WELCOME to the real Ontonagon.com

                    The historic GORMAN HOUSE and Beach House on Lake Superior

                Introduction   Abstract   The Land 1851-1936   The Gormans 1936-1949   The Hawleys 1949-1978   The Potts 1978-1981
       The Fischls 1981-1986   The Langs 1986-1988   The Lees 1988-????   The Sanders ????-????   The Lees ????-Present
                Resume of Thomas Graham Lee BS,MA,AMLS    Edward Edson Lee aka Leo Edwards
Gorman House Beach House   Gorman House Roses
The Boats:  VICTORIA Houseboat   Penryn bilge Keel Sloop   Windsong II C&C Sloop   sv VIKING Allied 30 Ketch
Pisces Zodiac Inflatble   Kermath Marine Engine
Living on a sailboat  BLOG


    The 125 year history of of the Gorman House, the Gorman House Beach House and the land, involves a interesting and varied cast of characters that are connected to major events in the history of  the small village of Ontonagon, Michigan located on the south shore of Lake Superior.

    Involved were eastern capitalists, lumbermen, miners, fisherman; government officials including:  one judge, a county supervisor, a county surveyor, a county register of deeds, and two prosecuting attorneys,  Major  executives including: a businessman who opened one of the country's largest underground copper mines, and a mine president that closed the mine, a lumber company president who had bad luck with fire, a publisher who published the Upper Peninsula's first area-wide telephone directory, the business manager of ship building company, and a paper mill president.

    One land owner helped to start the White Pine Mine, a mine that produced 4.4 billion pounds of copper, developed 13 square miles of underground works and reached a depth of 2,700 feet.

    Two owners of the Gorman House went to Federal prison, and one owner, a professional librarian, worked as a law librarian.

    The wife one one owner was a model for her feet and used her kids as models.

    It is said the the wife of one owner never went in the kitchen.  That was where the cook worked.

    At least two owners were member of Rotary.  One owner was member of Rotary One, the first Rotary Club in the United States.

    One owner published the first area-wide phone book and yellow pages in the Upper Peninsula and developed one of the first yellow pages web site;

    The son of one owner became a renown transportation and maritime attorney in New York City, retired, and built a house across from the Gorman House where he lived as a child.

    The Gorman House beach house building housed Ontonagon's first public library was moved by a owner who moved the building from downtown Ontonagon to its present location on Lake Superior.

    The most prominent visitor was probably Michigan's governor Mitt Romney Sr., his son and wife.  Many extra phone lines were installed in the house.

    Two owners also owned Ontonagon's historic courthouse which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   One of these owners turned the court room into s basketball court.

    The Gorman House was built twice.  A fire destroyed it before it was lived in and it was rebuilt. 

    One owner turned the “gun room” into a sauna and put a hot tub in the garage.

    One owner used the house as Ontonagon's first bed and breakfast.

    One owner never allowed the help to come through the front door.

    One owner helped to move valuables from the house while the FBI was closing in. 

.    The general structure of this site is based on the the 34 page Gorman House abstract by Judith D. Roehm of the Ontonagon County Abstract Office.  It has 75 entries beginning with entry 1 when the land is obtained from the United States government.


1 - The Land 1851-1936

    The 165 year history of the Gorman House begins in 1851.

    Millard Fillmore, a Whig, is the 13th President of the United States.  The yacht “America” wins the first America's Cup race.  The New York Times starts publishing at 2 cents a copy.  A fire devastates the Library of Congress.  35,000 volumes are destroyed.  A Baltimore dairyman sets up the 1st ice-cream factory.  Michigan had been a state for only 20 years.

    On December 2, 1851, the United States of America issued to Simon Mandlabaum of Houghton, Michigan, a land patent to lot Three (3), Sec. 19, T. 52  N. R. 39 W. in Ontonagon County, Michigan.

    This patent includes the land where the Gorman House would eventually be built.

    A land patent is an exclusive land grant made by a sovereign entity in this case the United States government, with respect to a particular tract of land. To make such a grant “patent”, a sovereign must document the land grant, securely sign and seal the document (patent), and openly publish the documents for the public to see. An official land patent is the highest evidence of right of title and interest to a defined area.

