Like Eagle Point, Kentucky Point is a major chapter in the Clark Lake story. The original house at Kentucky Point, built by the Graziani family, was moved on the water from that location to the County Park at the east end of the lake in the 1990s. It was repurposed and renamed and is now known as the Clark Lake Community Center.
A member of the Graziani family, Carlotta, wrote a history of their family’s experience at Clark Lake and their years in the house her family built and occupied on Kentucky Point. There are several copies of this history in circulation. The copy, all in capital letters, and with some words difficult to see, would make for difficult reading on a website. It has been retyped here with both upper and lower case used, but punctuation is unchanged. It is unedited and unabridged and only obvious typos were corrected.
As you read this, you will note some usage is in context of the time in which it was written. The document is presented here with the goal to be faithful to the original in an effort to present a portrayal of events from the perspective of the author. It is not meant to offend any individual or group. A note on the front of the copy says “copies made from the original given to George ‘Bowser’ Eagy.” The copy from which the following is taken is courtesy of Josie Bullinger Hones who provided it so it could be available for all to ready and enjoy, in its entirety.
Additional thanks go to Laurie LaZebnik. Laurie and her husband built and occupy the beautiful structure that you now see on Kentucky Point. Laurie provided historic photographs and other contextual material that proved helpful in the presentation of this piece.
History of the Graziani Family at “Kentucky Park”, Clark Lake, Michigan from 1896 to 1967. By Carlotta Graziani Wilson
It was in Covington, Kentucky where my story begins, because it was there where my mother and father resided before they decided to explore the wonderful place that we came to love and called Clark Lake.
The Graziani family, prior to this time, consisted of my wonderful parents, Benjamin Graziani, his devoted wife, Eliza, and their one daughter, Laura. Their lives, in this small northern Kentucky town, were very complete and little if any thought had been given to residing elsewhere. But it was at this time, that a second daughter was born to them and because of her health, it became necessary for them to seek a different climate.
This frail little girl was named Elsie. In the months following her birth, she became weaker and weaker until it was finally decided that her only chance for survival depended on this change. Where was the right place for this tiny mite?
It was a close friend of my father who suggested what he thought was the perfect place. He described a beautiful small lake in southern Michigan where there was a very tiny hotel and he indicated that Mr. Tom Beech, who owned the hotel, would be happy to assist the family in any way.
He described the lake as being about three miles long and, perhaps, a half-mile wide with not more than a dozen cottages around it. It was a natural body of water, fed by artesian wells which kept it clean and fresh always.
This sounded like the perfect solution, so they immediately started making plans for the journey northward.
It was a hot day in July when my mother and father, with their two little girls left Cincinnati via the Cincinnati Northern Railroad. It was a long trip which normally took about seven hours (when the train was on time) but, as usual, it was late.
As they stepped from the train, my father sniffed a couple of times and turned to mama and said, “We have found the spot. Our little girl will grow strong here.”
As one departed from the tiny station, you passed a small hotel where usually a few guests were to be seen sitting out on the veranda which overlooked a sandy road. There were a few frame houses where some of the local people lived the year round. Just prior to reaching the dock, which was quite large, one passed a long frame grocery store which stood across the road from a small country post office.
This beautiful sparkling lake and its shoreline was indeed a most peaceful spot and even more delightful than Mr. Reed could possibly have described it.
Finally, they stepped onto the little steamer which was owned and run by a Mr. Badgley. Before leaving the dock, my father looked to the shoreline and a short distance from the post office he saw a tiny graveyard. Not too far away stood the little red brick schoolhouse, so prevalent in small country villages.
As the boat moved slowly through the water toward the east end of the lake, one seemed to become even more entranced by cedar trees. There were small cottages and fields dotting the shore and soon there appeared a small hotel on the south side that Mr. Badgley explained was owned and operated by a Mr. Delamater. This area was known as Eagle Point.
Papa looked again to the north side of the lake and fell in love with a point of land jetting out into the water. “Mama,” he said, “I would love to own that piece of land and build a cottage.” Mama laughed at him and said, “I wouldn’t live in that lonesome spot for all the money in the world.”
