Make your own free website on
The History of EMMET COUNTY, 1884

Page 141-143




This village is located in Township 38 north, of Range 5 west, and in the town of the same name. The location of the village is very fine, being upon a high table land sixty or seventy feet above the water level. The view from the village facing the lake is quite imposing, the eye taking in a very large expanse of water and also a number of islands, the largest one, Beaver Island, about twenty miles distance, and famous in the early history of the state as the home of a troublesome colony of Mormons. The country surrounding it is unexcelled for agricultural purposes. No finer potatoes can be produced on the continent than grow in the sandy soil of this region. Fruit of all kinds is also abundant. The village is the most central point of a large area of country which contributes to its commercial prosperity, and should it secure railroad communication, as it sometime must, is destined to become a place of considerable importance.

The village is vested with a romance of location and history. It was at this point that the early missionaries established a mission, though the exact date is not known. About the first object to attract the attention of the visitor is a huge wooden cross about thirty feet in height, standing near an old weather-beaten church. This cross has been standing since the first mission was established; when one succumbs to the elements another is constructed to take its place. From this cross the town was first named La Croix, and in 1875 changed to Cross Village. The old church, abandoned in 1868, was built about the year 1848. Since about the year 1827 there has been no intermission in work of the mission at this point.

It is not known how long this has been an Indian camping ground and village. The Indian village, however, was under the bluff of the shore of the bay.

In 1840 Alexander Gascon, a French Canadian by birth, came here and built a log house and cooper-shop. At that time Father Pierce was the only white male here. A few years later a saw-mill was built a short distance north of the village. In 1847 L. G. Metivier came here from Mackinac, and operated the mill about a year.

The location of the convent at this point was the next enterprise of any importance. This has been for upwards of a quarter of a century the most noticeable feature of the place, and one of the most noted institutions in the county. The proper name of this institution is the "Benevolent, Charitable and Religious Society of St. Francis." It was established by Rev. Father John B. Weicamp, in the year 1855. He was born in Prussia, April 5, 1818, and emigrated to America in 1850. He returned to Chicago about five years. In 1855 he came to this region, and first purchased Harbor Point, but atfterward decided upon a location at Cross VilIage. He came here and fitted up the old saw-mill already mentioned. He got out logs and sawed some lumber with this mill. Subsequently he erected a steam-mill. The buildings were completed in 1857, and the work of the institution begun. In 1859 a school-house was built. The buildings have been greatly enlarged and improved since the convent was established.

The buildings of the convent consist of a chapel, dormitories, schools, barns, a saw and grist-mill, carpenter and blacksmith shops, engine house, sheds, etc. Nearly everything which is used on the place, from the wine which they drink to the wooden shoes that the nuns wear, is made on the premises.

One "brother" runs the engine, another is the carpenter, another the blacksmith, another has clharge of the horses, another of the cattle, etc. The nuns work in the field, hoeing and harvesting, the same as the men. They all work early and late, day in and day out. The convent contains an immense auditorium, which is so arranged that the audience, made up mainly of the people of the village, the choir which is in the gallery opposite the pulpit, the monks seated by themselves, and the nuns also seated by themselves, all each see the officiating priest, while neither can see the other. The building was so constructed that the nuns could do washing, cooking, etc., etc., without even coming in sight of the male portion of the establishment.

A little distance from the main building is a small building where Father Weicamp makes it a rule to spend some time in each day in meditation. A collection of human skulls and other similar relics has been gathered together in this building, while underneath the floor, in the center of the building, is an empty grave, which the reverend Father dug with his own hands. The object of the grave was both remote and immediate. 'Remotely, it was designed by the reverend Father as his own final resting place; but immediately, it was intended, with the liberal collection of skulls and other human bones, to turn his meditations into the right channel.

The institution owns about 2,000 acres of land, about eighty acres of which are cultivated. The convent farm has a wide reputation for the excellece of its management, and the remarkable crops that every year are harvested. Some statistics are given at the opening of the history of this county.

The buildings are handsomely located just north of the village facing the lake. At the entrance to the broad avenue that leads up to the convent stands a small house with windows in front, and in this building is a full length image of Christ on the cross. Just above the door of the convent is the figure of St. Francis, the patron saint of the institution. Outside the convent grounds and near the village is the school of St. Francis, which is free to all. There is also a school in the convent where children belonging to the institution are taught. The average number in the convent is about thirty.