    This land was once part of the territory of Wisconsin.  As the result of the so called “Toledo War.” of 1936 a strip of land was in given to Ohio so they would have a port on Lake Erie.  In return the top of Wisconsin was conseded by congress to the new State of Michigan.  This created the “Upper Peninsula,” of Michigan.

    At the time most people considered the Upper Peninsula as completely worthless.  But as James Jamison documents in This Ontonagon County, people soon realized the value of he the vast mineral resources and vast forests of White Pine.  It is said that the U.P. produced more wealth than the California Gold Rush.
    Simon Mandelbaum, was an early mining pioneer in the Keweenaw Peninsula and Ontonagon area. In 1840's he applied for and was granted Lease 36 for land in Ontonagon County in the name of the Silver and Copper County of Ontonagon Rapids. In 1851, he was on the original board of directors of the Phoenix Mining Co. and was agent-in-charge of the Phoenix Mine from 1850 to 1853.  As agent-in-charge he was instrumental in finding some ancient mining pits for the New Phoenix Mine and five other Keweenaw mines.

    Evident suggests that he attended The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and studied engineering.  He was very successful.  This name appears in a Ph.D. Dissertation from the Wayne County University in Detroit by Alexandra McCoy on “economic  elites.”  In 1880,  Simon Mandelbaum had an annual income of $10,000.  In today's dollars it would be nearly $280,000.

    He worked to the end of his life.  The June 8, 1876, edition of the Portage Lake Mining Gazette reports “the death of Mr. Simon Mandelbaum has interfered with certain explorations on Isle Royale which were to have been carried out this season.”

    In 1929, a Simon Mandelbaum Scholarship was established by the late Mary S. (Mandlebaum) Madelle of Detroit for those attending the University of Michigan, in memory of her father, Simon Mandelbaum.


    The August 2015 issue of American Philatelist has a picture of a rare envelope addressed to Simon Mandelbaum.  “This 1853 3-cent stamped envelope”,” says author Petoskeyl, “was carried outside the mail system by ship to Simon Mandlebaum, Eagle River, Lake Superior, Mich. The notation of which ship carried this piece was torn away during its opening.”   This 3-cent stamped envelope is from 1853 and is one of the early government stamped envelopes to be manufactured.

    In 1851, the rush to mine copper in Michigan's Upper Peninsula was underway.          Samuel Knapp discovered what was to become the very profitable  Minesota Mine.  (The Minesota mine was supposed to be spelled like the state – Minnesota – but a secretary misspelled it when typing the incorporation papers, so it remained that forever.) In four years of operation, the investors who were mainly Boston capitalists doubled their investment ion the mine.  The American Civil war resulted in a great need for copper, and it said that Ontonagon County mines provided over 50 percent.  The copper rush was on.  People rushed in to Ontonagon County.  According to James K. Jamison in his classic book, This Ontonagon  County, Jamison says that no one probably ever know how many mining companies were organized to exploit the mineral resources of Ontonagon County.    One careful search discovered one hundred and twelve corporations with mining property existed.

    Not far away in Ontonagon, “copper was king.”

    The Ontonagon River is the largest river on the south shore of Lake Superior.  Soon the port of Ontonagon became the busiest port on Lake Superior which created the need the was need for a lighthouse.  In 1851, a wooden lighthouse was constructed on the west side of the river's mouth to guide ships to the port from which copper was being shipped from the mines upriver.

    In 1951 business was booming in Ontonagon and a hotel the Bigelow House was under construction.  It was a frame structure, five stories high, and eighty feet front by 110 feet. deep, with a basement, which was first occupied by the Miner newspaper office, post office, County Clerk's office, a Justice of the Peace office, a clothing store, a billiard room and bar. Fortune-hunting prospectors gathered at the five-story hotel to exchange information about possibilities for striking it rich here and elsewhere.

    The Lake Superior Miner was Ontonagon's first newspaper.  A later owner of the Gorman House would, for a brief time, would publish the Miner once again.

