Historically speaking: Jackson House register shows humor of the time

A page of the Jackson House Ledger is shown.(Photo courtesy of the Negaunee Historical Society)

By Virginia Paulson

Negaunee Historical


There hasn’t been a hotel in Negaunee for a number of years, but it wasn’t always that way. When. the founding of Negaunee came through the operations of the Jackson Iron Company and their discoveries of iron ore in the Teal Lake region. Interest in the mining resources of the county grew following the discovery of ore in 1844, and droves of people came to Marquette County in search of mineral wealth. In 1846 seven crude cabins were erected for the first miners at the “Jackson Mountain” as the area of the Mine was called, After a number of years, the settlement built the “Red Boarding House” in 1857. Not much is known about this building and it was torn down in 1873 because business had started to boom east, down to Iron Street and the Jackson Mine area was no longer the center of Negaunee. Negaunee got its first steam railroad in in 1857, and by the time of the Civil War, Negaunee was not only producing iron ore, but also pig iron in the Pioneer Furnace. The Jackson House, a wooden frame structure, was built in 1862 on the site which most recently was occupied by the Sundberg Building. This area was now the center of Negaunee businesses, consisting of D.G.Stone’s Store, Dr. Cyr’s Store and the Red Front Grocery Store at the corner of Tobin and Iron Street. The latter was the most popular at that time. Three additional boarding house’s or hotels were also built during the boom years of the 1860’s and 1870’s . The Ogden House which had a short life was built on the site of which would be the future Breitung Hotel. The Montreal House was built where the present Pellow Printing Shop is now located, and the Quebec House was at the corner of Iron and Marquette Streets. These establishments were never first class and they supplemented their income with saloons and pool halls. The Montreal House was noted as a “house of ill repute,” and many fights and swindles occurred there, according to the Iron Herald. The Historical society was fortunate to have received the register of the Jackson House.

The proprietor was E.A.Trelease, and his clientele was almost exclusively associated with the mines and railroads. The register records the Palace Pavilion show in 1873 and the Peak and Praeger Concert Company on the Fourth of July, 1873.

In 1872, Sam Wells brought his trained animals to Negaunee, and Charles Thompson brought the “Royal Yeddo Japanese Troupe. Meals were served with each of the eight rented rooms. Sometimes many railroad men shared a room. Horses were boarded in the barns behind the hotel. The register hints at the humor of the times with interesting items inserted after the guest’s name: Wm. Nelson, a rascal with the girls of Ishpeming. Gus Nelson, a bloody doggone Frenchman. W.L.Mann and wife will be here at noon. C.W. Robertson, horse feed from Wednesday till Saturday.

By 1881, R. Trembath was the new owner of the hotel and the center of business moved further to the east on Iron Street. The Kirkwood building, Sporley Hardware and Miller Brothers store were now the center of Iron Street. In 1881, the Breitung Hotel was built, a substantial brick building. The Jackson House did not fare well under this new competition and after a few empty years it was sold for $3,850.The purchaser was Charles Sundberg, who originally intended to erect a three story hotel at the site, but instead created the commercial building which housed the dress factory and a glove factory and in later years the upstairs served as a youth center. The lot is a vacant lot and the area that once was Negaunee’s “hub,” from the Jackson Mine to Tobin Street is a walking and biking trail.


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