North of Alpena on the east side of Grand Lake is the small town of Presque Isle. If you have ever traveled through the town you may have seen this log cabin that sit’s near the road. It has an interesting story to tell on the historical marker that stands next to it.
In 1858, German immigrant John C. Kauffman (1833-1913) left Buffalo bound for Chicago aboard a ship that later ran near Bell Bay. John walked ashore and made his way to Burnham’s Landing at Presque Isle Harbor, where he found work cutting firewood for lake steamships. In 1861, John married Elizabeth Woodruff. During the Civil War, he served in the 13th Independent Battery, Michigan Light Artillery. His unit was with the 13th New York Cavalry during the search for President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. It helped capture one of Booth’s accomplices. Kauffman returned to Presque Isle after the war. There he served as township supervisor. He was postmaster for the last fifteen years of his life.
John and Elizabeth Kauffman applied for a 149-acre homestead in Presque Isle Township in 1862. He built a log cabin near Grand Lake, but drifting snow off the Lake forced him to move it in 1876. John marked each log to make reassembly easier. Using a team of oxen, he and his family skidded the hand-hewn logs up the hill to this site and rebuilt the cabin. Nearby Grand Lake made the cabin a popular tourist stop in the summer. Visitors remembered John sitting on the porch in his military uniform every Fourth of July, telling stories of his service. After John died, his family loaned, then deeded, the cabin to the Grand Lake Association. The building has served as a community center, recreation facility and gift shop.
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