Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Caviar: Imported from Detroit

...ok, so that's a ripoff from the commercial...but it was also a huge industry in late-19th-century Michigan!

Grateful thanks to the Chronicle for publishing it. I have a new favorite fish, one who lives just 25 minutes from my home!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sarah Jane Norton Diaries: Preparing to Leave Sharon Springs, NY

In the spring of 1864, 24-year-old Sarah Jane Norton, her 28-year-old husband Austin, and the couple's infant son Charlie emigrated from Sharon Springs, New York, to Ypsilanti. Sarah kept a diary over the next 43 years until her death in November of 1906. Her 1864 diary will be serialized here during 2012. To see all entries to date, see the "Sarah Jane Norton" tag at bottom.

At left she is pictured in 1888 at age 49. Introduction to the Norton family.

2/26/1864: Rained Aut went hunting and shot a rabbit Josh an Flora were here to tea Charlie was quite sick again this afternoon

2/27/1864: Snowed it looks as though we were a going to have sleighing

2/28/1864: Raind to day we were to Floras this afternoon took tea there Charlie acts like himself again to day. Aut spent the evening to home

2/29/1864: Washed. Mother Norton Elma and Mrs Spong were here to look at our things We think we will go west a week from Tuesday or Wednesday

3/1/1864: Hung up my clothes this morning then I went to Jack Smiths a little before noon. Mrs Lingered and Mrs Best were Charly was very cross he has a cold and cutting teeth

3/2/1864: Went to George Fondas Eve was home and Bettesy Like was there Charlie worried some

3/3/1864: Aut read till after two last Charlie woke up early. I got up at five and finished ironing I went to Mrs Wilds this forenoon and John Harppers this afternoon drawed Charlie in his wagon

These diaries were written by Sarah Jane Norton and are the property of the Norton Family. They may be used and reproduced for genealogical and historical purposes only. No commercial use is allowed without the express, written permission of Dennis Norton and no charge may be made for, nor income derived from their use.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adulterers Jailed; Patient Abuse; Infusorial Earth: Tidbits from the February 25, 1887 Ypsilanti Commercial

"Monthly meeting of Washtenaw Pomological society on the 5th of March, at 2 o'clock p.m. in the basement of the Court House at Ann Arbor. Report of committees on fruit factory, on infusorial* earth, on best and cheapest fruit packages, on statistics. Prof. J. B. Steere will lead in the discussion on noxious insects and insecticides."

"The Knights of Honor* up to this time have paid Mrs. James E. Lawrence $2,000, Mr. Lawrence being a member of the order when he died."

"John Girdler and Carrie Gill of Grand Rapids have been convicted of adultery. Girdler pleads hard to be allowed to suffer the full penalty alone, but the judge thought both should be punished, and sentenced Girdler to the state prison for one year, and Carrie Gill to the Detroit house of corrections for the same time."

"TORTURING PATIENTS. Extreme Cruelty Charged at the Soldiers' Home at Grand Rapids, Mich. LANSING, Mich.,--Some of the testimony given at the examination of the inmates of the Soldiers' home in Grand Rapids has been made public. The most damaging stories were related by Private Keyes and Baker. They swore that the principal nurse of the hospital--Sergt. Downs--so maltreated one of the inmates named Moore that he died the next morning. When the dying man objected to taking medicine, Downs said: "Take it, you d----- d----- ----- ----- -----, or I will throw you out of the window." The testimony shows that Downs jumped on Moore with his knees and forced obedience to his demands. Other specified instances of extreme cruelty are sworn to. One veteran swears that cayenne pepper was put in liniment in order to cause excruciating pain. Sick men were given icy baths. The testimony abounds in incidents in which the officials used profane and obscene language. Several of the subordinate officers admit to the profanity and try to justify it. The legislative committee says that these circumstances were unknown to the management."

--Ypsilanti Commercial, February 25 1887

*one of the innumerable fraternal orders of the era.

*diatomaceous, possibly used (as it still is) to deter insects by sprinkling on the ground around plants.

