Standing in a field on Old State Road, near the Quanicassee River, is a monument with a bear drinking from a bottle. If the monument could talk it would have an interesting and sad story to tell. Frank Vanderbilt owned a Hotel and resort in Quanicassee and as a way to attract visitors, he had a small zoo. Sometime around 1910 he purchased a bear cub for his little zoo and named her Jennie. He left her chained up to a nearby tree stump and the visitors to his resort would feed her treats and candy.
One day someone gave her a bottle of beer and she gulped it right down like a thirsty lumberjack. It was not long after that, Frank began selling beer to tourists to give to the little bear. she would climb up to the top of the tree stump and open the beer and drink it down. Her fame grew as word spread of the bear that enjoyed the frosty beverage and people came from all around Michigan to see Jennie. I wouldn’t say life was good for Jennie, but she had her daily routine and the admiration of visitors.
Everything changed in 1920 when Prohibition became law and alcohol was illegal for Americans to own or sell, and that included Jennie. When she was no longer able to get any beer, she became agitated and angry growling at visitors and swiping her paws at Frank. They gave her bottles of pop and other beverages but she was not interested in them since she was addicted to alcohol. A group of men from Detroit was hunting in the thumb and they stopped by the old hotel in Quanicassee. They told Mr. Vanderbilt that they would take care of the distraught bear and he sold Jennie to them. It was later that he found out that they used her for their hunting clubs bear roast. Saddened by the loss of Jennie, Frank built this memorial to the bear with the money he got when he sold her.
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