1841 (January 16)
- Wedding of Robert
Bond LYON [1796-1854] & Clarissa KELLOGG [1819-1896] in Kelloggsville,
Ashtabula County, Ohio. Clarissa is Robert's 2nd wife. They will have four
M. (Kate) LYON [1841-c1910] will marry three times, the first time to Eber
Brock WARD (30 years her senior).
LYON [b.1843] will marry General
James Franklin WADE, son of Senator
Benjamin Franklin WADE of Ohio.
[1849-1904] will marry
Justus Smith STEARNS.
LYON [1854-1909] will marry Harriet (Hattie) WADE, daughter of Senator
Benjamin Franklin WADE of Ohio.
1845 (April 10)
- Birth of Justus Smith STEARNS, son of Herman Swift STEARNS &
Mabel L. SMITH, in Winchester, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The family
will move to western New York and then to Ohio. Justus will work in both
places as a helper in his father's sawmill.
1860 - Mason
County, Michigan (including Ludington), has 831 residents in the census
of 1860. The town will grow 293 percent (to 3,264 residents) before the
next census is taken in 1870. County population will be 28,274 in the 2000
WARD [1811-1875] purchases 70,000 acres of timberland on the Pere Marquette
River, inland from what is now Ludington, Michigan.
1860's - Milwaukee
LUDINGTON purchases timberland in Western Michigan and builds a sawmill
around which the Villiage of Pere Marquette will grow. When chartered on March 22, 1873, the town changes its name to Ludington.
1868 (March 4) -
of Justus Smith STEARNS (age 22) & Paulina LYON (age 18) in Ashtabula,
Ohio. They will have only one child.
||R A I L R O A D|
LUDINGTON [1827-1891] and Eber Brock WARD [1811-1875] visit the future Ludington & agree to extend the
& Pere Marquette Railway to the port city. A famous photograph
is taken when they are received at the home of Frank Filer. Eber
Brock WARD [right image] becomes president of the railroad company in the same year.
The railroad will reach the City of Ludington in December 1874.
WARD (age 59) builds "the North Mill" on Pere Marquette Lake in the
Fourth Ward of Ludington, Michigan. The mill has 55 stone piers. He will
build "the South Mill" the following season.
||F I R E|
1871 (October 8-10) - Great Chicago Fire kills hundreds & destroys about 4 square miles (10 km2) in Chicago, Illinois. Though the fire was one of the largest US disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that begins almost immediately spurs Chicago's development into one of the most populous & economically important American cities. Rebuilding dramatically increases demand for West Michigan lumber (easily transported to Chicago across Lake Michigan).
1872 - Thomas
Rice LYON (age 18) moves from Detroit to Ludington, Michigan, to "take
a position in the office" of Eber Brock Ward. He will be "only twenty-four
years of age" when he undertakes "the management of this vast business"
in 1878 "after its affairs [are] reorganized under the firm composed of
Catharine L. Ward, John B. Lyon and Thomas R. Lyon."
1872 (March 14)
- Birth of Robert Lyon (Rob) STEARNS, first and only child of Justus
Smith STEARNS (age 26) and Paulina LYON Stearns (age 22), in Conneaut,
Ohio. Robert will become an author and storyteller, live in Ludington,
Michigan, most of his life, and serve as President of the Stearns Coal
& Lumber Co. from the death of his father in 1933 until his own death
1875 (January 2)
Eber Brock WARD (age 63) drops dead from apoplexy on the west side
of Griswold Street a few feet from Jefferson Street in Detroit. Worth $10-15
million, Ward is Michigan's first millionaire. Ward operated ships, railroads,
and steel mills. He introduced the Bessemer process and was the first to
roll steel rails. His funeral will be the largest ever held in Detroit.
His widow Catherine Lyon Ward (age 33) leaves Detroit "shivering under
the icy regard of Detroit's polite society."
1875 - Justus
SEARNS goes bankrupt in Ohio (according to James Cabot, Ludington historian).
He will later pay back all creditors with interest (according to Dr. Frank
1876 - Justus
STEARNS (age 31) moves from Ohio to Ludington, Michigan. (He will write
on March 27, 1930: "I came [to Ludington] in 1876, bringing my wife and
baby son, to work for my sister-in-law, Mrs. Ward, at a salary of $75.00
a month, my wife doing her own house work and we paying $6.00 a month rental
for our home.")
1876 (about) - "Wildest
inheritance trial ever seen in Wayne County Circuit Court" is held
to settle the estate of Eber Brock WARD. "[His] speedy second marriage
to Kate Lyon [about 1869] was colored with the blush of scandal and led
to the trial... Although Kate [takes] the stand, she had fled the city
[to Ludington?] soon after E.B.'s death."
1878 - Catherine
(Kate) LYON Ward, widow of Eber Brock WARD, reorganizes his properties
in and near Ludington, Michigan, with her brother Thomas Rice Lyon &
half-brother John Bacon Lyon. Kate will take her two children (Eber Brock
WARD, Jr., and Clara WARD) to Toronto, remarry, then go to Paris, remarry
again & eventually die at her home near London (England).
1878 - "In 1878 a company was formed in which Mrs. Ward's two brothers, John B. & Thomas R. Lyon, became stockholders with Mrs. Ward. Twenty-four year old Thomas became manager. From then on as long as the business existed it was conducted by T.R. Lyon Agt. Woodruff remained as secretary.
Among other early employees of the firm were Justus S. Stearns who had married Mrs. Ward's sister, Paulina, & Lucius K. Baker, who maried May, eldest daughter of the E.A. Fosters. Stearns soon bought a mill of his own in Lake County, but continued his residence in Ludington in the sightly home which he built on south Washington Avenue Fourth Street. The Baker home stood just north of the Stearns residence. Lyon married the lovable Harriet Rice of Ludington.
The spacious home where their four children were reared stood on the site of the present Paulina Stearns Hospital. The popular Woodruff family occupied the house built for Milton Ward facing Pere Marquette Lake." [From "Sand, Sawdust & Saw Logs: Lumber Days in Ludington" by Frances C. Hanna (1955).]
