Welcome to the 2021 version of SCHOCK MCCOY PRODUCTIONS by J.H. McCoy. This website is named in honor of my mother, Gloria (Schock) McCoy, and dedicated to her memory. Since it was founded in 2015, her JOURNAL and ALBUM have always been prominent features - now some of her recipes have been added to the website (RECIPES).
The new format for the HOMEPAGE is seasonal and changes as the seasons do. The NEWS section contains some of my recent photographs and comments on the local scene. PHOTO-ESSAYS is a record of my trips to iconic locations in the U.S. A short history of the Schock family, written over 50 years ago (1970) by my great-uncle, Edward D. Schock, is presented in HISTORY. I edited it in 2020.
I hope that you will always find something interesting on this website and that you will pass the word about it, especially since Schock McCoy Productions is no longer on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you for stopping by.
Please sign the Guest Book, and come back soon!
J.H. (John Herbert) McCoy
9636 Roberts Rd., Harbor Beach, MI 48441 // [email protected] // (989) 479-9594 // (989) 551-9487 (cell)
***CLICK ON THE NAME FOR A SHORT VIDEO***
WINTER - THE CAMERA SKETCH BOOK ***
*** With apologies to Washington Irving and THE SKETCH BOOK OF GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT. (1819-1820).
(Click on small "pics" to enlarge)
THE "BURN BOSS" IN THE WHITE HELMET
"THE QUESTION IS NOT WHAT YOU LOOK AT BUT WHAT YOU SEE."
HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817 - 1862)
SAND BEACH TOWNSHIP
"He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in the winter."
JOHN BURROUGHS (1837-1921)
"THE SCHOCK FAMILY TREE" by Edward D. Schock (1970) edited by J.H.McCoy
"But we've wander'd mony a weary fit / Sin auld lang syne"
ROBERT BURNS (1759-1796)
SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLES ON INDIAN DAVE
SAMPLE ARTICLES/PHOTOS FROM THE MINDEN CITY HERALD
"I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day in the morning"
My earlier articles are now online and can be found in the ARCHIVES
++ "BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE, THERE'S NOT PLACE LIKE HOME" ++ SINCE 1986
"And since we've no place to go, Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow"
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is home to a small population of Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus). However, our state is on the eastern edge of the bird’s range. The Sharp-tailed Grouse is more common in the West and can be found on the open prairies of western Canada and in a few states on the American side of the border.
They were once very common across the central and western parts of North America.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture described their earlier distribution in a February 2007 pamphlet:
“Historically, the sharp-tailed grouse ranged from Alaska south through western Canada,
east to Hudson Bay, and west to northeastern California and Nevada. Sharptails originally occupied 21 states and 8 Canadian provinces and territories. Populations probably reached their peak during the settlement era of the early 1900s and have declined since then. They have been extirpated from Kansas, Illinois, California, Oklahoma, Iowa, New Mexico, and Oregon. Most southern populations now occupy smaller portions of their historic range, and many populations may still be declining due to habitat loss and degradation. On the other hand, far northern populations seem to be secure because they inhabit remote, relatively inaccessible areas.”
One of those “remote, relatively inaccessible areas” is Seney National Wildlife Refuge in the Upper Peninsula. On a foggy morning last October, I came across three Sharp-tailed Grouse feeding on Marshland Wildlife Drive, a seven-mile, one-way gravel road at the eastern edge of the refuge’s 95,000 acres (Drive open, May 15 to October 20).
The three grouse were barely visible in the fog, but I could see their hen-like silhouettes as they stood motionless on the roadway. After they retreated into some nearby brush, I got out of my truck and flushed them. They flew away with quick, powerful wingbeats, flapping and sailing like hen pheasants, but without the long tails.
Later, I encountered what I considered to be the same three birds. They were feeding on the road again and froze in place as the vehicle approached. This time, I stepped out of the truck and slowly moved closer in the fog. I was able to get a few pictures of all of them in the same frame, but because of bad lighting, the photos were blurred and indistinct. After the grouse flew off, I continued on my fog-bound auto tour.
It began to clear up during the last part of the seven-mile loop, and then suddenly, there were the same three birds on the roadway again. I managed to get a clear picture of two of them.
It was the best I could do.
The Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America provides a good description of the Sharp-tailed Grouse with the bird’s important field marks in italics:
“A pale, speckled-brown grouse of prairies and brushy draws. Note short pointed tail, which in display or flight shows white at sides. Slight crested look. Marked below by dark bars, spots, and chevrons. Displaying male has yellow eye combs and inflates purplish neck sacs.”
Like the Greater Prairie Chicken (a close relative), the male Sharp-tailed Grouse is known for its mating display on the spring “dancing ground” or LEK. The male grouse spreads his wings and inflates colorful neck sacs, stamping his feet and rattling his wing quills. His call is a series of strange hoots and quacks, meant to establish a territory and attract a mate.
