Edwin Cookson – Pioneer Lumberman

1880s image of Edwin Cookson. Photo courtesy of Anthony Perkins

1880’s image of Edwin Cookson. Photo courtesy of Anthony Perkins

            Edwin Cookson was born in Greenfield, Maine, in May of 1854. He was the second oldest child in a family of six boys and 2 girls. His parents, Joseph and Maria Cookson owned a farm in Greenfield, but all of their sons worked as loggers and river drivers in Maine.

            During the early 1870’s Edwin Cookson migrated west to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. There in 1878 he responded to a “Help Wanted” ad posted in the Oshkosh papers. Ebenezer James was seeking laborers to work at the James Brothers sawmill east of Manistique.

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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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Southtown & Jamestown – Timber Boom Towns That Once Was

The earliest reference to South Manistique or “South-town” is from the early 1880’s.  The town was developed around the Hall and Buell Lumber Company Mill.    The following description of Southtown is from Earnest Williams:  “Several houses in the town had four feet high fences around them to prevent the sand beach from blowing into the yards.  All the streets were sand and grass was basically nonexistent.”

Hall and Buell lad lumber rights around Southtown and on Indian Lake.  They cut the timber and floated it across Indian Lake to a “pull up” between Sunset and Harrison Beaches.  From there it was loaded onto their own railroad and brought to the Southtown mill (The railroad crossed old U.S. 2 near the current location of WTIQ and the gas pipeline).

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