Those who have visited the museum in Leland, may have noticed a handsome bronze eagle that sits atop a post outside the main entrance. The eagle has been a part of the society’s collection since 1983 when it was donated by a resident of Empire and has stood proudly out front ever since.
“The eagle, a powerful multicultural symbol, reflects the mission of the Society, honors the Leelanau Peninsula’s oldest community, and our American heritage.”
-2007 Leelanau Historical Society Newsletter
Before it came to live at the Leelanau Historical Society, this eagle presided over Bob’s Park. Between Leland and Good Harbor on M-22, this privately owned park was marked by a large stone cairn and offered travelers a place to rest and also as a tribute to two important people in the land owner’s life.
Asher Moses (Mose) Kilwy created the park on his land in honor of two men named Bob. Bob O’Hage was a mentor for Mose when he ran away from home at a young age to become a Great Lakes mariner. The second Bob, for which the park’s name is derived was Mose’s first born son, Robert (Bob) Kilwy.
Many travelers who stopped at the park enjoyed picnic tables, playground equipment, a barbecue on the beach, an outdoor bathroom facility, and maritime artifacts in the woods. Several monuments were built by Mose, one of which was home to the proud bronze eagle. On another, was carved the Lord’s Prayer and on the reserve side of it was the Ten Commandments. Another monument had later been erected to honor Moses’ wife, Mary (Mamie) Larson Kilwy, who died in 1948. Bob’s Park was established in 1953 and remained open until 1961 after Mose’s death in 1960.
In a Leelanau Enterprise article written in 2000 on the history of the park, it was fondly recalled that the Kilwy Clan would still gather in early august at the park for an annual picnic. The land has since been divided among Mose Kilwy’s decedents. Evidence of the park is slowly being reclaimed by the woods, but one of the stone cairns can still be seen from the road to this day.
As part of the donation agreement when the eagle arrived at the Leelanau Historical Society, the statue was never to leave Leelanau County and remain on public display.
The museum may not be open to the public to enjoy exhibits during the summer of 2020, but we encourage you to stop by to enjoy and be inspired by everything this eagle represents and reflect on those that have come before us.