At the Oct. 11 meeting of the Peninsula Community Library Board, an 1800s journal from Mission Point Lighthouse keeper Jerome Pratt was presented to the board by the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society (OMPHS). The journal will be on “permanent loan” in the historical archives of the new Peninsula Community Library, currently under construction at the corner of Center Road and Island View Road (click here to learn more and find out how you can help).
OMPHS President Laura Johnson was at the meeting and presented the journal to the PCL Board. She noted that the journal, titled “Record of Passing Vehicles at the Mission Point Light-Station,” was a gift from the Ted and Lucile Bagley Estate.
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The journal covers the time between August 1870 and April 1876, and is a handwritten log of the weather, as well as the type and number of ships passing the lighthouse on a given day.
The journal was written by Ted Bagley’s great-grandfather, Jerome Mortimer Pratt, and is a treasured reminder of Ted’s history on the Old Mission Peninsula, said Johnson. In his wife Lucile Bagley’s autobiography, “A Musical Journey,” she notes their connection to the Peninsula while describing the location for their home on Center Road.
“We have named this place ‘Homeview,’ with its double meaning,” wrote Lucile. “In addition to our home having the water and countryside views, the outlook to the East includes part of the Old Mission Harbor near Ted’s grandfather’s former steamship dock and farm. Thus we always have a view of the family’s home area. Though it is not in sight from here, we live three miles south of the Old Mission Lighthouse, where Ted’s great-grandfather (Jerome Pratt) was the first lighthouse keeper, starting in 1870. We still have his pencil-written log of his years there.”
Ted Bagley was the first President of the OMPHS, when the focus of the organization was acquiring, moving, and restoring the Hessler Log Cabin, now located adjacent to Mission Point Lighthouse. Johnson noted that this was just one of the many civic-minded functions in which Ted and Lucile were involved.
Ted’s great-grandfather, Jerome Pratt, was born in 1818, and although he attended schools during the winter season, he was described as “‘fond of books, and diligently sought and read such as were within his reach…’,” said Johnson.
In 1845, Jerome married Araminta D. Rosecrans (Rosecrans was Ted’s middle name). They were some of the first settlers in Old Mission, on land adjacent to Rev. Peter Dougherty’s Mission House just north of the Old Mission General Store.
Over time, Jerome was employed as a Government or Indian Farmer, a member of the Presbyterian Mission Church, a Lightkeeper at the Skillagalee Light Station (near Cross Village), and a Sunday School leader at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Old Mission. He also held various positions with Peninsula Township.
Jerome was among the petitioners for the establishment of a lighthouse on the Peninsula, and he became Mission Point Lighthouse’s first lightkeeper in 1870. In 1891, the local newspaper at the time, the Grand Traverse Herald, claimed that Jerome “knows more of the early history of Grand Traverse, than almost any other man living.”
Jerome and Araminta had six children and adopted one, and their descendants are still living in the area today. Here is the gravestone of Pratt’s son, Jerome Mortimer Pratt, Jr., located in the Ogdensburg Cemetery just north of Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church on Center Road.
Jerome Pratt’s journal will be on “permanent loan” to PCL via an “Archival Loan Agreement,” which ensures that the historic, singular and fragile journal will be kept safe and secure.
Johnson thanked everyone who made the transfer of the historical journal possible, including OMPHS members, archivist Ann Swaney, and PCL director Vicki Shurly.
She added that the History Room in the new library, the Community Meeting Room with its projectors, along with convenient parking and accessibility, are much appreciated by the OMPHS.
“In light of the steady but changing role of the community library, we are pleased to enter into another level of relationship between the Peninsula Community Library and the Historical Society,” said Johnson.