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Iron Creek Is Five Lakes (Elwin B. English)


By dhowell - Posted on 02 January 2008

Another important name in the early history of Manchester Township is English. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, the late Elwin B. English related a few of the interesting things he remembered. That was in February 1964.

"Most people don't know that Iron Creek wasn't always one big pond," he reflected.

"Iron Creek is made up of five lakes, including Iron and Crane lakes. When they dammed the water and built the sawmill the five lakes simply made up one big pond. When the country was new, I think they intended to have a town at Iron Creek. There was a store there at one time, and, of course, the sawmill."

His parents were Benjamin and Mary Baldwin English. His mother used to tell of coming to Iron Creek, four miles southwest of Manchester. Her family left Clarendon, N. Y. for Michigan, May 10, 1836, crossed Lake Erie on a barge, and 10 days later their prairie schooner arrived on the south side of Iron Lake.

They were headed for the farm of an uncle, William Baldwin. Although it was night, the uncle and his family had kept a sharp lookout and saw the lights on the wagon. Mrs. English said it wasn't long before she was perched on her uncle's shoulder and he was carrying her across Iron Lake. There was no bridge and people had to know where to ford the creek.

"My grandparents, Richard and Susannah Green English, built a log house and mother used to tell about the stick chimney," English said. "Their frame house was built in 1852. Then in 1870 they built the frame house where my niece and husband, the Ed Wisners live."

The wood for the house was obtained right on the farm and sawed into lumber at the Iron Creek mill.

Sheep raising was a very important part of the history of the Iron Creek farmer and Mr. English told how the farmers used to think they had to wash the sheep before shearing.

"They'd drive them down to the creek and pen the sheep up in yards. A fellow would wade in and wash each one for about a cent a piece. Then the farmer would drive the wet sheep back home over the dirt road with the dust a-flying. My opinion was that they'd be dirtier when they finished than at the start.

"Sometimes the sheep dropped from exhaustion right in the road until the water had a chance to run out of the wool. I used to like to watch them wash the sheep. We never took ours to the mill because we had a lake on the farm and washed them at home. In those days they paid more for washed wool," the late Mr. English said.

The only person living today, 1967, who went to school at the Iron Creek country school with the late Mr. English is Percy Kelly, and the only person living who granduated with him from high school in 1893, is May Eylesworth Parks.

At the time of his 90th birthday he told about the 4th of July celebrations that the village used to have and lamented that he guessed they were a thing of the past. He would have enjoyed to the fullest the Centennial July 4th celebration, for he recalled an early one when a fellow parachuted out from a balloon at low altitude, after it sprung a leak, shortly after leaving the ground. They tried to throw up wet sponges to put out the fire but it didn't work. "The fellow jumped and slid down the steep roof on the present Keasal home. There he was rescued," Mr. English said.