Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III)

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, October 1981,
October 1981
Original Images:

Author: Charles Rich Pattison

This early history first appeared in the Ypsilanti Commercial on May 23, 1874 and was written by Charles Rich Pattison. Mr. Pattison was Editor-Publisher of the Commercial 1864-87.

This is a continuation. Part I appeared in the April, 1981 and Part II followed in the July, 1981 Gleanings.

This is the final section in the series.


While it has been our object to write more particularly of the religious, educational, and manufacturing interests of our city, we would not wholly ignore the general business of the place.

Dry goods, Groceries, Drugs, Books, Hardware, Boots & Shoes, in the latter department quite largely, and other classes of business are well represented, and goods bought in the eastern markets are sold here at prices which keep the purchaser from going elsewhere; it is conceded that our merchants constantly keep a large stock on hand from which to make selections. Our advertising columns indicate the enterprising merchants.

Our meat markets in general equipment and in the ambition to supply first quality of meats are not excelled in the State.

We have six hotels, one, the Follett House, the boast of all travelers who visit our city; and the Hawkins House has for many years been a favorite.

Invalids are offered the best of medical treatment. We have a first class hospital under the superintendency of Mrs. Ruth A. Gerry, M.D. A superior hydropathic institution most delightfully located upon the banks of the Huron, Mrs. Helen McAndrew, M.D., proprietor. And a medical institute, Dr. W.H. Hall proprietor; and physicians of all schools of first class reputation.


The Michigan Central Railroad was completed to this place in 1837. This road goves easy access to the outer world, and it is now joined at this place by the Detroit, Hillsdale & Indiana road which was completed in 1871.

The road to be built from here to Trenton and which will make direct connections with the Canada Southern has been surveyed and will doubtless be completed at an early day, making a connection north at some point with the Pere Marquette Railroad. The amount of shipments over the Michigan Central Railroad to and from this place amounted to 51,136 tons for the year ending March, 1874, and the number of passengers over the same road leaving here was 41,615.


It will be seen from what has been said concerning the subject, that we are by no means without a large manufacturing interest in our midst. Already is there more than $1,000,000 invested in the manufacture of staple commodities, and these industries give employment to a large number of men and women. The woolen mill alone provides work for about sixty persons when in operation. Thirteen firms employ steam to the aggregate of about two hundred horse power, and others employ the river to the amount of over one thousand horse power to run their machingery. This source of power last mentioned is but partially used, and there are excellent sites both above and below the city still unoccupied. Within three miles of its southern boundary several dams might be constructed which would afford power equal to that already employed, and the river is never so low as to prevent a waste of water at all the places where now used.

The aggregate sales of all these firms amounts to over $2,000,000 per year. This last item is based upon the estimates of ten of the leading establishments.

The reader should remember that all that has been said about manufactures does not include the hardware stores, all of which are supplied with skilled laborers who are constantly engaged in the manufacture of sheet iron and tinned ware for cook stoves, etc., nor the dealers in shoes, all of whom keep from three to six workmen who are manufacturing thousands of pairs of boots and shoes per year for their regular customers. These dealers purchase many thousands of dollars worth of material each year for use in their own shops. Nor does this estimate include the dealers in clothing, who keep many pairs of hands constantly busy in the manufacture of clothing of the most desirable quality; neither does it include dress-making and kindred manufactures, which are more or less transient in their nature, and which require but a small, because a constantly changing capital, to conduct them.

Advantages of Locality, Climate, Residences, Etc.

Ypsilanti is about thirty miles from Detroit, to which it has ready access by rial at nearly all hours of the day. Many men who do business there have their homes here, and by an arrangement with the M.C.R.R. are enabled to go and come for not much above a mere nominal fare, while the reduced cost of living, and other advantages enjoyed here, render their annual expenses very much less than they would be did they live in Detroit. A train is run into Detroit before business hours, and leaves at the close of business in the evening.

The city lies upon both sides of the Huron, which enters its limits near the northwest corner, and after describing a graceful curve to the East, leaves it near the middle of the southern boundary. The current of the stream is rapid, and there are no flooded flats or marshes to pour forth their pestilence over the country. The banks of the river rise in beautiful terraces, upon which lies the city, and the ascent from the river is so gradual that the grading of the streets has left on “steeps to . Of the streets it is necessary to say that in their grading, and consequent excellent conditon, they challenge inspection.

The business of the is largely confined to Congress Street on the west side, and to Cross Street on the east side. The depot is on the east side, but the distance from one side to the other is so short that no inconvenience to the citizens or the public arises from the division. The old jealousy between the two portiors long since died out.

The city is beautiful with shade trees, which have been planted with no stingy hand. Among the more beautiful streets may be mentioned Forest Avenue, Huron and River Streets. Many fine residences already exist—more perhaps than are usually to be found in towns of this size.

Our situation as regards Detroit, our healthful climate, the beautiful and highly productive country around, our excellent facilities for manufacturing purposes, the ready access to the place from abroad, our nearness to a good market, and the excellence of our religious and educational advantages, are every year adding to the number of those who are desirous of taking their families where they will be free from the dangers—both moral and physical—which infest a large city, and where they will have the advantages of the best schools, and yet be near enough to their business to give it their daily supervision without being absent from home more than the usual business hours of the day.

From what has already been said, it will be inferred that an intelligent and moral tone permeates the social atmosphere, and this opinion is emphasized by the fact that the ladies of the place have through their own resources accumulated a public library of seventeen hundred volumes, and have secured for its reception large and tastefully furnished rooms. To the books already owned others are constantly being added, and not only the ladies immediately interested, but the whole town have reason to be proud of their success.

We have two first-class banks. The First National,—its directors being among our most wealthy and reliable citizens; and Cornwell, Hemphill & Co., a solid, first class business firm.

There are several first class dentists in this city. For further information see special notice column.

Note—Ypsilanti is the headquarters of traveling commercial agents. Nearly forty at present making this city their home. They are drawn here for the reasons given elsewhere.

It is a striking fact that our shrewd men of means are buying up the valuable locations in the city and suburbs, confident of a big rise in real estate.

Frank Smith began advertising reqularly in the Commercial five years ago, taking a half column. He has built up a marvelous trade.

There are several soda fountains in the city that would do credit to any city of ten times our size. Among the most notable are Lieut. Halleck's at the Central Drug Store, and the one at J.A. Wilson's Bakery.

Our News Depots are not surpassed in the State. James E. Seaver in the P.O. Room and J.H. Davis near the Railroad Depot.


has the largest establishment in the city. He keeps the Mowers and Reapers of the most celebrated manufactures. He occupies Norris block near the depot, one of the finest blocks in the city. His sales run up to nearly $100,000 per annum, and it is comparatively a new enterprise. In the same block is the paint shop of Thompson & Vaughan, one of the most extensive shops in the city or county. This firm has painted the Normal and Union school buildings and many of the finest public residences. They employ from twelve to fifteen hands.


Our Fire Company

recently organized compares favorably with any other in the State. It is composed of our best citizens. We have two Fire engines, one of them is a steam engine of which our firemen are justly proud. It is a beauty. Connected with it is a thousand feet of hose. F.P. Bogardus, Foreman.


Ypsilanti Light Guard

is the name of our city military organization armed and equipped at the law provides. The State Inspector General pronounces it the best drilled and finest company in the State. Capt. Cicero Newell is the commander.


Hewitt Hall.

The Ypsilanti Light Guard have rented for a term of years Hewitt Hall, one of the largest in the city, and have fitted it up in superb style. The Hall is provided with scenery and it will be rented for concerts, shows, etc.

Follett Hall.

Connected with the Follett House is a neat tasty Hall. It is occupied Sunday evenings by the Spiritualists. Banjamin Todd, lecturer.

Batchelder's Hall.

Occupied by the Good Templars, Granges, and Temperance Sunday School. Rented for socials, parties, etc.

Samson's Hall

A neat place for social and festive gatherings.

The Post Office

Is in the efficient charge of Capt. C. Spencer, and few offices do as large business with the same amount of population. A proof of the intelligence of our people.

There are two telegraph offices here, with accomodating operators, and a good amount of business.