The Sharp-tailed Grouse is an upland gamebird, but they are safe from hunters in Seney National Wildlife Refuge and most of Zone 1 (Upper Peninsula). However, they can be pursued in the designated Grouse Management Unit at the eastern end of the U.P. This special area on both sides of I-75 is made up of parts of Chippewa and Mackinac Counties.
The annual hunting season inside the management area runs from October 10 through October 31. The bag limit is 2 birds daily; 4 in possession; and 6 per season. A base license and a free Sharp-tailed Grouse stamp are required to hunt these special gamebirds in the U.P.
Personally, I have no desire to view a Sharp-tailed Grouse over the barrel of a shotgun, but, I would like to see and photograph some displaying males on a lek in the spring -- watch them dance with wings outstretched and white tails pointed skyward; listen to their weird, unearthly hoots and the booming sound of stamping feet; see them move and turn with the same ancient rhythm that evolved long before Europeans landed on the shores of North America, and before tribal hunters stared at them in wonder and imitated their strange movements in ceremonial dance.
I was lucky to see these charismatic birds at Seney. It was odd that they kept moving ahead and landing on the road as I drove through. Maybe they were teasing or simply giving me more chances for a better photo as the fog lifted. It was a good morning for an auto tour.
Photo by J.H. McCoy, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Peninsula, October 18, 2021.
Sharp-tailed Grouse on Marshland Wildlife Drive - Seney National Wildlife Refuge (M-77) in the Upper Peninsula
Recently, I snapped a nine-frame sequence of an adult Bald Eagle taking flight. It happened on a country road west of Minden City when I tried to photograph the wary bird in a tree up ahead.
I pulled the car off the road at an angle and stuck my camera out of the window. But just
as I got the eagle in focus and pressed the shutter button, it flew off. I missed the stationary shot, but managed to capture the eagle in flight.
It was only a matter of a second or two, but the camera’s continuous high-speed shooting mode fired off a nine-frame sequence as the eagle got airborne. The picture of the
“X-shaped” bird with outstretched legs was the third in a “burst” of nine.
Using its broad, powerful wings, the eagle quickly gained altitude and flew away…its legs tucked under its tail. The last shot in the sequence showed the majestic bird of prey in typical form: head and beak thrust forward, wings extended, tail fanned out…streamlined and graceful. The awkward half-second during takeoff was forgotten as it disappeared in the distance.
Only the Nikon camera with its telephoto lens “remembers” the “un-eagle-like” moment and preserves it for all to see.
Photo by J.H. McCoy, Freiberger Rd., Austin Township, Sanilac County, October 22, 2021.
On Saturday, October 30, I saw six snow geese in a cut cornfield near Harbor Beach. They were part of a huge flock of hundreds of Canada geese - their all-white color made them easy to spot. I watched them with my binoculars and took numerous photos. Eventually, the two adults and four juveniles flew off.
Later that day, I reported them to eBird (www.ebird.org), the electronic birding site and database, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York).
Migrating snow geese are very common farther west on the Mississippi and the Central Flyways, as well as on the Atlantic Flyway along the East Coast. Here in the Upper Thumb, birders (and hunters) consider them “uncommon” or “rare.”
Reporting snow geese to eBird will trigger an email notification from the Huron County Rare Bird Alert about an unusual sighting in the area. On Sunday, October 31, one day after I reported seeing the six geese, the Rare Bird Alert notified subscribers, including me, about the sighting:
Snow Goose (Anser caerulenscens) (6) / Reported Oct. 30, 2021, 11:50 by John McCoy / McIntosh Rd., Huron, Michigan / Map (link) / Checklist (link) / Media: 4 Photos / Comments: “6 white morph Snow Geese in corn stubble; “grin patch” / black “lips” visible; also black primaries in flight; juvenile birds, pale gray coloration.”
The term “Snow Goose” usually refers to the white phase or white morph of the species. The adult bird is all white with black wing tips; it has pink legs and a pink-orange bill with what looks like black “lips.” This feature is sometimes referred to as a “grin patch” because the bird appears to be “grinning.” The juvenile white morph is pale gray with a dull brownish bill and dark legs.
The dark phase or dark morph of the species is usually called a “Blue Goose.” It has a white head and neck, but the body is dark gray. At one time, the Blue Goose was thought
to be a separate species, but now birders regard it as merely a dark-colored Snow Goose, i.e., the dark morph of the species.
The Book of North American Birds by Reader’s Digest explains the flight patterns of migrating snow geese and points out an interesting difference between them and Canada geese:
“In migration, flocks of snow geese fly very high – at altitudes of perhaps a thousand feet – not in a V formation as the Canada goose does, but in a long, curved, often U-shaped line.”
