Escanaba in the spotlight: Historian pens first in possible series on Esky history

ESCANABA – “Now children, take out your history book.”

While these words from many an elementary school teacher standing at the head of her class may have created a collective moan from school children throughout the years, it’s a sure bet that the love of history – particularly the history of Escanaba – was ingrained somewhere along the line in local historian, Charles Lindquist.

“I’ve always liked history even when I was a kid,” he said. “I liked going to the library and reading about presidents and explorers. History made them come alive.”

Lindquist recently completed “Pioneer, Escanaba, Michigan, 1863-1883,” the first in a series of books he is hoping to complete about the City of Escanaba. According to the author, “Pioneer” is the first new book to be written about Escanaba’s early history in the last 50 years.

Raised in Manistique, Lindquist moved to Escanaba with his family when he was in the third grade and graduated from Escanaba High School in 1957. Describing himself as “an historian all the way,” Lindquist received a Ph.D in history from the University of Michigan and taught history at Adrian College for many years and ran the county historical museum in Adrian until his retirement in 2004.

Lindquist and his wife, Karen, who is also a native of Escanaba, returned to Escanaba in 2006 after Karen’s retirement from her position as the longtime director of the county library system in Lenawee County.

It didn’t take the couple long to become actively involved in the Delta County Historical Society where Charles serves as Society president and Karen is head of the Archives Committee.

Lindquist said he became painfully aware of a deficiency in youngsters about their local history when he conducted a tour of the Historical Museum to a group of second graders about two years ago.

“There’s a model of an ore boat and one of the children asked ‘What kind of a boat is that?'” he explained. “One girl said ‘It’s a cruise ship’ and a boy said, ‘No, its a battle ship.’ They had no idea what an ore boat looks like even though they probably grew up in Escanaba with ore boats all around us.”

“Pioneer” has over fifty photos, maps and other illustrations showing people, homes, churches and places of business from the era – along, of course, with pictures of the great ore docks that were so important to the town.

The price of this 80-page book is $10, and it can be purchased at the Canterbury Book Store at 908 Ludington Street in downtown Escanaba. Also the book will be for sale at the Temporary Archives of the Delta County Historical Society at 2940 College Avenue, Escanaba. This archive is open to the public every Monday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the Delta County Historical Society for use in its projects.