Friday, February 24, 2012

First Black Student at the Normal

Be sure to pick up a copy of this week's Courier to check out my story of the first black student at the Normal, class of '88! On a deadline so I'll post more later today if I finish my assignment. :) Thanks as always for reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Past and Present: Pearl and Adams

The onetime office of a Dr. Shaw. The odd little building also housed Catholic Social Services at some point in its history and was demolished when the bus terminal was built in 1991.

Another view of the curious little office:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blizzard Causes Havoc for U-M Beaus and their Ypsi Belles

On the night of February 21, a blizzard struck Ypsilanti, as part of the ongoing January-February cold wave. "Business in Ypsilanti is at a standstill," says this February 22, 1912 Ypsilanti Daily Press article. "For once, at least, a holiday is welcomed by local merchants because conditions are such that no trade is lost by reason of the stores being closed and there is plenty of work in snow drifts in front of nearly every man's house today to afford him ample exercise and [pastime]."

The storm's effects were also chronicled in the 1912 Aurora yearbook's joke section. On the night of the blizzard, the Senior Dance had been held, with plenty of visiting would-be suitors from Ann Arbor. The poor things were caught in the midst of it.

The Aurora editors wrote up the U-M students' consternation in the form of a mock resolution that may be paraphrased thus:

"Because the weather is unpredictable, with deep snow difficult to slog through, and because the interurban doesn't run a late-night car, leaving the only other option a ride from Ypsi to Ann Arbor on the 2 a.m. Michigan Central train, we U-M students will skip the traditional finale of our dance parties so that we can return our ladies to their homes earlier and arrive back in Ann Arbor in a timely fashion."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Look at the Campus, 1888

This September 1888 cover of the Normal News (predecessor to the Eastern Echo) gives a peek at the campus of yore. Clockwise, the buildings pictured are the following: music conservatory (now gone; Boone Hall stands in its place), the teacher practicum school (also known as the Old Main building, which with the Conservatory was one of the first buildings on campus), and the Old Main building again with its new 1888 additions. From this view, the Old Main building is concealed by the new three-story structure and tower in front of it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Last Group of Workers at Ypsi Underwear Factory

From the Ypsilanti Daily Press of February 14, 1912: this want ad for women workers at the Oak Knitting Mill, which was the last iteration of the Ypsilanti underwear factory. In a few years it closed and the building was taken over by Ray Battery for a time. In its heyday the underwear factory was by far the largest employer of women in town--though in those days, the term "factory girl" had a pejorative meaning.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sarah Jane Norton Diaries: Sharon Springs, NY

In the spring of 1864, 24-year-old Sarah Jane Norton, her 28-year-old husband Austin, and the couple's infant son Charlie emigrated from Sharon Springs, New York, to Ypsilanti. Sarah kept a diary over the next 43 years until her death in November of 1906. Her 1864 diary will be serialized here during 2012. To see all entries to date, see the "Sarah Jane Norton" tag at bottom.

At left she is pictured in 1888 at age 49. Introduction to the Norton family.

2/19/1864: We started at ten this morning for Charleston and arrived there a two* at was very cold but we did not suffer we found them well Lib, Albert and the others went to a society in the evening we stayed uncle Charles all night

[*four hours to travel 15 miles as the crow flies; less than 4 miles an hour]

2/20/1864: Albert, Nelson Austin Mary Lib and I went Uncle Billy Chamber's in forenoon we took dinner there in the afternoon Aut went to Mill Point to see Kate and the rest of us went uncle Rob's Ira is very low. we went Uncle Charles in the evening the young folks went to the hollow Phebe and her husband made down

2/21/1864: Went to Pheobes in the morning. Uncle Charles and Rhod were there to eve stayed to dinner and started for home 1/2 past one it thawed and the roads were not very good bad time for takeing cold we got home all safe a little after four

[it only took around three hours to make the trip home to Sharon Springs, leaving right after "dinner" (lunch); did the party stop for a picnic lunch on the way out?]