The American Express Company, with Samuel J. Vail as agent, does an immense amount of business.

Charles E. Samson's “Temple of Music” furnishes musical instruments, and the latest music publications.

City Government.

Mayor—Watson Snyder

City Clerk—Charles M. Woodruff

Treasurer—Cornelius N. Ganson

Aldermen—Edward H. Jackson, George W. Kishlar, Charles Shier, J. Frank Smith, Charles Fleming, Daniel Putnam, Charles McCormick, Joseph Follmor, Clark Cornwell, Charles Woodruff.


There are seven clothing stores. They keep a general stock of clothing and furnishing goods, and manuacture clothing to order. The leading house in this line is Sanders & Wortley. They keep the most complete stock of men's, youths' and children's clothing, hat and caps, furnishing goods, and a full stock of cloths for custom trade. They make a specialty in fine ready-made garments, which for quality, style, and trimmings are equal to custom work. They are young men well posted in their business, and always make it a point to have the very latest styles direct from New York.


In jewelry, S.H. Dodge takes the lead. His stock of watches, jewelry, silver and plated-ware is unequaled in extent and quality of goods in Washtenaw County. He buys for cash, of the largest manufacturers and imprters only, and can not be undersold by any house in the State. We were shown some beautiful goods of his own manufacture, consisting of rings, pins and sleeve buttons, set with amethyst, topaz and cameos, that for quality, style, and beauty of workmanship, could not be excelled. He also manufactures to order, in any style that my be desired, and at lower prices than could be purchased at wholesale of Eastern manufacturers. Mr. D. commenced business in 1861, and is now doing the largest business in this line in the county.

Our Census Statistics

In 1850 we had a population of 3,052; in 1860, 3,956; 1870, 5,471—not a rapid, mushroom growth, but a healthy, stable improvement. We have kept pace with some of our sister cities, Ann Arbor for instance, which has an increase from 4,870 in 1850, to 7,369 in 1870, Our increase in twenty years is 2,419; Ann Arbor, 2,498. A close competition and a remarkable race on our part, when it is considered that the Michigan University is located there. Being only eight miles distant, not a few of our young men and women board at home in this city while attending the University.

Surrounding country.

Immediately adjacent to the city, and stretching far away in all directions, is a country abounding in farms under the most approved state of cultivation, and supplied with every desirable natural feature. The older houses have largely been supplanted by elegant farm houses of modern design. The older resident farmers have quite uniformly become wealthy.

Beginning at the eastern boundary of the city is one of the loveliest plains to be found anywhere, about two miles wide and four long. For nursery purposes it is unequalled in the country. On this plain Mr. E.D. Lay established the pioneer nursery of the State, It is peculiarly adapted to fruit. Mr. T. Phillips, from a garden of only ten acres, sends thousnads of baskets of luscious fruit to Detroit every year. This Spring he sold five thousand strawberry plants to one man and seven thousand to other parties, though a bad year for selling.

Ypsilanti town, and the adjoining towns of Superior, Pittsfield, York, Augusta, Van Buren and Canton, are rich in agricultural products, as well as first-class timber. It would astonish the stranger to see the enormous amount of apples bought in this market and exported to less favored communities. Also potatoes; Mr. J. Emerick, a farmer near the city, raised last Fall, as unpropitious as the season was, over four thousand bushels from fifteen acres.

There are several cheese factories near by, the most noted of which are in the town of Augusta, and near Rawsonville.

The butter of Washtenaw County is not excelled by the famous Orange County butter of New York.

Good farms can be bought for from $25.00 to $100.00 per acre.

There are beautiful rural residences on the plains and room for more. Adjoining the cinty on the northeast is a farm containing many hundreds of acres, which the propietor, J.E. Sexton, proposes to lay out in ten acre lots for rural homes, convenient to the depot. Mr. E. Laible, and several others from Detroit, already have their palatial residences on these fertile plains, and daily attend to their business in Detroit.

R.W. Hemphill, and other parties, are making valuable improvements on the southwest boundaries of the city, and will ere long place upon the market some eligible lots for residences.

Excellent mild is furnished our citizens from the nighboring dairy farms, the most noted being those of Finley & Nygh, and A. Seymour.

Produce Exportations.

We give the reports of three of our produce dealers, from May 1st, 74.

S.G. Rowley & Co.—Eggs, 70,000; Butter, 60 tons; Turkeys, 14,000 lbs.; Chickens, Geese and Ducks, 22,000 lbs.

William H. Yost,—Butter, 50 tons; Eggs 60,000 dozen; green apples, 6000 barrels; Dried apples, 150,000 pounds; Wool, 28,000 pounds; Dressed Hogs, 1,000; Beans, 2000 bushels.

Homer Cady,—March 2st, 1873, to March 1st, 1874.—Butter 174,000 pounds,—25,000 pound to one man; Eggs, 50,000 dozen. Aggregate amount of his sales, $47,000.

S. Robbins is dealing largely in hides and pelts, and exporting to eastern markets.

The Eashtern Michigan Agricultural Society Including several adjoining counties hold their annual fairs in this city, annually, about the last of September. Their grounds at the west limits of the city embrace twenty acres. Two grand stands, Floral Hall, Vegetable and Fruit Hall, and as good a half mile track as can be found in the State.

Several of our farmers raise blooded stock. D.M. Uhl, on the plains, does so on the largest scale. His stock is the pride of our local and State fairs, and sells at fabulous prices.

Livery Stables.

Of these there are four (Noble & Hutchinson ranking first), which furnish to citizen and stranger good rigs at reasonable rates. A ride down the river on its east bank to Rawsonville, four miles, and then its west bank to Belleville three miles farther is rarely equalled for fine scenery.

Our soil is well adapted to sweet potatoes, and a number of farmers are beginning their culture.

The farmers of the vicinity are united in a joint stock company, the Farmers' Store being the result which has proved a great success. Hon. J.W. Childs, President; J.M. Chidister, Superintendent.


In view of all the advantages we possess we invite all who contemplate a change of residence, either for the sake of educating their children, to make profitable investments, or for the purpose of engaging in manufacture of any kind, or for pleasant homes where they may enjoy life and peacefully end their days, to visit our beautiful city and examine the facilities here offered before going elsewhere.


We are amply supplied with tradesmen of all kinds, physicians and lawyers, but in every line of manufacturing there is room for almost unlimited expansion. Fuel is cheap for those who prefer steam; and a number of good mill sites, near by, are waiting for some one to come and occupy them; building materials of all kinds and of excellent quality can be had at fair prices, being much cheaper than in many places whose advantages are much less than ours. Material for manufacture when not native, is easity and cheaply imported. No fact is more thoroughtly established in the economic industries than the one, that material should be taken to be manufactured where it can be done at the least expense provided that by so doing it is not carried so far from market as to make the cost of transportation equal the amount saved in manufacturing; and for the manufacture of cloth, leather, boots and shoes, paper, wood work of all descriptions, clothing, all kinds of machinery, hardware, tin ware, etc., etc., Ypsilanti answers the conditions of this principle. Besides a good home market, we have access, at all seasons of the year, to the markets of the east, west, north, and south. Another great advantage is also found in the low price of real estate, and the low rate of taxation. Owing to the fact that the value of many sites for the purpose of manufacture, is not appreciated because not known by their present owners, or if known, because there is lack of capital. Such property can be bought today for one-half the sum it will be worth in ten years.

Another and considerable advantage arises from the condition of the city. The streets are already graded, the public buildings are erected, and two fine iron bridges span the river. There is no heavy bonded debt hanging like a mill stone upon us.

The panic of last October struck us, as a community at a time when we was wholly unprepared, but the fact that so little check was given to those interests which were elsewhere most affected demonstrated their reliability.

It is an interesting fact that to a large extent our manufacture, and indeed it may be said of almost all kinds of business in our midst that they are owned by the men who built them up.

That so many men have already made their homes here while their business lies elsewhere, tends to demonstrate the belief already stated, that here is to be a town of more than ordinary beauty, owing to the taste and wealth that will be expended in the erection of beautiful residences, a goodly number of which we already possess.

A little more attention paid to strangers looking for investments, and a disposition to aid and encourage them, would advantage both them and us.

