Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ypsilanti's Best Old Historic Former Newspaper

We have several wonderful paper and digital newspapers in Ypsi these days. Ever wonder about the newspapers of the past? My Citizen story today is about what I argue is the best of Ypsilanti's 25 old historic papers; hope you enjoy it! Many thanks to the Citizen, and Dan DuChene's good editing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing about the invisible

Dusty D's favorite topic to write about are things that are not there.

I wrote a story about passenger pigeons for the Observer that I absolutely loved. It'll be in the upcoming book, and I'm proud to set that story before the public. It's good. It dealt with my favorite thing to write about: the invisible, the vanished, the things that are no longer there.

I'm having the fun of writing such a story now. It's about the vanished places in Washtenaw County: Unadilla, Bullock's Corners, Panama Township. Those places exist only on old plat maps and in old accounts. But they were real to folks at one time, and it is a pleasure to dig them up again. The places, I mean.

So that should pop up soon in either the Courier or Citizen. Hope you like it. Back to research now...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When I was a Boy with a Head Like Tow

In the Archives yesterday, Dusty D discovered a poem, hidden in the Michigan Pioneer Historical Society annals. The poem is kind of a RUMPETY RUMPETY RUMPETY RUMP bit of doggerel...BUT...it is chock full of old forgotten vocabulary for old Michigan ways of life and packed with customs and objects and habits that have long faded from contemporary Michigan experience. Plus, it's an affectionate reminiscence, and it touched the squishy sentimental sector of Dusty D's heart, which is normally well-hidden under a protective cynical crust. I'm gonna serialize it here over the next bit of time and invite you to chat about the stuff in it. Here we go.


by U. B. Webster, 1893; written for the Farmer's Institute in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Things are not now as they used to be
For progress is making us wise you see,
For a day of progress is over the land
And we see its results on every hand.

Yes, the things of our youth have passed away,
For "Every dog must have his day,"
So the tallow dip has yielded to gas,
And that old fire-place has gone, alas!

The "old oaken bucket" and well sweep, too,
At the old red farmhouse no more we view,
That threshing machine that piled the chaff
Today would make all the people laugh,

For a traction engine has come this way
That knocks out two thousand bushels a day.
And a sulky plow on which to ride,
On all modern farms is the farmer's pride...[tbc]

tallow dip: "The wick -- a few
threads of flax, hemp, or cotton, lightly twisted or plaited -- was dipped
in melted tallow and allowed to cool, again and again, until the candle
had a desired thickness. During colonial times in this country, every housewife made a supply of candles in autumn. Candle rods, each with a row of wicks, were
repeatedly dipped in big iron kettles of boiling water and melted tallow,
That was an all-day back-breaking job. Neater results were obtained by
pouring the tallow into pewter molds made for from 6 to 24 candles."

old oaken bucket: Reference to a wooden well bucket, and also to a well-known 1818 song: "...e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well./The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,/The moss covered bucket that hung in the well [and gave us all cholera --ed.]."

well sweep: "A well sweep is a device used to bring water up from a well. The term, "sweep" refers to the long pole which is lowered until the bucket on the end goes down into the well and fills with water." Dates back to Egyptian times if not further.

traction engine: Steam engine tractor. Yes, running on steam power!

sulky plow: Plow that you sit on, basically.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He's Not in the Family Photographs

Dusty D had a fun time today in the Archives. The whole gang was there; James Mann, Gerry, Al, and intern Derek. I enjoyed the convivial atmosphere.

Dusty D was researching former oddball Ypsilantian Charles Jarvis. James has written about him in "Footnotes in History." It's well-written (waves to James).

Charles was odd. He lived alone in a house he built himself (and it looks it) where the DPW yard is now at Huron and Forest. He held a handful of somewhat menial jobs, and rarely left his home except to go in his yard. He is said to have had a "bowel disease" that doctors thought would kill him soon, but he lived for almost 3 more decades. James Mann remarked that he thought that this might have just been, um, a gaseous condition. I wonder if it is a euphemism for something else. Don't know.

I am always drawn to, and sympathize with, and often come to care for if that can be said, the fringey people. The misunderstood, the somewhat different, the people, like Charles, whose photos are absent from the collection of family photos. There is a wealth of beautiful Jarvis photos in the Jarvis family file and in one photo album. The family members have an unusual amount of character in their faces.

No photo of Charles. I found this saddening---if he were excluded because he was an eccentric. He is buried with other Jarvises, however, in Highland, though I haven't seen his grave yet. Charles is a puzzle. He never married. "Unmarried" is one of those red-flag words that to me signals that there is something interesting about a given person to find out. At any rate, I will continue to research him and see what I can find.

