McGulpin Point

John McGulpin, our 5th GGrandfather, was one of the the first white settlers at Michigan’s lower “Straits of Mackinac”. His namesake Landmark, McGulpin Point, overlooks Lake Michigan just west of the Mackinac Bridge.

The story starts back around 1760…

In that year John McGulpin (McAlpine), and his son Patrick, came to North America.  John (born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1700s) was an officer in the British Army’s 10th Regiment of Foot, and married to Marion Ferguson of Glasgow, Scotland; This marriage had produced a son Patrick, born in Glasgow on November 3, 1753 (or 1740?). Records are not clear on whether John’s wife Marion accompanied John & Patrick to North America, or even if John and Patrick traveled together.

In 1761 the British arrived in the Straits of Mackinac to claim (old) Fort Michilimackinac, which was one of the spoils of winning the French and Indian War (1754–1761).  Patrick McGulpin apparently arrived at the Straits about that time.  He took an Indian wife "in the way of the country" and his first son was born here in 1762. Patrick’s Indian wife died, and he later married a French woman named Marie Madeleine Aide-Crequi.

In 1772 John McGulpin’s Regiment was assigned to the Straits; When his unit was then subsequently transferred to Massachusetts in 1774, John chose instead to retire from the British Military, completing  24 years of service; For that service, he asked the British Authorities for an allotment of land  located just west of old Fort Michilimackinac. This request was granted…  The McGulpins developed a farm there with three houses and other assorted buildings, and John lived there until his death in 1802.

Later, as part of the treaty ending the Revolutionary War (1776-1783), the new United States agreed to honor all land claims established by the earlier French and British governments.  In 1808 the new government sent a surveyor, Aaron Greely, to sort out land claims and create proper American deeds in Michigan.  John McGulpin's farm was deeded to his son and heir, Patrick.  Known as private claim #335 it contained 640 acres of land which covered most of Mackinac City west of the cemetery.  In 1811 president James Madison signed this deed, the first in Emmet County, and the land became known forever after as McGulpin Point.

In 1864, Congress authorized $20,000 to be spent in constructing a Lighthouse on the property, which was completed in 1869 and stayed in active use thru 1906. In 1913 the property, including the Lighthouse station, was sold into private ownership and became a private residence until 2008, at which time Emmet County purchased the lighthouse & land for a museum… which it is today. An additional note, on May 30, 2009 the McGulpin Point Lighthouse lamp was ‘relit’ as an official “Private Aid to Navigation”  (PATON)…103 years after it had been extinguished. The light is shining again.



Geneology: John McGulpin ---> Patrick McGulpin ---> William McGulpin ---> Margurite McGulpin/Theophilus LaPierre ---> Moses LaPeer ---> Clarence Jacob LaPeer ---> Kenneth LaPeer ---> James LaPeer

Note: Patrick McGulpin’s birth date is unclear; reference is found for either 1753 or 1740… but if Patrick marries an Indian lady in 1761, then 1740 is far more likely.

Oral History - (Uncle) Dick LaPeer passed down a a family story about a McGulpin relative receiving a large grant of land at Mackinac due to service in the British Army. Uncle Dick thought the service was in the War of 1812… Evidently, it was actually 50 years earlier in the French & Indian War.  The grant of land was at Mackinac, on the lake, and a very large 640 acres (one square mile).

McGulpin Point Lighthouse Museum – The Museum has done a fine job of documenting some of the early days of John & Patrick McGulpin.

Internet Genealogy sources – Used to put together a picture of John & Patrick McGulpin’s early years in North America.