Kalkaska County Historical Museum

Kalkaska County Historical Museum The museum is open June, July and August, or by appointment Admission is FREE but we do take donations. "To Record the Past - To Chart the Future" Kalkaska County was organized on 22 January 1871.
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The County seat was located in Kalkaska on 14 July 1873, and the Village of Kalkaska was incorporated on 10 March 1887. The Kalkaska County Historical Society was organized on 30 June 1964, by a group of people interested in the preservation of county history.

The County seat was located in Kalkaska on 14 July 1873, and the Village of Kalkaska was incorporated on 10 March 1887. The Kalkaska County Historical Society was organized on 30 June 1964, by a group of people interested in the preservation of county history.

Mission: Our aim is to present to the public a factual account of the history of Kalkaska County, to mark the sites of as many of the old landmarks as possible, and to promote a Museum devoted to memorabilia of Pioneer Days.

Operating as usual

Former KHS graduates
06/14/2020

Former KHS graduates

KHS class of 1895, back row L to R, Etta Fessenden, ?, teacher Mrs. Babcock,????? Front row L to R ?, ?, Lena Bebee, ?, ...
06/14/2020

KHS class of 1895, back row L to R, Etta Fessenden, ?, teacher Mrs. Babcock,????? Front row L to R ?, ?, Lena Bebee, ?, ?

05/02/2020

We're sorry to say the museum will not be open this year. Partly due to what's going on in the world and partly due to some work on the building.

Most of this is the actual wording from the paper.The Kalkaska Leader, May 16, 1907 - "On Friday last at about 10:30 a.m...
05/02/2020

Most of this is the actual wording from the paper.
The Kalkaska Leader, May 16, 1907 - "On Friday last at about 10:30 a.m. those who happened to be upon the streets of our sister village, were startled by the cries of a woman, “He’s going to shoot me,” and immediately Mrs. Thomas Wilson rushed frantically down the stairs from the apartments above the grocery store conducted by the couple. The frightened woman was followed by her husband and before any one of the several who stood nearby could raise a hand for her protection, Wilson placed a heavy revolver at the back of her head and sent a bullet so truly aimed that her brain issued from the ghastly wound inflicted by the leaden messenger of death. The stricken woman fell to the ground moaning feebly, but unconscious, and an hour or two later breathed her last without ever recovering her senses.
Wilson then fired into the air and fell to the sidewalk unhurt. Some thought he meant to kill himself but chickened out. Sheriff Sherwood took him into custody and took him to jail in Kalkaska."
Mrs. Wilson died was about the time Mr. Wilson was locked in the Kalkaska jail.

The Wilson’s had opened a small grocery store in her name in Boardman about a month before murder. They had three children, two boys and a girl ages 6 to 14. Life with her husband had become unbearable so Mrs. Wilson gave Mr. Wilson money and told him to leave. I would image she told him of the letter she had just posted to her attorney concerning separation papers. I think that’s probably when he chased her down the stairs and ended her life. George Keefer was clerk in the store, he took over the custody of the youngest child. There was a picture of the family but it was a very bad copy.
Her letter to the attorney and Mr. Wilson went to Kalkaska on the same train. Mr. Wilson’s defense was that there was always two sides to every question.

Members of GAR Colonel Baker Post No. 84The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of ve...
09/01/2019

Members of GAR Colonel Baker Post No. 84

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans who served in the American Civil War. Many veterans used their shared experiences as a basis for fellowship. Men joining first for camaraderie and later for political power. It was among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, promoting patriotic education, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, lobbying to establish regular veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. Six Civil War veterans and members: Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Grover Cleveland (only democrat) were elected President.

We finished off the year with such a fun day. I love nothing more than giving tours, I think I did three. We had over 20...
09/01/2019

We finished off the year with such a fun day. I love nothing more than giving tours, I think I did three. We had over 20 visitors today. Thank you all for a great season.

08/30/2019

The museum will be closing after tomorrow. Come down and visit. 1-4pm

08/23/2019

Aug 31st is the last day this year the museum will open. Come down and visit the volunteers Wed-Sat 1-4.

08/23/2019

“To Record the Past – To Chart the Future” That’s the motto of the Kalkaska County Historical Society. A group of people interested in preserving Kalkaska County’s history met at the Odd Fellow Hall June 12, 1964 to organize a Historical Society. Immediately requests went out for historical papers, books, old newspapers, and photographs. One of their goals was to possibly sponsor a county museum.

