Undine from the German novel

You are Invited

After five long years of researching and compiling information on the Undine Settlement and various sections of Hayes Township, the Undine research team will soon unveil a large portion of their findings to the general public.  Friday, June 24th, 2011 will mark the opening of the year-long exhibit, “Undine – A Settlement Remembered …” at the Harsha House Museum in downtown Charlevoix.

Many have asked, “Where exactly was Undine?”  Anyone who has traveled the Boyne City-Charlevoix Road here in Charlevoix County, has driven past what was once known as the “Undine Settlement” of Hayes Township.  What remains is a small rural cemetery along the highway and a relocated country schoolhouse on the opposite side of the road.  More recently, the Undine Nature Preserve was created, yet little more than a memory remains of the people and settlement that were once located on these very same acres.

Presented by the Charlevoix County History Preservation Society, in conjunction with the Charlevoix Historical Society, the Undine exhibit will focus on the rise of this once thriving rural community, from what was originally a vast, untamed wilderness.  For the first time ever, the story of Charlevoix County’s Undine Settlement will be told, through the use of turn-of-the-century images, newspaper data, and original documents and artifacts.

In addition to what promises to be both educational and entertaining, we will also host a wine and cheese reception that evening at 7:00 pm, at the Harsha House Museum in downtown Charlevoix.

Please come out and show your support for what is being done to preserve the history of Charlevoix County.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Recognition

The Undine team (Patrick McCleary, Georganna Monk, and Jerry Hummel) would like to recognize the following people and organizations for their contributions to the Undine Exhibit, and for helping to lay the groundwork for the publication planned for 2012 release:

The Charlevoix Historical Society, for inviting us to collaborate on this exhibit and for providing the venue and public visibility, which we hope will result in additional information and research leads.

Mike and Rhea Dow, for generously underwriting the Opening Reception for the exhibit.

Monarch Garden and Floral Design of Petoskey, for providing floral arrangements for the Opening Reception.

Raechel Wright, for creating the Undine postcards, and working with our on-line publishers.

Mark Postma, for the large sign advertising the exhibit opening.

Karen Walker, photographic artist and owner of the Karen Walker Studio in East Jordan, for repairing and restoring several of the photographs to be used in the exhibit.

Pam at A Step Above Copies in Petoskey, for her assistance in printing the exhibit images.

Our twenty online volunteers from around the world, for transcribing material to be used in the Undine publication.  We would especially like to recognize Jennifer, Julienne, Diane, Lisa, and Sarah, who transcribed more than 5000 words each!

Lynn Maxwell and Raechel Wright for fully transcribing the various Halsted family documents.

Murray and JoAnn Follette of Boyne City, for their generous loan of the original Undine schoolhouse bell, a focal point of our exhibit.

The many people from across the country, who have shared their stories, photographs, family history information and other memorabilia pertaining to the Undine Settlement and its residents.  It is only with their generosity and willingness to assist that we could ever have undertaken a project of this magnitude.

How You Can Help

Can you help the team complete its research?  Call 231-580-8214 or send us an email to charlevoixchps@yahoo.com.

Interested in making a donation to help us publish the book in 2012?  Click the donate button on the left, and in “special instructions” tell us you want your donation earmarked for Undine.

Have ideas, photos, anything else you think will help?  Give us a call!

What Was Undine?

Undine was a mythological water nymph.  She was the subject of a romantic German novel titled Undine, and a play by the same name that showed in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Undine was also the name of a settlement on Lake Charlevoix, the subject of this research project.  According to project lead Patrick McCleary, the play was quite popular among Sheboygan residents, who around that time moved to Charlevoix County and named their little settlement.

In 2007, board members Patrick McCleary, Georganna Monk, and Jerry Hummel began a research project on the lost town of Undine and its 40 families.  In August of that year they presented preliminary findings, but the project continues.   Do you have information about the people of Undine?  Let us know!

120035008-cram-whitford-lumberyard-and-sawmill-at-undine-on-lake-charlevoix

Photograph of the Cram-Whitford Sawmill courtesy of Charlevoix Historical Society

What was Undine? For four years, CCHPS has been researching the lost Undine settlement, which lay on Lake Charlevoix between Charlevoix and Horton Bay. Once a thriving settlement centered around an active sawmill, it provided lumber for construction in the rapidly growing State of Michigan. Its lumber products were shipped by schooner to communities all around the Michigan-Wisconsin shoreline. Arising in the late 19th Century, it prospered until the pine forests were depleted. After the lumbering boom, the area reverted to general farming and the settlement with its sawmill, post office, and store disappeared.

