South Branch, the only village left in the township, has quiet a unique history. Its first name is quite controversial. Most of the older people of the community insist that the first official name was Thompson’s Station; however, the first post office was established in Hunt on January 17, 1889. An article in the West Branch Industrial Edition 1889 headlines the town as “Hunt” and the first sentence in the article reads in part, “Located in the northeast corner the village of Hunt or Thompson’s Station”. Evidently both names were used.
Now to make the name more confusing the village was platted as “South Branch” on September 30, 1888, and recorded as such on February 12, 1889. At first, I thought perhaps the village had been moved from its original location, but a search of the records at the Register of Deeds office in West Branch convinced me otherwise. It is quite definitely established that Frank Smith built and operated the first store in the township and this piece of property is located with in the platted area of the present village of South Branch.
The village was platted in 1187 by D.E. Guiley (surveyor) for Jesse Ingamell and Mary Kulstrum of East Tawas. A man by the name of Whittemore, who had been one of the founders of Tawas City and Whittemore in Iosco County, had owned the property between 1873 and 1875. After Whittemore was declared bankrupt in 1875 the property went back to the state for delinquent taxes. John Cole of AuSable purchased the property from the Auditor General’s office in 1880. That same year Cole sold it to Mary Fowler who in turn sold it to Moore, Whipple and Company, a lumbering corporation of Bay City. These three transactions took place in 1880. In 1887 the Moore Lumber Company sold it to Bowery of West Branch. Bowery, after selling several lots in 1887, sold the balance of the forty acres to Ingamell and Kulstrum who platted the village. At the mortgage foreclosure sale of Ingamell and Kulstrum the various lots were sold t the highest bidders. Time didn’t permit me find the names of all the purchasers but a few were Frickleton, Ward, Lilliberg, Frank Berry, Bayne, Harper, Martin, Ewings and Roe.
Although the first deeds issued state no liquor to be sold on certain lots, the thirst of the lumbermen and the anxiety of the businessmen for the easy earnings from the sale of liquor soon nullified the rule.
At a meeting of the township board on June 1, 1888, Anna B. Frickleton’s petition to open a saloon was accepted. The following November 20, a liquor license was issued to Maurice McCasey. Thus ending prohibition in Goodar Township.
On January1, 1889, Frickleton was removed from office and replaced by Dr. L.A. Proper. About this same time J. Mathews was given a license to operate a drugstore which sold liquor and Anna Lilliburg was issued a liquor license May 1, 1889. At this time there were four saloons in the village.
In 1901 South Branch was a thriving town with a population of 175. W.J. Bayne operated a general store and a railroad agent. Frank Berry owned a blacksmith shop and his son William was a shoemaker. A.H. Caster was a wagon maker, Doane owned a cedar mill, L.A. Ewings owned a hotel, J.T. Guilford and Joe Martindale both owned sawmills. Henry Middleton was the village carpenter, Morris Moore was the section foreman, and C.W. Spencer operated a saloon and was constable. T. A. Thompson was a cattle buyer, and Monagham and Bennett owned and operated a shingle and saw mill. Mail was delivered daily with C. E. Martin, postmaster.
South Branch continued to prosper until the decline of the lumbering. As its economic structure was geared with lumbering its progress coincided with it. South Branch being the largest village in the township withstood the transition and remains the only village. The population in 1960 was 61.
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.