Township Beginning

In 1888-89 the Interior Lumber Company was negotiating with the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Railway Company to extend the railroad line to their mill site. The line had already reached Watersmeet, Ontonagon County, in September of 1883.

An application was presented to the Ontonagon County Board of Supervisors at their meeting held March 16, 1889, at the Court House in the Village of Ontonagon, signed by 24 freeholders, to create a new township to be known as Interior Township. It provided for the first annual township meeting to be held in the office of Interior Lumber Company on Monday, April 1, 1889. It further designated Luke B. Conway, John J. Anderson and Gilbert R. Cherryman, three electors, to preside at said meeting, appoint a c lerk, open and keep the polls and exercise the same powers as the inspectors of any township meeting.

At the first election held in Interior Township, 28 votes were cast and the following officers were elected:
Supervisor: Luke B. Conway
Clerk: John J. Anderson
Highway Commissioner: Joseph Ahearn
Overseer Highway: Dan'l McTaggart
Coroner: John J. Anderson
School Inspectors
Gilbert R. Cherryman
Joseph Ahearn

Joseph Ahearn
Phillips Lucks
Wm. H. Hayton
Gilbert T. Cherryman
Wm. S. Edwards
Arthur N. Pierce
John Callahan
Daniel McLeod
(The officers probably all lived in the town of Interior.)

On Wednesday, October 16,1889, Luke B. Conway presented his credentials to the Ontonagon County Board of Supervisors and became the first supervisor to represent Interior Township on said board.

The first plat in Interior Township was platted June 1, 1889, and called the Plat of Interior. The second plat was platted June 15, 1889, and called "Josephine," after the wife of James C. Ayer, extensive land owner. The third plat, called Trout Creek, w as platted June 6, 1891, also known as Fitzgerald's plat. Two more plats were made in the township on November 22, 1946, called Supervisor's Plat No. 1, and Supervisor's Plat No. 2.

The population was small in the 1880's. The county census may have been inflated during this time because of the men employed in the building of the Milwaukee and Lake Shore Railroad in the South part of the county. Homesteaders kept moving into the Trout Creek area and settling on their claims becoming permanent settlers. By 1890 the census report of Interior Township shows 559 inhabitants.

An item from the Ontonagon Miner states "Trout Creek, named for the stream passing through it, on the D.S.S. & A. Line promises to be a prosperous lumber town. A. L. Wing & Co., Lake County, lower Michigan, was building a mill plant in January of 1891, in tending to ship lumber by rail to eastern markets." Eventually Trout Creek became the seat of township government.

The Diamond Match mills were burned out in the Ontonagon fire on August 25, 1896, but the company was still cutting timber, decking the logs, making dams and floating their timber downstream to the mouth of the Ontonagon River. During the winter there was a camp north of Trout Creek.

The following information has been drawn from Ontonagon Herald entries regarding activity around Trout Creek.

November 27, 1897: The Diamond Match Co. have some fine camps built out on the east branch with about 45 men to work, but expect to add 20 more soon. They will drive their logs to Sidnaw, to be loaded onto cars and shipped to Green Bay. Geo. Schriv er has had charge of the company's business here and is carrying it on in a creditable manner. They will start to build another set of camps Thursday on the Little Sidnaw near the dam.

February 19, 1898: Charles Benning, foreman for Francis Bros., returned from Trout Creek on Tuesday, where he had been for the last six weeks superintending a camp which put in 800,000 feet of board timber and logs. The logs were sawed at the Trout Creek mill and the timber purchased by W. S. Prickett.

April 9, 1898: (Referring to Wilson D. Wing of Wingleton.) Mr. Wing has been manufacturing white pine lumber and shingles at Trout Creek, in the upper peninsula of Michigan for several years, the product of his mill in lumber last season being upwa rd of 25,000,000 feet.

November 5, 1898: Geo. Block of Trout Creek, who came over Thursday as messenger for the election ballots, informs us that the Trout Creek Lumber Company has finished their cut in that vicinity and have closed down their plant. A move is planned.

