Historical Museum Accepts Items from Family of Michigan’s First State Forester

Case + Compass
This dial compass in its original case was used by Michigan’s first state forester Marcus Schaaf to determine direction and measure the slope and height of trees.
Michigan DNR MDNR
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Lansing, MI -(Ammoland.com)- The Michigan Historical Museum has accepted a valuable collection of objects belonging to Marcus Schaaf (1879-1959), a leading figure in the development and management of the state’s reforestation program.

Former Department of Natural Resources Director Michael Moore facilitated the donation on behalf of Schaaf’s granddaughter, Suzan Schaaf. The artifacts were presented at a special ceremony held in association with the annual meeting of the Michigan Forest Association at Hartwick Pines State Park in November.

The son of German immigrants, Schaaf graduated in 1904 from the Biltmore School of Forestry in North Carolina. After working for the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico, Schaaf was hired in 1910 as the first forester of the Michigan Public Domain Commission. His job was to “preserve, protect and restore Michigan’s forests.” He held this key position for nearly four decades as the commission evolved to eventually become today’s Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Compass + Leather Case
This is the original leather case of the dial compass used by Marcus Schaaf, the first state forester of Michigan, while he worked on consolidating and expanding boundaries of Michigan’s state forest system.

Schaaf led the development, survey and consolidation of millions of acres of forested land, establishing the nation’s largest state forest program. He demonstrated strong organizational and administrative skills, and improved the standards and technologies of surveying that effectively defined and organized Michigan’s state forests and parks.

Measuring Tape
This 66-foot metal measuring tape on a wooden reel, manufactured in Saginaw, is among the items donated by the family of Marcus Schaaf, who served for four decades as Michigan’s state forester.

The collection includes a dial compass (used to determine direction, measure slope and the height of trees) in its original leather case, a compass in wooden case for a surveyor, and a Saginaw-manufactured wooden reel and 66-foot metal surveyor’s tape from the early 20th century.

This heavy wool coat, lined with animal skins, was worn by state forester Marcus Schaaf while working in the field.

All were used by Schaaf during the time when his administration consolidated and expanded the boundaries of Michigan’s State Forest System. A heavy wool field coat with animal-skin lining and a pair of stirrups with rowel spurs testify to Schaaf’s hands-on involvement in forest surveys, inspections and evaluations.

“The Michigan Historical Museum and Department of Natural Resources are grateful to Suzan Schaaf for sharing this lasting legacy of her grandfather’s influential career in Michigan forestry with the people of Michigan by donating them to the Michigan Historical Museum,” said Linda Endersby, museum director.

“We also thank Michael Moore and Norman C. Caldwell for encouraging this gift,” Endersby said. “Mr. Caldwell’s research on the career of Marcus Schaaf, recently published in a series of articles in Michigan Surveyor magazine, will help us interpret these artifacts in the future.”

About The Michigan Historical Center

The Michigan Historical Center is part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its museum and archival programs help people discover, enjoy and find inspiration in their heritage. It includes the Michigan Historical Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/michiganhistory.

About The Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.