Clare County
News of the Olden Days

 
From unknown Clare County Newspaper…..

“HARRISON AND THE GOOD OLD DAYS RECENTLY REVEALED”

Printed herewith is a story taken from the pages of the Detroit News of Sunday, June 3.  The article was written by KENDRICK KIMBALL, who serves the News as outdoor Editor, and is a tale of the lumbering days for which many stores of Harrison and vicinity have been told.  The feature article was brought to our attention by MRS. ALICE CUMMINS of Harrison:

Seney was Michigan’s “toughest town” in the lumbering days but Harrison in Clare County, and modern springboard to excellent fishing waters held high rating in this field.

Today a very respectable and busy resort community, Harrison was noted chiefly for JIM CARR, who operated a saloon on “Dead man’s Hill”, so called because some of his patrons went into secret graves after being drugged, slugged, and robbed.  CARR never bothered with cash registers.  He collected for drinks in tin pails.

Northern Michigan contained many rugged, two-fisted hearties, whose conduct was almost unbelieveable in light of modern standards, but despite their brutality they had a few qualities that endeared them to the collector of Michigana.

Among them as Harrison residents were “SILVER JACK” DRISCOLL and MIKE McGOVERN, notorious fighting men, who could fell a horse with a blow of their fists.  Lesser luminaries were DRYAS FORD. Who could flick ashes from a cigar with a black-snake whip at 30 feet, and “CRANKY” DEAN, rough and tumble battler, who twisted horseshoes into pretzel designs.

But the thoroughly depraved CARR holds no glamour.  He was sentenced to Jackson prison for killing one FRANKIE OSBORNE, girl in his honky-tonk, with brass knuckles, but gained acquittal on a second trial.  After his fortune shrank to two dollars, both of which he spent for whiskey, he died miserably in a hovel at the nearby ghost town of Meredith.

Seven preachers refused to officiate at CARR’S funeral, but the lumberjacks, always sentimental and forgiving, contrived one of their own.  Two hundred gathered for the event.  Somebody fiddled the “Irish Washerwoman” in lieu of sacred music, and a Swede, the only man who could round up a Bible, mumbled a few passages after fortifying himself with a chew of snuff ass big as a baseball.

Outstanding was T.C. CUNYAN, waggish 6-foot Canadian, who called himself the “Man Eater from Peterboro”.  He reputedly bit chunks from beer mugs and in zero weather filled his shirt with icicles to show his ruggedness.  On his Saginaw trips he often took his role too seriously.

Shouting that he hadn’t eaten raw meat in a month, he grabbed babies from their carriages, bared his teeth and went through the preliminary motions of consuming them alive.  Mothers fainted or screamed lustily for help but not one BRIDGET McGUIRE, who whipped a couple of hatpins from her millinery and chased CUNYAN into the Saginaw River.

Another gag almost cost him his life.  Walking into a Harrison saloon- there were 22 of them, and 5 hotels- he yelled “I’m T.C. CUNYAN, half man and half fish “ and dived head first into a barrel of water kept for washing purposes.  He nearly drowned before extrication.

The late OLIVER GOSINE, one of the few professional wild turkey hunters in Michigan and a Harrison resident for many years, counted 27 ½ fights on the main street in one day.  He explained the half fight as follows:

“Some jack came up to me and announced he could lick any many in Clare County, so I laid him colder than a beaver’s nose in February with a smack on the jaw.  I’d been arrested if I hadn’t”.
 

(OLIVER GOSINE was my paternal greatgrandfather.)

Submitted by: 
Laura L. Horton (Martin)
elhzm@tir.com

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