William G. Boales came to South Manitou Island in the late 1940's as part of the J. Lee Barrett contingent, a group from Detroit with ideas of turing the island into a high class resort destination. The group had the whole island plotted, renamed roads and even the bay (to Cobo Bay), and set up headquarters in the former Theodore Beck farmhouse, which then became known as "The Lodge." As had all previous such plans, and would all subsequent resort schemes, their big idea proved to be a bad idea. Mr. Boales, however, had fallen in love with the island, and purchesed some of its abandoned interior farmsteads with the idea of running a herford cattle operation. Boales hired the Riker family as managers, overseers and tenant farmers. The cattle operation never proved much better than marginal, but it provided Boales with an excuse to spend a lot of time doing things he enjoyed on an island he loved. Mr. Boales became known as "the Mayor of South Manitou."
Meanwhile, everyone else was abandoning the island. Within a few years, the Riker family were its only permanent residents. Besides running Mr. Boales' operation, which then involved what are known today as the Conrad Huzler and August Beck farms, they became voluntarily responsible for everything else on the island, from security, to repairing telephone cables, and serving as tour guides for summer visitors. The Rikers left after the National Park acquired South Manitou, and their leaving marked the end of farming and permanent residents on South Manitou.
The photos shown here were provided by Richard Riker, the middle of the three sons the Riker family originally took to the Island, and the youngest of the two that left. Many of the photos are from a photo album assembled by Mr. Boale's wife.
This collection includes the following images: