Grand Traverse Herald Documents Early Leelanau History

(Photo courtesy of TADL Local History Collection)

The Grand Traverse Herald was first published in November, 1858. From the beginning the Herald envisioned itself as a regional paper and for years it had the largest circulation of any newspaper in Northern Michigan. Most families in Leelanau County seem to have been Herald subscribers.

In the early years The Herald mostly consisted of national and state news (and not much of that). Part of one page was typically devoted to any local and regional items that were provided by local correspondents. Brief announcements of deaths and weddings in the region (paid for by those who submitted the announcements) were included. Gradually more and more local news was included and, on January 1st 1885, the Herald announced that henceforth it would include an entire page of reports from outlying rural communities and settlements and wrote that “We would be glad to secure a good occasional correspondent in every town in northern Michigan”. Most if not all of the communities in Leelanau County had Herald correspondents who sent to the paper a report of the goings-on in their neighborhood every week or so.

The Grand Traverse Herald contains a plethora of history on Leelanau and it’s people. It is an invaluable source for researchers. In the fundraising efforts of 2020 to digitize the remaining historic issues of the Leelanau Enterprise, generous donors exceeded our goal allowing us to extend our plan to include the Grand Traverse Herald. Stay tuned in 2021, when you can keyword search these newspapers for historical Leelanau content, like this one from July 11, 1878, pertaining to the area’s first Land Office.

*** Excerpts and research for this article was collected by Andrew White, a local historian based in Traverse City. Andrew’s research into Leelanau County’s history has uncovered previously unknown stories of the peninsula and its people. ***

Local News

The United States Land Office, now located at Traverse City, will, on the 13th, be discontinued, and the books and archives pertaining thereto be transferred to Reed City, and the two offices from and after that date will be consolidated.  What has been known as the Traverse City District was created out of the Ionia District and the office located at Duncan, Cheboygan County, with C. H. Taylor, Register, and H. A. Rood, Receiver.  The first entry was made September 5th, 1852.  November 1st, 1857, Jacob Barns was appointed Register, and O. A. Stevens, Receiver.  March 1st, 1858, the office was moved to Mackinaw Island, and July lst, 1858, was closed there, and opened at Traverse City, August 2nd, 1858.  June 1st, 1861, Morgan Bates was appointed Register, and Reuben Goodrich, Receiver.  Refusing to “Johnsonize” they were superseded, May 16th, 1867, by L. G. Wilcox as Register, and E. Anneke, Receiver.  May 18th, 1869, Morgan Bates and Reuben Goodrich were re-instated in there old positions.  July 1st, 1873, Perry Hannah succeeded Reuben Goodrich in the Receiver’s office.  Morgan Bates died March 2d, 1874, and March 23d, Seth C. Moffatt was appointed to the vacant Registership, and has held the position since.

When the office was removed to Traverse City Northern Michigan was a vast wilderness.  The State had already selected its “swamp lands” and the great reservations for the G. R. & I. and J. L. & S. railroads had been made.  Since then several “Indemnity” reservations have been made by the State, and the extensive Agricultural College grant located.  We have taken considerable time during the last week to the examination of the entry books of the office and below give a statement of the entries made during the nineteen years and eleven months that the office has been here.

Entered with warrants, act 1842 ………..…..236.30
Entered with warrants, act 1847………….2,440.00
Entered with warrants, act 1850………..16.872.29
Entered with warrants, act  1852………….220.00
Entered with warrants, act 1855….….290,346.58
Total land warrant entries ……………….319,125.27
Entered with Agricultural Scrip ……. 155,798.37
Entered with cash ………………………….330,794.13
Whole amount purchased ………………..795,697.77
Entered as homesteads ………………….1,046,301.91
Grand total of entries at Traverse City……..1,843,799.68

There are still 74,000 acres of vacant lands, good, poor and indifferent, in the District.” 

*** The Traverse City District included the Leelanau Peninsula