1880 - Sawmill
is constructed by Justus Stearns (age 35) four miles East of Branch,
Lake County, Michigan (near Manistee). This is Stearns' first undertaking
after "severing his connection with the E.B. Ward interests. First mill
was about 2.5 miles south of Flint & Pere Marquette Railway and burned
after two years. Most employees spoke Swedish. The mill was rebuilt at
Siding on the railway, and then it too was destroyed by fire, and a
third mill was built. The town grew and had a sawmill, planing mill, box
factory, store, post office, cook shanty, powerhouse, and dwellings." Stearns
will build the planing mill at Stearns Siding in 1886, but it will be destroyed
by fire on October 31, 1899.
1880 - Thomas
Rice LYON builds the Lake County Railroad west from Stearns Siding
through Branch, Michigan.
1880's - Stumpage
is purchased from US Government in La Point County, Wisconsn, by Justus
Stearns and Fred
Herrick. The timberland will be operated by the Flambeau Lumber
Co. in Lac du Flambeau and by the Stearns Lumber Co. in Odanah,
Wisconsin. Herrick will later own vast timber operations in Idaho, Montana,
and Oregon, then go bankrupt in 1929. He will recall in a newspaper interview
given in Spokane, Washington, that "Stearns put in $35,000 and took out
1882 - Stearns
& Mack, a general store, is operted with a partner in Scottville,
Michigan (about 10 miles east of Ludington).
||H O U S E|
1882 - Justus
& Paulina Lyon Stearns construct a large home on South Washington
Avenue in Ludington, Michigan, across the street from an even larger home
of Paulina's brother, Thomas Rice Lyon (as shown on 1888 map). Their son
Robert Lyon Stearns will live next door. Vacated by Justus when Paulina
dies in 1904, Justus will convert their home into the Paulina Stearns
Hospital in 1906-07. Additional rooms and a fire escape will be added
in the rear. The building will be razed in November 1940 to become a parking
lot for the new Paulina Stearns Hospital built across the street on the
site of the Thomas Rice Lyon home. The "new" hospital now serves
as offices of the Mason County Health Department. /// Image from Wikipedia is labled "Justus Smith Stearns 1896 house built originally by lumberman Lucius K. Baker in 1883." I
1883? - Residence
is built by L.K.Baker at 1105 S. Washington Avenue, just north of Justus
& Paulina Lyon Stearns. This will later became home of Robert Lyon Stearns
& his wife Laura Estelle Freeman. After 1907, it will be a nurses' residence
for the Paulina Stearns Hospital. The house still stands, although
without its former veranda.
1888 - Number
of mills peaks in Ludington. The city has nine sawmills, three salt
plants, three shingle mills & one planing mill. Stearn's brother-in-law
Thomas Rice Lyon [1854-1909] owns two sawmills, a salt plant, a
fleet of vessels, and "the double brick store" at 902 S. Washington Avenue.
Justus Stearns lives in Ludington, but his timber operations are still
in Lake County, Michigan. He will purchase Lyon's Ludington operations
||W E D D I N G|
1890 (May 20) - Wedding of Clara WARD [1873-1916] & Prince
Joseph Marie Anatole Elie de Riquet, Crown Prince of Belgium, in
Paris, France. The "glamorous and strong-willed" heiress" is 18, and the
prince is 45. They will divorce, and Clara will live with or marry a gypsy
violinist and two different Italians. The Detroit press has a field day
covering "the madcap princess."
1892 - Justus
Stearns is Republican elector in the presidential
election in which Democrat Grover Cleveland [1837-1908] is elected.
1892 - Flambeau
Lumber Company is founded by Justus Stearns in Lac du Flambeau, Vilas County, Wisconsin,
after he purchases all of the timber in the
Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation. Stearns will write proudly to
a cousin on March 27, 1930, that he and his partners "manufactured lumber [in Wisconsin] for 25 years, paying the
Indians during this time over $10,000,000." The railroad website linked
above says, referring both to the Lac du Flambeau and to the Odanah (Bad River) Reservations, that "Stearns must have had
some good political connections in the federal government to
get exclusive contracts to log off both reservations. It is very unlikely that the
Indians who resided on the reservations got anything out of the deal outside of some
1893 - Coal from southern Kentucky is exhibited
at the Chicago World's Fair (according to James Cabot, Ludington historian). This indicates that the coal found
later in this decade is not a total surprise, as some now say (including the guide on the
Big South Fork Scenic Railway).
||R E S O R T|
1894 (May 4) - Epworth
League Training Assembly acquires Lake Michigan beachfront in Ludington
for "scientific, intellectual, and religious studies." Epworth benefactor
Justus Smith Stearns will build a business operations building in 1902,
a 300-foot pier in 1902 ("where his launch and other passenger steamers
could dock"), and a music conservatory in 1908. Today Epworth Heights
is a summer colony with 215 cottages, 250 acres, seven tennis courts,
a nine-hole golf course & a peak summer population of about 2,000. The
Elizabeth Truxell Epworth Museum in the 1894 Epworth Hotel includes the Ossawald
Crumb Study dedicated to the fictional character created by Justus'
son Robert Lyon Stearns.
||B U S I N E S S E S|
Michigan State Gazetter & Business Directory (R.L Polk & Co.) contains this ad: "THOMAS R. LYON, Agent, PINE LANDS & LUMBER, SHINGLES AND SALT. Choice Farming Lands for Sale at especially low prices, and on easy terms of payment. Correspondence solicited. CHICAGO OFFICE, 140 Dearborn St. LUDINGTON, MICH." And this directory entry: "Stearns Justus S, Lumber, Box and Shingle Mnfr, Mills at Stearns' Siding."
