Copyright © Bates Township 2023
About Bates Township
Bates Township has many wonderful businesses and plenty of recreation for the family. It is
home for many of our residents who have descended from the township’s earliest Settlers. Our
“roots” run deep. For some, this is the community that you have chosen for a variety of reasons
to call home.
Our township is rich in history and our citizens are strong in spirit! However it is that you
have made your way here at this moment in time…we would like to say - Welcome
Bates Township is one of the original five townships of the county and was granted
organization privileges in 1885 under the same legislative act that provided for the
separation of Iron from Marquette County.
The following brief history is compiled from the records of the Township minutes book of
the first Township meeting and meager bits of information from early settlers.
The Township enjoyed the greatest early concentration of permanent farm settlements when
good lands became available through an over-selection of grant lands. The settlers were mainly
of sturdy Scandinavian stock that made their way to the frontier stopping center at Norway,
Michigan in 1882. Several Polish families settled a short time later, as did one French Family.
The families were large as a rule and many hardships were endured in carving the homes out of
the wilderness. The head of the family usually worked in the mines and cleared lands and built
buildings on weekends, when not working in the mines.
An election of temporary officers was held in the home of Olaf Helgemo on April 5, 1885; their
purpose being to organize a Township. One of the most remarkable things at that time is that
these early settlers could not speak fluent English or read and write, but they were still able to
organize a Township and keep records.
According to these early records, the same people held all the offices at different times, as there
were not enough people available who had experience, which was learned as years passed and
as they held offices.
The early years were very difficult and most food was taken from the soil. Land had to be
grubbed by hand to plant a meager garden. Later, horses were used as the farmers cleared
more land to raise livestock, grain, and vegetables.
It is noted in the early minutes that in 1885, ten births were listed; eight of Swedish parentage,
one German and one French. Also regardless of how hard times were, the Township always had
a Poor Fund to provide some type of help for the needy. Another note of interest: The Township
Hall was built in 1907.
Two of the most prominent men in our Township who held many offices in the Township and
later held offices of high esteem are Carl Lindquist, who has given a lot of information on the
history of the Township and the late Victor Benson. Both were State Representatives at one
There are many relatives and descendants of former office holders and pioneer families still
living in the Township.
(Excerpts from the foreword in the Bates Township Legacy Book 1885-1985 By Walter
OLD MAPLETON BAND, pictured in the above photograph, which is the property of Roy
Peterson, was once a popular Bates aggregation. Organized on April 14, 1914, by Dave
Erickson, who served as leader of the group, the band was widely known throughout the district.
Members of the band, pictured above are: Top row, left to right, Art Forsberg, Nels Larson, Dave
Erickson, Organizer and Leader; Turie Forsberg and Herman Olson. Center row, Oliver
Forsberg, Jalmer Erickson, Gust Anderson, Adolph Erickson, Enfred Larson. Front Row: Herb
Shoquist, Arling “Duke” Windsor. (According to the Iron River Newspaper on June 30, 1966 this
photograph was produced by Peterson when he and Windsor were reminiscing about the old
days in Bates.)
Photo taken at Sunset Lake Pavilion in 1918.
Bates Township is located next
to the city of Iron River in the
Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Bates Township has so much to
offer. The beautiful area offers
year round recreation and
enjoyment. So, enjoy this
moment in Bates Township.