Loren Graham is a historian who has written widely both on the history of science and on the history of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He has received numerous awards, including the Follo Prize of the Historical Society of Michigan, the Gross Award of Saginaw Valley University, and the Sarton medal of the History of Science Society. One of his books was a finalist for a National Book Award. He was a professor for many years at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He lives in the winters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in the summers in Old North Lighthouse on Grand Island in the Upper Peninsula, which is pictured on the dust jacket of this book. At the lighthouse he enjoys nature, writes books, and lives happily with his wife and best friend of 58 years, Patricia. He appreciates deeply the beauty and culture of the Upper Peninsula, as revealed in this book.
Death at the Lighthouse
A Grand Island Mystery
by Loren Graham
The U.S. Coast Guard had long abandoned the North Lighthouse on Grand Island, erecting a pole light instead when, in 1972, summer residents, Professors Loren and Patricia Graham, became interested in buying and preserving the property which was in great need of repair. They were not aware of the mysterious disappearance of two Lighthouse Keepers in 1908 until Graham found a newspaper clipping from The Detroit Free Press of June 15, 1908, under the oilcloth on the rickety kitchen table in the lighthouse. It read: “Slain and Set Afloat, Grand Island Lighthouse keeper and his assistant are believed to be victims of brutal murder and robbery. Mutilated body of one found in boat. Keeper George Genry missing from his isolated post and thought to have met same fate.”
Graham began a thirty-year investigation of the event and has recorded his findings in his new book, Death at the Lighthouse: A Grand Island Riddle (2013, Arbutus Press). This non-fiction work begins with a systematic investigation and interviews of the people associated with Grand Island, the town people of Munising, and AuTrain, the U.S. Lighthouse Service, loggers, hunters, miners, and Native Americans, leading to a “complex and complicated story that embraces the entire history of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”
The author examines various explanations of the disappearance of the lighthouse keeper and his assistant from an anthropological point of view. Graham explores the relationships of Genry and his assistant, Edward Morrison, with each other (did Genry kill Morrison?) and with various folks in the nearby towns to find motivation (did William Mather order the murders?) and to reveal the origin of many opinions still held by local people today. He looks at the folklore of the event as it fades and disappears from memories. Death at the Lighthouse is a fascinating narrative that examines, “one of the least known areas of the United States.” It is the history of a mystery.