2/22/1864: My throt is soror on botle sickes [?]. Mary Moak visited here this after noon Aut and Josh are agoing to set up with George to night

2/23/1864: Charly came very near having the Croup last nigh. I went to Georges after but I did not like to be alone with him Earnest Bowen Bowen and John Whites boys were here to day

2/24/1864: [no entry]

2/25/1864: Mss Georege Fonda was here a little while this afternoon I sold her my gdas [?] dishes Flora called this evening Charly was quite sick this forenoon

These diaries were written by Sarah Jane Norton and are the property of the Norton Family. They may be used and reproduced for genealogical and historical purposes only. No commercial use is allowed without the express, written permission of Dennis Norton and no charge may be made for, nor income derived from their use.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Poop Vaults; Donkey Social; Lettuce Sample: Tidbits from the February 18, 1887 Ypsilanti Commercial

"There is a rumor abroad that Mr. F. J. Swaine* has refused to purchase barley from farmers in this locality on account of the submission of the prohibition amendment.** Mr. Swaine says there is no truth in the statement."

"MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION.--Messrs." Why don't you clean out that sink of corruption, the privy vaults at the Seminary? Why don't you replace them by boxes, easily removed and cleaned at least monthly? We call the attention to the Board of Health to this matter."

"Wednesday evening of this week a donkey social was given at the residence of D. L. Quirk, under the auspices of the Ladies' Aid Society of St. Luke's, which about 225 of our people attended. A number were present from Detroit and Ann Arbor. A very pleasant social and dancer were enjoyed. A prize was given the one putting the donkey's tail nearest the right place, a vase, which was won by Mrs. Dr. Watling; also one to the person getting it farthest away. The second prize, a miniature donkey, was won by Miss Maggie VanCleve, who received it with her customary grace of witty repartee. Miss VanCleve honored Chas. R. Whitman by pinning her prize on his coat. The "donkey" to this day remaineth at the house of one D. L. Quirk of Ypsilanti, and awaiteth the coming of the true owner thereof, when it shall be given unto her."

"Mr. Cassler has winter lettuce, over the river, a number of beds, growing out doors in hot beds, very nice and tender. He left a specimen with us."

--February 18, 1887 Ypsilanti Commercial

* Frederick Swaine of Forest Street was a maltster. Per Janice Anschuetz, who currently occupies the Swaine home, "On stationary and business cards, Frederick Swaine presented himself as “Maltster and Dealer in Barley, Malt and Hops.”

**an amendment to MI's constitution adopted Nov. 1, 1916; MI ratified the federal 18th Amendment on January 2, 1919.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Isn't It Strange?" EMU Student Life Cartoon, 1912

This cartoon in the 1912 "Aurora" yearbook shows the following scenes (clockwise from top left):

1. a green new arrival and a cool, confident college man
2. offbeat male hairstyles
3. football (looks like a rugby ball, doesn't it? But the school had no rugby team and in fact in the football team photo, you can see the ball is distinctly rounded, as in cartoon).
4. big senior boots for juniors to fill
5. an effete U-M dandy complete with cane, pipe, beanie, and bulldog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Past and Present Threefer: Unity Building, Washington and Pearl, Built 1917

The Unity Building at 30-36 N. Washington occupied the onetime spot of Ypsi's storied "Ark" building. In the first photo, taken around 1915 shortly after the Ark's destruction, in the right background one may see the painted staircase of "Gaudy's Bitter-Sweet Chocolate Shop," formerly the Washtenaw Home Telephone Co.

The second photo taken around 1920 or so shows the new Unity Building, and also shows Gaudy's. A marquee on the Unity Building advertises "H. Hutchins & Co.," a notions shop. On the northernmost window of the side facing Washington St. may be seen the Miller photography studio.

In 1924, a year after the Hotel Huron (Centennial Center) just across Pearl Street was built, the Unity Building housed these tenants in addition to the notions shop and photo studio: osteopath John Garrett, chiropractor Arthur Bourget, insurance agents John Crampton and Edward Crawford, Ye Corset Shop, dentists Don Moe and Hugh Morrison, Edna Hickman's children's wear store, doctors Harold Barss and Walter Wright, the Illinois Life Insurance Co., the Christian Science Reading Room, Tweedie & Gibson barbers, and the Goodrich Hair Shop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2/15/1912: Peckville-Area Worden Greenhouse in Danger!