August 2007 Undine Program Brochure

[the following material was produced for the August, 2007 CCHPS speaker event on Undine]

Anyone who has traveled the Boyne City-Charlevoix Road here in Charlevoix County, has driven past what was once known as the “Undine Settlement” of Hayes Township.  What remains is a small rural cemetery along the highway and a relocated country schoolhouse on the opposite side of the road.  More recently, the Undine Nature Preserve was created, yet little more than a memory remains of the people and settlement that were once located on these very same acres

Like so many of the now-lost settlements in Northern Michigan, Undine sprang to life with the establishment of a sawmill.  Prior to 1875, only a handful of early settlers could be found within this area of Hayes Township.  Most notable among these was Louisa Swan and family- she being the sister of early Boyne City pioneer, Zachariah Morgan.  As mill workers and their families began to settle in among the farm community, the need for both a general store and post office were soon created.  It was the establishment of the Undine Post Office on January 15, 1880 with Charles H. Whitford as Postmaster, that would “officially” place the name Undine on the map.  By 1896 when the milling operation was relocated to Charlevoix, the sections (now cleared of their virgin timber), were again left to the farming community.

Now, more than 120 years after it’s founding, a team of researchers has put together the most extensive compilation of information ever gathered on Undine – this Charlevoix County “ghost town”.  This research team, all members of the Charlevoix County History Preservation Society (CCHPS), began their project back in March of this year.  Since that time, they have worked on gathering, compiling and documenting many aspects of history pertaining to the Undine Settlement.  The history, which will include area, business, and biographical information, will be shared with the public during a 90-minute presentation on Monday, August 20, 2007.  There are also plans for a written history to be compiled and published in 2008.

Georganna Monk, a resident historian of Bay Township, lives in Horton Bay.  Her interest in the Undine Settlement began in 2005 when requested by the Little Traverse Conservancy to present a short history of Undine at the dedication ceremony of the Undine Nature Preserve.  Another researcher involved with the Undine Project is Gerald Hummel of Bellaire.  His interest in the Undine Settlement is one of a more personal nature, being a direct descendent of the early Undine Bacot family.  Through his grandmother Annie Bacot, Mr. Hummel grew up hearing tales of the Hayes Township area as they were interwoven into his own family’s lore, which include the ownership of the Bacot General Store in Undine.  Patrick McCleary, a fourth generation Boyne City native and now a resident of Alanson, has a long-standing relationship with the history of both the township and the county.  For more than twenty-five years, Patrick has researched not only his family’s history, but has assisted others in doing the same through history and genealogical presentations on a variety of topics, writing for various genealogical and history-related publications, and as a paid researcher and genealogist.  The Undine Settlement is just one of the local history projects which he has long anticipated being a part of.

It is the hope of this research team that area residents will leave the August program with a better knowledge of the Undine settlement and the families who have resided there through the years.  They are also hopeful that others will come forward and make contact in order to share what they may know.  Patrick can be reached at 231.348.8255, Jerry at 231.533.4405, and Georganna at 231.582.5326.   In addition to recorded material the team also hopes to put together a collection of Undine’s oral and photographic history, both of which can only be done with the assistance of knowledgeable, local residents.

“We would like to stress that this is not a money-making venture,” commented Georganna Monk, “this is however, a wonderful opportunity for everyone to contribute and share what they know about a settlement that has, for most, become a little-known ghost town here in Charlevoix County.  In doing so, we are putting together a written record of this settlement’s past- assuring that it will not be lost forever.

Team member Patrick McCleary also added, “I think the most interesting thing that I can stress is in regard to the many, many families researched during this project.  Although many spent much of their lives in this area, an even greater number appear for only a very few years.  After moving to other locales here in Charlevoix County, throughout Michigan, and even to other states, their connections to Undine have most likely been lost or forgotten over the years.  The majority of their descendants, those with whom I have spoken during the course of our project, were not only pleased, but also very surprised to learn that they too shared an “Undine connection.”