The Alpena Argus, September 28, 1919

Eular Thorne of Long Rapids was born in London, England, October 16, 1850.  His father, Joshua Thorne, a merchant tailor, was also born in London, where he also died during the year 1856.  His mother, whose maiden name was Mary Ann Jones, was born in England, and died in Alpena, Mich. during the month of October, 1897.

At the age of 7 years Eular Thorne, subject of this sketch, came with his mother, two sisters and two brothers to New York City, where they remained two days; thence they went to Niagara Falls, remaining one week, thence to Stafford, Ont., by rail. Here Mrs. Thorne hired a team to take herself, family and household goods to Goderich, Ont.  The roads were horrible, mud to axle.  While on the way they met a man with an ox team stuck fast in the mud.  He jokingly asked, "How would you like to trade hosses."

On arriving at Goderich, Mrs. Thorne rented a house in the city.  Eular remained with the family until spring when he hired out to Wm. Barland, a farmer, where he remained five years, working on the farm summers and attending the district school winters.  As remuneration for his labor he received his board and clothes.

Meantime his mother was married to George Harris, a British war veteran, who with his regiment, had served through the Crimean and sepoy wars and afterward stationed to Halifax.  From there Mr. Harris was transferred to the Royal Canadian Rifles, composed of the veterans who had seen foreign service and were stationed at Goderich, Ont.  They next occupied the government barracks at London, Ont.  Here Eular joined his parents and attended the regimental military school.  From there he went with the regiment to Fort Frederick, next to Kingston, then to St. John, where he bade his parents "Good-bye" and walked to Richmond, Ont., a distance of about 56 miles, and hired to a wealthy framer at three dollars per month.

Mr. Thorne says "no daylight was ever wasted on this farm, it was work from dawn to 8 o'clock at night."  To cut grass a scythe was used.  Grain was cradled and hay and grain raked with a "bull rake."  This style of rake is a clumsy affair with a heavy handle nine feet in length.  Here Mr. Thorne worked about one year and after buying a suit of clothes, had ten dollars cash capital.

He then went to Port Huron, Mich., via Toronto, and from Port Huron to Alpena, by the steamer "Genesee Chief," arriving here in the fall of 1866.  He then worked in various shingle mills for a term of two years.

July 18, 1883, he was married to the widow of Johnson Woods, whose maiden name was Mary E. Bartley, a daughter of Robert Bartley of Memphis, Macomb county, Mich., by the Rev. Mills, pastor of the Baptist church, of Long Rapids.  Her children by her first marriage were: Edward Alexander, born Aug. 5, 1875; Ella May, born March 3, 1877; Susan Emily, Jan. 27, 1879; Jennie, born April 11, 1881, and died May 11, 1882.

To Mr. and Mrs. Eular Thorne have been born: Wilson E., Sept. 19, 1884, died Jan. 16, 1886; Robert Jay, born April 16, 1886; Jackson, April 17, 1888; Milo, May 1, 1891.

Beginning in the fall of 1883, Mr. and Mrs. Thorne moved into their present farm home, a state homestead, the N 1/2 of N.E. 1/4 Sec. 28 T. 22 N. R. 6 East; and later purchased the W.W. 1/4 of S.W. 1/4 Sec. 22 same town and range.

Previous to moving on the present farm and for the purpose of erecting a house Mr. Thorne had hauled and piled about eight thousand feet of lumber on what is known as Harry Colins where he thought it would be less liable to burn , and the outcome was, a forest fire swept through and burned it up.  From the Colins farm, and previous to moving on his own, he was obliged to build 80 rods of road.

Pioneer Life in “The Northern Wilds”

Previous to and after moving onto his present farm, Mr. Thorne was in the employ – a part of the time as foreman – of the firm of Fletcher, Pack & Co. and later for Albert Pack, attending to their interests in the woods and on Thunder Bay River and its tributaries, with now and then a land of timber estimate to look after.  He remained in their employ about 20 years.