Women here with willing hands to work are scarce. They are quite largely employed in our manufactories, paper mills, etc., wherever they can be to advantage, and get good wages.

Articles from the Ypsilanti Record, 1922

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, June 1990,
June 1990
Original Images:

We have recently been given some copies of the Ypsilanti Record for 1922 and are including some articles from it.

Baptist Church

The men of Dr. Barss class will meet at the Church for the Monthly Social Hour. All men of the Church and all men who do not attend any other Sunday School Classes are invited to attend.


The fine day Sunday brought out a large attendance at Sunday School. On Tuesday evening the B.Y.P.U. held a Business and Social at the Church Parlors.

The men of Dr. Barss class of the Baptist Sunday School met at the parsonage on FRiday evening, January 6, and enjoyed a fine “Talkfest” and a “Get Your Own” Luncheon. Mr. Ben Burbank, as chairman of the entertainment committee made this novel lunch possible. Mr. R.A. McCracken, class president, laid plans for the next two months and a good time is in store.

Presbyterian Church

January 5, 1922

Motion Pictures Sunday night at 7:00, “By Their Fruits” and two reels on Mexico.

The Young People's Sociaty of Christian Endeavor elected the following officers Monday evening: President, Dorothy Squires; Vice President, Flossa Earl; Secretary, Ethel Lathers; Treasurer, Harold Kiddoo.

Lutheran Church

February 16, 1922

Has Perfect Attendance for nine years. At the Lutheran Sunday School Sunday morning, Albert Tackman was presented with a handsome Bible, in appreciation of him having a perfect attendance for nine years. Others receiving prizes for perfect attendance for one year were: Martha Vial, Elizabeth Becker, Betty Fenker, Rosina and Albert Tackman, Edward Root and Luther Fenker.

News Items-

January 26, 1922

Now Cutting Ice

The Ypsilanti Ice Company began the cutting of Ice on the Huron River on Tuesday. They are taking this so that there might not be another shortage of ice here next summer. The Michigan Central Railroad Company also let the contract for the cutting of Ice at Shanghai Pit.

Ypsilanti Has Cold War

Ypsilanti people for the past few days have been experiencing some real winter weather. Sunday night the thermometer registered around zero. Monday night it dipped to four balow. Tuesday night it started to go to the bottom, but stopped at 10 below. Some say it went as low as 16. Mr. Conger promised warmer weather for the latter part of the week.

Rained Fried Cakes

Early Monday morning it fairly rained Fried Cakes at the corner of Huron and Cross Streets. Two Fords came together at this corner, one of them laden with Fried Cakes. The iron fence at the Wm. Murdock residence, located on the corner, came in for damages, as well as some shrubbery. Both cars were more or less damaged.

Huron Market Going Strong

July 22, 1922

Twenty-six automobiles lined up at the curb on Huron street Wednesday morning and 26 or more farmers prepared to sell their Produce. Several who were too late to get in line were forced to go to Ann Arbor.

Everything was offered for sale from Cottage Cheese done up in little paraffin paper packs to sweet corn. Celery and raspberries, huckleberries, plums, potatoes, apples, beets, eggs and everything were much in evidence. Shoppers cleaned up everything by 10:30.

August 5, 1922

The Huron Street Market grows steadily. Twenty-eight automobiles lined up on Huron street Wednesday morning loaded with every conceivable kind of Produce from surrounding farms. Buying was brisk, and by 10:30 cash and produce had changed hands to everybody's satisfaction. Besides affording the Ypsilanti Housewife a chance to purchase from a variety of vegetables and fruits, all laid out for inspection. The Market also provides the opportunity for morning gossip with friends and acquaintances, a social as well as a shopping expedition.

From the Archives

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1980,
April 1980
Original Images:

The Grove-Lower Huron
October 27, 1823

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please to pay the bearer Mr. Beverly, for me, four dollas and fifty cents in goods out of your store and oblige yours-

Henry H.Snow

(Henry H.Snow owned the land where Rawsonville is located and was known as “Snow's Landing”).

Woodruff's Grove
November 13, 1823

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please to send me by Mr. Cross, the bearer, 2 gallons whisky-4 lbs sugar-1/2 powder and 2 lbs shot and charge same to Sir, yours,

Henry H. Snow

l lb powder delivered, in addition to the above send one pound of tea and your bill if you please-H.H.Snow

Woodruff's Grove
January 17, 1824

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please deliver the bearer, Benjamin J. Woodruff, goods out of your store to the amount of five dollars and charge the same to your humble servant-

Henry H. Snow

Woodruff's Grove
February 13, 1824

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please to let the bearer, G.W. Noyes have three dollars out of your store and charge to me.

Henry H. Snow

Ypsilanti Gleanings, July 1974: Memories of Early Depot Town

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Author: Joseph H. Thompson

Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: July 1974

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/1974-Jul.pdf

I have been asked a number of times to give my impression of the Depot section just after 1900.

I was born on Maple Street very close to this area so I think I have a pretty good idea of the business section and some of the merchants and their activities in this part of the city. The east side had many names: The East Side, Depot Town, Cross Street, Down Town as opposed to Up-Town.

I hope that you will pardon me if I begin with the business my parents operated on the corner of River and Cross Streets. It was known as the “Thompson Building”. My grandfather, O.E. Thompson, my father, Benjamin Thompson, my uncle, Edward Thompson, and my uncle, John Thompson were very busy in the manufacturing of agricultural implements; root cutters, grass seeders, kraut and slaw cutters, and later, porch swings. They employed about 40 men. They also ran a retail business selling coal, building supplies, carriages and wagons, paint and wall paper-at one time sold over 200 bicycles in one year. They had the agency for the Nichols and Shepherd threshing engines that were made in Battle Creek. I recall that they had a crew of paper hangers and painters that were busy in the city in that line of work.

In the Thompson Building there was also a tailor by the name of Otto Biske that made hand-made clothes for many of the people who could afford it. Right next to Mr. Biske's tailor shop was the city fire department where they operated one horse, and a couple of firemen who slept up-stairs over the fire equipment. During the off hours Tommy Wilkinson operated this horse in picking up the refuse on the Depot streets. (You know they had horses in those days.) And up on the top of the building was a large bell that would ring and the number of strokes on the bell would tell you what location in town the fire was burning or being extinguished.

Across the street was the Michigan Central Depot with all its busy trains coming and going and baggage wagons and hacks calling out for the Hawkins House and Occidental Hotel, a couple of baggage wagons that were handling the baggage and sample trunks that the salesmen used in selling their wares. The Depot at that time was a two-story building and a fire burned off the top of it and they reduced it to one floor. On that Michigan Central they had one train they called the “paper train” that left Detroit at 2 o'clock at night and took the newspapers all the way up the line from the Detroit publishers. Then they had a train they called “the blind baggage” which had one coach on the rear with holes where the guardians could poke their guns out if it was held up. It carried the money from Detroit to Chicago. Then there was a car on that train they called the “silk car” that carried silk in bales that was all made up in fabric. The Depot was so busy that it was really a nice exciting place to go as kids. Madison Parsons called out the trains-“Train going west, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo” etc. Tommy Thompson in a uniform sold tickets and George Oberst was a baggageman. That was a very big part of the traveling in those days.

Across the tracks was the freight depot where horse-drawn drays hauled all the freight that came in box cars and shipped out all of the manufactured products for Ypsilanti including the Penninsula Paper Company and other factories that were doing pretty well. The train stopped for water there and the gardens next to the depot were something to behold. Mr. John Laidlaw, a Scotch gardener, was known all up and down the line for his display of flowers and he would build huge arrangements out of flowers and plants like the Niagara Falls and the battleship, Maine and the head boys got on the trains and gave the ladies little bouquets when they stopped in Ypsilanti.

Up the tracks a little farther from the greenhouse were the stock-yards where once a week they shipped livestock in cattle cars. The drovers-well, I remember Mr. Farnsby Horner and Dick Spencer would buy this livestock and then have it brought to the stock yards once a week where they shipped it out.

