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Wystan Wanders the Net

Local historian and past WCHS President, Wystan Stevens, shares some thoughts on local history. ystan's collection of online history and photographs is at Wystan's Photostream on Flickr.

From the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, November 24, 1876

THE Ann Arbor Turn Verein will give a social hop in their hall on Wednesday evening, the 29th.

ALL the stone work of the State capitol at Lansing is laid on the main part of the building. The porticos are not finished yet.

THOSE people who make gardens, make a great mistake in burning the leaves from their trees. They make the best of fertilizers.

A JURY of apprizers [sic] was empaneled to assess the damages to property owners for land taken to widen and straighten High street, which connects Spring to Main street. The following was the amount of their awards, as given yesterday: Hugh McGuire, $130; Daniel Hiscock, $40, Swathel, Ailes & Kyer [millers] $30. [Note: this High street is now called Summit.]

THE property on State street left by Mrs. Mundy to the Episcopal Church is something like the ball in the game of shuttle cock. First one party gives it a knock then the other; first one has possession and then another. It has been dragging its slow length through the courts for four successive times, and now the whole thing is almost as undecided as at first, for we understand that the case is still [to] be continued, although at present the church is ahead.

CARRIAGE-MAKERS are praying for more snow than we had last winter. They desire to diminish their stock of sleighs and cutters now on hand.

BUSINESS at the depot is now conducted on business principles, and everything goes along like clock work. Agent Sharpless is the right man in the right place.

A VOTE will be taken on Tuesday, December 5th to decide if the city pays $20,000 towards a new court house that is to cost $60,000, the balance to be assessed upon the whole county.

ONE of the complaints made by an applicant for divorce in the circuit court last week was that "her husband kicked her out of bed." Poor dear, she ought to have applied some of the balm of Gilead to the bruised parts.

THROUGH the enterprise of some of the members of the Boating Association, the project of having a gymnasium under their auspices is beginning to assume a desirable shape. A meeting of the association has been called for Saturday night, to take into consideration the plan of a building, which has kindly been furnished by W. L. B. Jenney, professor of architecture. The dimensions of the building will be 40x60; 30 feet high in the centre. There will be two entrances. The building will be fitted up with all rooms necessary for comfort and convenience. The exterior will be plain, but attractive. Aside from taking into consideration the plan of a building, other necessary arrangements will be made to place the project on a permanent footing.

To-NIGHT the concert, of which we have spoken heretofore, will be given for the benefit of Miss Paulina Widenmann. She will be supported by the best musical talent in the city. Those of our readers who have heard these amateurs upon a previous occasion know that an entertainment will be given well worthy of their patronage.


I would announce to the people of this city, that I have organized a school on the "Kindergarten" plan, and am prepared to educate children between the ages of three and seven years, in the principles set forth in the same, and will gladly receive the patronage of those having little ones of said ages. For terms inquire at 31 William Street, corner of Division street, Ann Arbor, Mich.

[At the Opera House, Monday evening Nov. 27 -- Duprez & Benedict's Gigantic Famous Minstrels, Burlesque Opera Troupe and Brass Band, 25th annual tour. Vocalists, Comedians, Solo Muscians, Ethopian Delineators, Artistic Dancers and Female Personators, Introducing Concerts of Merit and Brilliancy. SEATS now on sale at Douglas & Co's Book Store.]


Would inform her friends and customers that she has removed her store to the rooms formerly occupied by Mrs. Chapman Smith, two doors above Fantle's,
No. 45 South Main Street,
Up stairs. Have just returned from New York with an elegant stock of

Her stock is bought at cash prices and the largest and cheapest in the city. Having connected herself with one of the largest Millinery Houses on Broadway, where she receives weekly all the latest styles of goods and all the new styles of trimming, she is prepared to please the most fastidious, and will be found at her parlors always ready and willing to show goods. I hope my friends and customers will call before purchasing elsewhere, for I am confident that I can please you all.
Done in connection with the store. Satisfaction guaranteed, and all the new styles in French patterns kept constantly on hand.

Audible Speech Conveyed Two Miles by Telegraph.

The Boston Advertiser prints an interesting account of an experiment in carying on a conversation by word of mouth over a telegraph wire, made on the evening of the 9th inst., by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson. Telephones were placed at either end of a telegraph line owned by the Walworth Manufacturing Company, extending from their office in Boston to their factory in Cambridgeport, a distance of about two miles. The company's battery, consisting of nine Daniels cells, was removed from the circuit, and another of ten carbon elements substituted. Articulate conversation then took place through the wire. The sounds, at first faint and indistinct, became suddenly quite loud and intelligible. Mr. Bell in Boston and Mr. Watson in Cambridgeport took notes of what was said and heard, and the comparison of the two records shows that the transmission was almost perfectly accurate. Conversation was carried on for about half and hour, generally in an ordinary tone of voice, but often in a whisper. The credit of this important discovery is due to Mr. Bell.

Contributed by Wystan Stevens wystans@yahoo.com, 13 May 2010.

From the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, March 16, 1877

To-morrow is St. Patrick's day. No celebration will take place here.

Prof. [Moses Coit] Tyler will give readings from Tennyson's new drama of Harold, at his residence, on Tuesday evening next, at eight o'clock, for the benefit of the Ladies' Library. Admission, ten cents. It is hoped there will be a large attendance. [Note: the following week's Courier reported that Tyler's lecture had been postponed, due to bad weather.]

[Lengthy report of a meeting of the Washtenaw County Agricultural Society, and of the Eastern Michigan Agricultural and Mechanical Association, at the court house. Both societies agreed to stop holding competing fairs every year. Instead, henceforth the fair will alternate between WCAS [Ann Arbor] and EMAMA [Ypsilanti].]

[Lengthy obit for Pether H. Abel, 33, partner of Philip Bach in the dry goods firm of Bach and Abel. Abel had been hired by Bach as a clerk in 1865, and proved so worthy that two years later, in 1867, Bach welcomed him into partnership. -- Thus any photos of the store with the business sign "Bach and Abel" date from the ten-year period 1867-1877.]


We are now called upon to record the death of Mr. Don J. Mozart, who died on Thursday, March 15th, 1877, of congestion of the brain; aged fifty-eight years, four months and twenty-two days. Mr. Mozart has his name recorded among the greatest inventive geniuses of the age, having invented three watches, each of which surpassed its predecessor in utility. The deceased was cut short in his brilliant career by that terrible disease insanity, which has become so prevalent of late. In 1874 he had just completed his third and last watch, which was pronounced by experts to be perfect in every respect, when, being unable to negotiate the same just at that time, the mental strain and incessant labor that he had given to this project so overtaxed his system that reason was dethroned, never to be regained. From this time on he continued to grow worse, notwithstanding the best of treatment by skillful men, until death closed in the heartrending scene. Mr. Mozart had a very eventful and checkered career. His father, who was supposed to have been an Italian who fled that country for political reasons, died when he was quite young. At the age of nine he was enticed on board a vessel lying at Boston harbor (his place of residence,) by promises of some bright shells, and for seven long years he voyaged around the world and did not see home, and when he did, no trace of his family could be found, and all efforts to do so since have proved futile. He was married in Zenia, Ohio, in 1854, to Miss A. M. Huntington, with whom he lived most happily while sane. He came to this place in 1867, since which time it has been his residence. He will be buried with Masonic honors from the Episcopal Church on Sunday afternoon next, at three o'clock.

[Note: The editor of the Courier when the above was written was Rice A. Beal, who must have been well acquainted with Mozart, since the inventor's office/workshop, when he was sane and building watches, was located in Beal's building, the former Dr. Chase's Steam Printing House, at the NW corner of Main and Miller. The graves of both Beal and Mozart are in Forest Hill Cemetery, not far apart. I pause at both when leading history tours there. (Dr. Chase is buried there, too.) Prof. O. W. Stephenson, in his history of Ann Arbor the First Hundred Years (1927), said that Mozart died at the Washtenaw County Poorhouse and Insane Asylum. (There is a picture of that building in the 1874 Atlas of Washtenaw County. It stood where the county recreation building is now.) About forty years ago, I was told by a member of the Washtenaw County Historical Society that the Society owned one of the rare Mozart watches, and kept it in a saftey deposit box at a bank in downtown Ann Arbor. I hope that that is true. I would like to see it sometime, and get a photograph of it.]

Jon Hanson, the acknowledged expert on Don Mozart and his watches, has an illustration of one of them on his horological website. Hanson's commentary also is of interest: http://www.americanhorologe.com/Mozart/Mozart.aspx

Prof. Stephenson's somewhat jumbled account of Mozart's career:

Contributed by Wystan Stevens, wystans@yahoo.com, 08 May 2010.

From the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, July 27, 1877

BALL at the Clifton House, Whitmore Lake, August 17th.

