Local Lore Fascinates Me

Loving legends that never die.

Since I have moved to Fenton a little over a year ago, I cannot tell you how many times it has been told to me that Fenton got it's name from a poker game. I think that is something outrageously unique to this city, and is a major source of pride for its residents. A little searching on Google brought up that a few years ago there was a fundraiser poker game held to re-enact this monumental event for the public schools. I thought that sounded like a lot of fun. It also made me remember lots of other fun little tidbits I have picked up from other cities and towns while growing up.

For instance, local lore states that the town of Novi got it's name because it used to be stop number 6 on one of the railroad routes. When posted in roman numerals No. VI became present day Novi. If you look up the dates of when the town was settled and when the railroad was put in, you would see that there is no way for the town to have been named that way, however it is still what a lot of locals believe.

Growing up in White Lake, I lived on a lake called Cedar Island Lake. There were a lot of stories about the surrounding lakes. For instance, it was told to me that Cedar Island got its name because there had once been an island in the midwestern area of the lake, that had two cedar trees on it. The island sank and is now a sand bar.  No one I know of knew anyone that had ever seen this "island" but that is what it was known for anyway.

A few miles away from there is Orchard Lake. Currently known for its location being the home of St. Mary's Crew, and a prestigious country club, it is also local legend that Native American Indian Chief Pontiac is buried on one of the islands occupying it. The area is now an ecological sanctuary used by the West Bloomfield public schools as an outdoor educational center. Excavations have not verified these claims, however there were pieces of music written about it, and the story continues to be propogated by residents of the village. While attending Walled Lake Central High School, our band performed the piece of music Apple Island Legends and we spent months talking about it.

I first heard about the Fenton poker game at a karaoke bar in Flint, while making small talk about where everyone at the table lived. The next time I heard it was in Clarkston, talking with a member of the American Legion. I think it is great that the history of the town is so well known. If only other good news traveled as quickly or as widespread.

What are some other tales about this city I might be missing out on?

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Joe Kershaw July 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Terri, Yes local lore is interesting. I have been in many cities where people have written and published books on the local legends and unique stories. They are always a fun read.
Fady Elias August 03, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Terri thank you for sharing this information about all the different names, I really liked NOVI tho... nice article.. keep them coming!


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