Camel Bells

Camel Bells Cabin

One of the two mainland cabins located in the eastern (Holt) end of Archibald Lake, it is the youngest of the five cabins built by the related members of the Holt family. Built in 1962, this cabin has only been owned by two families. The builder was Gordon Wheeler of Hinsdale, Illinois. Gordon was the son of Dana Arthur Wheeler and Anna Holt (sister of William Arthur, who was President of Holt Lumber of Oconto). Gordon's parents had built the Ark on the big island around 1905, so when he was a young person (born in 1901) he spent many a fond moment at the lake.

After the Ark reverted to WA Holt after Dana's death in 1912,  it was soon passed along to his son Donald, Gordon petitioned WA to be allowed to own an acre on the forested mainland on which to build a small cabin for himself. Granted approval, Gordon set to building his get-away using his abilities as a specialist in natural gas construction to equip the cabin with modern gaslights, a gas stove, and generator powered running lakewater throughout the two bedroom cabin. Before he was allowed to occupy the finished cabin, the piping method Gordon had learned at his job with Northern Illinois Gas was new to the northwood inspectors and he had to assure them that the process was accepted and perfectly safe  The exterior construction is not the split log style of the other cabins; it is simple painted frame siding with an steep ashphalt shingled roof.

Readers are sure to wonder where the name for the cabin derives. One need only look behind the lake side entry door the find a fairly grimy rope equipped with multiple little bells priviously used to guide camels as their train crossed the northern African deserts. Gordon had visited that area shortly after graduating from Harvard University, and brought the string of bells home with him. Why it impressed him so much one can only guess.

When Gordon realized that he would not enjoy the cabin any longer, he sold it to Robert and Barbara Wilson of Ripon, Wisconsin in 1972. Barbara was WA Holt's granddaughter by way of his son Alfred; born in China and raised in Williamstown, Mass. Bob grew up in Oconto where he knew the Holts and his father was Superintendent of Schools for Oconto County. They began to spend as much of each summer as possible at the cabin. Each of them served as President of the Archibald Lake Association, and Bob also spent years serving as a volunteer water quality tester for the DNR. One of the larget improvements they accomplished was paying to bring electricity through the forest to this cabin. Later they assisted both islands and Deerpoint get electric lines supplied to them.

After retiring from Ripon College, Bob and Barbara spent all summer at Camel Bells and then wintered in Lake Wales, Florida. Children Richard "Dick" and Marcia were invited to visit frequently, but it was their parents home. Dick has three children and five grandkids. Marcia has two children and one grandchild. After a tragic Florida car accident in October 1996 took the lives of both parents, Dick and Marcia shared the use, care, and upkeep of the cabin for 15 years. Marcia lives in Maryland. Then in 2011, she decided to take her brother to court so she could be the sole owner and user. However, at the last hour she informed her attorney to offer Dick the opportunity to buy her share at an inflated price. An agreement was reached which entiltled the cabin, boats, and HWD share in his name alone.

Dicks family is young and growing, able to visit the cabin only occassionally. Son Scott is married to Aubrey and they live in St. Anne, Il near Kankakee, but he works in Chicago's Loop. They have a son Patrick born in 2002. Daughter Heather lives in Lafayette, Colorado outside of Boulder. She is married to Eric Ernst and have two lovely girls; Ally Josephine (Joey) born in 2004, and Kate born in 2008. Daughter Ashley lives in South Elgin, IL and is married to Jason Ruud. They have two kids; Caleb born in 2007, and Breanna born in 2010. Dick also has a black Labrador named Cheese and a Cavalier named Ruby

camel Bells lakeside view