History of Lime Island - Timeline
Prehistory - 6,000 year-old flint
fragments found on the
highest point of Lime Island dating human activity.
Native Americans - LI was used for hunting, and burial purposes and a ball playing game
similar to Lacrosse was played between LI and Cockburn Island. The Ojibwe called LI Pah-gah-dah-wahmin-is (ball
1700's - French voyagers and missionaries explored and traded on LI up to
1744 - LI was listed on a French map as the Isle aux Plastre (map was
found in Charlevoix's "Journal d'un Voyage duns L'Amernigue
Septenionnale." Vol. 5, Paris 1744).
1790 - Sixteen lime kilns were uncovered which
dated some kilns from the 1700s to 1870. The oldest kiln found was
dated back 200 years (1790-1990's).
1822 - First official survey was of the boundary between Canada and the
US in June 1822 by John J. Bigsby, Secretary to British Boundary
1836 - In the Treaty of Washington the Indians ceded majority of the
Upper Peninsula including Lime Island.
1837 - Michigan was granted statehood.
1842 - Webster-Ashburton Treaty established LI to be officially on the
soil of the United States. This treaty also established
the boundary between Canada and the United
1843 - Chippewa County boundaries established which included
1845 - Lime Island was first surveyed by John Mullet. In his notations,
he noted three dwellings on the west shore of Lime Island.
1846 - Joseph Kemp was born at Shelbourne,
Massachusetts August 30, 1813. As an adult, he moved to Ohio and lived
with his sister and her husband. He became interested in the farming
industry. J. Kemp and his family came to Sault St. Marie, MI on the
brig the Ramsey Crook, which was operated by a leading fur company.
Here he became active in the fishing and fur trade. He became
interested in property on the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula which
included Lime and Drummand Islands.
1846 - President Fillmore signed the
deed to Lime Island under the Homestead Act over to
Joseph Kemp who was the
first recorded "owner-settler" of Lime Island. He and his family
owned the island for 37 years.
While on the
Island, Mr. Kemp pursued reclamation and development of LI. He grew
hay, wheat and potatoes. He made friends with the Indians and traded
1853 - The Kemp family returned to Sault Ste. Marie, MI. He was
employed to locate land granted by the State of Michigan to the company that
was to construct the original shipping canal at this point. From 1862
until 1865 he was employed as a keeper of the lighthouse at Whitefish Point
and thereafter he was deputy customs inspector at Pigeon River and the Sault
Mr. and Mrs. Kemp and their children moved back to Lime Island. His
wife was Harriet Bell (daughter of Capt. Elias Bell). Harriet and
Joseph were married June 10, 1840. They had five children:
Christine, Lewis, Johanna, Joseph B. and George. Their son George was
born in Sault Ste. Marie, MI August 21, 1847. The Kemp Marina located
in Sault Ste. Marie was named after George Kemp, Joseph and Harriet's
Joseph Kemp was the son of Captain Lawrence Kemp.
He served in the Revolutionary War and was also one of the minute men in the
Battle of Lexington. His wife was Mahitable Ellis. They had
eight children, all presumed to be born in Massachusetts.
1885 - Mr. Kemp sold the island to Lime Island Manufacturing.
for $5,200. They processed the quarried limestone
on Lime Island by use of the kilns. A cooper's
house (cooper is a man who makes barrels) was located north of the kilns.
The barrels were constructed there. They filled the barrels with
powdered lime and sold them off of the dock which was located nearby.
1890 - LI Manufacturing sold the island to Frances Davenport, a retired
naval man from Detroit. Davenport built a 30-room hotel and a
1907 - A wooden hulled steamer named The Rome
built in 1879 in Ohio went down in 1907 when it caught on fire, burned
to the water's edge and was declared a total loss. No lives were lost.
A Canadian firm was the owner of the steamer. It had a cargo of cement
and hay. The hull of the vessel was filled with limestone and even
today is used as a breakwall at the entrance to the harbor.
1910 - Mr. Davenport sold the island to Pittsburgh Coal Company. They
used the island as a refueling dock for ships coming up and down the St. Mary's River.
