Manistique’s Great Fire of September, 1893

Pictured above is a circa 1890 photo of the corner of Cedar and Walnut Street in Manistique. The great fire of 1893 began in the rear of Paul Rediker’s Saloon on Walnut Street and quickly spread to adjacent buildings.

Pictured above is a circa 1890 photo of the corner of Cedar and Walnut Street in Manistique. The great fire of 1893 began in the rear of Paul Rediker’s Saloon on Walnut Street and quickly spread to adjacent buildings.

          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.

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Essay Contest 2nd Prize Winner – Stephanie LaFoille

Manistique High School Junior Stephanie LaFoille receives her 2nd Prize award of $150.00 from Rebecca Peterson of the Schoolcraft County Historical Society for her essay “Businesses in Schoolcraft County.”

Manistique High School Junior Stephanie LaFoille receives her 2nd Prize award of $150.00 from Rebecca Peterson of the Schoolcraft County Historical Society for her essay “Businesses in Schoolcraft County.”

 In writing her essay, Stephanie used resources on the web, but also talked with her family including her grandmother, parents, aunts and uncles. The following are excerpts from her prize winning entry.

Businesses in Schoolcraft County

            Entrepreneur was a word to describe the LaFoilles; in a short amount of time, they had 10 children, all following in the footsteps of their father. Hildreth, Harrison, Henrietta, Harry, Hazel, Homer, Helene, Harvey, Harold and Hera were all names of future business owners. Homer grew up to open a bar where the current St. Vincent De Paul’s is standing on Cedar Street. Harrison opened up an ice cream parlor near where the modern Jacob’s Dentistry stands on the corner of Cedar Street. This was known as a hangout for high schoolers on lunch break. Whether they were getting a bite to eat, or sharing a sweet treat, everyone seemed to love and enjoy the parlor. Hildreth opened up a motel on Main Street, where an apartment building occupies today. Helene had a beauty shop, and the location of this is unknown. [Their father] Delor owned a peanut/popcorn stand that he brought to a new location daily, selling hot peanuts and freshly popped popcorn to support his large family. All of these businesses were long-lasting and successful.

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Thomas J. MacMurray – Clergyman, Poet, Lawyer, Lecturer & Journalist

Thomas J. MacMurray

Thomas J. MacMurray

            He traveled alone on horseback, riding for miles through an uninhabited wilderness before coming at last to a tiny hamlet. While there, he conducted religious services, visited the sick, buried the dead, comforted the grieving, joined couples in marriage and baptized the faithful uninitiated. The names and exploits of many of these frontier clergymen have faded into obscurity with the passage of time. But the Methodist circuit rider who visited Manistique left a legacy that endures to this day.

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