General Upper Peninsula History

Dedicated to capturing the stories and spirit of the region, one way the Center for Upper Peninsula Studies achieves this goal is recording the oral histories of the area's residents. Each interview is done in person, recorded and then transcribed for ease of use. On this page, find interviews pertaining to general Upper Peninsula history. 





Richard Adams

December 9, 2015

Rich Adams discusses his career as an air traffic controller for the Air Force, particularly his experiences during the Vietnam War and while working at K.I. Sawyer Air Base.

Gertrude Bailey

November 9, 2010

Gertrude Bailey discusses life on Drummond Island in the 1920's and years that followed. She speaks about general life, some of the economic issues that faced such a rural community, and what they did for entertainment.

Greg Banks

March 24, 1989

Greg Banks discusses the Green Party, including its creation, values, and basic beliefs.

Myron Basal

November 2, 2015

Myron Basal describes growing up in and early settlement of Beaver Grove, Michigan.  He discusses trapping, tending horses for the construction of M-28 from Marquette to Munising, Integration during Korean War, Marquette Branch Prison Riot of 1980, integration of women as Corrections Officers, farming pumpkins.

Jessie Beattie

August 23, 1980

Jessie Beattie discusses her upbringing on her German grandparents farm in Ingallston Township, Michigan; Reichert farm; life during the turn of the 20th century; work in lumber camps; farming and canning; livestock; home steading; education in a log schoolhouse; selling goods in Cedar River and Menominee; and purchases from Montgomery Ward's.

Ernie Beck May 24, 2006 and June 6, 2006 North Marquette historian Ernie Beck shares his expiriences growing up and attending the John D. Pierce School in Marquette, Michigan. In two juxtaposed interviews he talks about his Finnish roots, ethnic communities, housing development, streetcar lines, his family, and the overall history of North Marquette. 

Thomas Beber

May 29, 2009

Thomas Beber discusses his brief time at Northern Michigan University before joining the Marine Corps for four years and then finally graduating from Michigan Technological University.

Glen Binoneimi

No Date Given 

In his interview Upper Peninsula native Glenn Binoneimi recalls his lifetime work history. Born in 1936 Glen recalls his earliest job as working on a farm in Clayton Mills, Michigan. Glenn also worked in a smelt factory, wire mill, and served in the Army from 1959 through the early '60s. After returning from the Army Glenn got a job as a railroad clerk typist and was quickly trained to work on keypunch computer programs. Glenn then continued to work on computers until his retirement.

Sarah Bottrell

November 15, 2005

Sarah Bottrell discusses her family background; growing up in Ishpeming in the early 1900s; being part of the mining community; attending Northern Michigan University; her experience with professors Kaye, Chase, Hunt, and Lowell; her brother's work with radios; past presidents of NMU; influenza and polio; and her teaching career.

Roland H. Bramer

No Date Given 

Roland H. Bramer  describes the Village of Nahma, Michigan during 1920s-1980s. Details include the Bay de Noc Lumber Company, American Playground Device Company, working at the sawmill, the General Store, the Great Depression, Nahma School, the transition from lumber company town, and the future of Nahma.

Will Brideson March 29, 1989 Will Brideson is a Gwinn native that describes the history of Gwinn, Michigan. Will focuses on how Gwinn is called a model town and how that has effected the town over the years.

Rev. Louis Cappo

January 29, 1997

Reverend Cappo discusses his life growing up in Baltic, MI; his parents’ migration from Italy; his studies at St. Lawrence Seminary and St. Francis Seminary; his career as a priest; his work to promote industry and development in the Upper Peninsula; working for American Motors; the discussion of natural gas in the Upper Peninsula; the tax system of the mining industry; the creation of Indian Head Ski Resort in Wakefield; unions and mining companies; his father’s activity in the mines and local politics; the Depression; the closing of the Sunny Lake Mine; UpCap; The Lake Superior Jobs Coalition; his family’s Piedmontese origins; their traditional Italian foods; the making of saltisa (a Piedmontese sausage); his Italian origins; traveling to Italy; and meeting the Pope.

Agnes Carlson 

March 29, 2002

Resident of the Daggett/Stevenson area but native of Menominee, Agnes gives her autobiography and perspective on growing up in the UP in the early 1900s including the development and modernization of the area. 

Newton (Newt) Chapman

October 16, 2008

Newton (Newt) Chapman discusses the industrial and economic aspects of northern lower Michigan such as logging and shipping around the 1950's as well as a specifically local card game to the Alpena/Onawa region called Spitzer.

