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Indian Joe


I have mentioned Pickerel Lake and the Fred Meijer Nature Preserve a couple of times on the site.

Recently I had an email from a visitor asking if I knew anything about the former owner of the property. His name was Joseph “Indian Joe” Cizauskas and he passed away in 1988.He considered himself the caretaker of this wonderful 235 acre wooded site with Pickerel Lake in the middle of it. Not much is known of him, an eclectic individual who lived in his garage, sold Christmas trees and is rumored to have buried his money on his property.

If anybody knows more of his story, where he was from, how and when he acquired the property, or any other interesting facts about him, I would love to hear from you.



7 Responses to “Indian Joe”

  1. Hi, Dave. Excerts from Growing Up In An Old Lithuanian Town lets us know that Joe hated his nickname, Indian Joe. He used whiskey but not to get drunk. He washed his face and hair in it. He was sustained by operating a christmas tree farm and a small boat livery. He allowed neighboring Camp Rogers to use his property as long as they obeyed the rules such as no killing anothing on his land except for mosquitos. If you bathe in the lake, no soap. Joe hated land developers and had a great dislike for lawyers. When his 20 year old companion died he became somewhat more of a recluse except to Camp Rogers.

  2. The aforementioned article was located on Pages 82-83.

  3. I ‘ve visited Joe, several times.
    Not only did he sell Christmas trees for $5.00 each,
    he also let anyone remove a tree for transplanting of any size,
    for $5.00.

    Thanks to Injun Joe, I have many trees on my land from him.
    Beautiful Blue Spruce, that average 30 ft. tall today.

    God bless, Injun Joe !!!

    Also one of the signs he had posted on his property,was,
    “Don’t kill the Rattle snakes ”
    That kept unwanted trespassers away.


  4. Kevin,

    Thanks for the comments, I had forgotten about his rattlesnake signs.


  5. The buried money was found by the Kent County Parks Department when developing the land in the early 90’s. The story was featured on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press. It was turned over to his sister who lived nearby on Sunfish Lake. Some of the money and bonds were water damaged. He lived in his garage because his house burned down. He would dig up money to pay his property taxes.

  6. Terry,

    Thanks for the reminder, I seem to recall it now that you mention it.

[...] Here’s an interesting account from Waterland Living about a character by the name of Indian Joe when, in fact, he detested that nickname. This is from … [...]

Written by Dave.