"Don't Look Back"

At 1550 Taylor Street in Detroit's Virginia Park neighborhood stands Beth Tefilo Emanuel, an old Orthodox synagogue from the golden era of Jewish settlement on the Motor City's west side—but it's more recently known as Tried Stone Baptist Church. Incidentally it has been visited by several famous people, including Bill Cosby, Mohammed Ali, Martin Luther King III, and Evel Knieval, as well as hosting the funeral of Paul Williams of The Temptations. There must have been some kind of magic about this particular neighborhood, since the Hutchins Intermediate School a block away was also where many famous performers went to school (not to mention this was where the 1967 Riot touched off).

Jewish history and African-American history in Detroit tend to follow each other around a bit; both minority groups had their original enclaves on the near east side by what is now all loosely identified with Eastern Market, but which was once Black Bottom and the old Jewish neighborhood. The 12th Street (Rosa Parks) corridor on Detroit's west side—and soon after the Dexter-Linwood area—both became Jewish communities, and in both cases blacks moved in behind them soon after.

I noticed with some chagrin that there was a superfluously-added street sign on this corner denoting that this stretch of Taylor Street was now called "M.B. Terrell Drive" between Woodrow Wilson and the Lodge Freeway. Little did I know, that name change had everything to do with this vacant house of worship that I was about to explore, and nothing to do with vain politicians renaming things after themselves or their buddies.

Despite a crucifix-shaped sign on the corner of the building that said "Tried Stone Baptist Church," I had no idea what the original historical name of the building was, so as usual I started by consulting the Sanborn maps. The c.1925 Sanborn map shows this structure, labelled as "First Emanuel Congregation." Since the cornerstone on the building says 1924, it had just been built when that map was drawn. On the 1915 Sanborn map this location was a mere couple blocks away from the city limits with the former Greenfield Township, and most of the surrounding lots were still empty.

If you look close at the facade of the building you can see the faint outline of a menorah and the two tablets of the Ten Commandments—traditional Jewish symbols—have been scrubbed from the stone in order to make it look less like a synagogue and more like a Christian church. It was designed by architect Robert Finn.

The book Jewish Detroit by Irwin J. Cohen calls this synagogue "Congregation Beth Tefilo Emanuel," and in the course of my cursory research I have not yet seen it referred to as First Emanuel Congregation anywhere else except the Sanborn map. It does however have the typical Jewish nickname of "Taylor Shul," which just means that it is the synagogue or "school" that is located on Taylor Street. As the literal translation of shul suggests, it also housed an afternoon Hebrew school, and was the largest shul in Detroit's west-side stetl (Jewish neighborhood).

If it had been located on 24th Street, I suppose it would have been named "24th Shul"? There is also a Hooker Street in Detroit, but there are no shuls on it that I know of.

Beth Yehudah (Pingree Shul) was located just a few blocks south of here, and Beth David and Beth Abraham were also in the immediate area. Blaine Shul, which I have written about before on this website, was over at Blaine Street near Linwood.

According to shtetlhood.com, this synagogue merged with another one and subsequently became known thereafter as Beth Tefilo Emanuel Tikva. I imagine that as the Jewish migration out of Detroit's west side up to Oakland County started taking effect, many of these numerous little shuls either moved north or closed entirely. Or they may have had half of their members decide to stay, forcing them to merge with other small shuls in order to stay alive.

Taylor Shul did its fair share of moving as well, and after vacating its original home here in the early 1960s, they briefly had a storefront location at Wyoming & Thatcher near Mumford High, according to the book Echoes of Detroit's Jewish Communities (also by Irwin J. Cohen). Today they are located in the suburb of Southfield at 24225 Greenfield Road.

Meanwhile, Marion B. Terrell, Sr. attended Campbell College in Jackson, Mississippi and began ministering in 1939...you may recognize his name from the street sign that I mentioned earlier. Terrell came up to Detroit in 1945, where he was "called to the pastorate of Tried Stone Baptist Church" in 1949, and remained steadfastly at the head of his congregation for about 50 years.

Tried Stone originated under Rev. Terrell's pastorship in a storefront on Russell Street at E. Kirby, and it moved into this building in the early 1960s, which, as I said was when the sizable Jewish population of Detroit's west side was moving out.