Here's one side effect of the severe cold wave Ypsi was experiencing in January and February of 1912. This item is from the February 15, 1912 Ypsilanti Daily Press.

John Worden was a florist. His greenhouse was on the east side of River Street opposite Highland Cemetery, and his home was at 733 River on the west side of the street. The site where John's home stood is now the small empty field on River across which one can see the Corner Brewery.

John had landholdings opposite the cemetery, as seen below. His Peckville-area land adjoined properties held by machinist Robert Ziegler (possibly misspelled on plat map), dairyman Dwight Peck, cider manufacturer Harvey James, William Leslie, and Nelson Freeman. The little sliver cut from its southwestern edge is labeled "Pattee's Addition."

Thank goodness John could fetch water from the nearby river for his greenhouse boiler, that chilly day!

The onetime Worden land as seen today:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Shortage of Valentines for Him

From the joke section (excerpted above) of the 1912 Aurora comes this zinger about one senior:

No. 1: Horrors! It's happened twice in six week[s].
No. 2: What, a railroad wreck?
No. 1: No, Bob Ward walked the whole length of Cross Street alone.
No. 2: What did you do?
No. 1: Called the police station and they said the lady in question was out of town by permission.

Hmm, so who was this Bob Ward?

Senior class president, it turns out. He was also a member of Alpha Tau Delta, chairman of the Y.M.C.A., a member of the Lincoln Debating Club, and represented the Normal for two years at oratorical contests.

Quite the accomplished young man. But you do wonder if part of his popularity with the ladies had anything to do with his appearance as well.

Let's see...

Hmmmm, apparently so!

Quite the handsome young man, isn't he?

Likely all that debating and oratorical practice came in mighty handy...

...when it came time for Bob Ward to persuade a young lady to take an evening stroll up Cross Street.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Southern Dialect Song" by Female Ypsi Songwriter Jessie Pease (with sheet music)

Ypsilanti can take credit for diarists, poets, newspaper editors, and book authors. Here is one of the Queen City's songwriters, the daughter of Normal School music professor Frederick Pease, who also composed music. Several of Jessie's works are listed on Amazon. This news item appeared in the February 13, 1912 Ypsilanti Daily Press:


Mrs. Jessie L. Pease, formerly of this city, has been made a member of the Musician's club in New York City, where she is passing the winter. Mrs. Pease's latest song, "Her lips were so near" (published by the Oliver Ditson Co.) and "Ain yo comin' roun' no mo'" (published by the William Maxwell Co., New York) are especially admired by her publishers considering that the latter in particular is destined to be a marked success, while "The Irish Girl's Lament," recently sung before a club of southern women in New York, is spoken of with enthusiasm by singers.

Jessie Pease's 1906 song "Ain' yo' comin' roun' no mo'" was advertised as a "Southern Dialect Song." Below is the sheet music and lyrics. The publisher, the William Maxwell Co., was at 8 East 16th St., New York.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sarah Jane Norton Diaries: Sharon Springs, NY

In the spring of 1864, 24-year-old Sarah Jane Norton, her 28-year-old husband Austin, and the couple's infant son Charlie emigrated from Sharon Springs, New York, to Ypsilanti. Sarah kept a diary over the next 43 years until her death in November of 1906. Her 1864 diary will be serialized here during 2012. To see all entries to date, see the "Sarah Jane Norton" tag at bottom.

At left she is pictured in 1888 at age 49. Introduction to the Norton family.

2/12/1864: Mary Jane sent word that they were coming a visiting in the afternoon I had to work to get ready Em Henson called between 10 and one Mary Jane were here in the afternoon. Johan Whites wife and Mrs Schuyler and Irena Smith called

2/13/1864: Flora and I went up to Em's this foornon (forenoon). I we stayed untill five o'clock Aut work for Jake Antony in the woods

2/14/1864: Albert came home this fornoon. Delos Jones was with him. the both stayed all night

2/15/1864: Washed. Albert here today

2/16/1864: Town meeting. Harlow's wife was here visiting. They were both here to tea

2/17/1864: Albert and I were agoing to uncle Bens to day but it stoomed and was to cold to take the baby

2/28/1864: Albert hired Mr Schuylers team for three days. for six dollars to go to Charleston [New York] Aut and I and Lib Smith are going

Note: Charleston, NY is about 15 miles from Sharon Springs as the crow flies.