Since it was first established the convent has been the central figure in the place, and Father Weicamp, the chief ruler of the Indians, who are mostly Catholics. During the next ten years after it was founded, the village was visited by peddlers and small tradesmen, but the first perminent enterprises were inaugurated by Captain John Wagley, in 1865.

CAPTAIN JOHN WAGLEY is a pioneer of northern Michigan and one of the oldest settlers of Emmet County. He was born near Pittsburgh, Pa., June 16, 1822. In the summer of 1843, being then twenty-one years of age he removed to Michigan, coming by the lakes and landed of the island of Mackinac. For three years he was engaged in fishing and sailing. Feb. 5, 1846, he was married by Judge Shurtleff to Miss Margaret Valier. The same year he bought his first vessel, the schooner William which he sailed three years. He followed sailing and fishing on the north shore until 1855, when he moved to Green Bay and kept hotel a year. In 1856 he moved back to Mackinac and went to Buffalo, where he bought the schooner Abel. About the first work done by the schooner Avas to carry eighty armed men to drive the Mormons from Beaver Island. With the Abel, Captain Wagley had a very successful business until 1859, when he sold her and bought the Industry. During 1863 and 1864 he sailed for Mackinac from and in the fall of 1865 came to Cross Village and bought out William Stoddard, who had started a small store. In 1867 he began the construction of the first dock at this point. It was finished in 1869 at a cost of $8,000, and was carried away by the water, together with thirty cords of wood, before it was used. In 1870 he built another dock which stood several years. He was also one of the builders of the present dock, and afterward sold his interest to Mr. Bovee, the present owner. He has a wife and eight children. Two sons are engaged in business at Cross Village, as elsewhere mentioned. Captain Wagley is a veritable pioneer in all the business interests at Cross village, and has expended a comfortable fortune in trying to build up the place. There are but few pioneer experiences in which he has not shared.

A.T. BURNETT, merchant, Cross Village, was born at Plymouth, Ashtabula County, Ohio, and is one of the earliest pioneers of Emmet County. In 1863 he went to Harbor Springs with Captain Fargo and engaged in fishing and selling goods. Harbor Springs at that time was an Indian village. He remained there about five years and kept the postoffice a portion of that time. In the fall of 1868 he removed to Cross Village, then an Indian village, and was in the employ of Captain Wagley selling goods. In 1869 these gentlemen succeeded in getting a postoffice established, with Mr. Burnett as postmaster, the salary being twelve dollars a year. He held the office until 1878. In the fall of 1877 he engaged in the mercantile business for himself. He has been prominently identified with the affairs of the county, having held the office of clerk and register of the county two terms, and has also been supervisor and town treasurer. His wife is the daughter of Captain Wagley, one of the early pioneers. They have three children.

SAMUEL MORRIS, a Prussian by birth, came here as early as 1868 peddling goods, and in 1870 located here permanently. He put up a small building for a store. He has remained here since that time, having been engaged in mercantile and the real estate business. The store building now occupied by N. G. Burtt he built in 1870. He has also built several other buildings. In 1870 Captain Wagley wanted a school started in the place, and prevailed upon Judge Shurtleff, a pioneer teacher whom he had known for many years, to come and teach a school. That was the first district school taught in the county.

JOHN S. SHURTLEFF, for the past fourteen years a prominent citizen of Cross Village, was born in Rutland County, Vt., in the year 1819. His father was a native of Massachusetts and of Russian descent. His mother was also a native of New England but of Irish descent, her father being a professor in the University at Dublin. He was a son of a nobleman, but compelled to leave the country for writing against the government. He came to America and was afterward pardoned, but did not return to his native land. In 1841 Mr. Shurtleff visited a brother at Cleveland, Ohio, and then proceeded to Mackinac Island, and for many years he engaged in the mercantile business and teaching. He is one of the pioneer school teachers of northern Michigan and has spent in all about sixteen years of his life in that profession, having taught at Mackinac, St. Ignace, Cheboygan and Cross Village. In 1870 he came to Cross Village upon the request of Captain Wagley, to teach a school through the winter, and at the expiration of his term decided to remain. In 1871 he was appointed judge of probate, and was continued in that office ten years, being succeeded by the present incumbent Jan. 1, 1881. He has also held the offices of supervisor, justice of the peace and superintendent of schools, and has taught school seven years at Cross Village. Of late his business has been in real estate. In 1842 he married Mary Blanchard at St. 1gnace. She was born at St. Ignace in the year 1825, and was the first white child born there. Her father was a native of Vermont, and her mother of Minnesota. Her father, Issac Blanchard, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and removed to Mackinaw in 1816, he was commissioned a lieutenent in the militia by Gov. Lewis Cass in April, 1827. Mrs. Shurtleff was appointed postmistress at Cross Village in 1873 and still retains the office, the duties of which are attended to by a son. From 1873 to 1880 the office was kept at the house and a cigar box constituted the equipment. The salary was twelve dollars a year. They have had four children, and have buried a son and daughter. The two remaining children, O. H. and W. M. Shurtleff, are merchants carrying on business under the firm name of Shurtleff Bros. The first named is the eldest, and settled in Cross Village in 1873. For about sixteen years he was engaged in sailing and trading along the shore, and visited Cross Village as early as 1862. He has held the office of deputy sheriff several years, and is also deputy United States marshal and special agent of the custom service. He has a wife and two children. W. M. Shurtleff came to Cross Village with his parents and was engaged in real estate business until June, 1880, when the present firm succeeded O. H. Shurtleff, who started it in 1878. This firm erected a business building in 1883 which contains the only hall in the village.

