The Rayburn Ranch


Harford ("Happy") Smith started construction of this enormous home in 1915 on his property which adjoined that of M.B. Spratt to the east.  He soon sold his farm to Robert Rayburn, owner of the Island Mill Lumber Company in Alpena.  Mr Rayburn enlarged and completed the house, built the barn and five silos, and hired a ranch manager.

A large herd of registered Durham cattle was brought in from Montana to graze the eleven "forties" of partly-cleared land.  For some unknown reason the cattle were replaced in 1918 by a flock of 1500 sheep.  Marauding bears and coyotes from the nearby woods damaged the flock to the extent that this venture, too, was unprofitable.

Invasion by wild animals, high production expenses, and low prices for farm crops have all taken their toll.  The one-impressive Rayburn Ranch is now used only as an "open-farm" for deer hunters during the fall season.


Note: the Rayburn Ranch is the last cleared land on the old Spratt Road before it winds into the hunting clubs such as the LeRoy Club.  For years it was owned by the Josey family of Estil and Ruby Josey.  Their granddaughter Jamie is currently (~2003) working to renovate the place.  I hope she is able to restore the old place to at least some approximation of its original state.  However, it is a huge place and will require the patience of Job.  Good Luck Jamie. - Nelson Herron, March, 2003


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Herron Genealogy


Note: This article was contained in the package of materials from my aunt Ardellia Herron's term paper for professor Dain's History 414 class in December, 1967.  

Note: the original paper is in the archives of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.  It may be referenced as:

Herron, Ardellia M., History of Spratt, 1967, Central Michigan University Student Term Papers, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.