About 15 miles east of Gaylord on M32 is the town of Johannesburg. I saw this old building painted white and had to stop and take a pic of it. I thought it looked like an old general store or something. later that day I was in the grocery store in Gaylord and they had some old photographs hanging on the walls. I saw a photo of a building with two arches over the windows then it hit me. That’s the building in Johannesburg I saw earlier.
In the late 1800s, the town was built by Johannesburg Manufacturing Co who operated a sawmill in the area. The town and the company were named after Johanna Hanson the wife of one of the founders of the company. The town was given a post office in 1901 with Thorwald W. Hanson as the first postmaster. The company built this store which still stands today. It must have worked out well for the company, they paid their workers and then got their money back when they bought what they needed at the store. I would assume they also lived in company owned houses too. I know the mining companies would pay with company money only good in the company store. I am not sure if that was done in the sawmills or not, but it must have been difficult to leave town as Tennesee Ernie Ford sang “I owe my soul to the company store”
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