Log cabin was Republican election headquarters

The campaign of 1888 was vigorously fought in Manistee County.

This log cabin, formerly located on the grounds of today’s Elks Temple, served as Republican election headquarters in the campaign of 1888.

This log cabin, formerly located on the grounds of today’s Elks Temple, served as Republican election headquarters in the campaign of 1888.

The Democrats held many local offices but the Republicans had a very large following. In that era Manistee served as a regional\campaign center and many state candidates made the city a regular stop on the campaign trail. Political rallies and parades brought thousands of people to the city.

For the campaign the Republicans built, what must certainly have been, the most elaborate headquarters ever used by a political party in Manistee — a very large log cabin on the north east corner of River and Oak streets. This was not accomplished without opposition. The City Council, with a majority of Democrats, at first refused to permit the construction of the wood building within the downtown fire limits (where by law all new construction had to be of masonry).

Eventually a compromise was worked out whereby the Republicans posted a bond with the city to guarantee the building would be removed from the fire limits within a year. This action caused App. M. Smith, a Prohibitionist who published the Manistee Broadaxe to berate city officials in his Aug. 25, 1888, issue as follows:

“Every member of the body who gave his consent to this proceeding belied the oath which he took to the effect that he would see that the laws of the city were enforced. Everyone of them therefore are guilty of official perjury. They have no more right to give anyone permission to violate the law than a member of the Legislature has to give the club a right to kill all Democrats or Prohibitionists in Michigan. They can repeal the ordinance, or they can amend it, but they cannot either violate it themselves or give anyone else the right to do so.

“And, notwithstanding their permission, it was the duty of the Marshall to stop it forthwith. He subjects himself to removal from office if he does not, and the Mayor has also subjected himself to removal from office by the Governor for allowing the work to go on, and it would serve him just right, if some of these good Republicans whom he has thus neglected his duty to serve, would bring charges against and have the Governor take such action.”

Despite Smith’s wrath none of the City officials were ever arrested or jailed. Construction went forward very quickly for we find the following campaign report in the pages of the Republican newspaper, the Times-Sentinel, for August 31, 1888.

“At 2 o’clock p.m. the work of raising the large Harrison and Morton pole, at the corner of River and Oak Streets was commenced; and at 4 o’clock the work was completed, and the Harrison and Mortin steamer flying to the breeze on as fine a pole as ever was or will be erected in this, or any other city. The pole stands 110 feet above the ground, in two sections, and is a beauty. The timber was donated by Edward Buckley, Esq., and the work on the same was donated by a laboring man who believes in Harrison, Mortin, and Protection. Andrew Jack of the Union Boiler Works, superintended the raising of the pole, with his usual success.

“Following the pole raising came the reception by the Governor, at the Log Cabin, which had been rushed along by the contractors from Tuesday morning, and while not in its present state, was ample for reception purposes, and thousands, we dare say, embraced the opportunity to pay their respects to and shake the hand of our present and next Governor of Michigan. Governor Luce enjoyed the reception very much, as did those who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance.”

The log cabin was completed the following week and was used for the Manistee County Republican Convention. It continued to be used continually through the campaign as local headquarters for both day and night meetings. True to their word, the Republicans moved the building several blocks away to another site in the spring of 1889 outside the city fire limits. It then disappeared into history.

 

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