Intact Homesteads in the Blue Water Area

Lucius Beach House

Pre-1859 house on Beach Road, Port Huron Township.

The lack of recent posts hasn’t reflected the amount of work being done, only sleepy eyes and a discrimination over what to make public at any given time.  But this is fun and there are no clients for it presently (hey, if you want to donate toward my unpaid work, my bills would place you on a pedestal!).  Through word-of-mouth, a couple of properties were brought to my attention that are interesting–not simply because the still-standing homes are old, but because they are old AND still have descendants from the first land owners living in them.  Now, that’s something.[1]  If you know of any of these types of historic resources, please comment or contact me through a contact box here or via email (phahpa@zoho.com) for inventory and future study purposes.

One such place that I just started looking into is located on Beach Road in Port Huron Township, and it appears to be the original Lucius Beach house.  Coincidentally, I had posted the mid-19th century rendering of this house on the timeline page at this site early on, so feel free to check it out.  That image is from 1859, so obviously, the house was built prior to that time (the Greek Revival detailing is also correct for that time period).  From the little that I’ve gathered about Lucius Beach so far (born 1808 in Connecticut), he arrived in the area around 1830-1831, working in the lumber industry and doing some teaching. In 1839 he was granted the patent for the Section 32 land just south of the house [2] (he may have actually held the land sooner).  Earlier, in 1835, Lucius had received a patent for 83 acres in Section 27, which today is along the east side of 24th Street, south of Krafft Road.  It is not yet known what he did with this land.  In 1842 he was a Justice of the Peace (Andreas 1883:487; an “H. A. Beach” was a Township or City Supervisor in 1869).

By 1859, he appears to have owned not only the 40 acres from the original Section 32 patent, but the rest of the western linear fourth of that section.  A deed search needs to be carried out to determine exact land purchase dates (unless any descendants provide an abstract of title).  He also owned a diagonal strip of land that led from his land to Black River.  One of his children was named Fred, and a Fred Beach is shown on later maps to own most of this property, although he seems to have lost access to the Black River.  However, by 1916 he regained Black River access by obtaining the east half the southwest quarter of Section 32.

This is all interesting and significant historically, but, unfortunately, the house is in such poor shape that it very probably wouldn’t be eligible for a National Register of Historic Places listing.  If the owners wanted to fix it up and list it, that’d be a different matter.  It would be nice if the township took an interest and supported the restoration and preservation of this property (without necessarily wresting it from the owners), since it (Port Huron Township) doesn’t have any recognized historic properties.  (The historic school house behind the township hall is historically significant but has been moved to its present location, so it is not eligible for National Register listing.)

Thanks for reading.  If you have anything to share about this property, or any other old properties, I’d love to hear from you!  Feel free to contact me regarding your own historic building or about the nascent Port Huron Area History and Preservation Association.  (I am also searching for local descendants of William L. Jenks and would greatly appreciate assistance in speaking with any of them!)

Pre-1859 house on Beach Road, Port Huron Township, north facade.

Pre-1859 house on Beach Road, Port Huron Township, north facade.

[1]  Many (or most) land plats purchased from the US Govt were done so by speculators and not settlers.  Even many of the first settlers here bought multiple plats, and subsequent acreage, as investments.  So to run across one that was purchased and improved on by an original purchaser is somewhat rare, and much rarer still that it is still in the family today.

[2]  If my section calculations are correct.  It’s possible the house is within the original 40 acre patent.

Sources:  Patents obtained from the Bureau of Land Management; History of St. Clair County, Michigan by A.T. Andreas & Co., 1883 (page 629); various maps (Geil & Jones, 1859, Ogle 1897 and 1916, and USGS quadrangles).

This post updated on July 25, 2016.

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