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Local Church History

Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church & Cemetery located near here at Leach and Priest Streets, Silver Creek Township. Chief Leopold Pokagon and his tribe of Potawatomi Indians built a log church here in 1838 and deeded the forty acres of land on which it stood to the Catholic Bishop of Detroit. Pokagon, who came to Silver Creek Township from his village outside of nearby Niles, was buried on this site in 1841. During the early 1840s, the Holy Cross Fathers of Notre Dame in Indiana ministered to the Indians. In the mid-nineteenth century, many Irish immigrants settled in the vicinity and attended this parish. The white frame church built in 1861 burned in 1886 and was immediately replaced by the present structure. The cemetery traces many of the historical figures.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Dowagiac. It is the oldest public building in Dowagiac and, at the time, was the only auditorium. The structure was built in 1859. Women's rights advocates Victoria Woodhill, Belva Lockwood, Anna Shaw, Mary Livermore, and Susan B. Anthony spoke here, as did civil rights supporter Sojourner Truth. Performers appearing here included Ole Bull, the Norse violinist. Episcopalians first met here in 1897. The Romanesque style of the exterior has remained unchanged; however, the interior was remodeled extensively in 1959, when Dom. Francis Bacon O.S.B. (1903-1967) added mosaics and decorations reminiscent of very early churches. The first recorded Episcopal gathering in Cass County was conducted by Bishop Philander Chase in 1832. In 1858, under the auspices of the Trinity Church of Niles, the first Episcopal services in Dowagiac were held.

Magician Lake & Dowagiac Pictorial History

It’s always fascinating to look back at what came before on Magician Lake and in our region. Magician Lake had numerous resorts lining the shores in a day when tourists would rent a resort cottage and not buy a lake home. Presumably some of the resort renters eventually bought a home site.

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Most of the resorts are gone, but their names and names of some local businesses that have withstood time and prevail to this day are seen below. In a 1936 “Tourist Guide of Dowagiac, Michigan” ads are fun to see – particularly for those who have been on the lake for many decades. They remind us of what went before. In 1936, groups of Indians picked huckleberries in the swamp across from BT’s Pub and on the Polk property. The local pride of the influence of Indian culture was promoted by companies and towns and villages. For example, the city of Dowagiac had as its Tourist Board office in 1936 a replica of a tepee as seen here.

Dowagiac was the home of the potbellied stove, which started as a warming stove for train depots in Michigan, but spread far and wide. As a result of the Dowagiac location of stove manufacturing, there were spinoffs of other stove and furnace manufacturers over the years. The Dowagiac Museum has many of the finest of Round Oak stoves but there were others too... Here are 1936 ads for not only Round Oak stoves, but also for Rudy Manufacturing stoves and for Premier Furnace Company, too.

There were many Magician Lake resorts, as there were on many on the various Sister Lakes. In the beginning, only two lakes were called “Sister Lakes”, Round Lake and Big Crooked Lake. Today, there are (arguably) six lakes considered to be part of Sister Lakes. 

On Magician Lake, cottage rentals were prevalent. The names of the old resorts are familiar to those who have been on the lake for many years. Here are ads from a few of them... Happyland was on the north east shore, Gilmore Beach was on the east end, south side (Gilmore Road), and Gregory Beach was on the north east shore, also – mostly where the Blackmond property is now.

The center of entertainment was Ramona. This was located where Midway Marine is now. There was big-band sounds, dancing, a bar, food, and the best hang-out. Located there, too, was a grocery store where a kid was thrilled to be sent by mom in the 5hp outboard boat for milk or bread.

Local businesses have withstood time too... Among the ads in the 1936 brochure are those from Judd Lumber – the oldest lumber yard in Michigan – since 1859, and Caruso’s in Dowagiac, since 1922.

And... if you had time at the end of the day, you could always play golf at Indian Lake Hills for $1.00!