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Dollar Bay, Michigan, officially known as Village of Clark located on Portage Lake in Osceola Township of Houghton County Michigan. And where is Houghton County? Michigan, the state, is two peninsulas, Upper and Lower. In the Upper Peninsula on its most northern point we find two counties, Houghton and Keweenaw and not so far north, Baraga and Ontonagon Counties all of which are surrounded by the largest of the Great Lakes, Superior, with its subsidiaries. Surprisingly, but most certainly true there are people today who do not realise that the State of Michigan is any further North than the Straits of Mackinaw. It does not surprise the people of "Copper Country", as Houghton and Keweenaw Counties are referred to, to hear of people who think we must all be Indians and that to be from this section of Upper Peninsula we must be Indians and that to be from this section of Upper Peninsula we must be inhabitants of an uncivilized part of the country. Fur trading and Copper Mining exxisted in Baraga, Ontonagon, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties as early as 1846. The Logging Industry of course was high ranking too, timber being much in use in the mining industry. These industries brought the; "Cousin Jacks" (miners mostly), lumberjack Swede, Finn, Finn-Swede (there had to be a distinction), French, German, Irish, Scotch, Italian and the Slovanians to these four counties and during these early years began the building of towns and the cities such as Hancock and Houghton in Houghton County; Ontonagon in Ontonagon County and such old settlements as Eagle Harbor, Copper Harbor, Phoenix, Mondon etc, in Keweenaw County. Today Keweenaw County is well established as a tourist center and fisherman's delight, its early mining eerie ghosts of yesteryear. I do not mean there is no more Copper Mining in the Copper Country. The Calumet and Hecla established themselves in these territories at a very early date and are today still operating to some extent. Houghton, Baraga and Ontonagon Counties are also tourist centers of great renown and one must neveer forget that Houghton County has still today, above all things, Dollar Bay.
Where did Dollar Bay get its name? Let us surmise that sometime during the years 1846 - 1880 surveyors for timber located a vasst virgin tract about 5 miles from Houghton on Portage Lake. The surveyors report brought about a purchases of this "tract" by a lumber man, Capt. Dollar, who set up his saw mill on the "Bay" within this tract of virgin timber and which flowed into Portage Lake this making it a convenient spot for Capt. Dollars mill. We can only surmise that Capt. Dollar in his lumbering activities may have had a mill here. We do not believe there is any actual proof that such was the case. We do know that years before any settlement was made, or the Captains lumbering activities were begun, the name Dollar Bay was already in use for this portion of the North Shore of Portage Lake by pioneer residents in reference to the place where they went to pick huckleberries.
The most common explanation for the name is derived from the shape of the bay, "round as a dollar".
The Dollar Bay Land and Improvement Company was organized by officials of the Tamarack and Oseola Mines. The Company then succeeded in acquiring a considerable amount of land and organized several companies for various enterprises, their hope being; to establish plants here to manufact ure copper in all its various forms.
Thus came the first step in bringing about this new community. Ten log houses were built, some still standing, though their exteriors and interiors have been greatly changed. Ockupation of these houses by settlers is known to be July 1887. A Copper rolling mill was constructed in 1887 by the newly organized Tamarack-Osceola Copper Mfg. Co. Hostile business competition made the manufacture of sheet copper unsuccessful.
The construction of a saw mill was followed by that of a wire mill and a smelter. This smelter was consolodated with a smelter in Hancock and was known as the Lake Superior Smelting Company. For a number of years this company smelted practically all the copper of this district other than that produced by Calumet & Hecla mines. At the time of all these industries under operation Dollar Bay had a population of 2.200 people.
At the close of the first World War the property of Lake Superior Smelting Co. was acquired by Calumet & Hecla Consolidated Copper Co. The Smelter was closed and dismantled. Many of the employees were given work in other properties of Calumet & Hecla but still others obtained work elsewhere in the state.
The Dollar Bay Land and Improvement Co. properties were bought by the John A. Roebling Sons of Trenton, New Jersey. This company operated the wire mill, closing during the depression. The Saw Mill was sold to the Dollar Bay Lumber Co. and they likewise operated until the depression years.
In 1930 the Horner Flooring Co. Mill was erected and provided employment for many during the difficult years of the depression. It has since 1930 enlarged and today employes between 125-130 people.
The Wire Mill resumed operations under new people "Essex Wire - Ft. Wayne, Ind." in 1940 and operates "2 shifts a day" employing approximately 65 people.
In 1939 the Copper Country Cheese Co-operative was organized and has its factory in Dollar Bay. The occupy the building formerly known as "Haun & Schulte", later "A.M. Schulte & Co." who kept a Grocery and Meat Market and Dry Goods Store. Haun & Schulte and A.M. Schulte Co. housed the first Post Office.
The Copper Country Cheese Co-op has much increased since 1939 and their dairy products and cheese are used extensively throughout the Peninsula.
The first school building was erected in 1888 by the Dollar Bay Land & Improvement Co. An interesting incident is told concerning the building of this school. The frame building of two rooms was nearly completed when it was learned that the site used was owned by a private party. Any 2 lots owned by the company were offered for the lot used but the owner expected more. Finally, on Saturday nite, preparations were made for work on the following day. Before Sunday was over, the building had been moved to the lot on which it stood, in due time enlarged until it contained eight large rooms. "It stood", written thus because it is no more. Only the concrete steps to the main entrance remains. This building was sold "to the highest bidder" about 15 years ago.
