Yankee Influence in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

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Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a region of the Midwest bound by Lakes Superior and Michigan, and Huron and the state of Wisconsin, covers 16,453 square miles or the aggregate of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the southern portion of New Hampshire. It is a region with a unique and rich heritage and culture. Between the seventeenth and early  nineteenth centuries, the pristine wilderness had an economy based on the fur trade whose population was primarily Native American, Métis, and French. Later mining and logging  dominated the scene and its population was augmented by Yankees and other Americans and immigrants.

From the earliest days of the colonial era, the English who settled in New England found the Coastal land to be ill-suited for farming and as a result they migrated into western New England and then spilled into New York state. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, greatly facilitated this migration into the Great Lakes country. Soon whole villages and areas of New England were abandoned as people migrated westward. Quickly the younger children of New England families were to be found in New York state where they brought their traditions and customs and settled. As the states of the Midwest – Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota – opened in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, New Englanders and then New Yorkers migrated westward away from the East that was seen as being in a state of decline. This would not end until they reached the shores of the Pacific.

Many of the New England families who became associated with the Upper Peninsula had their roots in colonial New England. The migration of the Ely family is a fine example of this westward migration which actually began in the colonial period. Nathaniel Ely started out across the river from Boston in Newton which is now Cambridge. In the eighteenth century the family moved to West Springfield, and by the 1820s members of the family had settled in Rochester, New York. Soon after other members of the family settled in Ohio and founded Elyria. Heman and Samuel Ely and their brothers were natives of Rochester and eventually in the 1850s settled in Marquette. Similar stories of westward migration can be found among many New England families.

Michigan was not an unknown land for these Yankees. By the early decades of the nineteenth century they were settling on the rich agricultural lands of southern Michigan. Michigan’s many fine traditions such as townships; elementary, secondary and collegiate educations systems; the establishment of churches and religion; the abolition and temperance movements all could be traced to these hearty New Englanders. They were establishing pockets of settlements which would be spring boards for settlement farther west or to the north.

Prior to Michigan statehood in January, 1837, knowledge of the Upper Peninsula slowly became known to Americans. There were European chronicles, government reports, and  newspaper and magazine accounts which told of the copper deposits, agricultural, fishing, timber, and tourist possibilities. Although many of these accounts were available to the public and some of them appeared in newspapers, little action was taken by settlers to realize the potential.  In 1800 there were a mere 601 Anglo-Europeans inhabiting this land while on the eve of Copper Fever in 1840 the number had doubled to 1,359. At the same time the population of  Midwestern states to the south was increasing to several hundred thousand settlers.

Unfortunately, migration studies have tended to focus on immigrant groups rather than regional groups from the United States. This is certainly true of migration and population studies of people who settled the Upper Peninsula. There are on-going studies of ethnic settlement, but few of regional migrants. The story of Yankee to the Upper Peninsula remails tucked away in biographies, fleetingly mentioned in studies, and recalled in the memory of residents of the region. Little has been done to collect, document, and develop this important aspect of the history of migration to the Upper Peninsula.

In the seventeenth century the Upper Peninsula was part of New France and the French and Native American dominated the fur trade. However, this did not stop Anglo-Dutch trading ventures from moving westward from Albany, New York, their commercial center in the late 1660s. In 1665 even Governor Thomas Dongan of New York made plans to develop trade between Albany and the Straits of Mackinac. For a number of years prior to King Williams’ War (1669) these intrusive trading expeditions tried to break the French trade monopoly among the Odawa and Huron Indians at the Straits. The long-term result of these intrusions from the East was to provide Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (1658-1730) with the necessary arguments to get the Minister of the Marine to authorize the settled of Detroit in 1701. During the four inter- colonial wars (1689-1763) between the French and English, the French and their Native allies descended upon the English forts and settlements to the east and south. This caused negative relations between the two peoples with lasting results as we will see later.

This hostility rose to a new crescendo in the summer of 1763 when the Odawa leader, Pontiac (c. 1720-1769) led a revolt against the English and New England-New York traders throughout the Great Lakes region. Although the uprising was short-lived, the English took action to regularize their relations with the Native Americans. The policy following the Proclamation Line of 1763 only allowed licensed traders into the west and barred American colonists especially New Englanders from the Great Lakes region. Many Yankees were infuriated with this action which was seen to benefit French Canadians, their traditional enemies.

Licensed traders moved westward and operated out of the commercial entrepôt, Fort Michilimackinac later known as Mackinac. Although most of these early soldiers and traders were from France or England, a number were New England-born and raised. Robert Rogers (1731-1795), whose occupation was listed as a “ranger,” was born in Methuen, Massachusetts and learned frontier skills while growing up on a farm near Concord, New Hampshire. Rogers had a checkered career as a frontier fighter, defending the colonial frontier from French and Native aggression. He participated in the seizure of Montreal in 1760 which broke the French control over North America and three years later went to Detroit to lift Pontiac’s siege. Since debt constantly followed him he successfully tried to get the British to back his attempts at finding the Northwest Passage. Instead, they made him commander of Fort Michilimackinac where he lived for two years with his wife and oversaw the affairs of the post. During this time he directed Massachusetts-born Jonathan Carver (1710-1780) to explore modern Minnesota and perhaps was the first to use the word “Ouragon” in print. Unfortunately, he proved to be an inferior administrator and affairs were soon in disarray and he was removed from office. He was arrested for treason, being charged with dealing with the French. Although he was acquitted, his life continued to be a shambles and it took turns away from Michigan.

Another New Englander from Connecticut was Peter Pond (1740-1807). Born at Milford, he first gained frontier experience serving in the French and Indian War. He became familiar with the fur trade at Detroit and pursued it in the northwest for 20 years. In the 1770s, using Mackinac as his base, he traded furs in the Upper Mississippi Country. Later he helped broker a peace between the Dakota of Minnesota and the Ojibwe of the Lake Superior Basin. He continued working in the northwest country and was reported to have died in poverty in Boston.

During the early years of the American republic (1799-1801) another Yankee influence – the Cooper family – nearly opened the Upper Peninsula. William Cooper (1754-1809) was a member of Congress from western New York and founder of Cooperstown. In 1798 the British who were at war with the French placed an embargo on the importation of copper into the United States. For American manufacturers this was a disaster and they petitioned Congress for relief. Representative Cooper, who lived on the western frontier in Mohawk Valley, sent copper specimens to the United States assayer in Philadelphia who found them to be pure. Congress soon appropriated money for an expedition to travel to the copper fields of the Upper Peninsula and obtain the land from the Native Americans. Williams’ son, Richard was put in charge of the planned expedition. Lengthy late season preparations and the election of Thomas Jefferson, a Federalist political opponent of the Coopers, cancelled the expedition, thus ending an early attempt to open and develop the copper deposits of the Upper Peninsula.

