|ROCKS AT ROCKAWAY BEACH|
Sherman Woods became a recognized subdivision in the City of Port Huron in 1926 but its history goes back as far as 1808.
The earliest permanent settlement of Port Huron was a Chippewa Indian reservation platted on the south side of the Black River.Around 1808 Indians also were the main inhabitants of the area now known as Sherman Woods. In 1836 an association of 16 enterprising men comprising the Huron Land Company, bought a large parcel of land at the foot of Lake Huron. John McNeil was one of these men. By 1841 , the interests of many of the other men had changed and McNeil became owner of one forth of the land. The property eventually became known as the McNeil Tract and at one time was part of the village of Ft. Gratiot until it merged with the City of Port Huron in 1893.
The Sherman Woods subdivision takes its name from theSherman family, a family whose name has long been associated with Port Huron.
The colorful history of the Sherman family began with Loren A. Sherman, who in 1869 founded the "Daily Times" in Port Huron , predecessor of todays Times Herald. Loren's son Frederick sold the newspaper in 1907 and moved to California where he became editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara "Daily Independent "
Ross L Mahon married Edith Sherman, daughter of Loren A. Sherman and Estalla Caroline (nee Ward) Sherman .
Edith and her brother Frederick Sherman Sr. were both born in Port Huron,Michigan.
Frederick Sr’s son Admiral Frederick C. “Ted” Sherman , was also born in Port Huron in 1888. He attended area schools and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1906. Sherman was awarded the Navy Cross , the Navy’s highest decoration three times.Ted was the last man to abandon the aircraft carrier "USS Lexington" that he commanded when it was scuttled in May of 1942 during the Battle of Coral Seas. He eventually became Commander of the United States Fifth Fleet in 1946.
RAdm "Ted" Sherman/ VAdm John S McCain Sr.
Buried San Diego,Ca at a Pacific base circa October 1944
The admiral was honored in 1945 by the city when he was asked to do the ground-breaking for the city’s Memorial Park on 24th Street .Frederick C Sherman Field at San Clemente California was dedicated in Sherman's honor.
The above information on the Sherman family was contributed by Sarah (Sally) Sherman Holt Jett the granddaughter of Ross Mahon. She states that she stayed with cousin “Ted” and his wife Fanny in 1949 at their Point Loma Ca. home, when her mother Estella Mahon Holt, her brother Richard Watkins Holt Jr. and herself relocated to California from Port Huron. Sarah’s father Richard Watkins Holt and her grandfather Ross L Mahon built the ” Sherman” tennis court.
Ross Mahon and Fred J Dixon purchased 17 acres of the McNeil Tract along Lake Huron in 1926. The property was 750 feet wide and extended from Gratiot Avenue to Conger Avenue. At the time the beach area and adjoining boulevard were not part of Sherman Woods. The beach area was known as Rockaway beach ( does the name fit… see picture) and was plotted separately. A gentleman by the name of John M. McKerchey owned lots 20-32 which made up this area. Mahon and Dixon purchased all 12 lots about 10 years later and in 1939 conveyed those 12 Rockaway Beach lots to all lot owners in Sherman Woods. The assessed value on all lots in 1936 was 7500.00.
In June 1926, the City of Port Huron approved the subdivision to be called Sherman Woods. Mahon eventually had the land developed with three main roads running through it. Edison Blvd , to the south, running east and west and was most likely named after Thomas A. Edison the great inventor. Along the shore ran Conger Street, named after Omar D. Conger a US senator who had lived in Port Huron from 1848-1888. La Salle Blvd. is on the north side of the subdivision and is believed to be named for the French voyager Rene-Robert de La Salle who explored the area in the 17th century.
With the subdivision came the Sherman WoodsAssociation which set regulations for the residentsto follow.
Back in June 1926, restrictions were placed on lot owners to maintain the attractiveness for all Sherman Woods owners. Some of these are as follows….
1. All lots were to be used for residential purposes only.
2. One house and one garage could be placed on each lot. The design of the house had to meet the satisfaction of Ross, Fred or their appointed agent.
3. Residences could not cost less than than the sums specified for each lot…
$7000.00 on Lots 5,6,7, & 8 Block 2, all of Block 5, Lots 9,10,11 & 12 Block 7
$6000.00 on Lots 1,2,3, & 4 Block 1 , Lots 1,2,3,4,8,9,10 & 11 Block 3 and Lots 1,2,3, & 4 Block 6
$5000.00 on all other parts of said Plat.
4. All plans and locations had to be approved by Ross and Fred prior to building. Color schemes as well as construction features were considered.
5. Previous to July 1 , 1930 no trees could be cut down without approval of Ross or Fred.
6. The residence was the first structure to be erected and completed on a lot. Living in garages , tents or temporary structures was not permitted at anytime.
