Three Michigan Marauders Who Ruled the Great Lakes

Ahoy! Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day to all you landlubbers out there! You didn’t know it was Talk Like a Pirate Day?  Yarr, you might be walking the plank yet, matey!

Photo by Dave Nowak - Nordmeer Shipwreck Lake Huron

Photo by Dave Nowak – Nordmeer Shipwreck Lake Huron

The Great Lakes were home to some of the most fearsome and burly pirates of any waters on the map.  These swashbucklers ruled the high fresh-water seas and made their living sailing and searching for treasure not known to Jack Sparrow – lumber, illegal alcohol and wild-game meat. Known as Timber Pirates by some, these buccaneers would ship up to the Upper Peninsula to cut down wide areas of timber to sell to industrializing cities east of the state. Alcohol runners would even steal alcohol to sell in Detroit or Chicago, or trade for guns and loot.

Below are some of the most recognized pirates of the Great Lakes. Check them out – if you dare!

Calico Jack

John Rackham – John Rackahm, or Calico Jack as he was often known, is remembered as a small-time pirate from the 1700’s. He would steal anything from cashboxes to entire ships. Calico Jack would wait until a fisherman or woodcutter was away from their ship and sail off with it in the night. This pesky pirate was notorious for his stealthy crimes.

In October 1720, Rackham cruised near Jamaica, capturing numerous small fishing vessels, and terrorizing fishermen along the northern coastline. He came across a small vessel filled with eleven English pirates. Soon after, Rackham’s ship was attacked by an armed sloop and was captured. Rackham and his crew were brought to Jamaica, where he and nearly all of his crew members were sentenced to be hanged.

220px-James_Strang_daguerreotype_(1856)James Jesse Strang – In 1855, a religious gang on Beaver Island burned sawmills and stole $1,600 worth of goods from a local store, under the leadership of “King” James Jesse Strang.

Strang, a self-proclaimed religious leader and king, quickly made foes among his own people, too. One of these, Thomas Bedford, had been flogged for adultery on Strang’s orders, and felt considerable resentment toward the “king.” Another, Dr. H.D. McCulloch, had been excommunicated for drunkenness and other alleged misdeeds, after previously enjoying Strang’s favor and several high offices in local government.

In June of 1856, Strang was waylaid around 7:00 PM on the dock at the harbor of St. James, chief city of Beaver Island, by Wentworth and Bedford, who shot him in the back. Not one person on board the ship made any effort to warn or to aid the intended victim.

Dan SeaveyDan Seavey – The most notorious Great Lakes pirate may be none other than Roaring Dan Seavey, who started as a regular sailor in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the military he found himself a poor man with only his ship, Wanderer, to his name and took up a life of plundering.

Seavey was a thief who had eyes for large shipments of venison and alcohol, to then later sell at a higher price. Anyone who tried to stop him faced the cannon he held on board. Seavey’s most famous escapade was his takeover of a schooner docked named the Nellie Johnson. The clever seaman invited the Johnson’s crew to drink with him, staying mostly sober himself. He then threw the drunken sailors off their ship and sailed it to Chicago, where he sold the Nellie Johnson’s cargo.

Seavey retired sometime in the late 1920s, and settled in the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin. He died in a Peshtigo nursing home on 14 February 1949 at the age of 84.

Want to know more about these Michigan marauders? Strap on your peg leg and set sail toward the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum or the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Real Pirates exhibit to get your fill of pirate personas!

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of Traverse City’s New Music Video “Take Me There”

Today, guest blogger Mary Winowiecki, Marketing Manager for Traverse City Tourism, takes us behind the scenes of the making of Traverse City’s new music video, “Take Me There.” Plus, check out what’s on deck for fall in the Traverse City area. 

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism captured while filming "Take Me There"

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism captured while filming “Take Me There”

It started out like so many great ideas, with an innocent, late-afternoon brainstorming session:

“I know! We should have a Traverse City theme song!”

“Yeah! And we could make it into a contest! Of course the winner would have to be from the Traverse City area …”

“… and we could unveil it during the Cherry Festival! The winning band could play it during the Cherry Royale Parade right down Front Street! How cool would that be?”

“Oh, and we could turn it into a music video! Much better than a traditional destination video!”

And thus the Traverse City Song Search idea was born. There was only one problem with this seemingly flawless plan. Well, OK, there actually numerous challenges, but let’s stick with the main one: Time. Or, to be specific, the lack thereof. The now-infamous brainstorming session of the Traverse City Tourism marketing team took place the last week in March, and if this thing was going to be show-ready by early July’s Cherry Fest, the song entries would need to be received by mid-May … just 6 weeks away.

Photo courtesy of Traverse CIty Tourism - Filming "Take  Me There" in TC

Photo courtesy of Traverse CIty Tourism – Filming “Take Me There” in TC

No problem, said the Marketing team. Traverse City has more musical talent in its pinky finger (no pun intended) than most cities three-times its size! No doubt we would find a fresh sound that exactly captured the almost indescribable feeling that Northern Michigan imparts.

Miraculously, that is exactly what happened. And we have a Traverse City senior with a keen eye for breaking news to thank for it.