When Senator Uriah Tracy of Connecticut visited Mackinac Island in the summer of 1800, he concluded that this settlement was a key in controlling the Native Americans throughout the region. As a result, in 1808 the federal government established a government trading post or factory on the island. The ideas, was to use trade as a means to attach the Native Americans to the government. The chief factor of the operation was Joseph B. Varnum, Jr. (1785-1867), born in Dracut, Massachusetts and the son of Senator Joseph B. Varnum. He proved to be a conscientious factor who was concerned about the merchandise the Indians received and the flaws in government bureaucracy. He remained in his position on Mackinac until the outbreak of the War of 1812 and the fall of the nearby fort.

At approximately the same time, another New Yorker, although originally a German immigrant, John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) played a major role in the early economy of the Upper Peninsula. After emigrating to New York in 1784 and becoming acquainted with the fur trade, he went into business for himself and by 1800 was the leading fur trader in America. In April 1808 Astor incorporated the American Fur Company under New York laws and soon focused his activities on Mackinac Island as the center of the interior operations of the American Fur Company.

The fear of the influence of British traders on the Native Americans of the United States and the desire to keep the profits in American hands, got Astor to lobby Congress to pass legislation which excluded non-American citizens from trading within American territory. Astor was successful. By 1820 the American Fur Company had large warehouses, offices and boat yards on Mackinac Island. The island became the central station for a Company which became the most powerful trading concern in the United States at that time. In time Astor’s company-controlled trade throughout the Midwest. Perceiving a decline in the fur trade, in 1834 Astor sold out his interest in the Company although it continued to operate under different owners.

Lewis Cass (1782-1866) the territorial governor of Michigan was born in Exeter, New Hampshire and grew up in the shadow of the developing Constitution. He became a teacher but soon migrated west and settled at Marietta, Ohio in 1800. After outstanding service during the War of 1812, Cass was appointed territorial governor of Michigan (1813-1831). A strong nationalist, in 1820 Cass led an expedition covering some 5,000 miles into the Lake Superior country and beyond. He signed a treaty with the Indians at Sault Ste. Marie with the intention of bringing a strong federal presence to the area. The treaty led to the establishment of Fort Brady and an Indian agency in 1822. Notes taken during the expedition were published upon its return and made the public more aware of the lands along the south shore of Lake Superior.

Henry R. Schoolcraft (1793-1864), a resident of Albany County, New York came to Michigan and became a noted Indian agent, Chronicler, scientist, and ethnologist. Considered a competent geologist, he was sent on the Cass expedition in 1820 to the Lake Superior copper region and the upper Mississippi Valley. Eleven years later he discovered the source of the Mississippi River which he described in Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, the Actual Source of the Mississippi (1834). An acquaintance with the Indians led him to be appointed as Indian agent in 1822 for the tribes of Lake Superior. In 1823 he married a quarter- blood Ojibwe woman and gained entry into Indian life and culture.

His accomplishments were numerous. In 1828 he helped establish the Historical Society of Michigan. While at Sault Ste. Marie he became a noted authority on the Upper Peninsula and its Native people. It was Schoolcraft’s ethnological field notes of Ojibwe culture that were used by Henry W. Longfellow for his epic poem, Hiawatha.

The first missionaries to the Native Americans in the Upper Peninsula were the French Jesuits who first arrived in the seventeenth century. However, after 1765, except for a few transient missionaries who visited Mackinac and Sault Ste. Marie, there was no establishment for Catholics in the Upper Peninsula.

The first Protestant missionary to arrive on Mackinac Island was Reverend David Bacon sent under the auspices of the Missionary Society of Connecticut. He arrived in 1802 and remained there for two years before leaving, having had met with little success.

During the first twenty years of the nineteenth century a strong evangelization movement centered in New England. One of the leading proponents for Indian missions was Jedediah Morse (1761-1826) who originated the idea of a mission on Mackinac Island. Organizations like the Northern Missionary Society (NMS) in Albany and the United Foreign Missionary Society (UFMS) in New York City became active, merged and in 1826 the American Board resulted. In October, William Ferry, born in 1796 in Granby, Massachusetts, and his wife Amanda opened a boarding school for Metis children on Mackinac Island. These were children who were born and raised in a fur trade society in the western Great Lakes region. At the mission, the Yankee missionaries hoped to remake these children into New Englanders by evangelizing them and teaching them American democratic values. Naturally the two worlds clashed. Ultimately the hopes of the missionaries were dashed when the Metis refused to abandon the fur trade as a way of life and there was a revival of Catholicism.

In 1828, a Baptist mission was established at Sault Ste. Marie by Reverend Able Bingham (1786-1865). He was born in Enfield, Grafton County, New Hampshire and moved with his parents to Jay, Essex County, New York. He first worked as a teacher among the Iroquois of New York and in July, 1828 he received his appointment from the Board of Foreign Missions as missionary to the Ojibwe at Sault Ste. Marie. After instruction and, ordination he traveled to his new home where he opened a school for Indian children. From that time until his retirement in 1855 he operated a successful mission.

As mentioned earlier, there was little love lost between the French and English in the Great Lakes, region. This antagonism went back to the colonial wars between the French and English. In 1808 territorial judge of Michigan, Augustus Woodward made observations that show the standing tradition. He wrote in March of that year that the people of Michigan, including the French had little respect for eastern habits. He continued:

The British gentlemen have always included a sort of contemptuous and unjustifiable hatred of them [Michigan settlers and Native Americans] and, when displeased, the term “Yankee” is one of the most virulent epithets which they conceive they can apply. The French do not use this term, though they entertain the same idea, and perhaps with still greater force. They have another term, which answers then the same purpose. It is the term “Bostonnois,” which they pronounce “Bastonnois,” “Scaré Bastonnois,” or “Sacré cochon de Bastonnis,” is their most virulent term of abuse, when they are displeased with an American, or, with a person from the Eastern State particularly.

Despite the hostility there were a few other tensions between Anglo and French settlers.

The New England Protestant missionaries brought with them their anti-Catholic prejudices. During the early years there were incidents of Protestants attacking Catholic doctrine in public at Mackinac Island, a chapel being destroyed by vandals at Sault Ste. Marie (1834), and the missionary priest, Father Frederic Baraga having to endure anti-Catholic attitudes of local Indian agents at L’Anse. In response, Catholics defended themselves in sermons, rebuilt their chapel, and patiently worked through the problems of the agents.

As settlements developed and Catholics and Protestants lived together the prejudice dissipated. Lacking their respective clergymen, at times both Catholics and Protestants attended, each, others services. An example of this religious co-existence can be seen at the death of Bishop Baraga (1797-1868). At this time the editor of the Lake Superior Mining and Manufacturing News held up publication to get a lengthy biography of Baraga. Some 3,000 people traveled to Marquette to attend his funeral from throughout the Upper Peninsula and they were “not only . . . the members of the Catholic Church, but also . . . our citizens of other denominations who were represented in the church by leading men of the place, fully proved, if need be, how highly and how universally the character and services of Bishop Baraga were appreciated by the people of this upper country.”

