graceland ballroom lupton mi purple gang

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kenyons hideout

Bradenton, FL

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#1
Jan 17, 2009
 
Any one have any info on the old Graceland Ballroom located in Lupton MI known as the home of the Purple Gang?
rob

Edgewood, NM

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#2
Jan 17, 2009
 
too funny my wife and i were just talking about that. u from lupton? i grew up there. email bunchesdr@aol.com
kenyons hideout

Bradenton, FL

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#3
Jan 29, 2009
 

Judged:

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Yes, I am from Lupton. I own Kenyon's Resort on Sage Lake. What is your last name? Mine is Goodboo. Do you remember the graceland in all it's glory?
keith feckovic

AOL

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#4
Feb 20, 2009
 
I remember GL Ballroom. Although I did not grow up in Lupton, my family has had a Campout reunion every years since 1969 at the RRR area state park just across the street from where The Graceland BR used to be. I have a lot of memories of the place.
Mark

United States

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#5
Feb 21, 2009
 
Funny, the oldtimers always talked about them having a hideout in Northern Michigan, later called the South Branch Ranch, and now forest dunes golf course about 8 miles outside Roscommon.
Mark

United States

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#6
Feb 21, 2009
 
Looks like both are true...

The Rise and Fall of South Branch Ranch

Police mug shots of Purple Gang members Sammy Millman, from left, Phillip Keywell and Harry Keywell.
A mix of prohibition and an economic boom from the automotive industry in Detroit in the 1920s caused the uprising of the notorious Purple Gang.
In Detroit the 1920s were a time of excess. Although prohibition was in affect, Detroit's gangsters imported alcohol from near-by Windsor. Proceeds from this industry went to various developments, but none were more impressive than the building of the South Branch Ranch.
Not far from the south branch of Au Sauble river in northern Michigan, the gang built one of the largest ranches in Michigan history. The various barns surrounding the primary residence resembled modern day airplane hangars. They included an indoor horse riding area, dance parlor, interlinking tunnels, and hidden rooms.
The property spanned acres and included a private runway, hunting area, servant quarters, junkyard, and Olympic sized pool.
The house itself was involved in gang related activities for years. It was even searched upon the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, and it was rumored to be the site of dozens of mafia style executions.
After being seized for tax evasion, the ranch laid dormant for years. Lying near Pere Cheney cemetery, the corroding mansion was also linked to numerous ghost sightings.
Unfortunately, this major piece of Michigan history was recently torn down to make room for a new golf course. We can only hope that the course is haunted by the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa.
Sobol

Apopka, FL

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#7
Mar 29, 2009
 
kenyons hideout wrote:
Any one have any info on the old Graceland Ballroom located in Lupton MI known as the home of the Purple Gang?
I remember as a kid in the late 70's going to Graceland to play pool, actually so my dad and uncle could drink at the bar. I bet we were there just about every weekend. We had a cottage on Henderson Lake.
LuAnn

United States

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#8
May 1, 2009
 
Hmmmm. I have lived in Ogemaw County all my life and am a history nut. Yes we had a beautiful wood structure called Graceland. Built by Mike Gelfand aka One-arm-Mike, a former purple gang member. I'll leave the pic in your mind as to the one-arm.
Mike actually purchased the property for one dollar from his sister who had inherited it from an uncle's estate. No one knows where the money to build the ballroom came from - speculation is the purple gang. We do know the man who physically built the beautiful structure, and he also built the Roseland Hall in Rose City as well as many cottages around the lakes in the Lupton area.
Graceland burned from a fire. Roseland was torn down.
As far as the info on the South Branch Ranch. I have never heard of it before but will be digging into the archives at the Ogemaw Genealogical & Historical Society. I will state this much, there was in the 1920's and throughout the 1930's a lot of suspicious activity in that northeastern area of Ogemaw County.
The cemetary, Pere Chenney, is not anywhere close to where the aforementioned South Branch Ranch would have been. There is a good thirty to forty mile distance between the two. Pere Chenney is in Roscommon County.
Take into account that at the time of Graceland being built and during the heyday of the Purple Gang there were very few roads leading into northern Michigan and those that were had few gas stations for service. Most of the area where the Graceland was built near Lupton and where the proported South Branch Ranch was only had narrow two-track trails running through 2nd growth forests.
One tidbit of information. It is ironic that One-arm Mike chose to build a dancehall serving alcohol where he did, just outside the town limits of Lupton. It is written into the first plat of the town-and still holds lawful today-that no alcohol be made, served or sold within the towns limits.
Hmmmm.
Nothing is stranger than reality!
big brad

Greenville, MI

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#9
Jun 23, 2009
 
as to your information on where south branch ranch and pere cheney cemetary it is not accurate they are only about 7 miles apart
LuAnn wrote:
Hmmmm. I have lived in Ogemaw County all my life and am a history nut. Yes we had a beautiful wood structure called Graceland. Built by Mike Gelfand aka One-arm-Mike, a former purple gang member. I'll leave the pic in your mind as to the one-arm.
Mike actually purchased the property for one dollar from his sister who had inherited it from an uncle's estate. No one knows where the money to build the ballroom came from - speculation is the purple gang. We do know the man who physically built the beautiful structure, and he also built the Roseland Hall in Rose City as well as many cottages around the lakes in the Lupton area.
Graceland burned from a fire. Roseland was torn down.
As far as the info on the South Branch Ranch. I have never heard of it before but will be digging into the archives at the Ogemaw Genealogical & Historical Society. I will state this much, there was in the 1920's and throughout the 1930's a lot of suspicious activity in that northeastern area of Ogemaw County.
The cemetary, Pere Chenney, is not anywhere close to where the aforementioned South Branch Ranch would have been. There is a good thirty to forty mile distance between the two. Pere Chenney is in Roscommon County.
Take into account that at the time of Graceland being built and during the heyday of the Purple Gang there were very few roads leading into northern Michigan and those that were had few gas stations for service. Most of the area where the Graceland was built near Lupton and where the proported South Branch Ranch was only had narrow two-track trails running through 2nd growth forests.
One tidbit of information. It is ironic that One-arm Mike chose to build a dancehall serving alcohol where he did, just outside the town limits of Lupton. It is written into the first plat of the town-and still holds lawful today-that no alcohol be made, served or sold within the towns limits.
Hmmmm.
Nothing is stranger than reality!
Vern Lindquist

Kingston, NY

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#10
Jul 2, 2009
 
I actually do know who built the Graceland. He was a really great fellow--he and his father, I believe, were the ones who constructed it, and many other structures in the area (lots of cabins in Shady Shores, etc.).

Their name was Rosenquist. I think they lived on the other side of Rifle Lake, near Bass Lake--I haven't been there in years so I can't quite remember. He was a really nice guy, and very strong physically.
Bill J

Akron, OH

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#11
Jul 2, 2009
 
The South Branch Ranch was near Roscommon, Mi. It was managed by Art Allen in 1950. There was a 1930's Cadallic V12 Roadster in one of the garages.. I worked there for a coupe of months that summer but was never in the main house. They had horses and beef cattle.
I also was a bartender at the Graceland Ballroom during the time the Pastula family owned it in the early 60's. It had two bars, one service bar for waitresses only. Three people worked that bar and five worked the regular bar. Many great memories!
LuAnn

United States

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#12
Jul 3, 2009
 
Vern Lindquist wrote:
I actually do know who built the Graceland. He was a really great fellow--he and his father, I believe, were the ones who constructed it, and many other structures in the area (lots of cabins in Shady Shores, etc.).
Their name was Rosenquist. I think they lived on the other side of Rifle Lake, near Bass Lake--I haven't been there in years so I can't quite remember. He was a really nice guy, and very
strong physically.
Thank you for clearing this up. I have asked several people around South Branch, Michigan about a ranch and they all shook their heads no they'd never heard of a dude ranch.
LuAnn Zettle
President, Ogemaw County Genealogical & Historical Society
LuAnn

United States

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#13
Jul 3, 2009
 
Bill J wrote:
The South Branch Ranch was near Roscommon, Mi. It was managed by Art Allen in 1950. There was a 1930's Cadallic V12 Roadster in one of the garages.. I worked there for a coupe of months that summer but was never in the main house. They had horses and beef cattle.
I also was a bartender at the Graceland Ballroom during the time the Pastula family owned it in the early 60's. It had two bars, one service bar for waitresses only. Three people worked that bar and five worked the regular bar. Many great memories!
Ooops! Posted a comment to the wrong post. Oh well, anyhow read the following post about South Branch Ranch. Then I'd love to interview you on your time spent as bartender @ Graceland. And do you have any photos or memorbilia from those days?
zettle@sbcglobal.net
Yours,
LuAnn Zettle
President, Ogemaw Co Genealogical & Historical Society.
Bellville