1898 (February 2)
- Wedding of Robert Lyon STEARNS (age 25) and Laura Estelle FREEMAN
(age 24) in Nashville, Tennessee. (Laura's older sister Florence Eugenia
(Gaga) FREEMAN married Edward East BARTHELL in Nashville on January 24,
1894.) Robert and Laura will have three children:
(Pina) STEARNS [1900-1966] will marry twice, including Gilbert Elledy GABLE
in 1931 in New York City.
(Bob) STEARNS, Jr. [1902-1965], will marry Gloria Eden (Glosie) BRADLEY
in 1940 in Tucson, Arizona.
STEARNS [1904-1951] will marry Edith Emma VAN DYKE in 1932 in Ludington,
1898 - Thomas
Rice LYON's and James LUDINGTON's properties are purchased by Justus Stearns,
and he shifts the main emphasis of his operations to Ludington,
Michigan, on Lake Michigan.
||S A L T . B L O C K|
1898 - Stearns
Salt & Lumber Co. in the Fourth Ward of Ludington, Michigan, grows
out of Justus Stearns' original lumber operations at Stearns Siding
in Lake County, Michigan. The company is capitalized at $500,000 (as of
1909). It becomes the parent of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co.
which will own and operate "a saw mill, planing mill, salt block, stave
mill, shingle mill and cooper shop" (as of 1909). Sterns' company also
operates the salt block "at the Cartier Lumber Company." His own salt company
in Ludington will be sold to Morton Salt Co. in 1922. It is now
the site of Peter Copeyon Park, the Ludington Yacht Club,
and (in part) the Ludington plant of the Dow Chemical Company.
1898 (August) -
Stearns is the largest manufacturer of lumber in Michigan according to "The
Timberman," a lumber magazine in Chicago. His 1898 output is 120 million
1898-1901 - Timber
and coal properties are found in Kentucky by surveyor Wiliam A.
Kinne from Ludington, Michigan, and lawyer Edward East Barthell
from Nashville, Tennessee, while working for Thomas Rice Lyon.
will sell the titles to his brother-in-law Justus Stearns. According
to James Cabot, "Al" Kinne was Treasurer of Lake County, Michigan, 1895-1896.
Starting in 1902, he will work for Stearns as land and timber agent, live
in Stearns, Kentucky, the rest of his life, and become a Kentucky state
senator. E.E. Barthell will move his law practice from Nashville to Chicago
in 1915, where his clients will include investment banker Robert Rice LYON
of Chicago and industrialist Justus STEARNS of Ludington. He and his wife
will live in Evanston, Illinois, will have a summer home in Ludington,
and will be buried near the Stearns family in Lakeview Cemetery, Ludington.
Their son, Edward East Barthell, Jr., will move to Ludington in 1952, become
Ludington city attorney, and write books about Greek mythology and the
1899 (July 28) -
Manistee Daily News reports that the John Schroeder Lumber Co. of
Milwaukee has contracted to buy 35 million feet of lumber from Justus Stearns.
The timber "is located some twenty-five miles southeast of Ludington, Mich.
It is the last of the great Ward tract of timber, so called because
it belonged to Capt. Ward of Detroit, father of the Clara B. Ward,
afterwards Princess Chimay, and later wife of Rigo, the gypsy."
- Stearns Siding suffers a major fire. "The school was undamaged
[and] the lumber mill was also unharmed [but] the village is now a ghost
town. Mr. Justus S. Stearns, who owns most of the company town says it
will not be rebuilt as all the virgin timber has been cut (pine) and the
hardwood is about gone. He has taken over the E.B. Ward holdings in Ludington
near Lake Michigan." [From Paul Bunyan Chips, 1969]
1899-1900 - Justus
Stearns is Secretary of State of Michigan.
||I M P R O V E M E N T . C O M P A N Y|
1900 - Stearns Improvement Company is created by Justus Stearns. This company "may
be said to have made the Ludington resorts." It will lease and improve
Hotel Epworth 1900-1910, build the Pavilion, construct dormitories, etc.
at Epworth Heights. It will plat Chicago Heights at Hamlin Lake
in 1902. (Hamlin Lake was dammed & named for Lincoln's vice president
Hannibal Hamlin [1809-1891] by Chicago lumber baron Charles Mears [1814-1895]). Capitalized at $25,000 (as of 1909). The Epworth Hotel now serves as a community center
& museum for the Epworth Heigths summer colony.
1900 - Stearns
Lighting & Power Co. is created by Justus Stearns after acquiring
a light plant formerly owned by Frank Filer (see 1869 above & 1909 below).
The Stearns company will expand "lighting AND power" throughout Ludington. An extension
will be added to Scottville, Michigan, in 1902. Capitalized at $50,000
(as of 1909).
||R A I L R O A D|
1901 (July 13) -
Stearns acquires the Epworth Heights Railway (known as the "Dummy Line")
and renames it the Ludington & Northern Railway (L&N). The
short railroad will then be extended to Sterns' interests at Hamlin Lake.
Capitalized at $15,000 (as of 1909). The railroad will be used to haul
timber & sand, as well as tourists & vacationers. Passenger service
to Epworth Heights will be discontinued in 1919. The locomotive of a sand
train will be derailed on May 21, 1923. The railroad will later be owned
& operated by the Sargent
Sand Company. An old L&N caboose still sits near the highway leading
to Ludington State Park.
1901 - Lake Forest
Cottage is constructed in Epworth Heights by Justus and Paulina Lyon
Stearns as their summer home. A brochure about Epworth Heights published
in 1910 will feature a photo taken "from J.S. Stearns' porch." The three-story
cottage is now owned by Robert Elledy Gable (great grandson of Justus Stearns)
and Emily Thompson Gable of Lexington, Kentucky.
1902 - J.S. Stearns
Lumber Co., Odanah, Ashland County, Wisconsin, purchases all of the
timber on the Odanah Indian Reservation. Today the webside of the Bad River Lodge,
Casino & Convention Center, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Odanah,
says that all tribal lands were "clear-cut of pine between 1850 and 1920."
1902 - Ashland
Odanah & Marenco Railroad is built in Ashland County, Wisconsin, by Justus Stearns.