Tried Stone was noted in a 1972 Detroit Free Press article as being very youth-centric (a theme that seems to have continued well into the 1990s, based on another ad for a youth bible conference that I saw in the paper). The Tried Stone Baptist was one of about 40 churches in Detroit that broadcasted services live from their own auditoriums on Sundays, on WGFR.

Legendary boxer Mohammed Ali and legendary stuntman Evel Knievel were in the Detroit area in May of 1987 for a K-Mart shareholders' meeting, according to another article in the Free Press. They decided to put in some community service time and promotional appearances while they were in town as well, which included visiting prisoners at Wayne County Jail and giving out food to the needy at Tried Stone Baptist.

In 1997, for the 30th anniversary of the 1967 Riot, Tried Stone Baptist focused their annual leadership conference on discussing and taking lessons from the tragic insurrection. Conference speakers were to include U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, and Martin Luther King III—the son of the famous civil rights leader—who is a leader in his own right. Another Free Press article tells how local politician Sharon McPhail made an appearance on the pulpit here when she was campaigning to unseat Ed McNamara as Wayne County Executive in 1998.

With the 50th anniversary of that horrific week already close at hand, I look around and see Metro-Detroiters still asking whether we have learned anything from the Riot, or whether anything actually changed.

When the nightmarish 1967 Riot started, it began at a building at the corner of 12th and Clairmount, which was literally only one block to the west of this former synagogue. I imagine these large bright windows to have been dimmed by the thick black smoke drifting through the neighborhood from the fires raging as 12th Street burned.

Judging by the many vacant lots where surrounding houses used to be, I'd say that a fair number of them may have been consumed in the fires as well, but thankfully this building itself survived and is still in fair shape overall, but the start of serious decay from neglect is quite evident:

Again, the Jewish congregation had already moved on a few years before the Riot took place, and this building had already been home to the Tried Stone Baptist congregation for some time.

In the immediate aftermath of the Riot's chaos, Tried Stone was designated as one of the 33 official food distribution centers set up by Mayor Cavanagh's Committee for Emergency Food and Housing Allocation, and it was one of eight that were listed in a July 30, 1967 Free Press article as staying open longer than the rest.

By the mid-1990s, this had already been a traditionally under-served area for quite some time. Rev. Richard P. Wilson saw more than 100 of Tried Stone's 1,200 poor or elderly members die in one year due to preventable illnesses that were going undiagnosed, and decided something had to be done. Wilson enlisted the help of University of Michigan, Wayne State, and the Kellogg Foundation to start up its own primary health care clinic (I assume this explained the modern, white addition to the righthand side of the old synagogue seen in the first photo).

The health center was staffed by Wayne State nursing students and accepted patients with insurance, and charged those without it according to their income level. Rev. Wilson hoped that by offering health care at affordable rates, it would help locals stay well and hopefully stop dying of illnesses that are supposed to be easily cured.

Of all the funerals conducted in this sanctuary, perhaps the most notable was that of Motown star Paul Williams, one of the original five Temptations, and the "soul of the group," according to founder Otis Williams. Paul did most of the group's choreography and sang lead on several of their hit numbers, such as "Don't Look Back."

Sadly Williams struggled with alcoholism and was finally found in his car at 14th & West Grand Boulevard after having apparently committed suicide with a gunshot to the head. His funeral was held here on August 25th, 1973, during which the other Temptations members sang and served as pallbearers. There are still rumors that Williams' death was a murder cover-up and not suicide, but nothing else has ever been proven.

It was kind of surprising to find what looked to be an original chandelier still hanging in here:

Another original-looking chandelier:

A footnote from a scholarly paper by Deidre Lyniece Wheaton notes that Dr. Bill Cosby visited Tried Stone as recently as 2007 to lead a town hall-style discussion to a capacity crowd after his book Come On People was released. The book was about "personal responsibility, a commitment to education, and building stronger families," and it was seen by many as an extension of some of his other controversial opinions on black issues. (Of course, this was well before the entire world came to the consensus that Dr. Cosby was a rapist bastard).

As you can see, the artwork adorning the walls of this sanctuary has taken a turn toward the Baptist since its Hebrew days:

Its townhall shape helps it double as a great community-forum type of structure for non-religious meetings as well. Originally, as an orthodox Jewish synagogue, the balcony would be reserved for women while the main floor seating was for men. In the center of the room would have been the bimah, a raised platform where the scrolls would be carried and prayers recited by the rabbi, according to reader William Frank (I was raised Catholic, so I don't intuitively know these things).