L. G. METIVIER, Cross Village, is one of the early settlers in northern Michigan. He was born at St. Johns, Canada. In 1844 he removed to Mackinac Island, where he was engaged making fish barrels, being a cooper by trade. As early as 1847 be came to Cross Village and operated a saw-mill that had been built a short distance above the village. He operated the mill about a year and then returned to Macinac. In 1853 he was appotinted keeper of the lighthouse at Presque Isle, and remained there eight years where he again returned to Mackinac. In 1870 he located permanently at Cross Village, where he still follows his trade. He has a wife and seven children. He has held the office of town treasurer and justice of the peace, the last named for eight years. He is the brother of Medard Metivier, a pioneer of Cheboygan County.


In 1869, through the efforts of Captain John Wagley and A. T. Burnett, a postoffice was established at Cross Village, with A. T. Burnett as postmaster. The office was kept in the store and the salary of the postmaster amounted to the sum of twelve dollars per annun. The mail was carried by an Indian and was received weekly. Prior to that time the nearest postoffice was at Harbor Springs. In 1873 Mrs. Mary Shurtleff was appointed postmistress and still holds that office. For several years the office was kept at her house and the cigar box furnished ample accomodations for the contents of the mail pouch. The office is now kept at the store of Shurtleff Bros., and is attended to by W. M. Shurtleff. The office ranks 4th class.


George Washinton Post, G.A.R., No. 106, was established in Mar, 1883. It has about 30 members in the following officers: Commander, C. H. Swartout; Senior Vice-Commander, Henry L. Green; Junior Vice-Commander; Z. D. Ransom; Chaplain, Lyman Miller; Officer of the Day, Daniel W. Root; Officer of the Guard, Frank Tabasash; Adjutant, M.V. Barnes; Quartermaster, J. W. Dubois; Sargent Major, L.S. Davis; Quartermaster Sargent, Lewis Schrader.

This firm is composed of L. J. Bovee, L. A. Kelsey and A. McVean. The two former reside at Le Roy, N. Y., and the latter at Cross Village. The lumbering interests of this firm constitute the most important industry at this point, and give employment to a large number of men. The mill is situated under the hill on the shore of the lake, and was built in 1879 by Mr. L. J. Bovee. Mr. Kelsey became a partner in operating the mill, and the firm was Bovee & Kelsey until October, 1881, when A. McVean, who had previously been engaged in farming at LeRoy, N. Y. became a partner and the firm was changed to Bovee, Kelsey & Co. Mr. A. McVean removed to Cross Village and has since that time had supervision of the business at this point. The mill cuts about 2,500,000 feet of hard wood lumber a season, which is shipped to Buffulo. The firm gives employment to an average of about forty men. There is a large boarding-house situated near the mill that was built in the summer of 1881. Mr. Bovee owns considerable timber land and the dock near the mill. During the winter season the principal activity of the place is kept up by the operations of this firm. Fifty or sixty teams are kept busy drawing logs from the woods, and lumber from other mills which manufacture lumber for this firm. The mill is circular, and is 38 x l25 feet in size.

The American House was the first hotel in the village. It was started and is still kept by Lewis S. Davis, who came from Genesee County, N. Y., in the summer of 1879.

