April, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I. Many of Schoolcraft County’s young men answered their country’s call to defend freedom abroad, and 27 of them made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of France. The Schoolcraft County Historical Society would like to honor the memory of those soldiers who served in the Great War, and especially those who sacrificed their lives for freedom, through a public display of their photos and biographical information. We are asking the public for their assistance in obtaining photos of the World War I soldiers from Schoolcraft County who lost their lives in the “war to end all wars.” We would also welcome photos of others who served. If you have a photo, letters or newspaper clippings concerning these soldiers, please contact the historical society by using the Contact Us tab at the top of this page, or write us at P.O. Box 284, Manistique. We would like to scan copies of those photos so they could be included in the exhibit.
The great fire began at 11:15 in the evening on September 15, 1893. The undisputed cause of the fire was arson. Blue vaporous flames were seen leaping from the ground to the roof in the rear of the Alexander Richards building on Walnut Street. Splashing liberal amounts of either gasoline or coal oil against the side of the structure, the arsonist applied a match and disappeared into the shadows. The culprit was never brought to justice and his motive forever unknown.
Citizens spotted the flames almost immediately and turned in an alarm—but when the fire department arrived they confronted a raging inferno. All of the businesses and residences on Walnut Street were constructed with wood and were extremely dry. Gale force winds out of the northwest spread fiery embers to nearby buildings on Walnut Street and to businesses on Cedar Street. The Richards building, which was occupied by the Paul Rediker Saloon, was soon transformed into a pile of ashes. Occupants on the second floor of the building barely escaped alive. Other businesses on Walnut Street including saloons owned by Antowine Vassau and Fenton Gorman, along with the John Hackenbrach and Robert Knudson barbershops, the Bebeau Brothers livery and the John Kirstine tailor shop soon succumbed to the flames.