Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company’s Many Businesses

The Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, or CCI, is well-known for its domination of the local iron mining industry and its involvement in related industries such as lumber, furnaces, and railroads. However, it also diversified into a variety of other areas.

Grand Island Forest Preserve was one company operated by CCI. Its annual reports include exact details as to how many of each species were added to the preserve. It described weather conditions and deaths in the populations, sometimes going into detailed stories about how a particular bird or deer died. CCI also owned a fish hatchery which went into similar detail about its fish populations, albeit without describing the deaths of individual fish. One report from the greenhouses describes their desire to raise more carnations and roses as these were the most popular types of flowers and describes which flowers and shrubs were more and less popular. In another report, it is briefly mentioned that CCI also owned a tannery, paper mills, and a hotel. From the Annual Reports, it would seem a very close watch was kept over every aspect of the companies affiliated with CCI.

Notable events were also recorded in the reports. For instance, the Forest Preserve notes that “One of the gamekeepers shot a very fine specimen of albino deer. It is practically a pure albino, large and of a very fine color, with a good set of antlers. The carcass has been sent to Chicago for mounting, and will be added to the collection of curios.

CCI played a large role in shaping the development of towns such as Munising and Gwinn. They tried to control every aspect of the towns, including what businesses were allowed there. For instance, in 1911 the author of the report wrote of Munising “The general welfare of the town appears to be slowly improving. It will take some time and constant effort to eradicate many of the evils of the past. The saloon element still has its influence and many of the business men are afraid to do their part in compelling law enforcement and a general bettering of conditions. The Village Council took matter into their own hands in 1911 and eliminated seven of the less desirable saloons and this work is still to be further pushed in 1912.”

They were also involved in less intrusive charity work. In 1908, they gave money to local fire departments, rented a YMCA building for Munising, and paid to create a playground in Munising. They were also involved in projects such as improving Munising’s streets.

CCI owned a great deal of land, and they were clearly skilled at getting profits from the land in any way that they could think of. Some land was rented as homes, lots, or farms. Other land produced everything from hay, berries, limestone, and timber to game animals and fish.

Perhaps CCI’s most intriguing company was Bellevue Farms. The farm raised sheep, pigs, goats, and sugar beets. However, the cows received the most attention in the Annual Reports, where each was listed by name. Most of the cows had fairly typical bovine names, such as Bessie and Buttercup, but some had names such as Tormentor, Smut, and Tutsie. The reports listed how much milk each cow produced, how much it was fed, its age, and its breed.

These are only a handful of the stories that can be found in the reports. The Archives has digitized many of the CCI records, including the Annual Reports. They can be found online here. More records from the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company can be perused at the Archives.

cows - Copy

Prepared by Annika Peterson


The Second Most Famous Marquette County Murder?

You have probably heard of the murder of a tavern owner in Big Bay which inspired John Voelker’s famous book Anatomy of a Murder and a later movie of the same name starring James Stewart. But, you may not have heard of another murder case worked by Voelker which was perhaps more widely known at the time of its occurrence.

On October 20, 1936, game warden Andrew Kivela CaseSchmeltz was on patrol duty with a friend. He decided to investigate rumors that he had heard of illegal traps in the area. When he had not returned by dusk, his friend became concerned and reported Schmeltz missing. Police soon arrived to look for Schmeltz, but gave up at midnight as it was too dark to investigate much. As they were leaving, they heard a dynamite blast. Schmeltz’s friend remained in the area and heard two more dynamite blasts that night.

The next morning, two men discovered pieces of flesh, a spine, 2 legs, uniform pieces, underwear, dynamite powder, and bits of scalp and intestine near Pickett’s Lake in Negaunee. They determined that it was, indeed, the missing game warden Andrew Schmeltz who had apparently been murdered and then dynamited in order to destroy evidence of the crime.

