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The Mission Point Lighthouse Friends and Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society recently hosted a Founder’s Day Celebration Tea to mark the 146th anniversary of the opening of Mission Point Lighthouse in 1870.

The gathering on Sept. 10, 2016, featuring table decorations of flowers from Ginny Coulter’s Old Mission Flowers, was well attended by descendants of the founding families who contributed to help save the lighthouse. The festivities began at 5:30 p.m. at Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church and were presided over by Tim Carroll, a descendant of one of the founding families.

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Mission Point Lighthouse Founders

Following is a list of the founders, with an average donation (or subscription, as it’s called on the document) of $45.

  • Altenburg and Pratt
  • Theodore Ayres
  • Elmer S. Brown
  • Lester Buchan
  • A.P. Carroll
  • Fred Carroll
  • Harry Christopher
  • May Cowan
  • Fay Dohm
  • Hall Flack
  • Mrs. Edith Ghering
  • Merton Gilmore
  • Gleason and Company
  • R.J. Heller
  • Roy Hooper
  • G.E. Hutchinson
  • Bernard Kroupa
  • Clarence Kroupa
  • Vernon Kroupa
  • Pearl Langworthy
  • George Lardie
  • Ken Manigold
  • Albert Miller
  • David Murray
  • C.F.O. Nelson
  • Mr. J.P. Marshall
  • W.A. Marshall
  • Axel Ostlund
  • M.J. (Jerry) Pratt
  • Mrs. Marshall Pratt
  • W.E. Prussing
  • Robert Seaberg
  • Evelyn Spruit
  • Otto Steffes
  • Harold Titus
  • Mrs. Oliver Tompkins
  • Douglas Tompkins
  • Murry Tompkins
  • Seth Tompkins
  • W.G. Tompkins
  • Dr. Eloise Walker
  • Frank Weatherholt
  • W.E. Wilson

Mission Point Lighthouse (check out the website here) was decommissioned in 1933 and the target of extensive vandalism in the following years. Due to the foresight and generosity of those 43 concerned citizens of the Old Mission Peninsula, under the leadership of George Altenburg and M.J. Pratt, $1935 was donated to secure the Lighthouse from the State of Michigan, allowing it to be protected and restored.

On Feb. 26, 1948, the Traverse City Record-Eagle ran a story which noted that the deed to the Lighthouse and surrounding property was presented to Peninsula Township. The story, titled “Peninsula Gets Old Light,” reads:

The Old Mission Lighthouse and the 5.38 acres of land on which it is located became the property of Peninsula Township Wednesday when Postmaster August Babel presented officials of the township with a deed to the property. The area and the old building will be preserved as a public park. In the top photo is shown the lighthouse as it appears today. Plans will be formulated at the spring meeting of the township board to reconstruct the light and put it in its original condition. Vandals all but wrecked it since it was decommissioned, and the desire to preserve the building resulted in a public subscription drive to raise the $1,000 dollars needed to purchase it from the government. Shown reviewing the deed to the property in the lower photo are, left to right, Township Treasurer Isma Hoffman, Justice R.F. McIntosh and Postmaster August Babel. In the grant, it is stipulated that if at any time the area ceases to be used as a public park, it will revert to the ownership of the government. In accepting the deed, representatives of the township expressed their appreciation to those persons who contributed to the fund and to those who used their influence in securing the property. 

Mission Point Lighthouse

The recent celebration also included a trip to Odgensburg Cemetery to place a Lighthouse Keepers special marker on the grave of Jerome Pratt. The cemetery is located next to the Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church, 16426 Center Road on the Old Mission Peninsula.

jerome pratt
Jerome Pratt’s Gravestone at Ogdensburg Cemetery | Jane Boursaw Photo

Here is a photo gallery of the event and descendants of the founding families.

(If you’re viewing this on a mobile device, click the photo below and arrow through the photos.)

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

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  1. Thanks for sharing Jane Louise Boursaw. There were a handful who stepped in to help with this concern, but so many other families, like yours, made our beautiful corner of the world the great place we call home.

  2. Please include my family in your invitations to the next event:
    Rick Bartling, son of Elizabeth Ann Pratt Bartling (daughter of Marshall and Helen (Peck) Pratt)

    It looks like a wonderful event.

    Also, is there additional funding needed?

  3. If you wish to support this effort, please consider joining Mission Point Lighthouse Friends. Contact: President Ellen Kerr, 14548 Bluff Rd, Traverse City, 49686

  4. The marker has been placed on the wrong grave. Jerome Mortimer Pratt Jr. was not the first lighthouse keeper. It was his father Jerome Mortimer Pratt who married Araminta Dormer Rosecrants in 1845. Pratt Jr. was born in 1847. The lighthouse was commissioned by Congress in 1859 and was constructed in 1870 at which time he became lighthouse keeper. Pratt Sr. and Pratt Jr. both died in 1891. I have Jerome Pratt Sr.’s bible which has a record of family births, deaths, and marriages.

  5. Clarence Kroupa Jr. is my first cousin and the first grandchild of all of us for Freda & John Kroupa. Clarence was a kind and gentle soul that taught much about nature and the beauty of this area. I was delighted to see that he was involved in saving the lighthouse years ago, although not surprised by his concern for the Peninsula history. Thank you for this article.


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