In a few minutes, they were landing at Pleasant View Hotel dock where Mr. Beech met my father and his family. They walked along the pier that led to some wooden steps going up quite a steep bank. There, at the top, stood the tiniest little wooden building which was the hotel. There were only two or three small bedrooms above a small lobby. These rooms were to be turned over to my parents and Mr. Beech and his family were to go over to his winter cottage to live, which was only a matter of about 75 feet.
Peaceful days followed and little Elsie improved with each passing day. Papa became intrigued with this enchanting spot.
The weeks were quickly passing by and soon it was time for papa to get back to his law practice. Both Laura and the baby were fine, healthy little girls as their first happy summer at the lake came to an end.
As the winter months dragged slowly along, my mother and father often spoke of Michigan and Clark Lake. They remembered its beauty and wonderful air and dreamed of the time when they could return.
It was the following March, in 1897, when I was born. Oh dear: another girl—and they wanted a little boy so much. If possible, I was even more delicate than Elsie and soon it became apparent that my chances for survival were very slim. As the weeks passed and I became weaker, they began to make plans for the return to that newly-found paradise in southern Michigan.
The day was hot when they boarded the train for the return trip north. As I lay on the pillow that took me to Michigan, my mother watched over me and she often wondered if there was life remaining in that frail little body.
The small steam boat was at the dock to carry us to the hotel. As the boat moved along, a soft breeze began to blow and for the first time, I turned my head as if to breathe in some of the lovely air.
Mama, much elated, turned to papa and said, “I do believe this lake has magic wind.”
Mr. Beech and his family again gave up their rooms at the hotel and moved to their winter cottage. As we settled for the summer and time passed, papa’s love for this wonderful spot grew stronger and stronger until, finally, he decided that the Graziani’s had to own a piece of Clark Lake and become part of it.
It was only natural that he would first turn to that point of land that he had fallen in love with, only to find that three small cottages had been built there. After days and days of half-heartedly searching the lake for another acceptable spot, he came to realize that there was no substitute for his first love and that, three cottages or not, the only place for him was that little bit of Eden. There was simply no other.
It was undoubtedly a very happy papa who succeeded in negotiating an agreement to buy that little bit of land that was to mean so much to him and his family and play such an important role in their live lives in the future. Not only did he buy the land with the three cottages, but Mr. Hitt agreed to sell him three additional acres of lake front property.
As the weeks passed, I grew stronger and stronger and, all too soon, the summer passed and it was time to return to Kentucky. The three healthy and happy little girls that went home with my parents, that fall, only encouraged them to make Clark Lake a more important part of their lives. During the winter evenings that followed, it was with much enthusiasm that they talked about the lake and made plans for constructing a large cottage that would accommodate our growing family.
In the following summer, we returned to the lake and lived in the first cottage toward the north. I was then 16 months old and a healthy, fine baby. As I sat on the porch floor and ate graham crackers, the squirrels would join me and eat the crumbs.
One or two cottages were added to the lake, but it still was a great wilderness. Such lovely cedar trees and fine, sturdy oaks.
In the months that followed, my father was busy getting builders for the dream cottage. It took days to find just where he and mother wanted it placed. These were such happy days; his three little girls thriving and his plans working out so well.
Finally the summer was gone. But before leaving, arrangements were made for building the cottage during the coming winter.
Another blessed event took place that winter. Finally our family was blessed with that much wanted little boy. My little brother arrived in October and was promptly named for his father.
This year, they had no frail little tyke to serve as an excuse for migrating to the north but the excitement and the anticipation of seeing their dream cottage soon prevailed and they found themselves Michigan bound.
It seemed natural that my father would want to associate our new found haven to the land where he was born and loved so much. So the beautiful point of land with its three acres was named “Kentucky Park.” The three small cottages he named after counties from his home state and were rented to friends from that area. They were known as Kenton, Campbell and Boone cottages, respectively.
Again, our boat trip up the lake was refreshing and as we guided along, we saw more cottages being built to the north. Soon we came in sight of our objective. There it stood with its beautiful verandas, up and downstairs with beautiful white columns around its entirety. It was a lovely southern cottage on a beautiful lake in southern Michigan.
