Questions, Anyone?

Hobbs Drive

Q. A reader asks, “What is the history of the Hobbs Drive area in Alpena?”

A. The Hobbs Farm was a huge farm in the area that is now Hobbs Drive and Sunset Lake area (formerly Mud Lake).

In 1921, Norman and Laura Hobbs became owners of over 400 acres, according to staff in the Register of Deeds office of Alpena County.

Long-time neighbor Evagene Thompson remembers the Hobbs as very kind and wonderful, generous people. When they sold their land for development into a subdivision, they even let people buy the land for whatever deposit they could make, “whatever they could put down.”

She also remembers the barn and chickens that used to be at the corner of Third Avenue and Hobbs Drive (now Village Green, established in 1974.)

In the 1964 obituary at Special Collections at the Alpena County Library, Norman Hobbs is listed as a retired dairy and poultry farmer. He was born in 1880 in Watford, Ontario, and came to Alpena with his parents as a young man. He married Laura in Alvinstom, Ontario, in 1908.

Early Alpena events

Q. What were some of the early events in Alpena?

A. John Viall, early historian who published a small book listing Alpena events, recorded the following for 1878.

March 16 – Winter gone, mildest in history, bay open all winter, very little snow, robins arrived, navigation open, steamer Dunlap arrived from Bay City.

June 21 – Charles H. Rice, one of the firm owning the mill, met death by being caught in the machinery of A.F. Fletcher & Co. mill.

Aug. 20 – Body of Peter Newell found in the bay; had been missing five days.

Sept. 15 – Death of Paulette Cicero, noted character.

Sept. 25 – Residence of Meade Maccartney burned.

Oct. 10, 11 – First county fair held by Alpena County Agricultural Society, in the skating rink at the corner of River and Third streets, where now stands Engine House No. One.

Oct. 14 – Contract signed by city officials and Alpena City Water Co. for constructing water works in Alpena.

Nov. 26 – Completion of three new residences by A.N. Spratt on Hitchcock street.

Dec. 8 – Death of Hon. Ira Stout, one of the charter members of Alpena lodge, 170, I. O. O. F., at the time of death Judge of Probate.

Dec. 19 – Mrs. John Thompson, formerly Miss Sarah Boyd, killed by accidental discharge of gun, at Thompson lumber camp.


Q. What is the origin of the word gumption?

A. Robert Hendrickson, in his book “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins,” states: “Born as a Scottish word, first recorded in 1719 and meaning “common sense, mother wit, shrewdness,” gumption changed in meaning after emigrating to America, coming to mean determination, spirit, courage. Perhaps the hard cider called gumption known here during the early 19th century, and possibly before, gave the word this sense because of the spirit and courage it gave to those who drank it.”

Please send comments and questions to or to “Questions, Anyone?” The Alpena News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, MI 49707.