That possibility became a reality when in 1970 the society rented the old depot from the Village of Kalkaska. The museum is housed in the 1911 Kalkaska Depot behind the National Trout Memorial. The railroad came to town the first time in 1872. The Grand Rapids and Indiana (GR&I) Railroad company built the first depot in 1873. That depot burnt in 1910 with a large portion of the town. The original structure has been preserved and kept much the same as it was when it was used for trains. There are seven rooms of artifacts. The main museum is in what was the original waiting room and our “Reading Room” which was the men’s restroom. Then we come to the ladies' waiting where rocking chairs were provided for the comfort of the youngest travelers and their mothers. In what was the ticket agent’s office is the original two-sided desk and safe. The back two rooms were used for freight but now holds two automobiles and a mockup of a one room cottage.

The museum has artifacts of lumbering and farming, a turnstile from the old County jail and four means of transportation. There is plenty of old photographs and research materials that can be viewed on site. We have models donned with old-fashioned clothing and a quilt made during World War I by E Boardman women. There’s a miniature replica of the downtown Kalkaska fire history donated by Fred Etzcorn. We have story boards where you can read about residents and events, like Grace Gilbert, our bearded lady; Mary Murphy McKnight, mass murder; five major fires; the history of the “Elmer” car and much more.

Other items of historical significance on display include dishes and glassware, needlework done by early residents, a crank telephone, and toys. Our military uniforms date back to the Civil War.
The museum and society depend solely on contributions and memberships to survive, all historians work on a voluntary basis. There are too many to list all the names of those who have contributed time and labor in making the museum a reality and maintaining it over the years, but every moment is appreciated by today’s caretakers.

Historical Society memberships are: 1 year $2.00, 6 years $10.00, 15 years $25.00 and lifetime for $100.00.
The museum is open June, July, and August, Wednesday through Saturday 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
Private tours are available by appointment. You can contact
Director Edward Waltz at (231) 258-4854.

06/15/2019

We maintain the museum through donations, memberships, memorials and an occasional fundraiser.

Historical Society membership
1 year $2.00
6 years $10.00
15 years $25.00
Lifetime $100.00
You can contact Director Edward or Mary Ellen Waltz (231) 258-4854

The Kalkaska Historical museum is housed in the Kalkaska G.R. & I Train Depot built in 1911.  The Historical Society fir...
06/11/2019

The Kalkaska Historical museum is housed in the Kalkaska G.R. & I Train Depot built in 1911. The Historical Society first rented it in 1970 on a lifetime lease. The original structure has been preserved and kept much the same as it was when it was used for trains. There are six rooms of artifacts. The main museum is in what was the original waiting room and our “Reading Room” which was the men’s restroom. Then we come to the ladies' waiting area. There were rocking chairs to provide comfort for the youngest travelers and their mothers. This is where our uniform collection is displayed. In what was the ticket agent’s office is the original two-sided desk and safe. The back two rooms were used for freight but now holds two automobiles and a mockup of a one room cottage.

The museum is open June, July, and August
Wednesday through Saturday 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Donations, memberships, memorials and an occasional fundraiser maintain it.
Historical Society membership
1 year $2.00
6 years $10.00
15 years $25.00
Lifetime $100.00

06/10/2019

In 1861 Congress created the Medal of Honor. We have two Medal of Honor recipients from this area. Charles H. De Puy, army , first sergeant, Battle of the Crater, Petersburg, VA July 30, 1864, being an old artillerist, aided General Bartlett in working the guns of the dismantled fort.
Charles M. thatcher, army, private, Battle of Crater, Petersburg, VA, July 30, 1864. Instead of retreating or surrendering when the works were captured, regardless of his personal safety continued to return the enemy’s fire until he was captured.

05/30/2019

The museum opens its doors for the 2019 season Saturday June 1st. It will be open 1-4pm come by and say hello

05/10/2019

the Leader and the Kalkaskian, Aug.6, 1964 - Rapid River Township was organized in 1868 and covered all the area which now is Clearwater, Kalkaska and Rapid River Townships, at that time Kalkaska County was a part of Antrim County, in 1869 the rest of Kalkaska County were attached to Rapid River Township. Kalkaska County was organized as a county in 1871, thus Rapid River Township is 3 years older than the county of which it is a part. I figure Kalkaska County will be 150 years old soon,

Sharon Cross Aaron Perrin, Fred Perrin, Mary Ellen and Ed Waltz. Sharon is the president of the Historical Society, Mary...
05/10/2019

Sharon Cross Aaron Perrin, Fred Perrin, Mary Ellen and Ed Waltz. Sharon is the president of the Historical Society, Mary Ellen is our treasurer and Ed is director.