I heard mama say over and other again, “Oh, Ben—it’s so lovely.” And after we landed, my sisters and I raced through it having so much fun and getting acquainted. As one entered the center hall, there were two parlors (as they were called in those days) on the right, two lovely dining rooms on the left and a lovely wing at the back which was a large country kitchen. As a tiny child, I still remember the three lovely shiny stoves–two oil and one large wood and coal range. I also was impressed with the pretty cabinets built all around the room.
On the second floor, there were four lovely bedrooms and on the third floor were the servant’s quarters with also four bedrooms.
The entire cottage was lined in sealed wood. It all had that lovely smell of a country home.
Of course, in those days, there were few conveniences. The oil lamps that were lighted at night were a delight, even the smell gave a country effect.
Our faithful Negro servant, Marcus, had come with us plus our cook and nurse who was named Lillie. She was the only white servant we kept and was with us until she was married. By that time, we were well able to take care of ourselves.
That summer, my parents were busy buying pretty things for the cottage while my sisters and I played the days away. All too soon, we realized that another summer had passed and it was time to return home for the winter.
In April of the following year, 1900, our family was again blessed with a lovely baby girl. She arrived fine and healthy and with such lovely deep blue eyes. It wasn’t very long after that we found ourselves again Michigan bound. Upon arriving there, we found more cottages being built on both sides of the lake. They were, for the most part, small and obviously intended for summer occupation only.
That summer, papa had a large wooden boat built. It was made beautifully about 25 feet long and 5 feet wide. At the back and front were small decks. In those days, my mother and her brood left a few weeks sooner than father, as he waited until court adjourned, which was early July. So each evening before papa arrived, Marcus and Lillie would take mama and her little ones out for a row around part of the lake. Often, as we came home, the sun would be setting in the west, which was always a wonderful sight.
I might mention that this boat was a very heavy one to row so it was propelled by two sets of oars, Marcus using one pair and Lillie using the other.
As we got in before night fall and a little too early for bedtime, our old Negro, Marcus, would sit on the steps while the rest of us sat on the porch. Our last hour before being tucked into bed was spent in singing the songs of Stephen Foster. Those lovely southern songs always left me feeling sad, so before they were over, I would crawl up on mama’s lap and with her arms around me, I was happy again.
That summer, Papa had an ice house built as the only ice we could get in those days was delivered from the hotel, and the ice was cut in large blocks and packed in deep sawdust in the new building.
The days were counted until papa’s arrival, which was usually July 3rd. He came loaded down with toys and large crated boxes of fireworks.
Life took on a new glow when he came. He was such a wonderful father. His whole life was his children and his wife. As the Fourth arrived, I could hear Marcus uncrating the boxes and preparing for the night’s festivities.
At nightfall, the verandas were filled with friends and neighbors that had come to see the display. It was a wonderful sight to see the lovely fireworks from our cottage and both hotels. It seemed to last for hours but at the most I suppose it was no more than two.
There were no motorboats on the lake, just a few sail boats, but many, many fishing boats. My father and mother loved to go fishing. It was nothing for them to come in with a hundred lovely fish.
The food at the lake always tasted so much better than at any other place. The fried fish with hot biscuits in the mornings were unsurpassed.
The summer quickly slipped by and again it was time to close the cottage for another winter.
The following summer was much like the other ones but now I was four years old and took more notice of the changes.
Papa had a lovely silver plate made with the name “Kentucky Homestead” engraved on it for the front door. I loved it and often would stand before it and use it as a mirror, especially after Marcus polished it.
Mr. Beech often came to see papa and they would sit on the veranda and speak very low. I often wondered what secrets they could have. It was later I learned that Mr. Beech wanted to build a pavilion over the lake so that the young people would have a place to dance. Before long, his dream came true. There was a beautiful dance hall built over the water and below the hall was a nice barbershop, pool tables and bowling alleys. Papa had given Mr. Beech the much needed $5000.
It was this summer a barge was pulled around the lake by the steamboat that the young people had used before this to dance on. It was a lovely sight as it was lighted with Japanese lanterns of many different colors.
During the weekends and holidays, there were hundreds of young and old that came to enjoy the lake. They came by trains and buggies, from Manitou Beach, Hudson, Devils Lake and many other small villages.