AN eating stand is to be started in the store vacated by Wm. A. Lovejoy.

NEXT fall Prof. Moses Coit Tyler will issue his first volume on American Literature.

DR. J. N. CADREAUX was billed for a lecture on temperance, at the opera house, last night.

THE Ypsilanti Commercial and Sentinel are having another of their "bouts." They seem to enjoy it.

"G[ ]M" is the cabalistic scrawl by which the tramp now designates the house where can be had a "Good Square Meal."

GOTTLIEB WEITBRECHT, who sustained such serious injuries in falling from a building in Dexter a short time since, has been on the streets. He will not be able to do anything until next fall.

A SLIGHT difficulty has occurred between John M. Priester, and Charles Woodruff, both of Dexter, Mich., and they repaired to this city, at the office of E. K. frueauff to obtain justice. Mr. Priester sets forth that Woodruff has the very unpleasant habit of throwing sticks, stones, clubs, scoop-shovels and umbrellas, at, in and through his place of business. Probably Priester would not object to the last named articles only for the unceremonious way of presenting them. He evidently wants a presentation speech couched in appropriate language, but, as it is, they will settle their difficulty to-day.

Judge E[dwin F.] Lawrence received a dispatch from Messrs. McCormick & Sweeney, stating that they could not come at present on account of the railroad strike, and would make their appearance as soon as the railroad matters become settled. The season is already very much advanced, and, if care is not exercised, the county will lose the $1,000 clock promised by Luther James.
[Note: McCormack (not McCormick) and Sweeney were the contractors for the Washtenaw County Courthouse, designed by George W. Bunting of Indianapolis, and erected in 1877-78. McCormack and Sweeney also hailed from Indiana, and needed to begin work in Ann Arbor in time to satisfy a deadline set by a local plutocrat wool trader, Luther James, who had offered to donate a big, four-faced clock for the building's tower. (Ultimately, the clock was given, and remained until 1948, when the tower was removed. Luther James died in 1889; his will left a fortune to a nephew, forty-nine-year-old James L. Babcock -- with the interesting proviso that the amount would be doubled if Babcock married within five years. Besieged with offers of matrimony, Babcock met his deadline, too.)]

The plan for remodeling the State normal School at Ypsilanti, presented by Mr. Wm. Hess, of Detroit, has been accepted by the committee, conditioned that some contractor will make the improvements for $30,000, the amount of the appropriation for this purpose. The building will be raised up six feet, an addition made to the same, and the whole covered by one roof.

On Tuesday evening, [National Guard] Captain Revenaugh [an Ann Arbor portrait photographer] received orders from the Adjutant General to report at Jackson, Wednesday, forenoon, accordingly the drum was heard at their armory calling a meeting, when the orders were read to the company. Wednesday morning they started for Jackson on the Day express, fifty strong. It is the intention of the Michigan Central to concentrate their rolling stock there in case of a strike on the railroad, and to have the State militia protect it. Another cause for ordering them up was, that a large number of coal miners had struck for larger wages, and fears are entertained that they may endeavor to repeat the Pittsburgh horror on a small scale.

The State regiments will not go into camp this year. The last Legislature cut down the tax of 15 cents on every man that pays taxes to 10 cents, and remitted the same for one year, which has so reduced the fund used for military purposes that they cannot go into camp. Next year it is expected that a brigade encampment will be held near Lansing. Instead of reducing appropriations for military purposes, all State Governments should largely increase them, so as to make up in a measure the suicidal policy of the United State Government, of reducing our military force so low that we have not enough to put down an Indian insurrection without calling for volunteers.

FOR several evenings back the Davenport Bros., assisted by another person, have been giving a series of daring exploits, on a rope stretched across Main street, from the tops of the buildings. H. A. Davenport performed the remarkable feat of carrying his brother across on his back. He also crossed the rope with his feet encased in two ordinary market baskets; also with a sack over his head. He showed himself to be master of the situation. The beginner's first attempt at rope-walking was faithfully delineated, much to the amusement of the large crowds out to witness the entertainment. The older Davenport probably has no rival in this country, he is rightly called the second Blondin. From this place they have gone to Flint on their way for a tour through the mining regions.

WEDNESDAY, James F. Joy and H. B. Ledyard went to Jackson, and held a meeting with the railroad men. They told them it would be impossible to restore the ten per cent. reduction on wages, as the employees got all the money made by the road, the stockholders not having received a dollar on their investment in five years. The men appeared satisfied, inasmuch as they were promised a raise of wages as soon as the road could afford it, and took a vote deciding to continue work. Some who had not attended the meeting, decided to strike, and therefore gave notice that no train starting out after ten o'clock on the night of the 20th, would be permitted to run through. Accordingly, the mail train was stopped at Jackson yesterday, and the company, learning this fact, stopped the western-bound express at this place. Things are at this status as we go to press.

[A long article on the reform club of Ann Arbor compares the monetary value of each church in town twelve years earlier to the present, much enhanced, value, then continues with comparably bad news about local breweries:]
Mr. Charles Boylan presented some figures to the audience that considerably surprised those who have given the matter no attention. He, by consulting with the representatives of the various churches and owners of breweries, produced the following figures, which are somewhat changed since he gave them out, to correspond with information since derived
. . .
At that time it was a common saying that a brewery could not fail; but this was not so. Then five breweries were in a flourishing condition, and were valued at $65,000; now at $27,000, showing a decrease of $38,000. The following valuation was then placed on the breweries: Western then $20,000, now $9,000; City then $18,000, now $6,000; Central then $16,000, now $6,000; Hooper then $10,000, now $3,000; Bavarian then $1,000, now out of existence; Northern then not in existence, now $3,000. In connection with these breweries immense amounts of money have been spent in running them when they did not pay. For instance, the Beck Bros., of Lodi, had a mortgage on the Central brewery, and purchased the property to save themselves; but finally lost $20,000 and the brewery also. Probably not another business firm in this place lost as much money in as short a time as did the Beck. Bros.
The saloons have been reduced in number from 85 to 35, and billiard tables from 40 to 15. No liquor is now sold in connection with five of these tables, while formerly it was sold in connection with them all.
Those who think that the liquor business is as profitable and as extensive as ten years ago, will have ample subject for meditation before making te assertion. The two breweries now running in this place are not running up to their full capacity.

[Note: in an advertising column on the same page of the Courier, this notice appeared:]
For sale at Ann Arbor, at a bargain, a brick brewery, with a brick dwelling adjoining, situate near the depot. The brewery contains spacious vats, copper boiler, etc. Property cost over $15,000. Will be sold for $6,500 -- only $2,500 cash required. This is an excellent opportunity for any party desiring to engage in the business to obtain a fine brewery at half its value. For particulars apply to JOHN N. GOTT, Esq., Ann Arbor.
[This would have been the Hooper Brewery, which stood on the site not occupied by the Gandy Dancer. Apparently it didn't sell; it was torn down in the mid-1880s for construction of the new Michigan Central Depot.]

A Brutal Assault in the Harvest Field.

Cornelius Tuomy, a quiet, peaceable citizen and wealthy farmer, of the township of Ann Arbor, was brutally assaulted in his harvest field, on Tuesday of last week. Some three weeks since he hired a young man -- one of the numerous tribe of tramps -- to help him through his haying and harvesting. On Tuesday morning, Mr. Tuomy and his hands went into the harvest field, Mr. Tuomy doing the reaping. When in a remote location from the other hands, this man asked Mr. Tuomy if his binding pleased him, and he replied that it did not, and undertook to tell him how he would like to have it done. At this the young man took umbrage, and said he would quit work immediately. Mr. Tuomy told him to keep on during the day and he would settle with him at night, and he could then leave. At this he used some very low and provoking language, when Mr. Tuomy left his seat on the reaper, and passed quietly back of the table where the man was standing, when he was attacked by the fellow and thrown on to the table, one foot becoming caught in some part of the machinery, and being unable to extract it, the fellow pounced upon him and pounded his face to a jelly. Mr. Tuomy called for help, but no one being within forty or fifty rods, he was completely at the mercy of the ruffian, but before help arrived Mr. Tuomy had become free and kicked the fellow off, but was perfectly blind. Before any one reached the spot the scamp had fled. A warrant was issued by justice McMahon, and the fellow promptly arrested by Sheriff Case and lodged in jail. Mr. Tuomy's face is badly swollen, and he is almost blind. The young man claims to be a Canadian. So general and severe was the beating that, to use the language of one f the hands, "he looked as though he had been dipped in a pool of blood." {The above was in type for last week, but was not inserted, thinking our inforation too one-sided; but as the above charges were substantiated, and the young man sent up to the house of correction, we insert it.}

Contributed by Wystan Stevens, wystans@yahoo.com, 13 May 2010.

From the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, August 17, 1877

LOOK out for thieves and confidence men.

