Local Leelanau History

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October 1, 2016


†† The Bufka Farm

†† Leelanau County

†† Other locations

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The Bufka Farm






The log building pictured above is believed to be the original home on the Bufka farm by the first owners. When I was growing up it was used as a chicken coop. For a complete history and many pictures, see my book, From Bohemia to Good Harbor., It tells the complete story of the Bufka family in Leelanau as well as a long description of life on the farm in the late nineteenth century and the progress from there to modernization in the mid-twentieth century..

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Leelanau County

The Ordinance of 1787 established the Northwest Territory and ordered the surveying of the land. The current Great Lakes states comprise roughly the former Northwest Territory. Land was marked out into sections, townships, and counties. Each section was 640 square acres and thirty six sections formed a normal township. I believe sixteen townships formed a normal county.  When you look at a county map of Michigan, you will easily notice how square many counties are.  Lake boundaries in much of Michigan made it difficult to create square counties.  Leelanau County has only eleven townships.
†† The area now known as Leelanau County was laid off in 1840 and attached to Mackinac County from 1843-1853.  It was organized as Omeena Township in 1850 with Grand Traverse and Antrim Counties.  The township of Leelanau was created in 1853 and attached to Grand Traverse County from 1853-1863, when Leelanau County was organized.
   The first county seat was at Northport but changed to Leland in1880. The county seat was moved to a new location near Suttons Bay in the early 2000ís.

I suggest the following links for more information. Press the Back icon on your browser to come back to this site after going to one of these.

 Leelanau County Historical Society & Museum

 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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Other locations of interest

Good Harbor is one of the ghost villages in Michigan.  It was one of the many lumber towns on the Great Lakes. Good Harbor was on the shore of Lake Michigan in central Leelanau County. While the village has long ago disappeared, the area around it is still known as Good Harbor. In 1890 "The village consisted of 18 houses, two general stores, a post office in one of the general stores, a two-story boarding house which was 150 feet long, a warehouse, a saloon, and a feed barn.  When the mill burned down in 1902, the village lost its heart, and the inhabitants began to move away.

For a complete history of Good Harbor, see my book, Good Harbor Michigan: TheStory and the People 1850-1931. It tells the story by using original news items from the Leelanau Enterprise and many other original sources. It includes genealogical data of about 100 families, history of the churches and schools.

Also of interest is my book, News from the Neighborhood, which includes news items from the Leelanau Enterprise about Good Harbor from 1880 to 1931.

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Bohemian Settlement was an area part of the old North Unity in which a number of Bohemians (Czechs) had settled in the 1850's and later.  Most, if not all, of these early settlers were Roman Catholic.  In 1884, Fr. Joseph Mrak, the first priest serving this community, organized a church building committee.  Charles Hlavka donated an acre of land. Joseph Svoboda built the first altar.  It was later burned and a new altar purchased. The church was built on a knoll alongside the road now known as Bohemian Rd.
   In 1888 the new church was blessed by the first bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Henry Joseph Richter. It was dedicated to the care of St. Joseph. Fr. Joseph Bauer offered the first mass in the newly dedicated church.  On July 7, 1889, Fr. Bauer blessed "the new bell ... and the stations of the cross, describing the sufferings and death of Jesus in four languages - German, French, Italian, and Bohemian ....  They still hang on the walls of the church."   Vickie Nemeskal (Victoria (Kalena)  told Jerome Bufka that the frames for the stations were donated by Charles Bufka.  One of the first baptisms was Joseph Nemeskal, son of Frank and Anna Hotove Nemeskal.  Joseph was Joseph Bufka's first cousin.
   Priests from Peshabestown, Suttons Bay, Traverse City, Frankfort, and Empire served this small church over the years.  In 1917 it was a mission of St. Ann's in Frankfort, in 1940 a mission of St. Philip's in Empire, and in 1951 a mission of St. Rita's in Maple City. Fr. Thaddeus (Ted) Sniegowski was the first pastor at St. Rita's. In 1970 the congregation was joined to St. Rita's in Maple City, which then became St. Rita-St. Joseph.  Today St. Joseph church stands as a reminder of the faith of those early settlers.    Mass is still offered there occasionally. For a more detailed account of Bohemian Settlement, see my book, North Unity and Bohemian Settlement.

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