    In 1852, the abstract documents that Simon Mandlebaum and his wife Mary transferred the land to Joseph W. Clark of Boston in trust for Balch, Clark and Mandlebaum of Boston, Mass.

    In 1855, Simon Mandlebaum and his wife Mary sold half the property to Livi Hanna of New Lisbon, Ohio.

    Time passes.  25 years to be exact. 

    It's 1880.  Building of the Panama Canal begins, Thomas Edison patents the incandescent lamp, James A. Garfield becomes president, and John Philip Sousa becomes new director of U.S Marine Corps Band.

    In 1880, the land on which the Gorman House was to be built was sold to Byron W. White of Ontonagon County.  White was a supervisor of the County Board, county surveyor and a notary public.  He probably did not pay this taxes on the land.

    In 1881, the land was sold by a tax deed to the Ontonagon and Brule River Railroad Company.   The  O&B RR date back to 1857 when the State of Michigan authorized by an act to grant six sections of land to aid in the construction of the Ontonagon and State Line Railway.  A survey was made, but financial issues caused a suspension and the project was abandoned for years.  So long that most people seemed to have given up and forgot the grant.

    In the previous year, 1880, a new Ontonagon resident, a Timothy Nester, revised the rail project and the Ontonagon and Brule River Railroad Company was formed and a new survey done from Ontonagon to Rockland.  The following year the Michigan legislature passed a bill defining the conditions of a line from Ontonagon to the intersection of the Brule River with the state line between Michigan and Wisconsin.  The bill provided that the first 20 miles be completed in one year and the entire line by 1886. 

    In 1885,  Ontonagon which was settled in 1842 was incorporated as a village

    A year later, in 1886, the Ontonagon County Courthouse was built on the public square.  The Courthouse is a two-story Romanesque Revival structure, built of brick on a sandstone foundation.  Three sides have similar facades a central entrance in a gabled pavilion flanked by tall double-hung windows. The stone window lintels form part of a beltcourse that circles the building. A bay window is above the entrance, and the hipped roof has projecting dormers and a glass-roofed dome at the peak. The rear sports a rectangular addition.  The courthouse is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.  Two future owners of the Gorman House were also be owners of the courthouse.   More on this later.

    Between 1886 and 1923 Byron White and M. A Powers of Ontonagon are dealing real estate and buying a lot of land ...mostly from the State of Michigan.

    M.A. Powers was register of deeds and Ontonagon County clerk.  He was elected and served part of his term and then appointed H.M. Power in his place.  Apparently the Board of Supervisors were not happy with this arrangement and appointed Will J. Coulter to fill M.A. Powers' vacancy.  H.M. Powers declined to recognize Coulter and, as they say,  “held the fort” until the Circuit Court recognized Coulter as clerk. 

    In 1923, Sarah H. M. White, the widow of Bryon White,  now living in Spokane, Washington, sold the Gorman House land to Joseph M. Donnelly of Ontonagon.

    Joseph M. Donnelly was Probate Judge, 1920-24 and Prosecuting Attorney, 1924-1928, and 1930-1932.  In 1934 lumber was in great demand and Donnelly sold the land to the Northern Logging Company, a Wisconsin corporation.  Secretary to the corporation was Walter Gorman of Wausau, Wisconsin.




500 Lakeshore Dr
Ontonagon, MI 49953


  • Author: Around and About Ontonagon's Harbor
  • Author: Searching for Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrich Pierce: The Brave and Accomplished Army Officer for Whom Fort Pierce is Named
  • Development of FRIENDS OF FORT PIERCE Web Site
  • Booklet.  Living on a Sailboat in the Fort Pierce City Marina
  • 77 day passage on s/v WINDSONG by water from Ontonagon, MI to Fort Pierce, FLProfessional Librarian. A.M.L.S., The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.Curriculum & Instruction. M.A., The University of Michigan.
  • Advisor. The Link. Inmate newspaper, Kinross Correctional Facility
  • Link wins the Michigan Penal Press Award as Best Prison Newspaper in Michigan for 1998.
  • Link wins the Michigan Penal Press Award as Best Prison Newspaper in Michigan for 1999 (Second year in a row!)
  • Appointed to Advisory Board, Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, Alabama.