May 14, 1904: The Trout Creek Manufacturing Company's mills are kept humming and expect to work until late in the fall.

July 20, 1912: The three new saw mills, the Trout Creek Manufacturing Co., Weidman & Son Co., and DeLaittre and Anderson & Co., are all running full swing and cutting from 40 to 60 thousand feet per day. J. S. Weidman & Sons have just completed their new planing mill which has seven machines. Each mill has its own electric lighting plant, while the town is furnished with light from the George Hardes plant.

Township Officers




Andrew Miller (1897)Luke B. Conway (1889)George Black (1897)
E. Ryan (1898)John J. Anderson (1890-95)P. Taylor (1898)
William Robinson (1900)F. J. McLaughlin (1896-7)David McLaughlin (1900)
Herman Williams (1901)Leonard Nelson (1898)Judson Rosenberg (1901)
George Hardes (1902)William Oakley (1900)Charles Ellis (1902)
J.P.Webb (1903,8-9,15-16,18-19)William Oakley (1900)John O'Brien (1903)
C. T. Hughes (1904)Stephen Carroll (1901-2)Edward Balcomb (1904, 1922-23)
William Burlew (1905-6)J. H. Rosenberg (1903-4)Ezra Gingrich (1905-6, 1915-17)
Edward Balcomb (1907)J. P. Webb (1905, 13, 14, 21)Dave Gilders (1907)
O. H. Losey (1910, 13-14)William Pentland (1906)S. Nelson (1908-9)
Lew Myers (1911) George Hardes (1907-12, 15-17)H. Aslin (1910-11)
L. E. Vest (1912) Charles Ellis (1918-22)Ward K. Porter (1912-14)
W. K. Porter (1917) Clarence Singleton (1922-23)William Campbell (1918)
J. C. Vaughan (1920) Edward Cameron (1924-26, 30-31)Clarence Singleton (1920-21)
Mrs. E. Gingrich (1921)Adrian Hardes (1927)Paul Sliger (1924-26)
Hattie Ellis (1922-23)O. H. Losey (1928-29)John Ollila (1927-30, 1934-72)
LaVerne Porter (1924-25, 32-44)George Connors (1932-37)Lyle G. Cetchum (1931-33)
Ernest Dickson (1926)Duncan Cameron (1938-46)Aino Besonen (1973-78)
Percy Saxton (1927)John Wakevainen (1947-54, 57-62)Gertrude Leaf (1979-80)
Ina Saxton (1928-29)George Pelkola (1955-56, 63-72)Carol Harris (1981- )
Pearl Thompson (1930)Leslie F. Curtis (1973-78)
Lewis McDonald (1931)John Pelkola (1979- )
Andrew Ojala (1945-46)
Weikko Lakanen (1947-56)
Lina Anderson (1957-62)
Martin Keranen (1963-70)
John E. Pelkola (1971-74)
Arlene Olson (1975-83)
Kristine Hautamaki (1984-86)
Delores Peltola (1986- )

Railroad Station

Main Street looking north,
early 1900's

Town Hall

The old town hall, located on Railroad Street, was used for dances, basketball, and township business. The jail was in the rear of the building. (It may have also been the first schoolhouse as there are children In front of It in a picture Fred Lundberg f ound when he was demolishing a house behind the Duby Hotel.) One half of the building was taken down and the lumber used for a school garage. The remainder of the building burned down in the 1940's.

The Fire Department

Interior Township purchased a new fire truck in 1948; the same year, with the help of Bob Davidson, they organized a Fire Department, consisting of the following men:

Quite a few of the men dropped out after a few years. The Department has stayed constant at approximately 20 men.

    The following officers were appointed at the reorganization meeting in September 1964:
  1. Chief George Tooley
  2. Assistant Chief Weikko Lakanen
  3. Treasurer John Sjogren
  4. Secretary Toivo Kariainen. Ray Knivila retired from the Chief of the Fire Department position after 15 years.

