Druids, Railroads, and Real Estate: New Collections at the Archives

The limited amount of patrons in the summertime makes it a good time for processing new collections. Here are just a few of the collections that we have finished processing recently:

United Ancient Order of Druids, Negaunee Grove No. 3 Records

The Druids were a national fraternal organization with a branch in Negaunee that existed from 1913 to 1997. It supported members and their families in the case of sickness, injury, or death. As with many fraternal organizations, the members were all male (although women could join auxiliary circles) and had to be between 18 and 50 and of “good moral character” in order to join. If a member’s injury, sickness, or death was their own fault due to drunkenness or starting a fight, they did not receive benefits from the society.

Though the Ancient Order of Druids began in Britain, in the United States they were typically a German and Scandinavian fraternal society. In Negaunee, however, almost all members were Italian. In fact, until the 1950s, the local chapter kept all of its records in Italian.

The collection has membership and cash books, a constitution and by-laws, a book of minutes, and a book detailing the secret ceremonies of the society.

Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company Records

This collection has tax assessment records from the 1960s through the 1980s, brochures from the 1960s, and newspaper and magazine articles about the company. Chicago and Northwestern ran from 1859 to 1995, and its lines extended from the Midwest to the West Coast. Locally, it ran though Ishpeming, Negaunee, Escanaba, Crystal Falls, Calumet, Ironwood, and more.

Below is a map of their lines:

North Western Railway Map

Earl H. Closser Papers

Earl Closser was a real estate appraiser and broker. His papers contain appraisals of land in the Upper Peninsula as well as in the Lower Peninsula and Wisconsin. He created many of the appraisals during the expansion of highways in the UP in the 1950s and 1960s. The appraisals have photographs of the land as well as general descriptions of what various communities in the UP were like at the time. 

The Archives also recently acquired the papers of Closser Associates, Earl Closser’s real estate company. However, these papers are currently still unprocessed.

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