Keweenaw County Michigan

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Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor


Source: History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: containing a full account of its early settlement, its growth, development, and resources, an extended description of its iron and copper mines : also, accurate sketches of its counties, cities, towns, and villages ... biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers. Publication Info: Chicago : Western Historical Co., 1883.

  Statistical | Mines & Miners
Copper Harbor | Eagle Harbor  | Eagle River | Delaware | Copper Falls | Central | Phoenix | Allouez | Ahmeek (Ahmuk)


Copper Harbor is near the extreme end of Keweenaw Point in North Latitude 47° 30', West Longitude 80°, and is an excellent harbor. It is 250 miles distant from Sault Ste. Marie, and about the same distance from Duluth, lying in the direct route from Marquette to Isle Royale and Silver Islet.

The speculative fever which ran so high in 1846 and made things so lively all over the mining region, filled Copper Harbor with the adventurers, speculators and min­ers who thronged the shores of the Upper Peninsula. The waters of the beautiful harbor were enlivened by the var­ious sloops, small vessels and canoes which were moving upon its surface, and the shores were dotted over with the explorers' tents. That year, the first house built at Copper Harbor was erected by D. D. Brockway, at the head of the bay, and was kept by him as a hotel. Nearly opposite the Brockway House is Porter's Island, a small rocky islet, upon which the "Government House" was built, and occupied by the Land Commissioners, and favors in the shape of "permits" were granted "by the lord thereof," to the anxious seekers after wealth.

In the summer of 1843, Walter Cunningham, who had been appointed special agent for the mines of Lake Supe­rior, in company with some twenty persons, landed at Cop­per Harbor, where he established his agency. This agency remained at Copper Harbor until the spring of 1846, when it was removed by Gen. John Stockton to the Sault de Ste. Marie, with assistants stationed at the Copper Harbor, at the mouth of the Ontonagon River and La Pointe.

From August, 1844, to November, 1845, 595 locations were made upon permits from the War Department, and applications to the Mineral Agency at Copper Harbor.

It was named Copper Harbor on account of the cuprif­erous veins outcropping there and plainly visible, and for a time much interest in the search for copper centered there. Not meeting with the success that was anticipated, parties have withdrawn from further search at that point for the present, and the once thriving town has fallen into decay—there being now, in 1882, six families and only about thirty inhabitants in all in the place. Two pupils are in regular daily attendance at the school, and sometimes the number reaches as high as seven scholars in a day.

The largest settlement is now on the Clark Mine location about a mile from the harbor, and where the Copper Harbor Post Office is kept. The only stock of general merchandise kept in the vicinity of Copper Harbor is the store kept by Leon Lauvaux, the agent of the Clark and other mining property.

The stockade known as Fort Wilkins, located about a mile from the landing, formerly a United States military post, is beautifully situated on the banks of Lake Fanny Hooey, and between it and the bay, which is but a little distance away. Nestling upon the banks of that lovely lake, protected by groves of poplars, birches and firs, it seems to invite one to it as a retreat to be desired; but its deserted buildings going to decay, its dreary solitude and isolation from the busy, bustling world, recalling to memory the poet's lament over "Tara's halls deserted," surrounds it with a remote gloominess which destroys the de­sire. It was established in 1844 by Capt. Clery, of the Fifth United States Infantry, and was garrisoned by his command, consisting of two companies. He was relieved by Capt. Albertis, who remained until June, 1846. He was ordered to Mexico with his command, and was decapitated by a cannon ball in front of Vera Cruz. August 8, 1846, Col. William B. Wright was appointed custodian in charge, and, from September 6 following, to November, 1855, it was garrisoned by Col. Wright and wife. As a fortification it has been abandoned.

