Burnham, Michigan

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About two miles north of Arcadia was Burnham, Arcadia's closest neighbor to the north. Burnham started with a pier into Lake Michigan and a sawmill. The local supply of lumber was consumed in a few years, and like many other lumbering towns, Burnham did not last long after the lumber was gone.

Where Was Burnham?



1882 Map of
Northwest Manistee County
Burnham is north of Starky's Pier in Arcadia. (Arcadia's pier should be spelled "Starke's Pier" after Henry Starke.)

Burnham. A village on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Arcadia Township, in the extreme northwest of Manistee county, 22 miles north of Manistee, the county seat, from whence it has daily mail stage communication, it being the nearest railroad point and bank location. A large pier extends into the lake, and wood timber, lumber, ties and bark are shipped. There is a large quantity of hardwood timber in the vicinity, and there is a good opening for stave manufacturing, etc. Population 250. Daily stage with mail to Manistee; fare, $1.75, and Frankfort; fare, 75 cents. D.A. Hull, postmaster.

Burnham Wood & Pier Co, Mnfrs Hardwood Lumber, General Store and Wood and Bark Dealers.

-- Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1885


1903 Map:
Northwest Manistee County
This map shows the location of Burnham relative to landowners in the area. The Burnham pier is not shown at this point. The sawmill for the Burnham Wood & Pier Co. closed around 1895. It is likely that the pier was abandoned, which led to its rapid deterioration.



1903 Burnham Plat Map
By 1903, many of the buildings in Burnham had been moved to Arcadia.



Burnham Pier
into Lake Michigan
This is probably a photo of the Burnham pier, a standard bridge pier that extended several hundred feet into Lake Michigan. Piers like this one could only be used in fairly calm weather after the ice was gone in April or May and before the ice returned in November or December. The ship moored at the end of the pier is similar to the Arcadia, and there is evidence that the Arcadia visited the pier at least once in 1889 as did many other ships.

The Story of Burnham Begins in Pierport

By 1870, a dock had been built at Pierport for the shipment of timber products. The Milwaukee firm known as the Burnham Wood & Piering Company soon hired young [Dean Alexander] Hull to manage their timber business in the Pierport area. Besides handling logging and wood cutting operations, the firm also purchased cordwood, logs, and tanbark from local farmers. Burnham’s schooner Boaz made 27 trips between Pierport and Milwaukee, and the firm shipped a total of 2,954 cords of firewood. … In reminiscing about the village of Burnham, Mary Gilbert, an early resident recalled a general store owned by the Burnham Wood and Piering Company, the Shaw Brothers mill, barns, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, dance hall, and numerous dwellings. With time the supply of lumber around Burnham ran out and the firm ceased operations. About the same time, the sawmill burned leaving the community without an industry. Many of the new buildings were moved two miles to the nearby village of Arcadia. …
-- Steve Harold. “The life and times of Dean Hull.” Manistee News Advocate. Saturday, September

Dean Hull 1903
Dean Alexander Hull was the foreman of the Burnham Wood and Piering Company in Burnham.



Burnham in the 1890s
Judging by the hills in the background, this is probably a northerly view.


Records of Ships Landing at Burnham

The following list of ships was extracted from four ledgers documenting vessel landings for the Burnham Wood and Pier Company. These ships generally hauled wood products to other ports and, less often, brought supplies to the settlement.

The numbers in parentheses represent the number of landings at Burnham. The dates document the first and last trips of the seasons.