TOMATOES are suffering badly from the ravages of worms.

THE cistern at the intersection of Cemetery and Church streets is completed.

MORE gravel has been placed on west Catherine street to round up its center.

THE housewife rejoices over a replenished cistern and a fresh supply of well water. [Editor Rice Beal's oblique way of noting a rainfall that quenched a summer drought.]

THE house of Mr. Frederick Schmid, Jr., on Fourth Street has been completed.
[Note: the house was on Fifth Street (the Fifth Street east of Main Street -- now called Fifth Avenue. It was extensvely remodeled, with a big addition, in the 1920s. Miss Emma Schmid lived there until her death a few years ago.]

ON Saturday last, the contractors commenced hauling the brick for the new court house.

ANOTHER grocery store is about to be opened on the corner of Huron and Fourth streets.
[Casper Rinsey's?]

THE mortality among children, in this vicinity, has been more than ordinary this summer.

A LARGE crayon portrait of President Schumacher has been placed in the reading room of the reform club. [Temperance society.]

DR. W. J. Herdman has purchased the former residence of Dr. E. Woodruff, near the Presbyterian Church.
[On East Huron, west of Division Street -- the church was on the corner site later occupied by the Ann Arbor News.]

THERE is some rumor of getting up a company of firemen in the sxth ward. A move in the right direction.

A [railroad] car load of colored people came up from Detroit on an excursion yesterday. They took a look through the University.

THE meat market of A[ugust] Widenmann has been removed to the place on west Huron street formerly used by Tracy W. Root as an office.

IF you want a day or two of real good enjoyment and fun, go to Whitmore Lake. There are two hotels, and they are both good ones.

ON Sunday last the quarterly meeting of the colored M. E. Church was held, with was largely attended by the brethern and sisters from all the country around.

THE house, corner of Fourth and Washington Streets, will be moved up to a line on the road and occupied by Mrs. Ren[t]schler, for the sale of ladies' fancy articles and hair work.

ON Sunday, a mare and colt of Charles Hoffstetter's fell through the covering to a cellar entrance on Washington street, from whence they were finally rescued without sustaining any injuries.

A NEW house has been built, and is nearly completed, on the site of the one burned some time last spring, belonging to Mr. Peebles, on the corner of Washington and North Ingalls Street.
[Peebles is a Scottish name, and is pronounced "Pebbles."]

THE team belonging to the City Mills got tired waiting for their driver, on Wednesday afternoon, and started for the mill on an easy trot with their load, where they arrived without doing any damage.

JUDGING from present indications, there will be little or no cabbage worth speaking of this fall, owing to the fearful havoc made by worms. Scarcely a head of it can be found but contains from a dozen to twenty of these pestiferous creepers.

LAST week, Leonard Clark, a brother of Martin Clark, of this city, hung himself at his home in Clinton county. Cause -- supposed temporary insanity. He was doubtless deranged in consequence of a blow he received on his head by a crazy man some thirty years ago.

WE are informed, by Mr. J. T. Jacobs, that seventeen thousand dollars have been subscribed already in aid of the Toledo and Ann Arbor Railroad, and if the farmers, who are as much, if not more, interested than our citizens in seeing this road completed, will now come forward and give a helping hand to this enterprise, the amount required will soon be raised and everything secured for the running of trains.

COL JOHN L. BURLEIGH has presented to the Reform Club a very beautiful heliotype engraving of the Centennial main exhibition buildings. The engraving is about four feet long by two wide, and framed in a walnut and gilt frame. It is asserted that the Senator [Burleigh was elected to the Michigan senate from Ann Arbor], during the late [railroad] strike, offered the Governor the use of the entire Ann Arbor police force. He spoke very highly of its excellent discipline, assuring his Excellency that their drill was so exact that they moved as one man.
[Note: Burleigh started a weekly newspaper here called the Ann Arbor Democrat, and was its first editor. He later left Michigan for New York City, where he ended his days as a politician and lawyer.]

THE new fire company practiced a little with their engine on the University campus on Wednesday evening. They threw water 180 feet on a level; also on the roof of the main building and forty feet towards the center; also about forty feet higher than the law building. The hook and ladder company tried their activity in mounting the roof of the main building, and displayed much agility in so doing. Probably the next fire will test the respective merits of the fire companies now in existence.

THE dwelling-house on the University ground recently occupied by Prof. [of Latin Henry Simmons] Frieze, is being rapidly fitted up for the dental college. We think it a pity that this building should be used for this purpose. If the President's house is to remain for the use of the Presidents for all future time, it would be much more pleasant to have this house remain as a residence for one of the professors.

THE facilities for extinguishing fires in the University Hall and buildings connected therewith, do not seem to be as extensive and elaborate as most people may suppose, all the available hose kept on hand therein being only one hundred feet; and, when a certain party on the premises, who ought to know, if anybody, was asked the other day where that hose was kept, he replied that he did not know, -- thought it was around somewhere, probably. When interrogated as to the whereabouts of the nozzle, he was in a like delightful state of ignorance. With such a state of affairs as this, it does not require a mind of very high culture to foresee what the result would be, should a fire ever break out in any part of that structure without being immediately discovered; and what it has required years of hard toil and large sums of money to acquire, would easily fall a prey to the flames. This matter should be looked after without a moment's delay.

SOME person or persons, whose actions seem to indicate, if not total depravity, at least a desire on their part for the wanton injury or destruction of public property, so far forgot their dignity as men as to temporarily disable and cripple the old Relief engine, to be used by the new fire company, some time previous to their first drill at the river on Friday evening last, on which occasion the deed was discovered. Some necessary repairs had been made on the engine, and the mechanic employed had accidentally left a cold chisel and hammer at the engine house when the work was done. These, it would seem, were the tools used to carry out the dastardly design, and, we are informed, it is evident from the way in which the thing was done, that whoever did it, it was one who had calculated well and thoroughly understood what he was about. It is reported that certain individuals were overheard to say some time last Friday, theat that engine would not throw much water that night, and, of course, it could not, on account of the injury sustained. Since then others have been seen in the engine house, acting in a suspicious manner. Now, it may be that whoever is guilty of the above digression was actuated by a spirit of jealousy or hatred; or, possibly, merely a desire to play a trick on the new company, so as to place them in a questionable light before the public at the outset; but this sort of action savors too strongly of communism, and any one, who would thus wantonly injure such public property as the one in question, knowing as they must that this city is not the best provided in the State against the ravages of the fire fiend, to say the least, it is but fair to presume, would do something worse if opportunity offered.

A long dispatch to the Courier about Sharon Township, written by a visitor to the township, who signs himself "QUAMBIS," includes the following items:

Among the choice farms and best farmed of farms which the writer has observed, are those of Messrs. Morey Pierce and David Rose, both of which are models as to their cultivation, stock and general improvements, and reflect no little credit upon their owners.

The great change in Sharon during the last few years, is transformation of the Goodyear and Cowan estates into smaller lots and the occupation of the same by Germans, who, by their innate industry and tact for accumulating wealth, are constantly encroaching upon their neighbors, and will in time, possess the Sharon Plains, now owned by well-to-do Americans.

As a proof of their progress as well as their arrival in Sharon, they have erected a neat church which is an ornament to the Rowe corners, and the sound of whose bell is a warning to the Saxon and Celt that they must be up and doing or they will soon be supplanted by the Teuton.

Miss Shannan, or Northfield, is in Sharon, a guest of Mr. and Mrs. Moe, formerly of Ann Arbor [Township].
[Note: The Moe farm, on Whitmore Lake Road and Joy Road, in Ann Arbor Township, was one of three model farms of Washtenaw County that attracted the attention of Dr. Benajah Ticknor, when he first arrived in this area in the 1840s. In his journal, a copy of which is now in the Bentley Historical Library, Ticknor records his visits to Moe's farm, the Luther Boyden farm in Webster Township, and the farm of a pioneer Methodist settler and abolitionist, Eber White, which was on land now inside the City of Ann Arbor (on West Liberty Street) and was long ago subdivided and built upon.]


FOR SALE. A thoroughbred Jersey bull, five years old, cheap. Address, H. D. STANNARD, Dexter, Mich., or call at the old Judge Dexter farm at Dexter.

Contributed by Wystan Stevens, wystans@yahoo.com, 18 May 2010.

Items from the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, September 7, 1877

A VALUABLE horse belonging to Israel Hall took fright, on Tuesday last, by the whiffletree falling on his heels, the pin having fallen out. He ran into a tree, causing his death.

MR. C. B. COOK, in digging a ditch on his premises, discovered one of the leg bones of a man, three feet below the surface.

THE reform Club of Whitmore Lake will listen to an address by Judge N. W. Cheever, next Sunday.

A NEW smoke stack has been placed upon the manufacturing works of J. Keck & Co.