Joseph Sahl came to Copper Harbor in 1844, has a log cabin on the hill on the road to Eagle Harbor, about one mile and a half distant from Copper Harbor, where he has a small garden and some lands for pasture. He has been hunting for the hidden wealth of that region ever since he landed there, and is today as poor as ever; an illustration of the pertinacious visionary prospector, of the class to which a Colorado operator, in referring to their numerous and constant failures, once remarked: "If they want to find mineral they must look where God Almighty has placed it."

Thus far the mining operations in this vicinity have proved unprofitable, with the exception, perhaps, of the working out of the pocket deposit of black oxide ore found adjacent to Fort Wilkins. Upon the Clark Mine, lying south of the fort, on the opposite side of Lake Fanny Hooey, much money and labor have been expended, and some fine copper obtained, but the results have been far from satisfactory.

A vein of protoxide of manganese has been opened on the Clark mining property, to the east of Lake Manganese, and about 1,200 tons of good ore taken out of an open cut which has been worked down to a depth of seventy-five feet, under a lease given to a Pittsburgh company. This com­pany suspended operations, and gave the option of their lease to the Cambria Iron Co.

Near the dam, at the outlet of the lake, the vein can be distinctly traced dipping to the West, and evidently under­lying the bed of the lake. As an article for the manufact­ure of Bessemer steel, it is an important factor, and will, doubtless, be worked to its full extent.

The Star Mine and the Copper Harbor Mining Companies are the only others which keep up an organization in this vicinity, but no work is attempted on either.

The Copper Harbor Light House is built upon a point of land which forms the sheltered bay at the east end of the harbor. It was kept by Charles Grogan for nine years previous to 1881, and is now in charge of Edward Chambers.

The Range Light was established in 1866, the tower erected that year, and the house the following year. Napoleon Beedon was the first keeper, succeeded by Edward Bennett, followed by William Tresise, the present keeper, in 1870. The light is one of the sixth order stationary white light.


CHARLES CORGAN was born in Ireland in 1822; he came to America in 1842; made his home in Canada till 1864; then came to Lake Superior in 1866; he was appointed keeper of the Manitou Light, and held that position seven years; he was then assigned to the Copper Harbor Light, of which he had charge nine years, or till November, 1881, during which time he had charge of the Govern­ment property at Fort Wilkins; he has made his home at Copper Harbor since 1868, where he now keeps hotel.

LEON LAUVAUX, Superintendent of the Clark Mine, was born in Belgium, of French parentage, December 27, 1845; he was educated for the profession of mining engineer; he entered the office of Mr. Estivant, of France, proprietor of the great smelting and copper rolling works; he became Mr. Estivant's confidential clerk, and accompanied him to America in 1872. Mr. Estivant having become proprietor of the Clark Mine, Keweenaw County, Mich., Mr. Lauvaux was employed as clerk in that location. In 1874, he was made Superintendent, and has held that position to this date; during, the years 1881-82, he has also had charge of the Star Mine of the Amygdaloid, Resolute (Empire Copper Company), Girard, Vulcan and Etna Mines, comprising in all a property of 25,000 acres in extent.

WILLIAM TRESISE, keeper of the Copper Harbor Range, Light Station, was born in England November 11, 1839; came to America when two years of age with his parents, and made his home in Pennsylvania, and soon after went to Wisconsin. In 1851, he came to Lake Superior; when old enough to work, he engaged in mining, and was employed at various mines on Keweenaw Point till August, 1862, when he enlisted in Company C, Twenty-seventh Regiment Michigan Volunteers; he was wounded in front of Peters­burg, Va., July 30, 1864, by a gunshot wound in the neck and shoulder, and was discharged for disability July 27, 1865; on recovering sufficiently, he went to Colorado, where he spent one year, and then went to New Mexico and Arizona in Government employ; thence to Southern California, and thence to San Francisco; he returned to Lake Superior in 1869, and the following year was appointed to his present position.