When the first prospectors and settlers traveled to the Keweenaw Peninsula in the 1840s and into the 1850s, they had to utilize the French-Canadian voyageurs for the water transportation. Once again some of the Yankees denigrated the voyageurs’ race or ethnicity. They described them as “half-breeds” (part French Canadian and part Indians) “but in habit, manners, and education, a full-blooded Indian.” Others were appalled by their rude and unruly ways, coarse language, and heavy use of alcohol. However, as time passed the Yankees developed a respect for these men who knew the environment, were skilled canoe men and braved danger and hardship with a smile and song.

Naturally Yankees with their easy connections to Michigan and their training and expertise were the leaders in the survey and exploration of the Upper Peninsula. The most famous individual was the explorer and geologist, Douglass Houghton (1809-1845) who was born in Troy, New York but whose family had deep New England roots. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy and in 1830 moved to Detroit as a lecturer in chemistry, botany, and geology. In the spring of 1831, he was qualified as a physician from his previous apprentice training. That same year he was appointed surgeon and botanist on the Schoolcraft expedition which discovered the source of the Mississippi River. In 1837 when Michigan became a state, Houghton was appointed state geologist. In his geological field work in the Upper Peninsula, he was usually surrounded by Yankees. In the summer of 1840, when he made an early expedition to the Lake Superior country, his cousin, Christopher Columbus “C.C.” Houghton, Frederick and Bela Hubbard, and Charles W. Penny all from New York state joined him. When they returned to the Lower Peninsula, Houghton wrote up his observations as instructed by the State Legislature, and the report he submitted in 1841 precipitated the mineral rush to the Copper Country which followed.

The discovery of the fabulous Calumet & Hecla mine, Edwin J. Hulbert (1829-1910) was born at Sault Ste. Marie to pioneer settlers from Connecticut. In 1864 while surveying a road he accidentally uncovered the site of the No. 4 Calumet shaft.

The leading government surveyor in the iron country was William Austin Burt (1792-1858), born in Petersham, Massachusetts. He and his family gradually moved into western New York and eventually arrived in Macomb County, Michigan. Here he began surveying, invented and patented the solar compass. In 1840 he turned his surveying skills to the Upper Peninsula. On September 19, 1844 he and his men discovered iron ore at the site of modern Negaunee. In July 1847 Burt completed work on the Michigan-Wisconsin boundary line. He eventually retried to his home in southern Michigan. Williams’ son, John H. Burt (1814-1886) was born in Corning, Erie County, New York. He was one of the forefathers of Marquette and one of the founders of Ishpeming. Like his father he was a surveyor and used his knowledge to purchase choice pieces of land. In 1851 he bought land at the mouth of the Carp River in Marquette County and built the first sawmill on the site. In the early history of the central Upper Peninsula the Burt family played prominent roles as surveyors and promoters of roads and railroads. They also left a legacy of reports and descriptions of the land. Whatever the case, news of the mineral riches of the Upper Peninsula quickly spread and the Northeastern United States was an adjacent region with easy transportation facilities to the area. As a result, Yankees began to pour into the region bringing with them their skill, expertise and finances.

Later in the century when the Menominee and Gogebic Iron Ranges were opened, Yankees continued to play important roles. William H. Selden (1853-1929) was born in Deep River, Connecticut, went west and assisted his father who was surveying the Chicago & Northwestern Railway north of Menominee. He was one of the first people to explore and find iron ore at Iron River on the western Menominee Range. Dr. Nelson P. Hulst (1842-1923) born in East Brooklyn, New York received a Ph. D from Yale University and in 1872 visited the Menominee Iron Range. In 1876 he opened many of the major mines and became superintendent of the Menominee Mining Company. A. Lanfear Norrie (1858-1910) arrived on the Gogebic Iron Range in 1885, immediately discovered the famous Norrie Mine and then retired to his birthplace.

In 1850, a few years after the copper and iron deposits were uncovered in the western and central Upper Peninsula, the federal census was taken. At this time, Chippewa County with its major Sault Ste. Marie, the gateway to the Lake Superior Basin had 907 inhabitants. Of this total ninety-three were from New England and New York state. The information presented in this census is valuable because it lists a relatively stable population in a community which had transformed itself from a commercial center based on the fur trade to a gateway to the interior with a variety of enterprises. This is in contrast to the mining frontiers in the western Peninsula which had been recently opened and were still developing.

Although only ten percent of the total population these Yankees, played an important role in the local community. First, a quarter of them were married, living with their families at Sault Ste. Marie. Most of the males held positions and occupations of importance. In the category of government officials there were two lighthouse keepers, a customs official, land agent and an engineer probably attached to the St. Mary’s River Canal. In the professional field there were two physicians, two school teachers, two bookkeepers, a clergyman, and a printer. In the hospitality and food service industry there were four merchants, a baker, a hotelkeeper, and a saloon keeper. Most of the remainder of the Yankees listed held varied occupations: farmers (4), sailors (3), blacksmiths (2), carpenters (2), coopers (2), cabinetmaker (1), forwarder (1), painter (1), goldsmith (1), and saddler (1). Outside of this list there were others with unknown or no occupation designations and a retiree. Only one male was a common laborer without a listed skill.

The merchant class in Chippewa County was substantial. G.S. Lyon was from Massachusetts, held $800 in real estate and had his wife and children living with him at the Sault. The Lyon family had originally settled in New York state, his wife’s birthplace. William P. Shalding was a 27year old merchant with $2000 invested in real estate. Twenty-five-year-old Charles Bacon haled from Connecticut and James P. Pendill was 36 years old from New York and was a successful Yankee merchant at the Sault with $5000 invested in local real estate.

The other prominent Yankees included B.W. Van Anden, from New York state of Dutch ancestry who operated a hotel and the two physicians, Doctors L. Mote (New York) and William Manning (Massachusetts). The most successful Yankee at the Sault was New York-born Sheldon McKnight, a freight-forwarder whose real estate investments were notes at $20,000.

Mackinac County is a bit of a problem to deal with because it not only included the Upper Peninsula portion of the county, but it also included territory in the northern Lower Peninsula. However, a review of the census provides insights into the Yankee influence in a larger area much of which was outside of the Upper Peninsula.

There were some 816 Yankees in the county. Although these people involved in a variety of occupations and professions similar to those found in neighboring Chippewa County there were some differences. Three major occupational fields surface: wood-lumber industry, fisheries, and farming. If the wives and children are removed from the demographic count, we found that nineteen percent (85) were involved in the wood-lumber industry, which was beginning to develop in this portion of the state of Michigan. The occupations in this field ranged from carpenters and joiners to wood choppers, sawyers, and lumbermen. In the fishing industry, there were 116 Yankees (26 percent) who were classified as either fishers or coopers who produced the barrels for the salted fish. Finally, thirteen percent were engaged in farming. This is expected because contrary to the Upper Peninsula where soil and climate militate against widespread farming, the land around Traverse Bay is conducive to agriculture.

The population of the recently opened mining districts was small but had its Yankees. In Houghton County there was Ransom Sheldon a merchant from New York; blacksmith, Daniel Brockway who haled, from the Granite State; another merchant, John Senter from New Hampshire; Dr. John F. Livermore who had been born in New York state while Vermonter, L.C. Howard was in merchandising. New Yorker, John Bacon was a mining company agent while M.W. Kelsey of Vermont was a clerk at the North America Mining Company.

