The Story of Old Mission Peninsula

Old Mission Peninsula was the first permanent settlement in all of Northern Michigan. A strip of land outside of Traverse City that was settled by the Presbyterian minister Peter Doughtery who came to establish a mission.

"In 1839 he started over where present day Elk Rapids is, but Chief Agossa, who had a fairly large Native American tribe here, convinced Dougherty to move it over to his area," said Bill Cole, President of the Peter Dougherty Society.

Dougherty built a home in 1842, which is though to be the first frame home south of Mackinac Island and north of Grand Rapids.

Dougherty created his mission, built a school and started missionary work, then he moved to Omena. When he left and created the New Grove Mission Church, people called that the Old Mission and the name stuck forever.

Several years later, the Rushmore family bought the Peter Dougherty house and for the next 100 years, until 1960, the house was in the Rushmore family. They turned it into a resort and then took it over as a family cottage. The Rushmore's created the farming community and Bohemians settled the area, planting apples, cherries and plums.

The farming industry took off and because of that, tourism picked up. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, farmers started planting grapes and the vineyards took shape. In the early 1990s, the idea of having wine tasting rooms develop
ed and the wineries continued to grow.

To this day, tax and development programs have kept the Peninsula pretty rural. Now, farmers are moving on to growing hops as the next phase of the Peninsula's agricultural history.