The four-part Essence of Emmet magazine series covers everything from the geographic changes that carved the top of Michigan’s mitten to the battles of Fort Michilimackinac and beyond.
The free, collectible series is a collaborative, historical project that’s bringing Emmet County’s history to vivid life.
The series was a project that began two years ago, said Beth Ann Eckerle, Emmet County’s director of communications.
“[The magazine’s authors] include representatives from numerous historical organizations from throughout the county, because of a common interest in preserving and promoting our area’s unique history,” she said.
At one of the group’s meetings, Eckerle suggested that they put together an historical series of publications – not just a timeline or dry “history lesson,” but a bright, glossy magazine that would really tell the stories of those who shaped the Emmet County area.
Her colleagues – among them, Mackinaw City historian Sandy Planisek, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians archives director Eric Hemenway, and Dark Sky Park director Mary Stewart Adams – volunteered to write articles from their respective time periods of expertise.
“So that’s what we did over the past year,” Eckerle said, “and what emerged is our first issue.”
Designed and edited by Eckerle, the magazine will be released once a year for four years.
This year’s issue, “Part I: Pre-Contact Through 1812,” will be followed by 2015’s “Wars 1812-1917,” 2016’s “The 20th Century 1918-1960,” and the final issue, “Modern Times 1961-Present.”
The first issue features a thoughtfully curated series of articles, images, and design.
“Emmet County’s history is one of the richest and most intriguing in the state of Michigan,” Eckerle said. “Here, cultures and countries gathered to change the face of Michigan.”
“Pre-Contact Through 1812” showcases the Native Americans that were the primary residents here, then the French, and ultimately the British.
Also featured is the geography of the region and where the remains of distant geological events can be found today.
There’s a piece on native place names, another on celestial phenomena, an article on “Warrior Poet” Arent DePeyster, and background on Fort Michilimackinac, which was an important and pivotal setting in those early days.
“Some pretty cool and unique perspectives are provided,” Eckerle said.
The next issue will highlight a century of the greatest change in Emmet County, with land rights and treaties taking center stage, transportation changing the face of the landscape, homesteaders and tourists arriving, and the Civil War making an impact that connected the locals to that time period’s national scene.
“That era sees the early origins of marketing Northern Michigan as a tourism destination, when resorts like Bay View and Harbor Point were forming,” Eckerle said. “There are some little-known stories going in the next edition, too, including insights into the lifestyle of the era. The topics cover a very wide range during this century of contrasts.”
The final two editions will highlight how transportation became more established and the economy grew, as well as the places and people who have left lasting legacies here.
Eckerle said she wanted to move away from how history is typically presented.
“I did not want to create a ‘flat’ history piece,” she said. “My goal was to use a lot of design elements that would make history engaging. The magazine is intentionally heavily focused on the people behind the stories, not just dates and locations – and it’s very colorful.”
Some of the design elements even help readers who may not be quite as into local history as others. A timeline helps place the stories on a continuum, and a section called “Points to Ponder” gives people real places they can go today to experience the historical locations that are featured in the articles.
“It’s a chance to connect with our history,” Eckerle said, “to sit in the same spot as our forebears and think, ‘What must it have been like to be here, at that time?’” Since announcing the publication, the Essence of Emmet team has distributed more than 3,000 copies of the first issue, which is available free of charge.
“The feedback on the magazine has been tremendous,” Eckerle said. “People love learning about the events that shaped this area that they love. We are so grateful that this leap-of-faith project has hit the mark, as we hoped it would.”
The Essence of Emmet magazines can be picked up at Suite 178 in the County Building at 200 Division Street in downtown Petoskey, or can be mailed upon request. They are available free of charge thanks to funding support from the Local Revenue Sharing Board. To request a copy, contact Beth Anne Eckerle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (231) 348- 1704. Online visit emmetcounty.org.