There were four trains from the south going to Jackson in the morning and four back in the evenings and they always seemed to be crowded.
On these special days, Mr. Badgley would have both of his steamers running. Often the crowds were so large that the people had to wait for the boats to make a second trip back to pick them up.
The hotel had long picnic tables out on the grounds and they were all taken quickly. Many of the people would spread their cloths on the ground. On one Fourth of July I heard mama say that Mr. Beech had over 5000 people at the hotel.
Mr. Beech began to make money quickly. There were 20 new bedrooms added to the hotel, also a large dining room. It also was became necessary for him to build a much larger kitchen. He called his hotel “Pleasant View” which was an appropriate name for such a beautiful spot.
The rooms were taken by many people from Cincinnati for weeks at a time. The lake was quickly becoming quite a summer resort.
The dances were very popular as was his ice cream parlor. A popcorn stand stood outside of the dance hall and for the low cost of five cents you could purchase a large bag of popcorn with lots of butter on it. Down at the dock, there was a ramp on each side. One took care of about 20 fishing boats and the other accommodated 20 lovely canoes, all painted green.
If I recall correctly the fishing boats rented for a dollar a day and the canoes for a dollar per hour. The young men would often take their girls out before the dance which started promptly at 8:30 and was over by 11 pm.
The evenings were lovely at the lake. The pretty canoes and many fishing boats were a restful sight and I often went to sleep hearing the lovely dance music coming softly across the water.
There were relatively few cottages but each year brought more. People began to take more interest in making them attractive. They weren’t just small fishing shacks. They were larger and painted very nicely. They began to take better care of their lawns and often cut the grass down to the water’s edge. Before this people would cut a path to the dock or the well and they seemed to feel as if that were sufficient.
Papa had installed about a dozen lamp posts along the lake shore from our cottage to the top of the hill of Kentucky Park. At seven in the evenings, one could see Marcus lighting them. They all had oil lamps and were so old fashioned looking as they were a copy of the old carriage lights.
That year there were also two larger cottages built on the top of the hill. I thought these were elegant. At first it was hard to get meat at the lake so twice a week Marcus would go to Jackson to shop for meat and fresh vegetables. In those days, the road was just a few feet from the back kitchen door, which always brought lots of dust in the kitchens.
It was then a new little grocery store opened up about halfway between our cottage and the hotel. It was run by Amos Pickett. Across from his store was a crude, little bakery shop, and the wonderful smell of cookies and hot bread were irresistible. The bakery goods sold so quickly that unless you were there as they came out of the oven, you were usually out of luck. So one was very fortunate when they were on time for “Mother Schneider’s Wonderful Hot Pastries.”
As a child, the summers were all so glorious. There is only one word for it—happiness. They were also too short. Much to my sorrow, the summer once more came to an end and I had to say goodbye to my favorite spot.
The following summer also passed very quickly. We went swimming, fishing, turtle hunting, frogging or out on picnics. Our days were filled with many happy hours.
Often, as a child, I would go to the back fence and look over the beautiful fields of golden wheat. At the end of the summer, I was fascinated by the horses with the reaper harvesting it. As Mr. Hitt drove his team and would come around to where I was standing, he would always wave a friendly hand and ask if I didn’t want to take a ride. Just to stand and watch him make his rounds was all I wanted.
Both my mother and father had many relatives living in England whom they had not seen in years. So it was in the early part of 1905 that they decided to forego the pleasures of Clark Lake and take that long sea voyage across the Atlantic. One of the considerations that prompted this decision was, undoubtedly, the fact that their children had never made this trip and they felt it time that we come to know the members of our family who lived so far away.
Little did they realize that this trip would play such an important part and influence my life so very much. They could have had no way of knowing that while on this visit I, an 8 year old little girl, would meet the boy who would later become the most wonderful man in my life. The one whom I would someday come to love and who would bring me more happiness than anyone else in this world.
The Wilson family lived in London and it was while visiting them that I met their second son, James, who at the time was 17. Several years were to pass before that glorious wedding day, but fate has a way, and come it did.
