marquette Iron Company, was the last of the newcomers to purchase lands in the Marquette area. As the lakeshore lands in the region which was to become the center of Marquette had been acquired by Everett, Burt and he had to settle for two parcels of lakeshore property far to the north. On July 16, 1849 he purchased for his company, a narrow strip of land, roughly a quarter-mile-long, a short distance north of Lighthouse Point. His other purchase included a similar parcel a short distance north of the first, which extended to, and included the outlet of Dead River. He acquired this on November 1, 1849. Several decades were to pass before these northern properties attained any great value for residential and commercial purposes.

Harlow arrived at Carp River on July 6, 1849, and took possession of Everett’s lakeshore dwelling. He did this under the assumption that the newly organized Marquette Iron Company had taken over the assets of the Jackson Company through the purchase of its stock. Czar Jones, a large stock holder, had taken over the Jackson Company in Jackson and had changed his mind about selling. Several days were to pass at the Carp before the people there became aware of this.

Regarding the preemption by Harlow, Everett wrote in his recollections:

Graveraet and Harlow with their supples arrived at our landing in Marquette while I was at the forge and took possession of our dwelling… When I came down to the lake on business, I had to seek quarters with the Indians or sleep out of doors.

On July 8, 1849 Harlow wrote to “Friend Fisher”:

I examined the Jackson Road and find it is the worst road I ever saw. It is now all stumps and stones and short pitches as steep as a roof . . .

Few of the forges and early blast furnaces in the Upper Peninsula ever made any money for their owners. They were too far away from the markets and could not compete with Ohio, Pennsylvania, and eastern furnaces. The Jackson Forge was abandoned during 1854, after suffering heavy loss.

As indicated previously, the founding of the Port of Marquette was a “triumvirate,” the mine, the forge and the beachhead. One without the other would have been impossible. And, as Philo Marshall Everett was the prime mover in this project the credit should go to him and his followers for the founding of the Port of Marquette.

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About the Author: Mr. Ernest H. Rankin, Sr., former Executive Vice President of the Marquette County Historical Society and Editor of its quarterly publication Harlow’s Wooden Man, now resides in Novato, California, but still maintains a devoted interest in the Great Lakes region. He has been a contributor to INLAND SEAS and other journals, particularly in the Michigan area, for many years.

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