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Our History

Joseph Miller Loop was born in Elmira, New York in 1811.  As a young man he traveled to New Orleans and followed the Mississippi river north.  By 1840, he had married Caroline Barteau in New York and they settled in Illinois.  This marriage, which produced no children, was short-lived, as Caroline died when they had only been married about five years.  In 1850, Dr. Loop, 40, and his second wife, Jane Gardner Loop, 25, married in 1846, were living in Novi, Michigan, where Dr. Loop was practicing medicine.  Joseph first came to the Thumb Area in 1852 to survey pine timberland for his brother-in-law, Thomas McGraw, a wealthy Detroit businessman.  About two years later, Dr. Loop, Jane, and infant daughter, Ada,  relocated from Novi to forty acres of land in Port Sanilac.  The family lived in a cabin closer to the water for about twelve years, then built a clapboard home on the same acreage around 1862.  1872 saw the beginning of the construction of the Loop brick mansion.

The University of Michigan Medical School at Ann Arbor was U of M's first professional school.  Initially, its earliest students paid just $5 a year for two years of medical training, which consisted entirely of lectures over six months, a break, and then six more months of lectures the second year.  Anyone with a reasonable background in Greek and Latin was eligible for admission.  Dr. Loop was 44 years old when he completed this specialized training in 1855.  He'd already been studying and practicing medicine on his own for at least five years.

Although they lived in a grand house, Dr. & Mrs. Loop were known throughout the county for their humanitarianism, philanthropy, and neighborliness.  Dr. Loop was the first, and for a time, the only physician in Sanilac County.  He traveled by horseback and buggy over the years, in inclement weather, anytime of the day or night.  The Loops often took in new pioneer residents disembarking from ships in the harbor who had no immediate place to stay.  Mrs. Loop maintained a room in the house near Dr. Loop's office and nursed patients too tired or sick to go home.  She grew the herbs and medicinals that her husband needed to concoct his medications.  He couldn't have done what he did for Sanilac County without her tireless support and generosity of spirit.  Jane died in 1895 and Dr. Loop passed away in 1903 at the age of 93.

The Loop's daughter, Ada, married Rev. Julius Harrison in 1882.  They and their two sons, Stanley and Fred, lived in the home that Ada inherited from her parents.  The boys both served in the military during the Great War.  Son, Stanley, spent his adult years on ships plying the Great Lakes.  Son, Fred, became an ear, nose, and throat doctor, married Dorothy Fisher in 1929 and spent his adult life in Connellsville, Pennsylvania.  Ada Harrison was a popular piano teacher.  She died tragically in 1925; the first automobile fatality in Sanilac County.  She was blinded by the lights of one car as she tried to cross the highway in front of her home and was then struck by a second car that she did not see because it did not have working headlights.  Rev. Harrison continued to preach and died in 1933.

In 1964, Capt. Stanley Harrison deeded his family's home to the Sanilac County Historical Society to be used as a museum.  He continued to live in a private apartment in the museum until his death in 1977.