Ever wonder how some of our islands got their names? Here’s some history on island names from Frank R. Grover’s “A Brief History of Les Cheneaux Islands,” first published in 1911. Copies of this book are available from the Les Cheneaux Historical Association.
Origin of Les Cheneaux Island Names
From its shape, also known as Echo Island.
Origin of name unknown — probably on account of some early adventure of a hunter with a bear.
From a former dense growth of birch trees on this island.
From its shape.
From W. H. Coryell, owner, an early pioneer and homesteader.
From the fact that it was first bought at government sale at that price.
From its small size and circular shape, ad-joins St. Ledger’s Island.
One of the three channels navigable for large boats, east of Boot Island. The other two are Middle Entrance and West Entrance.
Opposite Club Point, so named by early Les Cheneaux club members by reason of the echo heard from the club house grounds before a fire destroyed part of the timber, known also as Alligator Island on account of its shape.
So called as early as 1784, — probably from the abundance there at one time of wild geese. Formerly known as “Isle aux Outardes” — an early French name for Goose Island that likely references the former “Point Aux Outardes,” near Hessel, mentioned by Henry R. Schoolcraft, in an account of his September 1825 voyage from Mackinac Island to Sault Ste. Marie in “Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes.” Schoolcraft was stormbound in the Les Cheneaux Islands, on a point he called “Outard” (possibly Point Brulee or Fuyards), and he wrote a poem about the experience entitled “Outard Point.”
Opposite Hessel – from Mr. Edward P. Fenlon, present owner, son of the pioneer of the same name. Known also as Haven Island.
From Frank R. Grovcr, who obtained the patent from the government, — same as Grover and Wheeler’s Island, and so appearing on the government map.
Same as “Island No. 6.” Owned and used by the United States in the construction of Spectacle Reef and Martin Reef lighthouses, as well as the quarrying of rock for lighthouse purposes. Name of “Government Dock” (a former dock) on the east side of this island same origin. Here the rock for Spectacle Reef lighthouse was quarried and shipped, while parts of the lighthouses were constructed on the island. On the government map of the land surveys of 1840-46 appears the notation “Island No. 6 permanently reserved for lighthouse purposes.” Government Island is now part of the Hiawatha National Forest, and is used for recreation and is completely open to the public.
Opposite Hessel, formerly known as Fenlon’s Island.
From Mason Hill. (also Hill Island)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 — so named upon maps of government surveys (of 1840 and 1845), as one informant says, “when the surveyors ran out of names.”
(The Home of the’ North West Wind) — from Hiawatha, same as Rogers Island:
From the Huron Indian nation: called also by Champlain “Mer Douce” (freshwater sea): Shown on Hennepin’s map as “Lake Huron or Karegnondi,” the latter designation the Indian name in 1679 according to Hennepin; known also by very early writers as “Lake Orleans.”
Near St. Ledger Island, former property of Mrs. Nathalie Buchanan, of Louisville, Kentucky.
La Salle and Little La Salle Islands
From the explorer, date first so called unknown, probably from very early
times. Outline (but not name) shown on Jesuit maps of 1 6707 1. The larger one of the two islands designated upon the maps of government survey of 1840 and 1845 as ‘”La Salle Island.”
Lone Susan Island
From Susan Gesish, an Indian woman who camped there. Name first given by Capt. C. K.
Brandon of Detroit, former Vice-President of Les Cheneaux Club, one of its most respected members, now deceased, who built the first cottage at Club Point, and was a charter member of Les Cheneaux Club.
From its shape, known also as Seiberling’s from its former owner, Mr. Frank A. Seiberling, of Akron, Ohio. Its original name is “Isle Cauk-gb-nah-gwah” an Ojibway name for the fish commonly known as the bull Head, as the outline of this island closely resembles the shape of that fish, and the bay at southerly end of the island representing the open mouth of the fish.
From Father Marquette, date first so called unknown, but quite accurately designated (but not by name) on maps drawn by Father Marquette himself in 1670 and 1673, designated upon maps of U. S. land surveys of 1840 and 1845 as “Marquette Isle.” Now home of the Aldo Leopold Preserve, named for the renowned naturalist who spent his summers here as a boy.
One of the three channels navigable for large boats and located between Marquette and Little LaSalle Islands.
A small reef due north of Club Point— from John Pollock, a former Les Cheneaux Club caretaker and marshal, owner of an adjacent farm on the mainland, who claims title by right of first discovery and possession (in a year of low water).
From its owner, Mr. James H. Rogers, of Cleveland, Ohio; same as “Kee-way-din” Island.
St. Ledger Island
From Michel Saint Ledger, a fisherman, so named by first Les Cheneaux Club officers as a compliment to St. Ledger.
One of the three channels navigable for large boats, between Point Brulee and Coats Point.
White Loon Island
Near and adjoining Saint Ledger’s Island, formerly the property of Mrs. Nathalie Buchanan, of Louisville, Ky.
Visit the Calendar Page at lescheneaux.net for event dates and times!
All Year: Story & Craft Time at Les Cheneaux Community Library, 10:30 am, Cedarville
All Year: Les Cheneaux Farmers & Artisans Market, 10 am to 2 pm, Hessel School House, Hessel
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