After entirely too long, we welcome back Michigan History Magazine!
Spending time “up north” in Michigan is one of summer’s special delights. The rituals are repeated year after year–making friends (and saying goodbye), enjoying beautiful water and longing all winter for the next summer.
A century ago, the Clarence and Grace Hemingway family summered in northern Michigan. They were in most ways an ordinary family for their time, but in one way they were unique. Their son, Ernest, became world famous, writing stories set in northern Michigan and winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. When he spent summers in Michigan, Ernest Hemingway was simply “Ernie,” a boy who loved getting away from home and spending time up north.
The Hemingways arrived in northern Michigan as the 1890s were coming to a close. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a successful doctor in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, bought an acre of land on Walloon Lake and built a cottage the family called Windemere.
Like most families in the area, the Hemingways’ cottage life revolved around the water. It was a source of food and entertainment and at this time of few roads, it connected the Hemingways (Clarence, his wife Grace and six children) to others on the lake and to the outside world.
Dr. Hemingway taught his children to swim and spent much time in the water with them. Under their father’s guidance, Ernest and his siblings developed boating and fishing skills. In one letter, Ernest proclaimed that Walloon Lake was “the best rainbow trout fishing in America.” Hunting and shooting were also a part of the summer experience. Dr. Hemingway was an excellent shot who knew the importance of safety and responsible hunting. Shooting skeet on the grassy hill behind the cottage soon became a Sunday afternoon family tradition.
Ernest’s experiences abruptly ended as he moved into his twenties. After serving with the Red Cross in Italy in 1918, Ernest returned home and spent the summers of 1919 and 1920 at Windemere. The following year, he and his new wife honeymooned on Walloon Lake. It was the last time Ernest ever stayed at Windemere or visited Michigan for any amount of time.
Today, Ernest Hemingway is remembered as a world-famous author – not a young boy tagging along on family vacations. But for the first two decades of his life, “Ernie” was simply a part of a regular family that called northern Michigan home for the summer.
For more on the Hemingways’ up north, especially some never-before-published family photos, pick up a copy of the September/October 2007 issue of Michigan History magazine. Visit www.michiganhistorymagazine.com or call toll free, (800) 366-3703.
Photo credit: Clarke Historical Library/Jim Sanford
Dig Michigan! In a recent fall color tour of the Walloon Lake area on Michigan in Pictures, we came across a whole lot of information on Hemingway & Windemere from the Hemingway Resource Center and also this cool PBS series on Hemingway.