's Totem Pole Tales- Chandler, Preston and the American Wood Rim Company
Totem Pole Tales- Chandler, Preston and the American Wood Rim Company
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook June 7, 2013

CAPTION #1: THIS PICTURE is of the Chandler Hotel that sat about where the left field line is at the present
Maxon baseball field.  It is dated February 19, 1916.
width="600" IN 1912, plaintiff Merritt Chandler, of Onaway, Presque Isle County was the owner of large holdings of timberlands and other lands in Presque Isle and Cheboygan counties, a large farm near Onaway, and a store and other property in Onaway. From time to time prior thereto, however, he had been borrowing money in considerable amounts, some at a high rate of interest, and he had allowed other indebtedness to accumulate against him, with the result that, for years prior to 1912, the interest on his obligations, the taxes on his lands and other necessary expenses, had exceeded to a considerable extent the entire income he was able to realize from all sources at his command.
His situation had been growing steadily worse until he reached a point where he was refused further loans and further extensions of those loans that were maturing; his creditors were pressing him; and others were threatening bankrupt proceedings. In this emergency he began a search for some person or corporation whom he might induce to take over his property in trust. After several contacts were made by Chandler and his attorney, Mr. De Vere Hall chanced to meet on a train trip attorney Mr. George Nichols who was Mr. Thad B. Preston's attorney. Thad Preston was a very successful businessman with many diversified business interests. On August 2, 1912 Chandler and Preston extended into a trust arrangement.
Some of the details were as follows: Mr. Chandler (his wife joining) executed to Mr. Preston a trust deed of all his real estate comprising of some 30,000 acres. Mr. Chandler also executed a bill of sale to Mr. Preston of all his personal property, except household goods and wearing apparel.
"The first party, at the date of this instrument shall deliver to the second party his notes payable on or before five years from date for the sum of twenty five thousand (25,000) dollars, bearing a 6 percent interest in such amounts as the second party may desire, and which notes are given as compensation for second parties services as trustee, and in the management and control of said property."
Space does not allow me to publish all of the 15 articles of the agreement of the trust. I feel the highlights of both inventories are interesting.
The inventory of Mr. E. J. James and Jesse Morrill included 46,632 acres of land, outside the city property and the so-called "Home Farm" or "Allis Lands." It also included the property then owned by Mr. Chandler. The home farm of 927.37 acres was shown separately, the land being valued of $18,073.70 and the buildings at $19,175.00, a total of $37,248.70.
Preston's representative, Mr. Alexander Robertson, at once prepared an inventory of the trust.
His inventory showed 41,097 acres outside of the Home Farm, and city property, which were shown separately, The personal property was also included. Though less property was shown by this inventory, than by the James inventory, the total valuation exceeded that of the James inventory by some $84,000', being in exact figures $425,337.72.
Of the farm's lands, some 1, 170 acres were cleared, at least partially, though only about 400 acres had been cleared for cultivation. The remainder had been stumped and was grown up to shrubs and underbrush.
There are many pages of testimony between Chandler and Preston over the amount of money that Preston was selling the Allis land for. Preston advertised in the American Sheep Breeders Magazine many acres of good farmlands. Chandler wanted more money than Preston was charging for the acreage.
Preston had invested more money in paying off loans and obligations of Chandler, in order to keep his full interest in the trust. Chandler and Preston had many disagreements over the sale of lands that were sold to meet the payments.
An interesting fact here is that Thad Preston never came to the city of Onaway. His representative was Mr. Alexander Robertson, who Preston sent to Onaway. He remained as general manager of the trust until April 1915 when Mr. Hinkley, who was president of the Onaway State Savings Bank, took charge of the trust.
Chandler bough suit against Preston and a third party George E. Nichols to get his trust terminated. Preston had involved a third party, Mr. Nichols, so that he could invest his money elsewhere. We do not know how long the lawsuit continued but, that the last dealings with Preston were with Chandler's attorney, Mr. DeVere Hall, who was still in charge of Chandler's estate.
The plat book of 1902 shows Chandler's name on many sections of land. A later plat of Allis T3N-R2E shows all of the same land belonging to Thad Preston. Residents of Allis Township that purchased land before and after 1925 should have an abstract showing both Chandler and Preston as owners.
With all of the trials and tribulations that Merritt and Rachel Chandler endured they are still this writer's heroes as being the founders and builders of the city of Onaway.
Merritt Chandler died October 22, 1923 and is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
-From The Onaway Outlook, June 7, 2013, p. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.

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