As Mr. Lewis Moore was operating a Yankee whittler, in the Agricultural Works on Tuesday, his left hand slipped on the knives, laying open the joint on his little finger, inflicting a bad wound. It will probably disable him for some weeks.

MR. PATRICK CORR has purchased of the German Lutheran Church the house formerly standing on their lot on North Fourth street, and has removed the same to his place near the African Methodist Church. It will be remembered that his house was consumed by fire last spring. On the lots made vacant by the removal of this house is being erected a fine house, to be used as a parsonage by the Lutheran Church.

THE position of instructor of music in our public schools, has not been filled, as yet, although there are six applicants for the position. The salary has been cut down from $600 to $500. To conduct this branch successfully requires a person who can interest the children and hold their attention. Prof. Wilsey was very successful as a teacher, having a peculiar faculty of inspiring the scholars with a love for music. To be a good singer contributes much to the pleasures of the home circle, and this branch should not be slighted by the school board.

AN examination of the honey bees of Mr. N. A. Pruden, of this place, shows that he is doing quite a business in this line. He has been quite successful since he turned his attention to this subject, some years since. Last spring he had fourteen swarms. These have increased to thirty-six during the season. He now has thirty-three hives, having disposed of the others. Seven of these are Italian bees. These maintain their reputation of being the best workers, they not being as particular from what source they gather honey, and will work when the common bees do little or nothing. He will sell about $100 worth of honey, which, added to the increase in swarms (twenty-two), worth at this time $4 each, brings in the neat little sum of $188, and this with the original stock left. Mr. Pruden says there is no such thing as "luck" in raising bees. Careful attention and a knowledge of their wants will succeed every time. He has a method of abstracting the honey from the comb by centrifugal force, thus leaving the comb in good shape, which is replaced in the hives for the bees to fill again. The method of doing this is to clip off the caps, then place the comb in a casque, and in a frame, which is revolved with great velocity by means of a crank and cog wheels, when the translucent sweetness flies out and is caught in the casque. [Note: John M. Gibney of Ann Arbor, the Director of the Monroe County Historical Museum, is a descendant of N. A. Pruden.]

Horace Booth, one of the old residents of this county, died at the residence of his son Nelson, on Tuesday morning, the 4th inst. [Note: the Courier devotes half a column, plus several inches more, to the obituary of Mr. Booth, whose son owned the property now known as Cobblestone Farm. Here is another paragraph:] Mr. Booth was among the first to see a frame house erected within the boundaries of the city lines of Ann Arbor. He was present and assisted at the raising. He opened a path from Ann Arbor to his land in Lodi, and it is believed by some that no white man had penetrated the wilderness and built a cabin for himself beyond him in a westerly direction."

Pioneer Meeting

A regular meeting of the Pioneer Society of this county, was held in this place on Wednesday, a fair number being in attendance. J. Q. A. Session[s], the president, delivered an opening address. . . .[The newspaper report contains several paragraphs which I have omitted.]

A committee of four was appointed to make nominations for officers, when they adjourned to the Gregory House, where an ample dinner had been provided by the residents of this place for their guests.

After dinner the members of the society were photographed in a body in front of the Gregory House. [Note: The only version of this photograph now known to exist appears in printed form, on page 30 of O. W. Stephenson's Ann Arbor, The First Hundred Years (1927). In 1927, a copy of the original photo was in the possession of G. Frank Allmendinger of Ann Arbor, but that copy has vanished, along with all others that once existed. (Of course, no one in the photo is identified.) In Stephenson's book, the photo is mis-dated as 1865 (eight years before the Pioneer Society was founded!). Stephenson also mis-names the hotel in the background as the Franklin House, but on page 439, Stephenson notes that the Franklin House had been demolished in 1862, to enable construction of the Gregory House. Here is a link to the photo, in an online edition of Stephenson's book: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moaatxt;cc=moaatxt;idno=3933400.0001.001;size=l;frm=frameset;seq=54]

. . . . Mrs. Phebe Hunt, Mrs. Mary E. Fostere and Mrs. N. H. Pierce, were requested to write their early recollections of Washtenaw county; Mr. J. W. Wing the same, of Scio, and Aaron Childs, of Augusta.

. . . . The society adjourned, to meet the first Wednesday in December, in Saline.

[John Quincy Adams Sessions was an Ann Arbor attorney, and a native of Northfield Township. He is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Ann Arbor. At the 1877 meeting reported above, Sessions was named historian of the Pioneer Society.]

[This issue of the Courier contains an advertisement for the Lake House hotel at Whitmore Lake, James B. Halleck, proprietor: illustrated with a steel engraving of the premises. The text reads as follows: "This house has been entirely refitted and refurnished in first-class style, and the proprietor is now perpared to give his guests satisfaction. Good sail-boats, row-boats, and fishing-tackle furnished to guests without extra charge. Terms, from $5 to $6 per week, according to the rooms. Regular boarders taken to and from railroad stations free of charge."]

Contributed by Wystan Stevens, wystans@yahoo.com, 04 May 2010.

From the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, September 14, 1877

SEVERAL hitching posts have been put down in front of the opera house.

PROF. M[oses] C[oit] TYLER has returned from his summer's sojourn in New York.

THE Cook House [hotel] has been leased for two years by C. H. Jewell, of Racine, Wis.

THE study of political economy has been introduced into the high school curriculum.

A NEW barn has been erected on the premises of Rev. Mr. Belser, on Spring street.

A NEW flour and feed store will be opened on the corner of Ann And Fourth streets.

THE Burke-Gibney faction of Northfield had a little "mill" on the street, Saturday evening. The claret was drawn quite freely.

MR. SILAS F. MEAD died September 9the in the township of Saline, aged sixty-five years five months and twenty-two days.

ONE of the watchers in Mr. Bird's peach orchard, filled a would be thief's leg with small shot. He took his bag and dug out lively.

THE Rochester Democrat says: "It has been observed in numerous instances that the planets discovered by Michigan astronomers never amount to much."

WEEKLY seances are being held by some of the spiritualists in this place. Relatives and friends from the spirit world are said to discourse with those within the charmed circle.

THE intended meeting at Dixboro, on Sunday last, was postponed, but will be held on Sunday next, for the purpose of organizing a red ribbon [temperance] club. Judge [Noah W.] Cheever will deliver the address.

ANN ARBOR has been slighted! Not a circus or menagerie has visited us this year. The great, immense, monstrous, stupendous aggregations, have given us the go-by, thus leaving us over two thousand dollars better off; but, then, what is this compared with the pleasure of seeing the big "snaix," and the girl jump through the hoop.

INSTEAD of lecturing on the second coming of Christ, it would be more appropriate for Charles J. Guiteau, "lawyer and theologian" of Chicago, to adopt the subject, "Liars and Deadbeats, of which the Lecturer is One," and when he gets tired of this, vary it with "What I Know about Jumping from the Cars while in Motion, and Escaping from Justice."
[Note: in 1881, Guiteau, a former resident of Ann Arbor, murdered U. S. President James Abram Garfield.]

AFTER reading in last week's issue of THE COURIER the account of Dr. Franklin ordering oysters for his horse, Mr. E. W. Morgan [dean of the Ann Arbor bar] came into the office and recited the same story in verse, which he said he read but once, in an old file of newspapers sixty years ago, when he was a boy but ten years of age. Mr. Morgan has an unusually retentive memory, and the rapidity with which he memorizes is excelled by none.

ON Saturday last two hundred excursionists came here [on the Michigan Central railroad] from Concord, with the Concord cornet band. The members of this band must have evolved the fact from their minor consciousness that they were not much on the play, and did not care to show their ignorance in this modern Athens. Anyway, not a strain of music did we hear from this strangely silent band. The University "was done," and then back they sped to their own hearthstones, nearly every one lugging away a basket of peaches.

WORK on the court house, which was suspended for a few days while waiting for cement, has been commenced. The limestone to be used in the construction of the building will be procured at Joliet, Ill.

LAST week some unknown theives entered the orchard of Mr. J. J. Parshall, and stole forty bushels of peaches worth $4 per bushel. They made a clean sweep, not leaving a peck of edible peaches in the orchard.

A COLT, about four years old, belonging to Mr. Wallace Williams, of the third ward, suddenly dropped dead on the street last Tuesday noon, on the way home from near the depot, where it had been undergoing training for the harness for the second time, by Richard Burns.

THE front fences have been removed from before the residences of two families. They present a rather odd appearance, but if the yards are kept up in fine shape, will look rather attractive. In some large Eastern cities, among the aristocratic quarters, fences are discarded entirely.

THERE is no question if a farmer has land adapted to the cultivation of peaches, but that they are a remunerative crop to grow. Messrs. Fritz and Lawrence have just sold 4,500 baskets, netting them fifty cents per basket, or the snug sum of $2,250 from ten acres. The crop was secured in ten days.

