PO Box 188
Omena, MI 49674-0188
Email: preserveomena@omenapreservation.org
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OVPA Blog

Smallpox Quarantines Peshawbestown

Early photo of the main road in Peshawbestown. There are many spellings of this little village. Courtesy Weengush Odeimin

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 »


Omena Country Store – Next Generation

Ernie Barth and his sister Irene in 1936 or 37. This is the oldest known photo taken inside the Barth store according to Ernie's son Wayne, who donated this photo.

Ernie Barth and his sister Irene in 1936 or 37. This is the oldest known photo taken inside the Barth store according to Ernie’s son Wayne, who donated this photo. Around the turn of the 20th century, Paul and Christina Barth had a son who would grow to be the future of the Omena Country Store. Little Ernie Barth was one of four children. He and his sister and brothers, Robert, William, and Irene, grew up very much a part of the life of the store and the village. Ernie goes off to War When he was a young man… Read More »


Omena Country Store – The Early Years

Barth store and home circa 1915-1925 - Courtesy Omena Historical Society

Barth store and home circa 1915-1925 – Courtesy Omena Historical Society Once upon a time, when big steamers pulled up to the docks in Omena and horses and wagons met them to carry their cargo to the local stores, stores sold all the things which the people could not grow or make themselves, and only that. Fresh meat and produce were brought in by the local farmers to trade for shoes, cloth, cooking utensils, hardware and many other things that they couldn’t produce themselves. Orders were filled over the counter, the store keepers measured and weighed and wrapped the purchases…. Read More »


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 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.

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 »


Omena Congregational Church

Church Picnic ca. 1900 - Courtesy "Omena, A Place in Time" by Amanda Holmes

Church Picnic ca. 1900 – Courtesy “Omena, A Place in Time” by Amanda Holmes Did the people just get up in church one Sunday morning during the sermon and storm out of the little white Presbyterian Mission Church because the sermon was boring, or too long, and then form a new church? Did they not like the preacher? Or was it just too tiresome for them to sit through the sermon twice, once in English, and then once translated into Anishinaabe (the local Indians’ language)? Why on April 18, 1886 did the people of the little hamlet of Omena decide… Read More »


Cherry Pie for the President

Austin VanPelt

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 »


Medical Care on Leelanau Peninsula

Dr Goodale ad

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 Blues

Leland Blue

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 »


Omena Loves Their Dogs

Martha Rule, Janet Graph, and Jack Stevenson on the beach with their dog. Courtesy Omena Historical Society

Martha Rule, Janet Graph, and Jack Stevenson on the beach with their dog. Courtesy Omena Historical Society The people of early Omena and surrounding areas loved their dogs. At least most of them did. Dogs went everywhere with their owners: the beach, the store, the train station, and they didn’t seem to be kept behind fences or on leashes. Dogs in Mrs. Dougherty Kitchen! Mrs. Dougherty had mixed feelings about dogs, especially when large packs of them ran rampant through her kitchen while she was trying to cook. “Maria Dougherty was at the mercy of every traveler and visitor, expected… Read More »


German POW’s on Gull Island?

WWII POW

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 »