Evelyn Cieslick

March 18, 1989

Evelyn Cieslick discusses her recollections of World War II. Included are memories of Pearl Harbor, the United States entering the war, her work at a battery factory, rationing, what life in high school was like during the war, the process of writing to and receiving letters from soldiers, reactions to news of victory, the atomic bombing of Japan, and concentration camps.

Willard Cohodas

November 13, 1995

Willard Cohodas, nephew of Sam Cohodas, gives a description of various artifacts depicting the Cohodas family history as they moved through Poland, Houghton, Hancock, and Marquette. 

Edwin Charles Colleur November 20, 1984 Edwin Charles Colleur discusses his life at the Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette in the 1940s. Includes discussion of food, clothing, schooling, and activities at the orphanage. 

Melvin Cousineau

No Date Given

Melvin Cousineau discusses his family’s homestead a few miles northeast of Hardwood, Michigan.  He discusses his father’s career and discusses the Ford Motor Company plant in Kingsford and Kingsford Charcoal Briquette plant.

Fred Dagner

October 17, 2008

Fred Dagner tells the story of how his grandparents came to live in the Alpena area and what life was like in a small Upper Peninsula town. He also discusses his time in the Marine Corps.

Robert G. Davis

March 31, 1989

Robert G. Davis discusses life in the Upper Peninsula during World War II and the German bund operation in Manistique. Topics included are his famliy life, vacationing in the Upper Peninsula, what he learned about the German bund operation in Manistique from German-American acquaintances, and life in both Detroit and the Upper Peninsula during World War II.

Geraldine Defant

March 22,1990

Geraldine Defant discusses her life spent working for the organization of unions. Topics include her personal history; her beginnings working for the Chicago Relief Administration; her work at unionizing the H.W. Gossard garment plants in Ishpeming and Gwinn and the difficult process of unionizing these two plants; and her current job as Marquette County Commissioner.

Margorie Deges

No Date Given 

Margorie Deges discusses life in the Copper Country during the 1930s including family life, economics, and transportation. 

Joe Drobney

August 31, 2010

Joe Drobney describes the origins, operation, and manufacturing of the Munising Woodenware Company in Munising, Michigan, and his work as a bowl painter in 1949.  Discusses the workers’ strike of 1949 due to pay inequality, The Piqua Handle Company in Marquette and subsequent fire at company.  Mentions painting technique, different brushes used, and patterns utilized.

Jack Dueweke

No Date Given

Jack Dueweke, 9-1-1 Emergency Coordinator for Houghton County, Michigan briefly discusses the decision to move their dispatch from Laurium, Michigan to the Negaunee Regional Dispatch Center.  He also discusses issues with the faxing of run reports from various agencies.

Tom Dummer 

December 6, 2009

Co-founder of the Hiawatha Music Fesitval Tom Dummer discusses the inception and development of the festival starting with the communal living efforts in Deerton, Michigan during the 1970s. 

Nita Engle 

June 27, 2003 

Nita Engle gives her biography from growing up in Marquette County, Michigan including details of the Swedish culture of Ispheming and Negaunee. She also dives into the details of her career as an artist starting in the 1950s. 

G. Fortin

December 1, 2001

G. Fortin describes life growing up on a farm in Calvin, Michigan to interviewer Karl Shunk.  Interview appears to take place while driving and looking deer sign, and describes various former sites and camp locations.

Ken Fowler

May 21, 1982

Ken Fowler discusses “Old Times in Algonquian”, a neighborhood location west of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  After quitting school, Ken got a job for a local store tending and driving horses, he later took a job inside, and eventually opened up his own store.  He discusses the meat business, being Post Master in Algonquin for forty years, along with reminiscing with the interviewer about the area.

William Fretz

March 2, 1990

Newberry, Michigan resident William Fretz discusses a wide range of subjects related to the history of the Newberry News, the family business, and the future of Luce County. 

Mrs. John Frisk April 16, 1981 Mrs. Frisk recalls the movement of the KKK in Marquette County and the social stigmas around this in the early 1920's. 

Bishop James Garland

September 13, 2012

In his September 2012 interview with Russell Magnaghi in Marquette MI, Bishop James Garland details some highlights of his then 20 year career within the Diocese of Marquette. Bishop Garland begins telling of the life and career of the recently passed Father Gauthier, whose many professional titles included Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Director of the Propagation of the Faith, and long-time pastor of St. Louis Parish in Harvey. He also tells of his trials and achievements associated with closing, and restructuring institutes and parishes within the Diocese of Marquette. History of the Diocese of Marquette before Bishop Garland is also discussed by both Bishop Garland and Russell Magnaghi.