    The current members of the Trout Creek Fire Department are:
  1. Gerald Perttula, Fire Chief
  2. Michael Silk, Assistant Chief
  3. John Peterson, Treasurer
  4. Bonnie Laitala, Secretary

Post Office

The current post office building was constructed around 1936 by J. C. Vaughan. Prior to this time the mail was handled in stores. The 1968 improvements to the building included running water, bathroom, and a furnace room. The original combination boxes we re replaced by lock boxes in the early 1970's.

Trout Creek Postmasters

Postmasters Appointment Date

Anton Marski December, 1888 Evangeline Blackman January, 1889 William Oakley September, 1890 John Hefferman August, 1894 William Oakley October, 1896 Judson Rosenberg July, 1901 George Hardes November, 1904 Victor Hardes February, 1915 John Vaughan March, 1935 Alice Thompson February, 1955 Doris DeVowe (officer in charge) June, 1975 James Greiser March - December 1977 (Transferred to Rural Carrier) Doris DeVowe (officer in charge) January, 1978 Faith Stenson July, 1979

Urho Heikkila was the rural carrier until his retirement at the end of 1977. James Greiser, of Ontonagon, was transferred to the rural carrier position at that time and continues today.

The Interior Township Civic Improvement Committee

The Interior Township Civic Improvement Committee was officially organized on February 14,1972, at a meeting held in the Trout Creek School. The officers elected were: Wesley Carlisle, Jr., President; Wilbert Perttula, Vice President; John B. Sjogren, Tre asurer; and Aino L. R. Besonen, Secretary. Hazel Sliger was appointed as reporter to newspapers and radio. When Carlisle moved from the area, Hazel Sliger was appointed President and held that position until her death in 1987.

Current officers are: Wilbert Perttula, President; Emmanuel Voigt, Vice President; John Sjogren, Treasurer; Lois Perttula, Secretary. Committee meetings are held on the second Monday of each month.

The committee's goal was to undertake improvement projects within the township. There were cleanup projects in the town; the ice rink building was painted; and the fences at the Agate and Trout Creek cemeteries were repaired and replaced with funds of the committee and voluntary labor. Renovation of the depot was undertaken by the C.I.C.

Agate Hall

The Trout Creek Temperance Society was organized in the South Agate area under the direction of Alex Pantti of Ishpeming on June 6, 1895. Eighteen members signed in, of which Mat Anderson was elected chairman; Gustaf Metsala, secretary; and Matt Saari, tr easurer. They joined the "Finnish National Temperance Brotherhood" on June 30, 1895, under the name "lltarusko" (Evening glow).

In September of 1896 they decided to erect a building for "cultural activities." The Christmas program was held in the newly constructed hall. The group met regularly, but because old members moving away, the organization held its final meeting in Trout C reek on October 21, 1900. It was later reorganized in the town of Herman by members who moved there.

The hall, besides being used for the Society's activities, was also used for worship services and Sunday school. It was built on the Herman Keranen property where the Agate Cemetery is located. This land tract was sold to Andrew Pulkas in 1902. The Kerane ns and work crew moved to the Skanee area to continue their logging enterprise. The town of "Herman" is reportedly named for him.

In 1917 the Temperance hall burned down in a forest fire that swept the area, burning Gabriel Besonen's buildings also. Insurance money was received for the hall. On May 5,1918, a public meeting was called for making plans to rebuild a hall. Since new set tlers were coming into the area, there was need for a meeting house. It was decided that the insurance money be deposited in a bank until a new building be erected. Henry Leinonen was willing to donate the land for the new building. Charles Kariainen woul d donate land for the road. The building size was also decided at the meeting but then there was some delay in the building process.

The new hall, after completion, was used for worship services by different church groups, Sunday School, funerals, social gatherings and dances. In the 1940's-1950's, when the highway department needed the land the building was on, it was dismantled by m embers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the materials were used in their church's renovation.