Thanksgiving through the years

Thanks to the Citizen for publishing my T-giving tale! I am so happy to be published in the Citizen! Here's the story.

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Kind readers may recall that last week Carrie sold her car, whom she'd nicknamed "Lady Maxwell," for one called a Liberty Six. She got $1,090 for a trade-in and paid $1,500. She also brought her brother Will a gallon of sweet cider.

Nov. 18 Tues. Goodbye Lady Maxwell. Dickered my sedan with Quay [?] Beyer for a Liberty Six coupe $2,590. Was allowed $1,090 for car + $1,500.

Nov. 19 Wed. Mr. A. G. Erickson is to succeed Mr. Arbaugh as Sup't of Schools. Mr. Piper disappointed.

Nov. 20 Thurs. Mr. Piper tells me of his disappointment. Am working in the library, etc.

Nov. 21 Fri. Football fellows & rooters go to Port Huron. Mrs. Ross sick. I teach Chem., Physics. Went to see "Checkers" at Martha in evening. Lewis.

Nov. 22 Sat. Worked at home until 11:30. Then went to Detroit with Lillian. Came home very late. Tired? My!

Nov. 23 Sun. Lillian was over and we sewed some. Miss Laird was in + we talked of clothes for the winter.

Nov. 24 Mon. After school I went over to May Webb's after going down town for groceries. Had supper with the Webbs. In evening attended Teachers' party.

Nov. 25 Tues. Am working in the library vacant hours. After school made a stew with dumplings at the Webb's again.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Stories

In this Thursday's Courier there will be a story about Thanksgiving during WWII, and in the Citizen there'll be a story about Thanksgiving as reflected in the diaries of four Ypsi women. HOpe you enjoy 'em! I'll post links when they're posted. I know it's hard to believe but I spent all day today writing these 2 little stories. So it goes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Save Wires for War!

Kind readers, if you were thinking of calling your gramma in Florida over Thanksgiving, or your cousin in California, please--don't.

Those phone lines are required for urgent war-related business. Don't imperil that business by making a social call over the holiday.

Please make only the most urgent Long Distance calls on Thanksgiving Day, and keep those calls as brief as possible.

Dusty D found this ad while researching a Thanksgiving story to turn in to the Courier tomorrow.

Note that it is Michigan Bell that is telling its own customers to NOT use its service--in contrast to today's phone service providers, who, to some, seem intent on determinedly extracting an inordinate amount of money from one's pocket.

Perhaps Michigan Bell's ad was made in a spirit of patriotism. Or, more cynically, perhaps they knew their lines were at the maximum load already with wartime work and they didn't want to deal with thousands of irate civilian customers unable to put calls through MB's over-stressed system.

Around this time, another rationed item was coffee. Coffee was going to be officially rationed a few days after this November '42 ad. If you were caught hoarding it, which translated to buying more than 1 pound before the ration went into effect, you could be fined $10,000 or sentenced to ten years in prison.

The war was real and loomed large in the lives of Ypsilantians, when today, to many of those without a service member in the family, the war is at best just a glimpsed headline to an unread story.

--Ypsilanti Daily Press, November 24, 1942

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bonus Mystery Spot

Dusty D is trying like heck to peer at the background details of this drawing, which appeared in a 1996 edition of the papers. It shows Easter morning as folks leaves church. I was convinced it was the St. Luke's Episcopal on Huron, but I actually checked and either didn't see or missed this perspective. I could have sworn I've seen those little buttressy things on a church wall somewhere. There's also a building in the background. Dusty D is stumped!

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

You may remember that last week Allie went to dancing school, wrote a letter and received one, and heard of the tragic accident of a little boy she knew, who had his limbs cut off by a train.

Nov. 13 Fri. Miss something in Philosophy this morning but recited all the rest of the lesson and had it better than the others. Did the same thing in History and in Latin. Prof. C. asked me a question I could not answer and he said, "I would not forget all I ever knew on this particular day." Was provoked enough to kill him, but did not show it the least bit. Did not go to Lyceum. Went up town and got trimmings for my sack.

Nov. 14 Sat. Went up to Carrie's this afternoon. Had a good time. Stayed until after dark. Went to dancing school, had a splendid time. Am getting so I like it better and can do it ever so much better but the worst part of it is having so many come and ask you to dance that you don't like or can't refuse. Got home and in bed twelve o'clock.

Nov. 15 Sun. Did not have anything to wear around me, so I did not go to Church. Read all the whole day.

Nov. 16 Mon. Can't remember anything in particular that happened. There were four funerals today and a man was all smashed to pieces on the cars. It is terrible. Carrie was down tonight. Had a real good talk.

