Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. ix

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

In 1996, I came to Ludington, Michigan, to be interviewed for a position on the faculty at West Shore Community College. While on this visit, I saw Lake Michigan for the first time. I could not believe how large it was; after all, it was “just a lake.” I had grown up in the Seattle...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

Justus S. Stearns was an important Michigan timber baron who at one time served as the state’s largest producer of manufactured lumber; however, he was more than that. He was a “Pine King” with an astounding range of accomplishments. He also founded the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company, along with the town of Stearns, Kentucky, in 1902. For much...

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1. Early Life and Family Connections

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pp. 7-27

Although he was born and raised on a farm in Chautauqua County, New York, Justus Stearns developed his early business skills while working in Pennsylvania and Ohio and later earned his fortune in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He did not receive a formal education beyond his teens; nevertheless, throughout his formative...

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2. Booms, Busts, and a Benefactor for Ludington

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pp. 28-51

Justus and Paulina Stearns arrived in Michigan in the 1870s, just after they had been forced into bankruptcy. They relocated because they needed to connect with family to bring about their financial recovery. As previously seen, beginning in 1880 Stearns successfully established his own lumbering operations east of Ludington at the town called Stearns Siding...

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3. The Making of a Politician

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pp. 52-73

When he was nearly eighty-five years old, Justus Stearns wrote a private letter in which he described himself as being “foolish enough” to enter politics in 1898, at the age of fifty-three, when he served one term as Michigan’s secretary of state. He continued by writing that his political career ended in 1900 with a failed bid for the Republican nomination for Michigan’s governor...

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4. Lumbering on Wisconsin Indian Reservations

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pp. 74-103

Justus Stearns expanded his lumbering activities beyond the borders of Michigan and into Wisconsin beginning in the 1890s. He described his activities in a letter to his cousin by explaining, “In 1892 I purchased all the timber on two Indian Reservations over in Wisconsin. . . . I, with a couple of associates whom I had taken in with me, built a sawmill...

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5. Establishing Operations in Kentucky and Tennessee

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pp. 104-123

According to a long-standing tradition repeated on many occasions, including by members of the Stearns family and a United States senator, a bag of bologna sandwiches played a prominent role in the founding of Stearns’s coal and timber operations in Kentucky and Tennessee. The story involved John Toomey, a resident of Scott County, Tennessee, who...

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6. Mining Coal in Kentucky

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pp. 124-142

After operating for nearly ten years in Kentucky and Tennessee, Stearns’s activities in the area were reorganized with a new focus. The coal and lumber operations were consolidated into one business in 1910, while the K&T Railway remained separate. The sawmill shut down temporarily following the reorganization, while the new company placed a renewed emphasis...

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7. Union Conflict and Years of Prosperity

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pp. 143-164

Over the course of the first thirty years of its operations, the company Justus Stearns founded in 1902 transformed the Big South Fork region of Kentucky and Tennessee. It provided employment, access to education, and an improved standard of living to thousands of the region’s residents. But the “march of progress” involved a heavy cost, as seen by...

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8. Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

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pp. 165-191

The era beginning about 1900 and ending with the death of Justus Stearns in 1933 saw tremendous expansion of Stearns’s business interests. Stearns founded or purchased several new enterprises in his hometown of Ludington, including an electric company, hotel, and firms that manufactured game boards and kitchen utensils. These new businesses helped...

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9. A Life Considered

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pp. 192-200

Throughout his career, Justus Stearns demonstrated an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit along with a driving ambition to earn a profit. At times he exhibited the sometimes-harsh attitudes and actions of other well-known captains of industry; he, and his contemporaries, disliked unions while production overrode concern for the environment. Stearns...

Appendix A: Partial List of Businesses Founded or Operated by Justus Stearns

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pp. 201-202

Appendix B: Coal Production to 1933

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pp. 203-204

Notes

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pp. 205-250

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 251-260

Index

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pp. 261-270