I guess stained glass was never quite in the budget for Beth Tefilo Emanuel or Tried Stone Baptist, so a few colored panes of glass help lend some warmth to this cold dreary Detroit day.

Here is an old 1920s pendant-style light fixture still perfectly intact in the stairwell:

Though I had overlooked it at first—not making the connection between the name on the street-sign outside and the name on this memorial stone—taking a closer look now I see that this was indeed intended to be a memorial to Tried Stone's founding pastor, Rev. M.B. Terrell, who apparently passed away in the year 2000:

According to the church's own website, Tried Stone moved to 7729 Rosa Parks near St. Agnes Church, and are now called the New Greater Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church.

As of 2016 some renovation work is underway on this old building, and at time of writing all new windows have been installed. I would assume that the plan is to make it some kind of a church again.

Just for reference, I marked up the following aerial photo taken from Bing.com to show the disposition of this church and the other culturally important buildings/sites in this neighborhood of Virginia Park that I have posted about, such as the Crosman School and Hutchins School:

Image from Bing.com

Sanborn Maps for Detroit, Vol. 9, Sheet 45 (1925)
Sanborn Maps for Detroit, Vol. 9, Sheet 87 (1915)
Harmony & Dissonance: Voices of Jewish Identity in Detroit, 1914-1967, by Sidney M. Bolkosky, p. 98
Jewish Detroit, by Irwin J. Cohen, p. 93-94
Echoes of Detroit's Jewish Communities: A History, by Irwin J. Cohen, p. 281
"Anniversary Commemoration," Detroit Free Press, July 20, 1997, p. 55
"Why the Sunday Radio-TV Church Fade-out?" Detroit Free Press, February 5, 1972, p. 21
"With Help, Church Opens Health Clinic," Detroit Free Press, November 9, 1998, p. 62
"Jail Inmates get a Surprise Visit from the Champ," Detroit Free Press, May 26, 1987, p. 3
"16 Food Centers Kept Open," Detroit Free Press, July 30, 1967, p. 6
"A Message of Accountability," Detroit Free Press, July 30, 1998, p. 82
Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (Third Edition), by Scott Wilson, p. 813
Seeking Salvation: Black Messianism, Racial Formation, and Christian Thought in Late Twentieth Century Black Cultural Texts, by Deidre Lyniece Wheaton, p. 165
Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan, Vol. 1, 1980, by J.S. Bagg, p. 20

In the Crosshairs

As I was out walking around the neighborhood one winter's day, I decided to make a quick pass through the old Crosman Elementary School. That was the same day that I also checked out the Hutchins Intermediate School and the Tried Stone Baptist Church, since they were all in the same area and sitting wide open.

An article in the May 28, 1911 Detroit Free Press shows that Crosman School was designed that year by the local architects Malcomson & Higginbotham, and was expected to relieve crowding at the Duane Doty and Fairbanks Schools. W.G. Malcomson was quoted in the article as saying,
It is interesting to note that Detroit's schools of later construction have a greater popularity than those of any other city in the country. There was a time some years ago when people would make a strong protest against having schools located in their neighborhood. The use of diversified designs for the building and the attractive architectural individuality given each one have made the new schools a welcome addition wherever they are placed...

Malcomson & Higginbotham designed plenty of other notable buildings in Detroit, as well as most of the Detroit Public Schools from that era, including Old Main, McMillan High School, Hutchins Intermediate School, Jane Cooper School, and the John S. Gray Branch Library.

According to the book Histories of the Public Schools of Detroit, this school was named after Miss Caroline Crosman, a Philanthropic educator who taught in the Wilkins School, and who was principal of the Bartstow School for over twenty years. She was influential in promoting the field of education in her day and was held in wide esteem by both her pupils and her peers.

On the c.1915 Sanborn map of the area, Crosman School's address was shown as 1501 Hamilton, since the Lodge Expressway had not been built yet. Crosman School also predates the Cody administration's building boom, but has at least one addition that dates from that era of expansion.

As discussed in my post about nearby Hutchins Intermediate School, famous actress Lily Tomlin grew up in this neighborhood and went to this school, as well as Hutchins.