To come back to East Cross Street-on the corner across the tracks was a hotel called the Neat House, as I remember the first name on it. Then it was changed to the Lewis House. Then a fellow came down from Michigan Center named Dad Yates who opened a tavern and did a thriving business. Oliver Westfall afterwards had the hotel and it had a bar downstairs and sleeping rooms upstairs for maybe 15 or 20 people. Next to this hotel was a drug store that was operated by Robert Kilian and in the drug store was a jewelry repair out-fit run by Mr. E.N. Colby, where they cleaned watches and sold small articles of jewelry. Kilian had a wonderful soda fountain and the kids all went in there when they had the money to buy one. Next door was Clark and House's grocery and later the store was operated by Mr. H.A. Palmer as a hardware store. The next store, going west, was a meat market run by Mr. Charlie Fairchilds and his wife, Lilly, and next to that was the Robert's House, another bar with rooms upstairs. Just beyond that was the Ypsilanti Reed Furniture Company that moved out from Detroit where it was known as the Phoenix Reed Furniture Company. They employed probably 35 to 40 men making reed furniture which was very popular in those days and they stayed for a number of years and finally moved to Jackson, Michigan where they got prison labor for 50¢ a day. That was the end of the Ypsilanti Reed Furniture. On the corner west of there was a hardware store operated by Whitford and Simmons; Theodore Whitford and Mr. Cal Simmons. They had a tin shop in the back room and in their spare time they made all sorts of tin utensils and eaves-troughs and down-spouts and all that stuff that was made by hand in those days.

That Follett House had quite a history but I never recall when it was a hotel. It was a factory from the time that I remember.

Across the street west of the hardware was the Deubel Mill where they ground up wheat and made flour. It was run by water power from the Huron River with a race that ran north to the dam near Forest Avenue. Up the race a little ways was a saw mill that Mr. H.R. Scovill operated with his partner, George Follmor. The farmers brought in their logs and they were dumped into the race and floated down until the mill was ready to saw them up into lumber. Frog Island across from the race was just full of lumber piles of all different kinds and descriptions. Of course, it was all delivered by horses with immense drays. Up the race a little farther was a sash and door mill that was operated by Scovill and across the river was the Hay and Todd Manufacturing Company or the Ypsilanti Underwear Company that was also run by water power. Just think-that dam operated water power for the woolen mill, for the sash and door, for the Scovill log mill, and for the Deubel Flour Mill. Quite a lot of power came from the Haron River.

On Forest Avenue across from the woolen mill, was a tannery that Mr. Holland ran. He would buy hides from the farmers and tan them into leather. This was quite an operation. He also bought junk. Us kids used to sell him all the metal we could find around and he was a very nice old man as I can remember.

On Forest Avenue, up a little farther on River Street was a malt house run by Mr. Fred Swain. They converted barley into malt that was sold to extensive brewery operations around like Forrester's and like the ones in Ann Arbor and Manchester. That seemed to be a part of the brewing that was very essential in making beer.

Let's go back across the river now on the South side of Cross Street. The first building that I remember there was a law office where lawyer Lee M. Brown held forth. He has the attorney for all the Depot people that needed to go to law. Next to that law office, George W. Hayes had a grocery. And East of that grocery was John Engal Cartage and Coal office behind which he had an extensive barn and owned a number of teams of horses and drays that did the hauling around the Depot section. A junk dealer, Mr. Louie Cramer, was quite an operator. He had a little store and bought all the junk that was available at that time. Next to Mr. Cramer's place of business was a cigar store that was operated by Mr. Chris Duress. They called him “Doc”, for he concocted a remedy that he claimed would restore lost manhood. He filled his window one day with this remedy and the sun came through the window pretty bright and the bottles exploded and blew out the front windows so I guess he did away with his remedy after that experience. Tommy Duffy had a shoe repair shop right next door and took care of all the people's wants repairing their shoes.

Now we'll go up Cross Street a little bit farther east. A man by the name of Fremont Paterson had a store which was a bakery and candy store. He was also an inventor. He invented what they called a unicycle. It was a big, tall wheel and he was suspended in the center of it. I saw him come down Cross Street hill and wreck it one day and that was the last we ever heard of the unicycle. Charley Smith had a meat market next door. I guess in those days they called it a butcher shop, and outside of the city they had a slaughte house where the cattle were killed and then brought in and sold at retail. Joel Grieve had a bakery next door and I used to deliver for him on Saturdays. When we came back at night what bread we had left we fed the horse. Davis
and Company had a grocery and drygoods store which did an extensive business. Across the alley A.A. Bedell had a shoe store and next was the Justice of the Peace office where they held trials and Squire Beach was, as I remember, the judge and following him was Frank Joslin. Upstairs over these two stores was the Maccabee Hall and it used to be called the Masonic Hall but they moved up town and the Maccabees took it over. Peter Cranson had a barber shop next door and Clyde Roe a restaurant next to him. There was next door what the people called a “horse exchange”. It was where a bunch of gamblers came out from Detroit every day on the Michigan Central and it was what they called “off-track betting”. Large black-boards lined the halls and the race results came in from around the country by wire and these men would bet the same as they do today at the horse races only there weren't any horses in sight. That place was run by Warren Lewis and it was very thriving for number of years until George Burke was elected prosecutor and he closed it up. Upstairs over the horse exchange was a house of ill-repute. “Ma” Bush was the landlady and of course that completed the business section in that neighborhood.

Nick Max had a saloon adjacent and Dick Wilbur operated a cigar store on the corner which is now removed. It was hit by a train and it still shows the scars of where the train struck the building. Later, on that corner, there was a food counter and I remember Mr. Bicraft, where you could go to get a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Down River Street, a ways south, was a foundry and machine shop where they made flour mill machinery. Mr. Charles Ferrier and Mr. George Walterhouse operated this. Next to them was a blacksmith shop run by Otto Rohn. Of course, all the horses had to be shod in those days and this was one place they could take them. Now, on the southeast corner of River and Michigan was the Ypsilanti Electric Company that furnished electric lights for the city in their homes and business, only there was no power generated at that time. It only ran at night because there wasn't any use of electricity in the day time. There were two plants in Ypsilanti-one that furnished the city lights and the water works and the other building furnished the lights for the homes. I remember our home at 108 Maple Street was the first one that was wired in Ypsilanti because it was the closest one to the plant. George Essinger came in with his wire. None of the wires were concealed. They just ran up the walls and across the ceilings except that they took the gas fixtures and rewired them for electric which were quite ornamental. Later this electric plant was sold to Edison Company.

I've been told by two interesting people of those days about a couple of sales that were made at the Depot. One was when Denny Doyle sold the Follett House. It seems that business had fallen off quite a lot. Denny wanted to sell the place so he heard about a fellow by the name of Mathias who was looking for a tavern so he invited him to Ypsilanti to take a look at the Follett House. Denny was a little bit unscrupulous in his business actions but he got a group of fellows to go to Ann Arbor with suit cases and another group to go down to Wayne and when the Michigan Central train came in these fellows flocked into the Follett House to register and stay over night. Mathias was sitting in the lobby and he looked over the crowd and just then the train came in from the other way and these fellows he had sent to Wayne came in. Well, the bar was doing business and the barber shop was doing business and Mathias was mesmerized by the amount of business he anticipated so he bought the place; and didn't they sell him another place up in the Thompson Building for an overflow of his patrons. Well, he paid his money and he owned the hotel and Doyle was gone.

Another incident that happened that had a little humor to it was when they had the fiftieth anniversary and the celebration was held at the Depot. They had an arch over the road that was made of lattice and up on the top of the arch they had a figure of the Goddess of Liberty, which was a manikin bust that they borrowed from some milliner. Well, they had a speaker-I don't know, a congressman or somebody, come here to make the speech for the fiftieth anniversary. They had this bust up on top of the arch with a shroud over it and at a critical time in his speech they were to pull the rope and that would take the shroud off the bust. But, in the night some wag crawled up on there and with his jackknife cut a hole in the mouth of the Goddess of Liberty and inserted about a 7-inch cigar so at the critical moment they pulled off the shroud and there was the Goddess of Liberty, instead of looking fresh and sweet as she should, she had this great big cigar in her mouth and it brought down the house. Well-so much for that.