These diaries were written by Sarah Jane Norton and are the property of the Norton Family. They may be used and reproduced for genealogical and historical purposes only. No commercial use is allowed without the express, written permission of Dennis Norton and no charge may be made for, nor income derived from their use.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Corpse in a Horse; Streetcar Skirts; Gone Where the Woodbine Twineth: Tidbits from the February 11, 1887 Ypsilanti Commercial

"The Milan Journal has gone where the woodbine twineth.* Mr. Smith, of the Leader, has bought it. It is as much as one paper can do to live there, saying nothing about two."

"When a woman gets on a street-car and spreads out her skirts so that she occupies two seats, you can make up your mind that her husband sits on the edge of his chair and says 'Yes m'm,' 'No, m'm," to her. --New Haven News"

"CONCEALED IN A CARCASS: The Body of a Man Found in the Carcass of a Dead Horse. LOUISVILLE, Ky.,--A most horrible discovery was made in Green county, this state, last Saturday. The dead body of John Keeth was found wrapped in a blanket and concealed inside the carcass of a dead horse. It is supposed that he was murdered and his body concealed there by the murderer. Keeth was a brother-in-law of William Despain. He had been missing for several days, but no search had been made for him, his friends supposing that he was away on a visit, until a dog belonging to William Despain came into the house on Saturday morning, carrying something in his mouth which, when examined, was found to be the hand of a man. Mr. Despain tracked the dog to the carcass of an old horse, and was horrified to find the body of his brother-in-law therein, half eaten up by dogs. It was a horrible sight. The mystery connected with the affair will probably never be solved. Keeth was a married man and the father of six children."

"The Seniors, Juniors, and teachers of the High School were invited to a candy pull, Thursday evening, at the residence of Mr. H. F. Miller. It was given by Misses Dora Ambrose and Blanche Mott. They all had a very enjoyable time."

"The privy vaults must go. Citizens of Ypsilanti, shall these putrid pits of disease and death remain? Why not before spring comes have them substituted by dry privies, boxes? Why not have a city scavenger employed to see that all excretions from these, and all the offal in barn yards be removed monthly?"

"The Commercial tenders its thanks to D. W. Shipman for a bunch of celery which is certainly of a high order allowing us to be judge."

--Ypsilanti Commercial, February 11, 1887

*From the Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms by Robert Hendrickson:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wheat Map of 1878

Here's a little gem I came across in an 1880 edition of the Ypsilanti Commercial. It's a "Wheat Map of the State of Michigan for 1878." Almost every county has stats for acres under cultivation, bushels of wheat produced, and average number of bushels per acre.

The only states producing more than a million bushels are several in the second, third and forth tiers of counties north of the Ohio border. They are Calhoun, Jackson, and Washtenaw; Livingston and Oakland; and Ionia, Clinton, and Genessee counties. Washtenaw is also one of the counties with yields of over 20 bushels an acre.

Now, who is (what looks like) that lonely and despondent wheat farmer up in Roscommon County? He's got 6 little acres up there that yielded 48 bushels, for a meagre 8 bushels per acre. One hopes that poor man found better fortune.

There is no wheat at all reported in several upper lower peninsular counties: Oscoda, Crawford, Benzie, Leelenaw, and Montmorency. Also, Arenac county has not yet been carved from Bay County, and Kalkaska is spelled Kalcasca, the latter of which sounds like one of the innumerable miraculous patent medicines of the day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunday Feb. 12, 2 p.m. at the Archives: "Name That Photo!"

PSA: save a spot in your Sunday afternoon for this program by Archives pal Debi! Text of announcement follows:

Please join us for a fun and interactive presentation
Sunday, February 12th 2012 - 2:00pm
at the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives
220 N. Huron Street

Name that Photo!
Exploring Ypsilanti History with
Photographs from the Archives

Presented by
Debi Hoos-Lemke

Following the program, refreshments will be served and museum tours will be available.

