Written by Maggie Scheibe.  Special note of thanks to Judith Liebaert’s Zenith City article on Martin Pattison’s life.

Martin Pattison was born Simeon Martin Thayer in southern Ontario, Canada on January 17, 1841. At the young age of 17, he started working in a logging camp in Sanilac County, Michigan. In 1872, he came to Marquette, Michigan accompanied by his brother William to establish a lumber company.

In 1879, Martin married Grace Emma Fink and all 3 of them relocated to Superior, Wisconsin and began a logging operation on the Black River. By 1882, Martin had become an active member of the Superior community and he began prospecting iron ore on the Vermillion Iron Range, which became the Pioneer and Chandler mines. He also served a year as the Douglas County Sheriff in 1884 and Mayor of Superior for three terms: 1890, 1891, and 1896.

In 1888, he began construction on Fairlawn Mansion. In 1890, Martin and Grace, along with children Martha, Byron, Ethel, and Alice moved into their new home. Two sets of twins were born in later years, but one twin from each set died in childhood. Myrna and Lois survived. They lived in Fairlawn until Martin passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 20, 1918 at the age of 77. Grace then deeded Fairlawn to the Superior Children’s Home and Refuge Association.

Among Martin’s philanthropic activities was his donation of the land that was to become Wisconsin’s 6th state park. It is located along the Black River and includes Big Manitou Falls. Pattison State Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer.

Celebrate Martin Pattison's 179th birthday with half-price tours and treats! Friday, January 17 from 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.

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