Barge Geo. Burnham (3) April 1, 1884
First Landing: Maple bound for Milwaukee

Barge Milton (8)
First Landing: “50 Cds dry sawd  Maple Wholes  full only, finished at Starkie’s  Bound for Milwaukee”

J. M. Hill (1)
“Bound for Milwaukee  Maple in Hold  Saw Beech on Deck  about 140 Cds”

Schooner Boaz (29)
First Landing: “Bound Milwaukee  Hold full Slabs  Deck Landing Hem. Lumber”

Supply (4)
First Landing: “60 Cords Maple (mostly)  Bound Milwaukee”

Scow Prime (11)
First Landing: “Lumber Hatch Holbrook Co Chicago”

Scow Dunham (1)
“85 Cords of Body Maple more or less  Bound Milwaukee”

Scow Gladiator (1)
“Hold full of Maple  Deck Landing of Beech & Chopped  more or less (125 cords)”

Barge Burroughs (1)
“90 Cords of Sawed Beech  Wood and slabs more or less  Bound for Milwaukee”

Scow May Guthin (1)
“Consigned to G. B. & Sons  100 Cords of Sawd Maple  Wood more or less”

Barge Seymour (3)
First Landing: “Hold full cull Maple  Deck Landing sawd Beech  Consigned G. B. Sons”

Scow Dan Mabee (6)
First Landing: “180 Cords Brickyard Wood & Slabs more less  Consigned Geo. Burnham & Sons”

Emma Leighton (1)
“Wood  75 Cords Sawd Maple”

Dan Hays (2) 
November 2, 1884 First Landing: “120 Maple Lumber  500 Posts” Last Landing: no description

No 1884 landing is described as having brought goods to the town.


Barge Geo. Burnham (2) 
April 27, 1885 First Landing: “Hold full Hardwood Lumber  Deck Landing Wood dry maple”

Schooner Boaz (26)
First Landing: “55 Cords Maple Wood  50,000 feet Lumber (about)  c/o Milwaukee”

Suzie Shipman (1)
no description of load

Thos. Paine (1)
no description of load

Scow Helen (1)
November 18, 1885 no description of load

No 1885 landing is described as having brought goods to the town.


Barge Geo. Burnham (4) 
April 8, 1886 First Landing: “Lumber”

Barge Hilton (1)
“Wood Slabs”

Scow Dunham (1)
no description of load

Schooner Scud (4)
First Landing: “Wood”

Schooner Persia (1)
no description of load

Schooner Boaz (22)
First Landing: “Lumber”
Second Landing: Brought goods to town (e.g., potatoes). First description of ship used for this. Departed with “Lumber” Last Landing: October 30, 1886


Schooner Boaz (11) 
April 26, 1889 First Landing: “All Wood”

Scow Dan Mabee (16)
First Landing: “Wood Slabs  2 ft Lumber”
Third Landing: brought “Hardware from Pritzlaff” left with “Wood”

Barge Arcadia (1) 
November 16, 1889 brought a variety of goods to the town


Schooner Madonna (11) 
May 24, 1890 First Landing: “50 Cds Maple  Wood more or less” also brought goods to the town

Steamer John D. Dewar (1)
brought goods to the town

Schooner Boaz (3)
Second Landing: “Cedar Ties” also brought goods to town

Scow Sassacus (2)
First Landing: “Cargo  48 Cds Maple Wood  40 Cds Slabs  80 Hem. Poles”

Schooner Minnehaha (1)
“Cargo  65,000 ft 3 ft 6 in Flooring”

Schooner Ruby (2)
Second Landing: “70 m ft Elm  20 Cds Beech Wood”

Schooner Guide (4)
Third Landing: “24 ½ Lumber  25 Cds B. Wood”

Schooner Annie O. Hanson (1) 
December 15, 1890 brought goods to the town


Barge Hilton (16) 
May 7, 1891 brought goods to the town

O. Shaw (1)
“Estimated 30 Cds Maple Wood”

Annie O. Hanson (10) 
December 24, 1891 brought goods to the town

The Demise of Burnham

Like many other lumbering towns, Burnham came and went with the local lumber. In 1895, the sawmill for Burnham Wood & Pier Co. closed, and the Burnham post office closed. With the primary business gone, the pier was left to deteriorate, and the school and many of the houses were moved south to Arcadia. In 1905, the Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory began describing Burnham simply by saying "Manistee county. Send mail to Arcadia."



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