Debi Hoos-Lemke, a recent graduate of Wayne State University, has been working at the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives for the past year on the Digital Photo Archives Project. This is a collaborative project with the University of Michigan Library Production Service. The Photo Archives Project is a diverse collection covering all aspects of Ypsilanti history. The earliest photographs in the collection are from the 1850’s. Subjects range from people, automobiles, trains, planes, events, buildings, school and colleges, organizations, cemeteries and much more.

Past & Present, Washtenaw Home Telephone Co., Washington Street c. 1912

The Washtenaw Home Telephone Co. occupies the second floor of 24 N. Washington. On the ground floor is the plumbing firm of Pickles & Bassett. Next door at 22 Washington on the ground floor is Jay Moore's furniture store. Moore was also a funeral director and embalmer. (Possible motto: "From Crib to Coffin.") At 20 Washington is Frank Stowell's coal office. Upstairs are the offices of lawyer Frank Joslyn and dressmaker Helen Francisco. 18 N. Washington houses Harry Gilmore's wallpaper shop, and 16 N. Washington is Dewey Waterman's plumbing shop. The tall building in the middle right background is the onetime second-floor Hewitt Hall.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Racially Restrictive Covenants in Ypsilanti

Many neighborhoods, especially those with HOAs, have deeds with restrictive covenants that govern the use of the property. Such covenants may, e.g., specify a certain setback as an easement for public utilities, define what constitutes a forbidden nuisance to neighbors, or describe the types of structures that may (or may not) be built on or added to the property.

In 1926 the Supreme Court allowed the explicit use of racially restrictive covenants in land deeds. Subdivisions all over Southeastern Michigan (and elsewhere) wrote such covenants into their deeds, and Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti were no exception. One such example for Ypsilanti may be seen in the 1941 deed for the subdivision of College Heights, just north of Washtenaw and west of the EMU campus. Below is a map of the original development.

The deed to the property contains a number of restrictive covenants. One stipulates that the value of the house built upon a given piece of property must be from $4,000-$6,000 [$59,000 to $88,000 in today's dollars], with specific minimum values for certain sizes of lots. Another forbids all farm animals. One forbids the removal of any earth, sand, or gravel from any lot. The erection of any house, garage, fence, or wall had to be approved by the Subdivision Committee. Restriction #7 pertains to race:

The College Heights deed is dated 1941. Seven years later the Supreme Court in Shelley vs. Kraemer forbade racially restrictive covenants in land deeds. However, there were other means, both widespread and local, of segregating neighborhoods, such as redlining or denying home loans to black Ypsilanti residents. Both practices are related in oral histories of black residents collected by A. P. Marshall and stored in the Ypsilanti Archives.

Such aspects of Ypsilanti history as this restrictive covenant are painful to acknowledge. However, it is important to preserve and be aware of items like these for an honest portrayal of the past.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Onetime Winter Craze

Thanks to the Courier for publishing my story about a onetime MASSIVE structure in what was to become Riverside Park, made to enjoy a sport that was just catching on in 1886-7. I had never heard of this item before, and it seems to have been a flash in the pan that vanished almost immediately from the scene. Still researching what happened to the structure. So far all I've found is that it was partially damaged in a big flood in the spring of 1887--in fact, the bottom part was partially washed away but prevented from doing so by the trees in the park. I'll definitely publish an update when I find out what happened to the vision of these five young dreamers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Domestic Violence and Attempted Murder in 1910

This story from St. Joseph appeared in the February 5, 1910 Ypsi Daily Press. After filing for divorce and getting a restraining order, Mrs. Riddle watched in fear as her enraged husband came across the fields with a gun, heading straight to the house where she and the children hid. Warning: violent material.

"Seeking the life of his wife, having vowed vengeance because she had instituted suit for divorce and secured an injunction restraining him from molesting her, Albert Riddle, a Royalton township farmer, all but accomplished his intentions when he secured a repeating rifle and attacked the house, which, by the court's order, he had been forbidden to enter.

"Mrs. Riddle and her four children, offsprings of a former husband, when they observed Riddle coming through the fields, barricaded the door and awaited his approach. Riddle opened fire on the house and finally chopped his way through a rear door with an ax. Mrs. Riddle and the children fled through a front door in time to save their lives, though the enraged husband sent several bullets after them.