The land for Perrin School was donated by Benjamin Perrin to be used for the school. It was supposed to be an acre but t...
04/29/2019

The land for Perrin School was donated by Benjamin Perrin to be used for the school. It was supposed to be an acre but the way it is set up it is actually 9/10 of an acre. Donald Perrin Sr. was the school teacher. I thought my map was more detailed than this. When I heard what street it was on I didn't write it down. Can you give us more details on the Perrin School in Garfield Township?

Recently I was asked about Drake School. This seems to be all I can find. Does anyone want to add more? What road was it...
04/29/2019

Recently I was asked about Drake School. This seems to be all I can find. Does anyone want to add more? What road was it on?

A reminder of some of what you'll find when you visit the museum. We have a good amount of reference books and scrap boo...
04/29/2019

A reminder of some of what you'll find when you visit the museum. We have a good amount of reference books and scrap books. We don't lend them out but you can spend hours looking through them. We are looking for pictures of people or pets with the trout to line our bulletin board.

There was a good turn out Thursday as Fred Perrin was recognized for his contribution to the National Trout Memorial.
04/29/2019

There was a good turn out Thursday as Fred Perrin was recognized for his contribution to the National Trout Memorial.

11/12/2018

BARKER CREEK HERITAGE In the 1400’s the early Indians used routes throughout this area for their expeditions. In 1855 the first settler, William Copeland, settled in this area. During 1891 through 1896 the railroad was completed, and the town of Barker Creek was platted. In the years that followed the town grew to include a good-sized boarding house, a barber shop, band hall or opera house, a post office and the railroad depot, blacksmith shop, three churches, three stores and a school. The population was 100. The main industries were logging, shingle mills and tan bark from Hemlock trees. The tan bark was shipped to Kalamazoo for tanning leather. Logs, shingles and tan bark were shipped by railroad. Many of the settlers worked in the logging camps or at shingle mills or at whatever they could for survival and to finance their homesteads and farming. The families in this area raised potatoes and onions and trapped for furs. The post office was closed in 1936. This from an essay, BARKER CREEK HERITAGE a collection of facts and recollections from the people of Barker Creek. written by Helene M. Ray, resident of Historic Barker Creek. I found it in the files at the museum. It is undated.

09/09/2018

I'm still looking for pictures of visitors with the fish. I'm putting them on the bulletin board.

09/09/2018

The museum is closed for the season. We want to thank all the volunteers who worked. We want to thank all the visitors. We want to thank those who donated to our museum. The museum is maintained by donations and memberships. Thank you to everyone who bought memberships in the historical society. It was a really good season.

One of our volunteers, Tabi Nelson, brought the story of Carl Bartell, first mate on the Carl D. Bradley to my attention...
08/31/2018

One of our volunteers, Tabi Nelson, brought the story of Carl Bartell, first mate on the Carl D. Bradley to my attention. I enjoyed the research. This is only a small part of the story but maybe it’s enough to peck your interest and you might want to do your own research on the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley. There is even a page dedicated to the crew’s families and anyone interested in the subject.


Carl Robert Bartell, graduated Kalkaska High School in the class of 1953. With football, basketball and baseball, he had a very active senior year. He was the editor of school paper. Carl was part of the glee club and band. After graduation he went to work for Bradley’s Transportation Line in Rogers City, Michigan hauling limestone. Joan VanderHout, from Coldsprings Township became his bride and the mother of their daughter, Carla.
He worked on the various ships in the company’s fleet, going to many different ports around the Great Lakes. On Monday, November 17, 1958, he was aboard the ‘Queen of the Lakes’, the Carl D. Bradley when it left Buffington, Indiana bound for Port of Calcite harbor and home in Rogers City, Michigan.

At 639 feet, the Carl D Bradley was the longest freighter on the Lakes at the time and was a state-of-the-art freighter. Because of her size, the Bradley sometimes served as an icebreaker through the Straits of Mackinac all the way to Indiana. The vessel’s main function however was to carry limestone to Lake Michigan’s deep-water ports from Lake Huron and Lake Superior.

The Bradley’s captain, Roland Bryan, was a veteran seaman, with a crew of thirty-five and carrying a light cargo, the Bradley headed out onto Lake Michigan at 9:30pm on that November day. Signs of severe weather were already in evidence when they left the harbor. The Bradley seemed to be weathering the gale force winds and heavy seas with little problem. The next day, November 18, at 5:30pm the Port of Calcite received a radio message from First Mate Elmer Fleming informing them that the Bradley, approx. twelve miles southwest of Gull Island, would arrive home at 2am. As soon as this message was sent however, a loud thud or bang was heard on the ship. Their next radio message was a “Mayday!” Quickly Captain Bryan gave the order to abandon ship. Everything happened so fast the crew had difficulty launching the lifeboats. A lone life raft flew clear of the sinking ship; four crewmembers swam through storm-tossed waves to reach it.