It will operate for 19 years (until 1921).
||I N V E S T M E N T|
1902 (May 22) -
for Justus Stearns, William A. Kinne and Edward East Barthell ride horses
to Gum Tree Tie Yard on the Cincinnati New Orleans & Texas Pacific
Railway (CNO&TP) where they sign papers incorporating the Stearns
Lumber Co., the Stearns Coal Co. and the Kentucky & Tennessee
Railroad. Justus Stearns soon buys 130,000 acres in southern Kentucky,
including the properties found about 1901. According to Dr. Frank Cullum
Thomas, the "new group of entrepreneurs [is] well educated and well financed,
[and] they build within thirteen months of their arrival [in Kentucky]
a new town named Stearns, an electrical generating plant, America's first
all-electric saw-mill, five miles of railroad through rugged terrain, and
the first of many [coal] mines." The lumber and coal companies combine
into the Steans Coal & Lumber Co., and Kentucky soon becomes
Stearns' largest operation. Justus Stearns (age 57) is the new company's
first President and will remain President until his death in 1933. Four
generations of the Stearns family will serve as company president, plus
John Edward Butler from Ludington, Michigan, and Dr. Frank Cullum Thomas
from Stearns, Kentucky.
||C O M P A N Y . T O W N|
1902-1903 - A
company town named Stearns is constructed by the Stearns Coal &
Lumber Co. on the main line of the Cincinnati New Orleans & Texas
Pacific Railway (CNO&TP). The Kentucky & Tennesse Railroad
(K&T) is constructed to supply company camps and to haul coal and
timber back to Stearns. The K&T will eventually run about 40 miles
from Stearns to Bell Farm, Kentucky. Eleven miles are operated today as
the Big South Fork Scenic Railway which
carries tourists between Stearns and the restored Barthell and Blue Heron
Mining Camps (phone 606-376-5330).
1902 (about) -
R.L. Stearns Wholesale Grocery is created to supply Stearns, Kentucky, and
the camps on the K&T Railway. Apparently named for Robert Lyon Stearns,
the grocery building will be clearly visible in a 1955 photo of Stearns,
Kentucky. The building
will be restored as "the first ISTEA project funded in the state of
Kentucky." (ISTEA is the Intermodal Surface Transportation & Efficiency
Act of 1991.) It now serves as the depot of the Big
South Fork Scenic Railway.
||C O A L . C A M P|
Mining Camp -- the first mining camp constructed by the Stearns Coal
& Lumber Co. -- has grown to 41 dwellings, company "Store Number Two,"
a big motor house, bath house, coal tipple, school, and post office. The
camp is named for Edward East BARTHELL [1866-1937], Second Vice President and
attorney of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. Recently restored by Harold
(Sonny) KOGER, his son Harold Dwight KOGER, and their wives, several mine
openings & many camp buildings are now accessible to the public (phone
Image shows former Barthell School alongside the K&T Railway. Click here for history of the camp.
1903 - Barthell
Coal Camp, on the Big South Fork Scenic
Railway near Stearns, Kentucky, begins producing coal from Mine #1
of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. The camp is named for Edward East
Barthell, company lawyer from Nashville, Tennessee. Today, the camp
is operated as a tourist attraction by the Koger family, rustic "miners'
cabins" are rented for over-night and longer use (phone 606-376-8749).
1903 (June 30)-
Stearns-Culver Land Co. Limited is created with its principal office
in Ludington, Michigan, and a branch office in Nashville, Tennessee. Justus
Stearns, W.T. Culver, Edward East Barthell, and Robert Lyon Stearns each
own $10,000 of the capital stock. "This company has no connection with
any other of the Stearns companies."
1903 - Stearns
& Culver Lumber Co. of Bagdad, Florida, purchases an interest in
a 180,000 acre pine tract. On March 27, 1930, Justus Stearns will write
that "I went down to Pensacola, Florida, and bought a very large tract
of Southern Pine, built sawmills and operated there for several years."
The Florida operation will last until 1919 (according to James Cabot, Ludington
||P O L I T I C S|
1904 (February 25)
- Justus Stearns seeks Republican nomination for Governor of Michigan,
and the Ludington Record-Appeal calls him a "foe of corruptionists." Justus
will run against five other candidates and receive 1/3 of the votes on
the first ballot, but Republican Fred M. Warner [1865-1923] will win the election.
On March 27, 1930, Stearns will write that "this was during a period when
the railroads of the state controlled all of the state offices and [Republican
Governor Aaron T.] Bliss of Saginaw bought the nomination through money
furnished by the railroads. This, I am glad to say, ended my political
career as far as aspiration to office was concerned."
1904 - Salt &
Mineral Bath House is built by Justus Stearns on Ludington Avenue immediately
West of the Stearns Hotel as "a Mecca for persons suffering from...rheumatism
and similar diseases." The bath house building will later be used as offices
for the Stearns companies. It will be razed in 1952 and another building
(filling station?) built in its place. The building now houses Data Control
Technologies, a Cellular One agent.
1904 (May 3) - Death
of Paulina LYON Stearns (age 54), Justus' wife, in Ludington, Michigan.
She will be laid to rest in the Stearns Family Mausoleum in Lakeview
Cemetery on Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan. The mausoleum contains
ten crypts. The exact date of construction is unknown. Paulina occupies
the second crypt. Justus Stearns will occupy the first crypt sometime after
his death in 1933.
1906-1907 - Justus
Stearns leaves his home on South Washington Street and converts it into
the Paulina Stearns Hospital. Several mansions of other Ludington
lumber barons are today operated as bed and breakfasts, e.g. Ludington
House and Schoenberger House.
||O F F I C E . B U I L D I N G|
1907- - Stearns
Coal & Lumber Co. office building is constructed in Stearns, Kentucky.