Nov. 17 Tues. Rained very hard today. Got a letter from Will C. It is about the same as usual, nothing very interesting. Had all of my lessons in school and some fun coming home. Came home by way of the depot.

Nov. 18 Wed. Had a grand old time in school today, something we used to have last winter and Miss Pierce is terrible provoked at me and is always blowing about the example that I must set for the younger scholars. She don't like me any better than I like her.

Nov. 19 Thurs. Ma went to Detroit today. I went over to the depot with her. Did not see ant very nobby fellows. Walked over with Nell Beach. Had ever so much fun. Met L. F. L. D. in the Post Office. Had a jolly time. Went to bed quite early.

Nov. 20. Fri. It has snowed all day and so hard at night that I did not go to Lyceum. Read almost all the evening. Will went to Lyceum. Said he had a good time. Everyone wanted to know where I was, but I am glad that I did not go.

Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hive Mind Poll

Dear Hivey,

Well, it is finished. I just submitted the book to my publisher. Here's my question for y'all. I could use your expertise. The publisher's sales team is a tad wary of the title "Stud Bunnies and the Underwear Club: Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives." They feel that a portion of their typical readership will be turned off by the "stud bunnies" part.

So far as I can tell, the typical readership of the book will be by valued readers up here in Michigan, where with near-Depression levels of unemployment, foreclosures, job losses, and similar grimness--we're ready for anything, and a note of sightly risque levity would be appreciated.

I think it would make the book stand out in a market dominated with somewhat boring, stodgy titles. But I'm way too close to view this objectively. What do you think? Keep the title? Change it a tad? I'd value your criticism and suggestions. Thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Death of William Mager: Courier story!

Dusty D has been editing her book all. daaaaaay. Since 7 this morning and I'm not done yet. Well, not editing, really, but doing stuff like putting captions in (wrote 50 captions today for pix) and format stuff and so on. Making sure everything is absolutely perfect and correct; deadline is tomorrow. Anyways, maybe you'd like to read my latest Courier story! It's a pretty dark one, be warned. Dusty D was pretty much in a funk for some time after I wrote it. Here it is.

Wednesday Mystery Spot

Fool that I am, I thought that the Thompson Building's being cut to a mere sliver on the right would be sufficient to baffle eagle-eyed readers in this westward view from Cross Street hill.You'd think I would have learned by now.

No fewer than 4 people instantly guessed this view, with Dan Duchene past the finish line first, closely followed by Building Place, BF, and cmadler. So I have to level up my game this week!

Instead of sliver-clues from existing buildings, let's see if kind readers can suss out this mysterious building. At least three different firms occupied it over the years, and later there was a gas station on the spot, in the 30s. The site is near that of a famous unsolved, and tragic, murder. ALl righty, that's as far as I'm going with clues! Take your best guess!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Out of living memory

World War I is on the cusp of passing out of living memory forever.

December Ann Arbor Observer: Elijah Pilcher, Itinerant Methodist Preacher

God willin' and the creek don't rise, my story about itinerant Methodist "circuit rider" preacher Elijah Pilcher will be in the December Ann Arbor Observer. That's worth a subscription right there. :D

He was a driven man who did not have too high of an opinion of the pioneers he preached to, nor of the rude log-cabin, bed-buggy accomodations they kindly offered him, not having anything better, on his route.

I seem to gravitate over and over to these stories of vinegary, difficult, grouchy, obstreperous people. Brain echo: 'Some say that every artwork is a self-portrait.'

Hmmmmm.....bah, "some" don't know what they're talkin' about. Grrr.

The mystery of the down-pointing hand

A walk in Highland Cemetery uncovers a mystery and later solves it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Put the Hammer Down: It's Nailed!

I don't have many skills worth mentioning, but I do pride myself on nailing wordcounts. When I was writing 450-word art reviews for the Observer, I challenged myself to turn in reviews that were precisely 450 words long. Working on book manuscript now. I have to provide between 35,000 and 40,000 words. I pushed as close to 40,000 as I could to give readers the most bang for the buck. Just finished editing. Final wordcount?



(sighs with ultra-nerdy satisfaction)...

Deadline Looming

Just to let kind readers know, I'm gonna be posting fewer things than usual this week 'cause my book manuscript is due Friday. I'm working on formatting it now. Please excuse the quiet. I'll be able to post a lot more starting again next week. I'll continue to post links to stories on the Citizen, Courier, and AnnArbor.com. Thank you for your patience!

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Kind readers may recall that last week Carrie finished her afghan and was "glad the thing is done," celebrated Armistice Day (now Veteran's Day), and reported school running along as usual.

Nov. 11 Tues. Tried to celebrate Armistice Day this morning by calling on Geo. Beranck, and others for speeches. School as usual.

