Beard Camp

Tobin Harbor

Beard Cottage: NVIC: 50-1170, ISRO Archives.


n 1910, Henry L. Beard of Omaha Nebraska purchased a .34 acres island (Bob's Island) in Tobin Harbor. The island is nearly bare rock and is separated from Newman Island by a shallow strait. In 1919 Beard had a cabin built on the Island and spent summer vacations with his wife Katherine, her son Bob Greene and their children J. Gerald MacVeigh and Gertrude MacVeigh.

On June 10,1939, Henry Beard and Katherine Beard, Robert Greene and J. Gerald and Gertrude MacVeigh transmitted their property to the U.S. Government through E.G. Willemin United States land purchaser. They each received a life lease and together received $264.57 as consideration.

In 1940 and in 1966 the Beard's dock was damaged by storms. In each instance the Beard's requested that the park repair the dock. Because this is a private dock for the family's use, the park was unable to pay for the work, but park employees did the work and the family reimbursed the government. In 1960, Bob Greene requested a drop toilet and threatened to use the woods if one was not installed.

In 1980 the last of the lessees (Robert Greene) died. John Robert MacVeigh and George Edward MacVeigh, the sons of J. Gerald MacVeigh and Gertrude MacVeigh, asked the park service for a right to continue using the cabin. The original round of Special Use Permit (SUP) agreements in 1977 did not include the Beard/ MacVeigh family. John and George hired an attorney and were aided in their efforts by Grant Merritt who supplied the information regarding his life lease agreement.

In 1981, after receiving birth certificates for both John and George, NPS Washington instructed the Midwest Regional Office to look into SUPs for the MacVeighs. SUPs were first issued to John and George on December 10, 1981. Those permits expired December 31, 2002.

John MacVeigh died May 2, 2001. A new 5-year Special Use Permit was issued to George E. MacVeigh, which expired on December 31, 2007. George MacVeigh passed away in March of 2012 and was the last person eligible for a Special Use Permit on this lease.


The Beard Camp has three surviving structures: a cottage, storage building and privy. All structures have high integrity in all areas and structures are in fair to good condition. The camp was initiated by the Greene family, who were from Omaha.

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Help Tell The Story

Are you related to this family? Would you be willing to share stories or photos associated with related events? If so, we would love to hear from you! Please contact the Cultural Resource Manager at Isle Royale National Park. Or write to:

Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1896


  1. Newland, Dave. 2003. Executive Summary of the Beard Life Lease. Isle Royale National Park. Houghton, MI.