The Local History Gallery
For the White Lake Area

Website & Imaging: Jerry Grady     Research: Barb Brow


Homes Vintage Images - Page1


The picture of the house is undated. The people standing on the porch are unidentified. It is believed that the house was located on Division.

Lyman Townsend Covell was one of twelve children born in 1835 to Calvin & Elizabeth (Coleman) Covell of Ridgebury, Pennsylvania. In September, 1859, he left Pennsylvania and traveled to the White Lake area where he joined his brother Andrew J., who had come three years earlier. Together they went into the lumber business.

In 1862, a brother-in-law, Joseph Hinchman, came to Whitehall and joined the Covell brothers to form Hinchman & Covell in 1865. Due to illness, Hinchman sold out his interest to H.E. Staples and the firm changed its name to Staples & Covell. The firm operated a boarding house in town for their men and had a number of camps up the river. L.T. tried his hand at all phases of the lumbering business. He was a camp cook, an axe man, drove an ox team, rode logs, and managed the mill. In 1897, Covell purchased the Staples interest in the mill and ran the business by himself until 1911 when it permanently shut down.

He married Eunice Hobler in 1866. They had 2 sons: George E. (1867-1954), who became president of the State Bank of Whitehall; and Frank H. (1869-1928), who was the manager of the L. T. Covell firm. Lyman died in 1916. His wife Eunice died in 1926. They are buried in Oakhurst Cemetery.

Lyman T Covell





George Covell


George Ellery Covell was born in Whitehall in October 1867 to Lyman T. and Eunice (Hobler) Covell. He graduated from Whitehall HS in 1885 and attended a Grand Rapids college for a year. Upon his return to town, he joined his father and brother Frank in the lumber business. He married Clara McCulloch in Grand Rapids in November 1895. They had a daughter Helen. In 1906, George left the lumber business and became a cashier in the local bank. He remained in banking, succeeding his uncle Mark B. Covell as president of the State Bank, a position he held until his death in 1954. Mrs. Covell died in 1953.

The George Covell house which was located on Mears was razed around 1965 to make room for what was then Muskegon Bank and Trust. The bank name has changed several times since then and is now PNC Bank (in 2020)


C C Johnson

C.C. Johnson

Charles C. Johnson was born in Sweden in 1844. He came to Whitehall in 1867. He tried his hand at saw milling but it did not agree with his health, so he bought some land in the Fruitland area and went to work for himself. He married Flora Belle Stockwell in Whitehall in 1878; they had three children: a son and two daughters.

By 1910 he had moved back to Whitehall and became the owner and manager of Whitehall Milling Company, which eventually moved to Muskegon and became Johnson Milling Company.

Charles died in May 1920. His wife Flora died in October 1923. They are both buried in Oakhurst Cemetery.

The following newspaper item from August 4, 1904, gives details of the Johnson’s new house which was built in the Bunkerhill area (according to an item about the foundation being laid which appeared on the same date.)


Clarence Grant (C.G.) Pitkin was born in Ypsilanti in 1867, attended school there, and apprenticed in his brother’s pharmacy store. He managed a drug store in Stockbridge and Charlotte before coming to Whitehall in 1887 at the peak of the lumber era. Here he managed a drug store owned by the Covells, which was located in the area where the former Masonic Temple building now stands. This drug store was destroyed in the fire of 1890. Clarence then purchased the stock and fixtures that remained and opened a drug store where Pitkin’s Posh shop is now. In 1894, he purchased the Conley Drug Store which was located at the site of the present Pitkin’s Drug Store.

On September 30, 1891, Clarence G. and Anna Marie Knudsen were united in marriage at the home of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Staples. Following the wedding, they moved into their first home on Division. At some point, they moved into this house on Mears. They had two children: a son Clarence E. and a daughter Evalyn. In 1917, C. G. sold the pharmacy business to his son Clarence E. Pitkin. Mrs. Pitkin died in 1953 and C. G. died in 1957 at the age of 89 years.



Fred McGuire

The J. F. McGuire name has appeared in the local area newspapers since around 1903. John Frederick McGuire was born in Chicago in 1868. He began his business career as an office boy working for Wilson Brothers, a men’s furnishings shop in Chicago before entering the real estate and loan business in 1889. He went into business for himself in 1897 forming the firm of McGuire, Orr and Wilson. Wilson retired after 6 months and the name was changed to McGuire & Orr.