Eagle Harbor is located sixteen miles west of Copper Harbor and is a good steamboat landing. It was first occupied by the Eagle Harbor Mining Company, who worked a party of men there in the summer of 1845, a Mr. Sprague being agent. The 17th of October following, Mr. F. Hopkins, still a resident of the town, arrived with a company, thirteen in all, and lived in a tent. He arrived at Copper Harbor the night Dr. Houghton was drowned, and laid to there four days on account of the memorable storm of October 13, 1845, which deprived the copper region of its most able and accom­plished explorer. Men were then working for the Eagle Harbor Mining Company, and everything for the mines was landed and the groceries and general provisions kept there.

At that time, there was one house in the place, construct­ed of rough logs and covered with "shakes"-thin strips split from logs. The village plat was afterward made by Mr. Slaughter, who laid out the town. During these early times, intemperance ran riot when parties of miners congregated there, and fights and brawls were matters of frequent occurrence.

Eagle Harbor was opened with a channel thirteen and a half feet deep, in 1877, and is a fine refuge for vessels, except in a severe northeast wind. The Government appropriation used in opening the harbor was $90,000. The new light-house and range lights were built at the time the channel was opened—a tower on shore and house 1,000 feet in range inland, each fitted with marine signal lens lantern lights.

The Eagle Harbor Light-House stands upon a project­ing point of rocks on the west side of the harbor. A large, high rock which formerly stood on that point, by the side of the old lighthouse, has been blasted away to make room for the present lighthouse, materially changing the aspect of the place from former days. The light is of the fifth or­der, fixed white and varied by flashes, and is distinctly visible twelve and a half miles.

The first piers were built by Edward Taylor, the pio­neer settler of Eagle Harbor, in 1844, and a small log ware­house was erected with the ground for a floor. This was afterward purchased by James Bawden, and a small frame warehouse, since removed and used as a shoe shop, erected. This was purchased by Mr. Charles Kuntz and moved to its present location, in 1855, to give room for the large build­ing afterward destroyed by fire.

Additions were also made to the dock, to which improvements have been added from time to time, forming the present pier and dock. A two story warehouse had been erected and filled with grain and provision for the winter supply, in 1860. Some lime was stored upon the lower floor. So much weight had been stored in the building that the timbers gave way and settled until some of the lime reached the water and set fire to the building, which, with all its contents, was destroyed, on the night of November 10, 1860.

The eager citizens, seeing their provisions for the win­ter being thus ruthlessly destroyed, would have rushed for­ward to rescue at least a portion of it, but were kept back from so doing by the determination of Bawden, the clerk, who told them to "keep back as there was powder stored there." Many lives were doubtless saved by his keeping the crowd at a distance, for soon the entire structure was rent and scattered by a terrific explosion.

The citizens stood appalled. Winter was at hand and their supplies had been destroyed. Judge William P. Raley, the leading merchant and warehouseman, immediately started for Detroit, chartered the steamer Planet, purchased and loaded his supplies and started back with them. On the voyage they encountered such a terrific storm that all the cargo on deck had to be thrown overboard to save the vessel. Arriving at Marquette the 24th day of November, the thermometer stood 12° below zero, and the snow was two feet deep. After a tedious struggle with the ele­ments, the remaining cargo was finally landed at Copper Harbor and the vessel safely returned to the Sault. At the present time, some eight to ten thousand tons of freight are handled annually at Mr. Raley's docks. On the opposite side of the bay, the Central Mining Company built a dock and warehouse for the use of the mine.

There are two church edifices in the place—the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was erected in 1846-47, and the Catholic, built in 1849.

A fine schoolhouse was erected on the southwest side of the harbor in 1872. There are ninety-six children of school age in the district, with an average daily attendance in the winter of forty. They pay from $60 to $70 per month for a male teacher.

The first lodge of Odd Fellows in the Upper Peninsula was Houghton Lodge, No. 68, I. 0. 0. F., instituted at Eagle Harbor, in October, 1859, with F. Hopkins, formerly a member of No. 3 Lodge, Pontiac, Mich., First Noble Grand. This lodge was afterward removed to the Cliff Mine, and became extinct.

