George Henry Juhl was born on September 24, 1906 in Juhl, Sanilac, Michigan to Henry (Hans) C. Juhl (1860-1960) and Elizabeth Alice Stevenson Juhl (1878-1975). George joined older brothers Harold James Juhl (1902-1987) and Ralph Juhl (1903-1935).
The village of Juhl was named for George’s grandfather, Jens, and grew to about 100 families. Jens was the village’s Postmaster for a time but the Post Office only operated from 1889 to 1906. After Jens death and the closing of the Post Office, the village’s population declined and the businesses moved away. Juhl is now a ghost town.
In 1918 the family moved to Manitoba, Canada where George experienced his teenage years and twenties working on the family farm. After brother Ralph left the farm and brother Jim went to work in the Central Patricia Gold Mine, George worked the farm by himself with what very limited assistance his parents could give him. By 1935 they sold the farm and Henry moved back to Michigan and was living in Grosse Ile, Michigan. George then went to work with his brother Jim at the gold mine. Jim worked in the mine, which was a deep pit mine, and George worked as a hoist operator–lifting the men and gold ore to the surface.
On a trip to see his parents, George met Maxine Lois Howland. Shortly before 1940, George moved back to Michigan and was living in Detroit. Canada entered World War II in 1939, and it is possible that was the reason he moved back to the States. It is possible that Maxine also encouraged him to return to the States.
He courted and married Maxine on June 22, 1940 in Highland Park, Michigan. Prior to getting married, George was working as a boiler operator for a tool manufacturing company. After getting married, he went to work for Chrysler as a security guard. When they got married and after, Maxine was teaching in the Berkley School District.
After the United States entry into World War II, despite being in his late 30s, George enlisted in the Navy “Seabees”. The Naval Construction Force, known as the “Seabees”, was created on March 5, 1942. Their purpose was to meet the Navy’s need for construction of forward bases in combat zones. The Seabee motto was “We built, we fight.” Maxine went to work for Ford at the Willow Run airplane factory, building B24 bombers. George was discharged October 29, 1945.
Maxine and George lost a baby in 1942 and then sons William and Timothy were born.
After the end of the war, George went to barber college and did his apprenticeship. In 1949, shortly before Tim’s birth, George bought the building at 129 South Main Street and opened his own barber shop. They lived in the apartment on the second floor. The shop had two chairs, so George rented the second chair out to Ivy Van Connant and later Ace Feys.
The shop quickly became a place for men to stop in and chat. George was eventually elected to the Village Council and became Council President – a position he held for a number of years. If George was talking to one of the men sitting along the north wall of the shop, he would continue to cut his customer’s hair. When he talked to the person in the chair, he would step out in front of them with his comb in one hand and scissors in the other while he made his points. As a result, it took longer to get a haircut from George.
When I went to get a haircut, it was to George’s shop. I usually tried to get Ivy as my barber because Ivy was very quiet and quicker. I would hope that my father, James C. Wade, would get George. That way, I could read the comics that George had in the shop for his younger customers.
In 1959 they bought the house at 325 West St. Clair Street. The house is on the National Registry of Historic Places. With the purchase of this home, George could enjoy one of his favorite pastimes – horseback riding. The barn and a small corral allowed them to stable their horses at home. Sons, Bill and Tim, joined the 4-H Saddle Club run by Red and Gertie Brooks.
In 1957, George along with Red Brooks, Ed D’Arcy, Keith McGregor, Dr. Bill Mackie, Melvin D’Arcy, Milt D’Arcy, Clifford Keefer, and Albert Hall– and under the direction of County Sheriff Bill Porter–formed the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Posse. The Posse was used for crowd control and search and rescue operations. They also rode in all of the areas parades – they were quite a sight. They met twice a month for drills and in the fall they took a five-day, a long weekend, trail ride. George remained active with the Posse until his death
Besides his election to positions on the Village Council, George was also active with his church acting as a deacon for the First Congregational Church. He was an active member of American Legion Post No 479. He held several offices, including president, with Almont-Dryden Lodge 51 F & M. He was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, the Romeo Commandary No. 6 of the Knights Templar, and the Elf Khursef Temple of the Shrine.
About 1971, George decided to retire. He sold the business and building to Ace Feys, who had been renting the second chair in his shop.
Maxine was diagnosed with leukemia and died July 2, 1978 at Community Hospital in Almont. She was laid to rest in the Hough Cemetery. After Maxine’s death, George went to live with his son Tim’s family in Carsonville in Sanilac County. Soon after moving to Carsonville, George went on a lengthy trip back to Manitoba, Canada where he had spent his teens and twenties.
In Manitoba, he reconnected with old friends and acquaintances–one in particular, Isa Shearer McRea (1911-2006). He had known Isa (Isabel) when living there. When he returned home, he was engaged. George and Isa married and were companions until George’s death of cancer on February 21, 1988 at Marlette Hospital. George was laid to rest next to Maxine in the Hough Cemetery.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or email@example.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.