Fred married Sarah Reed in Riverside, IL, in 1888; they had two children. He was involved in the reorganization of the White Lake Yacht Club in 1907.

In 1912, Walter J. McGuire, son of J. Fred, became associated with the firm his father founded following the death of Mr. Orr that year.

Fred’s wife Sarah died in 1929; Fred died in 1943.



Before 1909


Hayward Park was an early 1900’s summer Boarding House originally operated by Ambrose D. Hayward, for whom it was named. He was born in Maine in 1825; married Martha Wiley in 1851 in Massachusetts; and together they had eight children. They were living in Chicago in 1856, and as he was in the lumber business, he maintained a close business relationship with Whitehall, having extensive dealings with the Covell brothers and interest in one of the mills. Ambrose bought land in the White Lake area in 1860 and eventually created Hayward Farm.

Following his death in 1910, and that of his wife in 1912, Ambrose’ oldest daughter Martha Jennie and her husband William Garber continued to operate the White Lake resort hotel known as Hayward Park. Prior to coming to the area, Garber was in the grocery business in Lyons, Illinois. He was born in NY in 1843; married Martha Jennie Hayward in Chicago in 1888; and they had two sons and two daughters. Wm. Garber died in 1932 and his wife Jennie Hayward Garber died in 1939.


Hayward Park


Ambrose Hayward

William E. Osmun was born November 18, 1850, in Ithaca, NY. He was schooled in the East and studied law at Cornell University for two years before coming to Michigan in 1880. He settled in Shelby and started a newspaper known as the Enterprise, which he published for three years. In 1886 he disposed the paper and came to Montague, where he started another newspaper called the Boomer, which was in competition with the Montague Lumberman. He married Mary Windeknecht in August 1886; together they raised his daughter Winnie. In 1889, Osmun gave up the Boomer to concentrate on his law practice. In 1901, Osmun bought ten acres of land boardering on White Lake and Coon Creek where he built his house that became known as “Seven Gables”. He served as President of the Village of Montague for seven terms and was Postmaster from 1897-1904. He died in November 1929. His wife died in March, 1951, in California at the home of her step-daughter.


W E Osmun

Ben Mac Dhui
Ben Mac Dhui was the summer retreat of Chicago faith healer John Alexander Dowie and his family. He purchased his White Lake estate in September 1897 from James & Peter Dalton. Originally known as “Grey Gables” it was better known as the “old Dalton place”, and was built in 1870. Dowie paid $10,000 for the 80 acres with frontage on White Lake, and made many improvements to both the house and property over the years. In 1902, an electric power plant was built to furnish power and later a pumping station was added to supply the property with water. This was done some years before Montague had electric lights and city water. In 1904, Dowie added to his land holdings by purchasing the neighboring property owned by T. J. Hudson as well as a resort property owned by E. S. Douglas known as “The Oaks”.

Dowie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1847. He moved to South Australia with in parents in 1860 but returned to Scotland in 1868 to study theology. Returning to Australia in 1876, he married his cousin Jane Dowie and they had three children: A. J. Gladstone (1877-1945), Jeanie (1879-1885), and Esther (1881-1902). They moved to the U.S. in 1888 and settling in Illinois where, in 1900, he bought 10 square miles of lakefront land north of Chicago and founded Zion, Illinois. In 1901, construction began on a 25 room mansion known as “Shiloh House” in Zion City, which became the main residence of the Dowie family. It is then that Dowie proclaimed himself “Elijah the Restorer” and began to wear High-Priestly robes.

In 1905 Dowie suffered several strokes from which he never fully recovered and died in March 1907at the age of 60 years. It is then that the family learned that the estate was bankrupt. His wife Jane and son Gladstone tried to maintain Ben Mac Dhui for a time and operated it as a summer resort. In 1912, foreclosure proceedings were brought against the estate for mortgage, principle and interest in the amount of $9,823.89. In the Spring of 1914, Mrs. Dowie and Gladstone left the area for Oklahoma and the house was put up for sale. Jane returned to Illinois where she died in March 1933 and is buried beside her husband. Their house in Illinois has been restored and now serves as the headquarters of the Zion Historical Society and the Zion Historical Museum.