There was quite an interesting thing that happened at the Depot. Mr. Shelly B. Hutchinson had a shoe store there at one time and in visiting a friend of his over in Jackson he noticed that he had a sales gimmick where he gave each customer a coupon and on Saturday night they would have a drawing and somebody would get a nice piece of jewelry. Well, that started Mr. Hutchinson thinking about trading stamps and he developed the whole thing in the Depot section of Ypsilanti. And that is the Hutchinson of the S & H Trading Stamps. He built a beautiful home on River Street that still stands, which is kind of a monument of his great success in the trading stamp business. Other things that Mr. Hutchinson got into didn't pan out so well. He started a newspaper in Detroit called the United States Daily that failed and he started a cereal factory something like the Battle Creek cereal over at the Depot and that didn't do too well.

Did you know a horse-drawn street car operated between Depot Town and Up Town? It was driven by Ruben Cole and went west on Cross Street to Washington and then south to Harriett Street. I recall my mother placing me on a seat with a quantity of sewing material and patterns, and Mrs. Frank Showerman removing me, at her home on South Washington Street. They never turned the car around, simply changed the horse to the other end.

Well, I hope I haven't made too many mistakes in this little discourse and I hope some of you people find it interesting about the early days of Depot Town.

View the following images in our Gleanings image gallery:

Michigan Central and Lakeshore Station
Early Depot Town
Michigan Central Depot

History of the King and Lamb Grocery Store

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, February 1974,
February 1974
Original Images:

Author: Charles King Lamb

By Charles King Lamb ((1893–1970))
The founding of the King Grocery Store in 1838 followed the settling of Ypsilanti by only fifteen years. At the time there were about 120 houses in the village. Many log structures remained but among them were ambitious edifices of stone, brick, or frame construction.

The food problem was often a pressing one and much reliance was of necessity placed upon wild game. At first all groceries were brought from Detroit. The road was almost impassable to an ox team and it sometimes took three days to make the thirty-mile trip. For years, after its opening, the Detroit road ran through seas of mud and over miles of jolting corduroy; no teamster thought of leaving home without an axe and log chain to cup poles to pry his wagon out of the mud. For a time the road was so impassable that travellers had to come from Detroit by way of Plymouth and Dixboro. For visiting and trading, settlers gladly endured a twenty or thirty-mile ride over bottomless roads. As early as 1829, settlers in the St. Joseph Valley journeyed 150 miles to Ypsilanti to get a few rolls of wood carded at Mark Norris' mill, to buy a little tea and dry-goods, or replenish the whiskey barrel. The transportation of heavy freight was dependent on the Huron River; flat-bottom boats were poled up the river to the Raw-senvills Landing, some getting through as far as Ypsilanti.

The King Store was founded by George King on New Year's Day, 1838, on the site where the Schaible Garage recently stood on East Michigan Avenue. (40–42 E. Michigan). Mr. King and his two sons had come to this country from England in the latter years of his life. For a year previous to the founding of the store, George King operated the Stack House, an hotel founded by a Mr. Stackhouse several years earlier. I have often wished that I had a picture of this original store and knew how they conducted their business under all the existing handicaps. In 1840 the store was moved to a frame building at 101 West Mighigan Avenue, where it remained until 1858, when the present building was erected. (101 W. Michigan). During the construction of the new building business was conducted around the corner on South Huron Street, where the Barker Electric Shop now stands. (10 1/2 S. Huron).

Charles and Edward King, sons of George King, took over the business from their father, and were partners under the firm name of C. & E. King. Edward later withdrew, and Charles King and his son, Charles E. King, were partners under the name of King & Son. Charles King passed away in 1883; John G. Lamb entered the business in 1887, and the firm name was changed to Charles King & Co. Charles E. King and John G. Lamb operated under this firm name until the death of Charles E. King in 1913; the same year Charles King Lamb entered the business and the firm name was than changed to John G. Lamb & Son. John Lamb was in the store for fifty-three years, until his death in July, 1926.

In the early days it was the custom for farmers to bring their produce to the store to trade. Due bills were then issued for the cash transactions and the buyers, in turn, used them as negotiable paper in making other purchases in the village. At the end of the year the merchants met to settle up their accounts; in fact, merchants' accounts with each other were balanced only once a year. Charles King & Co. was the first store to start cash transactions; that is, they closed each deal instead of allowing credits and debits to continue for a period of time.
Nearly everything was sold in bulk and there were no canned fruits or vegetables. Coffee was sold in the green berry and later roasted in the home. The main staples at this time were four, which was often sold by the barrel, sugar, tea, coffee, soap, and potatoes; also a complete line of bulk seeds, lime and cement, the latter being purchased by the car load. Common barrel salt was also purchased by the car load and was the only kind used at that time. The original account book of the store, dating back to 1838, shows a wide range of commodities; among these are hay, spring water wheat, buckwheat, cigars, venison (indicating that deer meat was not uncommon), also poultry, pork, whitefish, beer and whiskey. The King store always aged their own cheese. They would purchase about one hundred cheese, which came packed in thirty-pound molds, open them periodically, grease them on top and bottom and then turn them. This process was continued for from four to six months, until the cheese was ready to sell. Cider was purchased in barrels and held until it turned into vinegar; the third floor of the store was used for the storage of these barrels of cider vinegar. Dairy butter was another item of which a very large volume was sold. The buying of butter was a great problem because no farmer's wife wanted to be told that hers was not up to par. In fact the store, in its efforts to be tactful, sometimes purchased butter when they knew it would have to be sold to the packers for a few cents a pound. To be a good butter-tester was quite an art and a store-keeper prided himself on his ability to distinguish good butter. The process used to keep dairy butter sweet was to place a layer of cheese-cloth on top, then cover with a layer of salt, about a half inch, then another layer of cheese cloth. A paper was then tied tightly over the top and the crooks packed in barrels placed in the basement. This process would keep it sweet for several months.

Even more recently, the store handled wash-boards, lamps, wicks, chimneys and burners. The only laundry soap available was yellow soap in bars, and sal-soap soda was the only watersoftener; blueing came only in quart bottles, not the concentrated type of today. Black pepper came in 150-pound barrels, and the old-fashioned cracker-barrel containing Vale & Crane crackers was a regular store feature. Pickels came in 50-gallon casks and molasses only in 60-gallon barrels to be sold in bulk. Lamb & Son was the only store to continue the sale of molasses in bulk, and people would come from as far as Detroit to get it.

The Civil War Period was a very difficult time for the store. As in the wars since then, prices soared very high and and price adjustments following caused many difficulties. Revenue stamps were used to tax many commodities. I might add that, a good many years afterward during a cleaning-out process, two bushels of invoices on which revenue stamps had been placed were offered for sale at $5. a bushel. A man bought two bushel for $10, and later realized over $2000 for their sale.

One of the difficulties of merchandizing in the early days was the lack of containers, boxes or bags. Cornucopias were used in handling some bulk goods. I can imagine the difficulties encountered in wrapping up twenty pounds of sugar or salt. I have heard that housewives had specially-made sugar containers which they took to the store to have filled.

King & Co. had its own delivery service which, in the beginning, was very difficult to operate. As there were only 25 telephones in the city, boys went from house to house by bicycle to take orders which were later delivered. When the delivery-man had finished his trip he would spend the balance of his time working in the store. The Merchants' delivery was started about 1910, and was a cooperative effort on the part of the merchants to give better service at a lower cost. This was successfully operated until 1933, at which time it had to be taken over by the individual stores. Before the days of automobiles, which enable people to go to the country and do much of their own buying, the volume of store buying was in much larger quantities. During this period, the Dunlap Store, (206 W. Michigan), joined us in purchasing car-load lots of peaches, stone ware, salt and sugar. My father used to go to the store at four o'clock when a car-load of peaches had arrived in order to get them in shape to sell.

At the time John G. Lamb went into the store, the wages paid were $3. a week in contrast to the present wages of from $40 to $50 a week. Up to 1920, store hours were from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on Saturdays. On holidays, stores were always open until noon. This is quite a contrast to the comparatively short hours of stores now-a-days, seldom open more than 9 to 6.