  • Technology-Using-Educator of the Year Award, 1982.
  • Web Designer. Developed and ran first commercial Internet web server in Michigan's U.P. in Houghton, Michigan.
  • Web Designer. Developed popular internet web site <leoedwards.com> dedicated to my grandfather Edward Edison Lee who authored 50 books in the 1920's and 30's under the pen name of Leo Edwards.
  • Web Designer. Developed a number of successful web sites, including: up-wide.com, upbiz.com, ontonagon.com, michigancatalog.com, wisconsincatalog.com, texascatalog.com, etc.
  • Grant Writer. Writer of over 100 funded state and federal grants.
  • Wrote successful grant to restore theatre in Ontonagon Township Building, 1997.
  • Founder. The Weekly Bulletin: The Complete Shopping Guide for the Western U.P.
  • Editor and Publisher. The Lake Superior Miner
  • President. Ontonagon County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Chairman of the Board. American Association for Corporate Contributions. (A.A.C.P.)
  • Director. National Nonprofit Press Association, Washington, DC. (N.N.P.A.)
  • National Director of Philanthropic Research and Development. National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (N.A.E.I.R.)
  • Facilitator. National Network of Complementary Schools. A national exchange program between selected public and independent schools.
  • Author. Give-and-Take: The Complete Tax Incentive Guide and The Approved Methods for Donating or Accepting Corporate Gifts of Inventory. Fourth Edition.
  • Producer/Designer. Rent-A-Workshop A series of video tapes, including: Investment Options for Nonprofits, Working With The Press, A Guide to Grants, Planned Giving, Sports and Fitness Events as Fund Raisers, etc.
  • Author. Great Deal$, Smart Buys, and Real Bargains$: A Complete Guide to the Best Surplus Markets., 1986.
  • Member/Secretary. Ontonagon Area School District, Board of Education
  • The Electronic Classroom. Over 75 columns on computer and educational technology.
  • The Information Connection. Columns on information technology.
  • Member. Rotary One - Chicago; the world's first service club. Classification: Corporate Philanthropy.
  • Director/Planner. National Conference (in Chicago) on partnerships between business and education.
  • Designer/Builder/Fund Raiser/General Manager. WOAS- FM, Ontonagon, MI.
  • Director. Micrographics Project. U.S. Office of Education.

  • Founder. 501(c)(3) Monthly Letter. 3rd largest nonprofit management publication in the United States.
  • Information Specialist/Journalist. 82nd Airborne Division
  • President, U.P. West, Area-Wide Telephone Directory Service. Incorporated, July 1989.
  • Publisher. Ewen Centennial History Book, 1989.

  • Eagle Scout with God and Country Award. Member, Order of the Arrow. Boy Scouts of America.


  • Harbormaster, Village of Ontonagon Marina.  May 8 - Oct. 17, 2014
  • Head Librarian, Ojibway Correctional Facility, Michigan Department of Corrections, Marenisco, MI. 2000 - 2012
  • Librarian. Law Library, General Library, School Library and SEG Library, Michigan Department of Corrections, Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF), Kincheloe, MI 1997-2000.
  • Owner. The Landmark Publishing Company, Ontonagon, MI
  • Publisher. U.P.-Wide. Area-Wide Yellow Pages for Michigan's Upper Peninsula
  • Web Master. <www.up-wide.com>
  • Director. 21st Century Internet Design Group. Designer of national Internet "catalog" project. Current catalogs now online include: michigancatalog.com, wisconsincatalog.com, and texascatalog.com.
  • Editor and Publisher. The Lake Superior Miner.
  • Editor and Publisher. The Weekly Bulletin.
  • Consultant. Corporate Philanthropy.
  • Director of Research and Development. National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources. Northfield, IL. 1983-85.
  • Consultant/Conference Planner/Advertising Advisor. NationalConference on Partnerships between education and corportions. 1983.