Keweenaw Lodge, No. 82, I. 0. 0. F., was instituted at the Harbor October 14, 1863. Has a present membership of sixty-three, and $1,683 in the treasury. Regular meetings.

The first merchants in the place were John Senter and his partner.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1853 or 1854. The first school was a private enterprise. It was opened by a Mr. Keeley in a log building between where Capt. Conner's house and George Rice's house now stand. A Mr. Wallace was the first teacher after the district was formed.

The first sermon was preached in the place by Rev. John H. Pitezel, of the Methodist Mission.

The first services of the Catholic Church in recent times were held by Father Baraga, of the Baraga Mission.

Hiram Joy was keeping a log boarding house in Eagle Harbor in 1846. This was purchased by Charles Kuntz in 1848. At that time there were four buildings in Eagle Harbor.

Ed Taylor and a company of men came to this point and wintered on the shore between Copper Harbor and Eagle River, in the winter of 1842-43. In 1844, Mr. Taylor came to Eagle Harbor and built a log tavern, where the present hotel stands, which was afterward burned down. Another structure was erected and additions made, a part of which was also burned, January 17, 1852, the frame dining-room and kitchen being saved from the devouring flames by the most strenuous efforts and the favorable turn of the wind. The front of the present large hotel was soon erected by James Bawden and the place again put in order. It is in good repair and is the largest hotel in Keweenaw County, having thirty-six rooms. It was purchased by James Rasewarn, its present proprietor, and has been kept by him since June, 1881.

The principal merchants are Foley Bros. & Co., Stephen Cocking and Joseph Dahn.

Foley Bros. & Co. have been established in general merchandise since 1854. Average stock, $15,000. They also have a branch store at Red Jacket, carrying an aver­age stock of $40,000.

Mr Cocking has been in trade since 1879, carrying $2,000 in general merchandise. He is also keeper of the Harbor light.

Joseph Dahm established in 1867-hardware and tin ware.


GEORGE H. BOTTOMLEY, surface foreman and Superintendent of the stamp-mill at the Ashbed Mine, was born in Macomb County, Mich., May 29, 1846; he came to Lake Superior in 1862, and engaged in the stamp-mill of the Cliff Mine; was in the employ of that company ten years; a part of that time, he was employed at the stamp-mills, and a part was in charge of the company teaming. He returned to Macomb County, Mich., and spent two years, and, in 1874, returned to Lake Superior, and engaged with the Phoenix Mining Company. In 1880, he accepted his present position.

STEPHEN COCKING, merchant and keeper of the Main Light, was born in England July 27, 1836; came to America in 1847; made his home in Dodgeville, Iowa Co., Wis., until 1852. He then came to Eagle River, and acted as engineer at the South Cliff Mine three years. Then spent one year in Wisconsin; returned to Lake Superior, and worked with the Copper Falls Mining Company till August, 1862, when he enlisted in the late war in Company I, Twenty-third Michigan Volunteers, for three years, and was ap­pointed Brigade Bugler; served till the close of the war. At the expiration of his term of enlistment, he returned to Eagle Harbor. In 1869, he was appointed keeper of the Gull Rock Light, Lake Su­perior, and held that position eight years. He was then transferred to Eagle Harbor as keeper of the Main Light, and has kept it to this date. In 1879, he began business as a merchant at Eagle Harbor; carries a general stock of $2,000 average value.

JOSEPH DAHM, dealer in hardware, stoves and tin ware; business established in 1867; was born in Prussia March 3, 1825; came to America in 1854; spent one year at Detroit. The following year, he came to Lake Superior; worked in the Copper Falls and Central Mines as a miner eight years. In 1865, he removed to Eagle Harbor, and, in 1867, started his present business. Has the only hard­ware and tin store in town, and is doing a very successful business.

