Our Polish Ancestry

Our Polish Ancestry

From information available, it is believed that the majority of settlers came into the area in pairs and groups to settle together, apparently planning, even then, to create a town of which they could be proud. We do find record that in 1869 Mr. Theodore Noffze and Mr. William Hardies were among the first settlers to take up land in the county outside the Rogers CIty and Crawfords Quarry area. It is believed that before Mr. Hoffze and Mr. Hardies, the only settlers outside of the coastal area were Mr. Harvey L. Parris and Mr. David Wilson, both of whom stayed close to Rogers City. Along with Mr. Noffze and Mr. Hardies are numbered August Elowski, Fred Elowski, and Fred Pieper, who were pioneers in the Belknap area.

It is believed that in 1870 a few hundred Polish immigrants were brought by lumber companies to the unsettled, virgin timber wilderness of what is now Posen. When the timber became exhausted, the Polish laborers, who had been farmers in their native land, remained and bought the land they lived on and cleared it for farming. Most of the Polish immigrants were from a German occupied part of Poland and many spoke both languages. As a matter of interest, many of the first officers of the township wrote their minutes and kept their records in a German-type script occasionally using German terms rather than their native Polish. The name of Posen, which they later chose for their village, is the German spelling for the Polish Province of Poznan, from which most of the settlers came.

In the year 1840, the state legislature set off the area consisting of that part of the state lying North of and between Towns 32 and 33 North and East of a line between Ranges 1 and 2 East and attached it to Mackinac County. Then in 1853, this area was taken from Mackinac and attached to Cheboygan County. In 1857, that part of the county lying East of Range 4 East was taken from Cheboygan County and attached to Alpena County. This area finally came into its own on March 31, 1871, when it was named a separate county from Alpena by the legislature and became Presque Isle County. The first election was held April 3, 1871, at the County Seat, Village of Rogers City.

Four years later the legislature found the organization of March, 1871, to be illegal and on April 9, 1875, the County of Presque Isle was reorganized and the Townships of Presque Isle, Posen, Belknap, Moltke and Rogers were set up. All county offiers were elected at a meeting on April 19, 1875, and the County Seat was established as being at the village of Rogers City.

Previous to this time, the story goes that the County Seat was moved from place to place, depending upon which townships were represented at the county meetings. It seems there was a little pot-bellied stove which belonged to the county, and this was taken from township to township with the officers to designate the county seat. Wherever the stove was kept that was the County Seat at the time.

After the forming of the new county, the first act of the new Board of Supervisors (Albert Molitor of Rogers, John McArthur of Belknap, Andrew Banks of Moltke, Julius Darga of Posen and Frederick Burnham of Presque Isle) was the rescinding of the motion to dispose of the Court House in Rogers City. Their next act was to pass a resolution authorizing the sheriff to bring Thomas Crawford, the former County Treasurer, before the Board with the books of his office. However, before the sheriff could bring him in, Crawford fled to the woods and a short time later was seen boarding a tug leaving the county and taking the county books with him.