Nov. 12 Wed. After school went over to Lillian's for supper. She brought me home in evening. I get so tired -------------

Nov. 13 Thurs. Hutchins check for $60 received to day. They are now paid up to date i.e. till Nov. 1.

Nov. 14 Fri. School--H. Glass + Fred Bergin using same locker. At 3:30 the Parent Teacher club met in the Music Room.

Nov. 15 Sat. Washed clothes and my hair. Lillian drove me about town in their new Liberty Six purchased today. Bo't one gallon sweet cider.

Nov. 16 Sun. Left here at 9:30 with Lillian for Rob's; reached home at 1:10. Took him a gallon of sweet cider.

Nov. 17 Mon. After school went down to Temple for supper. Then went up to the Normal to hear a lecture on establishment of schools in Tennessee by York--a war hero.

Nov. 18 Tues. Goodbye Lady Maxwell. Dickered my sedan with Quay [?] Beyer for a Liberty Six coupe $2,590. Was allowed $1,090 for car + $1,500.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Amid a Confetti of Fluffy White Chicken-Feathers

...the lives of three Ypsi chicken-men, in the Ypsi Citizen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Upcoming Observer Story

A story of mine about itinerant Methodist preacher Elijah Pilcher is coming out in the December Ann Arbor Observer. It's pretty interesting. He had a jaundiced view of the homely log-cabin shelter offered him along his punishing route. Make sure to pick up the December Ann Arbor Observer to read it!

Between this, the book manuscript (due Nov. 15), stories for the Ypsi Citizen, AnnArbor.com, the Historical Society's "Gleanings," and the Ypsilanti Courier, your humble scribe is, indeed, a tad bit frazzled. But it'll all be good once the manuscript is submitted this Friday. In the meantime, my various deadlines make me disciplined and productive, a good thing. At any rate, be sure to peek in the Dec. Observer!

Historical Docents...

...are the single biggest spreader of the virus of historical misinformation. So it's said. Is it true? It was when I recently visited Highland Cemetery for a tour. Story to come, in the winter "Gleanings."

Monday Mystery Artifact

...over on AnnArbor.com. Take your best guess! See if you can figure out the term best sooted to this item.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Local History Fact of the Day

How Washtenaw County's many onetime sheep farmers used to amuse themselves, way out there in the lonely fields.

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

You may remember that last week Allie gave the mitten to Mr. Blair, "had a good time flirting last night," almost nodded off in church, and got a new beaver coat for winter.

Nov. 6 Fri. Marion came up to school for me this afternoon with the horses. We took a long ride. Then I got home; I had to fly around, get ready to go to a party in the country. Laura Eaton went with us. Had a magnificent time. Danced almost every set and gave someone the mitten, every time I didn't dance. A delightful ride down.

Nov. 7 Sat. Did not get home till four this morning. I never had much better time, tried to please, believe that I succeeded as much as I cared to. Carrie and Minnie B. came and called on me. I was uptown, went to dancing school in the evening. Had a splendid time. Better than I expected.

Nov. 8 Sun. Went to Church and stayed to S. S. It is raining. Am glad of it. Had a compliment today. Read a great deal and wrote a good long letter to Annie Rice. Have just heard that a little boy of my acquaintance has had his leg and arm cut off by the [railroad] cars. Have finished "Grace Lee" (book).

Nov. 9 Mon. Marion went up to Aunty's to stay all night. Carrie was down today and she is almost sick. i don't know what to make of her. I came around depot way tonight from school. Had ever so much fun as usual. Lora E. says that I made myself very agreeable last Friday night and an old Batch [bachelor] said he thought I was a pretty nice girl.

Nov. 10 Tues. There has [sic] been four funerals today. Miss Brower, a Normal student and Belle Chase, a teacher from the North, but living here, a Mr. Lee and the little boy whose arm and leg were cut off. Mr. Stoddard died this morning. Went up to Carrie's after school. Durbin acts just the same as ever and I believe feels the same.

Nov. 11 Wed. Had a jolly time in school today and had all of my lessons. Read a long time in the evening. Carrie W. and Minnie Bramble called for a few minutes. I got a letter from Emma Stone. It was excellent. Got an invitation from Cora Guy to another surprise party Friday night. It is a very urgent one.

Nov. 12 Thurs. Haven't done anything in particular today. Saw John Stoddart [spelling in diary is different than the aforementioned Mr. Stoddard who died on Tues.] and spoke to him. He smiles and acted just the same as usual, but it seems as if he would be different. The girls have gone up to Aunt Lizzie's to tea. Tried to study, but got so sleepy that I had to go to bed early.