N. G. BURTT, one of the prominent business men of Cross Village is a native of Allegany County, N. Y. He removed to Michigau in 1856 and for several years was an extensive farmer in Barry County. His health failing he was obliged to seek a different clinate and on that account located at Cross Village in October, 1879. He shipped a stock of goods from Chicago and opened a store in the building he now occupies. The firm was Crandall & Burtt during the first six months, but at the end of that time Mr. Crandall retired, and Mr. Burtt continued the business alone. He has a wife and four children.

JAMES E. WAGLEY, Cross Village, is a son of Capt. John Wagley, a pioneer of Cross Village. He was born at Mackinac Island in 1857, and removed to Cross Village with his parents. In 1880 he engaged in the mercantile business, the firm being Pier & Wagley. This firm continued in business until December, 1881, when they sold out to the present firm of Hough & Wagley. Since that time he has been in the real estate business. He has held the office of supervisor five terms and has also been justice of the peace.

JAMES A. HOUGH, of the firm of Hough & Wagley, Cross Village, is a native of Hastings County, Canada. In 1809 he went to Genesee County, N. Y., and the following year removed to Saginaw Mich., where he was an agentt for an eastern Iumberman. In February, 1880, he located at Cross Village and was in the employ of A. T. Burnett for about a year and a half. In December, 1881, he engaged in the mercantile business with John Wagley, Jr., and purchased the stock of Pier & Wagley. His wife is a daughter of Capt. Wagley, one of the pioneers of northern Michigan. They have two children. He has held the office of treasurer of the township.

JOHN WAGLEY, Jr., son of Capt. John Wagley, the pioneer of Cross Village, was born in Mackinaw County, and early followed the footsteps of his father by taking up the avocation ot fishing and sailing. He came to Cross Village with his parents in 1866. In December, 1881, he engaged in the mercantile business with James A. Hough, the firm being Hough & WagIey, successors to Pier & Wagley.

MARTIN V. BARNES, Cross Village, is a native of Monroe County, Mich. In 1855 he removed to Leelanaw County. In 1861 he enlisted in Company G, First New York Light Artillery, and was in service three years during the war of the rebellion. In the fall of 1880 he removed to Cross Village from Harbor Springs where he resided about three years. He was one of the pioneers of Petoskey, and was in the employ of Fox, Rose & Buttars at it time when that was the only store at Petoskey. He has a wife and one child.

A. M. HALL, Cross Village, is a native of Charlotte, Eaton County, Mich. In 1879 he removed to Harbor Springs, and in the spring of 1882 to Cross Village, where he carried on a confectionery store and billiard room. ln 1883 he erected a two story building and engaged in the liquor business. He has a wife and two children.

GEO. B. MARTINDALE, hardware merchant, Cross Village, is a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. In June, 1883, he removed to Cross Village from Harbor Springs, and opened a hardware store, the first in the village.

JOSEPH ST. PETER, Cross Village, is one of the early pioneers of northern Michigan. He was born in Canada in 1881. In 1848 he came to Michigan and located at Saginaw and in 1860 removed to Mackinac Island. He engaged in fishing and pursued his avocation along the shore. In 1867 he located permanently at Cross Village where he has since resided following fishing on a large scale. In 1881 he built all elegant residence upon an elevated site overlooking the lake. He has a wife and two children. Mr. St. Peter is very successful in his business and enterprising in public matters.

ALONZO LAWRASON, farmer in the town of Bliss was born in Canada. In 1853 he came to Michigan and settled in Lapeer County. He served four years in the army during the war of the rebellion, with the Seventh Michigan Infantry and Tenth Michigan Cavalry. He was wounded in the right leg at the battle of Fair Oaks. His rank was sergeant. In the fall of 1875 he settled in what is now Bliss Township, and was the first to make a settlement in the town. During the winter of 1875-76 his family were the only inhabitants of the town. He located a homestead of 160 acres in section 23, and has now 89 acres improved, that being the largest improvement in the town. He has a wife and four children. The village is beginning to wear off the weird and ancient look that has clung to it so long. During 1888 Shurtleff Bros. erected a store building in the second story of which is a public hall. A number of other buildings have recently been built for business purposes, and still others are projected for 1884. The population of the village is about 500.

Continue to the next page...

[top of page]
This page was created 28 Mar 1998
Go to: Emmet County, MI USGenWeb Homepage
Design and updates of this page are by Denise Frederick, Copyright 1998
This Page Has Been Visited times....since 28 Mar 1998