2016-10-13 / Life in Leelanau

In his words, Stephenson family’s hundred-year love affair with Leland

By Richard Stephenson
Special to the Enterprise

More than a century ago a family love affair and affection for Leland and Leelanau County began when, in 1895, John F. Brown traveled from Brazil, Indiana with his coal miner father in search of the restorative “fresh air” for his “emphysema” (later discovered to be “black lung” disease).

In 1907, he purchased a home site and in 1908 built one of the first of the early “resorter homes” on Second Street in Leland, followed shortly thereafter with the building of his boat house on the then Carp River, directly across from the Bluebird Restaurant on precisely the same land where the “boat house” now stands, and a 15 foot wide strip of land on Nedows Bay (where the Leland Public Beach is now), became his “bath house”.

Thereafter, until he lost everything in the Great Depression, he and his wife, Jessie, daughters Helen and Mary, and son, Walter, spent summers in Leland playing games, swimming, sailing, golfing at the Leland Country Club (where Walter was honored many times when he won tournaments). They loved Leland and Leelanau County and participated in growing strawberries, picking cherries, and supporting the community.

Learning of the Browns’ love affair with our community, other friends from Brazil soon joined them as depicted in photographs in 1923 and other memorabilia that can be found in the Leland Historical Society. Some of the friends settled next to them on Second Street and others built their cottages on Juniper Trail.

Interestingly, the Browns settled in Leland before the subject of this story, “Celebration Point” was even platted.

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