CHAMPION - The Champion/Beacon/Humboldt Historical Society was founded in 2006, and has about 100 members.
Approximately 60 members are Michigan residents, and only 18 of those members actually have a Champion address.
The society is in the process of winding down its research for the society's archives and book projects, and is seeking any historical photos or stories that members and non-members alike would be willing to submit.
This is the 1947 Humboldt Kelvinators baseball team. Baseball was a popular pastime in western Marquette county since the early mining days. Beginning in the 1940s, the Humboldt teams led by Bill Koski, the local high school principal and basketball coach, were very successful in several leagues, including winning the two-division Interstate League Championship in 1946. (CBHHS photo courtesy of Elaine Holmgren)
Pictured is Gary, Doc, and Tony Hamel during a horse pull in Champion in 1982. According to CBHSS President Don Mikkola, Champion has been labeled as the “horse-pulling capital of the U.P.” From the earliest years, there have been teamsters in the local communities working at the mines, logging, or farming. Beginning in the 1940s, a number of local citizens had pairs of pulling horses and were competing in Wisconsin with some success. On one trip south in 1956, the locals were challenged to hold a contest in Champion, and did about three weeks later. Since then, the event has been held annually. (CBHHS photo courtesy of Gary Hamel).
"The creation of the archive would permit folks in the future to find information on ancestors or the region in general," CBHHS president Don Mikkola said.
He said that they have been "beating the bushes" as much as possible to gather any link to the area that people may have not had a place to submit to before the society began.
According to Mikkola, Champion and the surrounding areas were settled during the middle of the Civil War, largely in connection with the search and exploration of iron ore that had spread from its discovery in Negaunee in 1844.
By the 1890s, the combined population of the area had grown to more than 3,000 residents, but exact details of the late 1800's are not known because the U.S. Census results for 1890 were destroyed by fire.
The numbers have steadily declined over the generations, but the interest by those who grew up there or had family in the area has seemed to increase.
Mikkola added that when people consider making entries to the society, they should think on a broad spectrum. The society is interested in all sorts of items, including those that are family or activity oriented.
"We're hoping to establish this archive in a manner that it will be open to people," he said. "When we reach the age of retirement, almost everyone takes a glance back to try and understand what was going on, where they come from, or who's shoulders they are standing on. This would help people to do that."
There are a number of people who can be contacted to submit photos, stories or other materials to the CBHHS. Beacon resident Mary Joki can be reached at 339-4492, and Humboldt resident Marline Worth can be reached at 339-9001.
Karen Sunblad of Ishpeming is available at 486-4609, and Wesley Wentela, also of Ishpeming, can be reached at 486-6295.
Justin Marietti can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 245.