Forestville Bicentennial History Page 2
it was one unbroken wilderness of white and red pine, cedar and hemlock, with stands of beech, maple and other hardwoods. A few sawmills had been running on good streams long before 1850, and mills were already located on Birds Creek, Willow Creek, Elm Creek, Black River and others.
These early mills, some of them water driven, cut only the best pine, and nobody but the lumberjacks and a few bark gathers camp in the area. Quite a few of the white pine were over 6 feet in diameter, and stood 200 feet tall with no branches for 90 feet.
In 1915 an o’d burned out pine trunk stood in the woods west of town. After the big fire of 1871 few of the giants survived. But one was felled by Pack and Jenk that near White Rock that yield six 16 foot saw logs and 6, 000 feet of No.1 pine lumber. The forest fire mentioned swept thru the thumb of Saginaw to Lake Huron in September, 1871. It destroyed a dozen new towns and thousands of acres of the finest timber. It wiped out Forestville, Richmondville, White Rock and all towns to the north.
In 1881, a similar fire swept thru the same area taking 275 lives and destroying 3,000 buildings and countless livestock. This one was halted west of Forestville by volunteer firefighters and a sudden change in the wind.
Old Forestville , before the fire was the home of some important people, one of them it fonder, Captain Eber B. Ward. He and his uncle Sam Ward came from Vermont and founded the great Ward shipping and shipbuilding business at Newport in 1828.
Eber Ward’s many interests included the buying of pine lands along both shores off lower Michigan and in the upper Peninsula as well. His big holdings near present Forestville had been selected for the excellent stands of white and red pine paralleling a creek which could serve for spring log drives.
In the summer of 1854 Ward was producing lumber and began building a dock, warehouse, and a supply store. His machinery and equipment were brought ashore by scows. Ward’s wife taught reading and arithmetic to the children of the mill hands for a few months.
But after less then a year in Forestville and before the town was officially named in 1855, the Wards left for Detroit. Ward, now too busy to look after them, sold his entire Forestville holding to Buntelin and Co. they ran the mill until about 1857 when the ‘Great Panic" began to tighten credit forced them out of business. Buntelin allowed the property to revert to Ward and so the sawmill idle for several years.
In 1862, Civil War demands and Jacob Buell of
Lexington brought the project back to life. The moving spirit in Forestville’s dark years of unemployment was Isaac Green, merchant. Land agent and Delaware township’s first supervisor. In addiction to the Ward set up a shingle mill and general store were built in 1854 by Isaac Green. A couple of years later he built Forestville second dock.
In 1855, the settlement had a post office and an official name, and when the shore postal service was inaugurated in 1856, he became its first postmaster. In 1858, serving as Delaware township first supervisor, he built Forestville first hotel. It was called the Forest House. The most famous hotel ever to serve the tired and thirsty traveler in Forestville was the Forest House built by Isaac Green. It was stated that Green deeded the hotel to the Bedfords. But profits were not so bounteous, and 1866 c Charles Smith sold them out. Smith didn’t take much business, so he sold it to N. L. Adams. Adams lost the hotel in the fire of 1871, and just barley managed to save his family.
After 1871 fire, the hotel was built on its original site by John Law. The next owner of the hotel was N. N. Harrison, who ran it for ten years. In 1895, Louis H. Riedel, son of and partner of the grain buyer Adolph Riedel, moved into the Forest
house with his family. He not only ran the hotel, but also managed the Riedel Company.
Forestville’s first temporary school was taught by Eber B. Ward’s wife in the Ward residence for a few weeks of the winter of 1854, a fame school was then built on four lots, a little north of the forest House hotel. The school burned with the rest of the town, just as the fall term started in 1871. The kids got an extended vacation until the board built a new school. The new two story schoolhouse was erected on a new site. The building was perfectly rectangular, without belfry or projecting vestibule.
In 1878, excited speculation about a new thumb railroad filled the papers. The rails would run north from Port Huron, but no one knew whether they would follow the shore or run far inland. When Minden pledged $5.000 to get a depot there. Hawkeye, a reporter prodded Forestville and East Delaware residents supported a proposal for a free right of way. The Port Huron and Northwestern narrow gauge was built in 1880 and reached Minden in August. Forestville’s Western Union telegraph operator. Dick O’Keefe, became station master in the new depot. A year later he saved the depot during the 1881 fire.
There was no great loss of business in Foresstville. In fact, a resident
remarked that instead of turning into a cow pasture it had instead proved to a green pasture despite the rails just 9 miles away. A pleasanter and more aspect of the old days was coming of the automobile. Wahla’s store was already selling gasoline out of a 50 gallon drum for the new fangled motor cars before1908. I remember above all the dandy little