Nov. 13 Fri. Miss something in Philosophy yhis morning but recited all the rest of the lesson and had it better than the others. Did the same thing in History and in Latin. Prof. C. asked me a question I could not answer and he said, "I would not forget all I ever knew on this particular day." Was provoked enough to kill him, but did not show it the least bit. Did not go to Lyceum. Went up town and got trimmings for my sack.

Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Postal Memory Map of Washtenaw County

Have you ever heard of a "postal memory map"? Well, educate yourself! :D And look at some neato pictures, in my latest story for annarbor.com.

Thanks to blog reader jml for introducing me to this map!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ypsilanti had its own time zone in 1883

Kind readers, did you know Ypsilanti once had its own time zone? Yep! You can read about it in my story for today's Courier!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Mystery Spot

Though I thought I'd picked a "goodie" for last week's Mystery Spot, once again it was, of course, guessed! Lisele commented, "Ahhh, is it the place called BirdBrain in Depot Town?" Yep! But it was a tie: BF guessed as well at the same time by emailing me a photo, here 'tis:

The original:

Now, don't let those victories go to your head, Lisele and BF and other readers, 'cause we have a vexing one this week, yessir. Take a peek if you will and see if you can guess! Good luck!

Millage Failure=Bloated School Administration? A Look at the Past

With the failure of the WISD millage last night, criticism in part has focused, in comments on AnnArbor.com, on the number of school administrators and support staff. Many opined that there are far too many administrative and non-classroom positions (e.g., counselors) in local schools. Ann Arbor's Pioneer and Huron high schools each have one principal and four assistant principals. Ypsilanti Public Schools has two persons in charge of...lunch--which is contracted out, complete with menus. Dusty D became curious to see what YHS school administration was like in the past, by way of comparison.

In the 1905 "Ypsi-Dixit" high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
William B. Arbaugh, superintendent
Charles S. Jacobs, principal (and instructor in Greek, Latin, and History)
That's it.
The YHS also had classes today considered "extra," such as music, geology, and art.

In the 1917 "Ypsi-Dixit" high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
William B. Arbaugh, superintendent
Stanley Morris, principal
Again, that is the extent of school administration as listed in the yearbook.
Aside from the basics, YHS also offered instruction in Algebra, Physics, Chemistry, public speaking, manual training, domestic science, German, French, and Latin.

In the 1927 "Ypsi-Dixit" high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
Arthur G. Erickson, superintendent
W. M. Land, principal
John O. Grimes, former principal (assuming he left sometimes in school year?)
Aside from the basics this year, YHS also offered instruction in Latin, Chemistry, Physics, shorthand, typewriting, music, sewing, Algebra, Geometry, cooking, and French.

It is interesting to see that for decades a school that graduated students educated in Greek, Latin, and Art did so with an apparent administrative staff of 2.

Glimpses of Ann Arbor life in 1889

A spooky picture, a speedy fire horse, and etiquette tips from 120 years ago may be found in my latest Ann Arbor.com story. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Ypsi Janitor and the Empress Josephine

...is a story I am pleased to present to you, newest one in the Citizen! Thanks to them for running it--I am grateful! Hope you enjoy it!

Sweetie read it and said it made him a bit misty...that really took me aback. I had tried my best to make a touching story, since I was touched by it, but seeing my own humble words have the power to make someone misty made me think..."whoa!" It was a pretty awesome moment.

(then I came to my senses and realized that nice comments from sweetie as always say more about his own generosity than anything else)

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Kind readers may recall that last week Carrie visited Rob in Detroit, bought a new skirt, and "broke down and cried" one night. She returned to YPsilanti and said it was good to be home.

Nov. 4 Tues. Hamilton Holt, editor of the Independent lectures at Pease Audit on the League of Nations tonight.

Nov. 5 Wed. Finished the "afghan" for the couch in the rest room today. Am glad the thing is done.

Nov. 6 Thurs. Lunched up stairs. Teachers' meeting after school. Reports were given of the state Teachers' Ass'n. Ate supper at the Mission.

Nov. 7 Fri. School about as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary routine of work.

Nov. 8 Sat. Van cleaned for me. Paid all my bils. Went alone to the Martha in the evening. Van locked himself out at night. Mrs. King called [un?] $1.00.

Nov. 9 Sun. Went to church both morning and evening. In afternoon, drove a little. Made bread, cake, and fried cakes.

Nov. 10 Mon. Went to school-usual. Rained, so I went to the lunch room at noon. Came home later. Had a big dinner at night.

Nov. 11 Tues. Tried to celebrate Armistice Day this morning by calling on Geo. Beranck, and others for speeches. School as usual.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ypsilanti Citizen's First Birthday!