The 3 months abroad that summer were wonderful but our paradise in Michigan was missed very much. Some dear friends of my father, Mr. and Mrs. Ross and their five daughters, stayed at the Kentucky Homestead for the summer and it was while they were there that one of their daughters, Margarite, was married to Mr. Reed. As a child, I thought it quit thrilling that the ceremony took place in our living room under the American flag.
The time to return to America finally arrived and the thought gave me much happiness although I realized we had to go through another whole winter before we could return to Michigan.
At long last that new summer arrived and we were again at the lake. It was nice to see the cottage getting into shape for papa’s arrival on July the 3rd. Finally all was in good order and we went to meet the Cincinnati Northern that would bring him to us. With him came toys and boxes of the most beautiful fireworks. When we arrived back at the cottage, papa opened a large box and handed out many packages of firecrackers, snakes in the grass and other small ones that were safe for us to use during the day. He also gave each one a package of punk as he didn’t want us using matches.
Early on the morning of July 4th, 1906, we were all up and busy shooting off the firecrackers that papa had given us. Around noon time, Florence, who was then 6 years old, ran out of her supply. Thinking that she could find more in the front parlor where all the larger fireworks had been stored, she went in with lighted punk. In a few seconds, I saw the largest display of fireworks that I had ever seen in my life. It was coming through the windows and doors and apparently even the walls. The next I knew, Florence, Bennie and I were being taken back into the fields by our good nurse, Lillie.
Kind people came from all around the lake to help put out the fire that started. A bucket brigade was formed by many men passing water from the lake to each other. My father had crawled on his hands and knees through the midst of the fireworks to see if any of his children were trapped. In a remarkably short time, all was quiet. The fire was out and much to my sorrow, all the beautiful fireworks were gone.
With everyone gone, we all went inside, only to see a much damaged cottage and our plans for the evening gone. While mama and papa looked over the damage, my sisters, brother and I started to cry. Dear papa came and put his arms around us and said that there was nothing that could stop our celebration. He had sent Marcus to one of his friends and ordered a team of horses and a surrey to take us to Brooklyn to get all the fireworks that hadn’t been sold. The tears were soon gone, and with hugs and kisses for papa, we were soon on our way.
That being the Fourth and a holiday, of course, all the stores were closed. When my father wanted anything, however, nothing every stopped him. He went to the homes of the hardware stores owners and told his sad story. Well, they in turn got out their keys, opened up their shops and were glad to get rid of all the stock that was left. That was one of the happiest Fourths we ever had. Our friends came as usual, and I believe it was one of our loveliest displays.
The next few years passed by quickly as did my little girl days. The summers were always so happy and we always had lots of company from the south.
Clark Lake was growing into a lovely resort. There were sailboats now on the lake and a small yacht club developing. The lake wasn’t as quiet as it used to be. As now there were lovely motorboats. One of the speedboats I first remember was called the “Red Devil.” It was long narrow boat and painted a bright red. As a child, I thought it was the last word. Next came a faster boat called the “Black Crook”. The older people called them noisy and said they were just ruining the fishing.
My father thought he would like a large launch as they were called in those days so he ordered a lovely boat from Marietta, Ohio. My brother loved engines and was now able to look after the boat. It was a pretty thing, about 35 feet long and 8 feet wide. In the back were six beautiful willow arm chairs and behind that, a red leather seat across the back. The motor was toward the front, and ahead of that, there were two more leather seats forming a “V”. I loved the name of our boat, “The White Cloud.”
Around seven in the evenings, we always took a ride around the lake. More cottages were being built each year. They were larger and better than the previous ones. My father had three more built and they were rented no sooner than they were completed. We now had eight that he rented plus our lovely “Kentucky Homestead” which we occupied each summer.
The hotels were doing a good business. In fact, unless one made their reservations in the winter, they were unable to get rooms at all.
Rosco Beech, the only son of Mr. Beech, was doing a very good job. He was now a young man and was working hard to keep his guests happy.
On Tuesdays, he had what they called “Ladies Day.” For a small fee, the ladies played cards during the afternoon. The hotel put up a prize which was generally a box of candy from the lobby.
The years continued to roll by quickly and what happy years they were. It was now 1913 and I was sixteen years old. I, too, was allowed to go out with the young men and to go to the hotel dances. My father had made it rule that his daughters could have no dates with any of the young men until after their sixteenth birthday.