JOHN FOLEY, of Foley Bros. & Co., merchants, was born in Ireland in 1830; came to America in 1848, and direct to Lake Superior; landed at Eagle Harbor, going almost directly to Isle Royale, where he spent three years. He then returned to Eagle Harbor, and, in 1854, started in the liquor trade. He subsequently engaged in the meat market business. In 1857, he began as a dealer in general merchandise in company with his brother. Mr. M. Smith was subsequently taken in as a partner, and the business has since been continued under the above name. Mr. Foley has held various official positions. He has been Constable many years, Town Treasurer six years, and Under Sheriff two terms.

FRANKLIN HOPKINS, one of the earliest pioneers of Lake Superior and an early mining agent, was born in Trenton, Oneida Co., N. Y., November 29, 1817. He moved to Lower Michigan in 1836, learned the carpenter's trade, and came to Lake Superior in 1845. He located at the North American Mine, Keweenaw County, as mining carpenter; remained with that company two years. Then went below to Lower Michigan. In 1848, he was appointed carpenter to the Methodist Indian Mission at L'Anse. He made the trip to L'Anse on foot, and entered upon the discharge of his duties; the position not proving to his liking, he only served fifteen months; he then returned to the copper region, and engaged as surface foreman of the old Northwest Mine, now the Conglomerate, and continued at that mine for six years. Next served as agent of the Central Mine two years. He then served two years as agent of the Isle Royale Mine at Houghton. He has also had charge of the Pontiac Mine a short time. He then kept the Phoenix House at Eagle River two years during the liveliest business times of Eagle River. During that time, he lost his wife and one child on the wrecked steamer Lady Elgin, September 8, 1860. He then moved to Eagle Harbor, and has since been connected with the dock and warehouse business.

CHARLES KUNTZ, blacksmith, was born in Germany, in Barkenfeld, Township Niederbrombach, village Wennenbergerhoff, No­vember 25, 1822; he emigrated to America in 1844; landed at New Orleans, where he spent six months; he then worked his way North to Chicago; thence to Milwaukee, Wis., and from there to Lake Superior; he engaged as blacksmith in the Northwest Mine, and remained there two years; he was blacksmith at the Copper Falls Mine during the years 1847, 1848 and 1850. In 1849, he located at Eagle Harbor, where he opened a blacksmith shop and kept hotel. The former business he has continued to this date; but his hotel business he gave up in 1864; he was a large real estate owner and still has several buildings; for four years, he was Under Sheriff of Houghton County, and, on the organization of Keweenaw County, he was elected Sheriff of this county; he made an efficient officer. In the turbulent days while Under Sheriff, Mr. Kunz performed some feats in the way of making captures and quelling disturbances, the history of which can better be appreciated by those who know the man than by the casual reader of these pages. Mr. Kuntz stands six feet three inches in height, and possessed of cool nerve, sup­ported by the muscle of a Hercules; good-natured, as most powerful men are, but a holy terror when aroused; when Sheriff Kunz was known to have a warrant for one man or more, it made no differ­ence how well they were backed by friends, they had to go along, and they usually did it quietly. Although sixty years of age, he swings his hammer with his usual ease.

CAPT. THOMAS O'CONNOR is one of the pioneer mining captains of Lake Superior, and served for many years under the well-known mining agent, surveyor and explorer, Hon. Samuel W. Hill. Mr. O'Connor was born in Ireland December 5, 1811; he came to America in 1845, and direct to Lake Superior; he worked one year for the New York Mining Company, next with the Lac La Belle Company; he was mining captain of the Iron City Mine, from 1852 to 1858; he was also three times mining captain of the Lac La Belle Mine; he was also captain at the North Cliff Mine under S. W. Hill, and of the Dakota, Hancock and Pennsylvania Mines; also with the Clark Mine under the French Company, and of the St. Clair Mine. About 1874, he retired from active mining; he has made his home at Eagle Harbor since 1867. Mr. O'Connor has seen the Lake Superior mining region when it was almost an unexplored wilder­ness, and has borne his part in opening it up, having always proven himself efficient and reliable in all work entrusted to his care. Probably no man, single-handed, ever accomplished more work in a given time than Capt. O'Connor.