Father Lawrence Gauthier December 20, 2006 Father Gauthier discusses his life, his French-Canadian heritage, his family history, Prohibition, and the history of the Catholic church and Catholic schools in Marquette and the U.P.

Dorothy Goetz, Betty Mullins, and Dorothy Painter

October 16, 2008

Dorothy Goetz, Betty Mullins, and Dorothy Painter all sit down with Russell Magnaghi to discuss growing up in rural Upper Peninsula near the end of the depression.

Estelle Gustafson

May 17, 1983

Estelle Gustafson discusses living in the Newberry area and St. Ignace areas during the 1920s.  Boardwalk from Dollarville to Newberry, riding passenger trains, labor riot, lumber camp children, farming at State Hospital.

Cody Hanson

November 18, 2009

Cody Hanson talks about his company 906 Technologies; computers; website design; jobs held at Northern Michigan University; NMU Football; future plans.

George and Vivian Hauswirth

March 5, 1993

George and Vivian Hauswirth's grandson interviews them about their experiences living in the Hancock area during the Depression.

Russel Hayner

October 16, 2008

Russel Hayner is interviewed about his life in the rural upper-Lower Michigan town of Onaway in the years that followed the depression.

Carlo Heikkenen

May 1, 2010

Carlo Heikkenen discusses his life and experiences in the rural Upper Peninsula towns of Aura, Pequaming, and L'Anse, as a member of the local co-op and board member for the REA.

Jack Henkala & Donna Lehto

August 17, 1998

Interview for U.P. Ethnic Folklore.  Donna Lehto discusses the folk-skill of making rag rugs in Crystal Falls, MI.  Needed equipment, materials, preparation, and processes of making rugs are covered. Interviewer follows up in Amasa, MI with Jack Henkala who discusses his family’s Finnish heritage and personal history of making rag rugs.

Henry (No last name given)

March 22, 1989

Henry discusses what it was like growing up in the upper peninsula with an alcoholic father and some of the effects it has on his life to this day.

Gordon Hervela

February 2, 1989

Gordon Hervela describes spending summers on his grandparent’s farm outside of Calumet, Michigan during the 1920s at hay-making time, living and working in Detroit in the 1930-40s, attending the Henry Ford Trade School graduating in 1936, and working in manufacturing sector during World War II.

Frank Holmstrom

November 11, 1989

Frank Holmstrom describes the family and immigration history with Todd C. Holmstrom.  Families came from Sweden and Finland, dating from mid to late 19th century.  Family names mentioned include Holmstrom, Waara, Torkola, Sorson, Sorssä, Kelvie Sorssä, Toivo Gustafson, Juusola.

Eva Jones Date Unknown Eva discusses growing up in Beaver Grove and tells about her family history being French Canadian and having a large extended family living close together. 

Theodore Karamanski

April 10, 1995

Theodore Karamanski discusses his academic works including published papers and books in the area of history, as well as how he came to be a significant historian and professor. His works generally focus on the area from Chicago to Eastern Canada.

Helen Kaurala

May 13, 2015

Helen Kaurala discusses cooperative stores in Mass City and Greenland, Michigan which were operated by her family.  White Finn versus Red Finn Coop Stores, John Deere Implement store, and other coop locations.  Speaks of Finnish American identity and local ethnic makeup of Mass City-Greenland Michigan area.

Robert Kekke May 13, 2015 Green, Michigan native Robert Kekke talks about his childhood growing up in the rural Upper Peninsula in the 1940s and 50s. Details include Finnish culture, community life, the Leftist leanings of the town, and the many families in the surrounding areas. 
Gayle LaJoye April 22, 1981 Gayle LaJoye a clown from Marquette, Michigan shares his story of how he became a clown and his experience in the Ringing Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. 

Gerda and Mabel Larson

Fall 1982

Gerda and Mabel Larson discuss life in Pequaming and the transitions Pequaming went through of Hebard, Ford, and becoming a ghost town. They describe growing up and playing as part of a family musical group for town dances and Ford's dance school. 

Leo Lassard  June 28, 2001 Leo Lassard discusses growing up in Sault St. Marie in the 1920s and 30s including his time spent in an orphanage, the bootlegging business of his father, and the jobs he held throughout his life. 

Robert Liimatainen

August 10, 2014

Bob Liimatainen Part I: Early life, growing up in Aura, MI and career at Argonne National Laboratory and education career.  Part II: Continuation of work at Argonne, and later for the US Foreign Service in Cairo, Egypt in 1966 until the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War and later in Tehran, Iran during 1967-1970.

