Voices of North Manitou: Virginia Craker Marsden

We are pleased to announce a new series: Voices of North Manitou. This series will explore the history of the North Manitou Island in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore through the people who have lived, worked, played, and been a part of island life over the years.
The first in this oral history series is an interview with Virginia Craker Marsden. At age 97, she is the oldest living former resident of North Manitou Island. Enjoy her stories of life on the island from when she was a little girl, with the joys and struggles of community life there, with tears and laughter. Virginia was a delight to talk to, and we are grateful for her and her family in providing this opportunity to share her stories.
Enjoy her stories as she recalls living in the village as a child, attending school, playing with the other children, memories of her family, and some of the struggles and joys they faced. Stories include:
  • a dangerous trip to the mainland over ice when food ran low
  • the loss of her sister Leona and a daring rescue attempt by Tracy Grosvenor and the Coast Guard
  • Katie Shepard’s chipmunks
  • Coast Guard member games
  • preserving a body in the icehouse
  • the origins of deer on the island
  • renovating a chicken coop for Grandma Mileski
  • getting in mischief as kids with her friend Fern Grosvenor
  • visitors on ships from Chicago
  • pulling pranks on the teacher
  • losing a brother before she was born
  • getting sick and recovering
  • her husband Russell Marsden working for the Park
  • big families and true community life
For more information on visiting North Manitou Island, CLICK HERE.
Watch for more interviews with the Voices of North Manitou by subscribing to our Youtube channel.
Photos in video courtesy of: Virginia Craker Marsden, Stacie Longwell Sadowski, The Leelanau Historical Society, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Three family photos courtesy of Virginia Craker Marsden.