WILLIAM P. RALEY, Probate Judge, forwarding and commission merchant, does a general warehouse business; was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, August 16, 1825; came to Lake Superior in 1849; landed at Eagle Harbor and soon after went to Isle Royale as bookkeeper and cashier for the Siskowit Mining Company; was there only one year when he came to the Northwest Mine, Keweenaw County as bookkeeper and paymaster; was with this company four years. In 1855, he went to Copper Harbor, where he was, in company with William H. Stephens, in the merchandising and for­warding business until 1859; he then came to Eagle Harbor, and en­gaged in the mercantile business with Justin Shapley, under the firm name of Raley & Shapley, with a branch store at Copper Falls. They also bought the piers and warehouse at Eagle Harbor; they lost the warehouse by fire in 1860; then built their present sub­stantial building about 1860; in 1879, Judge Raley bought out his partner's interest, and has since operated alone. He has held vari­ous offices; was appointed Judge of Probate by the Governor, to fill a vacancy in 1878, and was elected to the office in 1880, for the term of four years; office at Eagle River.

JAMES RASEWARN, proprietor of Eagle Harbor Hotel; the subject of this sketch was born in Cornwall, Eng., July 7, 1835; he was brought up a miner; came to America in 1854; worked one year in New Jersey. In 1855, came to Lake Superior; worked eight months at the Flint Steele Mine; also in the Douglass, Houghton, Toltec and Evergreen Mines. He then returned to England, where he spent four years; then went to Brazil, South America, where he remained three years and eight months, and then returned to En­gland. Three months later, he returned to America, and located at the Central Mine, Keweenaw County, Mich., where he was em­ployed as a miner three and a half years; he also worked at the Copper Falls eight years. In the fall of 1880, he moved to Eagle Harbor, and the June following he leased the hotel he now keeps.

MICHAEL SMITH, of the firm of Foley Bros. & Co., merchants, was born in Ireland November 17, 1834; came to America in 1854; spent six months in Massachusetts, and then came to Eagle Harbor. He spent three years as an employe of various mining companies (the Northwestern, Copper Falls, Connecticut and Quincy). In 1858, he bought an interest in the mercantile business of the Foley Bros. (See sketch of the Foley Bros.' & Co). This firm has a branch store at Red Jacket. Mr. Smith has held the office of Town Treasurer of Eagle Harbor eight years.

JACOB SWARTZ, watchmaker and jeweler, was born in Bavaria, Germany, October 25, 1826; was apprenticed to the watch­maker's trade, but before completing the term of his apprenticeship, he emigrated to America; he reached New Orleans in June, 1842; he spent a year in that city, perfecting himself in his trade; he then came to Lake Superior; spent one year at Copper Harbor; then went to Ontonagon, where he remained till 1837, when he came to Eagle Harbor, and engaged in business. During his residence here, he has served three terms as Town Treasurer.

CAPT. JOHN WILLIAMS, of the Ashbed Mine, was born in Cornwall, Eng., June 27, 1841; he was engaged in mining in his native country in his youth. In 1862, he came to America; stopped awhile in Massachusetts, and, in the latter part of the same year, came to Lake Superior; he worked three years in the Phoenix Mine; then worked in the Garden City and Central Mines, and returned, after a year and a half, to the Phoenix; he was employed there sev­eral years, and then worked awhile at the Schoolcraft, Copper Falls and Hecla mines, and returned to the Phoenix again. In 1880, he was appointed captain in charge of the working of the Ashhed Mine.


Statistical | Mines & Miners
Copper Harbor | Eagle Harbor  | Eagle River | Delaware | Copper Falls | Central | Phoenix | Allouez | Ahmeek (Ahmuk)