The fame of our valuable book of Dr. Chase's Recipes is not confined to this country. We fill an order this week going to North Carleton, Nottinghamshire, England. We have sent books to both the East and West Indies. Australia and South Africa will probably be the next places from which we will receive orders.

WEDNESDAY, September 12th, Mr. John H. Maynard was quietly married at the family residence, by Rev. Dr. Brown, to Mrs. C. L. Houston, of San Francisco, California. They have departed on a wedding tour East, and before returning, will visit Montreal, the White Mountains, Washington, Boston and New York, and other intermediate points. They will make their home in San Francisco, for which place they take their departure, after completing their tour. Mr. Maynard has been a resident of this place all his life, and was in business for many years, during which time he was noted for being energetic, and attending strictly to business.

[Note: there must have been a change in plans, because the Maynards were living in Ann Arbor (on the SE corner of Division and Catherine) when Mortimer Elwyn Cooley came to town as an instructor in engineering at the University of Michigan. Young Cooley (who lived nearly to 100) arrived in 1881, and soon, as he recalled years later, in his amusing autobiograpy, Scientific Blacksmith, he was living with the Maynards. Cooley asked his host why, despite his obvious prosperity, he took in boarders. Maynard, who weighed around three hundred pounds, explained that he and his wife enjoyed a good cut of meat, but (given the primitive refrigeration technology of those days) found that a larger, better cut, brought home from the butcher's, would spoil before the two of them could consume it all. But they didn't want to buy the smaller, nastier cuts. So the happy solution was to increase the number of mouths at the dining table.]

Contributed by Wystan Stevens, wystans@yahoo.com, 13 May 2010.

A few newsy items from the Ann Arbor Courier, Friday, July 16, 1880

Another ten cent bus will be put on the road next week, by Zenus Sweet, it is said.

Northfield reports hailstones 5-1/2 inches in circumference during the storm last Friday.

The bridge on the middle Ypsilanti road, near the poor house, was washed away by the flood last Sunday.

Zion's Lutheran Church are to have their annual Sunday school picnic in relief park, on Wednesday, August 4th, next.

Mack & Schmid are laying a new flag stone walk upon the south side of their store, on Liberty street. Next season they intend to lay a similar one in front upon Main street. The total cost of the same when completed witll be about $1,500.

The committee on speakers of the reform club [Temperance club holding a tent revival in Ann Arbor] is making an arrangement with a colored speaker to deliver an address before the club. At the same time music will be furnished by a colored choir and a general lively and interesting time is expected.

During the storm, last Sunday, the house of Keal Henion, in the 2d ward, was struck by lightning, but only slightly damaged. The fluid passed down the chimney until it got sight of a window, out of which it went, satisfied, undoubtedly, with the mischief done. [Ball lightning?] Another house in the same ward, occupied by Louis Rhode, was also struck and slightly damaged.

The outgoing passenger train on the Toledo and Ann Arbor road was detained about four hours last Monday morning, because of the washing out of the track on the Sunday previous.

Miss Mary H. Graham, of this city, the only colored lady who ever graduated at the university, and who took the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy at the recent commencement, is to go to Missouri next September as an instructor on Lincoln University, at Jefferson City. She has proven herself to be a person of unusual intellect, and is entitled to much credit for her perseverance in pushing her way through the university. She is only 22 years of age.

Now that the council have gone into the business of resurrecting wells for drinking purposes, why not have the one at the corner of Maynard and Liberty streets cleaned out, a pump placed therein and drinking cups attached? This well is in the street, is city property, and we are told has an inexhaustible supply of excellent water. Residents in that vicinity have to depend upon filters which are very expensive, and at best poor things, while others, too poor to afford even these, of whom the writer knows personally, bring well water a distance of eight blocks. This well, fixed up as has been the one in the court house square, would afford hundreds of people good water, and be of great value as a drinking fountain besides. The request is not an expensive one, neither is it an unjust one, and the council by fixing it up would be the means of doing a good deed.

"Jeff," the court house janitor, was brought up before a justice, last Monday, for roughly handling a boy at the town pump, but a jury decided him "not guilty."


Allen's creek "got its back up" so to speak, last Sunday afternoon, because of so much rain, and went tearing along its banks through the city, overflowing gardens, flooding cellars, tearing down embankments, washing out the railway track, and doing all the damage it possibly could. The Toledo & Ann Arbor R. R. was probably the worst sufferer, as the track for quite a long distance runs along the ravine traversed by the creek, and it was washed out in numerous places. A construction train was at work early Monday morning, and it was near 11 o'clock before the men could underpin and temporarily brace up the track where washouts had occurred, so that trains could pass over it. Mr. Pilcher tells us that it will take their entire force five or six days at the very least, to put the track again in good repair, in and between this city and the junction. R. K. Ailes was also quite a loser from the washing out and destroying of an embankment which his men had just completed, at his new machine shop where the creek crosses Huron street. The damage will cause a serious delay in the completion of the work, and considerable expense besides. Cellars situated near the ravine were also filled up, and we noticed several gardens which had been completely overflowed. The rain also washed out the street in front of the T. & A. A. railroad depot, leaving several ugly gullies to be filled up. In other parts of the city streets were gullied out and minor damage done by the storm which was the most powerful known in this section for a long time.

Contributed by Wystan Stevens wystans@yahoo.com, 27 April 2010.

Glimpses of goings-on in Ann Arbor, from the Courier, March 29, 1890

Mrs. John Lowrey is to build a new house on Monroe st.

J. H. Cutting has got the plans for his new house on Monroe st., and will build at once.

Before the 1st day of June the buildings will all be in shape on the new fair grounds*, and in one month thereafter the track will be in good condition.

Last Monday Supt. E. F. Mills sowed the new fair grounds to oats, which is probaly the first oats seeded this spring. The grounds are being put in fine shape.

The work of building the new stalls, sheds, etc., and fitting up of the buildings after being moved to their new locations, on the fair grounds, will be done by Mathew Rentschler, of Saline, who has the reputation of being a hustler in his way. The fact that this is a county [fair] society, and that it seeks patronage from all parts of the county is one that has been considered by Supt. Mills in letting the contracts for work to be done. Everything is being pushed forward with a rush, and Mr. Mills promises everything in and about the grounds to be in "apple pie order" by September.

Prof. Steere lectured at the school house on the gravel road, known as the Mills school house, in Pittsfield, last Friday night, and gave his large audience an interesting talk. He did more than that. He presented to the district a fine lot of zoological and other specimens from the Phillipine Islands as a nucleus for a museum. This district is an exceptional one. Their school building is of brick and nicely finished off and furnished. A fine start has been make in the way of a library and more is being expended to build it up. The people are live and wide awake, and their example is well worth imitating.

The need of an electric light at the intersection of Division and Ann sts. is very great. The leaves will soon be out upon the trees, and when that occurs darkness is quite intense there.

The fractional school district No. 3 put in one of the Allmendinger organs, and are very much pleased with it. Wouldn't it be a nice thing for every school district to go and do likewise?

The old landmark at the intersection of N. State st, known as Alber's blacksmith and wagon shop, is being torn down. Mr. Alber claims that the grading up of Pontiac st. ruined his place for business purposes.**

The streets that have had the mud scraped off and hauled away, present a fine appearance, and the roadway is solid and firm.

Mrs. Rathbone, of this city, and Mrs. Wright, of Marquette, have bought lots on east side of S. State street, near the south end thereof, and will each erect a residence this spring.

A rail broke on the track of the M. C. R. R. at this station this morning, at about 10:30 o'clock, by which several freight cars were thrown down the north embankment. The train was a double header, just pulling out for the east. The accident happened in the yards near the end of N. State st.

Geo. L. Moore and H. M. Taber have purchased, we are told, the stock of books, stationery, etc., owned by S. C. Andrews & Co., and will take possession about May 1st. George is an old book store man, and knows the needs of this community in that line, and knows how to cater to them too.

The fire that occurred yesterday forenoon was caused by the burning of a large shed in the rear of Ferguson's road cart factory, on Detroit st., in which was stored two tons of excelsior belonging to the factory. The prompt response of the fire department saved adjoining buildings but did not save the excelsior which is all ruined probably. It was a bad day for a fire, as the wind [was] very brisk. It is supposed the fire was originated by the carelessness of some young lads who were playing about the shed.


*[i.e., the fairgrounds that became Burns Park.]

**[Before the "Gandy Dancer" depot was erected, North State street was continuous, curving through what is now Riverside Park to Broadway (then called Pontiac Street). The Alber wagon shop stood where the streets met, but when the new MCRR depot was erected (1886-87), a viaduct (the original "Broadway Bridge") was built to carry Detroit Street traffic over the tracks. Vehicles formerly had crossed the tracks at grade level. At this time, the grade on Pontiac Street/Broadway was raised, to meet the other end of the new viaduct.]