At one time, while on the way to Hubbard Lake, to note the prospect for log driving, he was belated, and miles before reaching his destination wolves began to howl from all directions.  Directly in front of him, in the dim light, he said: “I could see them gathering as dark shadows on either side of the trail, and could imagine them as getting in position to spring upon me.  As to weapons of defence I had not even a jackknife and it was as safe to advance as to retreat, as their howls to the rear were increasing in volume and nearness.  I forged ahead and while passing the wolves I could have reached out and touched them.  At this juncture I could feel my hat grow tall and I hardly think my head normal when I reached shelter.

“While in the employ of Fletcher, Pack & Co. I went to Georgian Bay country to look over a “timber limit.”  It was dark when I arrived at Worthington.  At that time Worthington consisted of but one house and that was perched like a sentinel on the top of a high ledge of rock.  I could see a light in the window.  After a little skirmishing I discovered steps cut in the rock and by a series of slipping, sliding and strenuous climbing I finally reached the haven of rest or what was locally known as “The Pilgrims’ Roost.

“At noon the following day I started out to estimate and take in the surrounding landscape.  Upon reaching the summit of the ledge, I heard the brush cracking in the border of timber skirting the alley below.  Looking in that direction, I saw two large moose.  They ran a short distance, halting in the open.  At that moment I wished for my trusty Winchester.

“The timber in the valleys and on the mountain sides is mostly pine, and traveling in that section is rendered dangerous from moss covered rock.  At times the moss under your feet will break loose and give you a free ‘toboggan’ slide, for some distance, more or less, measured by the downward slope of the particular ledge.”

“At another time in Northern Michigan, while looking for land for the same company at the head waters of Rainy River, a tributary of Cheboygan Black, while following a section line, I nearly ran into the open arms of a big mother bear, that had assumed the upright position, to better protect her cub.  I think she was the largest bear I ever saw and at that particular moment, one a few sizes smaller would have looked as well to me.  While the mother bear put up a bluff the cub retired to a nearby stub  and climbed up a few feet, whereupon, the mother bear, after uttering a growl, walked over to the stub, arose on her hind feet and cuffed her cub off the stub and soon, to my relief, with the cub at her heels vanished in the distance.  I forgot to mention that when the bear had gone a respectable distance I gave a “lumberjack war whoop.”  The bear turned quickly and with a savage growl came toward me.  After some distance she halted and looked back, and seemingly satisfied resumed her journey in the direction of the cub.”

A Sad Experience

“In the winter of 1868, when the snow was 5 feet deep in the woods,” says Mr. Thorne, I was in the employ of McElroy and Ryan, who were lumbering on the Lower South, near Wolf Creek.  Being asked to go on an errand to the camp of H.R. Morse 16 miles distant, situated on the banks of Bean Creek, where Curley Dan McDonald was foreman.  I put on my snowshoes, but neglected to take a lunch.  At 2 P.M. I reached the “Lower South Branch crossing,” where Van Alstine kept a stopping place.  I was very tired.  From there I rode with a man who could show me where to take a trail leading to Morse’s camp.  On the way I gave this man all the [word missing] I had.  Upon arriving at the trail I put on my snow shoes and struck out.  After walking for hours with no camp in sight I made up my mind that I was not on the right trail.  The snow was soft and tiresome to walk on, but I struggled on until utterly exhausted, I fell and when I came to myself, the moon was shining.

Being somewhat rested I tried by the light of the moon to find the camp, and traveled until my limbs failed to respond, when for shelter I crawled partly under a large pine stub that had been burned down, where to keep from freezing I crawled back and forth until day-break.  I figured that I might strike a tote road within three miles.  Putting on my snow shoes I again resumed my search for civilization.  I would go a short distance, stagger and fall, until I finally reached the tote road.  Here I realized I was freezing: the forest trees were dancing.  I fell in the snow and remained unconscious until Wm. Heath, of Wilson township, came along and shook me back to life.  He put me in his sleigh and took me to Van Alstine’s where I was kindly cared for, and here I learned that the log where I had passed the night was within 10 rods of H.R. Morse’s camps.  Mr. Van Alstine applied a salve to my feet which were frozen stiff, and bur for him I would have had to have them amputated.  I then returned to headquarters.  Three weeks later I was given a tote route and made daily trips to Campbellville in the city and return, a distance of 30 miles via the winding trail.  On my return I would arrive at headquarters near midnight, but I did not get lonesome, being each night serenaded by from one to three packs of wolves.  One night they grew bold and gave me a wild ride to camp in order to save myself and horses.

