John Ira Bellaire – Retailer, Conservationist and Historian

John Ira Bellaire

John Ira Bellaire

         Manistique booster, John Ira Bellaire was born in Indiana in November of 1871. His family moved to White Pigeon in northern Lower Michigan when John was still a young child.  There his parents, John and Agnes Bellaire purchased a small farm and struggled to support a growing family. John worked on the farm helping his father until he reached his eighteenth birthday, when he went out on his own.

         Bellaire took advantage of every opportunity he could to attend school. He worked at odd jobs on weekends, including splitting wood to earn money for books and tuition. During the summer he worked as a clerk in a grocery store. Once school started in the fall he continued working before and after school.  He was finally able to graduate in June of 1891. After obtaining a 3rd grade teaching certificate, Bellaire taught for one year at a school near South Boardman, Michigan, in Kalkaska County.

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The History of Kitchi-Tiki-Pi (Big Spring)

Thompson, MI -Passengers in-route to Big Springs by railroad.

Thompson, MI -Passengers in-route to Big Springs by railroad.

One of the most popular places for picnic and excursions was to go to the Big Spring at Indian Lake.  Initially, one crossed Indian Lake and then hiked to the Big Spring, but later, there was a narrow-gage railroad that took people from Thompson to the Big Spring.

In 1889, a Mr. Shaw of Manistique began regular trips from his yacht on Indian Lake three times a week with pickups at three different locations.  Big Spring is an oval pool area that measures 300 feet by 175 feet and has a depth of 40 feet. Initially, people built rafts so they could go out into the pond.

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