The Old Mission Gazette is an online news magazine for, by and about anyone who loves the Old Mission Peninsula, an 18-mile piece of land stretching into Lake Michigan just north of Traverse City, Michigan.
Maybe you grew up here and still live here. Maybe your family goes back ten generations and was around when Peter Dougherty arrived back in 1839. Maybe you’ve visited Old Mission and come back every year, or maybe you have a summer home here. Whatever the case, this site is for everyone with a special place in their heart for the Old Mission Peninsula.
During the past 35 years, I’ve written for thousands of print and online publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, People Magazine, Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and many others. But you know what I really wanted to do during those years? Write about the Old Mission Peninsula. And I’m so happy to be doing that now as the founder and editor of the Old Mission Gazette.
I grew up on a cherry farm in the heart of Old Mission, and my mom, Mary Johnson, still lives in that house. My dad, Walter Johnson, passed away in 2003, but his family goes back several generations on the Old Mission Peninsula. His parents were Lester and Stella Johnson.
Our “home farm” is just north of Mapleton, and my brothers still farm cherries, apples and assorted other fruits. I’m the youngest of four kids, and in 1960, the year I was born, my family moved from the farmhouse across from our barn (that house burned down in 1964) to a new house on the shores of East Bay in Old Mission. I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood or place to grow up.
My siblings are Dean Johnson, Ward Johnson and Carolyn Lewis, and we all live right here on the Peninsula. I married Tim Boursaw in 1993, and we have two kids, Will and Marissa. I actually married “the boy next door,” because when I was born, Tim and his family lived just down the beach in Old Mission. He remembers going over to see that new Johnson baby with the red hair.
Many of the Boursaws still live here, as well. I’ve come to learn that it’s somewhat rare to not only grow up and put down roots in the place where you were born, but also to have most of your family within a ten-mile radius. That’s pretty cool.
I hope this website will be a portal into this beautiful place known as the Old Mission Peninsula, as well as a gathering spot to connect with others. As my 91-year-old mom said the other day while we were driving home from church (Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church – or Odgensburg, for old-timers), “I don’t really know a lot of the people in these houses anymore.”
And it’s true. We know a lot of the locals who’ve been here forever, but there are lots of new folks who’ve built lives here in the past 10, 20, 30 years. I would love to meet them.
Thank you for stopping by this website. Feel free to leave comments on the stories, or email me at [email protected] with story suggestions, calendar items, or just to chat about the Old Mission Peninsula.
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– Jane Johnson Boursaw, Editor, Old Mission Gazette
P.S. Check out my other website, Reel Life With Jane, an entertainment site covering movies, TV, celebrities and all things pop culture.