Still painted in company colors (white with green trim), the building now
serves as the McCreary
County Museum (phone 606-376-5730).
||H O T E L|
Year? - Stearns
Hotel is constructed in Stearns, Kentucky. The hotel will be used over
the years by many Stearns Company executives and family members, notably
by Robert Lyon Stearns, Jr., who will openly lived there for many
years with Gloria Bradley, his father's former mistress. Robert Jr. and
Gloria will marry in January 1940 -- just after the death of his father
Robert Sr. The hotel will be razed for safety reasons about 1985.
||G A M E S|
1908 - The
Carrom Company in Ludington, Michigan, is acquired by Justus Stearns
from the Carrom-Archarena Company. The company manufacturers the famous
Carrom game boards, the "Peerless Lightweight Folding table," and many
other products made from wood. It's the largest manufacturer of game boards
in the US, at least for a while. Justus Stearns will write Mar. 27, 1930,
that this is "a very thriving and profitable industry." Said to have maintained
employment during the Great Depression despite reduced sales, the Carrom
Company will be sold by Freeman Stearns (grandson of Justus Stearns) "to
Milwaukee interests" in 1942. It is now owned and operated by the Mordel
Manufacturing Co. at 218 Dowland Street, Ludington (phone 213-845-1261).
Historic Carrom boards decorate one wall of the JamesPort
Brewing Co., a new restaurant at 410 S. James Street, Ludington (phone
213-845-2522). (Reproductions of Ossawald Crumb paintings decorate a dining
room of the same restaurant.)
1908 - Conservatory
of Music building is donated to Epworth Heights by Justus Stearns for its Summer School.
"Nine studios and practice rooms accomodate instructors & students as well as visiting artists. [But,] when
the Epworth Summer School [is] discontined after World War I, the building [is] seldom used and [is]
finally town down in 1928." (Stearns seems to have been ahead of this time: The famed
Interlochen Music Camp will
be founded just north of Ludington in 1926.)
||F A C T O R Y|
1909 - Stearns
Motor Manufacturing Company is organized by Justus Stearns, William L.
Gile & W.L. Mercereau and initially named the Gile Boat & Engine
Company. Stearns will became sole owner & rename the company in 1914.
Located near the channel to Lake Michigan at the foot of West Filer Street,
the company will produce marine engines. Its officers in 1924 will be
Justus Stearns (President), Edward East Barthell [1866-1937] of Chicago (VP), &
Robert Lyon Stearns (Sec/Treas). Justus Stearns will write Mar. 27, 1930,
that the company "has always been a losing proposition in a financial way
but...has afforted employment for 200 men." It will go into receivership
on Dec. 30, 1929, and be sold at public auction in 1930, then closed. Its
buildings will be raized in 1979 to make way for a large city marina. Image shows Municiple Marina, site of the former motor manufacturing company.
||B A N K|
1909 - First
National Bank, James Street at Ludington Avenue, Ludington, Michigan.
Date of origin is uncertain, but Justus Stearns bought stock on Oct. 31,
1901. Then he bought out and replaced George N. Stray as president just
before Nov. 4, 1909 (date of newspaper announcement). He will be annually
reelected president for at least 20 years thereafter. Now stores & offices,
the 3-story bank building still stands at Ludington's primary intersection
and is now called the "City Center Building" [right image]. Its original clock now hangs
in the National City Bank, 110 E. Ludington Avenue (231-845-5155).
1911-13 - Artist
Carmichael Lawrence EARLE (age 66-68) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is
invited to to paint the people and landscapes of Kentucky by his friend
Robert Lyon STEARNS (age 39-41). Earle will pass away in 1921.
1912 (May 3) - McCreary
County, based on the company town of Stearns, is created as the last
of Kentucky's 120 counties. It is still the only county in Kentucky without
any incorporated area.
1) - Issue No. 5, Vol. II of "The Stearns Co-Operator" features
"Old King Cole," a whimsical article by Robert Lyon Stearns, and photos
of Stearns managers in Kentucky.
1916 (December 18)
- Death of Clara WARD in Padua, Italy, from pneumonia received while
visiting her husband Giuseppe RICCIARDI, an Italian army officer, at the
war front. Justus Stearns will write on March 27, 1930, that "during [Clara's]
financial troubles I visited Paris twice to assist in settling up her many
bills with the Paris shops and others. She and her brother both became
estranged from their mother, who died some twenty years ago at her home
1917 - Handy
Things Manufacturing Co. is purchased by Justus Stearns. According
to James Cabot, the company will be sold in 1920 to Walter Pleiss and moved
from Ludington to Missouri in 1981.
1919 - A large
residence is constructed on Lake Michigan by Robert Lyon Stearns and
his wife Laura Freeman Stearns. The address is 715 N. Lake Shore Drive,
Ludington, Michigan. Said to have been designed by her, the property includes
a large garage and a studio over the garage in which Robert Lyon Stearns
will do his art work. It will be inherited by their daughter Paulina Dean
STEARNS Gable Bennett and later by her son Robert Elledy GABLE. Robert
Gable will sell the property out of the family in 1968, and it now belongs
to the Bruce Wedel family.
1920 - National
Lumber & Manufacturing Co., Hoquium, Washington. Purchased by Justus
Stearns in 1920. Its subsequent history is unknown.
1920 - State
Bank of Stearns is organized in Stearns, Kentucky.
6) - Louisville Post quotes General Manager John Edward BUTLER
in a lenghty article
about Stearns, Kentucky.
1920's? - Heyday
of Stearns' holdings in Michigan: Click below for a series of web photos
for each of the following Stearns properties:
-- The Carrom Company:
-- Stearns Motor
1 and Image
-- Stearns Salt
& Lumber Plant (now Dow
Chemical Corp.): Image
3, and Image
-- Stearns Hotel
(now Stearns Motor Inn) & Ludington Bath House:
7, and Image
1920's - Heyday
of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. in Kentucky: The company owns
Stearns, Kentucky, controls over 200 square miles of land in Kentucky and
Tennessee, operates 20 miles of the K&T Railroad, owns the world's
first all-electric sawmill & employs
over 2,200 people living and working in at least 18 coal
camps. For a series of photos showing the sawmill in Stearns & miners
in many of the coal camps, click
1922 - Whiteside-Stearns
Coal Co. is organized in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
1922 - Stearns
Salt Company in Ludington, Michigan, is sold to Morton Salt
and will be shut down soon thereafter. The only salt producer in Ludington
today is the Dow Chemical Co.