A cargo ship saw the Bradley sinking but because of the weather it took them over ninety minutes to travel the distance of four miles. They were eventually forced to take shelter from the heavy wind and waves. Sixty miles away, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sundew set out from Charlevoix in response to the mayday message. Due to the severe storm, the cutter didn’t reach the area until five hours after the Bradley went down. The rough seas prevented them from continuing their search. The Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock braved the brute force of the storm for the seven-hour trip from Sturgeon, Wisconsin to offer aide. November 19, the cutter found the life raft that held the only surviving crewmembers First Mate Elmer Fleming and Watchman Frank Mays. The men were encrusted with ice and immobilized from the extreme cold. Swaddled in blankets, Fleming and Mays were brought aboard the cutter and carefully fed beef broth every thirty minutes. But they refused to leave the area while the search for their friends was going on.

Kalkaska County Historical Museum's cover photo
07/27/2018

Kalkaska County Historical Museum's cover photo

07/27/2018

I'm still looking for pictures of people by the memorial. They will border the bulletin board.

07/27/2018

The museum will only be open another month. Wed-Sat 1-4pm If you haven't made it by this year a visit will be worth you time.

07/26/2018

July 8 1965 came the first published announcement of the idea of the Trout Memorial. In part it said that several groups met at Hotel Kalkaska to discuss and consider plans for the new Trout Memorial. Attending the meeting among others were representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Village Council, Kalkaska State Bank and Art Hutchings, Trout King. Art displayed his copy of the original bill and the pen used by Gov. Romney when the trout was made the official fish of Michigan.

Adoption of the Michigan state fishIn 1965,  the adoption of the "trout" as the official fish of Michigan was being prom...
07/26/2018

Adoption of the Michigan state fish
In 1965, the adoption of the "trout" as the official fish of Michigan was being promoted in the Senate, sponsored by none other than State Senator Terry L. "Troutt."
The trout easily dominated the run for "officialdom" with the more significant lobbying effort. Present during the signing of the legislation in 1965 by Governor George Romney, were Dr. Don F. Woomer (Chairman of the Michigan Council for Trout Unlimited), Mary Louise Paxton of Traverse City (National Trout Queen), and Arthur Hutchings of Rochester (National Trout King).
To document the official fish in brochures and reference materials, a major shortcoming of the law was failure to specify a particular species of trout. Governor Romney referred this dilemma to the State Conservation Department who settled on the brook trout. According to a spokesperson the selection of the brook trout in no way over looks the lake trout which has made great contributions to Michigan's commercial and sport fishing. The brookie seemed a little better choice than the laker for this particular purpose. Michigan fishermen are fortunate indeed to have so many species of trout - all of them excellent sport fish - available in the waters of their state. The brook trout will serve as a symbol for them all.

Address

Cedar Street
Kalkaska, MI
49646

General information

Much information is available at the Museum regarding people, places, dates, businesses, biographies of early residents, churches, schools, local government, industries, early export products, and clubs and fraternal organizations. The Museum houses a good library of local history. History covering the people, places, dates, businesses, churches, schools, local government, industries, and much more that make up our community.

Opening Hours

Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00
Thursday 13:00 - 16:00
Friday 13:00 - 16:00
Saturday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(231) 258-4854

Alerts

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Category

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Comments

Hello Kalkaska! My fiance and I are currently putting together a living history of the Lewis Schoolhouse. If you have any stories, photos, or connection to the school, we would appreciate anything you have to share! We'll eventually be working on hosting a schoolhouse reunion for past students and community members, perhaps next summer. If you'd like more info when the time comes, please message me the best contact method. Thanks in advance!
Before he passed away, my father recorded stories of HIS father, and in the telling, he mentions that his father lived in a community/logging camp in Kalkaska County named Spenser, or spelling variations of that name. This would have been in the 1890's. Does anyone know where this was? Thanks for any information.
Hello, I am in possession of a postcard from an estate that looks like a men's store in Kalkaska. How may I get this to you? Thank you. Rose Putnam, Cass City, MI
Anyone have any information on Barnhart School House?
Enjoyed our stay in Kalkaska! We also enjoyed visiting the National Trout Monument & the Kalkaska Historical Museum.
Marchita Milliken Carpenter from Prague Oklahoma taken Fall 2017
Hamaker Family 2018
Justin and Sara (Magley)Hamaker family
How do I get back in to volunteer there? I need to get in there at least a few times this year!
Where does it go?
Alan Seeley and I worked the museum Friday (7/21)... only a couple visitors...
Jean Thornburg has been scheduling volunteers forever... we are in dire need of someone of take over this job! If interested call her at 231-384-5580...