From the Missaukee Republican, Lake City, Michigan
February 23, 1935
PAUL LUX SR.
TRAPPER - LUMBERMAN - FARMER
By C. C. Miller
Paul Lux was born in Germany in 1849 and came to this country when a small boy. He settled on a farm near Grand Rapids with his parents. At the age of 13 he left his home and started trapping along Grand River and surrounding country and at the age of 17 he and his chum decided to go west and hunt for bigger game. They started in Wisconsin, then through Minnesota and worked back and forth until they reached the Rocky Mountains and trapped the grizzly bear for a time. They got along fairly well with the Indians until one time in Montana, where they were trapping on a river when one day as they were running their trap line they sighted an Indian camp and found traps set where theirs was, which made them terribly sore but Paul knew there wasnít anything they could do about it, but his chum was bound to get even some way and Paul could not talk him out of it and before Paul could stop him he pulled his rifle to his shoulder and fired in the Indian camp and in only a few minutes hundreds of hostile savages came swarming to avenge the insult. Paulís friend didnít try to get away and Paul said the last he was of his partner he looked like a porcupine from arrows in his back. Paul run and jumped in the river which had been froze over and the water had gone down and left a space of about 20 inches between the ice and water along the banks, so he could crawl back in there and hide. He was there the balance of that day and the next and two nights. The third day the Indians gave up as Paul couldnít heard them any more but said he didnít think at any time but what they would find him as he could hear them walking on the ice above him and at one time two Indians crawled within 30 feet of him. He had to plaster himself with mud so they couldnít recognize him. Anyway, the third day everything quieted down and that night he came out and started to vacate that part of the country. He was lucky to save his gun and some ammunition. He walked all night and when it was light enough the next morning he killed a deer so he could eat.
He rested up that day and that night started out again. He didnít dare go back to his camp because the Indians would be watching for him if he was alive and hadnít drowned, so he had too abandon the winter catch of furs, all his equipment and traps and started back to Michigan
He reached here the year 1869 at the age of 20 and started out trapping again upon the head of the Manistee River and around Higgins and Houghton lakes, down the Muskegon River and on all branches of it, naming some of them - first the Dead Stream, Hay Marsh, West Branch, Bear Creek, Wolf Creek, Butterfield, Clam River and Grand Stone Creek. This territory had an abundance of fur, such as beaver, mink, martin, otter, fox, coon, bear, rats, also deer and partridge. Paul would go to the north end in the fall and work down toward Muskegon, trap all winter and end up on the south end in the spring with $4,000 to $5,000 worth of furs. Then work on the rivers driving logs and in the lumber camps summers.
He realized there was money in lumbering and started buying timber along the West Branch and Clam rivers, also near Houghton Lake. When he was between the age of 23 and 24 he married Estella Whiting, a girl 15 years old, from near Evart, Michigan. That winter he started lumbering, making his headquarters 1 Ĺ miles west of Star City P. O. On the West Branch River. He made plenty of money for a few years and bought more timber around Houghton Lake. He built camps there and run a crew of a hundred with a man by the name of Thom Frowley as foreman. They decked the logs on skids along sleigh roads ready to haul when the winter snows came, but there wasnít any snow that winter and Paul lost $100,000 on his first real big job but he was not easily discouraged. A neighbor of Paulís was logging just west of Muskegon River, by the name of A. D. Bell, who was lucky enough to have all his timber close to the river and he cut ice on the river, hauled it on his log roads, broke it up and iced it with sprinklers and got his timber on the river banks that winter.
Paul borrowed $50,000 from Bell and the next summer built pole tracks, something like a railroad track, only made of long poles laid end to end. The cars were made like railway cars only the wheels had flanges on each side that helped to hold the poles in place so the track didnít have to be built so ridged. There was about 12 miles of this kind of road from the woods to the Muskegon River.
The logs were loaded on these cars and hauled to the river with horse and oxen. He managed to pay back the loan from Bell and came out even on this job in the end.