In Marquette County in July, there were 136 people and of this number 41 percent were Yankees. There were two professionals: physician, Dr. Jonah Mann and attorney, Ezra Jones. Given the nature of the Marquette Iron Range most of the occupations reflected this direction. The Yankees were working as laborers (9), carpenters (7), bloomers (5), millwrights (2), and one each as a blacksmith, a collier or charcoal producer, and a machinist. Only B.F. Eaton from Connecticut and his wife Hannah from Massachusetts were engaged in farming.

Twenty years later, in 1870, the Yankee population continued to be in the minority and out of a total population of 20,443 in the Peninsula, 1,838 were from New York and 173 from Vermont. A decade later the figure for those from New York, Massachusetts and Vermont was 8.6 percent of the total. Although they were in the minority, they dominated the communities in which they lived because of their education, expertise and access to eastern finances, power and influence.

If outside labor was needed to open and develop the copper and iron mines, so were finances and technology. According to Vermont chronicler, John H. Forester, by the early 1840s the Ontonagon area was rapidly filling with enterprising people “and much eastern capital sought investment therein.”

With the early development of mining companies in Michigan’s Copper Country, the Lake Superior News and Miners’ Journal published a list of companies. At the close of the 1846 season, it reported that of the 103 companies, 50.8 percent were based in New England and New York state. This figure remained constant through 1870 with the only competition coming from investors in Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Michigan cities. It must be remembered that these mining companies sold stock directly to individuals and thus we are talking of banks playing an important role in directly providing the embryonic field with financing. Beginning in 1855 Michigan mining stocks were first listed on the Boston Stock Exchange.

A few substantial eastern capitalists became large stockholders and directors of numerous mining firms: Horatio Bigelow (Boston) was the treasurer of fourteen mines in 1854; and in 1865, the partnership of T. Henry Perkins (Boston) and Thomas F. Mason (New York) served on the boards of seven firms which together accounted for nearly forty percent of Michigan’s copper production.

Boston’s role in Michigan copper would increase toward the end of the Civil War as New York and Philadelphia investors shifted from copper to petroleum issues. After 1865 the giant Boston- based Calumet & Hecla Mining Company and a few others dominated Michigan copper mining. The firm was controlled by the Agassiz, Shaw, and Higginson families, all from Boston. With the development of new mining properties after 1870, these two were largely controlled by Boston interests.

New England sent out its sons and daughters to aid in the development of the mining frontier. Quincy A. Shaw (b-1825) was a Harvard graduate and Boston financier who became interested in the copper mines and became president of a Lake Superior company prior to the development of the Calumet & Hecla Company. In 1866 he was director of the Calumet Mining Company which he organized and soon S.P. Shaw was president, followed by Q.A. It was Shaw who got his brother-in-law, Alexander Agassiz (1835-1910) to join the company as director of C&H.

The Quincy mine called Old Reliable also had a strong Yankee connection. Both Ransom Sheldon (1814-1878) and C.C. Douglass (1812-1874) played important roles in its development. Sheldon was from Essex County, New York before he migrated to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in 1837. He married Theresa, the sister of Douglass and in 1846 the couple relocated in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Douglass was born in Chautauqua County, New York and between 1837 and 1845 was an assistant to his famous cousin, Douglass Houghton. In the spring of 1847 Sheldon and Douglass opened a store at Portage Entry and in the coming years explored the district. In 1853 he helped plat the town of Houghton and built a store there. Sheldon also helped organize a dozen mines and in October, 1851 he and Douglass took control of the Quincy Mine. Then he went on to manage the Pewabic Mine in 1853-1857.

The record books of Quincy Mine are filled with Yankee names: James N. Wright (Haddam, Connecticut, assistant clerk); Thomas F. Mason (president from 1858 through 1899 except for 1872-1875); Samuel W. Hill (Starksboro, Vermont, agent); Samuel Stillman Robinson (Cornish, New Hampshire, general supervisor); William R. Todd (Cambridge, Massachusetts, assistant mine clerk 1860-1864, secretary 1869-1873, secretary-treasurer 1873-1902, president 1902-1924; Andrew J. Corey (Woonsocket, Rhode Island, clerk and agent).

William A. Paine (1855-1929), a founder of the investment house of Paine-Webber was involved in the development of the country between Houghton and Ontonagon. In 1898 he organized the Copper Range Consolidated Mining Company and allied companies. Although he continued to reside in Boston, he maintained strong ties with the Copper Country and spent his summer holidays there. Painsdale, Michigan was named in his honor.

The Copper Country was not the only place to attract Yankees. Philo Everett (1809-1892) was born in, Winchester, Connecticut and his lineage went back to colonial origins. Following the typical migration patter of many New England families he moved to New York state before migrating to Jackson, Michigan in 1840. In the summer of 1845, he and a number of associates traveled to the Upper Peninsula and in the course of the following summers established the Jackson Mine and the Carp River Forge. He went on to play an important role in the development of the iron industry and is considered its father. However, he did not limit himself to the iron industry, but became involved in commission work, banking, insurance and real estate. In 1860 he owned $10,000 in real estate which within a decade grew to $79,500. Although he was wiped out in the depression of 1871, he saw to it that his friends and neighbors were paid for bank losses at his bank. He died a poor man.

Amos Harlow, born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts was a lineal descendent of Captain William Harlow who came to the Plymouth colony in 1642. Amos’ parents, Abner and Persis (Rogers) Harlow were born in Plymouth and removed Shrewsbury in 1813. Amos got a common school education and in 1830 at 15 went to Worcester, Massachusetts to learn the trade of a machinist. He married Olive Lavira Bacon his second wife in 1844.

In 1849 Harlow organized the Marquette Iron Company consisting of himself, Waterman A. Fisher, and Edward Clark of Worcester and Robert J. Graveraet of Mackinac, Michigan. The situation looked so promising in the Upper Peninsula, he sold his holdings in Massachusetts and returned to the central Upper Peninsula. His party consisted of his wife Olive, a daughter and mother-in-law, Martha W. Bacon, Edward Clark and “a number of mechanics and employees” who arrived at Sault Ste. Marie on July 2, 1849 by steamer from Buffalo to Detroit.

Harlow was accompanied by Yankee ingredients to successful mining: indispensable mechanics, some goods and “lots of money.” By October he and his crew were able to put into operation a steam saw mill which was the first in Marquette. The following year Harlow put the Marquette forge into operation on July 6, 1850. Three years later his successful Marquette Iron Company was consolidated with the Cleveland Iron Company, the forerunner of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company. Not merely interested in mining, Harlow was also involved in lumbering, farming and real estate. He built and owned no less than six saw mills in Marquette County at one time.

