Up on Sugar Island lie the remains of the old estate of one of Michigan’s former governors, Chase Osborn.

He was born in Indiana in 1860, and moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan when he was in his twenties. It was here he started his career in politics, and in 1910 he was elected Michigan’s 27th governor, becoming the first and (so far) only Michigan governor to come from the Upper Peninsula.

Osborn spent two years as governor: sworn in on January 1, 1911 and leaving office on January 1, 1913. He spent the rest of his life writing books, working on newspapers, and mining iron ore.

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There is a little side story about Osborn that may seem twisted to some. He met a young lady named Stellanova Brunt in 1924, who eventually became his secretary.  Seven years later, in 1931, Chase and his wife Lillian legally adopted Stellanova, who was 37 years old.

Osborn’s health bound him to a wheelchair, Stellanova’s duties were switched, and she was now Osborn’s full-time nurse. His wife Lillian passed away in 1948; not long afterward Chase had Stellanova’s adoption annulled. This left it open (and legal) for Chase and Stellanova (a 35-year age difference between them) to be married and in the spring of 1949, they were.

Two weeks after the wedding, Chase died at his home in Georgia. His body was shipped back to Michigan, where he is buried on Sugar Island near his island home. His first wife Lillian was buried in Sault Ste. Marie’s Riverside Cemetery. Stellanova died in 1988 and was buried alongside Chase.

Thanks to Restless Viking, the gallery below has images of Governor Osborn’s old 1920s retreat on Sugar Island: the concrete library, the “Big Duck” house for the family, “Little Duck" house where Chase could get away by himself, and caretaker’s shack, along with the burial site.

The Ruins of Governor Chase Osborn's Sugar Island Retreat

MORE MICHIGANIA:

Remains of Edsel Ford's Retreat

Hidden Structures Found in the Woods at Edsel Ford's Retreat

Governor's Residence, Mackinac Island

 

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