The Ypsilanti Citizen is celebrating its first birthday with a party on November 21. That makes the Ypsilanti Citizen a...Scorpio. No, Sagittarius. Bah--[Googles] Scorpio on the cusp of Sagittarius. Horoscope: "You are a unique mix of playfulness and passion. Although you can light up a room with your sunny personality, you are also determined, deep, and ambitious. You will often deliberate on a problem for some time, and then ignore your analyses and jump into a decision impulsively. Your desires are deep, and you want to experience life on all levels. No one can rightfully label you superficial! "

Sounds about right to me. Happy birthday, Ypsi Citizen!

"Ypsilanti had its own time zone in 1883"

...is the title of this week's Courier story that I just turned in. It details a weird chronological chapter of Ypsi history and is packed with amusing and strange information--I like it. So pick up a Courier this Thursday if you would, please, and I hope you enjoy it!

Monday Mystery Artifact

This week's obscure Mystery Artifact was successfully guessed by one resourceful reader! A new one's been posted; take a gander & your best guess!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mager Case Notes

Mager Case: Newspaper Articles

William Mager Believed Slain by Son, Officers Unable to Find Body
Sheriff’s Officers Unable to Trace son, Family Quarrels Thought Responsible
Nov 9, 1925

Unable to find any trace of Harold Mater, 24, and with the license number furnished at that of the machine he was driving apparently wrong, Washtenaw sheriff’s department is today facing a difficult task in solution of the disappearance and probable slaying of William Mager, 49, Salem township farmer. Strife in the Mager family which led to the
decision of the children and their mother to leave home three years ago and finally resulted in the suicide of the wife, is believed responsible for the clash between the father and son Sunday.

Shots heard in the barn at the rear of the home Sunday morning by the hired man, who found, upon investigating the son had driven away and the father was missing, caused him to notify the sheriff’s department.

Posse Searches Woods
Led by Undersheriff Dick Elliott a posse of farmers and sheriff’s officers searched the neighborhood all day Sunday, but failed to find either the body of the elder Mager, or any trace of the son.

According to information given by the hired man, Clifton Adams, Harold Mager drove to the farm Sunday morning and asked excitedly for his father, who was in the barn. A few minutes later he heard two shots fired. The officers found where one had gone through the barn door and blood on the barn floor indicated the other had taken effect.
After the shots were fired the man said he saw the younger mager drive his car around to the barn door and a little while later he left. The man then went to the barn, found the blood stains, and called the officers.

Tracks Visible
Tracks of the car in the newly fallen snow enabled officers to follow the car to a clump of bushes near McCormack Lake where the machine stopped. Behind the bushes officers found blood stains, but no body. The tracks went from there to the main highway where they were lost.

Checking up upon Harold Mager’s activities the past few days the officers found he had left his last rooming house, 331 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor, last Friday. The family did not know where he moved to when he left their house. The license number furnished by the hired man as that of the car which Mager was driving was apparently wrong. The car was issued to Charles mead, Jr., Adrian, a student who says he traded it in South Bend, Ind., some time ago.

Quarreled Over Land
Quarrels between members of the family arose over the desire of the son to be given part of the 350 acres of land the elder Mager owns neighbors informed the officers. Three years ago the son asked for one of the two farms and the father refused. Quarreling finally resulted in the decision of Mrs. Mager, her son and two daughters to leave home. Mrs. Mager filed suit for divorce but ended her life before the case was heard. Since then the son had attempted at different times to work for his father but on each occasion left after quarreling with him. Their final quarrel before the tragedy of Sunday occurred a week ago.

The elder Mager was born in Germany but lived in Salem township nearly all his life. His age is given s 57.

Harold Mager is described as 24 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weight 135 or 140 pounds. His description has been sent to all police in this vicinity.

Acted Queer
That young Mager has been acting in a peculiar manner for some time is the information coming to sheriff’s officers as the investigation continues today. Henry Mager, a brother William Mager, who lives in Ann Arbor, and one of the sisters, Mrs. R. B. Newton, Ann Arbor, admitted to officers that for some time he had not appeared well-balanced and an Ann Arbor attorney admitted today that the young man had threatened to shoot him when he was engaged as counsel in the divorce case of a young woman whom Mager has become interested in. An Ann Arbor garage employee today told officers that when the elder Mager was in Ann Arbor only last week he had said he was worrying about the boy, who had threatened to kill him.

Renewed search of all abandoned buildings, woods, and marsh land in the vicinity of Mud Lake
Today has failed to reveal ant trace of the missing man.

Sheriff Robison, Undersheriff Elliott and Deputy Osborn are handling the investigation.

