Major Edward E. Hartwick
Class of 1889
Career Pathway: Business, Management, Marketing & Technology
Major Edward E. Hartwick was nominated by Cheryl (Bourrie) Millikin.
Edward Hartwick was born in St. Louis, Michigan, on September 6, 1871, and grew up in Grayling, where his father operated a hotel. Edward was a member of the Class of 1889 -- the first graduation class of the new high school – located at the present site of Grayling Middle School. He is reported to have graduated at the top of his class, in both the year’s work and in the June examinations.
After graduation, Edward Hartwick received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York – the first person from the county to receive this distinction, according to The First Hundred Years, a book on the history of the Grayling area. He entered the academy in 1889 and graduated with high honors on June 12, 1893. He was initially appointed a second lieutenant in the Third Cavalry; then, in August, Lt. Hartwick was transferred to the Ninth United States Cavalry, and he served in this regiment for the next six years.
When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the Ninth and Tenth Regiments were sent to Cuba to fight alongside the Rough Riders, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry. The future U.S. president made a name for himself and the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill, but – according to information from the Michigan Historical Center – credit was also due to Lt. Hartwick and his Ninth Cavalry as well as the Tenth. In fact, Roosevelt mentioned Lt. Hartwick in his memoirs of the war.
After returning to the United States in August 1898, Lt. Hartwick and his regiment were sent to Fort Huachuca in the Arizona Territory. He took leave in October to return to Grayling to marry Karen (Bessie) Michelson, his high school girlfriend. The newlyweds returned to Arizona, where Lt. Hartwick was stationed until he resigned his commission in August 1899. Prior to his resignation, he was promoted to first lieutenant, but at that time a career in the military was not promising to an officer with a family because promotions came slowly during peacetime.
So Edward and Karen Hartwick returned to Grayling, where Edward worked as a cashier for Grayling State Bank. In 1900, he bought interest in the Hanson-Michelson Lumber Company in Mason, Michigan, from Tom Hanson, the son of Rasmus Hanson. His partner was Nels Michelson, his father-in-law. In 1901, the Hartwicks moved to Jackson, where Mr. Hartwick joined with Thomas Woodfield to start the Hartwick-Woodfield Company, wholesale and retail dealers in lumber, millwork and fuel wood and operators of a planing mill. In 1909 they moved to Detroit to establish the Hartwick Lumber Company. The business grew to include several lumberyards in Detroit, and it brought Mr. Hartwick the financial security that an army career would not have given him. He subsequently became a director of several companies and was named first vice president of the Guaranty Trust Company.
During these years, Edward and Karen raised a family. In 1903, Edward (Nelson) was born, followed by Robert in 1906. Edward Ernst, who was born in 1911, died the following year.
When the United States entered World War I, Edward Hartwick offered his services to the Army, which was in need of professionally-trained officers with combat experience, and he was commissioned as a major in September 1917. He did not return to the cavalry but instead commanded a battalion of the 20th Regiment of Engineers, which was made up of foresters, lumberjacks and mill workers. The need for lumber was great during World War I because trenches, bomb shelter, bunkers, railroad ties, telegraph poles and buildings needed to be built, and Major Hartwick’s lumbering background was of great value.
The 20th Regiment arrived in France at the end of 1917 and was immediately sent to the front. They worked through the winter building railroads, sidings and icehouses. However, during this time, Major Hartwick became ill with what was believed to be pneumonia. During his recovery in March 1918, he contracted cerebro-spinal meningitis and died of the disease on March 31, in Dax, France. He was buried at Talance Cemetery in Bordeaux. In 1920, his remains were returned to the United States and were reinterred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.
After Major Hartwick’s death, Karen Hartwick received many letters and telegrams of condolence, including one from former President Roosevelt (see it below), who wrote:
“My Dear Mrs. Hartwick: I have learned with great concern of the death of your gallant husband. His going to the war as he did was entirely characteristic of him. These are very hard times for all of us. One of my sons has been grievously wounded; and at least I can assure you of my most heartfelt sympathy. Very respectfully yours, Theodore Roosevelt.”
Of course, the greatest tribute to Major Hartwick came from his wife: Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased an 8,236-acre tract of land northeast of Grayling, and in 1927 she gave it to the State of Michigan as a memorial to her husband. This land, including 80 acres of old growth white pine – the largest remaining stand in the Lower Peninsula – became the Edward E. Hartwick Pines Park, today widely known as Hartwick Pines State Park.
Edward and Karen Hartwick’s grandson, Alan Hartwick, is at today's ceremony to represent Major Hartwick.