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from the Saginaw Daily News, Thursday, Mar, 9, 1967 (Sec 'D')

Turner's Soft Touch,
by Phyllis Strong

 ........... unpretentious home built in 1864 by lumber cruiser Charles Turner, 1702 Court1 exemplifies the touch of gentility and grace so missed in the robust lumbering camps.  The home, as it now stands, might best be described in the statement of Sir Joshua Reynolds, "Simplicity is an exact medium between two little and too much."  The delightful New England colonial as exemplified in the Turner home is a corollary to the quotation.  Its friendly, simple lines and random landscaping offers an uncontrived appeal.  Birds, squirrels, an occasional inquisitive rabbit and the pleasant happenstance of myriad crocuses blooming in a haphazard planting throughout the lawn combine to present an atmosphere of country living in the midst of a busy metropolitan area. 

....  The grounds surrounded by a weatherbeaten picket fence encloses a naturalist's paradise in the spring of trillium, varieties violets, Jack-in-the-pulpit and other native wild flowers.  The May flowers that will soon bloom are the same as he undoubtedly enjoyed as he cruised Michigan's wilderness in search of fine timberland. 


   In a current edition of "Lore of the Lumbercamps" by Earl Clifton Beck, the saga of "Turner's Camp of the Chippewa"2 is revealed in simple rhyme:

        Come all you jolly lumbermen,
        That to a-lumbering go,
        Come listen to my story,
        Which I relate to you. 
        Of the hardships and the dangers
        We undergo each day
        While working up in Turner's camp
        On the banks of the Chippewa."

    In a leather-bound lumber cruiser's notebook written in a fine Spencerian3hand for O. M. Barnes in June, 1883, and in subsequent ledgers, Turner described his work in detail.  "There is on the south side of this section, quite a large amount of good large timber blown down, and partly burnt up.  This has been done by a cyclone or windfall, everything swept clean in its course.  This blown down timber is mostly white pine and road large and good.  I should think there was from four to 5 hundred thousand feet of timber destroyed.  I should also think all of the two thirds of the blown down and burnt timber was white pine.  No timber blown down or injured by the fire is included in my estimate of this section.

    In the same careful script Charlie listed, in one segment of land he was hired to cruise4:

        Course and small         345,000
        White pine                   200,000
         Norway pine            1,440,000

    Careful and exact descriptions .............. which stated the estimated board feet of various timbers. 

    In the case of Charlie's own homestead in Saginaw, however, perhaps the most enjoyed trees of the heavily-wooded and tangled acreage he purchased included more than a dozen black walnut trees which have furnished banquets for festive squirrels long since their original host' demise.  

   ................. Charlie's domain, which at one time included far more than half a block of land.  There was a huge barn out back to house the horses and buggies in those early days.  ......... The house was originally a story and a half Cape Cod; the roof was raised as time progressed to form four ample bedrooms of the second floor.     

    Gaiety was not lacking in Charlie's life even the Spartan lumber camps he inhabited or managed at one time.  Carefully preserved ledgers show that hard-bitten lumberjacks, used to the privations and primitive conditions of camp life longed, nonetheless, for the warmth of music and were willing to plunk down $5 apiece to buy a fiddle for a musically minded camp mate so that he might enliven the camp with his scrapings.  Considering that total bills for whole season in camp frequently totaled only from $10 to a maximum of $30, this was a marked tribute to their esthetic values.     

    A plug of tobacco, however, persists in being the top item purchased in this heyday of the spittoon era.  Laundry could be done for 10, mending for another 10 or more.  Most expensive items were the durable clothing required by a lumberjack with shoe packs running $2.50, drawers to protect them from the bitter winners $2.50, heavy boots $6.50, wool shirts $2.50, heavy socks 71, mitts $1.00.  The fare from Saginaw to St. Louis to one camp in listed as $14 for 26 men with individual hotel bills running 75 with 25 dinner. 

    Charlie's family included five sons an two daughters.  The last of the family to live in the home before it was sold to the Macraes were the Misses  Lillian and Mae5 Turner, whose main interest centered in education.  Among nieces and nephews of Charlie Turner who lived in the area include Misses Beatrice and Alice Byron, Mrs. Chester Ellithorpe, Mrs. John Bailey, Miss Jessie Byron and Ralph P., Albert, Charles and Nelson Byron.  All of them have pleasant memories of visiting the homestead as they were growing up. 