"When neighbors surrounded and entered the house, Riddle was not found. Blood was scattered about the rooms, and the furniture had been partly destroyed. Thinking he would fool the officers, Riddle cut the house dog's throat and let the blood run out. When the dog's body was found, a search for Riddle was begun. He was finally located under a porch and [secured] at the point of guns. He is now in the county jail, charged with attempted murder."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sarah Jane Norton Diaries: Sharon Springs, NY

In the spring of 1864, 24-year-old Sarah Jane Norton, her 28-year-old husband Austin, and the couple's infant son Charlie emigrated from Sharon Springs, New York, to Ypsilanti. Sarah kept a diary over the next 43 years until her death in November of 1906. Her 1864 diary will be serialized here during 2012. To see all entries to date, see the "Sarah Jane Norton" tag at bottom.

At left she is pictured in 1888 at age 49. Introduction to the Norton family.

2/5/1864: Elma came for us to go to Mr Vooreses. but I thought I would wait untill Almire came here

2/6/1864: Eve Vansaltinberg came here this afternoon. I sold her my carpet-rags Albert came about 4ockock. I very glad to see him. I was so glad I did not know whether to cry or laugh. he has enlisted again for three years I am sorry. he had been home but a little while he gave me 58 dollars and ring that he paid 2 for he did not go to bed till after ten

2/7/1864; We sat up with George last night I set up untill three, then Aut got up and I went to bed Albert went to Uncle Bens, Aut went as far as Henry Smiths with him

2/8/1864: Washed the flanel to day. I had a good many and I thought I would divide it.

2/9/1864: Aut work for Jake Anthony Albert a Delos came between ten and eleven I was washing my white clothes they stayed a little while. then went down to Gardnersville to see [Sile]. I Irond part of my clothes this afternoon. Chalie as very cross I do not believe he is very well

2/10/1864: finished Ironing and baked some Albert an Caroline Noyes came a little before noon. I got dinner at three. Aut was down street allmost all day We were to Mr. Collins donation this evening to Rockville. there were a great many there he got 188 dollars. Albert and his couses [cousins?] were there we had charlie with us he was good. we got home half past 10

2/11/1864: Went to the stoar this morning. Albert did not get up untill nine o'clock then he went of with Seth Merenus and Barny Davis

These diaries were written by Sarah Jane Norton and are the property of the Norton Family. They may be used and reproduced for genealogical and historical purposes only. No commercial use is allowed without the express, written permission of Dennis Norton and no charge may be made for, nor income derived from their use.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Turning the Crank

This pic documents a major turning point in Ypsilanti utility history. FASCINATING. Here we see a bunch of white guys turning a crank. It is the crank to officially turn on the new natural gas system in town in I believe 1948. The old municipal coal gas plant at Forest and Huron was decommissioned and thus ended the three-decade era of municipal gas. Photo legend:

"DOING THE HONORS are Mayor D. T. Quirk (left) and City Manager N. G. Damoose (right), who are turning the valve releasing natural gas to Ypsilanti. Ceremonies were conducted at the gas plant on Clark Road. Michigan Consolidated Gas Co. officials and Ypsilantians watching the proceedings are (left to right) Walter Hochrein, assistant superintendent of the Liquid Petroleum Plant; Creston Myers, city councilman; Charles Henderson, general manager of the district; Will Kendrick, Ann Arbor, and Walter Butler, service department head."

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Bittersweet Ypsilanti Wedding, 2/3/1910

This February 3, 1910 account of a home wedding offers a look at the usual wedding customs of a century ago. Home weddings are the norm according to what I read in papers from this era. In fact I can't recall reading about any wedding that wasn't a home wedding, even for a well-off couple like this one--the bride was the daughter of successful Frog Island lumberyard owner and onetime mayor H. R. Scovill. Note the symbolic use of bittersweet.

