Goodar Yesteryear


Goodar Township, located in the northeastern sections of Ogemaw County, was a wilderness only trespassed by Indian hunters, when Ogemaw County was set aside in 1840.  Even at the time that the government of the county was organized in 1875 it was questionable whether or not there were any permanent settlers in the township.  However, white hunters were frequently visiting the area.

Lumbering played an all-important part in the early settlement.  The township was covered with a heavy stand of white pine, which was harvested on the northward advance of the lumber industry across the state.

The topography of Goodar Township is varied.  The northeastern corner and western portion are the rolling sandy loam dotted with small patches of heavy red clay, whereas, the area around South Branch is a level sandy plain.  The southern tiers of sections are low and swampy and the source of many spring creeks which terminate in the South branch of the AuSable River.

Portions of Goodar Township have a history of being a part of three different counties dating back to 1863.  When the first land grants were issued in 1863 the eastern tier of sections were sold as Iosco County, and in 1867 the northern tier of sections were sold as part of Alcona County.

The government survey of 1870 established the present northern and eastern boundaries of the township.  (It is interesting to note that I found one signed by Andrew Johnson.)  However, the township was not set apart from Rose Township until January 5, 1888.  At this time the present boundaries were stabilized.

Even though the Sage and McGraw Land Company had purchased the majority of the land prior to 1878 there was very little activity in the area.  A few brave souls had claimed possession of the land through “squatter’s rights” and were farming and hunting for a livelihood.

In 1878 Charles Goodar received a timber contract from Sage and McGraw land Improvement Company and started the first lumber camp in the area.  Charles Taber came along as his assistant.  Gilbert Roe was the blacksmith.  Other lumbermen arriving at approximately this shame time were Lee Coburn, A.H. Caster, Levi Sperling, Maurice McCasey, Joseph Bowls, David and C.A. Frickelton, Gill Roe, Nickolas Byce, Ed Aena, Frank Smith, Robert Campbell, Landeberg and Crozier.

As near as I can determine none of the first cutting of pine was sawed locally.  It was hauled to the AuSable River, then floated to AuSable where it was sawed, then transferred to Bay City.  Only the choice timber was cut in this first stage of lumbering.  Lumbermen then sold the land to individuals or let it go back to the state for taxes.  The local purchasers began farming.  Charles Taber had brought the first three cows into the settlement.

The Settlement grew up in the northeastern part of the township and then the town came into existence.  The first name given the settlement was Thompson’s Station.  Frank Smith opened a general store in 1887.  The following year Maurice McCasey opened a hotel and general store.

In the fall of 1887 unrest began to arise concerning the inequality in tax assessment and lack of any financial assistance for roads and schools in the Thompson’s Station settlement.  Thus began a move to establish a new township, Rose Township, having poor means of communication with this eastern area, readily agreed to the division.  Because Charles Goodar was the financial spokesman for the area his name was quickly chosen for the new township.  Thus, after proper legal procedure, Goodar Township was organized January 5, 1888 wit the first election held in Maurice McCasey’s boarding house.  Charles Goodar, Frank Smith and A.H. Caster were designated as the electors to preside at said meeting.  At this election C.A. Frickelton was elected supervisor; A.H. Caster elected clerk; Frank Smith elected treasurer; Charles Goodar, Nickolas Byce, and Maurice McCasey were elected Justices of the Peace.  Archibald Stevens was elected highway commissioner.  Charles Taber was constable and Frank Smith was elected School inspector.  (Notice several were elected for two offices.)

The first order of business for newly elected officers was claiming their share of money in the Rose Township treasury.  This combined meeting of the two township’s boards was quite controversial but an agreement was finally reached after considerable debate.

Action was immediately taken to establish a school.  A small schoolhouse was built which still stands as part of the home of Grace Berry.  A schoolhouse was also built across from the present Goodar Church.  This school was known as Taber School.  As near as I can ascertain these two schools were built at approximately the same time. (1889)

Church services were held in the schoolhouses by traveling ministers.  An article printed in the Industrial Edition of the West Branch Times 1889, mentions a church but I can find no record of a separate building thus I assume the school houses served both purposes.  Reverend Ara Spencer was the first permanent Baptist Minister.  He came about 1890.

Agriculture, on a small scale to say the last, had replaced the lumber camp by 1885.  Then suddenly the building of the railroad in 1887 brought a revival to the lumbering industry.  Now pine could be harvested which had been inaccessible in the first lumbering era.  By this time the steam engine had come into being, thus sawmills were started and lumber was shipped by rail to Bay City and Saginaw.

Evidently the first sawmill was operated by Julius Simmons.

This was quickly followed by Goodar, Guilford, Maltby, George Huckle, and Williamson and Eymer.  The latter cut hardwood while the other mills still harvested pine for a number of years.

These sawmills naturally brought many more businessmen and lumbermen during the 1890’s.  Among some of the familiar names were: Berry, Doane, Bayne, Gates, Martin, Martindale, Monaghan, Bennett, Moore, C.W. Spencer, Wood, Mudgett, Schriebs, Barnaby and Alderton.

To show the population growth South Branch had a population of 50 in 1893 but had increased to 175 by 1901.  Maltby was not mentioned in the census of 1893 but is listed with a population of 50 in 1901.  These two figures do not include the rural area.  Perhaps there were nearly as many rural residents as in the villages.

Shortly after the 1990’s another lull besieged the township.  A fire in the slashing in the late 1800’s had moved the lumbering north of this area.  However, there had been left behind a remnant of hardwood and hemlock.  This was harvested in the third era of lumbering by the S.L. Eastman and S.A. Robinson Lumber Company between 1909 and 1914.  Thus ended the cutting of the virgin timber for Goodar Township.

From the organization of the township in 1888 until August 12, 1912, all meetings and elections had been in some business place in South Branch.  The village of Maltby, no feeling important began a move to share political prominence.  At an August 1912 meeting the voters filed a petition requesting that a proposal be put on the ballot for the November election that $400 be voted for the purpose of buying and remodeling the Milligan Store Building at Maltby for a township hall.  This proposal passed and the building was April 12, 1914.  This served as a township hall until the present combination township hall and school was built in 1950.  The old hall then was sold.  It has since burned, but a search of the lost town of Maltby still shows evidence of where it stood.


Again this was written by Evelyn Berry in 1961.  This is used with her permission and the permission of the Rose City Area Historical Society.  The photographs are courtesy of Beulah Taber Huebner.