A quote from a website about her says,
I grew up on Hazelwood, between Byron and Woodrow Wilson, near John C. Lodge and Clairmount in the old neighborhood that burned down in the '67 riots. My old apartment house got gutted by fire and later it was torn down. My dad used to hang out on 12th Street, and I'd go to the bookie joints and bars with him. I was very socially conscious as a kid growing up in my neighborhood, which was a predominantly black neighborhood.
Not my photo.
The photo above, from classic.lilytomlin.com, was most likely Tomlin's class picture taken while at Crosman School.
This was when I graduated 9th grade, I guess, so I must've been 14. I left Hutchins Jr. High and went to Cass Tech H.S. Unless this is from Crosman Elementary. Could I be 11? On my way to Hutchins? I seem too young looking to be going to high school. Plus I was so hoody in the 10th grade. If I wasn't thinking it I should've been, "I should get a Breck ad with this cool hairdo."

Another famous Detroiter, Motown bass singer Marvin Franklin of The Temptations lived directly across the street from Crosman School, at 1160 Clairmount, according to the book Home in Detroit, by T. Burton. So I'd say that it's another safe bet that Mr. Franklin went to this school as well.

I spoke more about Lily Tomlin's life in Detroit as well as the unusual number of other famous performers who came from this particular corner of the city in my post about Hutchins Intermediate School.

In the 1990s Crosman Elementary became known as "Caroline Crosman Alternative High School" which was dedicated to students that were in need of remedial help in an alternative school environment. Which might actually describe most kids in the city of Detroit, but anyway....

In 2007, Crosman was closed down due to the building's poor condition, and the remaining students were combined with Hutchins Intermediate School nearby, which in turn also closed not long after. The vacant Crosman building has faced the threat of demolition, but so far is still standing. 

I remembered seeing riveted-leather doors like this in the Clark School in Flint.

It's probably a good thing that I didn't grow up going to school in an architecturally pleasing building such as this...even in the sterile modern 1950s school that I attended, I still had a problem with daydreaming and looking out the window instead of paying attention to my work.

This is like, every staircase in every post-1920 Detroit school:

Across the street looms Herman Kiefer Hospital, another landmark along the Lodge Expressway:

In this next shot you can also see the Fisher Building towering in the distance to the left:

Looking at the back of the school shows the way in which the building has been added-onto over the years, including a gymnasium, an auditorium wing, and extra classroom space:

This bizarre next shot shows a rift between two dimensions...

...on the bottom half, the drywall-partitioned sham of modern renovation; above its crumbling veil of drop-ceiling tiles, the old classic school auditorium of yore still exists, waiting for the illusion to be dispelled. I was standing in the former balcony when I took the shot.

A shot from the building's Clairmount side shows the Tudor / Arts & Crafts flair applied to the school, perhaps to make it adhere better to the houses of the surrounding neighborhood:

I was standing next to Marvin Franklin's house when I snapped that shot.

Plans were announced in 2015 to convert the also-vacant Herman Kiefer Hospital complex into a community style development of some sort, and they speculated that Crosman and Hutchins schools might eventually be included in that.

Just for reference, I marked up the following aerial photo taken from Bing.com to show the disposition of the Crosman School and the other culturally important buildings/sites in this neighborhood of Virginia Park that I have posted about, such as Hutchins School, and the Tried Stone Baptist Church:

Image from Bing.com

Sanborn Maps for Detroit, Vol. 9, Sheet 87 (1915)
Histories of the Public Schools of Detroit, Volume 1, p. 295-297
"Modern Adaptation of Old English Type Features Design for News 18-Room School on Hamilton Boulevard Near Clairmount Avenue," Detroit Free Press, May 28, 1911
Home in Detroit, by T. Burton, p. 96

Pine's Last Stand

I recently explored the ghost town of Pere Cheney, but elsewhere out in the woods of Crawford County lie the ruins of the sawmill town of Deward, which was infamous for a different reason.

Deward represented the great "last-gasp" of the legendary logging industry in Michigan, and its massive mill harvested the last remaining stand of virgin old-growth pine left in the Lower Peninsula in one final, dramatic bonanza.

As you can plainly see there is new forest growth covering most of Michigan today, but it will take another thousand years for it to recuperate to the level of maturity it was at in the 1800s.