Trout Creek School 1914-1915

Trout Creek School 1930's

Little of Michigan was settled by 1850. The pioneers looked ahead in the early years toward a growing population and an education for these immigrants. Mining of copper and iron created settlements, bringing many ethnic groups who clung to their own becau se of the language barrier. Some churches established parochial schools where the native language was used. The population grew and the elementary schools became overcrowded. Few graduated however. Many dropped out in the 5th and 6th grades as boys had to work for their families. Some had to walk as much as five miles as did the teachers, who sought boarding places or else did drop out as many did. Until the consolidation with Trout Creek, many could not pursue a high school education as bus service was n ot available.

The country schools consolidated in the 1930-31 school year. There were three buses (which were black). One went north of town, one to the west on M-28, and the third took children to South Agate towards Calderwood. George Kuhn was the new superintendent; Frank Levine, the principal; with teachers Martha Ladd, Arthur Carlson, Freda Hertsgard, Ruth Westnedge, Elva Warner and Alton Kircher, who became the basketball coach. Mr. Levine left in 1937, succeeded by Mr. Hadrich. When Mr. Kuhn left, Hadrich and He irman became superintendent and principal, respectively. Other superintendents were Stegena, Ivan Brown, Andrew Johnson, Warren Nabor, and Walisiewicz. Bruce Warren became superintendent in 1955-56 with John Chlebowski as principal. Donald R. Olson was pr incipal in 1961-62, was full-time administrator in 1968-69, and elementary principal at Trout Creek until the present time. (Before the country schools consolidated with Trout Creek, Mr. C. F. Butterfield was one of the superintendents who visited the var ious schools periodically.)

Secretaries to the administrator have included Margaret Besonen, Veronica Nardi, Mary Jane Suhonen, Aino Besonen, and currently, Kristine Hautamaki.

Teachers to remember include: Kashinski, Bessolo, Vivian Moore, Marjorie King, Tulgeski, Marie Nousiainen, Eleanor Biekkola, Kohlenberger, LaVoie, and a little later, Hazel Sliger, Lydia McDonald, Elsie Lepola, Fred Trembley, Helena Martinkewiz, Mary Wood worth, Zelda McLaughlin, Vivian Kennedy, Arne Kortema, John Kaare, Reuben Mehring, Clara Beauprey, Jim Wallin, Terry Allis, Clara Fink, Tom Nilsson, Marie Dissmore, Florence Nordine, Selda Klein, Robert Knincke, John H. Ollila, and John Pelkola.

Some of the cooks who prepared the delicious meals every day were Bessie Hale, Naima Aho, Altha Tooley, Mrs. Anna Backa, Lydia Hill, Mrs. Staff, Lauretta Sliger, Reva Johnson, and Elvi Olgren. The present cooks are Katherine Moilanen and Hilda Hautamaki .

The local custodians helping to keep the school clean and warm have included Helen Cottenham, Rose Manning, Ben Manning, Andrew Besonen, Donald McLaughlin, Leonard St. Onge, and currently Dianna Maki and David Gustafson. Keeping the buses "ready to r oll" each morning and night have been local mechanics Uno Heikkala, Russ Parratta, Toivo Kariainen, and currently, Peter Thompson, all of whom were certified bus drivers. Today there are ten buses traveling over 1,135 miles daily within the Ewen-Trou t Creek school system.

Students and faculty shared fun and hard work with the year books, proms, homecomings, class trips, 4-H Clubs, Boy Scouts, Halloween parties, Christmas programs, safety patrol duty, achievement day, and best of all kindergarten and high school graduations . Trout Creek freshman classes were generally large, amounting to 30 or more students, but by graduation, class size often decreased. There were only 11 graduates in 1935 and 1937; 10 in 1938 and 1939; and only 8 in 1962. The last graduating class at the Trout Creek School was in 1967 and consisted of 11 students.

The Trout Creek School consolidated with the Ewen Schools during the 1967-68 school year, forming the Ewen-Trout Creek Consolidated School District. The Ewen School became the High School; Trout Creek became the Middle and Elementary School. All kindergar ten students traveled to the Bruce Crossing school until it closed, which then made it necessary for the little children to attend the Paynesville School.