Saginaw, MI

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#14
Jul 16, 2009
 
I work at Rifle River Recreation in Lupton, Michigan. I offten have campers ask me if the Purple Gang was ever active in the park. If anyone has any information about this, please e-mail at bjbellvi@svsu.edu thank you.
LTU Blue Devil

Ann Arbor, MI

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#15
Jul 16, 2009
 
I went to college at Lawrence Tech in Southfield, and my fraternity's house was reputed to have been a Purple Gang hangout, one upon a time.("The Castle", on 9 Mile between Evergreen and Lahser.)
JRG

Boyne City, MI

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#16
Jul 17, 2009
 
I have been told my Great-grandfather Otto Gutt was a member of the Purple Gang. If anyone recognizes the name or knows how I may be able to get some more info I would be very grateful. I was always told he ran booze from Canada to Detroit, it would have been around 1924-25 until he saved enough money to buy back the farm he lost in a poker game, which he did, and my brother and I now own the farm. We are 4th generation, I do know he had a 32cal. pistol he always had that had the Wayne County sheriff emblem on the grip, he was not on the sheriff's dept. thats for sure, any info would be great.
LuAnn

United States

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#17
Jul 18, 2009
 
To JRG:
Comgrat's on still owning the family farm, that speaks volumes of family loyalty and love of the land.
There are numerous areas in which to widen your search for information on your G-Grandfather.
I went through the book The PURPLE GANG by Paul R. Kavieff -which by the way is an excellant read - and could not find your granfather's name, however that does not mean he wasn't running rum for the Purple's, another smaller outfit or for himself for that matter.
You could put a classified in Detroit Newspaper asking for information about your g-grandfather, and spell his name in all caps so it will be bold and recognizable to all. It is surprising what the older generation remembers when a name is presented to them - some of his old rum running buddies might still be alive or one of their family members may recognize the name.
In the back of Kavieff's book -The PURPLE GANG- he has a great list of where he got his information and you might try several of those, especially the REPORT by Edward J. Widner "History of the Notories Detroit Purple Gang. Special Report: Detroit Police Department Criminal Information Bureau, May 10, 1963." I'm not sure where that report would be, but the first stop I'd try is the Michigan History Archives, from there I'd try Detroit Historical Society, both have websites.
Another GREAT book on the rumrunning days that has an overview of pictures and small tid-bits of information is: "RUMRUNNING and the ROARING TWENTIES Publication on the Michigan-Ontario Waterway" by Philip P. Mason. Both books can be purchased off Amazon.com .
Checking rumrunning arrests for the period you are seeking might open a wealth of information for you. Start with Detroit and work up to Port Huron.
Lastly, because your G-Granfather had a gun belonging to law enforcement it may have came through a friendship with someone on the police payroll, check names and addresses of law enforcement officers and you might find a connection there.
That's about it. Keep us posted if you find information on your great-grandfather's involvement in rumrunning - it's always interesting to see if someone was working for the notorious Purples or if they were going-it-alone.
LuAnn Zettle, President Ogemaw Co Gen & His Society, West Brach.

Since: Jul 09

Battle Creek, MI

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#18
Jul 18, 2009
 
I don't know the name of the Purple Gang member in my family, only that my mother remembered him visiting the house when she was a little girl. He had a custom Studebaker touring car that was basically a giant liquor flask. He'd drive to Canada and fill it up and then return to Detroit with it. He'd stop off and visit her mother (who was his aunt) on the way.
JRG

Boyne City, MI

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#19
Jul 18, 2009
 
Thanks LuAnn, I'm going to check these sites and order the books you suggest. I know G-Grandpa was a small player, but big enough to get money back to purchase the farm back, within a few years. I also have some relatives that were on the Detroit police force, not during those days I don't believe, but he was a detective and I think the name is Fisher, so I'll try to see about that also. Also it says on my posting I'm from Madison, WI, I don't know why I'm from Chesaning, Michigan
Thanks for your help
JAX

Southfield, MI

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#20
Aug 7, 2009
 
I'm a 29 year old that has recently started studying the Purple Gang. My Grandfather's cousin was Harry Millman, a notorious purple. In an attempt to murder Harry, his LaSalle Coup was laced with 10 sticks of dynamite. Luckily for Harry, it got a valet driver and not Harry. The ironic part of this story is that my grandfather drove that car around less than 2 weeks before it was blown up. Harry let my grandfather take the car out for fun. When my grandfather returned, his brother beat him up and instructed him to never ride in Harry's car again.
LuAnn mentioned the book - The PURPLE GANG by Paul R. Kavieff. I just finished reading it and agree it is a great source of information.

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