Deward sits on the line between what is now the Pere Marquette State Forest, the Mackinaw State Forest, and the Au Sable State Forest; and near the corner of Crawford, Kalkaska, Antrim, and Otsego counties, by the headwaters of the Manistee River. The USGS Quadrangle map shows another ghost town, Ishaward, just to the south along the bank of the Manistee River, but does not show any structures' locations for either town.

Despite not being a very challenging place to pinpoint on a map, I had an extraordinarily difficult time getting to Deward, thanks to a streak of very bad luck. On my first attempt at finding the ghost town in August of 2015, I got my truck stuck in a sandpit at the bottom of Toll Hill, on Deward Road.

Some petroleum company truck had stopped in the intersection, forcing me to slow down through the deep sand, and since I have a standard, non-4x4 pickup, I got stuck. The other truck blithely drove away, leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere, and I was forced to call for a tow from Grayling with one bar of cell service and one bar of battery power left on my phone, sweating bullets all the while that I might end up spending the night walking back to Frederic when I had to work in the morning. By the time all that was resolved I didn't even have time to look for any ruins of Deward.

I made a second attempt a few weeks later...and still couldnt find anything. I had parked at the top of Toll Hill so I wouldn't have to go through the sandpit again, but a freak thunderstorm came up as I was hiking toward the townsite and I ended up getting completely drenched while running a mile back to where I left my truck, which made for a miserable ride home...I started to think this place was cursed.

All I got to see of the town was this strange five-way intersection in the midst of a large clearing, with a DNR sign that said I was in the "Deward Conservation Area" or whatever:

On my third attempt I came in hot with all guns blazing, approaching at dawn from Manistee River Rd. instead of Deward Rd., and found the ruins with no problem. Of course when you come geared up for all-out battle you meet no resistance...figures.

Anyway, of all the hundreds of old ghost towns in Michigan, Deward might be the one that is the best-researched; I had no problem finding all kinds of historical information on it online or in the books on my shelf. This is partly because it was so much bigger and had existed much more recently as compared to other typical lumber towns; the sawmill was built in 1901, the last whistle blew on March 16, 1912, and the last family finally left town in August 1932.

As it turns out, professional historian and museum director Rob Burg--a friend of my girlfriend's, I just realized--seems to be something of an expert on Deward, and wrote an article on it in 2014. The town even was significant enough to have merited mention in Willis F. Dunbar and George S. May's authoritative tome, Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State. Deward was a company town founded literally overnight for the sole purpose of liquidating a recently deceased lumber baron's assets, per a stipulation in his will.

Mr. D.E. Ward (hence "Deward") of West Bloomfield owned timber lands that stretched across Crawford County, Kalkaska County, Antrim County, Charlevoix County, and Otsego County, and by the time of his death in 1900 he still owned 90,000 acres of standing pine in this area, according to Dunbar & May. Clearly Mr. Ward was a big deal 'round these parts. The executors of his will found that his estate had to be settled within 12 years, which sparked something of a race amongst his heirs to chop down this forest as fast as they could, so that each of them could get their inheritance cashed in.

When he was living, Mr. Ward had estimated it would take twenty years to log this 90,000 acre tract out, but according to author Larry Wakefield his impatient heirs did it in just ten. Obviously Mr. Ward never read The Lorax to any of them when they were kids, haha...maybe this is where Dr. Seuss got the inspiration to write it?

The headwaters of the Manistee River were too shallow here to float any logs, so Mr. Ward had built a logging railroad from Frederic to the port at East Jordan in 1886, according to an entry on geocaching.com. But in their planning for Deward, Ward's heirs decided that it would be more economical to ship finished lumber over the rails than just the logs, so they enlarged the narrow-gauge railroad to standard gauge, and had a huge state-of-the-art sawmill built here with a spur connecting it to Frederic, to facilitate the fastest possible harvest. Operations began in September 1901, in the heart of Lower Michigan's last original forest.

Today much of what was cut has grown back of course, thanks to planting efforts by the CCC during the Great Depression.