Between 1915 and 1938, several people either leased or owned the Ben Mac Dhui property, including Al Pack. There were years when the house stood empty and vandals broke the windows and doors and tore boards from the porches. The plumbing had been removed and the fine old tiles in the master bathroom were smashed. Finally in 1945, it was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Adolph Struven who owned the house until May 1948 when it was completely destroyed by fire. The estate has since been subdivided and the site of the Dowie house is now owned by Oxy Chemical Company .


Frank M. Crane - was a retired Division Manager for Montgomery Wards who came to the Montague area in 1921. The house is also known as "Valley View".


Frank M Crane

W D McKey

Ellergill By The Lake, Summer Home of W. D. McKey

In November, 1894, it was announced in the local newspaper that Chicago resident W. D. McKey had purchased ten acres next to the Douglas property on which he would be erecting an $8,000 cottage in the Spring of 1895.

William Davis McKey was born in Janesville, WI in 1853. He, along with Charles M. Poague, co-founded McKey & Poague, a real estate service company in Chicago in 1889. McKey was also the president of Woodlawn Trust & Savings bank as well a founder of the Washington Park bank, both of Chicago.

William married Grace Appleton; they had a son (who died as an infant) and three daughters. He died November 11, 1915, at the age of 61 years. She died in July 1924.

A 1900 map of the local area shows property listed to W. D. McKey and several other McKey families near the old Dowie estate.

The McKey home of Ellergill is now knows as the Timbers. It was previously owned by the Sturtevants, Dunhams, Smiths and Kurlands. It was operated at the Timbers Resort by the Smiths and Kurlands from 1952-1983.


E B McKey

Edward Boulger McKey was born in Janesville, WI, in 1853. He went to Chicago in 1888 from Janesville where he has been engaged in the dry goods business with a cousin. In Chicago he was active in the real estate business and well known as a receiver and trustee. E. B. married Zoe Strong Gross in Chicago in 1878 and they had nine children: five daughters and four sons. He died in Chicago in August 1902 at the age of 49 years. His wife died in July 1924.

The E. B. McKey name appeared on a local area map from 1900, along with other McKey family names, in an area near the Dowie estate. In July 1915, an item appeared in the Montague Observer indicating that Clyde Blain, of Chicago, had purchased the E. B. McKey cottage on the lake shore.

Lewis House






Summer Home of J. W. Fordney

Joseph Warren Fordney was born on a farm in Hartford City, IN, in November 1853. He became interested in lumber business when his family moved to Saginaw when he was around 16 years old. He worked various job in the lumber business learning the trade. He received the backing of a capitalist, eventually adding lumber mills and yards to his holdings. He was also credited with the development of the Michigan sugar beet industry.

In 1873 he married Cathern Harren; they had nine children. Fordney was one of Michigan’s leading citizens and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the Michigan 8th District for March 1899 – March 1923.

In 1907, then U.S. Congressman Joseph W. Fordney built his 5-bedroom summer home in the San Juan Association in Montague at a reported cost of $8,000. In 2018, when the house was listed for sale, the asking price was $799,000. The house received the White Lake Historical Society Award in 2007.

Fordney died in Saginaw, MI, in January 1932 at the age of 78 years. His wife died there in 1934 at the age of 80 years. His summer home was then sold in 1936 to Dr. & Mrs. H. M. Grimson of Chicago, one of several owners in the home’s history.


White Ledge

F G Allen

White Ledge, the summer home of Frank Gates Allen of Moline, Illinois, was built in 1904 on Scenic Drive near Michillinda Beach, high on the bluff overlooked Lake Michigan. It was reported that the home contained more than dozen rooms, including a living room 22 X 45 feet, and was equipped with all the modern conveniences of a city house. The interior of the house was beautifully decorated and fully furnished . All the building materials were brought here by boat and hauled up the sand track which then existed along White Lake. An article that appeared the Muskegon Chronicle on 21 Aug 1904, reported the estimated the cost of the building and grounds was $40,000.

F. G. Allen was born in Aurora, Illinois, in 1858. He married Minnie Stephens in 1882; they had a daughter Marjorie. He was president and general manager of the Moline Plow Company, president of the Moline State Trust & Savings Bank, and a thirty-third degree Mason. Mrs. Allen died in 1933 and F. G. Allen died in 1940.


Blair Cottage

Homes Vintage Images - Page1