I get a lot of books from the library about Michigan history to do research for Lost In Michigan, and in one of the books, (I can’t remember which one) I came across a sentence about native Americans seeing a monster on Gull Island and that was all it said. What I call Gull Island is in the Saginaw Bay near the mouth of the river, but I think it was man-made and not that old, but I googled Gull Island and found out there are a few islands in the Great Lakes that are called Gull Island. The one that I found extremely interesting was the island near Northport in the Leelanau Peninsula. It is called Bellow Island, and has an old abandoned house on it that is now occupied by a flock of Herring Gulls.
The Island was purchased by Edward Taylor Ustick, a prominent businessman in St Louis Mo. and he had the cottage built on the island around 1910, by Brian Woolsey, who built the dairy building that became the Woolsey Memorial Airport HERE. The family used the cottage for several years living with the birds and in 1931 after Edward died his son Lee Ustick, now a Harvard professor, inherited the house and island.
Lee had not visited the island frequently and the last time he was there was in 1945. a few years later in 1948 he got a call from the Michigan state police that the house had been destroyed by vandals. Six juveniles from Northport took axes to the home and destroyed all the plumbing, furniture and walls making the home inhabitable.
In the 1960’s the island was finally sold to retired Great Lakes train-ferry captain from Ludington, Herbert Yost, and his wife, Jane and they were going to build a new cabin on the island. The house was never built because Captain Yost was killed in an automobile crash in 1965.
In 1995, an agreement was reached with the Leelanau Conservancy to acquire the island for permanent protection as a public trust and bird sanctuary and off-limits to any visitors for the protection of the gulls that reside on the island.
Now that I know about the story of Gull Island next time I am up that way I hope I can see it from shore or find a boat to take me near it, I would love to see what is left of the old house and the gulls that live there.
If you want to know more about the island there is an excellent article about it HERE
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