Enterprise: Adelbert A. Lance’s Story
A.A. Lance, painter and paperhanger of Mt. Pleasant is the old timer, who comes before you this week with his reminiscences of the early days in Mt. Pleasant. Mr. Lance says his father was one of the original subscribers to the Northern Pioneer when it started in this city as the first paper in Isabella county and that the family has taken the Enterprise ever since the two papers were merged into one-a total of forty-five years.
We will let Mr. Lance go on with the story: “I came here in December, 1863. My first night was spent on Uncle L. Bentley’s farm, now known as the Elmer DePuy farm, three and a half miles south of the city. The next day we came to town (a place of nine houses and a courthouse) and domiciled in the old Wallace Preston tavern, later known as the Bamber house, which stood on a portion of land which the Park Hotel now occupies.
We lived there three months and sold flour at $28 a barrel, to all who came. Many of the customers were Indians and the squaws would take the shawl they invariably wore, lay it on the floor and pour the flour into it, then catch up the four corners, throw the load upon their shoulders, and go off smiling.
We then moved into the west end of the courthouse and father built the house now occupied by Mrs. Monro. Mr. Bentley was the owner of the house and had his office and shoe shop in the east end of the house. The other portion of the building was used for living quarters. Mrs. Monro has added considerable to the building since those days.
While living in the courthouse, my sister, Ella, who later became Mrs. Morrice of Harbor Springs, had a narrow escape from drowning. She fell into the river, just south of the Fancher home, and but for Mr. Fancher’s ready action, would no doubt have met her death. As it was, it took considerable time to resusitate her.
Father also erected the building on the corner now occupied by the Nuumes-Bamber building which was later sold to the Methodist for use as a parsonage. The only schoolhouse of those early days was an old lumbermen’s shanty (log) that stood about where Mr. Kinney’s barn now stands.
Mrs. Sam Woodward had millions of feet of pine timber standing on the banks of the river on the Fancher bluff, ready to go out on the spring freshets.
There being no store here except a small notion place conducted by John Kinney, we had to go to the Indian mills located in Isabella City to trade. The dam was in the river there, and great loads of fish were netted just below the dam. One day an Indian fisherman caught a sturgeon about six feet long, and the fish was so big and heavy that it took three husky braves to land him. The Indians had to catch the fish by the gills and haul it ashore in that manner.
Just south of Broadway at that time was a solid forest of timber and in 1864 this tract was struck by a cyclone and the trees were mowed down as far as the Methodist church. Then in the following August the fallen trees caught fire and such a time as was had here that summer. Everybody thought for a time that the end of things had come. Fortunately, no one was injured, and a heavy rainstorm put a stop to the spreading of the flames. The year 1864 stands out in my memory as being one in which too many things happened to mention them all.
Down where the condensary now stands was a tamarack swamp and where the Catholic church and high school now rear their towers to the sky was one of the grandest berry patches. Every hummock had its quota of delicious berries and all varieties were to be found there.
My father took the Northern Pioneer when it was started in 1864, and continued its reading when it was renamed the Enterprise, which he took as long as he lived, and I have taken it for the last forty-five years.
A. A. Lance
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