Samuel L. Mather (1817-1890) was born in Middletown, Connecticut and was a descendant of the Mathers of colonial fame. He worked for his family, traveled to Europe and eventually moved to Ohio. Around 1850 he and several associated organized the Cleveland Mining Company in order to mine iron ore and purchase ore-rich lands. By 1853 he was secretary-treasurer of the company and was the driving force in the organization. Within a year they began to ship ore and steadily improved the means of shipping iron ore by building railroad lines, creating ore docks and constructing larger ore boats. This small company eventually became Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company. His sons, Samuel and William G. Mather although born in Ohio, continued the family tradition. The industrial history of northern Ohio and to a considerable extent of the United States is a record of the achievements of the Mathers in the iron and steel business.

Yankees not only uncovered copper and iron but gold as well. Julius Ropes (1835-1905) was born in Newbury, Vermont and went to Marquette in 1862. He was a pharmacist and chemist who moved to Ishpeming where he helped organize the local school system. In 1880 he discovered a gold mine and a year later organized the Ropes Gold and Silver Company and erected a stamp mill. In the fifteen years of operation, it produced $647,902. In the 1980s the Callahan Mining Company of Darien, Connecticut and Phoenix, Arizona reopened and operated it until 1993.

The technological center of the United States – New England and New York – provided the mines and communities of the Upper Peninsula with most of the goods and equipment they needed. New York’s Erie Canal and later railroad system provided the cheap transportation system to Buffalo where Lakes shipping took over. As early as the summer of 1846, A. Morrell & Company opened its mercantile establishment in Copper Harbor. In an advertisement they heralded the fact that “a large assortment of new goods, direct from N. York . . . were selected expressly for the Lake Superior trade.”

After 1861 many geologists and mining experts attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Charles Burleigh of Fitchburg, Massachusetts introduced the first power rock drill in America in 1866 which had been developed for tunneling. The first Burleigh drills were used in the Keweenaw Peninsula in 1868. The “Little Giant” drill manufactured by the RD Company of New York soon replaced the Burleigh drill. In 1858 Eli Whitney Blake patented a crusher/breaker to macadamize roads near Westville, Connecticut. In 1863 the crusher was introduced to the Keweenaw and was used to crush copper rock. When railroad equipment was needed, locomotives were purchased from the Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk, New York.

Herman B. Ely (1815-1856), part of the Ely family who was mentioned earlier, was born in Rochester, attended Hamilton College and was admitted to the bar in his birthplace. Ely was more interested in technology and thus left law to pursue the construction of the telegraph into Ohio. He also helped construct the first section of railroad from Cleveland and Buffalo. He arrived in Marquette and became involved in the construction of the Iron Mountain Railroad which eventually ran from Marquette a dozen miles to the interior mines. With his death, his brother Samuel P. Ely (1827-1900) went to Marquette as an agent of Boston capitalists who were interested in iron mining and the railroad. For a number of years, he played an important role on the Marquette Iron Range. Onto the scene, Philo Everett came and in 1857 brought the first locomotive, Sebastopol to Marquette, the first in the Lake Superior County.

Charles T. Harvey whose name is connected with the St. Mary’s Canal played a varied role on the Marquette Iron Range. In 1857 he organized the Pioneer Iron Company and built a furnace in Negaunee. Harvey and Edward Hungerford went East and hired Stephen R. Gay and Lorenzo Harvey (no relation) from the Berkshire Iron Company in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. They converted the Collinsville Forge into a crude furnace and made the first pig iron in the region. Collinsville was named after Edward K. Collins of New York, a wealthy steamship owner who came to Marquette in 1853 to build a forge and invest in iron mining.

Besides being a prime mover in the development of forges and foundry companies around the Marquette Iron Range, Harvey was also involved with a planned railroad which never developed and with a state road which did. He also experimented with several new charcoal kilns. For many of these projects he enlisted the financial support of New York backers. Harvey eventually left the Upper Peninsula and went to New York where he constructed the first elevated railroad in the city.

Another important figure on the Marquette Iron Range was Ariel N. Barney (1814-1878) who was born in New York and settled in Ohio in 1847. He went to the central Upper Peninsula at the invitation of the Jackson Iron Mining Company who hired Barney to set up the first forge in the Upper Peninsula and as a result, was considered to be one of the first forge operators in the United States. He turned out the first blooms in February 1848. Later he served as probate judge for two terms in 1859. He went on to operate the Barney Exchange (hotel) until it was destroyed in the disastrous Marquette fire of 1868.

One of the most influential pioneer settlers of Marquette was Peter White (1829-1908) who was born in Rome, New York. He arrived at the site of the future Marquette in the summer of 1849 and began his career as founder, developer, banker, politician, folklorist, and philanthropist. Farming in New England was poor. This had led many people to out-migrate over the years. Despite the fact that the Upper Peninsula is not considered outstanding farm country, Charles Whittseley who visited the Copper Country in 1845 wrote of the Ontonagon River valley:

To the farmer of New England there will be great inducements, as soon as the mining operations are placed upon a sure footing; for the products most congenial to the region are such as are bulky and cost much in their transportation, to wit: potatoes and roots, hay and oats.

The hardy son of Vermont and New Hampshire will find here his own climate and mountains; his own trout streams, and a good substitute for the shad and salmon of the ocean; and a soil equal to most parts of the West, without the fever and ague of the more southern portions.

By 1850 some New England farmers had taken up Whittlesey’s call and migrated to the Keweenaw Peninsula and to Marquette County. In Ontonagon County there were five farmers with their families, in Houghton County there were four of them and in Marquette County there was one from Connecticut.

Word of copper fever and the iron discovery quickly spread to eastern cities, towns and villages. Not only were prospectors attracted to the Upper Peninsula but many distinguished personalities traveled west to see if the stories they heard about the region and its potential were true.

Journalists traveled west for stories demanded by their readers. In October 1846 a correspondent for the Boston Journal noted an attempted sexual assault and murder which took place on Mackinac Island. News of mining frequently appeared on the pages of the American Mining Journal based in Boston. In August 1848 an article appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle which reported on the Great Lakes environment from Sault Ste. Marie. In 1847 and again in 1848 Horace Greeley, the editor and publisher of the New York Tribune visited the Upper Peninsula. His paper frequently carried stories about this booming frontier. When Greeley said “Go West, young man” he was referring to the Keweenaw Peninsula and not the Far West as many, think. Various New England geologists traveled to the Upper Peninsula mining district seeking information for employers, science, or for future investments.

The year 1848 brought a collection of visitors. Alexander W. Thayer, a Harvard librarian arrived and newspaper editor Horace Greeley made a second trip to the region. The Harvard naturalist, Louis Agassiz spent the summer on Lake Superior. With the Agassiz party was William Keller of the Lawrence Scientific School. Dr. John Le Conte (later president of the University of California, Berkeley) traveled to the Upper Peninsula with several members of the senior class at Harvard J. Elliot Cabot, editor of the Massachusetts Quarterly Review was a chronicler with the party. He has provided us with a fine description of the small community of Sault Ste. Marie. A year later distinguished visitors included Senator Truman Smith of Connecticut and Congressman William Henry of Vermont. With the fully developed Calumet & Hecla Mining Company in operation, many including interested Yankees, journeyed west and visited this engineering marvel.

