Caretakers of the past, stewards of the future
Social Life in a Company Town
In the first two decades of the 20th century, nearly half of Gay’s population were immigrants who brought many traditions with them. In 1900, only two of the 104 people living in Sherman Township were not first- or second-generation immigrants. Early arrivals tended to be English and German; by 1910, most were French-Canadian and Finnish. In 1904, the two mills were in full operation. Mohawk and Wolverine Mining Companies laid out the streets, built worker houses, a school, the township hall, a doctor’s office, a store, and a park with playground equipment. Night classes held at the Gay School offered English as a second language.
A group of Mohawk Stamp Mill employees pose in front of the mill which began operations in 1902. Courtesy: MTU Archives.
The first school in Gay was built in 1902 to meet the needs of the families working at the mills. It became overcrowded and a new, six room, two story building was built in 1927. Continuing education was available in nearby communities. The school continued to be a center of community life after the mills closed in 1932. By 1959 only 25 students attended the school, and it was closed in 1961.
Courtesy: Gay Museum.
The 1907 Gay Baseball team won the Keweenaw League pennant. They were League champions for three years. Courtesy: Gay Museum
KCHS museum sites and cottage rentals will be open for the 2022 season. Please see the site and rental webpages for specific dates and operation information.
The Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Board of Directors will follow the COVID-19 Epidemic Orders issued by the State of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. These public health orders are updated as needed, so KCHS may need to change access to buildings and events.
Please check back for updates.
Keweenaw County Historical Society