The policy of the store was always cleanliness and orderliness but not until after 1920 was any effort necessary for display. The windows were more or less used for holding bulk containers to relieve congestion in the store. From 1920 to 1925 more attention was given to windows and they were used really to display merchandise. In 1925 new fixtures were introduced which were to revolutionize the grocery business; display was the new element; counters in front of the shelves were removed and price tags placed on each item. This enabled the customer to examine the merchandise and know its cost. The Lamb store was remodelled, adopting these new ideas, in 1929. This new era was largely brought about by the chainstores who were masters in the art of mass display. They forced the service stores to be on their toes every minute; the problem was to buy in large enough quantities to get the best possible prices in order to meet the competition of the chain-stores. The service store prices were unfairly compared to the chain-store prices without sufficient allowance being made for the service rendered. Telephone, delivery service, and charge accounts were costly items of expense. It was quite rare after this time for a store to have 100% of its customer's business; the housewife would take advantage of the week-end specials at the chainstore and then have her daily delivery from the service store on possibly very small items. It is an interesting conjecture whether, after these hectic days of wartime buying, the busy housewife and tired warplant worker, now spending hours over her shopping and carrying all of the merchandise herself, will wish to return to the service type of store where she can telephone in her order in luxury of luxury have it deposited for her on her own kitchen table. The swing may again be to this type of store.

The John G. Lamb & Son Grocery Store was closed out in July, 1942, completing nearly one hundred and four years of service to four generations or more of Ypsilantians and their rural neighbors.

This article was first published in the WASHTENAW IMPRESSIONS #5, 1944 for the Washtenaw Historical Society. The author, Charles K. Lamb, was born in Ypsilanti in 1893 and died February 8, 1970. He was the son of John G. Lamb, (1858–1926) and Minnie Cremer Lamb (1866–1948). He graduated from Ypsilanti High School and attended the University of Michigan. In 1916 he married Helen Gertrude Sherzer, (1893–1968), daughter of William Sherzer and Maud J. Sherzer. Charles K. Lamb was also Chairman of the board of the First Savings Asso.; on the Board of Highland Cemetery and in 1966 the Chamber of Commerce conferred upon him a lifetime membership. 101 W.
Michigan is now the location of the Beneficial Finance Company.

View an image of a receipt from John G. Lamb & Son, circa 1930s.

Weinmann-Matthews Drug Store

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, September 1974,
September 1974
Original Images:

The very best history of the WEINMANN-MATTHEWS DRUG STORE which we have is one recently sent to us by Mr. Fred H. Weinmann from his home in Florida:

In 1898 my father, Mr. E. Fred Weinmann, and Mr. Ernest D. Matthews entered the drug business with their first store at 29 North Huron. In 1903 they incorporated with C.W. Rogers who owned and operated the Erastus Sampson Drug Store at 118 West Congress, as it was known at that time. (Erastus Sampson owned and operated a Drug Store as early as 1842 in a frame structure at this location which was destroyed in the tremendous fire of March 1851. The Samson Drug Store opened again that year for business in a new brick building at the same location. A drug store occupied this building which is still standing for the next 120 years.) The store was then re-named Rogers, Weinmann and Matthews. In those days, in addition to being a drug store, they handled paints, wallpaper and newspapers. For many years the store was opened at 6 A.M. to accomodate the painters and decorators. Another store was opened on West Cross Street and was know as “Rowima”. (A clever combination of the first two letters from the names of the three owners.) Later Mr. Weinmann and Mr. Matthews purchased Mr. Rogers interests with the exception of the “Rowima” store which he retained.

In the early 1903 Weinmann and Matthews purchased a store in Saline, Michigan which Mr. Weinmann operated for a few years. At that time the telephone exchange was located and operated in the store. It was in operation only during store hours.
Sometime between 1912 and 1915 the Company purchased two drug stores in Jackson, Michigan which they operated for a few years.

In the late 1920's Ralph D. Matthews and Fred H. Weinmann joined their fathers in the enterprise. In 1927 Weinmann and Matthews Co. purchased the Mercer Drug Store located at 36 North Washington; corner of Pearl and Washington. (This is the location of the old wooden structure known as the “Ark”. John Miller, the photographer, bought the property about 1915 and replaced the “Ark” with a two storey modern brick building.) The two stores were operated until 1946 at which time the Washington Street store was closed and consolidated with the Michigan Ave. store.

I will add a few episodes that may be of interest to include in your story.
In 1903 the Rexall Drug Co. was formed by Louis K. Liggett. The Weinmann Matthews Co. held a Rexall franchise from that original date. As you mentioned, many people enjoyed the delicious chocolate and coffee sodas served at our soda fountains. Mr. Louis A. Weinmann, brother of E. Fred Weinmann, made the syrup concentrates in a mammoth kettle in the back of the Michigan Avenue store. We had soda fountain customers who we saw only once a year, on their way to or from the University of Michigan football games. At that time all traffic went directly through Ypsilanti via Michigan Ave. to get to Ann Arbor Many older citizens may remember going to the second floor of the Michigan Ave. store to choose wall paper for their homes. For the Christmas season, starting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this same second floor was converted into “Toyland” until World War II.

It was a joyous time in which to do business in Ypsilanti. We hope that the merchants and business men at present continue to enjoy the wonderful community co-operation which we remember.

E. Fred Weinmann (1872 Saline-1948 Ypsilanti) worked for John Frank Smith whose “Smith” Drug Store was at 104 Congress. (Michigan) Frank Smith came to Ypsilanti after graduating from Dartmouth College in 1858. The Smith Drug Store made and sold ice cream-a chocolate sundae cost you five cents. Weinmann was always active in the Community and a Charter Member of the Ypsilanti Kiwanis Club.

Ernest D. Matthews (Ypsilanti 1874-Ypsilanti 1934), his partner, was a great reader and always had the books of the new authors in the book section of the store on Congress Street. In that section you found Edgar Lee Master's “Spoon River Anthology”, Zane Grey's latest novel and later “In our Time” and “Torents of Spring” by Ernest Hemingway. Rogers, Weinmann and Matthews, truly three remarkable Ypsilanti citizens.

Sometime ago Arthur J. Howard told us that when a young man, he traveled on business throughout the western states and how the one thing he really missed in hot weather were the sodas he had at Weinmann-Matthews. Each time he came to a new town he would go into the local drug store and have a soda-they were never as good. Finally, in a small town in Nebraska he found a drug store whose sodas were “almost as good as Weinmann-Matthews chocolate soda”. Many times, particularly on hot summer days, we have heard other people say, “Boy, wouldn't a bittersweet chocolate sundae or a chocolate soda taste good right now!” The Gaudy Chocolate Shop and the Weinmann-Matthews Drug Store

Gaudy's Chocolate Shop

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, September 1974,
September 1974
Original Images:

Fr: “The Importance of Being Earnest” Act 11
By: Oscar Wilde

Nothing can stop change-we all know that. But pleasant memories are with us always. This brief reminder is for all of those people who can still taste in their minds the bittersweet chocolate sundaes from “Gaudy's Chocolate Shop” and the chocolate or coffee ice cream sodas from Weinmann-Matthews Drug Store. And for those who never gathered in the drug store after a football game nor ever broused through Gaudy's-a short vignette of the past.


George Milne Gaudy (1864 Stratford, Canada-1944 Alma Masonic Home Michigan), came to Ypsilanti when he was eighteen and learned the bakery business from Horatio Haskin at 23 East Cross Street. By 1886 Gaudy had set up his own business at 17 West Congress, (Michigan Ave.)-“Star Bakery” where, according to the 1888 City Directory, he was the Manufacturer and Dealer in ice cream, bread, cakes, pastry, confectionery, fruits, nuts, cigars, etc., which also announced “Ordered Work a Speciality” and “promised delivery daily to all parts of the city”. In the early 1900's the location of the shop was at 119 Michigan, (the present location of the Terry Bakery), and prior to World War I a final move was made to 24 North Washington.

