Beaver Island Historical Society Welcomes You to Our Past

The Beaver Island Historical Society was founded in 1957 to collect and share the fascinating history of Beaver Island. A remote island in Lake Michigan, it has witnessed many interesting and unique historical events, and has been home to various groups including Native Americans, a Mormon branch known as the Strangites, Irish immigrants, fisherman, lumberjacks, and many more.

King Strang

King Strang

The Historical Society currently operates two museums on the Island, the Print Shop Museum and the Marine Museum, as well as two additional historical sites: Heritage Park and the Protar Home. We offer several resources and services to our visitors, including genealogical research, copies of archival photos, and a series of historical journals and other books for purchase. Additionally, we host many events throughout the year to promote the Island’s history.

Explore our history, find out about the king, fishing, shipwrecks, island life, natural history, our Irish heritage, and much more.

For an overview of Beaver Island History please visit: http://www.beaverisland.net/beaver-island-history

Museum Hours

September 2019
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 1-4 PM
Call for appointment for other access

View Brochure for complete schedule

Please call 231.448.2254 for more information.

Self Guided Walking Tour

View or download the map

Construction Update

Mormon Print Shop ConstructionThe Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that a legacy benefactor, George Bisbee of Jackson MI, provided the Society just over $500,000, which will be used for financing the Print Shop Addition, including some of the exhibits. The Board is also grateful to the many Island benefactors who have supported the expansion concept and contributed to the capital campaign already and to those future benefactors who will continue to support the Society in fulfilling the vision to share the unique historical stories of the Archipelago through the renovated and expanded museum.

Architectural services are being provided pro-bono by Ebersoldt + Associates Architects, and its owner, Vince Ebersoldt, a long-time Island visitor, Island property owner and benefactor, as well as a BIHS Trustee. The Board of Trustees are extremely grateful to Vince and his team for the work they are doing on behalf of the Society, helping to keep Island History Alive!
Read more...

From Our Facebook Page

View the most recent updates at https://www.facebook.com/BeaverIslandHistoricalSociety/

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
This Friday!

24 hours ago

Beaver Island Historical Society

This was an amazing exhibit and hope to have visit again! ... See MoreSee Less

This was an amazing exhibit and hope to have visit again!Image attachmentImage attachment

Another colorful tale from the BIHS Oral History Archives - this time from Earl Gallagher (1910-2004) pictured below, interviewed by Robert Cole in 2001. Earl recalls his uncle Dan 'Tight' Gallagher (1858-1926), a renowned island bootlegger:

"Uncle Dan...had one leg cut off from diabetes, up to (the knee)...so he was hopping around on crutches all the time. Well he couldn’t do any work...so he decided to become a bootlegger...he had a great big hogshead (barrel) in the corner, and corn and sugar and stuff like that. And then came the matter of distilling it...he said to Papa, “Could the boys come and help me?” (My brother) James was about twelve and I was about ten and a half, I was only a kid...so Papa agreed to it.

So off we go to the farm in his old Ford, and got the fire going...he did not distill past a hundred proof...when he got through there were jars all over the place...he’d be selling that at sixteen dollars a gallon, or two dollars a pint...as I got smarter as a kid...I found that there’s sixteen fluid ounces in a pint, and he was having us collect all the ketchup bottles...and there was only fourteen (ounces) in them! (But) if you put that in a little charred keg and left it for six months, you had as good a whiskey as you could get anyplace.

...he was finally caught...and taken to Charlevoix...and the Judge saw him...an elderly old man with crutches...the Judge said at first, “I don’t know what to do...I can’t send a man like you to prison! I’ll fine you.” Uncle Dan said, “Ok.” (The Judge said) “Fifty dollars.” Didn’t mean a thing to him. So he paid the fifty dollars, and he was not supposed to do any more bootlegging.

Robert: And was that the end of it for him?