  • Federal Projects Writer, General Manager WOAS-FM, Librarian. Ontonagon Area Schools, Ontonagon, MI. 1975-83.
  • President. The Electronic Classoom.
  • Director of Media Services. Half Hollow Hills Schools, Dix Hills, Long Island, NY. 1974-75.
  • Director of Media Services. Centennial Educational Park, Plymouth Public Schools, Plymouth, MI. 1970-74.
  • Media Director. Mona Shores Schools, Muskegon, MI. 1966-70.
  • High School Librarian, Muskegon High School, Muskegon, MI. 1965-66.
  • Journalist. 82nd Airborne Division, and 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, NC.

  • Cadet. United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.


  • Long experience with various platforms and programs, including:
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Pagemaker
  • HTML Design and Editing
  • CGI Scripting
  • Mac OS
  • TCP/IP Networks/ WiFi
  • Local Area Networks
  • Various HTML Editors
  • Microsoft Works
  • Word Perfect
  • Filemaker Plus
  • CD-Rom Development
  • First Search: World's largest bibliographic database.
  • Internet searching skills.


  • Graduate. New Employee School, Michigan Department of Corrections, Lansing, MI. 1997
  • A.M.L.S. (Library Science), The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 1970. Renamed The Information School.
  • M.A., Master of Arts, Audiovisual Education and Curriculum Development, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 1968.
  • B.S., Bachelor of Science. Journalism and Library Science, Wisconsin State University, Oshkosh, WI. 1965.
  • Diploma. U.S. Army Information School, Fort Slocum, NY.
  • Cadet. U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY.
  • Diploma. Memorial High School, Beloit, WI. 195


 Memorial High School, Beloit, WI.

 Ripon College, Ripon, WI. 
 U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY

  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
 North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

  University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
 Wisconsin State University, Oshkosh, WI

  Beloit College, Beloit, WI.

Rackam School of Graduate Studies, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

  DeMarse Corrections Academy, Lansing, MI



  • Around and About Ontonagon's Harbor, Columns in the Ontonagon Herald, Summer 2014
  • Around and About Ontonagon's Harbor (the book) Published October, 2014
  • Searching for Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrich Pierce: The Brave and Accomplished Army Officer for Whom Fort Pierce, Florida is Named.
  • Sailing Blog of trip from Ontonagon to Fort Pierce by water.  www.sailblogs.com/member/thegreattrip
  • Living on a Sailboat at the Fort Pierce City Marina  pdf copy at www.fortpiercecitymarinaflorida.com
  • Designing a library for a special clientele. Ironwood Daily Globe, February 27, 2001.
  • Designer. up-wide.com, a comprehensive world wide web site of businesses in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and in surronding areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario Canada.
  • Designer. UP-Wide Yellow Pages. A comprehensive 336 page directory for Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
  • Give-and-Take: The Complete Tax Incentive Guide and the Approved Methods for Donating or Accepting Corporate Gifts of Inventory. Fourth Edition.
  • Great Deal$, Smart Buy$ and Real Bargain$: The Complete Guide to the Best Surplus Markets.
  • Practical Philanthropy. A fund raising kit for planned giving.
  • Microform Systems: A Handbook for Educators.
  • Administration of an Instructional Film Program: A Handbook for the Building Audiovisual Coordinator.
  • Library Hand . . . A Lost Art. (A study of handwritten catalog cards.)
  • Corporate Philanthropy. Monthly column in the NAEIR News. You Can Get in on This $17 Million Equipment Give away. The Executive Educator. February, 1982.
  • If A Computer Answers, Don't Hang Up. Classroom Computer News.
  • Authorship of School Textbooks for Education Faculty Appointed Between 1879-1929 at The University of Michigan. Notes and Abstracts.
  • Project Adventure. The New North.
  • Historical Notes. A series of columns on the history of Rotary. The Gyrator, Rotary One, Chicago.
  • BACSTOP: A Teacher's Guide to Ropes Courses and Other Initiatives. The Porcupine Quill Press.
  • Hard to Believe Association Arranges Donations to Schools. The New North.
  • The Secret and Mysterious Order of the Freckled Goldfish.
  • Tuffy Bean Comes to Ontonagon.
  • DATE DUE. Over 150 columns on information technology.
  • THE ELECTRONIC CLASSROOM. Over 75 columns on technology.
  • Putting Computers to the Test in British Columbia. Classroom Computer News.
  • History of 10-Watt Radio Stations.
  • Every Child A Winner in New Physical Education Program.
  • The Source. The New North.