7. No pigs or poultry and no savage or dangerous animals could be maintained at anytime.
8. No fences higher than three feet and no fence could be placed in the front of a lot.
9. No fences, houses, boathouses or any other structure may be built on the community land lying between Conger Street and the waters edge without the express written consent of all the owners.
10. No noisy machinery or apparatus shall be used or maintained on said land. All excessive unnecessary noise is prohibited as a nuisance. The use of x-ray or violet ray apparatus, electric car chargers or other apparatus of any kind that shall generate or regenerate vibrations to interfere with good radio reception is prohibited.
11. No bill-boards or sign boards except suitable signs for sale of the land, nor unsightly objects of any kind, shall be maintained on the land.
12. The land lying in front of Sherman Woods Plat between Conger Street and Lake Huron, Known as”the beach” and hereto platted as part of Rockaway Beach Plat, is to be conveyed to the owners of all the lots in Sherman Woods Plat and all shall have community interest therein and the owners of all lots in said Sherman Woods Plat shall have a community interest in the private park in Block 3 of the Plat and rights of way leading thereto.
Mahon’s wife , Sarah Sherman’s maternal grandmother , Edith, passed away in 1924 after having suffered with cancer for 10 years.The widower built the first house in the subdivision a short time before 1926. It is a one -story white stucco house unlike any others in Sherman Woods today. It still stands today on east Edison Blvd.
Ann Partridge who was a long time resident of Sherman Woods recalls the widower as being unpretentious even though, at one time, he had owned all the land around him. She also recalls that the roads in the subdivision were unpaved for many years. Ann remembers the area west of Gratiot as being undeveloped and having to walk to Garfield School through the marsh there.
In November 1980 the City Council approved the replacement of the city owned lighting system in Sherman Woods at an estimated cost of $26,400.00. The system had deteriorated causing lighting failures. The new system was expected to save the city $194.00 per year in operating costs.
Francis Partridge who helped create the Women’s Benefit Association (worked there from 1900-1970 as the firm’s financial secretary) Today it is known as the North American Benefit Association.
David C. Smith journalist and co-author of the book “In Search of Johnny Nicholas”.
James T. Corden St Clair County circuit court judge 1978- 1994.
Peter E Deegan St Clair County circuit court judge 1980- 2011
Moments in History
The Canadian shoreline being nearby much of the Port Huron area has memories of “rum runners” delivery illegal liquor from Canada during the days of prohibition. Ann Partridge remembers ” the rum runners would come across the lake from Canada. Cars would drive down Edison Blvd and blink their lights, then there would be a signal from the boat whether or not they could leave the rum on the shore . Sometimes the Coast Guard would catch them and proceed to dump the rum in the lake. The next day you would see men with waders on, going along the shore looking for what may have been left behind”.
The Sherman Woods Beach (Rockaway) History Update 2017..a short history
In the winter of 1973 much of the shoreline was eroded by a bad storm (Noreaster)on St Patricks day leaving the old wooden seawall built by the residents in the late 1930′exposed on the beach. A modern seawall was installed the following spring by a unique cooperative effort involving Member assessments, City Engineering and support via a Small Business Administation loan from the Federal Government to help remediate the storm damage. The end result were new jetties to trap sand and to protect the beach,a new seawall that is built well as any we have seen, a patio, new steps up from the beach and a replacement lawn.This work was completed in 1975. Did you know that the original lawn from that time period is 4 to 19 inches below the one you see now.Did you know there are 6 or 7 concrete steps down from the sea wall where only 2 show above the beach now.Did you know the jetties were 5 feet above the sand before the beach was recaptured.We lowered the south end of the lawn about 5 years ago and the lawn sprinkler heads have been extended 4 to 16 inches to accomodate the changing lawn profile. Since the rebuilding of 1975 the Sherman Woods Association has protected and enhanced the beach asset with the installation of electrical power,a new irrigation system,premium furniture,signs,plantings,erosion protection landscaping,new patio,new shuffleboard courts,play scape,replacement trees and a new flag pole.All this work was completed without additional member assessments using conributions from members and member dues paid to the association. ( Thank you to Fred Kemp for his historical contribution regarding the Sherman Woods beach)
Sherman Woods Happenings!
The Sherman Woods Association sponsors a cocktail party for its residents and their guests each July on the beach.
The subdivision is also known for its spectacular display of festive lights each Christmas Season.
|SHERMAN WOODS PLAT 1|
|SHERMAN WOODS PLAT S2|
Compiled by : History compiled by Derek Smith
Contributions from Sarah(Sally) Sherman Holt Jett and her daughter Anne, Ann Partridge, Steve Trimmer , Gary Stolt, Fred Kemp, the Zimmer families, Larry and Joan Nelson, Gina and George Day
Historical photos of Port Huron contributed by the George and Maxine Smith historical foundation.
We continue to look for more history!! Please contact anyone on the board if you would like to add to or edit something on this page.