John Houdek arrived in the Leelanau area in the 1860s with wife Barbara and brother Wenzel, all from Bohemia, writes Rebecca Carlson in the latest installment in her series about the legacy of Leelanau farming families. The brothers settled and homesteaded in the area north of Leland and south of the Gills Pier Saw Mill, owning around 400 acres of land, according to the 1880 plat map. The farms and acreage of these two brothers got passed down through the next three generations. John and his wife Barbara were parents to nine children who became integral parts to the family farm and Gills Pier community.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore deputy superintendent Tom Ulrich, who will retire from the Park later this month, once heard a poignant analogy at a leadership conference that compared the old style of managing a National Park to the Star Wars jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who deftly and constantly fends off outside threats with his light saber. By contrast, the new style of Park management is not to deflect or fight off criticism from the public, but to engage, listen and teach as Yoda does. Ulrich arrived at Sleeping Bear Dunes in late 2002 at a time when Lakeshore staff was reeling from widespread criticism after it promoted an unpopular new General Management Plan that would expand portions of the Park classified as “wilderness.” His tenure at Sleeping Bear Dunes dawned a collaborative relationship between the Park and local citizens.

Two Weeks in a Hammock is an education and outreach initiative by Cedar residents Vince and Stacie Longwell Sadowski to inspire regular folks to get out into nature. “As two middle-aged people with average fitness levels and more time than money,” they write on their blog, “we model an active lifestyle of adventure. The Sun recently interviewed them about their “Voices of North Manitou Island” project, a series of videos launched this year that explore the history of the North Manitou Island in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore through the people who have lived, worked, played, and been a part of island life over the years.

Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear seeks to raise $50,000 to move the Goffar Barn in the National Lakeshore out of Narada Lake. The lake, east of the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, is a quiet spot to view wildlife from the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail boardwalk. But the 150-year-old barn is in danger of being lost, as its timber posts sit precariously in water and mud from encroaching water levels due primarily to beaver activity. The preservation project for the 25-year-old nonprofit is to move the barn away from the lake about 80 feet toward the Goffar farmhouse, which was recently restored by the National Park.

Novelist Sarah Shoemaker of Northport has been an educator, university research librarian, world traveler, wife, mother, and grandmother. She recently spoke with the Sun about her most recent books, Children of the Catastrophe (2022) and Mr. Rochester (2017). Shoemaker will appear at the Glen Arbor Arts Center on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 11 a.m. for “Coffee With the Authors.” Other events this fall can be found on her website,

Ghost towns—sometimes called “boomtowns”—were formerly bustling communities where a natural resource, such as gold, was exploited and subsequently depleted, then the town was quickly abandoned. Most people are aware of Wild West ghost towns, such as California’s famous Tombstone or Bodie, but they are generally unaware of northern Michigan’s host of ghost towns, built not upon gold but timber.  Aral is one such Michigan ghost town. If you ever put on your bathing suit to swim at Otter Creek/the dead end of Esch Road, just off M-22 in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, you have driven past the old schoolhouse and continued down the main street of that ghost town to the beach, and you just did not know it. 

Martin Korson’s great-grandfather, Martin, was one of the Bohemian families who settled the Gill’s Pier area, writes Rebecca Gearing Carlson in installment seven of our Leelanau Farming Family Series. Korson, pronounced Keer-shan, first settled and worked in Leland at the charcoal foundry that fueled the steam ships running Lake Michigan. Then the work became about clearing the land for homes and farms. Thus, timbering and the saw mill at Gill’s Pier gained importance as the community grew.

Bohemian Valley, Bohemian Beach, Bohemian Road, the Bohemian Settlement, and the Bohemian Cemetery. From where does the name Bohemian originate and why do we find it in Leelanau County? Rebecca Gearing Carlson asks this question in part six of our Leelanau Farming Family Series. “When I think of the word Bohemian, the social and cultural movement of the 19th century comes to mind: writers, journalists, painters, actors, and other creative people living outside the norms of society. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Puccini’s La Boheme, and Bizet’s Carmen are beautifully written stories about the Bohemians who purposely pushed the accepted limits of societal practices and despised conventionality. The only similarities, however, between Bohemianism and the central European Bohemians are the names.”

The Glen Arbor Arts Center (previously called the Glen Arbor Art Association) celebrates 40 years in 2023. We republished this excerpt from the Arts Center’s website that recounts the organization’s history, beginning with its founders, Becky Thatcher, Ananda and Ben Bricker, Midge Obata, Suzanne Wilson, Richard and Barbara Sander, and Barbara Siepker.

“In wine, there is truth.” Overquoted? Maybe. But in the case of the early winery owners and their family members of the Leelanau Peninsula, the expression holds true. Writing for the Glen Arbor Sun, Rebecca Carlson set out to understand the origins of the current successful wine industry in Leelanau. Through years of experimenting, working and taming the soil and vines, “In Vino Veritas” is in the lifeblood of these early Leelanau Peninsula vintners.