He tried this type of lumbering again around Turnerville, which didnít turn out too good as the country was hilly and rough. During this time he got control of the dams on the West Branch River; doing so he forced all of the lumbering companies to give him the contract to drive all their logs to the Muskegon River. Paul proved one of the best river men in northern Michigan and made plenty of money at this kind of work and at the same time he cleared up a farm of about 400 acres, put a lot of good buildings on it and fenced it in. This he called the Northern Michigan Stock Farm and raised horses, cattle and hogs. He sold dressed beef around to the lumber camps for 5 cents a pound, which was a good price at that time.
Around about 1890 he decided to go to Wisconsin and do some lumbering in a big way. He leased his dams, mortgaged everything here for all he could get and with his ready cash located not far from Rinelander, Wisc., on the Pestigo River.
He went entirely broke during the Cleveland depression. All he had left was a few old horses he took out there with him. He came back to the farm again and started over and by 1913 he had come up again by getting his dams back. Also cedar timber was coming on the market at this time and Paul accumulated 12 to 14 thousand acres on the Dead Stream which he sold to the Michelson Lumber Co. At a very nice profit.
Lux had three sons - Paul, James and Frank; daughter Mable. Frank left home at the age of 16, went to the Pacific Coast and worked in the woods as a common lumber jack. Young Paul and James were at home and went to the Ferris Institute three years. Mr. Lux, somewhat disappointed in young Paul, thought he might get him interested in lumbering in the West, gathered up another small fortune, took Paul to the State of Washington. There he set Paul and Frank up with an outfit for lumbering and bought them a $12,000 tract of timber. Also he invested $20,000 in timber land with some other fellow. James stayed at home to do the farming. Not liking horses, hogs or cattle, sold the most of them off and deposited the money in Missaukee County Bank as profits from the farm. The most James raised on their 400-acre farm in one year was 2,000 bushels of oats and wheat.
At the end of three years Paul Junior and Frank lost all of the timber and logging equipment. Their father found them in a hotel one morning in Seattle and had to pay for their breakfast. Mr. Lux came back to Michigan and brought Paul with him and tried once more to make a business man of him so gave him a 460=acre farm, known as the Brainard farm, furnished him farming equipment, beef cattle and milk cows and at the end of nine years Mr. Lux settled Paulís accounts and debts and salvaged $2.50 for his oldest son and had to take him and his family back to his own farm.
James was given a small place of 120 acres, but clear of debt in 1919. James traded this place with stock and tools for a general store at Star City which was sold out later for debts and a mortgage. The effects of these disappointments showed very plainly on Paul. He seemed to have lost his pep and energy and instead of gaining again everything went against him and in the latter part of 1920 to 1929 he was in bad circumstances, quite a lot of debts and nothing coming in. He tried to depend on his son Paul to carry on but it didnít work out. He even tore the timbers out of the barn and sold them to have money.
Lux gave up in the year 1928, broken in spirit and health, but he managed to realize enough money out of his share of the timber deal on the West Coast to straighten all of his debts here and leave $3,500 worth of livestock on the farm and in 1929 died.
In 1930 Estella Lux was offered $13,000 for the farm and refused it. This was in July and the last of September she sold for $6,600 with all equipment.
I received my information mostly from Mr. Lux himself as I was his closest neighbor and had a good many long visits with him and worked for him and with him from a boy up. He loved hunting and taught me the secrets of trapping and hunting. He said, during his life he had killed over 2,000 deer and 600 bear. The deer meat he sold to lumber camps and also used it to feed his hired help. Paul took quite an interest in horse racing and owned some good horses in his day. He raised one horse that he named Tax Title that was sold in Canada for $22,000. He built a race course on his own farm and hired a man to take care of them also.
Mr. Lux was always sympathetic and generous with his neighbors if they didnít rub his hair the wrong way, but sometimes it was hard to tell which way it should lay.
Editorís Note - The above story was written for this paper by C. C. Miller who was born in the Star City community more than 70 years ago and has always lived in this community and knew Paul Lux very well for it was in and around this same community that Mr. Lux operated as a Michigan trapper, lumberman and farmer.
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