Totem Pole Tales-Crowe Dam School & Settlement
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook September 7, 2012

Caption: The Crowe Dam School under construction in 1912.
On the picture: Crowe Dam School- Ocqueoc Township
width="600" Well, we missed the train to Waveland, so we will make a detour to the Crowe Dam School before the next train.
The Crowe Dam School in Ocqueoc Township (T.35N.-R.3E.Sec 27, SE 1/4, SE 1/4) was the last school built in Ocqueoc Township in 1912, for the total price of $250. This school burnt in the mid-1930s. This school was located on old M-68 just before the Ocqueoc bridge on the right. In the spring one can see the steps and concrete foundation.
Some of the teacher's names that came up were Nina Crowe, Floyd DeRosia, Thelma LeBlanc and Hulda Tober. Some of the students were Alfred Jarvis, the DeRosia children, Laura (Nichols) Porter, Chet Nichols, the Piffer children, the Freeman children and the Jarvis children.
The Crowe Dam School came to light in 1912, four years after the 1908 fire that wiped out most of the Crowe Dam settlement.
Crowe Dam was a boomtown with two sawmills and a shingle mill. There was a boarding house, two general stores, 30 or 40 small homes, two large horse barns, a gristmill and a hotel. The hotel had a poker room where the lumberjacks did a lot of gambling. Alfred Jarvis tells of when he was a boy, he and his friends used to go to the hotel. They'd wait until the band was playing and then they would crawl underneath the poker room and retrieve the quarters that had fallen between the cracks in the floor.
The logging operation near Crow Dam hauled its logs to Millersburg with teams of horses and then loaded them onto the train cars. The loggers eventually moved on and the town was left deserted. When the big fire of 1908 swept across the county, there was no one around to save the town.
After the fire, all that remained were Luft's Gristmill, the hotel and a few small houses that were spared because they were near the river. The big hotel was later torn down and the gristmill burned in 1932. At the same time the Crow Dam settlement burned, much of the county burned and many people lost their lives.
Today at the stone dam above the Ocqueoc Falls, one can see the concrete walls of the gristmill. Walking on both sides of the river from the falls to Chipmunk Falls (west of Ray Milbocker's), one can still see where buildings sat that were banked with dirt. Old apple trees and lilacs can still be found.
It was during an interview with Laura (Nickols) Porter that I learned what a "Jimbangle" was. She told me that when she was a young girl at home that sometimes a group of American Indians would come to her Dad's to trade furs for whiskey and tobacco. They sometimes stayed and sampled the whiskey late into the night. On occasion a "Jimbangle" would break out. She then explained to me that it was just another word for a brawl or fight.
In an interview with Ester Parker I was told that her father, William Arkwood, bought the large sawmill from the Crowe Dam Settlement and moved it to his farm on Schnepp Road. He was able to saw enough lumber to ship out on the Detroit & Mackinac (D & M) that a spur was built into his sawmill. This spur was called "Doe's Spur" and is listed as belonging to the D & M Railroad. The spur is long gone but one can still see where the mill was.
Credit is given here to Agnes Rudolph, George Crowe, Ester Parker and Alfred Jarvis.
Going away from my history a little bit, I find many unanswered questions about the Ocqueoc Falls area. I am sure there are records somewhere to be dug up. There are poems and songs about the falls and the Ocqueoc River, and there are many stories about the American Indians who used this area. Some American Indians are buried in this area, which brings to light some of my questions. When I first went to the "Pines" with my Dad, there were stones with names on them. The stones were about 8 inches wide and 12 inches long. They were handmade from blocks of soft stones. A fence had been built around the gravesite many years ago. The stones are missing and all that remains there today is one corner post.
Some questions I have are what tribe are these American Indians from? Who really owns the land? Will the state of Michigan paint red strips on the big pines and let a bid out on them? Why can't this area be recognized with a plaque? Has it ever been listed on a map? Who is responsible for the large chain saw cut into the big red pine closest to the road? Whoever you are, it worked and the big pine is slowly dying.
Where are the grinding wheels from the gristmill? Who named Chipmunk Falls? Who named the little trout stream "The Indian?" Who came up with the name "The Undergrounds?" We know that enough fresh spring water comes out of the side of the hill and dumps into the Little Ocqueoc to start a bottling company, heaven forbid.
Does the tribe that used the Ocqueoc have descendents who would be interested in preserving this burial ground? Could a college student do a thesis on this area, or could it be a project for an Eagle scout?
I would like to hear from anyone who may have information about the Ocqueoc Falls or the American Indian burial grounds.
-Onaway Outlook, September 7, 2012, p.3. Retyped by J. Anderson.

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