Klinger Lake is in the northeast part of White Pigeon township. One of the very first records of white settlers concerns the coming of Peter KLINGER in 1827. His daughter was one of the first born white children in the county. She married Harry MIDDAUGH of White Pigeon. After locating on Klinger Lake, Mr. KLINGER moved to a farm west of Constantine and 3 miles north of the St. Joseph River on a small stream where he built a grist mill that was operated for fifty years. It was finally wrecked by Chet BROWN and the lumber moved to Constantine.
Klinger Lake, from the coming of the first white settlers, has been a great resort due to its unexcelled sandy lake bottom for swimming. The scenery is beautiful. The flowing wells with mineral waters of various content invigorate anyone. Fishing was wonderful in bygone days but is not so good now. Being the largest lake in the county it had the first cottages, first "steam boats" and hotels. Among the first cottage owners were J. R. WATSON, John FOGARTY, William G. HOWARD and Vinc WILSON. Mr. DOTY had the first and only large "steam boat" on the lake. It was an old flat bottom with side wheel propellers. Vinc WILSON, a railroad engineer of White Pigeon, had the first steam boat of a tug like nature. Frank W. WAIT of Sturgis had the first 16 foot automatic steam launch. FARRAND built the first Hotel near where the old Capt. MILLER Hotel was that burned down a few years ago. It was between Pine Bluffs and Mound Springs. There was a "boarding house" built at Oakwood before this.
Old "Put MANDIGO" was one of the early characters around Klinger Lake and built the Lake View Hotel on the north side. It was a three story affair that is now owned by A. T. SCATTERGOOD. Meals, rooms and dancing were the order of the place. The 3rd floor had what was an elegant ball room in the early days. A story is told of Old Put that his wife was always asking him to go bring a pail of water from the well. With an oath, he would ask her if she did not know where the well was. Put's brother Jack MANDIGO was known as the hermit of Klinger Lake and many are the stories of "buried gold" told about him but old timers say there is nothing to such tales. A character whose name we could not ascertain had a saloon built on log stilts on the "blind island" near Breezie Beach and many are the wild tales told.
When the Klinger family came to the prairie there were only three in the community. They were Arba HEALD, Leonard CUTLER, and the KLINGER family. The last named ran a small Indian trading post. The story is told of the Indian squaw who stole the youngest KLINGER daughter and was overtaken by Mrs. LUINGER. The squaw claimed that she was doing it for revenge because some one had stolen a pair of Indian moccasins from her. In the scrimmage the moccasins fell from the squaw’s bundle and Mrs. KLINGER used them to beat the squaw away. The Indians always admired a fighter and spoke very "Big Squaw" who did a "heap fight."
No lake in the county has more wealth in summer and winter homes than Klinger Lake. The homes are owned by people far and near. The lots around the lake are practically all sold and the signs "Private-Keep out" are numerous that there are few places, anymore, where the public can picnic or enjoy a swim. It would seem to be a very feasible thing for the county supervisors to buy lots around some of the lakes where future generations might enjoy the beauty, picnic dinners, and swims of our lakes without being a trespasser.
Klinger Lake is one of a chain of lakes that follow a well defined valley through the county. They are Aldrich, Pickeral, Klinger, Middle, Thompson, Minniewaukon, Crotch, Gray, Hog Creek (now called Prairie), Beaver, Long, Palmer, Colon and Sturgeon. Many of the smaller lakes in between we have not named. Did you know that St. Joseph County has over 200 lakes? Take a drive some and count them. See St. Joseph County first-the rest of the world afterwards.
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This page was created on 15 March 1997 and updated 29 Nov 1998
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