The need for a canal at Sault Ste. Marie was witnessed by anyone familiar with the scene. As early as 1797 officials of the North West Company built a canal on the Canadian side of the St. Mary’s River so that canoes filled with bundles of fur did not have to be portaged around the rapids. One of the early champions of a canal was editor, New York-born, John N. Ingersoll of the Lake Superior News and Miners’ Journal. In 1849 Ingersoll left Sault Ste. Marie, where he had moved the newspaper and went to the Michigan House of Representatives on a canal platform.

In the early 1850s the state of Michigan moved toward construction of a canal. Into the picture came Charles T. Harvey (1829-1912) a native of Westchester, Connecticut. When he arrived at the Soo, he was 22 years of age and working for the Fairbanks Scale Company of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He quickly realized the potential need for a canal and the financial rewards for a company involved in financing it. His employers were informed about these potentials. Erastus Fairbanks was the president and general manager of the firm and became interested in the project. Realistically he saw that more financiers would be necessary due to the magnitude of the project. Soon other New Yorkers like Erastus Corning of Albany – the most powerful financier in the state – became involved. Other individuals joined in and many of them had been involved with the financing and construction of the Erie Canal. There were men like L.L. Nichols, John Seymour, and Captain Augustus Canfield (an 1822 graduate of West Point) who brought with their engineering skills into the project.

The first directors of the company were Yankees and the city of Albany was their chief source of supplies and equipment and Corning’s Albany City Bank provided the loans. Most of the canal stockholders were from New York City. In return for their involvement, the stockholders and company officials received valuable timberlands and a few, Copper Country copper-rich lands. It was natural that New Yorkers so familiar with canal construction would be involved in the enterprise.

Access to Houghton and Hancock was impeded by the shallowness of the Portage River. In 1859 the mining companies aided by Ransom Sheldon and C.C. Douglass organized the Portage River Improvement Company. As a result, funds were raised and under the New York contractor, W.W. Williams and Vermont-born engineer, John H. Forester the river was widened and deepened by dredging and a breakwater built at the mouth of Lake Superior.

Historically the lumber industry began in New Brunswick, crossed the border into Maine and then proceeded into New York state, into Michigan’s Lower and then the Upper Peninsula before moving into Wisconsin, Minnesota and finally into the Pacific Northwest. The migration of this industry into the Upper Peninsula brought with it folk culture, lingo, technology, and experts. The eastern experience was vital in the direction and organization of logging in northern Michigan. For instance, the boom company which brought some order to the busy banks of the Menominee River, was an idea imported from Maine. Terminology or “logging lingo” was also imported from the East. The concept of logging camps and certain types of equipment originated in Maine.

There were also individuals who got their start in Maine and New York and then came to the Upper Peninsula. Dr. Jonathan C. Hall was a successful physician who migrated west from his Ithaca, New York home for health reasons. In 1845 he developed a sawmill on the Menominee River and although he lost his initial investment, this experiment set the foundation for the lumber industry in the Upper Peninsula. Later there was Isaac Stephenson and his brothers Samuel and Robert and who were originally from New Brunswick and spent several seasons in Maine before moving to Michigan. It was Stephenson who brought forth the idea of a central organization or boom company subscribed to by major operators which would allow a mixed ownership of logs to pass along the river and to mills while, every owner got credit for his logs. At the initial meeting in 1867 were men like Nelson and Harrison Ludington who were born in upstate New York; Augustus Brown who got his start in New York; Daniel Wells and Andrew Merryman from Maine; and others from New Brunswick.

Jefferson Sinclair, nicknamed “the Napoleon of lumbering” got his start and earned his reputation in the forests of Maine. In 1845 he sold his interests in the East and migrated to the Great Lakes region. He used his organizational skills to assist in the growth and development of the infant logging business of northern Michigan. He was located at the mouth of the Escanaba River and soon enlisted a partner, Daniel Wells a former Milwaukee hotelkeeper who originally was from Maine. They were joined by other Maine loggers, among them Isaac Stephenson. The latter acted as timber cruiser and the three men brought pine-rich lands along Green Bay including the future sites of Escanaba, Nahma, and Ford River, Michigan.

Eventually Stephenson broke from Sinclair and Wells and formed his own partnership. He enlisted the support of other business men who had their origins in Maine. The Menominee River with its rich pine resources became the major logging river in the Upper Peninsula. Many of the leading loggers who operated along the river had their origins in Maine and New York. The development of Manistique at the mouth of the river of the same name was closely connected to New York lumbermen Abijah Weston and Alanson Fox. Here Eastern temperance dominated and Fox refused to allow saloons to exist in the town. To the west at Nahma, Vermont-born George Farsworth and farther to the east at St. Ignace, another Granite-stater, Francis Stockbridge guided the Mackinac Lumber Company. Later Stockbridge sponsored the famous Grand Hotel on nearby Mackinac Island and timber from his sawmill was used in the construction.

In the Copper Country, Orin W. Robinson (1834-1925) who was born in New Hampshire played a role in the development of the lumber industry. Robinson went to the Upper Peninsula in 1854 with a party of people from Cornish, New Hampshire and first became involved with the Quincy Mining Company. Then in 1873 he went from copper to lumber and organized the Sturgeon River Lumber Company and built a sawmill at Hancock. In 1888 the mill was moved to Chassell, south of Hancock. The company’s plants and lands were sold in 1902 to C.H. Worcester of Chicago and the business continued in operation until 1928 known as the Worcester Lumber Company.

Charles Hebard was born in Connecticut in 1831 and went to the Copper Country where he developed his interest in the timber business. After 1876 he developed the Hebard-Thurber Lumber Company whose base of operation was Pequaming, north of L’Anse. Besides their involvement in the economic development of the region, Yankees were associated with Progressive government, social reform and economic regulation, education, religion and the creation of communities. Yankee values were clearly associated with the development of the Upper Peninsula.

The earliest newspaper established in the Upper Peninsula was the Lake Superior News first located at Copper Harbor, Michigan. It was established by John N. Ingersoll (1817-1881) who was from North Castle, Westchester County, New York of Dutch and Connecticut stock. In his early career he apprenticed for newspaperman Horace Greeley, who encouraged him to go West. He went to Michigan and worked on several newspapers in southern Michigan. In 1846 he began publishing his Upper Peninsula newspaper but within a few years returned to Detroit.

The temperance movement got its start in New England and in 1833 a number of smaller societies united to form the United States Temperance Union. The demand for legal prohibition spread and in 1846 Maine adopted the first of such laws. Thus, it was natural as New Englanders migrated to Michigan, they brought with them the temperance movement. Reverend Abel Bingham, the Baptist missionary at Sault Ste. Marie (1828-1855), formed a temperance society and was assisted by men in town and at Fort Brady. At one period he was so successful, liquor was emptied into the gutters and none was sold for some time. At about the same time Charles Harvey banned liquor during the construction of the St. Mary’s Canal. There were numerous attempts to make Michigan dry and even the Catholics in Marquette had St. Peter’s Total Abstinence and Literary Society. During the lumber era, Alanson Fox, a New Yorker at Manistique sought to keep saloons from town but a loophole was discovered and soon the community had a raucous saloon district.