1. 1702 Court St, Saginaw, Michigan - torn down numerous years ago.
2. The river is west of Midland and northwest of Saginaw.  Mt. Pleasant is on the banks of the Chippewa
3. Example:  spencerian.com
4. It appears from this that Charles Turner was one who hired the gangs to cut the trees while his brother, Joseph Turner of Bay City, had mills which trimmed the logs into board.  ( I am researching each brother's business other than just Lumberman.)
5. Should be May Turner

Found on the Internet

Turner's Camp on the Chippewa [Laws C23]

DESCRIPTION: A tale of the lumberman's life and troubles in the woods of Michigan. Most of the events are described in very general terms
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1938 (recording, Bill McBride)
KEYWORDS: logger lumbering
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Laws C23, "Turner's Camp on the Chippewa"
Beck 12, "Turner's Camp on the Chippewa" (1 text)

Bill McBride, "Turner's Camp on the Chippewa" (AFS, 1938; on LC56)
cf. "The Lumber Camp Song" (theme) and references there
File: LC23

found at:


Digital Tradition Mirror

Turner's Camp on the Chifpewa

Turner's Camp on the Chifpewa

Come all you jolly lumbermen
That do a-lumbering go,
Come listen to my story,
Which I relate to you,

Of the hardships and the dangers
We undergo each day
While working up in Turner's camp
On the banks of the Chippewa.

I started out from Saginaw,
The weather being fair,
And fetched up at eleven o'clock
At a little place called Glare.

The place it was so stumpy
I thought it must be Hell;
So I jumped aboard of Skanker Stage
And rode into Isabelle.

While bumping around Isabelle
I thought I'd go to work
Away up in the lumber woods,
Where there's no time to shirk.

So I started after dinner
For to take a little tramp,
And fetched up just at suppertime
In Charlie Turner's camp.

At five o'clock next morning
The cook his horn did blow
To call the boys to eat their hash
So to the woods they'd go.

At first they put me sawing,
But found it did not pay;
So when the boys from Quebec quit
They sent me to load the dray.

While loading of that damned old dray,
Of course I was so green,
Such piling up of top logs
Before I'd never seen.

The driver being in a hurry
For to get over his route,
It was lift a log and roll a log
And cant a log about.

When the last log was loaded
To the river we did go;
The way he made those horses climb
You bet it was not slow.

To see him driving on the road
You'd swear that he was drunk,
For he never was known to make a trip
But he hung up on a stump.

When the last load was on the dray
To the shanty he would go,
Where the boys would tell us of the things
That happened years ago.

Some would sing of Johnnie Troy
And some of the Cumberland crew,
But of all the songs, that I liked best
Was of bold Jack Donohue.

The boys were glad when Sunday came,
That they might have a rest;
Some would go a-visiting
All dressed up in their best;

Some would gather round the caboose,
And more would grind the ax;
Some would mend up their old clothes,
And more their old shoepacks.

It was on the first of April
The birds began to sing;
We began to break the rollways,
So I thought it must be spring.

But the boss came up from Saginaw
And looked over the books
And said, " My boys, you'll have to stay
Two more weeks on Stoney Brook."

Now the winter, it is over,
Our work it is done.
We will all go down to Saginaw
And have a little fun.

Some will go on Skanker Stage,
And more will take the train.
If you get there before I do,
It's whoop-'er-up, Liza Jane.

The song has been recalled by Charlie Griffin, of Sumner;
Jim Joslen, of Glare; H. A. McCaslin, of Flint;
Nelt Bailey, of Harrison; Tom Knight, of Houghton Lake;
C. L. McKibben, of Beaverton; Alf Levely, of Edenville; and
Peter Mahon, of Deerfield Center. This version is from
Mrs. McDonald, of Mt. Pleasant, and L. M. Converse,
of Buchanan.

DT #840
Laws C23
From Earl Beck, Songs of the Michigan Lumberjacks
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