Hannahville History

In 2007 the website History On The Web was created by students and staff at the Hannahville Indian School. The following information is an excerpt from that website.

Visit History On The Web for more photos and a detailed history.


The Hannahville Indian Reservation is a Potawatomi Reservation and according to records the current location was found in 1884 under the direction of Methodist Missionary, Peter Marksman.  Little information is available through the Missionary records as the presiding elders or missionary failed to keep detailed records of the Mission.

The original settlement is thought to have been along the mouth of the Big Cedar River, on Lake Michigan.

The people of Hannahville are descendents of those who refused to leave Michigan in 1834 during the great Indian Removal. They lived with the Menominee in Northern Wisconsin, and the Ojibway and Ottawa people in Canada. In 1853 some these people began returning to Michigan. It was at this time they settled along the Big Cedar River.

Church records report that Marksman was sent to the area as an assistant, rather than the presiding Missionary. During this time he has been credited with finding a parcel of land and moving the Potawatomi people to the current location. According to church records, the people were very fond of Marksman wife, Hannah and named their community after her.

In 1913, Congress acknowledged the Hannahville Potawatomi and purchased 3.400 acres of land in scattered parcels and added another 39 acres in 1942. The people of Hannahville have been federally recognized since 1936.

About Peter Marksman

by Cornelia M. Jensen
August 4, 1964

Peter Marksman, whose name now appears on the records, became a noteworthy Indian Christian leader. His father was an Indian medicine man who gave his son lessons in the conjurer’s art. Ma-diva-given-a-yaush, Shooting at the Mark, was the pagan name of this Indian boy. This, with his Christian name peter, gives us Peter Marksman. He was converted in the log school house of the Soo Indian Mission at Little Rapids, two miles below the falls of St. Mary’s River under the preaching of Rev. John Clark about 1833.

Peter Marksman early became an effective minister and at one time he preached on the Prodigal Son and the Indians were moved to tears. “They all, men, women and children, rose up saying we will arise up and embrace Christianity.  Monday morning they all brought their images and bad medicines to me.  I took them all and did burn them and destroy them before their eyes.”

He often knew severe exposure and hardship. In person he was scrupulously neat, tasty in dress, dignified and graceful in manner. In his prime he was eloquent as a preacher. This shining light of early Methodism among the Indians of the Upper Peninsula died at L’Anse on March 28, 1892, aged about 75.

For a short time the Methodists had a Cedar River mission. This we assume was the present Cedar River on the shores of Green Bay, midway between Escanaba and Menominee. In the 1870’s when logging operations opened her, this was a predominant Indian settlement. Fishing was good here both in the river and on the Bay.

In 1878 the conference assistance for Indian Missions on the Lake Superior District included $1175 to Cedar River Mission. Grand Island and Cedar River in 1979 reported 69 members and 22 probationers. In 1879 the conference supported an Indian Mission at Hannahville in Northern Menominee County. The redoubtable Peter Marksman opened this work and maintained it for several years. He suffered a deep personal sorrow when his eleven-year-old son died.

In 1835 the US Government had been in the process of moving the Potawatomi Indians to the west. A band of them broke away, worked northward, and between 1865-70 had settled at Harris.  Their venerable chief Sah-panaiss, who had led them in their wanderings died in 1882 at the age of 100 years. On August 13, 1883, the Potawatomis gave Peter Marksman the power of attorney, enabling him to represent them in their struggles with the government and the surrounding whites.

The mission and the settlement were named Hannahville in honor of Hannah Marksman.  In the early years about one thousand Indians lived here.  In 1880 the Hannahville Indian Mission reported 39 members, 11 probationers, 6 baptisms and 50 in the Sunday school. In 1885 it had 35 members and Peter Marksman had received $25 on his $50 salary claim. There continued to be a small Indian Church here under Methodist auspices until 1940 when it was allowed to pass into other hands.

Electricity For Christmas

electricityIn December 1966 linemen from the Alger-Delta Cooperative Electric Association of Gladstone, MI began the task of running electrical lines from the Harris area (ie. West U.S. 2) onto the Hannahville Indian Reservation, a distance of approximately five miles. The cable installation was completed on Dec. 23, 1966.

After this task was completed a team of 40 volunteer electricians from throughout the state began wiring 16 homes to receive electricity. All 40 electricians were members of the International Brotherhood of Electricians. The 16 homes were completed and ready for “flipping the switch” late that evening.

In 1966 the union scale for electricians was $10 per hour for Saturday work. This would have been $400 per hour for the crew of 40 totaling $4,000 for the day’s work.

On Dec. 23, 1966 at 3 p.m. EST a small handful of local county officials and community members watched as “hotlines” were activated at Hannahville for the first time.

he “Lights for Christmas Project,” was a multi-agency sponsored effort. Agencies involved included the Upper Peninsula Committee for Area Progress (UPCAP), the Community Action Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Marquette Catholic Diocese.

The $6,000 abandonment deposit required earlier in the year by the Alger-Delta Cooperative Electric Association was donated by the Marquette Catholic Diocese. In addition, each of the 16 households to receive electricity were required to pay the Cooperative membership fee of $5. The request for the abandonment deposit was based on the pending Bureau of Indian Affairs housing project in Hannahville. If these new homes were not constructed in the area of the existing homes there was the possibility that the electric lines would be abandoned.

In the photo: Hannahville resident Henry Philemon Sr. (center), along with a BIA representative looks on as an electrician makes the final connections into the breaker box.