The 1974-75 school year brought more changes. The Paynesville School closed. All elementary and kindergarten classes were at the Trout Creek School and the 7th and 8th grade students attended classes at the high school building in Ewen. To accommodate the increased enrollment in Trout Creek, many changes were necessary within the building. The shop and home economics rooms became elementary classrooms; the study hall was divided into two rooms, one as a classroom and the other for the special education pr ogram. The biggest change occurred when the stage in the gym was enclosed to serve as the art room; the library became the Title I Reading room. The library books were placed in the individual grades for their reading needs.

During the 1984-85 school year, the Bergland School found itself with financial problems and voted to annex to the E-TC Schools, with more changes to follow. Bergland became an elementary school, so a portion of the elementary school from E-TC was transfe rred to that school, leaving only 150 students at the Trout Creek School.

More recent teachers to remember are: Alice Wojtysiak, Margaret Hammond, Lola Jaakkola, Betty Nilsson, Rachel Besonen, Robert Franti, Gail Halligan, Peter Heidemann, Evald Lindemann, Mary Jane Madden, James Sandborn, Gerald Leaf, Nancy Leaf, Toni Applekam p, Toni Szymanski, Marilyn Bailey, Mary Ojala, Alice Perttunen, Gerald Perttunen, Rudy Perhalla, Brian Veale, and Janet Stenfors. The current Ewen-Trout Creek School District superintendent is Ray Rigoni and the principal at the Ewen school is Russell Bai ley.

Country Schools

Calderwood School
Beginning around 1912, there was an eight-grade country school in Calderwood. Little is available as to its history. Some of the families who had children attending were Haggerty, Gunderman, McMeekan, and the Walter and Oswald Swanson brothers. Teachers a t the Calderwood School included Hugh Harris, Gullins, and Morgan.

North Agate School
The North Agate School was located about a mile north of Agate in the immediate area of the Wiitanen and Sjogren farms. It was built in the early 1900's. It was heated by a wood stove; water was carried by pail from the neighboring homes. The children wal ked many miles, rain or shine, and carried their lunches in paper sacks or lard pails. A patriotic song was sung to start the day. The girls had their games at recess; some boys had stilts and they played ball. Sleds were popular during the winter. There weren't telephones. If someone was hurt or got ill, they stayed in school until dismissal and then got a ride on a sled for home. There were many teachers even in a year's time; commuting was always on foot. John Ollila had to walk from his farm, but the next and last teacher, Evelyn (Lehto) Ojanen lived nearby. Some of the teachers were: Ida Demolin (first teacher), John Wakevainen, Florence Barrows, Asa Gross, Fannie Kyllonen, Beulah Roxbury, John Fitzgerald, Clarence Ross, Nellie Hautamaki, Walter Hahn , Hector Robinson, and perhaps others. For Thanksgiving and Christmas there were plays and the parents came to watch. Academically, the students did well and fared well when entering the Trout Creek School in 1930.

North Agate School -- 1914

Front L to R: John Wiitanen, Robert Leinonen, John Hattula, Naima Aho, Saima Heliin;
2nd: William Lakanen, Arla Ollila, Jack Hietala, Otto Ollila, John Ollila, Bill Wiitanen, Jack Leinonen;
3rd: Sally Wakevainen, Waino Kananen, Hilia Wiitanen, Elsie Kananen;
4th: Anita Hattula, Tekla Lindell, Linda Hietala, Kathryn Heliin, Esther Hietala, Niilo Lakanen;
Teacher: Aune Kyllonen

South Agate School
The South Agate School was erected about two miles south of Agate, which was donated by the Andersons. This school was destroyed by fire but a new school was built on the same spot. With consolidation in 1930, the children were transported to Trout Creek. The first bus driver was Ben Nappa. The vacant school was purchased later by Charles Kariainen, who later converted it into a very cozy home for his family in Agate. Some of the known teachers are: Mabel Freed Plansky, Vivian Moore, Eleanor Biekkola Nara ns, Florence Gorst Pulkinskas, Miss McFadden, Sophie Martti, Mr. Chapman, Lucille Holland, and Gus Lunday (the last two being the last teachers before the merger).The school was attended by youth from Agate Siding before the North Agate School was built. The Santeri Aho and John Gronvall children attended before the Calderwood School was built. (These two families came from Ishpeming in 1917.)

