By Roger Duval
I have spent over a year compiling information needed to write this article. As you will see, my history story takes a turn at the end. Over the years I have tried to use history to try and convey an appreciation of our lake and to protect it for those who will come after us. The candidates that I have chosen were selected based upon their story as to why they feel their home qualifies as the oldest.
The first owners of Bald Eagle Lake date to August 2, 1837 when the part of the lake near Glass Road then south on M-15 was deeded to Nelson Clark. The part from there to and along Allen Rd. was deeded on August 12, 1837 to James Farlin. The part of the lake on the other side of the island was deeded on October 1, 1855 to Sylvester Markham. The south part of the lake was not deeded to David Croop until June 6, 1889 as it was most likely occupied by squatters prior to this date. So it appears that the lake developed in stages with the island and the south end by Bald Eagle Lake Road being the last to have buildings.
1886 Ortonville Road
Frances Wills was born in Ortonville and spent her summer childhood on Bald Eagle Lake. The cottage was owned by her Uncle Chancey and Aunt Luna Frick. In the old days people named their cottages. The name of the Frick’s place was called “Cosy Cove Cottage”. Frances provided a picture taken with a 1931 Essex parked out front. Assuming the cottage was at least ten years old when the picture was taken would make it at least 90 years old. As you can see from the pictures there were substantial improvements made over the years.
1928 Ortonville Road
Before Ken Bush moved into the village he lived on the lake. He is now a member of the Ortonville Historical Society and has provided some very detailed facts about his former residence. Part of the house has logs for floor joists and the roof boards in the attic are rough sawn one inch thick and some are over 30 inches wide, quite uncommon in most modern construction in over 50 years. There is a record of this house on the lake in 1930s so it is at least 75 years old.
2408 Allen Road
Marv and Marilyn Featherstone lived in the village for many years and rented their cottage to teachers who needed a place to live in our off-season. They purchased their cottage in 1967. It was built in 1925 by a stone mason that was building the fire places in the Dodge Mansion. It is now referred to as Meadowbrook Hall and is famous for the Christmas displays and holiday parties. Bill Turner, the stone mason, built this house and used leftover material given to him from the mansion. During the years of construction the island was uninhabited and was totally wooded. Bald Eagles made their home on the island until it was developed. I calculate the age of this home to be 84 years old.
The oldest house is not the oldest house!
Based upon the previous descriptions and oral history you would be inclined to assume that 1886 Ortonville is the oldest house.
As I said at the beginning of this article history takes a turn at the end. Ken Bush stated that at one time the house at 1928 Ortonville was owned by James Arnold. But the maps of 1872, 1876 and 1908 show that the property owned by Mr. Arnold was on the opposite side of Ortonville Road and not on the lake. Even if was built when the 1908 map was published it would be over 100 years old.
Now the twist:
During the 1930s Frances Wills actually observed the house, 1928 Ortonville, being moved across the road in 1930. The oldest house on the lake was never built on the lake.