The large immigrant population which arrived in the Upper Peninsula during the nineteenth century, were not accustomed to temperance and prohibition. As a result, this New England tradition went down to defeat in an April, 1910 election as the Weekly Mining Journal stated, “Nowhere in the Upper Peninsula counties did the drys carry an important village or city.” In Marquette County the vote was 1,321 wets versus 745 drys. These were Yankee traditions and customs that the immigrants and others were not ready to accept.

The laws of territorial Michigan were shaped from those of Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. All of the Yankees who entered the Upper Peninsula played important roles in the development of local government on the state, township and community basis. Orin W. Robinson first voted for John C. Fremont in 1856 as the first Republican candidate for president. Later in 1864 he helped organize the Republican Party in Houghton County. In 1892 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, which renominated President Benjamin Harrison. Between 1895 and 1899 he was a member of the House of the Michigan legislature and then of the Senate. Robinson served two terms (to 1903) as lieutenant governor of Michigan.

In Marquette Henry H. Stafford (1833-1911) was a strong supporter of abolition and a Republican. In 1871 he served as Marquette’s first mayor. New Yorker and newspaper founder, John N. Ingersoll, after establishing the Lake Superior Journal, was elected representative for Chippewa County and the unorganized territory of Lake Superior in 1849. Peter White played many roles in Marquette. In the summer of 1851 since the economy was stagnant, he went on a fishing, trip. When he returned home, he learned that Marquette County had been organized and the he had been elected county clerk and register of deeds. His appointment of clerk carried with it, membership on the school board and he was elected treasurer of that body. He also served as postmaster of Marquette and was joined by Indians to carry the mail in the winter from Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1857 he was elected to the state legislature and in 1875 he served in the state senate.

Many of the early visitors, government officials, surveyors and others left reports of their visits to the Upper Peninsula. One of the earliest chroniclers of the Lake Superior County was Jonathan Carver, the eighteenth-century explorer who is best known for his book, Travels through the Interior Parts of North America (1778). Henry R. Schoolcraft who became extremely knowledgeable about the Upper Peninsula is known for his works, Narrative Journal of Travel through the Northwestern Regions of the United States . . . to the Sources of the Mississippi River appeared in 1821 and Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, the Actual Source of the Mississippi (1834). Schoolcraft’s literary legacy in the form of books and articles extensive.

In the nineteenth century with the development of the mining regions many of those who wrote of the area and its wealth were Yankees and included professors affiliated with universities such as Yale and Harvard. Colonel Charles Whittlesey (1808-1886) was born in Southington, Connecticut and then in 1813 his parents moved to Ohio. He graduated from west Point, served his time in the Army and then became a surveyor. In 1844 traveled to the Lake Superior country as a geologist for a copper company. Between 1847 and 1851 he conducted surveys for the federal government around Lake Superior and in the Upper Mississippi Valley. He eventually spent fifteen seasons exploring these latter regions. The results of his work were a sizeable body of publications which provided the public with factual information on the geology, history and topography of this region.

Bela Hubbard (1814-1896) and William A. Burt were two other Yankees who left detailed accounts of their early years in the Upper Peninsula. In 1846 the two men authored Reports of Wm. A. Burt and Bela Hubbard, Esqs., On the Geography, Topography and Geology of the U.S. Surveys of the Mineral Region of the South Shore of Lake Superior, November, 1845. Later in 1888 Hubbard published his Memorials of a Half Century in Michigan and the Great Lakes which provides a wealth of information about the Upper Peninsula in general. Hubbard was born in Hamilton, New York, attended Hamilton College, and read law before he traveled to Michigan and became involved in real estate. For many years he worked as a surveyor with Douglass Houghton and then on his own.

Charles W. Penny was from a New England family who settled on Cape Cod and then in 1774 migrated to Putnam County, New York where Penny was born in 1812. He accompanied Douglass Houghton and in North to Lake Superior wrote of the Upper Peninsula wilderness as one of the last frontiers open in the Midwest.

Alvah L. Sawyer (1854-1925), early 20th century historian of the Upper Peninsula had his origins in Massachusetts. Members of the family helped to establish Prescott and Lancester, Massachusetts and later Oxford, New Hampshire. Sawyer’s family migrated to Wisconsin in 1843 where Sawyer was born. After being admitted to the bar, Sawyer moved to Menominee, Michigan where he developed a successful law practice, became involved in community affairs, and became a historian of the Upper Peninsula. He was involved in the creation of the city of Menominee and was its first city attorney. In 1881 he helped organize the local Democratic Party. With the establishment of a sugar beet refinery in 1902 he wrote and lectured on raising sugar beets. Over the years he promoted the Spies Public Library and served as its president.

In the field of history and promotion of the Upper Peninsula he was extremely active writing for local magazines and newspapers. In 1911 he published his three-volume magnum opus on the history of the region, The Northern Peninsula of Michigan. It remains one of the best surveys of the Peninsula although dated in many respects. Later he served as president of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society.

The town was an important ingredient in Puritan society going back to the seventeenth century. So, it was natural to find the Upper Peninsula’s largest city, Marquette being established by New Englanders and New Yorkers. On July 10, 1849 it was Peter White of Rome, New York; Amos R. Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; and others who first cleared and platted the land and began what has become the city of Marquette. At first the town was called Worcester after Harlow’s home town in Massachusetts, but was renamed after the French Jesuit missionary in 1850. Both Amos and Olive Harlow were community-oriented individuals. Not a politician, Amos never ran for public office but he was Marquette’s first appointed postmaster. Later after he was established in Marquette, he developed Crescent Park, an ample private park about seven acres planted with native trees, shrubs, plants and flower. It was a surprise for his wife when she returned home. Olive Harlow was born in Barre, Massachusetts and obtained a teaching certificate. Until 1841 she studied at the Leicester Academy near Worcester, met and married her husband and traveled west with him. She has left us a fine detailed journal of her life in fledgling Marquette.

As the population increased so did the need for organized churches and variety of Yankees played important roles in their development. In the summer of 1849 Olive Harlow who had recently discovered a Mr. Williams, a seminarian from Alleghany College in Pennsylvania on a fishing holiday and got him to hold the first religious service in the community using her log cabin as a chapel.

Later Olive established the first home in Marquette and turned it into a make-shift hospital during a cholera epidemic. Dr. Morse, a physician who graduated from the Vermont Medical College and a minister provided his medical services to Marquette for a year. Later Reverend Morse, who was also a Congregational minister held religious services in the Harlow residence prior to the first church being constructed. In 1855 Olive and a group of local women established the Marquette Literary Association.

The first physicians to service the Marquette community were from New England and New York. In 1881 the husband and wife, team of the Markhams arrived in Marquette. Dr. Mary B. Markham and her husband Russel were from New York. Mary was born in Auburn, New York in 1859 and attended Hahnaman Medical College in Chicago. She worked with her husband when he was away from the office, checked insurance claims and worked in obstetrics and general medicine. She died prematurely in 1905.

