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The History of Lake Sherwood

James H Cole with Lewis Easlick developed Cedar Island Lake, then they joined to form Lakeland Development and went on to develop Brendal Lake, Lake Neva, and Lake Sherwood. They had grand plans to connect these lakes into connecting waterways. They envisioned going South of Winewood into the gravel pit to Sleeth Road all the way to Bass Lake. This dream of connecting all these lakes from M59 to Sleeth Road was stopped from becoming a reality because they were not able to buy all the land needed and the DNR would no longer issue permits. Man-made lakes will no longer be developed because of DNR restrictions. Cole left Lakeland Development in the '50's & went on to created Lake Shannon in Fenton & Lake James South of Houghton.

James Cole (left) and Lewis Easlick created a man-made lake involving 41 miles of lake shoreline and $10,000,000 worth of land (pictured above - 1957)

The photo to the right was taken as Lake Sherwood was just beginning to start developing the lake (originally mostly farmland.) This photo was taken from Sleeth Road looking north from SW Corner in December 1955.

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Detroit News Article Reprint from June 16, 1957

Written by: Carl Konzelman

They're building lakes in - of all places - Michigan, land of lakes and lake lovers. This is going on, not in the back country where there are no watering places but in Oakland County, already well dotted with some 400 lakes of varying sizes and shapes.

The reason is simple. Older lakes are crowded now, in many cases with substandard cottage housing. Lake frontage for permanent, year-round homes of high quality is almost nonexistent within reasonable distance of Detroit.

Put into this picture James H. Cole, young civil engineer originally from Holly and Lewis Easlick, wealthy Sebewaing, Michigan dragline owner, and you have a large-scale lake manufacturer in the hills and watersheds miles from Detroit, astraddle the route of the James Couzens highway extension (Northwestern).

Under way and in some cases in actual use are 41 miles of completely new shoreline, spread out over 28 square miles of White Lake and Commerce Township. All of the main lakes involved are connected, so that boating will be possible from one end of the sprawling development to the other.

In all, $10,000,000 worth of land once considered submarginal is involved. With homes the development will encompass property valued at 50,000,000 to $70,000,000.

All of the new shoreline is man-made, with the lakebeds cleared of timber and graded to an average depth of 12 feet. There are no potholes in the new lakes. Shores are tapered into the bottoms. Soil incapable of supporting growth is confined to the deeper portions, thrown up into islands or used for grading surrounding terrain.

Cole, Navy veteran with Pacific service during World War II started the whole thing when he "bought $100,000 worth of land, with $1 down."

This was seven years ago after he first visualized the possibilities in reclaiming land of doubtful value for a higher use in the suburban lake-living field. Since then, he has engineered the entire project throughout its seven-mile length and four-mile width.

Shore Line Developes


With Easlick as his partner on the actual work, he has seen clean shore line develop along the miles of white stakes he placed at the water-level line. Together they have detailed 52 miles of roadways, raised the levels of at least two existing roads, and charted out 2,000 homesites on 2,600 acres of land.

It takes Cole and Easlick something like three hours to get abound the various scenes of operations. Cole's cars last him less than 6 months because he has to drive where there are no roads - or where the construction roads are quagmires.

So he figured out a better way. He has bought a one-man helicopter, due for delivery soon. From this he can keep in close tough with crews at all times from 20 feet above the ground.

Has this sort of thing ever been done before? Cole and Easlick say that it has but never to their knowledge on this scale. Big peril is that one of the $70,000 dragline machines will vanish into the mire.

"I don't believe anybody else has ever tried to drag waterbeds as wide as 400 feet, like we are doing. It's risky. But Lew has seven of these big machines and he wouldn't be wiped out if he lost one."

Grinning, Cole added, "Anyway, he's just as daffy as I am."

Start of the development was at Cedar Island Lake, long established resort center between Cedar Island Lake Road and M-59. Unusable land along the North shore was developed into an area known as Cedar Island Shores simply by lowering part of it and raising others, all without disturbing the level of the original lake. The lake grew half again its initial size.


A similar procedure was carried out at Brendel Lake to the Northwest where Lakewood Village emerged as a community of permanent lake front homes. Adjacent to Brendel, Cole and Easlick created Lake Neva, some 250 acres in size and "loaded today with the progeny of the pailful of bass I planted myself," says Cole. Without destructive enemies, the fish increase rapidly.

A projection of Lake Neva - not a canal but a wide, river-like watercourse, was engineered through the valleys to the Southwest, along the boundaries of the 5,200-acre Highland Recreation Area, to the newest and biggest original lake so far produced by the pair.

This is Lake Sherwood, only a few acres smaller than the venerable 465-acre Union Lake. Lake Sherwood lies along Commerce Road near Duck Lake Road, two and a half miles east of Milford. A portion of Lake Sherwood still is to be cleared and filled with water. Another lake will lie across Commerce Road. Still unnamed, this one will be roughly 250 acres in size.

Immediately adjacent to the Southwest is the 4,800-acre Proud Lake Recreation area.

Additional Sherwood Facts!

Original Farms

To create Lake Sherwood, Lakeland Development purchased farmland from the Castigilione's (5111 Winewood), Gordons (Sleeth Road), Rolands, (3510 Commerce Rd), Leonard & Connie Field (3652 Commerce Rd) and a section of land was also bought from Elmer & Rose Field.

Why some property is not included in Lake Sherwood

One of the original farm owners - the Castigilione's, who owned land that is now the Oakwood, Commerce & Winewood area had already given their 5 children 1 acre lots each. These lots are located on the East Side of Oakwood to Commerce Rd. They are not part of Lake Sherwood. The Castigilione's original farmhouse is located on the property at 5111 Winewood. The farmhouse was originally facing Commerce Road but when Carol & Tom Laing purchased the home they remodeled the house and oriented it to face the water & Winewood.

Two strips of land called "no man strip" exists on the West side of Driftwood from Sleeth and along the East side of Winewood. This was done because Lakeland Development could not purchase enough property for homes. These strips of land were created to keep a new developer from reaching Lake Sherwood.

In 1991, Lake Sherwood annexed the property on Wildwood River on the North side of Commerce. The area included waterfront property of Deerwood, Inverrary and Lakes Edge. Owners of this property were given the option of annexation to Lake Sherwood. 5320 Inverrary chose not to annex to Lake Sherwood.

5230 Starwood was the original site for Lakeland Development Office and was not included in Lake Sherwood.

Sunken Island

The "sandbar" at the entrance to the main lake is actually a sunken island. Wave action caused the unprotected shoreline to erode causing shallow area.

Slalom Skiing

Lake Sherwood Association used to host the state slalom skiing competition in 1958-59.

Lot prices in 1960:

Lots on Driftwood (main lake) were not selling in May of 1960 for $8,900 so Lou Easlick raised the price to $10,150 and they started selling!

In original Lake Sherwood, all streets names end in wood

Tamwood Court got it street name from the initials of Chuck Martin's son - Todd Allan Martin.

Higgins Island was named after the Higgins family, one of the first familys who lived on Driftwood and whose children frequently used the island.

Neva in Lakewood Village was named after Easlick's wife.

Kendall Park was named after Easlick deceased son, Kendall Easlick.

We have other parks other than Kendall Park in Lake Sherwood. The strip of land East of Winewood is called Park Cassidy. The A lot on Commerce Road between Winewood and Oakwood is called Park Joseph. The narrow land on Commerce Road between Ledgewood and Surfwood is called Park Lynn, and the A lot on Ravinewood between Winewood and Ledgewood is called Park Ray.

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