Here’s how the resort community of Bear Lake developed in the early 1900s


While the lumber industry played a huge role in attracting people to Manistee County in the mid-1800s and early 1900s, it would be wrong to discount the importance that once-busy resort communities boom played to attract people to the area.

So, flipping through copies of the Manistee County Pioneer Press from 1962, I came across an article that tells the story of some of the longtime resort families who settled in the Bear Lake area and how those vacationers continued to multiply over the years. decades.

That said, the following article was published in Manistee County Pioneer Press on July 31, 1962:

“Mr. and Mrs. Forest Novis, Mrs. Sue Reinger and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wareham of East Shore Drive are pioneers in the resort industry in Bear Lake, and they have played a great part in the development of an area barren cedar swamp in the almost solidly built resort area encircling the entire lake.Many of their guests these days are the grandchildren of those who started coming here nearly 40 years ago, and many private cottages are now owned by people who discovered Bear Lake while vacationing in Warehams, Reingers or Novis.

“Forest and Fern Novis of South Bend, Indiana were the first of the three. In 1924, they built the UandI chalet. Then in 1925 they built the store and two others. Now they are in charge of 12 chalets. From 1926 to 1960, the Novis Grocery was a place to ride and a friendly gathering place for all ages – carriage through the cane – where Forest kept everyone captivated by true and great stories. The grocery store closed two years ago – maybe Forest was out of trouble.

“Forest first came to Bear Lake in 1918. He was visiting his sister and brother-in-law at a nearby lake and came here to camp and fish. He encouraged his parents to come here and they built the “Pa” and “Ma” cottage for their own use in 1922.

From the Museum Archives is a weekly section of local history columns written by the Manistee County Historical Museum.

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“Mrs. Sue Reinger accompanied her late husband, Jess Reinger, who was a salesman for a roofing company, from their house in Jackson, and was told that the Grandview Hotel in Bear Lake (owned by Mrs. Etta Vermett and late Arthur Vermett) served the best chicken dinners you could dream of.When they got here they found the reputation was well deserved.They fell in love with the lake and bought the Connelly cabin in Twin Oaks in 1925. More later they built or bought six cottages on the east shore. Mrs. Reinger sold two after her husband’s death in 1948, and seven years ago sold the rest to her son and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Judd Reinger Sue, Judd and Larene are now year-round residents here.

“Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wareham purchased lots from George E. Iverson and Emery Beair and built ‘Our Haven’ in 1926. Three years later they built ‘The Cedars’, later adding two more rentals and a cottage at the back of their property which is their summer home.They were residents and merchants of Arcadia in the 1920’s but now Midland is their winter address.About 17 years ago they sold ‘Our Haven ‘ to Mr and Mrs Frank Dixon, of Kaleva.

“The demands of vacationers today are considerably different from those of years ago,” he recalls. Mrs Wareham. These women had to contend with the difficulties of three-burner oil stoves (which without exception were a complete mystery to the townspeople) with their ovens set on top, coolers whose trays spilled onto the floor, and pumps and other fixtures. outside. It was a struggle for the owners, but the judges, doctors, lawyers, teachers, factory workers – everyone – loved it all and kept coming to Bear Lake and bringing more people with them.

Mark Fedder is the executive director of the Manistee County Historical Museum. He can be reached by email at [email protected], or by phone at 231-723-5531.


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