Lincoln’s history kept in a closet

LINCOLN -When village Treasurer Mary Kossa decided to clean out a closet at city hall, she found herself holding the past in her hands – two antique ledgers she unearthed among the discards documented the town’s first government. The largest leather-bound ledger began with an entry March 19, 1908, reporting the minutes of the town’s first council meeting.

“It’s our history and how we came to be, and what they did before us to make the village the way it is today,” Kossa said.

Lincoln was settled around 1885 along Brownlee and Lincoln lakes, and platted a few years later, Kossa said. By the 1900s, it was a pulsing community. Hotels, banks, meat markets and lumber yards lined the town’s streets, while the train from Detroit stopped at the depot on a regular basis.

According to the spidery but elegant handwriting across the ledger’s pages, W.G. Anderson was elected president and presided over the inaugural meeting. He also was president of a bank in the community and owned the finest home in town.

Kossa said she remembers hearing this from her aunt and uncle when she was a child. She has lived in Lincoln all of her life.

Charles W. Schram was town clerk and Kossa’s grandfather, Peter LeCuyer, was treasurer, the same job she performs today.

The LeCuyer name was well known, because the family ran a general store in town for 100 years, she said.

Lorenzo L. Mills was named assessor and the other trustees were Mack Apsey and T.A. Ferris.

Among their first actions, the board approved a $2.50 payment for the paper ballots used during the election. They allowed the expenditure of $12 for sidewalks, and passed their first ordinance: cattle were not allowed to roam the streets after dark. Farmers violating that standard could be fined $25 a head, Kossa said, reading from the book.

The ledger also contained clippings from the Alcona County Herald published back then by R.E. Prescott. One of them was a story of how some Lincoln citizens were sent downstate to learn about election laws, she said.

Kossa showed off the book during a recent council meeting, and expressed hope that a way can be found to restore and preserve its pages for the future. She and Trustee Phil Naylor are researching the subject independently and will present their findings to the board.

Kossa has some experience with preservation. A member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Harrisville, Kossa came across records there dating back to the 1700s.

“The pages were falling out,” she said.

Under the guidance of church, she and others contacted a company in Indiana that specializes in antique book restoration. Although the process is costly, the company neutralized acids in the ancient paper, rebound the pages and is relettering the covers in gold leaf for about $1,000, she said.

Restoration of the village ledger should be considerably less, because it is in fair condition, she said.

Kossa is protective of the ledger and is keeping it at her home. Since she found the books three to four years ago, the smaller ledger disappeared.

“I hope whoever borrowed it will bring it back,” Kossa said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.