The Forbes family first arrived in Star Lake in 1908, by train from their home in Alton, Illinois (just north of St. Louis). They had previously vacationed in Gogebic, Michigan, but became fearful of the storms on the very long lake--as their children became independent teenagers. How Star Lake was chosed in unknown, but presumably its easy access to the railroad was key. In 1908 you could get off the train in front of the Hotel Waldheim and walk up the hill to the lodge. Harriet Forbes Aldous, part of the original party and then age 15, remembered thinking as the large group came up the hill, "What must the other guests think of this big group." There is no record of just how large the group was. It consisted of Mary and Robert Forbes and their children Harriet, James, and Charles. It also included two cousins, contemporaries of Harriet, Helen Forbes and Elizabeth Caldwell. It is not clear what others were in the group. Mary Forbes' diary indicates that membes of the group came and went during the summer.
The family returned, with various combination of family members summer after summer. They missed 1911, 1912, 1915, and 1921. Family memories and diaries do not provide an explanation of why the family chose not to come, except that in 1921 the parents, Harriet, and her husband Joe Aldous took a trip west to Yellowstone. They came to Star Lake by train until 1916, when they travelled by automobile. The trip, about 600 miles from Alton, took 5 days--going near Chicago (Joliet and Elgin).
Harriet Forbes, the eldest of the second generation, married Joseph Aldous, also of Alton, Illinois, in 1919. Joe first came to Star Lake in 1920. He didn't like it, but as he wrote later, "1921 - I went back. 1922 - I went back. And so it went each year. The Northwoods got me. The Forbes family went, my father and mother started going, out close friends followed us - we all went." In 1932, Joe and Harriet purchased from John Oliver the north end of the lodge lake front. The depression was killing the resort business and Oliver agreed to sell in order to keep the lodge open. Later Joe bought additional property, loaned Oliver money, and came to own the lodge in 1942 when he paid the necessary money for both Olivers to go to the Ben Hur Home (they had prepaid to allow the surviving one to go to the home). Joe and Harriet built their cottage, Lowwood, in 1932. They were there every summer till 1953 when Joe's illness made travel impossible--he died the following March. Harriet continued to come until her death in February, 1980. During the war, 1943 and 1944, Joe and Harriet visited Star Lake briefly but did not hope Lowwood, staying at Rismons--Oliver Lodge was closed.
Jim Forbes, a bachelor for years, came and went from Star Lake much less frequently than the rest of the family. When he did come it was mostly for short visits to the family by automobile. In 1938 he married Muriel Morgan McKelvey, mother of two sons Jim and Bob. Their son, Charles, was born in 1940, and the new family first visited Star Lake in 1941--five strong--staying at Oliver Lodge. They returned when it reopened in 1945 and came back each summer, usually for six weeks, through 1954. During the summer of 1954 Harriet Aldous, now alone at Lowwood, gave a piece of her land to her brother Jim and Pinewood cottage was built--occupied by Jim, Muriel and Charles in 1955. Jim was at Star Lake every summer thereafter until his death in 1968. Muriel was there every summer until her death in 1993.
In 1962 Jim McKelvey and his wife Edith built the third cottage on the property: Homewood. They, and their boys, Jim (Jr.)and Bob, have been back every summer (Edith died in the winter of 1989). In 1992 Jim (Sr.) married Judy Hood Forgotson, and she and Jim have been at Star Lake every summer since.
Charles Forbes, the third and youngest child of Robert and Mary Forbes, came to Star during many summer; with his wife Loretta whom he married in 1925. Charle died in 1935 at age 34. Retta visited the Aldouses some summers following his death, but was not a regular summer visitor.
Charles Forbes, son of Jame Forbes, and the third Forbes generation at Star Lake has been back most summers since his first visit in 1941. He married Marilyn Martin in 1966, and had sons Craig (1970) and Jay (1972). The family has been back every summer. Following Harriet Aldous' death in 1980, the family has occupied Lowwod Cottage. Craig married Gretchen Stukey in 1993, and had a son, Cory, in Octobner 2000. Cory is the fifth generation of Forbes at Star Lake. Jay married Sarah Eastman in 2000. All of the children and their wives have come to Star Lake regularly. Jay was the youngest Forbes to come to Star--at 6 1/2 weeks, in August, 1972.
Many, many details can be added to this brief overview--and someday I hope to add them. Joe Aldous made the first attempt at a family history of Star Lake, in a 1950 manuscript addressed to his nephew, Charles Forbes. Titled Ancestral Summers, it is the source of the Joe Aldous quotations above.
August, 2004Charles P. ForbesAugust 9, 2004
Comprehensive ReferencesBeman, S. S.. Portfolio of Thirty-Three Houses. 1926. View Full EntryForbes, Charles P.. North Star Lodge, A Collection of Papers Relating to the Resort.. 1981. View Full EntryForbes, Charles P.. Vilas County, Wisconsin, Population Study. [Term Paper at Knox College (Population and Migration Course)] 1961. View Full EntryMu Phi Eisilon. Triangle of Mu Phi Epsilon. 1918. View Full Entry (Full text available)Phinney, Mary Allen. Phinney Genealogy. Rutland, VT, 1948. View Full Entry
Major References****. Mrs. Joseph Aldous.... [Unk. newspaper, July 1928] Alton, IL, 1928. View Full Entry (Full text available)Aldous, Joseph. Ancestral Summers. Alton, IL, 1950. View Full EntryForbes, Craig P.. Untitled Photograph. [Colophon, 1987] Towson, Maryland, 1987. View Full EntryMeyerowitz, robert. Now What?. [Saint Louis Magazine, March, 2011.] St. Louis, 2011. View Full Entry