Contributed by Wystan Stevens wystans@yahoo.com, 07 April 2010.

A journey through Michigan, by way of Ann Arbour, in 1835

An amazing fact: they check your guns when you arrive in Ann Arbor !

The following report, which I have transcribed in its entirety, is a letter from a traveler in Michigan, first published in 1835 in a tabloid: the New-York Mirror, A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts. Vol. XIII, No. 4, Saturday, July 25, 1835.

[My copy that was purchased on eBay, in September, 2007.]




IT is a marvelous country, this western world, and it is the only land under the sun that has not been too extravagantly spoken of by travellers. Yes, it keeps pace even with travellers' tales, and that is no small merit.

Mr. Hoffman's delightful volumes, and Washington Irving's "Tour," displayed to us a new world; the former spread before us a land shrouded in the mantle of winter, while the latter portrayed the "sere and yellow leaf" of autumn. But the spring and the summer are the boast of prairie land, and he that fails to see those seasons, loses half the pleasure of a trip to the west.

It was on a clear evening in "the leafy month of June," that I set forth from Detroit, late the outpost of civilization, but now called at the place whence I write, "down east." I had come from Buffalo to that city in company with a crowd of grave personages on a disinterested pilgrimage to Chicago, in search of the Golden Fleece, and was glad to take leave of these modern Jasons, and wish them a safe voyage on this new Argonautick expedition. For my own part, I found the steamboat intolerable, especially as a vehement sea-sickness prevented me from "getting my money's-worth" out of the worthy proprietors. I therefore provided myself with a little French pony, and resolved to set forth across the country in quest of adventures and pleasure. After riding nearly all the ponies in Detroit within an ace of their lives, by way of trying, (to the great perturbation of the several owners,) I finally pitched upon a little fellow that racked and paced and cantered to a charm. Having accoutered myself with a broad-brimmed straw hat, a pair of saddle-bags and a blanket, and slung my double-barrelled fowling-piece athwart my back, my pony soon ambled with me out of the busy town. How gloriously independent does a man feel at such a moment! In what supreme contempt does he hold the artificial life of a city, the cares, the bustle and the money-making of life! No matter who he be -- be he as poor as Job, ay, and as friendless too, his soul soars above the little world, he feels his value as a man, he recognises his personal sovereignty, his self-dependence, his native dignity, and with the poet he can feel that,

"Lord of himself, but not of lands,
He having nothing, yet hath all."

I had been cautioned by our over-scrupulous friend against the night air of Michigan, and not caring to take a fever and ague before I had got cleverly through my journey, I drew up my friend Hal at a sorry-looking log tavern on the road-side, commanding a delightful view of an adjoining bog and frog-pond. A drunken subject of his majesty offered to take my horse; but I took the liberty to decline giving him that trouble, whereupon the Briton assured me that he was as good a man as I was, and walked off swearing that the horse would certainly die. Mr. Brown, the proprietor of these charming premises, was not long in making his appearance, and duly atoned for the insolence to his guest, by praising my pony to the skies. He ushered me into a sombre-looking bar-room, in full view of which was a small kitchen tenanted by Mrs. Brown and a couple of brawling babies, besides a young lady fashioned after the Cleopatra's needle. The night was damp and chilly, and I was fain to draw my blanket around me while I laboured at a most obstinate and execrable American cigar, dispensed from the bountiful bar of Mr. Brown. At length I was shown into a little box, which mine host facetiously denominated a "sleeping apartment," and throwing myself upon an undulating feather-bed, between sheets which might have served for topsails to a seventy-four, attempted to fall into a gentle slumber. But in vain did I close my heavy eye-lids, in vain did I attempt to persuade myself that I was going to sleep. The bull-frogs in front of my window began to "charm the listening shades," bellowing in full chorus with the force of so many calves; and those most active classes of western population, the fleas and mosquitoes, exerted their malice to the utmost, and with the air of the bull-frogs very effectively "murdered sleep." I tossed and tumbled about my bed until the wooden clock had stricken twelve, and then I fell into a broken slumber only to awake on the stroke of three, feverish, pettish and miserable. At the first gray streak of dawn I arose, dressed, threw open the window and read as well as I was able. The sun rose, and sick and dizzy I threw myself once more upon my couch of luxury, and slept three hours from very exhaustion. A good beginning of western life, thought I, as I paid my bill and departed. N'importe! Comfort does not take up its abode in the wilds. My philosophy, however, was put to a severe test when, after riding a few rods, I passed a commodious tavern, handsomely situated on the top of a hill, and which seemed a palace compared with the hovel where I had passed the night. I put spurs to my pony, and relieved myself of the sight of the tantalizing mansion.

I took the "old Territorial Road," as it is called in virtue of its great age, which is said to be four years. Mr. Hoffman's account of the Kalamazos country made me desirous of seeing that beautiful tract, and moreover by taking this roundabout way, I placed myself beyond the reach of those annoying harpies, the speculators. The country for forty or fifty miles is wretchedly wanting in interest; it is a mere succession of small farms opened to the east, and thus exposing the traveller to the scorching rays of the sun. The direction was southerly, and my quarters for the night were taken up at a very pretty village, called Ann Arbour. On alighting at this place, divers of the good democratick citizens thereof clustered around me, to admire my gun. One of these free republicans, without any "by your leave, sir," proceeded to examine my "stub and twist" barrels, and when his observations were completed, another "fellow-citizen" more polite than his brother, seized hold of my gun and begged me to "excuse his impudence," inasmuch as the said gun was "a great curiosity in these parts." By way of making myself popular, I immediately slipped the band over my head, and delivered over this "great curiosity" into the hands of "the people," who pored over it with huge delight, and made many pithy remarks concerning it, to my great amusement and satisfaction.

The season at the west is far ahead of the east. Last evening I had the pleasure of eating some wild strawberries gathered in the "marshes," wherein this territory seems especially to abound. I am told that the season is uncommonly backward. I was rather glad to escape from the pleasant village of Ann Arbour, for this being court week, the taverns were crowded with the learned profession, who had assembled, from all parts of the country, to murder Murray in the neat brick court-house, which is the pride of Ann Arbour. I was a good deal amused to find a young gentleman, who had been my fellow "student" (lucus a non lucendo) in a law-office in New-York, invested with the dignity of "Judge," and the amiable manner with which he bore the infliction of that grave title almost set me in a roar.

I forgot to mention in my first letter that I dined, between Detroit and Ann Arbour, at a place called Plymouth Four Corners, rendered remarkable by a great tame bear that is kept there, who, if I remember rightly, has been christened by the name of "Bill." I was a good deal puzzled, while luxuriating over my bacon and greens at dinner, to hear a fellow at table deploring, with no small pathos, the sad condition of poor Bill. "The poor fellow pants like a stamboat," quoth he, "and I guess I had better take him down to the creek and let him cool himself." I was not long a stranger to Bill. My horse had taken but a few steps from Plymouth Four Corners, when he gave a sudden start that nearly threw me over his head -- I looked for the cause, and truly it was sufficiently ludicrous. There was old Bill, wallowing up to his neck in mud and water by the side of the road, and looking so miserable, that, for the soul of you, it was impossible to avoid laughing in his face.

But to return to Ann Arbour -- I had proceeded but a few miles before I was overtaken by a horseman in a thunder-and-lightning riding-coat and blue pantaloons. He was a middle-sized, red faced person, with very sharp and knowing features, and his whole air was queerly set off by a bit of crape which was tied round his hat. Prima facie, I should have supposed him a tailor, but he spoke so mightily of land speculations that I was soon driven from that opinion. He accosted me with great civility, and said that he had hurried on to overtake me. My wherefrom and whereto were soon extracted from me, and finding to his credit that he was in good company, he proceeded to impart his woes without mercy. He deplored his happy home in "York state;" expatiated feelingly on the inconveniences of riding on horseback for the first time, and in the course of the day ejaculated several times most devoutly, "I wish I was to hum." But I should abuse the sacredness of personal intercourse should I lay before the world the manifold griefs wherewithal this worthy individual was afflicted. Any man may wear a thunder-and-lightning coat, and wish himself to "hum" into the bargain -- but ah! how few could in other particulars resemble poor _________!

