Magdalena Beers was born in 1848. Her mother, also Magdalena, died giving birth to her. Her father, farmer Philo Beers, sent three of his children to live with other families. Then he moved with the older ones and the babies to Northport on the Leelanau Penninsula, built a lighthouse, and became its second keeper. In 1865 he moved to the little settlement called Pine River, a relatively short boat ride but a long walk from Northport. He purchased a large section of land, built a home just in time for winter, and lived there with his two daughters, Harriet and Lennie.
A few years later Lennie married a local boy, Almon Ingalls. He died of illness while on a trip to Wisconsin, and a month later Lennie gave birth to her son, also Almon. She purchased land across the street from her father’s house and commissioned ship chandler Ben Campbell to build a house. The month the house was completed and a month after the 1870 census recorded the fact of his existence, little Allie died.
Two years later, Philo died. Lennie’s brother Henry, who had taken over for his father as lighthouse keeper, died the same year after losing two of his children. Lennie married Ben Campbell and they lived in the home he had built for the young widow. They had four children. When their nine-year-old daughter died, Lennie had a bronze monument with four faces made. It honored her first husband, her son, her father, and finally the daughter “whose light they sought in every corner of the house.” Then she and Ben left the house and the town, by then called Charlevoix.
The house stayed in the family until 1995, when Lennie’s granddaughter Erma died, and the city of Charlevoix acquired it. In a couple of weeks the house will be burned down so a movie company can film a Molotov Cocktail being thrown through a window, so local fire fighters can practice their craft, and so the city can build a downtown parking lot. Goodbye, Lennie.
Pictures of and by Helen.