graceland ballroom lupton mi purple gang

United States

#21 Aug 21, 2009
My grandfather was a bootlegger and operated out of swan creek(newport,MI), on lake erie across from fermi. his farm was a truck stop/ farm on the wayne / washtenaw county line at I-94, While remodeling the lake house I found glass containers(large) in a hidden room under the house; which was in a boat that had long been closed in after my mom put in a sea wall( hidden dock under the house!) Iknow he was a foreman on the A&P docks in Detroit in the 1920-30's.
Bill J

Redmond, WA

#22 Aug 22, 2009
My aunt "Felix" and uncle "speed/Speeder" made "bath tub" Gin and "Home Brew" beer in Bay City they ceased when the neighbors house was raided.
they still had hops, bottle caps and a bottle capper as late as the 1950's. Also moonshinewas made in the Lupton/Rose City area, at least one of the dstributors is still around here.


#23 Oct 8, 2009
I am interested in the purple gang as well.'
Birch Run, Mi

Morocco, IN

#24 Oct 28, 2009
My wife and I actually found the South Branch Ranch in the early 1990's when we were out driving around. It was very interesting. The enterance had stone towers with a window and door in each one. We drove back further on to the property and found the main house which appeared delapitated. The was a horse arena that had hoof prints in the dirt. We also saw a little house that had a hallway with doors. We did not enter any of the houses as they were locked. There was not evidence that anyone was or had been around there for quite some time. It is sad to hear that it has been turned into a golf course.Seems as though it could have been historical and could have turned into museum. We always wanted to try and find it again.

United States

#25 Oct 28, 2009
We are in Michigan, not Eureka Springs AR
Bauble Litwak Cherniak

Highland, CA

#26 Nov 3, 2009
JAX wrote:
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.
I am 2nd generation Purple Gang and I am looking for other 2nd or 3rd generation Purple Gang off springs.
Bauble Litwak Cherniak

Highland, CA

#27 Nov 3, 2009
I am 2nd generation Purple Gang and I am looking for other 2nd or 3rd generation Purple Gang off springs.
My father was a member of the Purple Gang back in 1930. His name was Jack Litwak, known in the Gang as Jew Jack. Any information would be appreciated.

Cadillac, MI

#28 Nov 27, 2009
MY grandfather Marv Cleveland ran errands for purple gang members in the early thirties. He also was a bouncer at Graceland8801 after the war for a short time. He says they were nice guys that let him drive there fancy cars. He later became the sheriff in Rose City in the 50's and 60's
Patricia Hockin

Hersey, MI

#29 Nov 28, 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?
Graceland was a rustic ballroom made of log. I remember seeing it when I first started coming to Long Lake. My husband said that his had a balcony all the way around it and there were machine guns up there. There were also doors where the machine guns were so if they needed to shoot something outside they had the doors to open. It was quite a large building and I am sure it was costly to heat and maintain. It burnt down in the 80's if memory serves me right. It was still opperating as a bar or tavern. I wish that I had gone there before it burnt down. This is what I know.
Ross Arnold

Macomb, MI

#30 Dec 14, 2009
Hey I'm a college student in Macomb, MI and I'm writing a paper on the Detroit's Purple Gang. The only problem is I can't find any information on the gang's structure if there even was one. I know the Bernstein Brothers esp. Abe was dubbed it's leaders, but what about captains, lieutenants, muscle, ect.. If anyone has any info on the gang's structure please email me.

[email protected]
eric alderton

Cadillac, MI

#31 Dec 28, 2009
My grandfather.Marv Cleveland used to be a bouncer at the Graceland he also ran errands for "one armed" Mike Gafond? as a teenanger!

East Lansing, MI

#32 Jan 22, 2010
My Dad went to school (in the Detroit area) with Floyd Pastula who owned Graceland in the late 60 & 70's. We have one of the orignal Deer HUnters Ball posters. There used to be an exhibit in a loft with a machine gun and "members" of the purple gang. We heard all sorts of stories from Mr. Pastula.
Debbie - Traverse City MI

Traverse City, MI

#33 Feb 12, 2010
Does anyone know if the "King Ranch" outside Flint was ever part of the Purple Gang???

Mesa, AZ

#34 Feb 20, 2010
This is a intresting thread, I doing some research for a project of intrest. Has any one here ever heard of Harry J Allen of croswell Michigan known as AKA Handsome Harry.....
Sharon Alderton

Rose City, MI

#35 Mar 30, 2010
Otto Rosenquist was one of the builders of the Graceland Ballroom in Lupton, but the contractor was Lew Wolfe, an GGGG-Uncle of mine. I have one of the tables and 5 chairs that were made for the original building. Bark is still on them. My dad, Marv Cleveland, born in 1918, ran a few errands for Mike Gelfand, who allowed my 12 year old dad to drive his big car to Rose City and back. Ione Gilette showed me the diamond ring she won after a Saturday night dance there in the 30s and said they were really nice people hmmmm

Farmington, MI

#36 Apr 30, 2010
Sobol wrote:
<quoted text>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.
My family had a cottage on Henderson Lake too. It was sold from my father, who bought it in 1967, to my brother in 1987, to me in 1994. I just sold it to a nephew two years ago. It was on Henderson lake drive.

Small world!

Rose City, MI

#37 May 11, 2010
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.
Nothing is stranger than reality!
LuAnn, I just met another Senior who grew up around North Dease Lake. She can enlighten us to some of the activities of the Purple Gang. They had a lodge on North Dease Lake according to a few sources I have run into. There is a story about them rolling a car down the hill while shooting at it. Supposedly it can be found diving in the lake. I love my job! I always hear interesting tales!

Charlevoix, MI

#38 May 30, 2010
My 95 year old mother just told me a story of how she was a ticket taker at a place called graceland in ft. lupton michigan in the 1930...she said she worked for the gangsters that ran it, and most of the patrons were gangsters from detroit, so i googled graceland and found this site...her father worked at a fisheries in ft. lupton..
Scott Everett

Orem, UT

#39 Jun 1, 2010
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?
It burned down around 1985. No know tunnels were ever found leading to the wooded area behind where the bar once sat. It is now an open field.
Richard Rohde

Flint, MI

#40 Jun 11, 2010
Vern, I'm not sure if you remember me, we went to school together. If you could, would you please get ahold of me? My email address is [email protected]
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.

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