Historically speaking

What’s in a name?

Street signs in the city of Negaunee are pictured. (Photo courtesy of the Negaunee Historical Society)

NEGAUNEE –Who is behind the name of some Negaunee streets? Most small towns have Main Street as their downtown district. Although Main street is probably Negaunee’s main thoroughfare, Iron street was the name chosen for the business district.

Obviously Iron street was named after the iron ore discovery. Jackson Street bears the name of the Jackson mine where the first iron ore was mined. Brown Avenue intersects with Clark Street. In the early 1870s, Jacob Brown started a soda factory in Negaunee.

In the Polk directory he was listed as a “soda water maker.” Brown and William Clark both had soda factories in Negaunee and surrounding Marquette County cities.

In The Mining Journal dated 1873, an article described how Clark had shown his appreciation for the efforts of the boys playing baseball by bringing several cases of soda to the grounds during the game. The boys imbibed freely and shouted, “Long live Clark and his soda factory.”

According to an 1874 Mining Journal article written in the Negaunee section, Clark was providing his customers a new option. “Clark’s root beer wagon goes out about the streets regularly dispensing the popular beverage which cheers but does not inebriate.” By 1876, only Brown was in business.

A region-wide slump in the soda business faced new competition as the area pharmacies started installing soda fountains. The fountains filled drinking glasses instead of bottles.

Customers could order their favorite flavor, watch the soda being prepared and sit at a counter and drink it. Maas Street runs East and West off of U.S. 41 near Miners Park. Maas is a familiar name in Negaunee. George Maas explored the Maas Mine property in 1891.

But it wasn’t until 1901 when enough ore was discovered to develop the mine and it opened in 1902 in the area of Cherry Street and the city warehouse. George Maas was also President of the First National Bank in 1905. Hungerford Avenue is located in two sections of Negaunee. Part of it runs on the east side of the football field and the other section is on the east side of the Lakeview School.

It was named after Edward C. Hunferford who was selected as the first postmaster of Marquette County and Negaunee in 1858. He also supervised the erection of the Pioneer Furnace and was prominent in city affairs.

McKenzie Avenue runs north and south between Brown Avenue and Teal Lake Avenue. It was named after Dr. Augustus McKenzie. He enlisted in the Army in 1862 and became a surgeon during the Civil War.

He came to Negaunee in 1869 and served as a physician and surgeon. The Iron Herald shows that on November 28, 1878, Dr. Cyr and Dr.McKenzie removed a four pound growth from the neck of a resident from Republic with a little loss of blood.

The apartment building on the corner of McKenzie and Main was actually known as the McKenzie Apartments. Maitland Street runs east off of Healy Avenue and was named after Alexander Maitland.

He came to Negaunee and had a position with the railroad and then worked for Iron Cliffs. He became the manager of the Cambria and Lillie Mining Companies. he was the one of the first organizers of the First National Bank of Negaunee. He owned and operated the Maitland Mine in Palmer. He served three terms as the Mayor of Negaunee before becoming Michigan’s lieutenant governor from 1903-1906.

Mitchell Avenue is south of LaCombe baseball field and at one time extended across Brown Avenue and went from East Main Street to East Case until its closure due to unsafe mining conditions. Capt. Sam Mitchell was the largest individual owner of the Jackson mine and the Negaunee Mine property. He owned the site of the first discovery of iron ore in the Lake Superior Region.

He was one of the founders of the First National Bank. Capt. Sam Mitchell was responsible for financing the rebuilding of the Methodist Episcopalian Church after a fire. Episcopal was dropped from the church name and later named Mitchell Methodist Church.

Victoria Avenue is located north of Lacombe baseball field between Baldwin Avenue and south Hungerford. Victoria Collins was the youngest of six daughters born to Samuel and Hannah Collins. Samuel owned the property east of the football field and north across the highway.

It was originally named Collins Addition and was home to a potato farm and slaughterhouse. Sam named this Avenue after his youngest daughter Victoria. Victoria was also a graduate of Negaunee High School’s first graduating class. Burt Street is one block south of US-41 turning left off of Baldwin Avenue.

It was September of 1844 when William Austen Burt and his crew watched as the needle of their compass fluctuated. Burt had no idea what his accidental discovery of iron ore would mean for America. He patented the solar compass in 1836. It became an instrument for surveying and Burt was credited for the discovery of iron ore Burt also patented the first typewriter in 1829.

In this same area is Everett Street. Philo Everett met Marji Gesick in L’anse on their way to the Copper Country to look for copper in1845. They returned to Negaunee where Gesick showed Everett’s group the location of the iron ore in the roots of a fallen pine tree which became known as the “Jackson Stump.”

The Jackson Mining Company was created in 1845 and Solomon T Carr, who has a street named after him was on that Jackson Mine board of directors. He actually was the first white man to see the shiny rock in the rays of the sun when an Indian maiden told him about some rock in July of 1844.

Croix, Wenonah, Opechee, Muskoday, Iroquis, Huron, Chippewa and Nakomis all indian names honoring those first people who settled here and made their homes along the shore of Teal Lake.


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