Artifacts from the Ossawinamakee Hotel

Business Card from the Ossawinamakee – George Orr Collection donated by Chris Orr

Business Card from the Ossawinamakee – George Orr Collection donated by Chris Orr

            During the late 1880s and 90s, Constant Moody Ruggles was the proprietor at the Ossawinamakee Hotel. Ruggles was a Civil War veteran from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who first came to Manistique in 1875 with Ebenezer James. Ruggles was a partner in the James Bros. Sawmill which flourished briefly at the village of Jamestown on the Manistique River. He had diverse business interests including a butcher shop, stage coach line, livery stable and a strawberry farm. According to the above business card, Ruggles was also a guide for tourist fishermen seeking a good trout stream.

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The Naming of the Ossawinamakee

A late 1800’s photo of the Ossawinamakee Hotel (SCHS)

A late 1800’s photo of the Ossawinamakee Hotel (SCHS)

            During the early spring of 1883 the citizens of Manistique eagerly awaited the opening of a fancy new hotel. Wright E. Clarke, editor of the Schoolcraft County Pioneer, reported regularly on the progress being made. By late March of 1883 the masons were finishing up with plastering the walls, and the painters would soon be busy with their brushes. Clarke predicted that all would be in readiness in time for the opening of navigation on Lake Michigan in the spring. Clarke was overly optimistic. The hotel room doors did not arrive until the second week in May and were “fitted up” as rapidly as possible. The hotel was compelled to welcome a few travelers before work was totally completed, but by the end of May, 1883, the Ossawinamakee was finally open for business.

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Decoration Day Celebration – May 30, 1885

The above is a rare photo of Manistique’s Civil War veterans getting ready for a patriotic holiday celebration. Pictured from far right: John Gayar, Henry Brassel, Amos Hill, George W. Rice  (partially hidden behind Hill) and Wright E. Clarke (buttoning coat), On the far left, the men with insignias on their hats are David Blair (left) and William Wood (Right).

The above is a rare photo of Manistique’s Civil War veterans getting ready for a patriotic holiday celebration. Pictured from far right: John Gayar, Henry Brassel, Amos Hill, George W. Rice (partially hidden behind Hill) and Wright E. Clarke (buttoning coat), On the far left, the men with insignias on their hats are David Blair (left) and William Wood (Right).

Decoration Day – 1885 

            Manistique’s first celebration of what was then known as Decoration Day, took place on Sunday, May 30, 1885. The citizens of the town were stirred from their sleep at the rude hour of 3:00 A.M. by the ringing of hammers and anvils announcing Decoration morn. In the forenoon the streets became crowded with horse drawn wagons and carriages, as pioneers from the country arrived to celebrate the holiday. By noon, the stirring martial music of the Cornet brass band was heard echoing down the avenues.

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