A recent letter from Mrs. Annie Laurie Lambie Melvin who once worked in the Bakery and Chocolate Shop, gives a fine picture of its operations:

When I first started in Gaudy's they were on Michigan Ave. and they had a bakery on one side of the store and candy on the other, with a space for ice cream in the back corner with an old fashioned soda fountain. That was back in the day when bread was five cents a loaf or six loaves for a quarter. I don't think Frank Smith ever dipped chocolates, he and Mr. Gaudy made all the candy, ice creams, salted peanuts and punch for the parties. Frank Smith and his wife Margaret served as butler and maid or whatever you called them at the best parties. I was also there when he took the store on Washington Street. (This last move was made about 1914 for in 1905 the building was occupied by Edward B. Dolson, bicycles and sporting goods and automobiles. Mr. Dolson was the first local representative for Ford Automobiles succeeded by Schaible and Wiedman and in 1912 by Pickles & Bassett, Plumbers and the Washtenaw Home Telephone Co.) There was a vacant lot north of the store full of burdocks, tin cans and rats, lots of rats. Next door was a fruit market and next to that Jay Moore, (J.E. Moore Furniture Store).
During the time the store was located on Michigan the name was changed from “Bakery” to “Gaudy Chocolate Shop” in recognition of the candy making which won state-wide renown for the Gaudy name.

George Milne Gaudy was a member of the Masonic Lodge and served in public office for many years: Mayor (1904–05), Councilman, Assessor, Supervisor and Relief Administrator and Postmaster for nine years (1925–34).
The following hand written letter was received by George M. Gaudy when he was Mayor.

To: Geo. M. Gaudy, Esquire
Mayor of the City of Ypsilanti
Michigan, U.S.A.
Dear Sir:
The members of the family, Ypsilanti, including my wife and myself, are deeply sensible to the kindest invitation addressed to them by the City of Ypsilanti, celebrating the home coming of the first residents on the twenty first day of June 1905.
Fully appreciating the honors addressed to the memory of our illustrious grand-uncle, Demetrious Ypsilanti. They beg you to receive with their deepest thanks their truest and most heartfelt wishes for the welfare and prosperity of the city that bears their name, to which they feel themselves bound by a link of most cordial sympathy.
They consider it as an honor to write their names as expressing their feelings.
With great respect, we have the honor to be, sir,

Very truly yours,
Immanuel Prince Ypsilanti
Theodore Prince Ypsilanti
Johanna Ypsilanti Countess Pappenheim
Chanelee Ypsilanti Princess Schillingsphinz

Podictiact, May 24th, 1905
Bohemia, Austria
The short notice following, “Ypsilanti Commercial” July 27, 1888, is proof that the Gaudy Bakery Shop was one of the hubs of city communication.
Hugh Locke says he wishes those who owe him for popcorn would call at G.M. Gaudy's and settle before he makes a special collection; he says there is about $12.00 due him and he will put some names on the dead beat list before long.
When Harold, one of the Gaudy's sons returned from the war he took over the operation of the business. Marjorie Lambie Troutveter, Ann Dusbiber and others prepared the popular lunches. Harold Gaudy died in December of 1941 and his wife, Ellen, assumed operation of the store until May of 1944. The location of the store at 24 North Washington was taken over by the Ypsilanti Art Shop operated by Miss Helen T. Sellman.

View an image of Gaudy's Chocolate Shop in our Gleanings image gallery.

Ypsilanti's Mineral Water Sanitariums

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, February 1973,
February 1973
Original Images:

Between the years of 1880 and 1917 there were two successful Mineral Water Sanitariums in our city, each supplied with mineral water from local wells. In an article in The Ypsilanti Commercial of December 15, 1883, entitled: "Ypsilanti, a Review of the City and Its Industries", we read:

…The Ypsilanti Paper Company (1) completed a well on their premises for the purpose of obtaining a supply of pure water for use in the manufacture of paper. The well reached a depth of nearly 800 feet, when they struck a vein of water that had a pecnliar taste and was acknowledged to possess some medical properties. The real value of the water was not known until several very remarkable cures of cancer, rheumatism and other kindred diseases, could be traced to the effects of the water. The reputation of this mineral water spread very rapidly, and hundreds of our citizens can testify as to its beneficial effects. It became the one theme of conversation on our streets, and the demand for treatment from this water became more and more apparent every day. Our citizens became interested in the matter, and, seeing it would be a great addition to the city, offered a donation of $5,000 to any one who would start a suitable establishment where persons suffering from disease could receive treatment from this water. After due consideration the proposition was accepted by George Moorman (2) and Clark Cornwall (3). These gentlemen began the erection of a building on the eighth of last May. They have pushed its construction as fast as weather would permit. It will be ready for occupancy about the first of January, and when finished, be the finest building in this city…

In the archives of the City Museum we have the original invitation to the opening of the Ypsilanti Mineral Bath House, (Huron n. of Congress (Michigan). There were speeches given, music provided by the Ypsilanti Quartet Club and refreshments were served by the Ladies' Library Association. On January 12, 1884, The Ypsilauti Commercial carried a report of the opening ceremonies. The speeches were praised, the Ladies' of the Library Association were congratulated on the refreshments and it was proudly noted that a reporter from The Chicago Times covered the event for his paper.

Six months later Tubal Cain Owen (4) announced that he, too, had a mineral well and claimed that his “waters” had even more curative powers than that of the Cornwell-Moorman well. The fact that frequent articles concerning the mineral wells appeared in The Ypsilanti Commercial seems to point up the fact that the townspeople, particularly the business men and landlords were keenly interested in the success of the Sanitariums. For instance, on July 26, 1884, there appears yet another article, entitled, "The Mineral Wells".

…These wells are rendering Ypsilanti famous the world over. The healing waters flowing free from these wells seem destined to be an untold blessing to affected humanity…Ypsilanti has already come to be the center of attraction for the halt, the lame and the blind, the palsied and paralylics. It is by no means a crippled city, but a city of cripples. The cry is every day, ‘still they come.' Let them Come! The Hawkins House (5), the Follette House(6), the Barton (7), and all the other hotels and numerous nice boarding houses are full. Ere another season a mamoth hotel may be in the process of erection.

About this same time the paper started listing the names of those registering at the Sanitariums. Helen McAndrew (8) had water from the Owen well piped to her “Rest for the Weary” establishment on South Huron Street. The editor of the paper proudly called especial attention to the names of “guests” of the Sanitariums who came from outside the state. Tubal Cain Owen, the owner of the Forest Avenue Mineral Well, was not only a good business man but he was a wonderful promoter of his products. He erected a tall building over his derrick and in it established a factory for making soap, (“Sapon”), salts, ointments and other products of the well besides bottling hundreds of bottles and barrels of the mineral water, which he names “Atlantis”, the name being in black lettering that reached from the ground to the top of the buildind. His charged mineral water he called “Paragon”. He had various brochures prepared for the purpose of advertising his products and from one entitled, “Nature's Remedy; Natural Mineral Water From the Owen Mineral Well at Ypsilanti, Michigan and the DISEASES IT VILL CURE together with Directions for Treatment”-we read:

TO THE PUBLIC The waters of the Owen Mineral Well is on the market to fulfill its errand of mercy, and we wish every one to know just exactly what he is using, that he may use it intelligentally and rationally.

We have no myths nor Indian legends to relate to appeal to the public's credulity. We sank our well on scientific principles in search of HEALING WATERS. We use the most approved modern machinery; we believe that waters of untold value to suffering humanity were below us, and we wanted to bring them to the light of day and utilize them for their legitimate purposes. Our expectations were high, and we believe they have been fully realized. We base the claims for our water upon the medicinal value of its mineral salts as demonstrated by the actual experience and testimony of the highest authorities.

In the same brochure the treatment of cancer was outlined as follows:

The water must be taken freely, three or four glasses a day, no matter how nauseating it may be. Sponge the entire body twice a day with moderately warmed water. Apply to the affected part thick cloths saturated with the water at its natural temperature, renewing them as often as they become at all dry. After the disease shows signs of yielding, by no means cease the treatment, but continue it faithfully until the cancer is entirely healed. Beside apply the water by means of the cloths before mentioned, the diseased part should be bathed freely and frequently with the water. We cannot impress too strongly upon the mind of the patient, the absolute necessity of drinking freely of the water…

The cost of the Owen Mineral Water was as follows:

Per barrell $8.00
per half barrel 4.50
10 gallon kegs 3.25
Pints, per doz. $3.00
Quarts, per doz. 5.00

In jugs, five gallons and under the water will be sold at the uniform price of twenty cents per gallon, and ten cents per gallon for package.