Police soon arrested Raymond Kivela for the crime as dynamite found in his house matched the dynamite at the crime scene. Kivela confessed to the crime but claimed that he only shot Schmeltz because he thought that Schmeltz was a partridge. After realizing that he had killed a human being, he dragged the body into the swamp and returned later that to dispose of it using seventy sticks of dynamite.

Investigators suspected that the murder was in fact planned. Schmeltz, the strictest local conservation officer, was known to have enemies among illegal trappers, and Kivela was known to be an illegal trapper with a temper. Eventually, Kivela admitted that he had met Schmeltz in the woods. Schmeltz had inquired as to whether or not Kivela had a permit to carry a gun, and, after learning that he did not, told Kivela that he would have to arrest him. Kivela then struck Schmeltz and shot him twice.

Kivela claimed that he was insane at the time of the murder, but the court was not convinced. He was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. There, his mental health deteriorated and he was found to be a schizophrenic. Years later, he claimed that he only tearfully confessed because he was too drunk to realize the implications of what he was saying and that he did not really commit the murder. As an old man in a mental hospital, he seemed unaware of why he had ever been imprisoned at all.

The sensationalistic nature of the case meant that articles about it appeared across the country in places as far away as Louisiana, Missouri, and New York City. Many compared it to a Marquette County murder ten years previous of two game wardens who had been killed by a man angry at his arrest for illegally shooting a deer. Their bodies had been attached to bricks and thrown into Lake Superior, where they were later found.

Prepared by Annika Peterson

UFOs and Computerized Dating: Newspaper Topics at NMU in the Mid-1960s

Throughout the northwind logoyears, the student newspaper creates a picture of what the times were like for both NMU students and the country in general. While looking for the article in the microfilm records from the mid-1960s, we ran across some other fascinating incidents from the time period and thought that we would share them with you.

Many of the concerns of Northern’s students at the time were about issues at a national scale. The newspapers featured many satirical articles about current events, especially political campaigns and Vietnam. Whether or not eighteen year olds should be given the right to vote was a topic that the newspapers covered heavily, often using the famous argument that if an eighteen year old could fight for their country in Vietnam then they should have the right to elect their representatives. As one might predict, the tone of the newspaper suggests that most students supported the enfranchisement of eighteen year olds.

The ads and articles run in the newspaper also reflect the topics which NMU students were interested in during the 1960s. For instance, there were advertisements about a recorded lecture which Northern students could purchase that discussed the topic of whether or not putting LSD in sugar cubes would spoil the taste of coffee. The ad urged students to “Know the Truth” and “Hear the Facts” and also promised to discuss the “Five Levels of Consciousness Expansion”. There were also advertisements for a book entitled “1001 Ways to Beat the Draft”. One article at the time questioned whether or not the “Beatles cult” had become a religion.

Another topic of interest in Northern’s newspaper in 1966 and 1967 involved something created at MIT and Harvard—the Contact computerized dating program.  Phi Alpha Gamma, an honorary journalism fraternity at the time, offered to give students a questionnaire which would then be run through a computer named Eros that would give them their best dating match across campus. It could even be expanded to tell them their best date in the entire country. The article advertised that this process cost only $3 and encouraged students to apply now and “avoid the Christmas rush”. In January of 1967, another article was run on the same topic stating that because such interest had been shown in the program, there would now be a “computer dance” later that month for students to attend with their dates.

The Northern News also featured dramatic incidents such as UFO sightings. In October of 1966, one front page article stated that “three NMU students on their way for a midnight pizza Wednesday spotted a flashing triangular shaped object high in the sky above the Olson Library”. They reportedly watched the objects for over an hour with “awe and disbelief”. A security officer passing by them also saw the lights. The students contacted another NMU student who was a member of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena and he informed them that no star, constellation, or any other space object was supposed to be in that location. The newspaper even featured a depiction of what the lights supposedly looked like.

This is only a limited snippet of what the NMU newspapers of the mid-1960s discussed. By simply browsing through any era of the newspaper, curious, fascinating, and informative stories can be stumbled upon.

Prepared by Annika Peterson