When about twenty miles from Ann Arbour we met the wretched remnant of a tribe of Indians. They were very fantastically dressed -- some in gaudy calicoes, with a bright red, or yellow handkerchief about their heads, and some with the old-fashioned blanket wrapped about them, while several of the children were nearly naked; the girls being dressed in calico frocks, reaching within a few inches of the knee. The Indians here seem to wear no particular costume, and greedily pick up the more showy odds and ends of civilized garbs. I shall never forget the grotesque and ludicrous appearance of an old chieftain whom I saw at Detroit. He wore a white blanket and red leggins, and his head was surmounted by a dragoon's helmet and feathers! It was a curious blending of arma and toga, and the old savage strutted about with the air of a peacock, conscious of the magnificence of his plumage. The group that I now fell in with reminded me of the ancient gipsies. The same swarthy complexions and raven hair, the same patched and tattered garments, and the same apparent wretchedness. The women and children were all mounted on little shaggy Indian ponies, guiltless of the currycomb. It was seldom that the poor animal was freighted with a single burden -- two and three and even four clustered together on the back of the miserable beast. On one sat a tall, masculine-looking squaw, and behind her were stowed, in the order of primogeniture, her "young barbarians," three in number, who clung together like a cluster of green grapes just forming on the parent stem. The chieftain of this squalid band walked erect at their head -- he was an aged man, and had doubtless lived to see his once-powerful and warlike tribe dwindle into the wretched squad which he now conducted. I saluted him, and he approached me. The whole cavalcade stood still while the old warriour spoke. He wished to learn the distance to the next tavern -- but he had forgotten the word. "How many," said he, counting his fingers, "whiskey, whiskey." The gesticuation and expression with which these few words were accompanied, rendered them quite as intelligible as if he had asked "how many miles to the next tavern?" I raised one finger, the chief did the same to assure himself of the distance, and on my nodding affirmatively, he made a loud exclamation of joy, and passed on with his sorry followers. The passion of these people for strong drink, is very remarkable -- if they once taste the intoxicating draught, it is ever after the first desire of their souls, and they will seek after it with the utmost avidity. A sober Indian in these days, and within the borders of civilization, is as harmless as a white man -- but when his brain becomes fired with strong liquor, he is a madman, a very bedlamite! and ripe for the commission of any atrocity. The laws of Michigan are very severe on the subject of selling drink to the Indians -- but those "strict statutes and most biting laws" are broken without scruple, as is the case with many other rigorous enactments of that ill-governed territory. The Indian statute, however, cannot long be broken -- perhaps another year will not find a solitary tribe on this side of the Mississippi. The cruel, but necessary policy of our government, has already stripped them of their broad lands, and curtailed their liberties -- nay, it has even bargained for the removal of their persons, and the poor Indian cannot resist, and he must wander far away, a hapless oucast from the bome of his fathers!

Contributed by Wystan Stevens wystans@yahoo.com, 20 September 2007..

Ann Arbor Civil War-Era Three-Cent Note

(Click on photo for larger image).

Evidence of the widespread coin shortage that inconvenienced banking and retail trade during the Civil War, this certificate could be used in place of three coppers in local transactions, and eventually redeemed (when combined with at least 32 more) for a dollar+ in U. S. greenbacks at the bank of Miller, Davis & Webster in Ann Arbor, or at L. W. Wallace & Co. in Detroit. --Wystan Stevens, January 2006. Illustration taken from an eBay listing.

Cobblestone Farm Connection in Sale of William Campbell Local History Papers on eBay

An interesting assortment of paper items from the estate of William Campbell of Pittsfield Township, onetime owner of the property now known as Cobblestone Farm, was sold on eBay by Prof. Cary Johnson of the U-M Pharmacy School, and acquired (for $35.99) by David Fulmer, Ann Arbor collector of paper ephemera.. Several of the papers are related to operations of the Washtenaw Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which had its office in the old Courthouse in downtown Ann Arbor. Campbell was an officer of the insurance company from 1889-1897. (Northfield Township farmer Emory E. Leland, who later was several times elected Probate Judge of Washtenaw County, was the president of the company, which had been organized by his father, pioneer farmer Joshua Leland.) The photos and description below are taken from Prof. Johnson's eBay listing:

A large lot of 50+ paper items of William Campbell, Esq who lived at Cobblestone Farm on Packard Road Ann Arbor, Michigan. Items include 1880s County tax receipts for properties owned by Campbell (9), 1880s Church Pew rental receipts for Presbyterian Society of Ann Arbor (7) and 1870s for First Congregational Society of Ypsilanti (6), Life Insurance booklet of Union Mutual Assoc of Battle Creek, two tickets for Eastern Michigan Agricultural And Mechanical Fair in Ypsilanti (1882, 1887), Ann Arbor postmarked covers with illustrated letterhead stationery for the Washtenaw Mutual Fire Insurance Company for which Campbell was the CEO 1889-1897 (19) and an extraordinary group of printed assessment reports with listings of every reported loss by insured members from 1886-89 with name, date, place, loss and value such as February 28, 1887, George C. Page, Lima, Hams in smoke house, $15.03; June 17, 1887 Charles Treadwell, Ann Arbor, one horse killed by lightning, $116.66. There are 12 complete reports, some multiple pages with listings from many communities surrounding Ann Arbor. An amazing cross section of history of a private insurance company and of great importance to the local historian. Wystan Stevens, November 2005

Houses of Unburnt Brick and Gravel and Lime

The web site of the Cobblestone Farm Association has a page about Stephen Mills, the builder of the Ticknor-Campbell house and a Pittsfield Township resident, who was in his lifetime probably better known for his houses in the Ann Arbor-Saline area built of stucco-protected unburnt brick, than for his landmark cobblestone dwellings. The page on Mills contains a reference to an 1847 story in the Michigan Argus (Ann Arbor) which describes the method of construction of such houses, but the reference is but a cruel taunt to most browsers, who will have no means of access to the story itself. Since I live in Ann Arbor, I was able to find the text in microfilm files at our main library, and have transcribed it here for the benefit of architectural historians far and wide. Perhaps the CFA eventually will see fit to add it or link it to their page. Unfortunately, the Argus story appears to have been copied from another source, perhaps in Chicago; it contains no reference to Stephen Mills or to buildings in this area. --Wystan Stevens, n.d.

From the MICHIGAN ARGUS, May 5, 1847:

Two methods of constructing houses, one of ancient , the other of recent date, are so highly recommended in some quarters that a brief description will probably not be uninteresting to our readers. They are especially suited to localities where other building materials are scarce.

UNBURNT BRICK HOUSES. -- These are constructed of bricks made of the same material as common bricks -- clay and sand -- but much larger. When the wall is designed to be a foot thick, the size is commonly 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Some prefer to have them 18 by 12, by 8. The materials should be well worked in the usual manner, and prairie hay or straw added, chopped into lengths of 6 or 8 inches. The shape for molds used in Chicago, is a box of the size of the brick -- the sides the longest way projecting at the end of it far enough to fasten a cross piece at each end to carry the box off to the yard by, to deposit the brick to dry. The bottom of the box slides in and out in an easy groove in the side pieces, and when the brick is laid upon the yard with the top side of the mold down, the bottom is drawn out, without disturbing the mold or the brick in it. When the bottom is removed, the mold is evenly raised leaving the brick on the ground in good shape to dry. The bottom of the box slides in and out in an easy groove in the side pieces, and when the brick is laid upon the yard with the top side of the mould down, the bottom is drawn out, without disturbing the mould or the brick in it. When the bottom is removed, the mould is evenly raised, leaving the brick on the ground in good shape to dry. The bricks will dry sufficiently in a day of good weather to handle, when they should be turned up on edge, and the day after, on end. The third day they may be packed in a pile, and covered with boards, to protect them from the rain. In ten or twelve days they will be dry enough to use.

The foundation of the building should be of stone and raised two feet above the surface of the ground, to prevent dampness from ascending to the walls above. In laying the brick, the same material out of which they were moulded, is used for morter [sic]. The partition walls are carried up at the same time with the outer wall, and are of the thickness of the brick, six inches. The roof should project over the sides of the house, from 2 to 2-1/2 feet, except of course those sides on which there is a porch. This is to defend the walls from vertical rains, before it is thoroughly dry. When a porch is to be attached to the wall, scantling should be laid into the outer face of the wall to fasten it to. The house should be built early in the season, to give time for the walls to dry thoroughly before October, when they should be plastered on the outside with such morter as is suitable for the first coat on the inside wall. Some builders put on two coats, others none at all, but it is considered advisable to plaster. After plastering the wall should be pebble-dashed. The inside is plastered like that of any other house, but no lathing is required on either surface.

The advantages claimed for this kind of houses are:

1. Cheapness. The cost of erecting the walls being only 5 or 6 cents the cubic foot, exclusive of plastering, which cost on both sides between 2 and 3 cents more, for a wall a foot thick, making the entire cost of the finished wall, 8 cents a foot.

2. Comfort. These houses are cooler in summer, and warmer in winter, than any other house, unburnt brick being a non-conductor of heat. All the walls being solid, too, there is no harbor for mice, or other vermin, and they are very dry.