In yet another Owen brochure are listed testimonials from those cured plus a list of local people who claimed cures and the ailments of which they were cured are also listed.

Of course, the Ypsilanti Sanitarium (Occidental Hotel) also had its brochure. It was lavishly illustrated with pictures of the building and of its various rooms. The introduction to its brochure reads as follows:


Was designed especially for the rational treatment of cases which require the constant attention of competent physicians and trained nurses. The natural advantages of Ypsilanti, viz.; High altitude, picturesque wooded country, and what is of most importance, The Ypsilanti Mineral Springs, make it especially adapted for a health resort.

The thorough equipment of its laboratories for research and study and its complete departments for the treatment of various diseases make it particularly desirable for cases that cannot pratically be treated at home.

Experienced physicians and professional nurses are in constant attendance.

The Sanitarium will maintain perfectly equipped departments… From all boat lines touching Detroit, it is but a short trip. It is on the main line of the Michigan Central R. R., 45 minutes' ride from Detroit and a little over 6 hours ride from Chicago. It is the eastern terminus of the Ypsilanti branch of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern R.R. and its connecting lines viz. the Detroit, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor trolly lines. From Ann Arbor on the trolly line it is 30 minutes and from Detroit 1 hour and 30 minutes distant. On the Wabash R.R. Ypsilanti may be reached via. Belleville…

The interesting question is, why did Ypsilanti's flourishing and comparatively well known sanitariums close? An article in the Ypsilanti Press for September 9th, 1945, tells us that a Mr. J.M. Chidister ran the Occidental Hotel. and Spa for the Cornwell-Moorman group during its first years of existence. Patronage declined and the spa was closed for a time.

About 1902, however, the mineral industry was revived by Dr. C. C. Yemans, prominent Detroit physician and long time professor in the Detroit College of Medicine. He repaired the well casing, restored the baths and opened part of the old hotel. Hospital equipment was installed and rooms were renovated and furnished for patients. Old students of Dr. Yemans sent patients from all over the country and business flourished. The Hospital, long needed here was filled. However, the hotel part, separately operated was carelessly kept. Patients were admitted without Dr. Yenian's approval and neted too many dt. victims. Their yells annoyed other patients and Mrs. Yemans. That appeared to be the last straw and Dr. Yemans retired. His successor, a young man whose chief interest was in breeding fancy dogs at Mt. Clemens, spent too little time here and the whole concern soon collapsed. About the time of World War One, Tracy Towner (9), Bert Moorman (10), and others again opened the well and the baths with Dr. G. F. Clarke, Bay City, in charge. There were patients but not enough for profit and new trouble appeared when the well casing started to collapse. The cost of 220 feet of casing was considered prohibitive, and again Ypsilanti's chance of increased income and mineral water fame went glimmering…

On the decline of the Owen Mineral Sanatorium, operated by Dr. M. S. Hall, the same article states:

…To utilize the water baths, Dr. M.S. Hall put up a bath house, next each of 510 W. Forest Avenue, about two blocks from the well and fitted up the adjoining residence for a hotel. He had a large patronage for several years and amazing cures for many different diseases were reported. A out 1890 he sold the buildings to Dr. O.E. Pratt, but he because of advanced age, finally closed it and sold the buildings for residences.

After Mr. Owen's death, his son Eber, continued for many years to ship quantities of the Owen water in bulk to Chicago and Boston in response to a steady demand…

In the closing paragraph of the same article the writer attemps to explain the decline and failure of the spas thusly:-

…Just why Ypsilanti's mineral water, equal in medicinal properties to other popular resorts, failed to become a permanent municipal asset seems unexplainable. Opinions of older residents brings out two possible factors.

1. Indifference of management including too frequently insufficient regard for comfort and entertainment of patients.

2. Determination on the part of several of the more wealthy and conservative residents that Ypsilanti should remain a quiet residential community and that industry of every kind should be discouraged.

These are good and valid reasons for the failure and closing of the Sanitariums of Ypsilanti; but something happened in 1906 of nationwide importance which in all probability was the most important factor in tolling the death bell for these centers of miraculous cures. In June 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Federal Pure Food and Drug Act which became a law on January 1, 1907. Stewart H. Holbrook tells us in his book, The Goldern Age of Quackery that Harvey W. Wiley Chief Chemist of the United States Department of of Agriculture had been trying since 1883 to have a law passed to regulate the labeling of foods and medicines. “Tell the truth on a label”, said Wiley, and “let the consumer judge for himself.” The legislation of 1906 required honest labels. One of the prime instigators for the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Law was Samuel Hopkins Adams who early in 1906 wrote a series of articles for Collier's magazine entitled, The Great American Fraud in which he ruthlessly unearthed and named concerns and people who were advertising falsely. The reading public became awakened, and perhaps terrified, when they read Hopkin's shocking exposes. Common sense forced them to realize that no quick cure salts or waters would replace medical drugs as a cure. In The New York Times for October 8th, 1966, there is a very interesting article about spas which shows that although they have gone from our section there are many still in existence in our country. But the article also points out the changes which have taken place in their make-up. The final paragraph reads:-

…Spas reached their heyday in the 19th century when their special function was as important as the therapeutic activity. Today the less severe European spas still offer operettas, concerts, balls, parties and casinos to divert guests in search of pleasure with therapy.

View an image of the Atlantis Owen Well in our Gleanings image gallery.

Note: For the most part the research material for the "Mineral Well" article was all found in the Archives of the Museum.

1. Ypsilanti Paper Co.-finally merged with Peninsular Paper Co.
2. George Moorman (1823–Orleans Co, Y.Y.-1895 Ypsi) Came to Ypsi. in 1853 and engaged in grocery business.
3. Clark Cornwell (1843 Foster's Mill, A.A.Twp-1903 Ypsi) Pres. Ypsi. Paper Co, School Commissioner, Alderman and Mayor
4-Tubal Cain Owen (1843-Ellery, N.Y.-1913 Ypsi) Came to Ypsi. after attending M.S.U. and engaged in milling business, acquiring interest in Ypsi. Flouring Mills and then owner of Atlantis Mineral Well.
5-Hawkins House-Congress (Mich) between Washington & Adams
6-Follette House-13 E. Cross 7 Barton House-cor. Washington & Adams.
8 Helen McAndrew (1825-Kilsyth, Scotland-1906 Ypsi) First woman M.D. in Washtenaw Co. Also interested in woman's suffrage.
9 Tracy Towner (1864-Ypsi-1943-Ypsi) Local lawyer-Mayor 1910–12

10-Bert Moorman (1856 Ypsi-1932 Ypsi) Son of G. Moorman. Pres. Moorman-Huston Co-hay and grain.

* * * * * * * * * *

On January 19th, 1884, shortly after the opening of the city Mineral Water House, the following poem by, “A Farmer” appeared in The Commercial

Come all ye weary, sick and sore,
Who want to suffer pain no more,
And take a drink of Cornwell's bore,
Beside the Huron River

Let Smith and Sampson keep their drugs,
Fetch on your glasses and your mugs,
Your barrels, bowls and your jugs,
And get the healing water.

If you are sick, gust try our cure,
Drink Ypsilanti's water pure,
That health and life may long endure,
And all your friends rejoice.

Moorman's put down another bore
For water, gas and something more
They say its better than before
To drive woe and pain away.

If you are sad, with sickness worn,
And have the headache every more,
Just come and drink a healing horn,
of Ypsilanti's water.

Theres forty new baths agoing,
And all the healing waters flowing,
Better days and health bestowing,
On many a weary one.

If you are growing weak and lean,
Just come and try our healing stream,
And splash till you are pure and clean,
And your troubles washed away.

They will bathe you either cold or warm,
It will do you good and never harm,
And it may come o'er you like a charm,
And double all your joy.

You need not travel far and long,
To drink Saratoga's water strong,
We have the real thing at home
Down on the books of Moorman

It's true, it has a woeful smell,
But if your stomache don't rebel
It's just the thing to make you well
And praise up Ypsi lanti.

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