While snow geese may be rare in Huron County, nationally they number in the millions. In fact, the Snow Goose population causes significant damage to agricultural interests in the U.S. and has even negatively affected the vegetation on their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. (There is both a Greater and a Lesser Snow Goose. The Greater Snow Goose is larger and winters along the Atlantic Coast. The Lesser is more common and more numerous.)
In an effort to reduce the Snow Goose population by hunting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued the “Light Goose Conservation Order” in 1997 – it only applies to snow geese, blue geese, and Ross’s geese (a smaller version of the Snow Goose (white morph), but without the “grin patch”).
In states where the conservation order is in effect, there is usually no daily bag limit or possession limit; unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are legal; shooting hours begin earlier and end later: 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset; and the hunting season extends into the spring, long after the traditional waterfowl season closes.
In Michigan, the Light Goose Conservation Order is NOT in effect, but hunters can still harvest 20 “light geese” per day and have 60 in possession, the highest limits for any waterfowl species.
In much of the country, snow geese are considered a nuisance; but for birders in the Thumb, they are a “rare find” – a sighting that will generate an email from the Huron County Rare Bird Alert and pique the interest of bird enthusiasts in the area.
Photo by J.H. McCoy, Sand Beach Township, October 30, 2021.
Six migrating snow geese and hundreds of Canada geese fly off after feeding and resting in a corn stubble near Lake Huron.
"And us kids got to thinking how really blessed we were At least we were all healthy and best of all we had her"
"Christmas As I Knew It"
from The Minden City Herald, December 16, 2021
On Bay City-Forestville Road about ten miles east of Bay City, a weather-beaten historical marker tells the story of a legendary Chippewa, who followed the “old ways” and called the Thumb of Michigan, “home.” Erected forty years ago in 1981, the sign
is located on the road into Wisner Township Cemetery, where “David Stocker”
(English name) was buried in an unmarked grave in 1909.
He was called “Indian Dave,” but his Chippewa name was “Ishdonquit” / “Crossing Cloud.” He was born in 1803, thirty-four years before Michigan became a state in 1837.
Indian Dave lived to be over one hundred years old, and during his long life, he watched as white settlers tamed the Michigan wilderness. He saw the newcomers cut down trees and clear the land for farming; he observed the building of towns and the coming of the railroad. He stood witness as Chippewa land was slowly transformed by axe and plow into a world he no longer recognized.
Indian Dave was a legend during his lifetime, and stories about him abound. The historical marker near the Wisner Township Cemetery gives a brief overview of his life and times:
SIDE 1: “Indian Dave was one of the last Chippewas to hunt, fish and trap in the old manner in the Tuscola County area. Dave was born around 1803 and given the name Ish-Don-Quit. According to legend, in 1819 he attended the gathering at the Saginaw River where 114 Chippewa chiefs and braves signed the Treaty of Saginaw. The treaty ceded about 6,000,000 acres of land in central eastern Michigan to the United States. Indian Dave fascinated youngsters with his tales and native customs. A mural portrait honoring him has hung in a Vassar bank for decades.”
SIDE 2: “The earliest recorded inhabitants of Tuscola County were Sauk Indians. But Chippewas occupied the area by the time of the first permanent white settlement in 1836. Exactly when Indian Dave settled here is not known. However, in 1866, in order to resolve the Vassar/Caro county-seat dispute, he and Peter Bush transported the county records to Caro by canoe. Dave was an expert at making bows and arrows, which he often sold for his livelihood. When he died in 1909, he was believed to be
106 years old. He is buried nearby in Wisner Cemetery.”
The worn marker clearly links Indian Dave with Tuscola County, but he was known to walk and wander over much of the Thumb, including Sanilac County.
In the September 15, 1974 edition of the Port Huron Times Herald, James Donahue, Sanilac Bureau Chief, mentioned Indian Dave in an article he had written about a “lost Indian lead mine.” He said that sometimes the old Chippewa lived in Sanilac County:
“He had a log cabin in the heart of the Columbia Swamp, just east of the Petroglyphs and often wandered along the river.”
Indian Dave’s cabin near the Cass River was less than twelve miles from Minden City - an easy walk, at least for him.
Perhaps, he visited the area and camped in the unaxed woods, where one day the village of Minden would spring up in 1855. Or maybe he walked through the new settlement about the time it was renamed Minden City in 1883. In any case, I would
like to think that he did….that Crossing Cloud, the Last of the Chippewas, was here.
Photo by J.H. McCoy, Tuscola County, M-25 (east of Bay City), October 1, 2021.
Indian Dave was a legend in the Thumb. Born in 1803, his long life spanned the nineteenth century and extended into the twentieth. Five years after marking his centennial birthday, he still continued to follow the old ways of his Chippewa ancestors. He was at home in the forest, and even during the winter, he lived alone in a makeshift shelter in the woods.