1923 (April 10)
- "A Tribute" to "Our Grand Old Man". Justus Stearns is honored
on his 78th birthday by 99 "top leaders" at a lavish banquet in the Stearns
Hotel in Ludington. "Each guest received a handsomely bound brochure containing
a 15-page biographic sketch of Justus Stearns" (according to the Ludington
Daily News, Dec. 31, 1971). A photocopy of this "brochure" was obtained in 2002 from the Mason Country Historical Society at White Pine Village.
1924 - Stearns
Coal Co. is organized in Atlanta, Georgia.
1925 - Stearns
Coal Co. is organized in Louisville, Kentucky.
1926 - Stearns
Coal & Lumber Co. is organized in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
1928 - Stears
Power & Light Co. is organized in Stearns, Kentucky .
1928 (June 12) -
Stearns is a delegate from Michigan to the Republican
National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, where Herbert Hoover
1929 - Bankrupcy
of Fred Herrick (age 76), Stearns' former partner who had followed
the lumber business from the Great Lakes to the Northwest.
1930 (July 16-17)
Motor Manufacturing Co. sells its 125,000 square foot factory in Ludington,
Michigan, at a public auction. The company manufactured marine
engines. The auction flyer invites prospective buyers stay at "the
Stearns, Ludington's finest hotel." According to one
source, the company "during Prohibition...sold fast engines to bootleggers
plying their trade on the Great Lakes but faster engines to the Coast Guard."
1930 (February 10)
- Engagement of Paulina Dean (Pina) STEARNS [1900-1966] to John Wright
DeFORREST is announced to 150 guests at the Stearns home in Ludington,
Michigan, but the engagement is broken, and they never marry. She will
secretly marry Gilbert Elledy GABLE [1886-1941] the following year
at the Vassar Club in New York City. Gilbert is reputed for his discovery
of dinosaur fossils in Arizona.
||L E T T E R|
1930 (March 27) - "Dear Cousin William:" Justus Searns (age 85) writes a 6-page
letter to William S. Stearns in Fredonia, New York, outlining "something of
my family history." The two cousins share childhood memories, but apparently
they had no contact for many decades until William contacted the well known
millionaire late in life. Quotations from this extrodinary letter are sprinkled
throughtout this webpage. Click here for full text. Image is fountain in Fredonia Commons Historic District.
1931 - Stearns Salt
Company in Manistee, Michigan, is sold to Morton
Salt Company. Morton still produces salt in Manistee.
||M E M O R I A L|
1932 (July) - Lumbermen's
Memorial is dedicated at East Tawas, Michigan. 189 road miles east of Ludington. Promoted by William
B. Mershon [1856-1943] of Saginaw, Michigan. Jusus Stearns & Robert Lyon Stearns
are "substantial contributors." Justus Stearns, "one of the best-known
lumbermen of the state, was an honor-guest at the dedication...[and], now
87, was the oldest lumberman present." (Robert Lyon Stearns "was at Stearns,
Ky., and unable to be present.") The bronze monument depicts three heroic
1932 (July 23) -
of Freeman STEARNS [1904-1951] & Edith Emma VAN DYKE [1906-1951]
in Ludington, Michigan. Freeman is a son of Robert Lyon STEARNS, and Edith
is an actress born in Pentwater, Michigan. Their home is on Ludington Avenue
across from the Stearns Hotel & the Ludington library. The house will
be raized in 1939, and a filling station built on the site. Most recently
a Shell station, the building is still there but closed. Edith and Freeman
will both die in 1951: She at the Paulina Stearns Hospital
in Ludington in February, he in Tucson, Arizona, in June.
1933 (February 14)
- Death of Justus Smith STEARNS (age 88). He
will be laid to rest in the first crypt of the Stearns Family Mausoleum
Cemetery, Ludington, Michigan. At the time of his death, Stearns is
president of nine companies (according to James Cabot, Ludington historian).
1933 - Robert
Lyon STEARNS (age 61) succeeds his father as the second President of
the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. He will remain President until his own
death in 1939.
1933 (April) - Edward
East BARTHELL publishes "Mountain Stories" drawn from his experiences
doing land title work in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee in 1898-1901.
||G A M E S|
1930's - The
Carrom Company in Ludington, Michigan -- owned by the heirs of Justus STEARNS -- continues
to work during the Great Depression just so its people would be employed.
||M I N I N G . C A M P|
1937 - Blue
Heron Mining Camp -- the company's 18th coal camp -- is constructed
by the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. on the Big South Fork of the Cumberland
River. This camp will be abandoned in December 1962 but restored with open-sided
steel "ghost structures" in 1989 by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
It is now maintained and interpreted by the National Park Service
as part of the Big South Fork National
River & Recreation Area. The restored camp is reached by the Big
South Fork Scenic Railway as well as by a highway.
1937 - Stearns
Coal & Lumber Co. sells about 47,000 acres of surface rights in
McCreary and Wayne Counties, Kentucky, to the Federal government. The company
reserves its coal and mineral rights and will continue to mine the property
for many years.
||N A T I O N A L . F O R E S T|
1937 - Cumberland
National Forest (now Daniel
Boone National Forest) is created in Kentucky, in large part from land
purchased from the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. Seventy percent
of McCreary County land passes into Federal ownership.
1939 (November 2)
- Death of Robert Lyon STEARNS (age 67), Justus' only child, in
Tucson, Arizona. He will occupy the 3rd of the 10 crypts in the Stearns
mausoleum, Ludington, Michigan.