It was a glorious morning for this little stroll...as the dew from the grasses soaked through the knees of my pants I just hoped that I was on the right track this time. A couple gnarled old apple trees next to the path told me that I was definitely in the area of a former settlement:

Suddenly, as I came within sight of the river access, my eyes locked in on something large and concrete--a foundation:

Looking closer, I saw that it had a big eye-bolt set into it, with some steel guy wire still attached...this must have been one of the anchors for the cables that stabilized the sawmill's massive 100-foot-tall smokestack:

The river looked happy today too:

Nearby, the other weight, again with the steel cable still tied through the eyelet where it was left on the day it was cut for good, and the smokestack taken down:

Peering a little farther back into the wood-line, I spotted what could only be the foundations of the actual mill, much to my satisfaction:

The sawmill at Deward was perhaps the biggest, most modern, and most productive mill in the U.S. at the time, cranking out an alleged 200,000 board-feet in 20 hours, and according to author David M. Brown its high-tech machinery was brought in from Germany.

Most of the mill was constructed of wood-plank walls, so the only real foundations that would remain behind are those that the actual machinery rested upon. Basically a sawmill is nothing more than a big temporary shell built around a giant saw to keep the workers and the equipment out of the weather just long enough to flatten the local forest and turn it into Thneeds...which, after all, are what everyone needs!

In this case, Rob Burg tells me, these foundations went to the steam boiler and associated engine apparatus that provided the mill's motive power.

At its peak the Deward mill was capable of cutting 52 million board-feet per year, more than half of what Perry Hannah's mill turned out in 15 years at Traverse City, Brown writes. The tallest tree ever processed by the Deward mill was probably close to 200 feet tall, and produced 7,856 board-feet of sawn lumber.

According to Wakefield, the mill had a system of clutches that allowed it to continue running constantly even with sections of it down for repair. The mill ran day and night for ten years, until all 90,000 acres were converted to stump barrens. After reaching East Jordan by train, the lumber was put on barges and floated to Chicago, where it was dispersed all over the country, Wakefield writes. He also said that once an entire year's production was sent to Argentina, which was experiencing a massive building boom in those days.

When the Truffula trees were all gone, the Deward sawmill was dismantled. Rob Burg says that it was rebuilt at Shelldrake, another ghost town in the Upper Peninsula near Tahquamenon Falls. It stood there for about two years before burning down...it sounds like I have something else to go look for now.

I've heard that by the Great Depression, whatever structures of Deward were still standing at the time were consumed in a large fire as well, which swept over the town's remains.

A panoramic photo of the ruins of the sawmill in Deward c.1942 can be seen at the bottom of page 7 of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 20, No. 1.

PhilAtTech, a user who posts on an exploring-related web forum that I am also on claimed that the concrete these foundations are made out of was mixed with slag as a filler, which most likely came from an iron smelter "located in a town to the northwest." Since the railroad that served Deward terminated in East Jordan, and since iron has always been big business there, I'd say it's a safe bet.

It looks like there are plenty of smooth cobblestones mixed in to the concrete as well, undoubtedly collected from the glacial till that can be found in the ground all over northern Michigan.

Plenty of threaded rod sticks up from the foundation, a telltale sign that heavy machinery was bolted down here.

If I'm not mistaken these bolts were about two inches in diameter--pretty beefy.

Along the forest floor nearby were a series of much smaller, square-pyramid-shaped concrete footings  arranged in seemingly uniform rows:

There were these few that were prominent, and seemed to be clustered by themselves, but upon closer investigation I discovered many more just by following the lines they made off into the woods.

Here is one hiding under a fern and some grass...

...while this one has almost crumbled away completely:

Rob Burg tells me these were most likely supports for the wooden trestle where finished lumber was moved from the mill's upper level where it was cut, to the lumberyard.

After having wandered a ways away from the mill's big foundations in search of these smaller ones, I began to see a couple long, straight trenches in the ground as well:

They seemed too straight and too uniform to have been natural topographical features, but I'm not sure exactly what function they could have served. Perhaps some kind of flume, or maybe just a natural gap occurring between two parallel railroad spurs? It didn't seem big enough to be a fire break. (Answer: the lines were indeed the spaces in between railroad grades, as the DNR re-planted these pine trees right over the former railroad spurs).

Having apparently exhausted my search for any other ruins of the sawmill, I decided to make my way back up from the river area where the mill was, toward the big field where most of the town site was.