“We actually didn’t know anything about the contest until my grandpa sent me the newspaper clipping about it at school,” explains Marc Kanitz, lead singer of the contest-winning Hacky Turtles and a senior at Michigan State University. A self-described “funk/reggae fusion band with strong folk roots,” the Hacky Turtles include four Traverse City natives: Kanitz on vocals, Austin Spencer on guitar and banjo, Alex Rushlow on guitar and Erik Krueger on drums. They were among 18 musical groups who entered the contest, three of whom were chosen as finalists to appear before a local celebrity panel of judges.

While all of the entries covered the myriad of things to do and see in the Traverse City area (Beaches! Wineries! Shopping! Biking! Festivals! Sleeping Bear Dunes!), the judges agreed that the Hacky Turtles best conveyed the emotion of the region:

Sunrise paints these cherry-colored clouds

Wakes the earth, shining rays out on the ground

Brings to life our town below the bays

Great food, better people, everyone’s a friend

All are welcome where the compass ends

So raise a toast to one more day

I feel it calling me, it’s drawing me in …

Take me there, take me where it’s pushing, pulling me along

Days move slow, my heart is full, everything to right from wrong

Smiles, dancing, sun or snow, nothing ever looked so pretty

Oh my, my No. MI, take me there to Traverse City

–The Hacky Turtles

So now we had the winning song, but where to record it? Enter Grant Floering, former TC native and musician extraordinaire who happily agreed to drive up from Grand Rapids to help us out. (We love our small town!) Grant nailed it.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism - The Hacky Turtles on set of the new video!

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism – The Hacky Turtles on set of the new video!

But what about the parade? Could we pull it off? How would the masses of tourists and locals on Front and Union streets react? Let’s just say at one point the Marketing team had tears in its collective eyes … That’s how good it was!

Homestretch time … we needed to turn this gem into a music video — and fast! The clock was ticking since we had announced the video would be released in early September. Keeping with the Traverse City local theme (hey, it had worked well so far!) we turned to Traverse City photographer/videographer Andy Wakeman. Andy started with a sunset shoot and bonfire with the band at Lake Michigan in late July, on what might just have been the most beautiful night of the summer. Over the rest of the summer he captured teens, families, couples, and seniors enjoying all that’s great about Northern Michigan. Well, everything that he could fit into a two-and-a-half minute video.

And so now here we are, just past Labor Day Weekend and heading into yet another spectacular season Up North … fall. While in many ways it seems like the summer raced by with deadlines and to-do lists having to do with the Traverse City Song Search, we can’t say we’re sorry we came up with that overly ambitions idea last spring. Along the way we got to know four awesome young musicians who love their hometown and were able to translate that into something that makes the rest of us smile every time we hear it. We also met real people enjoying what our little slice of heaven has to offer to so many.

Let’s raise a toast to one more day!

Fall in Traverse City

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

The days might be getting shorter, but Northern Michigan is definitely not short on fun during the fall. Smaller crowds and discounted pricing makes this the perfect time of year to head north and enjoy take a color tour, go wine tasting, enjoy a round of fall golf, bike along the Sleeping Bear Dunes trails, or stroll along Traverse City’s tree-lined downtown. Visit our website for special Fab Fall savings from now through December 19. Here’s a look at what’s happening around Traverse City this fall.

 

Fall Happenings

Leelanau Peninsula Wineries
Discover breathtaking views and sample award-winning wines along the largest and oldest wine trail in Michigan.  The peninsula is home to 25 wineries located within diverse microclimates uniquely suited for a variety of wine grapes. There are three mini-trails for easy touring: the Sleeping Bear Loop, the Northern Loop and the Grand Traverse Bay Loop. Visit for a day or make it a weekend and taste the quality of Traverse City wines.

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Eight distinct wineries are sprinkled along the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula. Relish in the sights and flavors while touring this wine trail featuring dynamic tasting rooms and award-winning wines. Be sure to stop at one of the scenic overlooks for a stunning display of fall colors and magnificent views of Grand Traverse Bay.

Jacob’s Corn Maze
This world class 10 acre Corn Maze is unlike any other in Northern Michigan. Jacob’s Secret Agent Adventure is an exciting and fully interactive farm experience that will captivate and entertain your family for hours with its twists and turns. Visit the website for hours and information.

Hoxsie’s Farm Market
Autumn splendor at its best at this local favorite market and farm.  Stock up on apples, pumpkins, squash, and delicious baked goods. Take a wagon ride to pick the perfect pumpkin, find your way through the corn maze, and finish off the adventure with playtime and snacks in the big red barn.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Hiking and Biking
Immerse yourself in shades of orange, yellow, and red while exploring one of the area’s many scenic trails. There’s miles of woodland forests rich in color and perfect for spending an afternoon of outdoor recreation.

Driving Color Tours
Choose a route and enjoy the fall season! Take a look at our suggested areas and be sure to bring along a map of the area to help find your way.

Fall Festivals & Events

Sept. 27 – Acme Fall Festival
Sept. 27 – Harvest Festival & Scarecrow Extravaganza
Oct. 4 – Happy Apple Days
Oct. 25 – Zombie Run
Oct. 31 – Downtown Halloween Walk
Nov. 1 – Iceman Cometh Challenge
Nov. 7 – 14 – Traverse City Beer Week
Nov. 1 & 2 and 8 & 9 – Toast the Season 

 What do you think of Traverse City’s new music video?