1939 - John Edward
BUTLER succeeds Robert Lyon STEARNS as the third President of the Stearns
Coal & Lumber Co. Butler was graduated in 1893 from Ludington High
School and became a teacher. In 1932 and 1936 he was alternate delegate
from Kentucky to the Republican National Conventions. (On May 13, 1939,
J.D. BUTLER [sic] and Robert Lyon STEARNS, Jr., are the central figures
in a photo
of the Stearns company office staff.)
1940 (January 3)
- Wedding of Robert Lyon (Bob) STEARNS, Jr. (age 37) to Gloria Eden
(Glosie) BRADLEY (age 38) in Tucson, Arizona. Glosie is a former mistress
of Bob's father, Robert Lyon Stearns, Sr. She and Bob have lived together
many years at the Stearns Hotel in Stearns, Kentucky.
||H O S P I T A L|
1940 (August) - Paulina
Stearns Hospital moves to a new building constructed on the site of
the former Thomas Rice Lyon home, replacing the original hospital in the
former Stearns home across the street. The "new" hospital is now used for
offices of the Mason County Health Department, 1110 S. Washington
1941 - An illustrated
brochure "Forty Years of History" is published by the Stearns Coal
& Lumber Co. in Stearns, Kentucky. According to the brochure, the "army
of the House of Stearns can ship 140 solid cars -- 7,000 tons -- of carefully
prepared coal in a single day." Four "famous registered trade names" are
used: Stearns Golden Eagle, Stearns Golden Pheasant, Stearns
Scarlet Tanager, and Stearns Blue Heron. As presented in the
brochure, the company board of directors is:
John E. Butler,
President & Operations Manager
Robert L. Stearns,
Roger W. Henderson,
Harry C. Trent,
Freeman R. Stearns,
Asst. Secretary & Treasurer
Edw. E. Barthell,
Legal (Chicago Ill.)
Albert S. Puelicher
[apparently a banker
from Milwaukee, Wisconsin]
Henry C. Gillis,
Legal (Williamsburg, Ky.)
1942 - The
Carrom Company is sold by Justus' grandson Freeman STEARNS [1904-1951]
"to Milwaukee interests."
1947 - Dr.
Frank Cullum THOMAS, a native of Stearns, Kentucky, starts to practice
denistry in Stearns. In 1958, "Dr. Frank" will switch from denistry to
work for the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. He will serve two terms as company
president: From 1962 to 1976 and again from 1978 to 1987.
1949 - Robert
Lyon STEARNS, Jr., Justus' grandson, succeeds John Edward BUTLER as
the fourth President of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co.
||P A R K & B E A C H|
1950 (guess) - Stearns
Park is landscaped and donated to the City of Ludington by Laura Estelle
FREEMAN Stearns [1873-1962], widow of Robert Lyon STEARNS [1872-1939].
The park is still the largest in Ludington and has a major beach on Lake
Michigan. Laura made art from sea shells and composed many songs, including
on the Lake." The sheet music of "Ludington on the Lake" is sold by
the Mason County Historical Society at White
Pine Village near Ludington.
1950's - Decline
of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. in Kentucky. "The coal mines play
out one by one, and their coal camps are abandoned."
1955 - Frances C. Hanna writes "Sand, Sawdust & Saw Logs: Lumber Days in Ludington," Ludington, Michigan, pp. 55. Chick here for on-line text.
1958 (July 5) -
Wedding of Robert Elledy (Bob) GABLE (age 24) to Emily Brinton THOMPSON
(age 25) in Bar Harbor, Maine.
||P R E S I D E N T|
1962 - Dr.
Frank Cullum THOMAS succeeds Robert Lyon (Bob) STEARNS, Jr., as the
fifth President of the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co. The Blue Heron Mine
& its mining camp are closed in December of the same year. Bob never
enjoyed good health (according to James Cabot, Ludington historian) and
will die in 1965 (age 62).
1960's - Coal
markets are lost as railroads convert from steam to Diesel locomotives.
1969 - Robert
Elledy Gable (age 34), Kentucky Commissioner of Parks, is selected
by the Jaycees as one of "Three Outstanding Young Men of Kentucky."
1971 (June 30) -
companies close their offices in the Stearns Hotel of Ludington shortly
after the last timber is cut at Hamlin Lake just north of Ludington.
||N A T I O N A L . R I V E R|
1974 (March 7) - "Recognizing that the Big South Fork, with its gorges, homesteads, rockshelters & arches, is worth more preserved than flooded, Senator Howard Baker (R-Tenn) & Senator John Sherman Cooper (R-Ken) sponsor & shepherd through Congress the legislation that creates Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, which was signed into law on March 7, 1974, by President Nixon. The new law directs the Corps of Engineers to acquire land for the park & build the facilities before turning the park over to the National Park Service for administration. The Corps quickly draws up plans for what some are calling 'The Yellowstone of the East' & starts buying land."
1976 - Paintings
of Robert Lyon Stearns are given a retrospective exhibition at the
West Shore Community College just outside Ludington. This is a bicentennial
project co-sponsored by the Mason County Bicentennial Commission, Mason
County Historical Society & West Shore Community College, under the
direction of Prof. Leo Teholiz.
1976 - Robert
Elledy (Bob) GABLE succeeds Dr.
Frank Cullum THOMAS as the sixth President of the Stearns Coal &
Lumber Co. By this time, the company has sold most of its holdings to the
Blue Diamond Coal Co., including the ultramodern Justus Mine named
for the company's founder Justus Smith STEARNS. Gable is a great grandson
of Justus STEARNS and a grandson of Robert Lyon STEARNS. He lives in Lexington,
Kentucky, owns the Stearns Company, Ltd. ("commercial real estate
developer with ties to coal and lumber industries"), was finance chair
for one or more campaigns of Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, and was
a Republican candidate for governor of Kentucky in 1975.
1976 - Big
South Fork National River and Recreation Area is created by Congress
to include land formerly owned by the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co.
1976-78 - Bitter
strike takes place at Blue Diamond's Justus Mine.
