Manistique had a marvelous baseball team back in the early 1920s. During the summer of 1923 the team played a total of 31 games and finished with a record of 22 wins and 9 losses. Twenty-five games were played against Upper Peninsula teams and 6 games were played against traveling African American teams including the Illinois Giants from Chicago and the New York Royals. The Manistique club won 19 of 25 games played against the Upper Peninsula teams and went 3-3 versus the traveling teams from New York and Chicago.
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.
In July of 1929, the largest remaining stand of Michigan’s virgin white pine forest floated down the Manistique River toward the Stack Lumber Company sawmill in the town of Manistique. The giant pine had been scattered over 3,200 acres of swampy forest at the head of the Driggs River, a tributary of the Manistique River—in an area previously considered too inaccessible for logging operations. The 1929 drive included 600,000 feet of Norway and white pine, 1,000,000 feet of hemlock and 800,000 feet of hardwood (birch, oak, maple, elm and basswood). The log drive marked the end of big pine lumbering in Michigan which began along the Saginaw River valley in 1833. Once thought inexhaustible, the great pine forests were all logged off in Lower Michigan by 1895 and in Upper Michigan by 1905. A total of 190 billion feet of lumber had succumbed to the woodman’s axe.