Northern Michigan in Focus: Barker Creek
If you look hard enough, you’ll find all sorts of interesting facts about our area.
In this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus, Corey Adkins takes you to a place in Williamburg that has quite a storied past.
“The property itself is really amazing, and it used to be the village of Barker Creek,” said Terry Bertrand with Barker Creek Nursery and Landscaping.
It’s a place off of a very busy M-72 that you can go to and relax, walk around and imagine what your yard could look like.
“We’re really just a down to earth family kind of farm and nursery landscaping service business,” explained Terry.
But because of one special natural resource, Barker Creek Nursery and Landscaping used to be just Barker Creek. Imagine a train depot, general store and a band shell all surrounded by homes. It all started in 1859.
“There’s an artesian that comes out and has a metal bar that hits the ground. Everybody thinks that’s the support, but back in the 1800s, 1859, when this was platted, it actually had running water. The artesian flow branched out to the band shell and went all way down to the general store and all the little homes in between had running water. So other than that, people had buckets of water from the creek or a pond, so here they had fresh natural water here year-round. So to live here was probably a blessing, and that’s why it developed,” explained Terry.
When a town develops, so do stories. There were four churches in Barker Creek, mostly Irish Catholic, and they had their own way of thinking.
“There was a guy who came out of the hills with his banjo, so they called him ‘The Instrument of the Devil.’ So he would come down here after he had a nip on his bottle, a little too much, and played so loud that the farms in the hills could hear him. So you could just imagine living in that day,” explained Terry,
Or like the pond where the well is. It was originally built for horses to drink from.
“Then the house was built over it and it had a false floor, so kind of like a modern-day refrigerator, and they could preserve everything and keep it cold. Probably their beer, right? So they’d open that false floor, grab whatever they want to preserve, and it never got below 45° or above that, so it was a perfect cooling apparatus,” said Terry.
To this day, their customers and employees go to that well, get a drink and cool off. Barker Creek is more than just a nursery and landscaping business.
“I just think it makes us a unique meeting place. We’re down in the valley, we got a gorgeous view of the lake. Families come here, just walk around, share memories. We had one lady here that came here and reminded us she was born in the office,” said Terry.