The town of Deward was built as two long rows of houses with room enough for 200 families, and according to Roy L. Dodge, Deward's population made it up to 800 people at its peak. It had a post office, school, church, community hall, boarding house, a hotel and the usual stores.

There was also the roundhouse, depot, and warehouse at the yards of the Detroit & Charlevoix Railroad, "over which eight engines steamed day and night," Dodge says, hauling nearly half a million board feet of lumber out of the mill per day. The village had a brief revival in 1917 where the population went back up to 191, and it still had an operating hotel--and even one of those new-fangled telephones.

An article about Deward by Carl Addison Leech was printed in Michigan History Magazine in 1944 that described the layout of the town. It had two halves essentially, one representing the mill "group," and the other being the railroad group, with a main street connecting the two.

The part of town for the mill men was where the company general store, two-story boarding house, and two-room schoolhouse stood, as well as the Swedish Lutheran church and 300 or so cottages for the families. It was the north end of town where the railroad men and their buildings were grouped, such as the depot, roundhouse, boardinghouse, and cottages.

While crossing the large field in search of any other ruins, I paused when I saw this sudden depression in the ground, thinking that it might have once been someone's cellar, or an outhouse:

I recalled that PhilAtTech had also said that there was a line of depressions left in the ground from the outhouses in everyone's backyard, and I believed that I saw a pattern on aerial imagery that showed some depressions of that nature back when I was doing my research. He said that there were also a couple asparagus plants that keep popping up where they had once been planted in the gardens of the houses that once stood along here.

It wasn't much further before I came across this large concrete foundation. Supposedly there was a large concrete and brick foundation "left from where the town bank vault was once securely mounted," but I'm not sure this was it. Seems a little bit long for a bank vault. Besides, Rob Burg tells me that there was no actual bank in Deward; that is a popular misconception. This foundation went to the railroad scale building--which I sort of had a feeling about, since it stands very near a few obvious railroad grades.

Deward Town Hall was actually located on the second floor of the D.E. Ward Company store and office building. Although it did not actually serve as the seat of town government as its name suggests, it was where "the elite or young set held dances and played games" according to Leech's article, one of which was called "No master in the hallway." In this game, a man with the smell of liquor on his breath was given the "foot-lights," whatever that means.

The seat of local government was in Frederic; in a company-owned town, there is no "governmental system" per se, but for the company itself.

Leech wrote that the town hall had a kitchen and was used for social functions such as Thanksgiving dinners, and hunter’s feasts known as the "fin, fur and feather party." On Thanksgiving, Mr. Ward's estate provided turkeys for the feast, and the women prepared them while the men went hunting to see who could bring back the most game. Since that was before DNR game limits, everything the men bagged counted in points, Leech explained.

"No story of Deward would be complete without reference to the baseball team," Leech insists. The Deward Bush Rangers were "the pride of the town" and the players wore a big "D" on white serge suits trimmed in blue. Deward's Bush Rangers played other bush league teams from Frederic, Mancelona, Gaylord, Grayling, and Waters.

Off to the side of the foundation was this large pad, which had almost like a pass-though going under it...I assume it was an integral part of the scale that measured the weight of the railroad cars passing over it:

I also began to discern a couple distinctive former railroad grades--long, unnaturally flat paths that once would have held railroad tracks. I got the impression that there were several spurs arcing through Deward.

Along my return path to where I parked, I suddenly noticed that the gravel trail was actually also composed of the ground-up shards of glass from bottles and other various things leftover from Deward's period of occupation.

It was as if grading this trail had dredged up all of these artifacts and deposited them on display along the shoulder of the "road."

By the types of glass and shapes of bottlenecks I was finding, it was clear that most of this stuff dated pretty far back, at least as far as the early 1900s.

There were some spots that had so many different shards of glass concentrated together that I thought the road had been cut right through a former town dump:

After leaving the Deward townsite area, I decided to go across the river to see an area that has been designated as a "pine stump preserve"...

It is an eerie sort of "forest graveyard" where the sun-bleached stumps of trees felled over a century ago still remain scattered like rows of tombstones from the primordial forest of old. It is also technically in Kalkaska County.

The stumps were not just found in the clearings, but they were also seen everywhere deep in the second-growth woods as well:

Rob Burg wrote an article on Deward in 2014 where he delves into the Mabel Edwards Secord papers at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library, which once belonged to the wife of James Secord, the foreman of the Deward Mill during it's entire operational life. Besides her diaries, the collection also contains the sawmill's record books from 1901-1907, and letters between her husband and others.

