Jean Ward Dowsett was born in Jackson on October 14, 1909 and passed away September 23, 2003. She left behind this story about her time at Clark Lake and family cottage on the North Shore near Kentucky Point. This story, never before published, was preserved by Sylvia Clark, who now owns the cottage. The story is undated. It’s not known when Jean Dowsett committed the story to paper.
Here is Jean Dowsett’s My Clark Lake Story.
The Ward family came to Clark Lake when I was seven. We rented cottages until my father, Russell E. Ward, bought six lots on the north side of Clark Lake at the west end, a short distance from the village. He built our cottage in 1921 near the center lot, and sold a lot on the west side to McDevitt who built a two-story brick home. It’s still there.
We used gaslights. We had no electricity. We children were cautioned to stay away from the gas storage tank.
My father enclosed our property with a wooden fence because someone drove through our garage instead of using the road next to the carport. The building had doors on both ends. The road around the fence is the same road being used today.
Sometimes we took the train to Jackson from the depot in the village, but most of the time we made the journey by automobile.
We had rowboats at our cottage built by Van Camp of Jackson. My brother, Archard L. Ward, used motorboats on the lake. My father tested Lockwood-Ace motors on the boats at the request of Mr. Lockwood whose company was in Jackson. My father owned stock in the company. Mr. Lockwood had a cottage on the north side several cottages east of us. We would go up to Lockwood’s cottage and swim and dive because they had a diving raft. Mr. Lockwood had a daughter, Charlotte, who now lives in Vero Beach, Florida.
As we didn’t have electricity at our cottage my father had a cooler built in the garage with a well running through it. Our milkman, Mr. Miellinix, lived behind the cottage on a farm. He brought milk to the cooler every day.
Pleasant View was a rambling resort hotel overlooking the lake. It had a dining room and a porch across the front with rocking chairs. There was a dance hall next to the hotel. Later there was a restaurant and bar under the dance hall.
Eagle Point also had a dance hall right on the point. Further back was a resort hotel with a porch and rocking chairs, and also a dining room open to the public. The dance hall was a skating rink and later a theater.
Ocean Beach had a large dance hall built over the lake. Half of the dance floor was exposed to he sky while the other half was under cover. Big bands came to the lake and there were crowds from Toledo and other places in Michigan. The dance platform had several wells beneath it that were supposed to keep water from freezing and damaging the structure. The theory didn’t work and the dance hall broke up.
Before the present Beach Bar was there another bar was located in the same place. The parents of Gloria Steinman, the editor of Ms. Magazine, owned it and Gloria grew up on Clark Lake.
There were no other homes between the Ward cottage and the Folen cottage at the top of the hill. Folen sold it to Russell Gilbert.
I remember seeing fences going down to the lake beyond the Gilbert home that held in cattle.
In 1933 my husband and I built the Dowsett cottage at 7801 Highland Drive [now North Shore Drive] on land that had been the summer homes of Owen Folen and then Russell Gilbert before the cottage burned to the ground.
On the other side of our cottage were trees left from an apple orchard and then the Graziani home on Kentucky Point. When we first came to the lake there was a road that ran west behind the Riley cottage. When my husband was building our cottage he relocated the road and made it straighter. The road was hardly a road, just a path, and very muddy. We often got stuck in the mud with our car.
As our children were growing up at the Dowsett cottage, we often took walks down around Kentucky Point, around the Catholic Church on the bend and on toward Pleasant View. There was a small grocery store on this road within eyesight of Pleasant View where we bought milk and bread.
We had a rowboat and motor when our cottage was first built. A few years later we bought a sailboat. We had a dock and a floating raft that attached to the end of the dock. Later we used it for a diving raft.
Neighbors at 7801 Highland Drive were Dr. Lewis on the west side and the Leslie cottage on the east, next to Graziani’s.
From the Graziani cottage on Kentucky Point there were five cottages that all belonged to the Graziani family. These went down to almost the Catholic Church that used to be on the curve behind the Haynes cottage. At one time it belonged to the Minch family. The A. Melling cottage was next to Minch but it burned down years ago.
Between Kentucky Point and Pleasant View I remember the cottages of R.D Royce, Dr. Riley Sr., Dutchers, Thayer, and Blanchard. I remember as a kid Fire Chief King’s cottage next to Pleasant View.
From Dowsett cottage west beyond Dr. Lewis was Sibley, next to the old Gilbert cottage on the hill, his son-in-law, Christman, and then Bruce Sibley and Boyd.
We walked up to Ann Smith’s farm and bought vegetables right out of her garden. The children picked some of them. Much later we bought vegetables at Anne Hopkin’s stand across the street. Also we bought from Trembley’s stand on the curve on Lake Road. We bought strawberries there too.
I remember the Consumer’s Power Clubhouse on the north side of the lake close to the Avis apple orchards. Consumer Employees built the first clubhouse. The wives and women workers cooked meals for the men as they worked nights and weekends on the clubhouse. Back in the 30’s my family would come to this clubhouse for Sunday dinner cooked by the caretakers.
McCone’s apple and peach farms were on Jefferson Road near the railroad tracks on the south side. Avis apple and peach orchards were on the north side by York, a road that went toward the lake.
I remember the Hayes cottage (now the yacht club) and the Hayes farm on Jefferson Road and the small building that held eggs that we bought.
The David Lewis cottage on the south side of the lake was built in 1933, the same time as our Dowsett cottage. These were the only two cottages built that year.