Pittsburgh Coal Co. built a refueling dock to be used for
About 1910 the "big" house (known also as the Superintendent's
House and the
Victorian House) was pulled over to LI from Pte aux Frenes. The house as well as
many as 8 smaller houses were pulled over to LI
across the ice from Pte
aux Frenes. The two and a half story house was pulled over by horses, block and tackle and
a group of men. The house was placed on a foundation up the steep hill and is still there
The first coal
dock superintendent to live in the house was Alfred E. Newton.
Mr. Newton and his wife, Anna, and their children resided in the "big"
house. The hotel was remodeled into four apartments for workers and
1912 - A one room schoolhouse was built on the island
1913 - The schoolhouse was opened in 1913 and the first teacher was Anna Ballan (or Ballin, Ballen). Grades Kindergarten through eighth grade were taught and the
schoolhouse was also used as a church, social gatherings,
meeting place, and possibly a barbershop.
1917 - There is a group picture of the work crew
of 1917 in the Lime Island Historical Museum.
1920 - Prior to 1920, the "Clover", a division of
the Coast Guard, was piloted by Ed Putzke tending navigational markers and
lights. When Mr. Putzke left the island, Jim Warner filled this
1928 - In this year, fourteen families and their seventeen children
lived on Lime Island.
1937 - The coal refueling dock put in by Pittsburgh Coal was modernized
by the addition of concrete facing.
1939 - In this year, thirteen families lived on
Lime Island (per Anna B. Kabatek, teacher from LI).
1940 - Alfred Newton retired and, with his family,
moved to Sault Ste. Marie, MI.
1941 - Percy Elliott became the coal dock superintendent.
He and his wife, Racine, and their children, Bill, Harry
and Marilyn moved to Lime Island.
Mr. Elliott passed away
in Sault Ste Marie, MI in 1999.
1948 - Pittsburgh coal and Northwest Hanna Coal Co. merged.
The concrete block and steel service buildings were built. The block building housed the superintendent's office,
men's changing and locker
room, showers, bunks for "on call" night shift
personnel, two diesel-powered generators, water supply system,
laundry facilities, and bathrooms for the women.
The small diesel-driven craft, The Champion, made two daily trips to
Raber where employees kept their cars.
The Champion also operated a 40-ton scow that
transported supplies and mail to and from Lime Island.
1949 - Percy Elliott resigned his
superintendent position. James Fulton became the coal dock superintendent replacing Percy
The old hotel was torn down in 1948 and in 1949 it was
replaced by the present three cabins facing west. The
cabins were built out of lumber processed at the LI sawmill.
1950 - Jim Fulton approached the Northwest Hanna
Co. and asked if they would consider demolishing the hotel cookhouse and
build a house in its place. The new house was built and Jim, his wife
Marie, their son and daughter, moved out of the "big" house and into the new
one until he retired. He and his family did not like living in the
"big" house because it was too hard to heat and was often too cold.
1951 - A new coal hopper and conveyor system began operation.
1952 - Two fuel bunker tanks were built. Each tank held 1,750,000 gallons of
bunker C oil.
1961 - The Lime Island School closed. The
island's children were taken over to the Raber dock and attended school in
DeTour, Pickford, Goetzville, or in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.
1965 - Consolidated Coal Company obtained Lime Island.
1968 - The bottom of the coal dock was grouted with cement.
1970 - Grouted cement was again applied to the bottom of the dock.
In 1970 there were eleven families living on Lime Island.
1970 - An ice boat was used to transport people from the island to the
mainland by the Corps of Engineers.
1972 - There were eight families living on Lime
1977 - The Simcoe Ship went aground at Lime Island.
1979 - James Fulton, coal dock superintendent retired.
1980 - Henry
Wojnarski became the acting superintendent.
1982 - Lime Island dock closed. It
eventually "sold" to the State of Michigan for the sum of $1.00. All
workers had to leave the island and take their families and
belongings off the island. Several women in 1999 expressed their
feelings to Norma Mieras, caretaker of Lime Island, of being very sad to have to leave their homes on the island as well as their
husbands losing their jobs.