I felt so grown up that year and was so pleased with life. As I look back now, I have only wonderful memories.
The hotels continued to prosper as Rosco and the other owners put forth every effort to entertain their guests. It seemed that everyone knew each other as the same people continued to return each year. There were masquerade parties where prizes were given for the best or funniest dressed person. Also, on Sunday evenings, lovely concerts were held in the dance hall and often my father was a guest speaker. I was always so proud of him. On Sunday mornings, we had Sunday school at our cottage and it was always surprising to realize how many people attended from all around the lake.
In the early days at the hotel, the rates were $7.50 per week. This included three fine meals per day, but by the time 1913 arrived, the rates were up to $21 per week. Rosco had fine college boys that served as waiters in the dining room. Many of these young men would take this as a summer job. By doing this, they had their room and board free plus quite a bit of time for swimming, boating and any sport they might enjoy. So you can see that there were always plenty of young men for dancing partners. In those days, the girls dressed so beautifully. In the morning, they wore such pretty sport clothes, but in the evening, they all wore lovely frocks.
Saturday night was always a special night and all the girls wore such beautiful semi-formals. In those days, we wore our dresses ridiculously long, barely missing the ground. That was the style, as mini-clothes are today.
For the dances, the men dressed in such good taste. They wore white flannel trousers with lovely colored silk shirts and navy blue flannel jackets. Again, I say that those were such happy, carefree days.
By this time, Mr. Badgley had sold his two steamers to a Mr. Jones, so he was now the new captain.
More and more cottages were being built and many more launches appeared on the lake. The fishermen gave up trying to fish in the evenings as everyone was out on the water.
My father who did lots of hunting in the early days, found it more and more difficult. As usual, the summers all seemed to be passing much too quickly.
Photos of Kentucky Point through the years. Please click on the photo to enlarge.
The following summer found Laura making plans for her wedding to Raymond Solar, and Elsie was going with a young man from Cincinnati. Both Raymond and Elsie’s friend made frequent weekend trips up to the lake and the cottage seemed to be always filled with young people. In those days, domestic help was plentiful so it was always a pleasure to have guests.
That fall, Laura was married and Jim Wilson, the young man whom I had met in London several years before and the one who was destined to become such an important factor in my life, had just arrived in New York. He came down for the great event. Jim visited with us in our home in Kentucky for two weeks. We had such a wonderful time together that before we realized it, there we were in love with each other.
The following year, Elsie was married to Early Pendrey of Cincinnati and a year later, Jim and I took that fatal step. We were married in 1917, the most wonderful year of my life. That summer, we spent only three weeks at the lake and while I missed it terribly, having Jim more than made up for it.
In the fall of 1918, we had wonderful little son born to us. He was promptly named James Sanham Wilson III. Nineteen 23 was a very sad year for as we lost our dear father. I thought my whole world had collapsed but, in March of that year, our lives were brightened by the birth of a precious little daughter. We named here Helene as that had always been a favorite name of mine.
Jim, knowing how depressed I was over the loss of my father, decided to ask mother if she wouldn’t sell the little cottage called “Kenton.” He explained to her that he would like to give it to me as a gift. Mother was so pleased that he wanted it, that she sold it right away. A little later, my sister Florence and her husband bought the next cottage called “Campbell.” She had lost her husband after eight short years of marriage and thought the cottage would be a good investment. My brother bought the cottage on the top of the hill, so all of us had bought a cottage, except Elsie. She owned a lot next to our cottage which we finally bought from her.
The next ten years seemed to fly by and many changes were made at Clark Lake. In 1924, Rosco sold his hotel to Larry Miller and his wife, and Eagle Point had been sold to Rollo Every.
There was a lovely club house built for the employees of the Consumers Power Company. Many very expensive cottages were built, such as the lovely Gilbert cottage, not too far from mother’s toward the west, and the lovely Hayes cottage on Eagle Point side part of the lake was often called the “Gold Coast” as the cottages were all very costly.
Each year there were more and more beautiful sailboats and fast speedboats appearing on the water. Many of the quaint fishing boats were disappearing as the noise of the motors was upsetting the fishing.