Ruth MacFarlane

May 13, 2015

Ruth MacFarlane briefly describes her education and career background as a botanist at Eastern Michigan University’s Herbarium, what brought her up to the Upper Peninsula, living on a small farm near Mass City, Michigan, and her writing career for local newspapers.  She mentions Red and White Finns, Cooperative Stores, her work with the local 4-H writers group, Olaf Rankinen from Suomi College, and the long-lasting impression left on her by the generosity of a snowplow driver in saving her snow-scoop.

Arvid Maki

July 15, 2005

Arvid Maki discusses growing up in early Marquette near the blossoming NMU campus, where his family comes from, and some of the activities and jobs he was involved in through the years.

Russell Magnaghi November 16, 1979 Russ Magnaghi discusses the exhibit on Lew Allen Chase at the Marquette Historical Society as part of Upper Peninsula Today. 

Joseph Markantony

April 7, 1987

Joseph Markantony discusses his employment at both the Dow Chemical Plant and Marquette General Hospital as a grounds keeper in the '40s and '50s, as well as other related stories including his time in the service.

Myles McCormack and Donald Poupore

March, 2006

Officers Myles McCormack and Donald Poupore discuss some of the challenges associated with law enforcement on K.I. Sawyer after the Air Force left the base, an increasing population, and a declining budget.

Monsignor Nolan McKevitt June 6, 1989 Monsignor Nolan McKevitt tells of his time in the priesthood, through seminary and the many locations he had experiences with throughout the Upper Peninsula.
Pete Minneau  No Date Given  Gladstone Native Pete Minneau gives an insightful look into life in the town in the early 1900s. Pete discusses growing up during the Great Depression and the programs in place, the lumber and mining companies, as well as the general sense of helpfulness in the community. 

Brynhild Mitchell

July 7, 2009

In her July, 2009 interview Brynhild Mitchell discusses her life experiences which span more than 100 years. Born in Munising, MI in 1903, Brynhild Mitchell discusses what major historic events such as World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II looked like in Munising. Bryhild also tells of major industries and works within Munising during her lifetime including leather tanning and woodenware. Mitchell also spends some time explaining the significance of the Munising landmark, The Beach Inn.

Robert Monck

June 2, 2009

Robert Monck discusses his life and what brought him to Marquette, including his involvement with athletics and graduating from Northern Michigan University, his enlistment in the Army, and his subsequent career.

Robert "Bob" Money


Professor Robert "Bob" Money discusses prostitution in Sault Ste. Marie along with its implications and causes in the 1950's.

Audrey Moser

November 8, 2010

Life on Drummond Island, Michigan.  Biographic and local history interview, Mrs. Moser a fifth generation islander, born 1930, relates family, employment history, and life on the Island. Ancestors came to Drummond as homesteaders.  Discusses island development by Tom Monaghan, quarries, Fort Drummond, Drummond Island Museum, commercial fishing, tourism.

James Nostrant  June 7, 1982 James Nostrant describes his year as a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps around Germfask and Whitefish Point in 1940. He talks about the details of the camp, the work he did, and his overall impression of the program. 
Deborah Nyquist and Bridget Stafford October 27, 1989 Deborah and Bridget interview each other about their views on tattoos and tattooed women. Both girls have tattoos and share their experiences when telling their parents and some of the other reactions they received from friends and family about their tattoos. 
Dominic Ombrello December 12, 1988 Dominic Ombrello tells of his time growing up in Ishpeming, Michigan. He gives his experiences growing up through the great depression, and eventually serving in WWII and life upon his arrival back home in the Upper Peninsula.
Jim Robertson  Date Unknown  Jim Robertson discusses the history of Sault St. Marie and his laundry mat. He also talks about his father's tannery and general information about the area. 
Gretchen Roberts November 13, 1989 Gretchen shares her story of being robbed in Marquette, Michigan in the summer of1988.

Richard "Rich" Ryan

October 14, 2011

Richard Ryan describes living at the Holy Family Orphan’s Home in Marquette, Michigan from 1962-1967.

Fred Rydholm

December 11, 2008

Fred Rydholm begins by giving a brief background his family’s migration from Sweden and their life in Marquette in the early 20th century. Rydholm then moves on to discuss his childhood and schooling in Marquette. He discusses how, despite his background in science, he has written several volumes about local, Upper Peninsula history. He discusses why he is so interested in this subject and how he became so knowledgeable about it. Rydholm also discusses his tree farm, Prohibition, the books he has written, and his love of stories and storytelling.

