In order to defend against American attacks and protect British trade with Indians, Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDouall moved his garrison from Fort Michilimackinac closer to Canada in 1815. He named the island after Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, commander of all British forces in Canada.
In November 1828, Fort Drummond, the last outpost of British occupation in America, was turned over to the U.S. For the next twenty-five years, only Native Americans inhabited Drummond Island.
In 1853 Canadian Daniel Murray Seaman and his family left the Mormon community on Beaver Island (more) and made their home on Drummond. Joined by two other Mormon families, they established a settlement. Daniel Seaman died in 1863, leaving his wife Betsy to take care of the sixteen children. As a former schoolteacher, Betsy gave her children a sound education and a strong sense of morality and tradition. The Seaman family thrived under the nurturing manner and watchful eye of the island’s matriarch.
George Warren Bailey brought his wife and six children to Drummond Island in 1880 to make his living from the huge tracts of hardwoods and pine trees. If the Seamans were viewed as being restrictive, reserved and austere (consistent with their Mormon beliefs), the Baileys would be seen as their oppositesâ”€boisterous, demonstrative in their behavior, fun-loving, and well acquainted with the bottle and tobacco.
While these two clans intertwined in commerce and family, a woman on a mission stormed ashore in 1902. Her Finnish name was Kreeta Kontra, but she was known as the spinster Maggie Waltz. Waltz wanted to create a utopian community safe from the dangers of mine disasters, alcohol and brawling. By 1913, there were hundreds of Finnish settlers in three communities living in comfortable dwellings, successfully farming the thin soil and lumbering the forests. Waltz improved their lives with a post office, schools, a community hall and a cooperative grocery store.
The descendants of the Seaman, Bailey and early Finnish families are well represented on Drummond Island. Today, approximately twelve hundred residents call Drummond home and welcome visitors to enjoy the fantastic wilderness still offered by the island.
For more Michigan summer destinations, look for the current issue of Michigan History magazine. For information call (800) 366-3703 or visit www.michiganhistorymagazine.com.
If you’d like to visit Drummond Island, start planning at absolutemichigan.com/Drummond!