Apr 18, 2010

Monster in the Bog

Muskegon Chronicle, Thursday September 15, 1904. P7 C3
Transcribed by Holly Spencer August 08, 2009



Moorland Farmer Disposes of His Prehistoric Relic- Grand Rapids Museum Gets a Bargain.

The Kent County Scientific institute of Grand Rapids has secured for its museum the bone of the mammoth that were discovered last week on the farm of C.L. McKay in Moorland township, as reported at length in the Chronicle Monday. A representative of this paper was in Moorland the day the bones were unearthed by Mr. McKay and his son, and was one of the first to view the interesting remains of this specimen of the extinct mammoths that ages ago inhabited the northern part of this continent.

The interesting report published in Monday’s Chronicle was prepared from information gained by a careful examination of the skull, tusk and other bones soon after they were taken from their long resting place. This report was republished in full the next day by a Grand Rapids paper as a special dispatch for Muskegon to that paper and without a word of credit to the Chronicle.

The article attracted the attention of members of the Kent Scientific institute, who lost no time in sending a man with a wagon to Moorland township, to secure, if possible, the bones of the mammoth. The representative of the institute struck a bargain with Mr. McKay and for a consideration of $75 cash obtained possession of the bones of the mammoth, together with the right to continue the search on Mr.McKay’s farm for other similar bones, and to the possession of any such bones if found.

The bones that had been unearthed were loaded onto the wagon and carted off to Grand Rapids, where they will be exhibited by the Kent County Scientific institute.

Farmer McKay considers himself lucky in getting $75 for his “find”, and it is said that the farmers of that neighborhood are looking over their places with considerable care to see of they can not find other relics of extinct animals.

The Kent Scientific institute also considers itself lucky. The find is a valuable one and mammoths are not ordinarily quoted at $75 apiece.

Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Merdzinski
Director of Collections & Preservation Grand Rapids Public Museum

[This]"picture is of the 1904 Moorland Mastodon, on display in the old 54 Jefferson Avenue museum facility, circa 1950s. The Museum director at that time, Frank DuMond, was always looking for a good "photo op" to help entice visitors to come down to the museum. The story here is that when the Shrine Circus was in town, he befriended the elephant trainer and convinced him to walk the circus elephant from the Civic Auditorium to the Public Museum to 'meet" and "interview" the mastodon.

Basic catalog info on the mastodon include: The complete mastodon skeleton was found in a bog swamp near Muskegon Michigan and were acquired by the Museum in 1904. A 1940 GR Herald article indicate the skeleton measured 18 ft long, 10 feet high and 6 feet wide, with the tusks themselves being nearly 6 feet in length."

Continued on Thursday...


  1. Where exactly was the farm in Moorland? I have been looking for this article.

  2. Ok, did some checking, first of all I was tired last comment and actually Apple Ave = M-46.

    On the 1900 Moorland Township plat map, in the north center portion of Section 16 in the northwest corner of the township is:
    Jas McKay with 80 acres. This would be today north of M-46 and between Hall and White Rd(east/west roads)and between Moorland Road and Ravenna Road, north/south roads. This is the only McKay on the plat map.

    In the first article here, Mr. McKay is referred to as C.L. McKay. When you read the following posts you will see a reference to 'Grandpa" which I believe is Jas McKay. I found the McKay's on 1900 and 1910 censuses, not in Moorland by 1920.

    Are you from the area? I have photocopied several articles, but have chosen three of them to post.

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