By Bill Leutz
My personal memories of Clark Lake are all associated with Eagle Point. During the earliest years, we rented on the west shore of the point, but shortly after the end of World War II, Dad made arrangements to spend the summer renting from Rollo and Virginia Every on the east shore of The Point. There, in the cottage called Seven Oaks, my early lake story played out. It is only natural that the Everys played a part in that story. With that in mind, here is a small portion of their story. Although I have not been able to find much on Rollo’s boyhood, the greater picture of early family history can be excavated from genealogical records, land records, and newspaper articles.
In the fall of 1834, Jacob Every came from Delaware County, NY to build a new home. He settled on 120 acres of along Hayes Road, in adjoining townships – portions of Sect 32, Columbia Township and Section 5, Woodstock Township, Jackson Co., Michigan. Other members of the Every clan arrived in the spring of 1835 – Joseph, John, Reuben, Uriah and George Every all settled in Columbia Township; John and Reuben in the area which became the corner of White Road and Cary Road, about a mile north of their cousin Jacob. A sign declaring the area “Everyville” can still be seen on the west side of Hayes road.
Captain Garrett Freer Harris, who served in the New York and Michigan Militia, settled on Silver Lake during 1836; his land being about ¼ mile west of the present-day Silver Lake Golf Course. This was only about 1½ miles south of Jacob Every; and in 1858, Jacob Every married Mary Harris, Garrett’s daughter. In 1860, the couple’s first son (second child) was born and named Harris in honor of Mary’s family. The Family headstones for these Harris and Every families can still be found in the old Cement City Cemetery.
In Napoleon, in February 1883, Harris married Lelia M. Smith, the daughter of William and Ann Smith. In 1880, according to the census of that year, William Smith was a laborer in the town of nearby Jefferson, and a neighbor of the merchant, John DeLameter. Leilia was living at home at this time, and Harris was still living on his father’s farm. On October 17, 1886, Rollo Merritt Every was born. Since I have not yet been unable to find a land purchase for Harris Every during this period, it could be assumed that Rollo was probably born at this Hayes road farm of Jacob Every.
As early as 1889, Harris Every began to acquire property on the north shore, near Pleasant View. Ultimately this holding totaled some 200 acres, including portions that later were occupied by the Avis peach and apple orchards later, and also by the Pleasant View Hotel. Although Rollo’s boyhood history is sketchy, it would certainly have centered on the family farm and Clark Lake.
An interview with him in the Daytona Beach Morning Journal in 1971 provides interesting snapshots at his early adult life. According to this, at the age of 20 in 1906, Rollo left the family farm in search of adventure. He found it in the form of “Buffalo Bill Cody and the Council of Rough Rider’s of the World”. This was the title under which Buffalo Bill presented his Wild West show from 1893 through 1906. 1906 was the last year the show traveled in Europe. Rollo performed with the show for three summers. He played a bugler in the cavalry and did precision drills with his Remington rifle. In 1908, Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill, who had a similar traveling rodeo show, joined forces to create the “Two Bills Show” which continued for a short time before it was closed by creditors in Denver, Colorado.
Following his role with Buffalo Bill, Rollo worked in an automobile factory. The 1910 Federal Census confirms this job, but it does not say where the factory stood. In 1909, the first year after he left the Buffalo Bill Show, it could have been as near as Jackson – at the Jackson Automobile Company, which was still operating at that time. He also ran a grocery store for a few years. Then, sometime before December 1917, his father bought the Eagle Point Hotel, and Rollo’s future was set. Once again, land records have not yet been found to narrow this date range.
According to military draft records during World War I, Rollo enlisted in the Army on December 13, 1917, and served until January 17, 1919. Specific service information is not available; however, on his draft registration form, he listed his employment as hotel manager.
During 1922, Rollo moved his permanent home to Daytona Beach, but spent each summer operating the Eagle Point Hotel. It was here at the Hotel, that Rollo met Virginia Bagwell, who came from Tennessee to work summers. They were married at Clark Lake in 1926. After the death of his father in 1936, Rollo and Virginia became symbols of Clark Lake to many of us – particularly those on Eagle Point. They continued to open the Hotel for the summer months providing a venue for all those activities that are tied to the history of the Eagle Point. Under his management the Pavilion was built, together with its arcade of miniature golf, shooting gallery, bathhouse and other buildings. During his tenure it ran through it’s incarnations as a dance hall presenting the Big Bands of the era, a bowling alley, and a roller skating ring. The old ball field, where the Dunigan’s boat storage now stands, provided the venue for annual baseball games between local amateur teams, company picnics, and served as a parking lot for the Big Band Dances.
With ready access from the Cincinnati Northern Railroad depot at the head of the lake, the Hotel became a well-known watering place for summer vacationers from Southern Ohio and Kentucky. Many traditions come to mind from those years, such as the firing of Rollo’s small brass cannon to start the annual Fourth of July celebrations.
The Eagle Point Hotel was finally sold to Calvin Pitman in 1957. Rollo and Virginia continued to visit the lake every summer, staying in their cottage at 1410 Cottage Drive, known to us, so many years ago, as Seven Oaks. Following Rollo’s passing in 1979, and Virginia’s in 1994, the cottage is still in use by the families of their descendants.
Note–Bill Leutz’s newly published book is The Clams Are Still Baking: Memories of Clark Lake. It’s now available online at http://www.williamleutzbooks.com. Bill plans a book-signing event next spring when he returns from his winter home in Oklahoma. Periodically, Bill will add chapters to this section of the website (Historical Perspectives). He’ll write about various aspects of Clark Lake history, some of which may be a surprise to you!