Every few years we left the lake and took the children to England to see their grandparents. At that time, we would let friends have our cottage but we were always happy when we could return to the lake. We now had electricity in the cottage and although it was convenient, I always felt some of the charm had been taken away.
The road that had been right at the back door had been moved about 75 feet toward the west as our children were little and we felt it wasn’t safe for them to play. Mother talked to Mr. Hitt and he gladly cooperated, so that was one less hazard.
The children loved the lake and never found time to say “what can we do?”
In those days, our pets were always taken to the lake with us, also our good colored help who loved it so much. The Negroes were more like children. They would sit out in the back laughing and chatting until late in the night. As the years rolled on, automobiles became more popular and the train was used less. The guests that formerly spent the entire summers in the hotels began to make their visits shorter as they took side trips in their cars. The pretty canoes began to disappear as more and more sailboats and speedboats came on the scene.
As the depression came on, people seemed to be less gay and carefree. Larry gave up all his canoes and sailboats as everything was getting so expensive. In spite of these changes, however, the property at Clark Lake never went down in value and become shabby as it did in many lake resort areas.
In 1933 we lost mother. She died at the lake in the cottage she loved so much. Things never seemed quite the same after she was gone. Laura left “Kentucky Homestead” where she and her two little girls had lived with mother and moved into the little cottage that she had bought for an investment. The big cottage was rented to the yacht club, which was a mistake. We never should have done this. I am unable to say whether the yacht club had the cottage for two, three or four years, but when it was returned to us, there were many of our lovely pieces missing.
My sister Laura and I were the executrix of mother’s will so we decided we would ask the family if anyone of them would like to buy in the cottage.. If not, Laura and I would buy it in. The family seemed to be pleased that it would be sold to us. After this was done, I sold my share to Laura as I loved the little cottage that Jim had bought for me. Laura remodeled it to her liking and from then on, she and her two daughters have lived there.
In the summer of 1933, Mr. Hitt began to sell lots for cottages in the lovely fields behind mother’s cottage. This took so much of the lovely countryside away and made it more and more into a resort.
William Dowsett was the first to build, then a Mr. Leslie from Van Wert built right behind mother’s cottage which he later sold to Dr. Riley. Each year after this, there were more and more cottages.
Jimmie and Helene loved the lake and never seemed to tire of it.
Now that we had the electricity, Jim added a nice bathroom which was a great luxury. He seemed to find so much enjoyment in always making our little cottage nicer.
During our winter months, we would plan the improvements we could afford the following summer. Nothing seemed to bring us as much happiness as this wonderful little spot.
One bright morning, I saw my first raft going slowly down the lake. There was nothing fancy about it, just a plan raft. There was a man sitting at the back with a large umbrella over him. The raft was driven by a motor at slow speed. I later learned that it was Larry Miller. He was the first one I knew to use a raft with a shade on it. After that in the next few years, more rafts appeared and each one more lovely than the other.
In 1945 Larry sold his hotel to Mr. Bert Schoonmaker. That seemed the end of the lovely place that brought so much fun and gayety to so many. Although Jim and I both liked the Schoonmakers, they were not as popular with the younger set.
In the next 10 or 15 years, the hotel had less and less guests. When the people did come to the hotel, there was no entertainment or amusements of any kind. Mr. Schoomaker showed little interest in his guests and seemed bore with the whole idea. I believe it was around 1960 that he sold it to some businessmen in Jackson. After that, it was simply nothing. A few years later, the hotel burned to the ground.
Both of our children were now married and too far from the lake to spend their vacations there. Now that my sight was completely gone and each summer a little harder, we thought it best if we sold the cottage. Believe me, this was a very hard decision at which to arrive. Our great love for our wonderful lake and sweet cottage had never lessened but times had changed for both of us.
So in the summer of 1967, it was sold to such a lovely family, the John Kopplins. We were especially happy as they were young and had young children. My husband and I both felt that we were turning over our prized possession to those that would love it and give it the love and care that it deserved.
The last few days were very touching as so many of our good friends and neighbors came to bid us goodbye. On the morning of August 28, 1967, we waved our last farewell to our good friends, the Kortens and the Martins. With sadness in my heart and tears in my eyes, we turned eastward and toward the airport, most likely never to return.