1982 - 1983 the
island sat unattended and resembled a ghost town.
1984 - 1995 During the years 1984 and 1985,
vandals struck every house and building. Windows were broken and many
The Economic Development Committee wanted LI for
development purposes; however, the responsibility of the island was
given to the DNR Forest Management Division and became the
responsibility of the DNR office in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. They put up
for sale most of the structures on LI. There were no takers, however, and the transfer of
the island to EDC halted. DNR formed a Task Force to develop a management strategy for LI.
1988 - DNR Forest Management Division began to
develop a master plan. A Citizen's Advisory Community was created;
however, no money was allocated to implement the guidelines.
Work began with citizen volunteers, DNR employees,
National Guard, Corps of Engineers, and at-risk youth.
1989 - Jim and Pat Garrity became the first caretakers of LI from June
19,1989 to August 31, 1989. Barbara and Doug Dimond were caretakers from Sept 1, 1989 to
Oct. 12, 1989 and continued until Sept. 1997.
1989 - Sept. 11th Michigan State University submitted to Dean Sandell,
Forest Management a Phase I Archaeological
Survey for the purpose of checking potential
borrow pits. Plans for the development of a water trail began.
1990 - Preliminary Analysis of LI kiln site excavations by Lake
Superior State University at the Sault Ste Marie, Michigan by Susan M. Branstner was
submitted to MI DNR, Bureau of History.
1991 - July 11th Michigan Department of State
(from Kathryn B. Eckert)
submitted a Cultural Resources report concerning LI. Lime Island Facilities Report
prepared and accepted by DNR Forest Management Division. At risk youth, National Guard,
volunteers and the DNR staff helped with the clean-up and
1992 - July 15th an Archaeological Investigation at Lime Island kiln
site was prepared for the Bureau of History; Department of State.
1992 - Restoration of the Lime Island school began.
1993 - National Register of Historic Places Registration Form completed
and sent to Dept. of the Interior; National Park Service.
1993 - Letter sent to Gerald Thiede, Chief, DNR, Forest
Management Div; from Sandra S. Clark, Bureau of the
MI History, RE: Stabilization of the Lime Island kilns.
1994 - May 7th letter to Kristina Wilson, Bureau of MI History, From:
Hal Harrington, DNR Forest Management Div. RE: Minor changes for
1994 - May 20th, a letter to Brigadier Robert V. Taylor, MI
Army National Guard, from: Mr. Kilms, RE: Lime Island rehabilitation
1995 - August 18th, second Lime Island Open House held.
1996 - August 17th, third Lime Island Open House held.
Cabins were paneled and had cedar furniture and inside
bathrooms were used as storage for winter "shutters" for all the cabins 1
through 7. Cabin 8 "shutters" were stored in the basement of Cabin 8. Victorian
House was painted and renovated.
1996 - Sept. 19th. Information from Dennis Carter-Edwards, RE: Fort
Saint Joseph, Canada, using lime from Lime Island kilns was received.
The letter and info was to Mike Renner, DNR, Sault Saint Marie, MI
1997 - Female students from Michigan State University came to study the terns.
Betsy Cook was doing her study on the coal dock and the "Rome" area for her
Masters Degree. Terns did not maintain a nesting area on the coal dock until the DNR
cleaned it up. First tern study began June 1996.
1997 - September, Bobbie and Doug Dimond retired from the caretaker
positions on Lime Island.
1998 - May, Jerry and Olive Warner became caretakers and then the tern
study with Betsy Cook continued. The Warners retired from caretaker positions as of
1998 - Solar energy for electricity on the
Island was put in
Sept. 1998 as well as small wood burning stoves in cabins 2, 3, and 4.
1999 -Bill and Norma Mieras became caretakers. The
generator system had been removed and the electricity from the solar
power was in place and very
2000 - 2001 Bill and Norma
continue as caretakers
2002 John and Kathy Walthorn are caretakers
2003 - 2004 Bill and Norma Mieras return as
2005 Howard and Janet Chilson become
caretakers. Lime Island Master Plan is updated by DNR. An
advocacy group, Friend's of Lime Island, is formed.