Falls Siding School

The Falls Siding School held about 25 students and was heated by a wood stove. Some of the teachers were Marian Hardes, Raymond A. Raymond, and Arthur Ruff. The students were taken on nature walks and for picnics at the river, a particular pleasure for th e children. A student remembers going straight through the present Wakevainen's field to the river, a place they called Fassness. At Christmas time the children took part in skits or plays and decorated the school. At recess they made tunnels under the sn ow. A gentleman named Mr. Hamel came to the school and passed out toys to the boys and girls. The girls got cupid dolls and the boys got jackknives. They called him Santa Claus. (Mrs. Florence Merila Hautamaki submitted this material. Her mother bought th e schoolhouse on October 8,1930. A neighbor made the partitions and stairs so that space could be used by the family. Mrs. Merila's receipt was signed by O. H. Losey, Board of Education. Teachers at the Agate Falls School from 1913 to 1930: Anna Cosgrove, 1913; Mary Royal, Ruth Fergustan, Effie Horn, Mary Urbus, Charlotte Munson, Lydia Halverson, Tynne Nousiainen, Lydia Biekkola, Arthur Ruff,1922; Hector Robinson, Donald Hillier, Marian Hardes, John Ollila, Raymond, Robert Baulinger, Lucille Holland, 1930 .

Country School Teachers

Evelyn Ojanen and John Ollila, Teachers North Agate School, Late Twenties

John H. Ollila, Jr.:
John graduated from the Trout Creek High School and received his teaching certificate from Marquette Normal in 1921. He began his teaching at the Syria School in Stannard Township, then went on to the Agate Falls Siding, North Agate, Kenton, and Trout Cre ek Schools. Through the Adult Education Program, John taught English to assist those desiring to gain citizenship papers and a Finnish language class.

Evelyn (Lehto) Ojanen:
Evelyn Lehto graduated at Rockland in 1924 and attended Ontonagon County Normal in 1925. She was married in 1926 and began teaching at the Woodspur School, nine miles from Rockland. She taught at the North Agate School for three years; 1929-30 being her l ast when the country school closed. She then taught grades K-8 at the Perch School, near Sidnaw, for her final two years. She taught the Finnish language through the Community Schools Adult Education Program.

Vivian Moore:
Miss Moore attended the Collins School, Bruce Crossing, in her earlier years and graduated from Michigamme in 1921. She received her teaching certificate from Northern Normal and began teaching grades K-8 at the South Agate School in 1922. She taught at T rout Creek for 12 years, Paynesville for 28 years, and at Bruce Crossing before retiring in 1966 after 44 years of teaching.

Hazel (McLaughlin) Sliger:
Hazel McLaughlin attended school in Chassell, graduating in 1921. She attended a summer teacher training program that same year and began teaching grades K-8 at Trout Creek's North School, five miles north of town. She taught at the Trout Creek School in 1922 before marrying Paul Sliger. She was a substitute teacher at the Calderwood School until returning to full-time teaching at the Trout Creek School in 1944. She retired from this position in 1967.

Senior Citizens' Nutrition Program

The Senior Citizens' Nutrition Program in Trout Creek came into being on May 1, 1977, and is served in the lower level of the Trinity Lutheran Church. There were 153 people who shared in the Opening Meal.

The food was cooked on location until around 1984 when the Centralized Kitchen in Ewen was developed. Local cooks here were Ann Stein, Kathleen Besonen, and Delores Peltola. Ellen Tahtinen was the Kitchen Aide for many years. The average attendance ran 65 congregate before the "merger." Meals are served twice a week and attendance these days averages from 25 to 40. The home delivered meals are an important service, especially in the winter.

Aili Pouttu was the Site Manager at the program's beginning in 1977. Lydia Helsius took over this position in 1978 and remains there today. In her absence, Signe Anderson subs.

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Created by Lynn V. Boston. Last update 24-Feb-1997.