"A pretty mid-winter wedding took place Wednesday evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Scovill [120 Washington] when their daughter, Genevieve, was united in marriage to [traveling salesman] Mr. Herbert A. Bisbee. The house was simply but effectively decorated with bittersweet, cut pine, and smilax. The impressive ring service was performed by Rev. William Gardam. As the groom is in mourning the guests were limited to the relatives and immediate friends.

"Preceding the cemetery the solo "O Promise Me" was rendered by Mr. William Ryer, after which the wedding march was played by Miss Mathilda Holmes, to the strains of which the bride entered the back parlor and proceeded through an isle of white satin ribbon, to the tower window, where the groom and best man were waiting. The marriage ceremony took place in front of a bank of palms and ferns with a background of white outlined with bittersweet berries. The bride was given away by her father. After congratulations a second solo "When thou art near" was rendered by Mr. Ryer.

"The bride was prettily attired in a gown of cream crepe de chine, entrain, and carried a shower bouquet of bride's roses and lilies of the valley. She was attended by her sister, Miss Laura Scovill, who was becomingly gowned in pale blue chiffon cloth with gold trimmings, and carried pink bride's roses. The groom was supported by Dr. H. H. Harper. A pretty feature of the ceremony was the carrying of a ring in the heart of a calla lily by Little Miss Catherine Boss of Imlay City, a cousin of the bride.

"After congratulations had been extended, a wedding supper was served in the dining room, which was decorated in pink and green. The color scheme was carried out with roses, carnations, and smilax.

"The large number of beautiful gifts including cut glass and silver, attest to the popularity of both bride and groom. Miss Scovill has lived in Ypsilanti all her life and has a wide circle of friends among the citizens. Mr. Bisbee, who has made his home in this city for the past few years, is well-liked and has made a host of friends who extend to him and his bride their best wishes.

"Mr. and Mrs. Bisbee left on the 9:12 [p.m.] train east for a short trip after which they will be at home, after March 1, at 801 West Congress Street (Michigan Ave.)."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cars: A Menace to Public Safety in 1906

This February 1, 1906 YDP article offers a look at a time of transition, when cars and horses shared the road. Indianapolis was a larger and wealthier city than small Ypsi and likely the density of cars was higher there. DD recalls a 1907 story from Ypsi when the sight of a passing car on Washtenaw caused all of the Normal students out doing athletics (on fields then closer to Washtenaw) to pause and stare at it. Like as not we were slightly later to the game as far as sharing the road--but we eventually experienced the same tenuous sharing of Ypsi roadways.

"The supreme court has sustained the decision in the case of Susan Orner vs. William H. McIntyre, Auburn. She received $2,500 damages for injuries caused in a runaway started by McIntyre and his automobile. He ran the machine to within a few feet of the horses, although they were plunging wildly. Mr. Orner was thrown out and injured.

"The opinion delivered by the judge (Hadley) was the first on the subject in Indiana. In it he said: 'There is nothing dangerous in the use of an automobile when managed by an intelligent and prudent driver. Its guidance, its speed and its noise are all subject to quick and easy regulation, and under the control of a competent and considerate manager it is as harmless on the road as other vehicles in common use. It is the manner of driving an auto on the highway too often indulged in by thoughtless pleasure seekers and for the exploitation of a machine that constitutes a menace to public safety.'

"The court held that the care which the driver of an auto must give to his machine and the road he is traveling does not excuse him from the duty of observing horses that he meets and noticing whether or not they are frightened."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Past and Present: Ypsilanti Gas Co.

The Washington Street office of the onetime Ypsilanti Gas Company, whose plant was on the northeast corner of Huron and Forest. This is the downtown business office, where, if you were a miser like DD too cheap to spring for a stamp, you could go to pay your bill.

The photo is dated 1912. This may be incorrect as the city seized municipal control of the gas plant in 1914, holding it until after WWII. The inscription continues: "House in background: 212 Pearl. Later moved to 921 Sheridan (Ward Roper House). Genevieve C. Cross & Phil Duffy, in front of gas company, 27 N. Washington."

Note that in the reflection of the window you can see the sign for Ypsilanti's storied "ARK" secondhand store/junk shop/nexus of questionable activities.

I guess you could say the northwest corner of Washington and Pearl is still a place with a lot of energy...