F.A. Hill’s Hankscraft 30’ Launch

Frederick A. Hill, a resident of the Austin neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, had been resorting at the Lone Tree Point Resort on Torch Lake with other Chicagoans since 1897. Having enjoyed the local area, he bought a piece of land on the north side of Stony Point in 1904 and there he built his summer home, Hillwood.

In the winter of 1908, F.A. Hill purchased a 30’ Hankscraft Launch at the Chicago Motor Boat Show. According to the Bellaire newspaper on July 16, 1908 “Mr. F.A. Hill’s new launch was launched Saturday. It is the finest boat hereabouts.” Equipped with velvet carpet, wicker chairs, khaki duck cushions, electric head and sailing light, signal horn and two flag poles with flags, the launch represented a distinct type of modern boat.

Readying the launch for a ride in Torch lake

The Governor’s party stopping at Anderson’s General Store for ice cream.

That same year, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Michigan were campaigning throughout the state for several weeks. In July, they visited Antrim County and spoke to a full house at the Alden town hall. After speaking, the newspaper reported:

Bellaire, MI newspaper July 23, 1908

The boat was aptly named after his wife Marie, and daughter, Grace Hill.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

Another newspaper article appears in the Bellaire newspaper on June 30, 1910 announcing the arrival of another new launch for F.A. Hill.

The Crinisus is a launch from Hankscraft Co. as you can see from the photo of the 30’ launch from the Hankscraft Co. (pictured above the postcard of F.A. Hill’s boat in front of his summer home, Hillwood).

This 30-foot Hankscraft Launch’s most noticeable claims to distinction are the concealment of the gasoline motor under the front of the boat and the method of starting the motor without coming in contact with it. This launch is constructed with an automobile canopy top and thus was given the name of “Water Wagon” and cost just under $3,000.

Bellaire, MI newspaper June 30, 1910

Photo of Hankscraft’s 30’ launch in the August 1906 issue of Fore’n’Aft magazine

Beebe photo of F.A. Hill’s launch “Crinisus” on Torch lake at Stony Point

Another Beebe photo of F.A. Hill’s launch “Crinisus” at the Hill boathouses on Clam River with the Ruth passing by

Was the Marie Grace renamed for some reason? Was the Crinisus a whole new launch because the Marie Grace sank or was destroyed somehow? No one in the family seems to know the answer to those questions from 100+ years ago. It seems like a little more research is needed to find out the real story behind the twin boats….

Steven Hill
Lake Forest, IL

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