After this episode I was allowed to make the trip by daylight, one day each way.

“To the present time I have not fully recovered from my trip in search of Morse’s camp.”

Mr. Thorne is a good marksman and hunter and during his early pioneer days would often take his trusty Winchester and spend days killing deer for the needs of himself and others who might be out of meat.  As it may be of interest to coming generations, we will chronicle a few of his hunting adventures as related by himself.

“I once shot a deer within 20 feet of my front door, on what is know as “The Moriarty farm.”  Sheltered by a big pine stump, where I fell asleep, and was awakened by the smashing of brush I saw three big bucks come out.  The wind was in my favor.  I fired at the biggest one, and he fell dead.  I then fired three shots and killed the remaining two.  I sold the best parts of their meat for $36.”

“At one time while in camp near the mouth of Cole Creek, I got up early and went out to a small grove to watch for deer.  Directly I saw something which resembled the roots of an upturned pine stump.  In watching it closely I fancied I saw a movement behind the roots.  I raised my gun and took aim.  Then changing my mind I lowered the gun and at that instant a large elk wheeled to the right and sprang under cover ere I could raise my gun.  In the gray dawn what had appeared to be the roots of a stump were the elk’s horns.

“Years ago, accompanied by Joseph Kurtz and Robert Gorman, we spent a few days hunting near Turtle Lake.  Mr. Kurtz and Mr. Gorman would drive the deer into the lake, and I in a canoe would head them off and after driving them in near shore would all try our skill shooting them.

“Once while in camp by Hunt Creek near the big dam and having a little leisure time I took my gun and had not been long in the woods when within a cluster of small trees I saw a deer.  I fired and the deer disappeared.  Directly in the same place I saw a deer an fired again with the same result as before.  Within a few seconds the act was repeated.  You may judge my surprise when upon investigation I found three dead deer within a 16 foot circle.

“At one time while standing on a stump, I killed 5 deer with six shots.”

“On what is known as the “Denton farm,” I killed three deer with two shots.”

“It is said, at an early day, fish were so numerous at the first dam from the mouth of Thunder Bay River, known as the “Oldfield dam,” that by dropping the tail board of the box and backing the wagon under water. Letting it remain a few moments, then by a rope attached for the purpose, raise the tailboard to its place, one could drive out with a full wagon of fish.”

The foregoing are samples of Mr. Thorne’s hunting and fishing stories.

Mr. Eular Thorne served thee terms as Highway Commissioner and two terms as Treasurer of Long Rapids township.

He is a member of the Long Rapids Tent No. 229 K.O.T.M.M. and a member of Long Rapids Grange.  He is also a member of “Michigan Bee Keepers Association” and of the “National Bee Keepers Association.”

Frugal and industrious, Mr. Thorne has earned a competency sufficient for himself and family during the remainder of their lives.

As a bee keeper he is successful.  During the past season he harvested from 9 colonies 1,303 pounds of honey.  He now has 30 colonies. 

He some good cows in which Gurnsey blood predominates and plenty of young cattle, three good horses and a very valuable 4-year-old.  He has a good sow, of the Chester white denomination.  Of hens he has a large flock of good laying strain, selected by laying the axe across the neck of those that refuse to lay.

Of fruit bearing trees he has 130 of apple, 10 cherry trees, and other fruit trees, and when the tree refuses to bear, either apple, pear, plum or cherry, Mr. Thorne drives a stake through its heart.

Mr. Thorne has ??? acres under cultivation, a good farm house, 3028 feet, a stone cellar under all.  His barn No. 1 is 45X75 feet; barn No. 2, 20X48 ; cow barn 16X30 feet: a good bee house and other out buildings.

At present writing Mr. and Mrs. Thorne are enjoying a good degree of health.  For several years Mr. Thorne suffered from rheumatism contracted while working in the woods and on drives, but is now quite free from rheumatic trouble.