3. Neatness and durability. When well made, they are said to look remarkably well, and to stand for centuries.

The objections made to them are:

That the plaster has, in some cases, not adhered well. This is accounted for from its having been put on before the walls were dry, and sometimes from there having an excess of lime in it.

Some walls have had so little hardness that rats have burrowed in them. The bricks, in such instances, were composed of bad materials, or were not well tempered. There could be no danger of this after the walls are well plastered.

The instances of failure which have occurred are thought to have been owing to the mismanagement of the builder. --- Certain it is, there have been many instances of complete success. This style of building, however, is better adapted to cottages for [of] one story, or a story and a half, than to houses of greater elevation.

HOUSES OF LIME AND GRAVEL. --- This kind of houses was originated in Wisconsin, and is made of fresh burned lime, and coarse gravel, in the proportion of one bushel of the former to twelve of the latter. The lime and gravel are put into a tight box, and water added sufficient to make the mass of the consistency of thick mortar.

On a stone foundation below the frost, place planks edgewise, fastened together by clamps at a distance apart corresponding to the intended thickness of the wall. Arrange these plank curbs quite around the foundation, and fill in with the gravel morter, taking care to spread it with a trowel so as to leave no vacancies. In good weather, 24 hours will suffice to dry the morter sufficiently to admit of raising the curb and commencing another course. Ten or twelve inches of wall around the building will be made in a day. The windows and door frames are set in the wall inside the curb. The wall can be plastered without lathing. Cobble stones can be used in the morter, of which the wall is made, provided there is fine gravel enough to fill up between. Like unburnt brick houses, these should be built early in the season, in order to have time to dry thoroughly before cold weather sets in. Almost all kind of buildings, and even fence can be built in this way, and at an expense, it is asserted, of 5 cents to the cubic foot, where lime is 12-1/2 cents a bushel and gravel at hand. In process of time, the whole will become one conglomerate rock, so solid that the gravel stones will break in two when struck with a hammer instead of being loosened from their bed. We would suggest the expediency of adding one bushel of ground plaster to every four bushels of lime, to make the wall dry faster. --Wystan Stevens, December 2005.

D. B. Kellogg: A Bottle from Ann Arbor's "Clairvoyant" on eBay

(Click on photo for larger image).

In a surprising coincidence, a rare bottle that once held a tonic called "Indian Remedy" -- which was dispensed in the post-Civil War years in Lower Town Ann Arbor, at the Medical Works of Dr. Daniel B. Kellogg -- has popped up for sale on the eBay auction site, just two months after another of Kellogg's medicine bottles sold on eBay for $114.00.

Perhaps the seller of the Indian Remedy bottle, whose eBay tag is "newzmaker", found inspiration for his offering in the sum received for the other container, which long ago held something called "Magic Red Drops." Kellogg, the most famous of several "Clairvoyant" physicians who practiced their art in this region, preserved a record of his intuitive cures in an Autobiography (Ann Arbor, 1869). Kellogg's small book was published by Alvan W. Chase, who was himself the author of a best-selling compendium of household hints, quackery and medical advice, Dr. Chase's Recipes, or, Information for Everybody.

As a clairvoyant physician, Kellogg (no relation to the sanatorium and breakfast-food brothers of Battle Creek) claimed to work with the intercession of "Indian" (i.e., native American) spirit guides, who were named Walapaca and Owosso. Perhaps it was one of these altruistic, ethereal gentlemen who provided the recipe for the doctor's popular "Indian Remedy," which was bottled in a building on Broadway by his brother, Leverett Kellogg. (An illustration of the four-story structure appears in the Historical Atlas of Washtenaw County, which was published in 1874, the year before Dr. Kellogg died. Its two upper floors were removed in 1937.)

Unlike the "Magic Red Drops" bottle, which was sold for an anonymous owner by an Ann Arbor-located eBay selling company which carelessly omitted our city's name from the auction listing, the "Indian Remedy" wisely includes the magic phrase "Ann Arbor Mich" in the heading on its eBay page. At this writing (November 25), the auction still has two days to go, and the top bid is $82.50. A philanthropist may wish to consider acquiring this souvenir from our colorful past for donation to the historical society's collections.

This is the description from the eBay listing, followed by four photos of the bottle:

"One of the harder-to-find Michigan medicines, this 6 6/8" hingemold has a lot going for it. Small seed bubbles are scattered throughout, super twist lines in the neck, a wee bit of glass ooze from the mold seam in the shoulder area and a clean, professionally tooled lip & collar. There is light stain, and just a skosh of crazing, on the back of the bottle. You can make out the wavy craze lines, if you tilt the bottle. For the sake of accuracy, there is a teeny flea bite on the back, bottom edge and a tiny sliver off a back corner. You really have to look, to see them." --Wystan Stevens, November 2005.

Michigan Furniture Company and Markham Pottery

Here is a 1908 Letterhead from Michigan Furniture Company, Ann Arbor, purchased on eBay on November 27, 2005, (for $3.25) by David Fulmer, Ann Arbor collector of paper ephemera.

I have taken a stab at making a transcription of the text of the message, which I have teased out of the obscurantist image by waving a magnifying glass, enlarging the photo image on print preview, squinting, standing on my head, and performing other simple parlor tricks:

Ann Arbor, Mich. May 17th, 1908:

My dear Mrs. Green:
As my wife cannot write an answer for herself by using the machine I will take the liberty of answering your last letter.
I do not sya [say] that markham pottery will be the last thing that we shall think of tonight, but I do think that we will all think of it several times this coming year.
It is certain that we have all received lasting impressions this afternoon and impressions that will leave their mark upon our lives.
Yours very truly,
Verner L. Snauble
for Mrs. V. L. Snauble

[Verner L. Snauble was Assistant Manager of the Michigan Furniture Company, and the only child of Prohibition advocate Paul Snauble, manager of the firm, which was located on Fourth Street at West William in the old West Side, in the handsome brick building that now houses O'Neal Construction and other engines of commerce. Perhaps the younger Snauble and his wife had visited the Markham Pottery that day. The identity of the addressee, "Mrs. Green", and her connection with Markham Pottery, remain mysteries for now.

A new Ann Arbor enterprise, manufacturing exquisite art pottery, Markham was then located on South Seventh, between the two unconnected segments of Madison Street. This was only a few blocks away from the furniture company's building. Difficulty in finding suitable clay for their enterprise led Markham Pottery founders Herman and Kenneth Markham to leave Ann Arbor for California in 1913.] --Wystan Stevens, Novembe 2005.

Mrs. Ruffin, the "Bird Lady" of 562 S. Seventh Street.

The Markham Pottery a was located century ago in a house on Seventh Street at the end of Madison. (This was before a new segment of Madison, unconnected to the original, was laid behind that property, to the west.) The old house eventually was torn down, probably around 1965 or 1966, and the site got filled by a small housing development called Old Walnut Heights. The old house didn't look all that special from a distance -- on the outside, at least. In the 1940s my father took my older sisters there to buy parakeets and canaries from a woman who was known as "the Bird Lady." Mrs. Ruffin.

My sister Mary remembers that the house looked "special" inside, with a parquet floor and other elaborate woodwork that reminds her now, as she looks back, of the gorgeous Victorian interiors of certain landmark homes in Ann Arbor's Division Street Historic District. Wystan Stevens, November 2005.

The Most Expensive Ann Arbor Post Card of All Time?

A really rare, double real-photo post card of the University of Michigan football team, 16 men facing the camera in a single line, with three coaches (including head coach Fielding H. Yost), was sold on eBay on January 5, 2006, for the stupendous sum of $213.27. The photo bears the title, "University of Michigan Football Squad 1910" and is signed by A[lford]. S. Lyndon, a legendary Ann Arbor photographic artist who opened a store on North University Avenue a century ago, where he sold cameras and photographic supplies, and published both double and single post card views of hundreds of street scenes and bodies of water in towns and resorts all over the Lower Peninsula.

Operating from this handy campus location, Lyndon often ventured forth to record the generations of University of Michigan students as they observed decorum in formal shots of class groups and organizations, or displayed a rowdy joie de vivre in class-day games, pushball contests, tugs-of-war, and other manifestations of the "friendly rivalry of college life." Most of Lyndon's post cards were printed in great numbers by means of lithography or rotogravure -- but not this one, a genuine photograph, painstakingly made in a darkroom, employing a tedious hand process, with chemical baths and washes, which must of necessity have resulted in a relatively limited edition -- perhaps a hundred or two at most. So eleven fanatical wagerers eagerly leapt after this scarce surviving specimen, quickly pushing the bids to a record total for a post card from Ann Arbor. Judging by his list of previous eBay purchases, the winner of the prize, who styles himself by the pseudonym "ikecc", is a well-heeled collector (but not a dealer) of sports and pop-culture memorabilia -- address, alas, unknown. The happy seller was S. C. Gaynor, of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Wystan Stevens. n.d.


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