People of Bessemer

Sir Henry Bessemer 

Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898), ingŽnieur anglais.

Scala di grigio

Sir Henry Bessemer

Born – January 19, 1813 in Hertfordshire, England
Died – March 15, 1898 in London, England
1897 -Knighted –SIR HENRY BESSEMER and made a fellow of the Royal Society

The City of Bessemer, Michigan is named after Sir Henry Bessemer.

 Mr. Bessemer was an inventor and engineer who developed the first process for manufacturing steel inexpensively (1856) leading to the development of the Bessemer Converter.  Mr. Bessemer also made over 100 other inventions in the fields of iron, steel and glass.

In 1884, the Milwaukee Lake Shore and Western Railroad (later the Chicago and Northwestern) was being built by way of the new mines in the area. The railroad company platted the town of Bessemer, Michigan in 1884. The President of the railroad named the town in honor of Sir Henry Bessemer, who discovered the smelting process which bears his name.


Richard Langford 

Richard Langsford

Richard Langford

Richard Langford is credited with the first discovery of iron ore on the Michigan side of the Gogebic Range.  Mr. Langford was a trapper and woodsman.  He was also known as the Hermit of Lake Gogebic.  Mr. Langford discovered the ore around 1880 under an overturned birch tree.  He spent his last days roaming the wilderness in Ontonagon and died blind and penniless  at the Ontonagon County poor farm in 1909.  Ironically, he is buried in an unmarked obscure section of the town’s cemetery.

Langford told Captain N.D. Moore of his discovery.  It is Moore who is credited with  disclosing the information which then led to the formation of the Colby mine.  The first shipment of ore was made in 1884 and the Colby became the first producing mine on the Gogebic Range.  It ceased production in 1923.

On July 4, 1940, the Gogebic Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a bronze marker near the site of Langford’s discovery.   It is located on the county road between Bessemer and Yale Location.  It was re-dedicated on June 30, 2012.

The 1880 date may not be exact.  Other dates noted for this ore discovery are 1884, and sometime between 1859 and 1864.


langford memorial


Bessemer High School Namesake

Who was A.D. Johnston?  Here are some facts about the man the Bessemer High School is named after.

  1. Albert D. Johnston ventured to the Upper Peninsula in 1885 or 1886 with a party of railroad surveyors for the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad to Watersmeet
  2. Settled in Watersmeet for a time, running an eating house there.
  3. One of three supervisors that served Watersmeet Township.
  4. Elected Gogebic County clerk in 1898 and served five terms from January 1, 1899 to December 31, 1909.
  5. Chairman of the Gogebic County Road Commission for the ten or twelve years before his death. Under his direction an elaborate (for the time) trunk line system was constructed.
  6. Director of the First National Bank of Bessemer.
  7. Johnston was also prominent fraternally and belonged to the following:
    1. Gogebic Commandery of Knights Templar
    2. Ahmed Temple of Shrine of Marquette
    3. The Arch Masons of Bessemer
    4. Bessemer Lodge, F. & A.M.
    5. Honorary member Ironwood Lodge of Elks. He presented an elk’s head a year after the lodge was organized – an elk he shot.
  8. He was a sportsman who was a strong advocate of the preservation of game and fish by short season and close observation of the laws. He planted fish in streams and lakes around the county.
  9. Served on the Bessemer Board of Education for 23 years. He was elected in 1900 and was elected president of the board in 1904.  He held that position for all but one of his remaining years on the board.  Superintendent of Bessemer schools, C.R. Cobb said “There never was a time that he didn’t have the best interests of the school at heart.”
  10. He died in a car accident on October 5, 1923, while returning to his summer home on Clark Lake (now part of the Sylvania Wilderness Area)