PO Box 188
Omena, MI 49674-0188
Email: preserveomena@omenapreservation.org
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History of the Region

  • Early photo of the main road in Peshawbestown. There are many spellings of this little village. Courtesy Weengush Odeimin Smallpox Quarantines Peshawbestown - Early photo of the main road in Peshawbestown. There are many spellings of this little village. Courtesy Weengush Odeimin “We have a terrible sickness here at this place,” wrote Francis Blackman of Peshawbestown. Writing to the Mackinac Office of Indian Affairs on November 9th, 1881, he went on to say, “most everybody is sick…except two little girls who cannot do much of anything. We need lots of help at this place.” Out of food, barely able to keep enough firewood on hands to keep warm, he was pleading for supplies, “flour, pork, cornmeal and tea.” Smallpox was killing them one... Read More »
  • From the 1860’s to the early 1880’s in the spring, Passenger Pigeon flocks darkened the skies as they came north into Michigan nesting in such enormous numbers that they broke the branches of trees. People didn’t even have to be a good shot to shoot your fill of them, just shoot in their general direction. Maria Dougherty’s Pigeon Pie - From the 1860’s to the early 1880’s in the spring, Passenger Pigeon flocks darkened the skies as they came north into Michigan nesting. They arrived in such enormous numbers that they broke the branches of trees. People didn’t even have to be a good shot to shoot your fill of them, just shoot in their general direction. Maria Dougherty and her many children were able to move into the Church and Mission School Manse in 1858. But there was no rest for the poor woman. Not only did she have to help out the teachers of the mission with the... Read More »
  • Austin VanPelt Cherry Pie for the President - If you wanted to get a large pie, say 3 feet in diameter, into a car for a trip to the President of the United States at his summer residence, how would you do it? If you were Frank Burkhart, Tom VanPelt’s Great Grandfather, and the car was, say, a 1926 Lincoln, you could just flip up the windshield and slide it in! And you could ask your son, Hugh, to drive it on the uncertain early roads of 1926 and deliver it to the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, at his summer residence. Wallace Keep, who had... Read More »
  • Dr Goodale ad Medical Care on Leelanau Peninsula - Dr David Goodale, MD, was brought to Traverse City in 1853 mainly to manage the large boarding house of Hannah and Lay, a large company needing housing for its employees. He soon realized he was needed as a physician, being the only doctor in residence in the village. Courtesy Grand Traverse Legends, by Robert E Wilson Sickness was unknown to most of us,” wrote Amalia Kropp in the Bohemian language used by the people of North Unity on the western side of Leelanau County in 1856. “There wasn’t any doctor here to begin with, but if anyone got sick, we... Read More »
  • Leland Blue Leland Blues - Omena was not the only little town in the county to have failed businesses. On our Facebook page last February 19th we told about Bidleman’s Gas Station which was only in business from 1935-1939. We also talked about Queenie Smiths Brothel which was only in business for a year, 1949-1950. And don’t forget the little church that couldn’t make it, Omena Congregational Church which struggled off and on from 1886 to 1931 which I posted about on August 10, of this year. But there was a nearby business that failed not once but three times, leaving its waste products in... Read More »
  • WWII POW German POW’s on Gull Island? - Two children, out for a pleasant afternoon boat ride one summer afternoon around 1945, noticed a ladder leaning up against the old abandoned house on Gull Island. They pulled up on the rocky beach and, being curious children, climbed up the ladder to see what they could see. The window at the top of the ladder was broken, so they climbed in. Quietly they crept through the bedroom, down the hallway and down the stairs which led to the living room of the old house. Halfway down the stairs they stopped. On the mantle of the stone fireplace was a... Read More »
  • Wing Walkers Deborah DeCostello, Wing Walker - The body of Miss Deborah DeCostello, aeronaut, who drowned in Lake Michigan October 1st, was found Saturday by Joe Black on November 6th”, reported the Empire Journal in 1920. Female daredevil Deborah DeCostello, 27, had come to Empire to entertain as part of the county fair. She was to jump from the bi-plane wearing her parachute (which were unheard of then) on the 29th and 30th of September but was unable to because the weather was very bad as it sometimes is in September. Even though she was offered $400 NOT to jump after the fair had ended, she insisted... Read More »