It was "disrobed" of all its splendor and stately features when the "tearing down" began in very short order. May the Mom's and Dad's and sisters and brothers who witnessed a fond memory fade into oblivion during that process. I recall very vividly the huge kindergarten with window ledges of geranium plants and pretty white curtained windows, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade rooms with their black boards, fourth grade room with the big globe in the corner and the 2 huge stairs with waxed railings so tempting to the boys - "Slide Kelley Slide". Above all, the bell room where if you were in good with the janitor, he mite let you help on the ropes to ring the bell. Two other buildings were built one the present day Osceola Twp. High School better known today as "Dollar Bay High". The expense of building the High necessitated the consolidation of todays Osceola Twp. High School District. The second school building a large brick building has not been occupied as a school since 1937. It is to be understood that these actions had to be taken by the Twp. due mainly to the vast decrease in population and enrollment of pupils plus the necessity to cut expenses of maintaining and operating 3 schools.
The High School, a beautiful building, was completed in 1914. Today there are 92 pupils in primer thru 6th grades and 138 pupils enrolled 7th thru 12th grade. All of these class rooms are in the Dollar Bay High School building.
In 1945 by common consent of the people of Dollar Bay and area, and with permission from the Osceola Twp. School District, one corner of the beautiful High School Lawn was resereved for a Memorial Honor Roll listing every lad and lassie who served in the Armed Forces during World War II. There are 205 names, 5 with gold stars and many names to be entered who are at present in the Armed Forces.
Upon entering Dollar Bay journeying from Hancock one sees first the 4 huge oil tanks, office etc. belonging to the Interstate Oil Co. This & "New addition" to Dollar Bay having been with us not more than five years.
The Dollar Bay Depot is so tiny one hardly takes note of it in entering Dollar Bay. Passenger trains have long since been a "has been" but this tiny depot is the largest receiving and shipping center of consignments of any freight on Copper Range, and Duluth South Shore & Atlantic railroad. Passenger's to and from Dollar Bay use the Houghton or Hancock passenger depot and local transportation is operated by Copper Range Motor Bus Co.
Within a mile of Dollar Bay we have Woodside. There are eleven families living in this very pretty part of Dollar Bay area. Here the Hancock Chemical Company formerly made dynamite for use in the mines. This company ceased operations there in 1911. Atlas Powder Co. a "Dupont" owned Company began producing these products at that time in the Dollar Bay area. This plant is about 4 miles from Dollar Bay. The village of its employees is referred to as "Atlas", "Dupont", "Center" or simply, "the village".
Dollar Bay was platted in 1899 and named "Village of Clark" and is so recorded in the office of the County Register of Deeds. The name Clark was selected to honor Joseph Clark, who was president of the Clark Bigelow Syndicate, responsible for the development of the Tamarack & Osceola Mines. In establishing the post office, postal authorities decided that since there was a postoffice by the name of Clarkville in Marquette County confusion would arise in naming this one Clark, consequently the postoffice was named Dollar Bay. The community is therefore called Dollar Bay and is not a village in organization but a precinct in the governmental Twp. of Osceola.
The second school building having been sold is a grim reminder of a wonderful era and is again "for sale" by the present owner who operated a "glove factory" during the course of a year or so.
One can only hope that in some future date it may again span its doors and welcome humanity and perhaps house a successful business enterprise.
It is interesting to note that today on 4th Street better known as "Main Street" some of the old land marks are occupied; namely, Methodist Church - today Bethany Baptist Church, Post Office - today same, Kupplemans Confectionery - today Burned - vacant lot, Dunstone Residence - today Burned - vacant lot, Rohlman Bldg. later Dahl Store - today Dahl Bros. Grocery, Marshal building - today Dollar Bay Dept. Store, Cozy Theatre - today Kus Super Market, A.M. Schulte Co. Store - today Copper Country Cheese Co-op., Borich bldg. - today Sebbas tavern, Hotel "Donlon House" - today A small park, The Livery - today Vacant lots plus the Hiltunen Auto Repair, Barber Shop - today destroyed by fire - the New Dollar Bay Fire Dept. headquarters, Bear's Meat Market - today Panian Lunch Room, the "Greek" Candy kitchens and the Bowling Alley - today all vacant lots on which there is now a ball diamond. Not on Main St. landmarks namely - Jurmu's Store - Matt Jurmu Estate-Grocery, Pearce Hdw, later Jurmu Hdw. - Private home.
Churches in Dollar Bay today are First Lutheran, Bethany Baptist, St. Francis and the Church of God.
The Swedish Hall, more commonly known as Runeberg hall is located just off Main St. and was built by members of todays Order of Runeberg in 1905. At the present writing this hall is undergoing a complete "face lifting". The members of the Order of Runeberg are covering the exterior with Silver Grey insulated siding.
We of Dollar Bay are very proud of "our town". The town at this writing is beautiful to all of us who call it home. After all, "Mid pleasures and palaces, tho we may roam. Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home."
Manuscript in the Anders Myhrman Emigration Collection, Manuscript Department of Åbo Akademi Library, Turku, Finland. 7 typewritten pages.
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