Lucy Savard

May 6, 1998

Lucy Savard describes her ancestors coming to St. Ignace area.  Great-grandfather was Louis Belonga, French-Canadian, and “was the first white settler in Carp River, MI.”  Describes life and upbringing on family farm in Carp River-St. Ignace area, folk and Native medicines, folktales, food, special occasion foods, mentions moonshining; carp, sucker, and smelt fishing.

Marie Sauer November 8, 1997 Marie Sauer discusses life in Gwinn, Michigan and Marquette, Michigan. Marie spent her childhood living in front of the jailhouse in Marquette when her dad was sheriff. She then moved to Gwinn where she spent most of her life teaching Physical Education and Kindergarten at the local school. 

Spencer Shunk

November 30, 2000

Spencer Shunk’s interview focuses on the settling of the Shunk Road family farm outside of Sault Ste. Marie, MI.  Describes crops farmed, making hay, lumbering in winter, driving teams of horses, moonshining, origins of Spencer’s butcher shop and segue into appliance sales, cattle raising, dances at the Grange Hall, wrestling matches at Fort Brady, family anecdotes.

Neil "Grandpa" Store August 23, 1998  Neil Store talks about the origins of the naming of Cranberry Road and an overview of general Green, Michigan history including the families in town. 
Time Capsule  July 24/25, 1987 In a radio spot recording, Tom Baldini, Gibb Butler and Ann Wilson share details of the time capsule placed at the bottom of Lake Superior in 1987 as part of the sesquicentennial celebration to be opened at Michigan bicentennial in 2037. 
Bob Thomson Sr.  April 23, 1988 Bob Thomson Sr. tells about being the co-owner of Johnson's Sports Center and the early days of his sporting goods shop in downtown Marquette. Having been around since 1945, Bob describes how Marquette's business district has not changed very much, but the way business is conducted has changed. Bob also mentions a few other local businesses that have helped him with his success over the years. 

Ida Thornberry

March 25, 1980

Garden Village, Kingsford, Michigan.  Early Ford days, came to Garden Village in 1925.  Former buildings’ locations, Garden Village Schoolyard, temporary barrack school, school in shifts, expanding student population, Garden Village School and Lincoln School, East Kingsford, Michigan.  Grocery shopping at the Ford Store, Kingsford incorporation, Ford Plant land sale, WWII and effects on Garden Village.

Note: Briding should be corrected to Breitung.

John Tobin  July 19, 1996 John Tobin describes his early upbringing in Marquette, Michigan and includes fantastic details of what seems to be a "lost history of Marquette". He tells of this history by using vivid and joyful memories of his childhood and includes details like sledding down the streets of Marquette, wooden sidewalks, the reveal of electricity and radio in the city, and the street car. 
Mary Allen Turino  Unknown  Mary Allen Turino is 20 years old and works at WLUC and describes what it is like to be behind the TV camera. Mary discusses office relations, sales, and some of the benefits of working at WLUC at such a young age. 
Michelle Vinoski March 20, 1989 Michelle Vinoski discusses her views on the Catholic school system in Ironwood, Michigan. Michelle focuses on disproving the myths about Catholic school and some of the reasons she enjoyed attending a Catholic school.
Keith Wachter April 24, 2007  UP Native Keith Wachter discusses the process of getting and elk permit and his experiences with hunting throughout his life. 

John Wasmuth

August 5, 2015

John Wasmuth describes growing up in the U.P., World War II participation, and later return to Upper Peninsula.  Describes career and education as Underwriters Laboratory investigator.  Explains involvement in Civil Air Patrol.

Julia Westman

May 10, 1983

Julia Westman describes growing up in Newberry, Michigan during the 1920s.  Briefly mentions parent’s immigration from Sweden around 1900, the Suomi, Augustana, and United Lutheran Church merger in the `60s, the local labor riot in June of 1937, changes in the community, World War I and II war rationing.

George Windsand April 13, 1981 George Windsand, an Ishpeming native shares stories from growing up in Ishpeming in the 1930s. Some of his stories include: the first car that was driven in Ishpeming, Radios and how much they changed life, the many adventures at the local airport, the effects on the town during World War Two, and his mining experience for Cleveland Cliffs Mining Company. In addition to childhood stories George also goes into detail about being a businessman and the business environment post World War Two.  George also adds some stories from his time overseas in Norway, where his mother was from.

Ike Wood

February 4, 1987

Ike Wood discusses Marquette in the 1940's, some of the developments he witnessed as the town grew and evolved, as well as working and living in the area at that time.

Wade Youngman  November 2, 2009 Wade Youngman talks about going to Gogebic College for ski resort management, his adventures around the UP, and the various volunteer activities his is involved with in Marquette.