Ypsilanti Police Arrest Man believed to Have Killed William Mager
Young Man Admits Identity, has No Memory of Events Since Last Friday
Nov 10, 1925

Harold mager, 24, is held in county jail today while Undersheriff Dick Elliott, assisted by Chief of Police John Connors, searches and swamp land in the vicinity of the Mager farm for traces of the body of his father, William Mager, whom the young man is believed to have killed early Sunday morning. Mager, according to the officers, is plainly mentally unbalanced.

The man was arrested Monday evening, 8 o’clock, by officers Maurice Miller and Herman Oltersdorf of the city police force after Mrs. Annie Dexter Gray called police to report that a man had been sitting in an automobile near their home since 6 o’clock in the evening. She had no idea who he was as neither she not Mr. Gray had questioned him

Admitted Identity
Driving out to the Gray farm, just north of the city, the officers found the machine parked near a small woods. Mager was sitting huddled up in the front sear. When Officer Oltersdorf opened the door of the car and asked him his name he readily admitted he was Harold Mager.

Mager was held in police headquarters here until the officers could reach Undersheriff Dick Elliott, who took him to county jail. Questioned last night, he said he had been looking for work for days. He had driven until a flat tire compelled him to stop, and as it was night, he decided to stop and sleep in the car until morning when he intended to repair it and drive on.

Mind a Blank
Apparently Mager had no recollection of what had transpired since he left his rooming house in Ann Arbor last Friday. He had not been seen since by anyone except the hired man on the Mager Farm, Clifton Adams, who reported to officers he had driven to the farm early Sunday morning, asked for his father, met him in the barn where two shots were fired, and driven away.

In the back sear of the car were his trunk packed with his clothing, and a 32 revolver which was empty. Preliminary investigation failed to reveal any traces of blood on the machine which was taken to Ann Arbor where it will more carefully examined today.

Condition Not feigned
Mager wore a cowhide coat, was spattered with mud, haggard and hollow-eyed. The officers who saw him believe that his mental condition is not feigned. His mind seemed to wander, and he talked incoherently of events which had transpired years ago.
Questioned concerning his father he seemed not to realize that anything had happened. He said his father was out on the farm when asked where his father was. The officers then asked him where he and his father went Sunday when they drove away and he replied that he did not know.

Daily YP November 11 wed 1928
Man who killed Father will probably be placed in Ionia Institution
Body Found Buried in Webster Township
All Day Search Ends at Nightfall at shallow grave, con confesses crime.

Standing beside the shallow grave in which he had placed the body of the father whom he had slain, while late afternoon shadows deepened in the stark woods and the damp chill of early November increasing as the sun dipped nearer the horizon’s rim, gathered penetratingly about him. Harold Mager shuddered, made one made one lunge backward as if to escape the scene, then stood with the same blank look which has marked his features since his arrest here Monday night. Handcuffed to one of the officers who, with a few farmers comprised the little group which had uncovered the body of William Mager, escape was impossible. Mager did not try again.

It was late Tuesday afternoon before the officers found the grave in which young Mager had buried his father just two days before at nearly the same hour. All day they had driven through the county following the trail Mager pointed out, turning first right and then left, over rough clay country roads. He had directed them almost as far east as Plymouth, through Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, over all the roads in Salem Township, in the vicinity of his father’s farm where the crime had been committed early Sunday morning. At last, after repeated questioning he had led the way into Webster township, but when the road narrowed, and led into a hollow, with woods on either side he said ‘drive on, farther on.’

Find Fresh Track
It was Chief of Police John Connors who was driving as the trail led to the woods on the Ralph Williams land. He passed the first drive which led into the woods, but when he came to the second entrance he saw fresh car tracks and stopped. Following the path about four rods into the woods, the officers saw where a track led from the roadway and following it they found the grave at the foot of an embankment, about two rods from the drive.

Without shovels it was impossible to uncover the body, but William Scadin, Ralph Williams Sr., and Ralph Williams, Jr. farmers in the neighborhood, readily offered help, and returning to the woods the body was soon uncovered. It had been buried, face downward, in the shallow grave, covered with leaves, then clay, and leaves and brush placed over the top.

Strap about neck
The elder Mager was dressed in blue overalls, a rough work coat, and rubber boots. About his neck was a mail strap, such as his son had used in carrying mail.
It was chief Connors who spoke after the gruesome e task of uncovering the body had been finished.

“Aren’t you sorry? There is your father, the man who played with you when you were a boy, and you killed him. Aren’t you sorry?”

“Yes, in a way. In a way, I’m not.” And that was all the answer his son would give.
Back in the sheriff’s office in Ann Arbor the man admitted to Undersheriff Dick Elliott, Deputy Osborn and the Chief that he had planned to kill his father for some time. He had purchased the shovel with which to dig the grave at a store near Whitmore Lake some days before. The shovel has not been found.

