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

The Print Shop is closed until May.
The Marine Museum can be toured until Nov 15 by appointment.
In the spring: May 1 - June 20 by appointment.
Museums will open for regular hours on June 21, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

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/

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On this Veterans Day honoring the service of all US military veterans, a circa-1945 image of a monument listing Beaver Islanders who served in World War II. Though unverified, it has been claimed that per capita, or relative to the size of the community, the island sent more servicemen into WWII than most communities in the nation.

Of the servicemen listed on the pictured monument, three were killed during the war: Emmett Burke, Hubert Green, and Edward Wojan. For reasons unknown, two other island servicemen killed in WW II, Robert Belfy and James Francis Neer, are not listed there.

(Photo from the collection of the family of Daniel "Archie" LaFreniere, 1912-1996; Technician, US Navy, WW II, Philippines).

Listed on the monument in alphabetical order:

Albert Antwine
Erwin Belfy
Patrick Boyle
Emmett Burke
Robert Burke
Jack Burke
Jack Connaghan
Betty Cull
Raymond Cull
Harvey Cornstalk
James Elms
John Gallagher
Edward Gallagher
Leo Gallagher
James Gallagher
Earl Gallagher
Frank Gallagher
Daniel Gallagher
Peter Gallagher
Norman Gallagher
Hubert Green
Daniel Green
Corneil Gatliff
Daniel Gatliff
Robert Gatliff
Edward Gillespie
Fred Korthese
Archie LaFreniere
Joseph LaFreniere
Arthur Lewis
Robert Malloy
Robert Martin
Roland McCann
James McCafferty
Bernard McCafferty
Francis McCafferty
Francis McDonough
Robert McDonough
Alred McCann
Daniel McGinnis
Robert McCann
Bernard O'Donnell
Francis O'Donnell
William O'Donnell
Charles Pischner
Joseph Ricksgers
Henry Ricksgers
Alfred Ricksgers
Raymond Smith
George Van Erkle
Edward Wojan
Walter Wojan
Enos Washegeshik
Archie Washegesick
Charles Wabaninke
Theodore Wojan
... See MoreSee Less

On this Veterans Day honoring the service of all US military veterans, a circa-1945 image of a monument listing Beaver Islanders who served in World War II. Though unverified, it has been claimed that per capita, or relative to the size of the community, the island sent more servicemen into WWII than most communities in the nation.

Of the servicemen listed on the pictured monument, three were killed during the war: Emmett Burke, Hubert Green, and Edward Wojan. For reasons unknown, two other island servicemen killed in WW II, Robert Belfy and James Francis Neer, are not listed there. 

(Photo from the collection of the family of Daniel Archie LaFreniere, 1912-1996; Technician, US Navy, WW II, Philippines). 

Listed on the monument in alphabetical order:

Albert Antwine
Erwin Belfy
Patrick Boyle
Emmett Burke
Robert Burke
Jack Burke
Jack Connaghan
Betty Cull
Raymond Cull
Harvey Cornstalk
James Elms
John Gallagher
Edward Gallagher
Leo Gallagher
James Gallagher
Earl Gallagher
Frank Gallagher
Daniel Gallagher
Peter Gallagher
Norman Gallagher
Hubert Green
Daniel Green
Corneil Gatliff
Daniel Gatliff
Robert Gatliff
Edward Gillespie
Fred Korthese
Archie LaFreniere
Joseph LaFreniere
Arthur Lewis
Robert Malloy
Robert Martin
Roland McCann
James McCafferty
Bernard McCafferty
Francis McCafferty
Francis McDonough
Robert McDonough
Alred McCann
Daniel McGinnis
Robert McCann
Bernard ODonnell
Francis ODonnell
William ODonnell
Charles Pischner
Joseph Ricksgers
Henry Ricksgers
Alfred Ricksgers
Raymond Smith
George Van Erkle
Edward Wojan
Walter Wojan
Enos Washegeshik
Archie Washegesick
Charles Wabaninke
Theodore Wojan

Comment on Facebook

Several years ago,I made this Honor Roll for a 4th of July float. I would love to do it again.

Does anyone know where the original sign is or was? This is so cool

There's my Dad... oh thank you for this remembrance!

Emmett Burke was my late mother-in-law’s (Ada Burke) brother. May he and all of the others RIP. His Purple Heart hung on her living room wall for years.

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From McDonough Construction crew member Brian Cole, an update with pics on the Print Shop addition project:

"The weather permitted us to finish the slab at the Print Shop on Tuesday and we put the last of Dick Burris in the section of the floor that the Beaver Archipelago will be etched into... Definitely fitting for a man that loved these islands and explored them on land and diving around them all his life. Every time you walk in and look at that etching you can think of him and smile. A beautiful sunset to end the day tied everything together."
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Thank you all so much. A heart warming tribute to my grandpa!

Inscribed "Main Street High Island 1900 +", this picture was likely taken between 1912-1927, during the island's occupation by a colony of the House of David religious sect based in Benton Harbor, Michigan. At it's peak, the lakeside village near High Island Bay on the island's northeast side held 120-150 Israelites, as they were called. Members ran timber-cutting and farming operations that supplied their extensive home base in Benton Harbor with building lumber and large amounts of root vegetables for the vegetarian congregation there.

Before, during, and after the House of David era, High Island was home to generations of native Odawa families, and supported a public school up until 1936. Today the island has returned to a densely forested state, showing few obvious signs of the once-active communities of fisherman, loggers, and farmers who had called it home.
... See MoreSee Less

Inscribed Main Street High Island 1900 +, this picture was likely taken between 1912-1927, during the islands occupation by a colony of the House of David religious sect based in Benton Harbor, Michigan. At its peak, the lakeside village near High Island Bay on the islands northeast side held 120-150 Israelites, as they were called. Members ran timber-cutting and farming operations that supplied their extensive home base in Benton Harbor with building lumber and large amounts of root vegetables for the vegetarian congregation there. 

Before, during, and after the House of David era, High Island was home to generations of native Odawa families, and supported a public school up until 1936. Today the island has returned to a densely forested state, showing few obvious signs of the once-active communities of fisherman, loggers, and farmers who had called it home.

Comment on Facebook

Aaron Engel

Our dad went to school there, 1923.

Brent Pike

I had no idea that High Island was ever inhabited??

My grandmother lived there as a child with her family during early 1900’s

Wow

Mary Pischner

Dad was born and raised there.

Love this and love visiting High Island 😊

My Aunt Bernadette grew up there.

I landed there with Jewell Gillespie one lovely summers day in 1968. He was a mine of information on the island. I played slow airs on my bagpipes in honour of the departed

Where did all the buildings go?🎼

Some where there when we first started visiting. Little by little all reverted back to the earth. A few log cabins still have walls standing.

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Photography by Frank Solle / Stillpoint Photography