Blackett’s Mill Rose City, Michigan

By Cathy Snider and Barbara Blackett Sanback
Rose City Area Historical Society

In 1945, Earl and Myrtle Blackett along with their two daughters Phyllis and Barbara decided to move from St. Clair Shores to the quiet north.  They chose the friendly town of Rose City.  The family had been coming up to Island Lake for about nine years and loved the area.  Earl had been a mechanic for the Lakeshore Bus Company in Detroit and easily made the transition of working for Louis Reasner at his garage.  While working for Louis he started cutting some trees and planning some lumber, after a short time he decided that wood was his calling.  He bought 120 acres about 1 ½ miles south of town and began what would be come Blackett’s Mill. He worked with his brother Ralph who moved up to help get the business going, Walter Stenzel who was his planer and Percy Howes who made windows and doors. Later Russell Mason would plane and shape the logs.  The business of building cabins “up north” appealed to the family working especially in the auto industry about this time. Earl knew this and knew it was the right time.  Blacketts Mill was busy.  They had all the materials needed for building log cabins; they had siding for existing ones or new ones.  Nothing but Michigan knotty pine.  The exteriors were dipped to help retain the beauty of the wood for years.  The interiors were knotty pine planks of different lengths and widths.  They also carried the finish you needed to keep your cabin beautiful.

Several of Blacketts cabins can still be seen at Island Lake and there are a couple on Grand Jean Road if you know where to look.   Blackett cabin materials were sold in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and possibly a few other states.  Earl’s reputation for having the best logs and paneling available spread and eventually he employed three full time employees.  Myrtle, his wife was the secretary and bookkeeper for the business.  She had worked in Detroit for Macomb County as a secretary.

While talking to Barbara Blackett Sanback about her father’s business she remembers clearly that he prided himself on having the neatest stacks of wood around.  Barbara also recalled that her mother had moved from St. Clair Shores with the promise that she would be able to have a cow and some chickens.  This venture lasted about one year, having to milk a cow in the rain and snow just made her see it wasn’t working.  The chickens had to go too. .

Blacketts Mill continued from 1945 until 1972 when although the business was still growing and going strong, Earl decided it was time to retire.  He sold his business and decided to build a retirement home further north on Mullet Lake. Sadly the cabin was never completed because Earl passed away about a year after he retired at the age of 63.

 

Blackett’s Mill is now gone and in its place is the Rose City RV which at this time is cutting out the new RV’s just waiting for the summer fun. trees and expanding its display area.  Come and see where the mill was.

By Cathy Snider and Barbara Blackett Sanback

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