In late 2009, Robert Considine, a successful businessman from Pellston, and originally from Rudyard, in the U.P. of Michigan, donated to the Michigan American Legion 600 acres of pristine wilderness, along with a historic lodge dating back to the lumbering industry in the early 1900’s. Also included was a newer 4-bedroom home, stable, garage and corn crib. The property was known as Wilwin, names taken from the early lumbermen of the time, William and Edwin Chesbourgh. The property was located 6 miles NW of the village of Trout Lake, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Incorporated in 2010 under the name Michigan American Legion Wilwin Lodge, Inc., most of the year was devoted to repairing buildings, cleaning the grounds, and getting the property ready for use. During this time Wilwin’s mission and vision statements were written. The statements have not changed over the years and remain our mission and vision today.
By mid 2013, Graymont Mining Company began exploring the area for limestone. They struck a high quality limestone lode on the Wilwin property covering almost 400 of its 600 acres. It was evident that they were interested in purchasing the property, especially after they purchased adjoining property next door to our main gate and then made a settlement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the National Forest Service on the mineral rights on 13000 adjoining acres. Hesitant at first, the Board of Directors held off selling the property to Graymont until Graymont purchased a replacement property for the American Legion at a site south of Custer, Mason County, Michigan, called Cygnet Cove by the previous owner. The property was almost twice the size of Wilwin (1183 acres compared to 600 acres). In addition, the property included a private 67 acre pristine lake (Lake Woodruff), a 4 bedroom home with 4 bathrooms that can accommodate 8-12 veterans, a care-takers home with attached work shed and large garage, and another garage with living quarter above to accommodate 4 veterans. The two-car garage is scheduled to be converted into a wholly handicapped apartment in the spring.
The decision to sell Wilwin to Graymont was based on the following observations:
1. Nearby blasting and heavy trucking noises were not conducive to our mission with PTSD and TBI veterans.
2. Location was closer to Michigan’s and the Midwest’s population centers where a higher number of veterans are concentrated.
3. The private lake would provide more recreational activities for our veterans as it has a sand beach and sand bottom, a bathhouse, dock, canoes, and a pontoon boat to take our veterans fishing or relaxing on the lake.
4. Many nearby recreational facilities accommodate our veterans including rafting, kayaking, or fishing. The Pere Marquette River is just a few miles north of Wilwin.
5. Vast amounts of land available for large groups of scouts for jamborees and camping.
6. Sandy land for easier and cheaper building. The origional site for Wilwin’s was rock (limestone) making construction of new buildings was very costly.
7. Graymont Mining was very accommodating in assuring that we would make a smooth transition from one facility to another.
Final transfer of the properties was made on December 22, 2015. In January 2016 at The board of directors meeting it was decided renamed the new facility “Wilwin at Cygnet Cove”. Keeping the name Wilwin and adding the name “Cygnet Cove" which the new location was previously known as.
A video featuring Wilwin when it was located in Trout Lake
Wilwin at Cygnet Cove History:
Taken from the Ludington Daily News, July 16, 2016:
Sippy Ranch came to be the result of a snowstorm and a stranded Chicago doctor who fell in love with the area a century ago.
The property, which once stretched from Bitterly past Baldwin and north to nearly Custer, was purchased by Dr. Bertram Sippy, a well known Chicago doctor who had come to the area as a medical examiner for an insurance company. The patient was at home south of Baldwin.
Traveling by train and sleigh team to the home, when the doctor had completed his task, he was ready to return to Chicago via the same mode of transportation. A huge snow storm had begun in the interim and it was impossible for him to catch the train. He sought shelter at the home of a woman named Runnells south of Baldwin.
At breakfast the next day, she told the doctor of the farm she owned and now being widowed that she wanted to sell it. He promised her if the property was still for sale in the spring, he would come back and look at it.
He purchased her property the following spring and continued to purchase land. The properties he bought were of varied terrain, with some being wooded, others cleared, and some swampy.
Sharecroppers were installed on the property and a dairy farm of 1500 acres near Branch was also established. The Sippy holdings in Eden Township once extended over 4000 acres. Much of the land was swamp and was known as Butters Swamp. Dr. Sippy purchased the property from the Butters’ and the co-owners. The co-owners of the property were the Sands and Maxwell Lumber Co. of Pentwater, and another family from Ludington.
The farm home on the property was built in 1918 as a summer residence for Dr. Sippy and his family. Upon his death in 1924, the Sippy family home was sold and the family moved to the Eden Township home permanently.
In the 1940’s Mrs. Sippy sold half of the Eden Township property to the federal government and that is now part of the Manistee National Forest. Part of the 2,000 acres she kept continued to be rented out for cattle grazing in the summer and another portion located south of the former community of Fern became known as the Eden oil field after several wells were drilled by Superior Oil Company. The wells were capped many years ago.