Alexander Richards and the Flat Iron Block

Circa 1880’s image of Alexander C. Richards. Photo Courtesy Anthony Perkins

Circa 1880’s image of Alexander C. Richards. Photo Courtesy Anthony Perkins

        Alexander Richards was born on September 26, 1844 in Quebec, Canada to Lambert and Serafine (Serois) Richards, Alex was the eldest in a sibling group of eight children. Little is known about his early life in Canada. He immigrated to Michigan in 1866 at age 22 and resided at Fayette where he operated a butcher shop. Richards married Roxanna Knapp in Delta County on January 2, 1869 and seven children were born from this union.

            The family lived in Garden, Michigan for a time, but moved to Manistique in 1876. While living in Manistique the family resided in a large home on the corner of Cedar and Walnut Street, which was the future site of the A. S. Putnam drug store. Eight people lived in the home, including a servant. The servant was a necessity, as Richards’ wife Roxanne had gone blind. Richards was very kind to all his children, and only reprimanded them when they moved items in the home which made it difficult for Roxanne to move around and find things. He had a playhouse built for his daughters in the back yard complete with a toy cook stove.

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1890’s – The Flat Iron Block (Pearl Street, Water Street, and Maine Streets), and the Notorious Saloon Owner Daniel Heffron

 The Chicago Lumber Company started around 1865 by two gentlemen by the names of Mr. Spinney and Mr. Boyd. Through the many years the Chicago Lumber Company owned most of Schoolcraft County and is responsible for the major development of Epsport (Manistique). During this time they started the Chicago Lumber Company Store.  A social gathering in front of the old C. L. Co. dock warehouse. Upper from left are: Chas. B. Mersereau, Capt. Woodruff of Steamer Canisteo, Dick Cleve, and James Norton. Lower: Duane Leonard, Geo. Ruby, Capt. McWilliams, Cal Bingham with straw-hat, and "Pincky" Miller with cady, supposed to be a detective during a 'wet" and "dry" campaign.

The Chicago Lumber Company started around 1865 by two gentlemen by the names of Mr. Spinney and Mr. Boyd. Through the many years the Chicago Lumber Company owned most of Schoolcraft County and is responsible for the major development of Epsport (Manistique). During this time they started the Chicago Lumber Company Store. A social gathering in front of the old C. L. Co. dock warehouse. Upper from left are: Chas. B. Mersereau, Capt. Woodruff of Steamer Canisteo, Dick Cleve, and James Norton. Lower: Duane Leonard, Geo. Ruby, Capt. McWilliams, Cal Bingham with straw-hat, and “Pincky” Miller with cady, supposed to be a detective during a ‘wet” and “dry” campaign.

When the Chicago Lumber Company came to Manistique in 1872, they owned all of the town area except one residence. Their goal was to keep the town “dry”. Any property leased or later sold had a convenant attached to it saying that the premises could not manufacture, store or sell intoxicating liquors.

The residence referred to above was owned by Alex Richards. The location was bounded by Pearl Street, Water Street, and Maine Street, forming the a flatiron shape. The only liquor available was through whiskey boats that would anchor offshore. The whiskey sellers were finally arrested as a result of selling their goods to the Indians. In the 1880’s, Daniel Heffron from New York saw great opportunity in Manistique as a saloon-keeper. He found Richards, bought his property and built his saloon.

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