Afraid of Mob
It was only after the officers had threatened to take Mager back to his father’s farm, where a crowd of neighbors had gathered yesterday morning when news of the arrest reached them, that Mager was at all willing to direct the men to the place where he had left the body. Plainly unbalanced, the officers now believe that a great share of the time he merely feigned lack of memory.

Failing to find the body near the Waack or Gray farms, north of here, where Mager was arrested, the three officers took the prisoner first to the farm in Salem township where he remained unmoved by the sight of blood on the barn floor and in the clump of bushes where had first taken the body, returning later and taking it away again. All day the party drove over the county roads. Once Mager attempted to escape and it was then he was handcuffed to Deputy Osborn, while Connors and Elliott took turns driving the car. At last, near nightfall, he told them to drive into Webster township, and the grave was found.

Shot from Behind
Examination of the body by Coroner Burchfield today revealed that the elder Mager had been shot twice, from behind, one shot entering his head and coming out through the left ear, the other entering the head and lodging in his body. The strap about his neck had been put on after he was shot and did not cause his death.
Officers believe that absence of blood stains in the car which Mager drove is explained by the young man’s care in wiping them off. His trunk had the appearance of having been washed.

If present plans are carried out by the officers, mager will be arraigned here, remanded to jail, probably without bail, and held pending examination by a sanity commission. It is expected he will be placed in the Ionia hospital for criminally insane.

Nov. 18, 1925
Prosecutor has witnesses ready for appearance this afternoon
Trial of Harold Mager, accused of killing his father William Mager, is to start in circuit court this afternoon. Mager is to be brought before Circuit Judge George Sample at 2 o’clock.

The report of the committee of physicians named by Judge Sample to examine his sanity, will not be heard until after the trial. It is necessary to prove him guilty of the crime, before he can be committed to a hospital for criminally insane, as is now the plan of the prosecution.

Assistant prosecutor Floyd Daggett is to handle the case in court against Mager.
Nov. 19 dyp
Mager Sent to Ionia Hospital After Hearing
Judge Sample Sentences Youth who killed own father

“I’d just as soon go to Pontiac. That was Harold Mager’s only response when sentenced to Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane by Circuit Judge George Sample Wednesday afternoon for killing his father, William Mager. Standing before the bar, cap in hand, stoic, uncomprehending, his expressionless blue eyes fixed on the judge’s face, he heard sentence pronounced without a trace of emotion. Asked if he had anything to say, he returned to one of his original contentions; that there were “others in the gang” which killed his father. Questioned as to who they were, he said he did not know their names.

Then it was that Judge Sample found him guilty of the crime and mentally incompetent, according to testimony of witnesses who were heard during the afternoon, and accordingly sentenced him to the state institution. If at any time he should sufficiently recover to be released from the hospital, within 60 days he will be returned to Washtenaw city to answer the charge to which he is now judged incompetent to plead, either guilty or not guilty.

Physicians Testify
Testimony of Mr. Theophil Klingman and Dr. Howard H. Cummings was first introduced in the hearing yesterday. The 2 physicians had been appointed as a sanity commission to examine Harold Mager by Judge Sample last Thursday. They found him suffering from a mental disorder, testifying he was devoid of emotion, suffered illusions of prosecution, was incoherent, had no realization of the seriousness of his situation and no regret for what he had done. Dr. Klingman testified that he was in nearly the same mental condition a year ago when he first examined him. At that time he was a patient at St. Joseph’s sanitarium.

Testimony of other witnesses in the case followed. Clifton Adams, hired man on the William Mager farm, told of events on the day William Mager was slain. He had directed Harold Mager to the sheep barn, where his father was at work, heard the shots, saw Harold drive his car to the back of the barn and then drive away. When he went to investigate, he found only the pool of blood. Mr. Mager was gone.

Brother Testified
Henry Mager, the dead man’s brother, testified to quarrels Harold had had with his father only the day before.
Dick Elliott and John Connors then told of the search for Harold, which ended when he was arrested by Ypsilanti police officers and the long ride over country roads before Harold finally directed them to the grave where he had buried his father. There, and later in the sheriff office, he had confessed that he alone had committed the crime.
After hearing all evidence Judge Sample pronounced sentence. Deliberations by the jury were waived by Lewis Burk who had been engaged to represent mager’s two sisters, who are to be appointed his guardians.

Sheriff’s officers are today taking 3 prisoners to Ionia. Harold Mager goes to the hospital for criminally insane. Claude Way has been given a sentence of 2 and ½ to 10 years for stealing a car in Ann Arbor and Carl Wright 1 to 10 years for burglary.