's Totem Pole Tales- Grace, Michigan
Totem Pole Tales- Grace, Michigan
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook November 15, 2013

   CAPTION #1:  The Charlie Schell Sr. family in front of their home in 1933 at Grace. From left are Frank, Lib,
Charles Jr., Barbara, Charles Sr., Joe and Bill.
CAPTION #2: The Red Crown gas station at the Schell farm in 1936. Take note of the sign on the far right. The gas pump is behind the second hunter from the left. A huge buck is draped on the fender of the car. Charles Schell Sr. is on the right.
Today, Grace, Michigan is listed as a ghost town. In the late 1800s a post office and a school are shown on the shores of Lake Huron. This piece of land took in Sections 25 and 36 of the north part and Section 1 of the south part of Bearinger Township. There were a dozen homes in this area, mostly located close to the dock and tramway that supported the Grace Harbor Lumber Company.
The Grace Harbor Lumber Company owned more than 10 sections of Bearinger Township. At this time several homestead farms were showing up about three miles to the south and inland as far as Lake Sixteen. Today, Town Hall Road from Lake Sixteen to Lake Huron is the area where the homesteads were showing up. Town Hall Road used to be Highway 646.
The closest neighbors were along the Ocqueoc River and the homesteads that were showing up on the east end of Black Lake. By the early 1920s the timber along this section of Lake Huron was dwindling and railroads out of Cheboygan and Onaway were fast taking over the lumber business. The docks at Grace Harbor and Cedarburg had turned into a commercial fishing business.
We don't know the year that the first Grace Harbor School closed; but records show that later a Grace School, on what is now Balch Road, had burned. (More on Grace Harbor School later.)
What is now Bearinger Township Hall was built as a school under Charlie Schell Sr.'s direction. Records show this as the Bearinger School, which was later attached to the Onaway school system. Somehow, by the early 1920s the area from Balch Road to Lake Sixteen had become Grace.
Charlie Schell's Stock Farm is shown on a postcard in November of 1921 at Grace. We have pictures of the Red Crown gas station being operated from the Schell Farm at Grace. The Schell family has a title for a brand new Chevy pickup that has Grace as an address.
My dad, (Nute Chapman Sr.) was working as a fire tower watchman at the Owens or Twin Lake Tower by 1945 and our summers were spent at the Twin Lakes conservation cabin. We quite often stopped at the Schell farm. I don't remember if it was for gas or smokes or maybe even some candy, but I do remember the brass-fronted set of mailboxes on the porch. Bob Schell tells me that the mailboxes were shipped to the postal department in Bay City via the Detroit & Mackinac Railroad.
Continued next week. --Onaway Outlook November 15, 2013 pg. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.

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