Earl: Oh, no. He just didn’t get caught again."
... See MoreSee Less

Another colorful tale from the BIHS Oral History Archives - this time from Earl Gallagher (1910-2004) pictured below, interviewed by Robert Cole in 2001. Earl recalls his uncle Dan Tight Gallagher (1858-1926), a renowned island bootlegger:

Uncle Dan...had one leg cut off from diabetes, up to (the knee)...so he was hopping around on crutches all the time. Well he couldn’t do any work...so he decided to become a bootlegger...he had a great big hogshead (barrel) in the corner, and corn and sugar and stuff like that. And then came the matter of distilling it...he said to Papa, “Could the boys come and help me?” (My brother) James was about twelve and I was about ten and a half, I was only a kid...so Papa agreed to it. 

So off we go to the farm in his old Ford, and got the fire going...he did not distill past a hundred proof...when he got through there were jars all over the place...he’d be selling that at sixteen dollars a gallon, or two dollars a pint...as I got smarter as a kid...I found that there’s sixteen fluid ounces in a pint, and he was having us collect all the ketchup bottles...and there was only fourteen (ounces) in them! (But) if you put that in a little charred keg and left it for six months, you had as good a whiskey as you could get anyplace.

...he was finally caught...and taken to Charlevoix...and the Judge saw him...an elderly old man with crutches...the Judge said at first, “I don’t know what to do...I can’t send a man like you to prison! I’ll fine you.” Uncle Dan said, “Ok.” (The Judge said) “Fifty dollars.” Didn’t mean a thing to him. So he paid the fifty dollars, and he was not supposed to do any more bootlegging.
 
Robert: And was that the end of it for him?
 
Earl: Oh, no. He just didn’t get caught again.

Comment on Facebook

Hey Gallagher Cousins - a story about Dan Tight, our great-grandfather.

From my daddy, Earl. Oh, the stories they had. Wish he was still here to tell them.

The old Pat Bonner story comes to mind. The young newly ordained priest was hearing confessions while the parish priest was in the garden reading his breviary. So the young man runs out and says....father I have a bootlegger here , what will I give him ? The parish priest says....don't give him a penny more than 15 dollars a gallon. Of course the young priest meant what penance

Tight was married to Ket's sister.....

Love this from Uncle Earl.

Oh Robert Lillian, I am so glad you did these!

Great story!

View more comments

The Black History 101 Mobile Museum exhibit is open to the public now until 7 pm at the school. If you miss tonight it will be on display tomorrow evening 7-9 PM at the Community Center. ... See MoreSee Less

From the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library photo archives: the Beaver Island Lumber Company mill at the site of today's Beaver Island Marina, circa 1910. The original archival image is notated "Pere Marquette Engine C" in reference to the steam locomotive pictured, suggesting it was used by that railroad either before or after it's use by BILCO.

On the left side of the photo can be seen massive stacks of sawn lumber awaiting loading onto the docked schooner for delivery to mainland ports. Note also the wooden water barrels situated at the peak of the mill's roof; during a fire in mills of that era, workers would climb ladders secured to the roof to release water from the oak casks - or in extreme situations, even fire shotguns at them to douse the flames.

Until a street re-paving project in 2001, the remains of old railroad ties were still visible under the asphalt road here, running at an angle from the present marina's pole barn to the old harbor-front mill site, almost exactly where the locomotive sits in this photo.
... See MoreSee Less

From the University of Michigans Bentley Historical Library photo archives: the Beaver Island Lumber Company mill at the site of todays Beaver Island Marina, circa 1910. The original archival image is notated Pere Marquette Engine C in reference to the steam locomotive pictured, suggesting it was used by that railroad either before or after its use by BILCO. 

On the left side of the photo can be seen massive stacks of sawn lumber awaiting loading onto the docked schooner for delivery to mainland ports. Note also the wooden water barrels situated at the peak of the mills roof; during a fire in mills of that era, workers would climb ladders secured to the roof to release water from the oak casks - or in extreme situations, even fire shotguns at them to douse the flames.

Until a street re-paving project in 2001, the remains of old railroad ties were still visible under the asphalt road here, running at an angle from the present marinas pole barn to the old harbor-front mill site, almost exactly where the locomotive sits in this photo.
Load more

Photography by Frank Solle / Stillpoint Photography