John A. Falk was born on a farm in Dalsand, Sweden, on February 6, 1864; the son of Andrew Johnson Falk and Maja Lisa Eriksdotter. John grew up in a family of ten children and attended school in his home village of Grinstad. A family crisis occurred when John was 15 years old which changed his life forever. His father encountered severe financial reverses including the loss of the family farm. John and his siblings, who were old enough to work, were forced to fend for themselves.
During the fall of 1924, the Manistique Women’s Club sponsored an essay contest at the Central School concerning the early history of Manistique. They hoped to kindle an interest in local history among the community’s young people. The Pioneer Historical Society had just been organized a year earlier, so there was little written material available for research. But the students had an even better source of information to draw upon—the pioneers themselves. Many of Manistique’s earliest settlers were still alive and residing in the area. The essays that the students produced are a treasure trove of information, but leave us wishing for even more. The winning essays were read before a school assembly at the Central School and were later published in the local paper as follows:
In July of 1929, the largest remaining stand of Michigan’s virgin white pine forest floated down the Manistique River toward the Stack Lumber Company sawmill in the town of Manistique. The giant pine had been scattered over 3,200 acres of swampy forest at the head of the Driggs River, a tributary of the Manistique River—in an area previously considered too inaccessible for logging operations. The 1929 drive included 600,000 feet of Norway and white pine, 1,000,000 feet of hemlock and 800,000 feet of hardwood (birch, oak, maple, elm and basswood). The log drive marked the end of big pine lumbering in Michigan which began along the Saginaw River valley in 1833. Once thought inexhaustible, the great pine forests were all logged off in Lower Michigan by 1895 and in Upper Michigan by 1905. A total of 190 billion feet of lumber had succumbed to the woodman’s axe.