2017-12-07 / Life in Leelanau

Scandinavians and Germans were among first to settle, start businesses

Walter, and the first cow


THE GRONSETH family is pictured here in front of their St. Mary’s St. home. From left are “Uncle Oscar with baby, Aunt Olga, Mother, Dad, Laura, Grandmother, Tom Harold, Conrad, Rudolph and Martha.” Photo credit: Leelanau Historical Museum THE GRONSETH family is pictured here in front of their St. Mary’s St. home. From left are “Uncle Oscar with baby, Aunt Olga, Mother, Dad, Laura, Grandmother, Tom Harold, Conrad, Rudolph and Martha.” Photo credit: Leelanau Historical Museum The following is an excerpt from a history book published in conjunction with the Suttons Bay Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2004.

The official date of the arrival of Harry Chittenden Suttons is November 1854.

Suttons was not here long before other settlers began to arrive. Lee, Dearwood, Palmer, Alward, Manseau, Bates and Quackenbush are names that belong in the 1850s group. Then in the 1860s came families with the name Steimel, Kohler, Walter, Smidt, Hawkins, Deuster, Bahle, Keumin, Sogge, Einerson, Thoreson and others. Father A. Herbstrit was largely responsible for the wave of immigration that began in the 1870s when he Launched an extensive real estate boom and brought in many families from Ohio, Milwaukee and elsewhere.


LARS GRONSETH came to Suttons Bay in 1886 and opened a shoe store that he and his family ran for many years. 
Photo credit: LeelanauHistorical Museum LARS GRONSETH came to Suttons Bay in 1886 and opened a shoe store that he and his family ran for many years. Photo credit: LeelanauHistorical Museum Some of the first settlers recall a clearing in the forest in this locality, which may have been made by the Indians. The first plat of the village was recorded in 1865.The acting register of deeds christened the place Suttonburg in honor of “H.C. Sutton, early owner of the soil.” It covered only a few blocks in the south end of town and was filed in the name of Martha Sutton.

Father Herbstrit who changed the name to Pleasantville filed the second plat of the village in 1871. In the published statement, he referred to the village as Pleasant City. Sutton sold out his holding to Fr. Herbstrit who had plans for a National University that he hoped to finance by selling 6,000 lots. His grandiose plan never materialized but he managed to sell a considerable number of lots and built what was probably intended to be the first unit of his university. It was the “steeple house,” an unfinished structure built in the shape of a cross and surmounted by a turret. It was partly finished inside and was used as living quarters. The building stood opposite the present site of the Business Helper (the former office of the Suttons Bay Courier). Fr. Herbstrit is also believed to have been responsible for the building of the Catholic church that burned in 1904. It was a beautiful edifice built, as nearly as can be determined, in 1878.

Melville Palmer was born in Ohio in 1843 and came to Suttons Bay in 1858. He enlisted in the Civil War as a member of Company A. 26th Regiment, Michigan Infantry volunteers, served three years, and was honorably discharged. He returned to Michigan in 1865, and married Sarah Alward in 1866.

An early account noted George Walter had one of the first two cows in the area (about 1860).

In 1861 the E.A. Lindley family moved to Suttons Bay. In addition to cutting logs and cordwood, Mr. Lindley was an herb doctor, and he made shoes in Suttons Bay for his own family and the neighbors. The first regular shoemaker in the village was Hiram Cook.

John Steimel was born in Canada and came to Suttons Bay with his parents in 1863 when he was two years old. They lived on what was later the James R. Lee, and then the Sanborn place, five miles south of town, and John attended school and catechism class in Peshawbestown. He traveled the distances of nine miles every morning and evening on foot.

George Steimel, born in Germany, came to Suttons Bay in 1864, and lived on a farm until 1874, when he built the Bay House hotel in the town and conducted the business for many years. A feed and livery stable run in connection with the hotel furnished transportation to guests.

George Steimel, Jr., spent most of his life farming until 1874, when he entered the mercantile business, and then opened a drug store. He was township treasurer for several terms and also county clerk.

Another prominent early family was that of the Deusters. John Deuster was born in Wisconsin in 1851 and came to Suttons Bay in 1867 with his parents. He homesteaded a claim in 1871, and later entered into the merchandising business with his father and brother Hubert. Afterward he opened a saloon, and built the Park hotel. He had been highway commissioner of Suttons Bay Township, township treasurer, and when the village was organized in 1898, was the first village treasurer and a member of the town council.

Louis (Lars) E. Bahle came early and opened a store that is still flourishing. His son, Captain Esten Bahle, was born in the town in 1881. As a young boy Esten spent many hours watching and sailing vessel ply the bay, and at 16 he started sailing as a wheelman and lookout. He began work for the Pere Marquette line and was one of the few men who sailed the lakes the year around, and the first to set a record of over 1,000 crossings of Lake Michigan.

Another sailor was Captain J.C. Anderson, who was born in Norway in 1830 and sailed salt water from the time he was 10. He became master of vessel when he was 22. In 1879 he bought the Union Hotel in Suttons Bay.

Another energetic native of Norway was Louse (Lars) R. Sogge, born in 1862, who came to Leelanau County in 1884. For a number of years he was employed on a farm, then purchased an interest in the Leland Lumber Co. He opened a general store in Suttons Bay in 1899. He was township supervisor for several years , and then county treasurer. He was also treasurer of Leland Township for two years.

Lars J. Gronseth came to Suttons Bay in 1886 and opened a shoe store that he and his family ran for many years.

The Leelanau Enterprise, Dec. 8, 1887: Ad for the Bay House, David Siebler (aka Sieber), Proprietor, Suttons Bay, Michigan. Dealers in choice wine and liquors for merchanical, medical, scientific, and for drinking purposes. I also have choice line of cigars. Fresh been always on hand.

John Litney, with his partner, George Walter, had a farm implement and hardware store, and bought logs and cordwood.

Leelanau Enterprise, Jan. 17, 1895: Mayor Litney informs us that about 175 teams are drawing logs and wood into Suttons Bay.

Ad from Bazzoo, May 7, 1898: Litney and Walter-Champion- Mowers, Reapers, Binders, Etc.

Sogge’s store was built in 1903.

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