Phyllis Begens Collection

Phyllis Begens is a direct descendent, the great great granddaughter, of an original South Manitou Island pioneer family, the William Burtons.

William Burton and his brother Hubbard Blackman Burton are thought to have arrived on the island during the 1830's. Both brothers were involved with maritime activities operating out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio which eventually became the port city of Cleveland. William, a former Captain of canal boats and steamships at Lake Champlain, might have been serving as a steamship company agent, while Hubbard was probably still principally employed as a ship's Captain.

They came to the island to establish a wooding station for steamboats navigating the Manitou Passage on their voyages principally between Lake Erie ports and Chicago, Illinois. That eventually grew into a small port community near their dock, which was known as "Burton's Wharf." While William and Hubbard Burton were probably never really island settlers [1], evidently maintaining permanent residences in Ohio City (Cuyahoga County) and Wisconsin, the Burton family, mostly through various descendants of William Burton, was represented on the Island for at least sixty years.


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  • [1] William Burton, up to now, has been presumed to have been the first settler on South Manitou Island.