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/

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

A glimpse of the original Fourth-Order Fresnel (pronounced 'fray-NEL') lens that had long operated in St. James' Whiskey Point Lighthouse. The ornate, high-quality-glass refractive device was eventually replaced by a modern LED beacon atop Whiskey Point Light. In the summer of 2016 the lens was removed from the lighthouse and placed in a new bay-window display in the corner of nearby St. James Township Hall, facing the entry to the harbor. A small lamp was placed in the Fresnel, which still blinks its red light into the bay at night in a visual echo of it's former elevated service to mariners.

Called "the invention that saved a million ships", the Fresnel lens was developed in the 1820's by French physicist and optics researcher Augustin-Jean Fresnel. Several different types of them served as essential navigation aids in countless lighthouses across the world for generations, until more advanced technology rendered most of them obsolete - though some remain today in towers declared historic sites.

An equivalent Fourth-order Fresnel lens served the Beaver Head Light at the island's south end until 1962, when it was removed and placed in the lighthouse keepers' dwelling, where it too can be viewed today.
... See MoreSee Less

A glimpse of the original Fourth-Order Fresnel (pronounced fray-NEL) lens that had long operated in St. James Whiskey Point Lighthouse. The ornate, high-quality-glass refractive device was eventually replaced by a modern LED beacon atop Whiskey Point Light. In the summer of 2016 the lens was removed from the lighthouse and placed in a new bay-window display in the corner of nearby St. James Township Hall, facing the entry to the harbor. A small lamp was placed in the Fresnel, which still blinks its red light into the bay at night in a visual echo of its former elevated service to mariners. 

Called the invention that saved a million ships, the Fresnel lens was developed in the 1820s by French physicist and optics researcher Augustin-Jean Fresnel. Several different types of them served as essential navigation aids in countless lighthouses across the world for generations, until more advanced technology rendered most of them obsolete - though some remain today in towers declared historic sites. 

An equivalent Fourth-order Fresnel lens served the Beaver Head Light at the islands south end until 1962, when it was removed and placed in the lighthouse keepers dwelling, where it too can be viewed today.

Comment on Facebook

I love the art in this.

A lovely guiding light.

'Picnic at the Point' this Wednesday, October 16, from 12-1 pm, at the St. James Township Hall:

Local boat builder Dan Burton talks about boat building in St. James, from it's early days to today.

Bring a lunch and take in some tales of craftsmanship !

(Photo courtesy of Mary Acker)
... See MoreSee Less

Picnic at the Point this Wednesday, October 16, from 12-1 pm, at the St. James Township Hall: 

Local boat builder Dan Burton talks about boat building in St. James, from its early days to today. 

Bring a lunch and take in some tales of craftsmanship !

(Photo courtesy of Mary Acker)

Another photo update on the progress of the Mormon Print Shop addition project - from the top, lower left, and lower right:

1. Phase 1 of the project has been preparation for new construction. This included the removal of the old 'kitchen addition' - as well as five feet of the rear wall of the newer Post Office addition, in order to accommodate a new handicap-accessible entrance that will lead into the new museum space.

2. Following the removal of the Post Office addition's rear wall, the opening was temporarily covered with OSB board to protect it from the elements and secure the interior space.

3. The construction crew has been excavating soil to prepare for the pouring of new concrete footings beneath parts of the old foundation.
... See MoreSee Less

Another photo update on the progress of the Mormon Print Shop addition project - from the top, lower left, and lower right: 

1. Phase 1 of the project has been preparation for new construction. This included the removal of the old kitchen addition - as well as five feet of the rear wall of the newer Post Office addition, in order to accommodate a new handicap-accessible entrance that will lead into the new museum space. 

2. Following the removal of the Post Office additions rear wall, the opening was temporarily covered with OSB board to protect it from the elements and secure the interior space.

3. The construction crew has been excavating soil to prepare for the pouring of new concrete footings beneath parts of the old foundation.Image attachmentImage attachment

Comment on Facebook

Thank you so much for the updates & especially the photos. You can NEVER post too many pics! 😊

Circa 1950, a Kodak postcard of Henry Allen's harbor-side rental cabins in St. James, which were later converted into larger summer homes.

On the far left can be seen the roof and stack of what was then Gus Mielke's sawmill; it had earlier been the Beaver Island Lumber Company mill, running from 1902-1915. The pilings of BILCO's dock that once extended far out into the harbor spot the waters behind the cabins, photo left, center and right.

In the post-war years Allen had built small rental cabins on the sand dunes of Donegal Bay as well; part of several community initiatives to build up a tourist economy after the decline of the fishing and lumbering industries.
... See MoreSee Less

Circa 1950, a Kodak postcard of Henry Allens harbor-side rental cabins in St. James, which were later converted into larger summer homes. 

On the far left can be seen the roof and stack of what was then Gus Mielkes sawmill; it had earlier been the Beaver Island Lumber Company mill, running from 1902-1915. The pilings of BILCOs dock that once extended far out into the harbor spot the waters behind the cabins, photo left, center and right. 

In the post-war years Allen had built small rental cabins on the sand dunes of Donegal Bay as well; part of several community initiatives to build up a tourist economy after the decline of the fishing and lumbering industries.

Comment on Facebook

Portman's and Peterson's I believe.

We stayed in one while we were building our cabin

It looks like the old life-saving station can be see out at Whiskey Point on the far right.

Our family owned them during the 60’s and 70’s.

Cool!!!

Love hearing about my Grandpa Henry Allen and how he and his (large) family played a big role in bringing people to Beaver. ❤️ I heard he was a sharp businessman and had great vision. Thank you for sharing.

That was when there was only one or two phone lines on the island, one in a house down from the Coast Guard. And there had to be one at the CG, right?

View more comments

From Meghan McCauley Schrumpf, a photo of her grandparents Alexander McCauley (1903-1970) and Pauline Herweg McCauley (1907-1985) on their wedding day in Chicago, August 24, 1935.

Alexander was the son of Owen McCauley (1868-1958) keeper of the Squaw Island Lighthouse for 28 years; and grandson of Connell 'Conn' McCauley (1826-1902) who piloted a charter vessel that brought some of the first Arranmore, Ireland emigrant families from Toronto, Canada, to Beaver Island in the mid-1850's.
... See MoreSee Less

From Meghan McCauley Schrumpf, a photo of her grandparents Alexander McCauley (1903-1970) and Pauline Herweg McCauley (1907-1985) on their wedding day in Chicago, August 24, 1935. 

Alexander was the son of Owen McCauley (1868-1958) keeper of the Squaw Island Lighthouse for 28 years; and grandson of Connell Conn McCauley (1826-1902) who piloted a charter vessel that brought some of the first Arranmore, Ireland emigrant families from Toronto, Canada, to Beaver Island in the mid-1850s.

Comment on Facebook

Aunt Kath how are we related?

Barry Mccauley Cara McCauley Applegate check this out!!

Load more

Photography by Frank Solle / Stillpoint Photography