1977 (August 16)
- Death of Gloria Eden (Glosie) BRADLEY Stearns [1901-1977] in Somerset,
Kentucky. She is the last of the ten family members laid to rest in the
Family Mausoleum in Lakeview
Cemetery, Ludington, Michigan. Here is the complete list:
(1) Justus Smith
LYON Stearns [1849-1904]
(3) Robert Lyon
(4) Laura Estell
FREEMAN Stearns [1873-1962]
(5) Paulina Dean
STEARNS Gable Bennett [1900-1966]
Elledy GABLE [1886-1941]
(7) Robert Lyon
STEARNS, Jr. [1902-1965]
(8) Gloria Eden
BRADLEY Stearns [1901-1977]
(9) Freeman Ross
(10) Edith Emma
VAN DYKE Stearns [1906-1951]
1978 - Dr.
Frank Cullum THOMAS succeeds Robert
Elledy GABLE as the seventh and last President of the Stearns Coal
& Lumber Co. Gable will be appointed to the Franklin Deleno Roosevelt
Commission by President George Bush in 1992. As of 2002, Dr. Thomas has
been a director of the First National
Bank in Oneida, Tennessee, for 31 years and is an adviser to the McCreary
County Museum in Stearns, Kentucky.
1979 - The
Stearns Company "makes its initial entry into the commercial real estate
business by investing as the money partner in thirteen separate projects
located in seven southern and western states."
Coal & Lumber Co. leases more than 8,000 acres within the Daniel
Boone National Forest to the Ramex Mining Corp. Ramex will obtain
coal mining permits and begin mining, then be shut down by the US Office
of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSM).
1984 - The
Stearns Company "has development offices in Menlo Park, Califonia, and
Phoenix, Arizona, in addition to its Lexington, Kentucky, headquarters,
and has acquired or developed almost $200 million of land, hospitality,
R&D, industrial, commercial, office, mineral and other real estate
assets owned and managed and/or under development in eleven states."
||H O T E L|
1985 (about) - Stearns
Hotel in Stearns, Kentucky, is raised for safety reasons -- as were
the Stearns sawmill
and record tall smoke stack. The Stearns Hotel in Ludington, Michigan,
will survive after being remodeled and renamed the Stearns Motor Inn
||N A T I O N A L . R I V E R|
1986-1989 - Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. "By 1986, National Park Service personnel are staffing a small visitor center on the East Rim, and the Bandy Creek Campground has opened its gates, welcoming visitors with hot showers, a camp store, stables & craft store. In 1989, the Blue Heron Mining Community opens with much fanfare. Mine 18 of Stearns Coal & Lumber Company fame has been reborn as semi-restored ghost town. 'Ghost structures' consisting only of framing, the bare bones of buildings, stand at places marking homes, the company store, churches, machine shops & more. The original coal tipple, a central facility for loading coal to be transported, is restored for exhibit. A mine opening is also carefully preserved & stabilized so that visitors can enter it."
1986 - The
Stearns Company and Winding River Realty Utah, LC (WRRU) team "begins the
consolidation process...drastically reducing its $3.5 million of corporate
overhead, closing the development offices in California and Arizona...and
selling most of Stearns' substantial holdings in California, Arizona, Texas
and the Southeast."
1987 - Stearns
Coal & Lumber Co. is dissolved, and the last railcar of coal leaves
the Blue Diamond mines.
1987 - Tom
Zinn becomes President of the Stearns Company in Lexington, Kentucky.
This company has had a "nine state, $200 million portfolio of hotel/office/warehouse/R
& D/retail and land properties with development offices in the Silicon
Valley, California, Phoenix, Arizona, and Lexington, Kentucky." Zinn joined
the Stearns Company in 1981 and will leave in 1999. Robert Elledy Gable
(great grandson of Justus Stearns) is chairman and chief executive officer.
1989 (May) - Restored
Blue Heron Coal Camp in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation
Area is dedicated. The ceremony is attended by Mary McDonald,
education director of the Mason County Historical Society in Ludington,
1989 (October) -
Stearns Company, Ltd., files suit in the US Court of Federal Claims,
claiming $17 million for a mineral estate of about 38,000 acres under Daniel
Boone National Forest in Kentucky.
1992 - Dr. Frank
Cullum Thomas writes article
on McCreary County for the "The Kentucky Encyclopedia" (University
of Kentucky Press).
& descendants of Lewis Ross Freeman with related families, based
partially on the work of Freeman Worth Gardner & Willis Freeman" is
published by Patty Barthell Myers of San Antonio, Texas. Mrs. Myers is
a granddaughter of Edward East Barthell [1866-1937] and a great granddaughter
both of Lewis Ross Freeman and of Thomas Rice Lyon [1854-1875].
1996 (January) -
Zinn "begins providing consulting services to Winding River Associates,
LLC (WRA) -- the fee simple owner of approximately 5,000 acres of property
in Washington County, Utah -- while continuing his duties as President
and Chief Operating Officer to Stearns Enterprises, Inc., the general partner
of the Stearns Company, Ltd."
1996 (April 13)
- Wedding of James S. GABLE
& Lisa Vittoria-Ann GUILLERMIN
in Washington, DC. James is a son of Robert
Elledy GABLE, a great grandson of Robert Lyon STEARNS, and a great
great grandson of Justus Smith STEARNS. Wedding guests include James' sister
GABLE, James' brother John GABLE,
and Dr. Frank Cullum
Thomas and his wife Mary of Somerset, Kentucky.
1995 (about) - R.
L. Stearns Wholesale Grocery and Railroad Depot are restored as the
first project in Kentucky funded by the Intermodal Surface Transportation
and Efficiency Act of 1991 (STEA).
2002 (May 22) -
Kentucky, celebrates its centennial.
2002 (July 20-21)
- Ludington, Michigan, hosts the 11th annual "Gus Macker 3 on 3
Basketball Tournament" in Stearns Park.
2002 (August 5)
judge awards the Stearns Company millions of dollars in its lawsuit
against the Federal government. Coal Age magazine says this is "a
landmark case that goes to the heart of a longstanding national dispute
over private property rights and government regulations."