Mrs. Secord was highly involved in the social life of the town, and she was the designated piano-player for church services at both the Swedish Lutheran church, and the Protestant services at the aforementioned Deward Town Hall on the second floor of the company store.

Mrs. Secord's diaries capture a snapshot of life in this long-vanished community, telling of activities like the Swedish Ladies Aid Society, box socials, sleighing parties, the annual Thanksgiving hunt, and a "Colonial Tea" to raise money for the minister's salary. There was also a Temperance movement in Deward; despite the fact that liquor and saloons were forbidden in the company-owned town, men still procured what they needed by making trips to the town of Frederic, eight miles away.

The ban probably prevented a lot of the vice that plagued other lumber towns, but it also made it hard to retain good workers, since many of the men could find work in other areas that weren't as restrictive.

One other interesting tidbit from Mrs. Secord's diaries was that there was a labor strike in May of 1907, when the mill superintendent Mr. Shoaf hired 23 men from Detroit to work in the lumberyard. The strike was "put down," Burg says, which I take to mean is a turn-of-the-century euphemism for "the men were beaten with clubs and the agitators were chased out of town or killed." According to the diary most of the Detroit men drifted away afterward, since they apparently weren't particularly keen on the eight-mile hike to Frederic to get booze.

Just for fun, Wakefield provides a transcription of an angry letter that was apparently written by a lumberjack who worked at Deward, to the Cleveland Saw Company in May 1903:
I got a saw which I buy from you. But why for Gods sakes you doan send me no handles? I loose to me my jobbing. Wants the use a saw when she doan got no handle? Sure thing you doan treat me rite. I rote ten days and my boss he holler for logs like hell for saw.
You know it is plenty cold winter now. And the men no pull the saw, she got no handle pretty quick I goan send her back. I goan got some handle saw from Meyers Company. Good-by!
Yours truly,
Anthony "Push"
P.S. Since I write you I find de (expletive) handle in the box. Excuse please.
Whether that letter is legit or a hoax is up for question in my opinion, but I would sure pity the fool who causes an angry Swede to "loose to him his jobbing," doan'cha know.

A February 2013 story in The Northwoods Call entitled "The Ghosts of Deward: A Study in Mismanagement" discusses how this area was not only raided for its natural resources back in the 1900s, but it has seen an ongoing tradition of extractive industries leaving behind a scarred landscape. Deward was even used in a recent MLive editorial as an example of unchecked capitalistic greed let run amuck until natural resources were depleted. The "Once-lers" have definitely had their way with this part of Michigan.

My photos don't show any of it, but there were so many petroleum wells in this area that I don't think I was ever out of earshot of at least one. Talk of doing open pit mining and fracking has floated around as well. By the late 1970s Deward "could only be described as God-forsaken brush country," the author grumbled, "punctured by oil and gas wells and scarred by various other development activities."

Even after that much time, the author still described this area as "a virtual wasteland of weathered and decaying stumps on soil so delicate that bruises left by horse-drawn wagon wheels more than 60 years earlier could still be seen." Again it was the fact that the soil here was relatively poor to start with, as well as occasional wildfires that kept the land from being able to recover properly.

The Lorax said nothing, just gave me a glance. Just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance...as he lifted himself by the seat of his pants--and I'll never forget the grim look on his face when he hoisted himself and took leave of this place through a hole in the smog without leaving a trace! And all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks, with one word: UNLESS.

Maybe I should have brought some black paint and painted the word "UNLESS" on the side of the mill's foundation.

Michigan Ghost Towns of the Lower Peninsula, Vol. I, Roy L. Dodge, p. 78
Ghost Towns of Michigan Vol. 1, by Larry Wakefield, p. 15-20
Michigan County Atlas, 2nd Ed., by David M. Brown
Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State, by Willis F. Dunbar, George S. May, p. 344
Michillaneous II, by Gary Barfknecht, p. 287
Railroad Depots of Michigan: 1910-1920, edited by David J. Mrozek, p. 111
"Deward: A Lumberman’s Ghost Town," Michigan History Magazine, Vol. 28, No. 1
Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 20, No. 1