  • Benjamin K. Piere Returns.  By Ellen Gillette, FOCUS: The Official Publication of Main Street Fort Pierce, August 2014
  • Fort Pierce marina helps city generate new fan from Michigan  by Ellen Gillette, Feb. 2013
  • Friends of Fort Pierce.   Interview and video by Plythe Gibbons.  www.treasuresoffortpierce.com
  • A View From The Inside, By Gary Lamberg, Publisher, Ironwood Daily Globe. February 21, 2001.
  • LINK WINS. Prison newspaper at Kinross Correctional Facility wins Penal Press Award as best prison paper in Michigan. The KCF LINK, April 1999
  • Many More Books Coming. Story of large book donation to KCF from the famous Newberry Library in Chicago. The KCF LINK, April 1999.
  • WOAS-FM, started by Tom Lee receives special Michigan Education Association recognition. Ontonagon Herald 5/13/98.
  • New Librarian at KCF. The Link
  • Far-flung Networking - Publisher Tom Lee Reaches the Far Corners of the Globe Via the Internet. Printing Impressions, February, 1995.
  • Pied Piper' Keeps Students Wrapped Up in Learning. Houghton Mining Gazette. January 7, 1979.
  • Bookworms (a story concerning the donation of 6,000 free books) The Milwaukee Journal, July 29, 1980.
  • Tom Lee . . . His Projects Benefit School. A Copper Country Profile. The Mining Gazette.
  • New Voice Coming to Ontonagon. Development of WOAS-FM
  • Porcupine Quill Press Makes Point in Ontonagon.
  • Beloiter Chosen for West Point. Beloit Daily News, May 28, 1959.
  • Ontonagon School Finds Gold Mine . . . In Free Books, That Is !
  • Librarian Turns to Boatbuilding.
  • Polynesian Catamaran Replica at Ontonagon.
  • Local Librarian Named Technology Using Educator of the Year.
  • Welcome Mat. The Gyrator, Rotary One, Chicago.
  • Lee Elected to Rotary One Membership. The Gyrator, Rotary Club of Chicago.
  • Bed and breakfast in style. The Houghton Mining Gazette.
  • Link Wins. The KCF Link, Kinross Correctional Facility, May, 1999

ADDENDUM (Seamanship Skills) 

  • Harbormaster, Village of Ontonagon Marina
  • Legal Responsibilities, Required Equipment, Etc.
  • Boat Handling in various weather conditions
  • Boat Nomenclature and Terminology
  • Troubleshooting Basic Mechanical Problems
  • Docking, Line Handling
  • Marlinespike Seamanship
  • Radio Operating Procedures
  • Distress  Signals
  • Radio Checks
  • Knowledge of Aids to Navigation
  • Nautical Charts and Piloting
  • Basic First Aid
  • Firefighting Procedures
  • Over 65 years of boating experience

Windsong (red sail cover) at K-Dock, Fort Pierce City Marina.




Books by Tom Lee:

Tom Lee as Benjamin K. Pierce


Living on a Sailboat at the Fort Pierce City Marina
Fort Pierce, Florida

Living on a sailboat  BLOG

Sock Monky's Big Trip
(this is a large file, get a cup of coffee)


Living on a Sailboat in the Fort Pierce
City Marina


s/v PENRYN, Ballerina II

s/v VIKING, Allied Seawind 30

m/v VICTORIA, River Queen Houseboat



My grandfather Edward Edson Lee (Leo Edwards) published
nearly 50 books for boys in the 1920 and 30's ...
Visit his site at LeoEdwards.com