The newly arrived Yankees quickly established churches of their respective congregations. The Presbyterian church was created on February 13, 1852 by Amos Harlow, Charles Harvey, S.P. Ely and others. Prior to this establishment occasional services were held in the unfinished home of Herman Ely. On August 18, 1856 another group of Yankees: Dr. J.J. St. Claire, Philo Everett, Peter White, Henry H. Stafford, Charles Judd, Dr. Blaker, Charles Harvey, Alvin Brooks, William Ferguson organized St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Marquette. Others established the Methodist church.

After the community was established many of its Yankee citizens served in various capacities in city and country government. Harlow served as justice of the peace, supervisor, count clerk, alderman, and notary public. Over the years White served in a number of capacities: snowshoe mail carrier, county clerk and register of deeds, state representative and senator, and philanthropist. Philo Everett of Connecticut served as probate judge from 1856-1857 and New Yorker Ariel N. Barney served as probate judge for two terms beginning in 1859.

Throughout its history, the story of education has been influenced by Yankees. In 1852 Massachusetts became the first state to legislate compulsory education, followed by Vermont and New Hampshire and in 1871 Michigan followed suit. A number of Yankees played an important role in the development of education in the Upper Peninsula. Many helped to create schools in their communities and then served on school boards. As an example of this influence in the summer of 1860 three of the five school teachers in Marquette were Yankees.

In 1875, Peter White while serving as state senator, unsuccessfully sought passage of a bill to create a state normal or teaching school in the Upper Peninsula. For the next 24 years it constantly sought the support of the residences and finally in April, 1899 Northern State Normal School, the forerunner to Northern Michigan University was created.

Once this was accomplished White and others did not see their task as completed. Three Yankees sought to donate a twenty-acre parcel to the state for the new school. White’s piece was by passed due to title complications and it was John M. Longyear of New England stock and Boston millionaire, Frederick Ayer whose gift was accepted by the State Board of Education. During the first years of the school White provided $1,000 annually for the purchase of art reproductions so that a museum-like setting could be created in the buildings. In 1900 Longyear and Ayer opened the first dormitory on campus which they had constructed at their own expense. Over the years descendants of both the Longyear and White families have continued to generously give to the university.

Once the school was on firm footing, four prominent Marquette residents – Peter White, Nathan M. Kaufman, Edward N. Breitung, Albert E. Miller – purchased the Moses Coit Tyler Collection for its small library. Tyler (1835-1900) was born in Griswald, Connecticut of an old New England family. As a youth his family moved to Detroit. He attended the University of Michigan but graduated from Yale in 1857. After additional education he was ordained a Congregational minister in 1859 but resigned from the ministry in 1862. He was interested in reforms – temperance, abolition and women’s rights – all of which were developed and natured in New England. In 1881 Cornell University offered Tyler the first chair of American history in the United States. Tyler was a pioneer and foremost scholar on the historical development of American literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. So, it was fitting that a Yankee brought Tyler’s collection to a school started and assisted by Yankees. In 1904 the collection comprising 3,000 volumes was given to the five-year-old school.

Over the years many Yankees made fortunes on the natural resources of the Upper Peninsula. A journalist noted that the stockholders of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company read like the passenger list of the Mayflower. Later in the nineteenth century the money made from Calumet & Hecla was used by Bostonians to promote scientific, cultural and humanitarian projects. Agassiz became wealthy by making C&H an efficient mining operation. Later he used his wealth to pursue deep sea exploration on personally financed expeditions. Later he funded the expansion of the Harvard Natural History Museum where his specimens were housed. Henry L. Higginson, another brother-in-law of Agassiz was instrumental in organizing the Boston Symphony Orchestra and for many years personally met the annual operating deficit. Finally, the Shaw family founded and fostered public nursery and kindergarten schools using funds from they’re copper stocks.

Samuel Mather used his large fortune built on Upper Peninsula iron ore for the benefit of Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University and its affiliated hospitals. He was involved with the establishment of the Cleveland Red Cross War Council of which he became chair in 1917. Later this emerged as Cleveland Community Fund which he heavily funded. Mather also contributed to many other charities. Within the Upper Peninsula, Peter White was a grand philanthropist. In the early 1880s he took steps to get Congress to pass a bill to give Presque Isle to the city of Marquette. He also donated money for the construction of the Peter White Library which continues to serve the community.

The history of the connection between the Upper Peninsula and the Northeast has been crucial in the development of the former region. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Yankees forged viable communities on this isolated frontier of the Midwest. Although this study has highlighted some of the more prominent Yankees, there are hundreds of more who brought with them their spirit of exploration and community, of finance and technology, and culture and politics. This region was served well by these Yankee pioneers along with their Michigan-born descendants.

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Russell Magnaghi

Russell Magnaghi was born in San Francisco in the middle of World War II, but has lived in Michigan's Upper Peninsula since 1969. Magnaghi received his education at the University of San Francisco (BA 1965) and at St. Louis University (Ph.D. 1970). Magnaghi has had a 45-year teaching career at Northern Michigan University and also served as director of the Center for Upper Peninsula Studies. He has written many journal and newspaper articles and books and has given talks on local heritage and regional history.


  1. Jared Hautamaki on January 10, 2024 at 7:21 am

    “pockets of settlements”, “This hostility rose to a new crescendo in the summer of 1763 when the Odawa leader, Pontiac (c. 1720-1769) led a revolt against the English and New England-New York traders throughout the Great Lakes region.” “Rogers had a checkered career as a frontier fighter, defending the colonial frontier from French and Native aggression.”

    These are words of settler colonial mentality. Natives were defending their lands from colonialism. There was no “frontier”…there was white expansion, genocide and displacement of the inhabitants of the peoples of Michigamme. While it’s a thorough history of such colonialism, romanticizing it with terms like “settlement” and “frontier” perpetuates the very literal whitewashing of the history of brutal colonialism and entitlement that whites have about their murderous expansion and theft of (as the author puts it) “rich agricultural lands” and “pristine wilderness”.

    The author, as a PHD, would be wise to step back from his rose colored lens of history and use a different dialectic to give his audience a more balanced approach to regional history. This revisionist history is just critical race theory for white people.

    • Eric Gort on January 10, 2024 at 9:16 am

      I have to agree with Jared. While this article may be about Yankee migration to the UP and those immigrants motivations to migrate, that doesn’t change what was actually happening. A more realistic approach would be appreciated. At the least a disclaimer of some sort.

  2. Bill Hetrick on January 10, 2024 at 11:04 am

    I view Mr. Hautomaki’s comments as an opportunity for a person with a strong opinion to do his own research on the rich and lengthy history of the native people. Rather than condemning the lengthy well researched article I look forward to your well researched article. I have always admired Dr.Managua . Well done sir 😊

    • Bill Hetrick on January 10, 2024 at 12:59 pm

      I apologize for misspelling Dr Magnaghi and Mr Hautamaki’s names.

  3. Richard Bourgeois on January 10, 2024 at 2:34 pm

    Terrific description of New England settlers who moved west to the upper peninsula for investment and settlement purposes. Thank you for your well thought out and researched and very readable article

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