On February 15, 1908, an article appeared in the Sunday edition of The Detroit Free Press with the headline: “INDIAN DAVE,” HUMAN RELIC OF THUMB’S RED MEN, SPENDS HIS WINTERS IN HUT IN WOODS NEAR AKRON. It included a picture of him in front of his snow-covered shack.
According to the newspaper, it was a severe winter; and in early 1908, several dangerous blizzards swept through the Thumb. Many locals were concerned about Indian Dave and feared for his survival; however, he continued to live in the woods as his Chippewa ancestors had done for centuries.
The Detroit Free Press reported the story:
Fairgrove, MIch., February 15—
Alone, throughout all the severe storms of the last four weeks, “Indian Dave,” the Thumb’s human relic of the Red Man’s reign, has lived in his shack - half tepee, half hut - near Akron.
During the last two big storms the snow practically buried the miserable shack and fears were felt for the old Indian’s safety.
Dave is very old - certainly 100 years - and by some it is said that he is 105 years. He himself says he is 102 or 103.
Dave still lives by trapping and fishing and trade in dog skins. Armed with a club he makes frequent journeys to nearby towns and for the sake of the skins kills such dogs as inhabitants wish to get rid of.
The old Indian has given away to civilization sufficiently to install a tiny wood heater in his shack, otherwise he would never have survived. He has also adopted, in a general way, the white man’s clothes, but still loves to stalk about enveloped in blankets.
Settlers who have lived in the Thumb forty-five years say “Dave” has shown no signs of change during all that time. He is much visited in the summer time by tourists, to his evident pleasure, but is true to racial instincts in his reticence. Dave could get better places to stay in during the winter with farmers but he prefers the solitude of the woods, no matter what the weather.
The following winter, Indian Dave was found frozen to death in the forest – some say, outside in the snow; others report he was in his shack. In any case, he died as he lived.
His death made news, not just in Michigan but across the country. The headline “INDIAN DAVE IS DEAD” appeared in newspapers in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Utah. His demise was even reported in western Canada (The Representative – Leduc, Alberta – October 1, 1909):
Old “Indian Dave” died in his wigwam in Gilford Township a few days ago where he had made his home for 60 years. He was sure he had passed his 106th birthday. He was known to the oldest settlers in 1836, and was then considered quite old.
Dave claimed to be the son of Chief Nitmup of the Chippewa tribe, but was never recognized as such by his tribesmen. He was known as “Indian Dave,” but was recorded as Dave Stocker as a citizen.
He spent the winter in his bark and hide hut manufacturing baskets and bows and arrows and during the summer traveled about the resorts selling his wares. He is survived by one son, James.
Old Dave was liked by everybody and the citizens of Gilford Township arranged
to give him a citizen’s burial.
The historical marker east of Bay City indicates that Indian Dave was buried in
the Wisner Township Cemetery. Before his death, he asked to be laid to rest as
a “citizen.” It was one of the few concessions he made to civilization and the modern world. However, like his Chippewa ancestors, no headstone honors his memory or marks his final resting place.
Notes: The Millington-Arbela Historical Society features a display about Indian Dave at their museum on State Street in Millington. The museum showcases two small tables, which he made from tree branches and wooden slabs. Pictures of the tables can be found on their website:
Currently closed for the winter, the museum is open on Fridays from April through December. (I hope to go there in the spring.)
Outdoor writer Tom Lounsbury, Cass City, visited the museum in July 2021,
for his radio show on WLEW. Much of the broadcast focused on Indian Dave
and his life in the Thumb. You can listen to a rebroadcast of the program and learn more about the legendary Chippewa at: www.thumbnet.net/tomlounsbury (“Millington-Arbela Historical Museum” - 7/18/21).
“Tom Lounsbury Outdoors” is a regular Sunday afternoon feature of WLEW
(12 noon on 102.1 FM and 2:15 pm on 1340 AM). If you are outside the listening area, his show is also live-streamed on CRUISE 102.1 FM and WLEW / AM 1340.
The newspaper stories quoted in the article were taken from Newspapers.com.
My website follows a seasonal format, so it’s time to check out the new winter homepage and the latest winter pictures (NEWS) on Schock McCoy Productions (www.schockmccoyproductions.com).
from The Minden City Herald, January 6, 2022
The historical marker near the Wisner Township Cemetery tells the story of Indian Dave, the Last of the Chippewas.
Wearing moccasins and holding a pouch, Indian Dave poses for a photograph (date unknown) in "white man's clothes."
IN MEMORY OF MY COUSIN AND FRIEND, RICHARD J. "RICK" MCCOY, WHO PASSED INTO ETERNITY ON JANUARY 8, 2021, AT AGE 69.
REST IN PEACE.