Invitation to Visit the Contagious Hospital

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Fall 2012,
Fall 2012
Original Images:

Author: James Mann

For many years those inflicted with contagious diseases, such as smallpox, cholera and other easily transmitted diseases were quarantined to prevent the spread of the illness. This often meant placing the residence where the person lived under quarantine, forcing those who lived in the residence to stay in the place and forbidding others to enter until the risk of contagion had passed. The other option was to choose a place in the community, such as a house or other building, as a place where those afflicted could stay separate from others. Here those who were ill could stay until they had recovered, or, as was often the case, were dead.

In Ypsilanti the old city hall at 6 East Cross Street was the contagious hospital, where those who had to be kept apart were housed. Here beginning in about 1913 and continuing into the early 1920’s, the contagious cases were sent to be cared for. It is said, the children of the neighborhood walking to and from school, would cross the street, to avoid walking on the sidewalk in front of the building.

The building was not ideal to the purpose it was then used for. It was built in 1858, as the first city hall and jail. It became the contagious hospital after the city hall was moved into the Quirk House on North Huron Street. To show the public just how bad conditions were in the hospital, Ypsilanti City Health Officer Dr. Charles H. Pillsbury declared Thursday, March 23, 1922 “open day” at the hospital. “We have had no cases of contagion at the hospital for about a week and it has been thoroughly fumigated and cleaned so that no one need fear visiting it,” said Dr. Pillsbury to The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Tuesday, March 21, 1922. “I would be glad to have everyone who has any doubts as to the need of a new contagious hospital, come to the old building next Thursday and see just what the city now has for the care of contagious cases. I think the visit will convince them of a need for the new hospital.”

For one thing, Dr. Pillsbury pointed out, the arrangement of the building made it possible to care for patients afflicted with only one kind of contagion at a time. “Whenever there are cases of different contagious diseases in the city,” noted the account, “private homes often times have to be quarantined and several members of the family kept indoors at the same time.”

“The present contagious hospital,” continued the account, “is comprised of a hall, one front room, which serves to store coal, a place for a cot for a nurse, and kitchen and dining room. The room is several feet below street level. Behind this room is one big room partitioned off into eight little rooms. Every other one of these little rooms has a window. The other four rooms are without windows and ventilation only such as comes in over the tops of the partitions which are built only three-quarters of the way to the ceiling. It is the arrangement that makes it impossible to care for more than one type of contagion at a time. A single wash bowl and one little toilet at the end of a little hall serves all of these rooms. The place is heated by three stoves and even these do not prevent freezing of water pipes in cold weather, according to the city health officer.”

The basement of the building had been used as the old city jail, but because of its deplorable condition was not used as part of the hospital, noted the report.
Dr. Pillsbury told of the case of a four year old girl who contracted scarlet fever while living in a household of 12 to 14 persons, most of whom were employed. “Rather than quarantine the whole house,” explained Dr. Pillsbury to The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Saturday, March 25, 1922, “the child and mother were taken to the present contagious hospital where there were other cases of scarlet fever. After a two weeks’ stay the mother and some of the other patients contracted diphtheria, because of the unsanitary construction of the building it could not possibly be properly disinfected.”

“A few days later,” continued Dr. Pillsbury, “another case that appeared to be scarlet fever was brought in and developed into smallpox and not having any means of isolating this case the mother developed smallpox because the vaccination failed to work, as sometimes happens.”

“This triple infection,” concluded Dr. Pillsbury, “as you can see delayed the quarantine stay very much and deliberately infected this patient and others with two other contagious diseases that they would not have had had they not been sent to this building.”

On open day at the hospital, less than a dozen residents took advantage of the invitation to visit the building. Still, voters approved funding for a new building as the contagious hospital. This new hospital was not built, perhaps because new and better space had become available at the new Beyer Hospital.

(James Mann is a local author and historian, a regular contributor to the Gleanings, and a volunteer in the YHS Archives.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: Ypsilanti’s old city hall at 6 East Cross Street was used as a contagious hospital beginning in about 1913 and continuing into the early 1920’s.

Famous Ypsi Fence Trial

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2010,
Spring 2010
Original Images:

Author: James Mann

As we come into a new age of urban farming, the keeping of farm animals such as chickens, goats and cows on city lots, we must consider the legal issues that arise. For example, will urban farmers be libel for damages done by their animals to the neighboring properties? To find the answers, we must seek guidance from the past. The question arose in 1920 in Ypsilanti Township.

Every farmer who lived near William Gotts and John Lewis attended the session in the Ypsilanti Town House on Wednesday, February 25, 1920. That was the day Justice D. Z. Curtiss heard the case between the two. There was great interest in the case as an important issue was involved – “does the Huron River make a good fence line?”

The road to the Town House was crowded with automobiles and cutters. The benches and seats were filled with farmers and their help. The wives of Gotts and Lewis graced the occasion with their presence. One of the wives spent her time in the session making fancy edging for lingerie.

“Some were in overalls, some were in hunting corduroy suits, some had overcoats, but more dispensed with this necessity for city life. One man came with an overcoat made form real buffalo skin, but showing at least 60 years or more of wear. Pants were tucked in boots, and in one instance, the owner of a fur cap forgot the formality of removing it while the court was in session,” reported The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Wednesday, February 25, 1920.

“The sign, ‘No Smoking,’ was absent,” continued the account, “so quite a number of those present indulged in the luxury of a pipe or a cigarette. And as the testimony proceeded, the loud laughs broke the monotony of the proceedings when some witness was describing the unruliness of the cattle owned by the defendant.”

Justice Curtiss knew his audience, and had hunted up a wooden spittoon and placed it in a convenient spot. He also had chairs moved from behind the railed off part of the room, and placed near the center. There were also chairs placed close to the great cast iron stove, which was the source of heat on this winter day.

The suit involved a bill of $56 for damage done to corn, potatoes and fodder destroyed by cattle owned by John Lewis. It seems the cattle of Lewis persisted in breaking down a fence or wading across the Huron River to get at the crops of William E. Gotts. Testimony brought out that Lewis had settled once before with Gotts for damages, when his cattle broke through the fence on a previous occasion. He did not deny the further damages done by his cattle, but did question the amount of damage done. Lewis, having paid Gotts damages once, considered the matter settled and felt he should not be expected to pay for further damages by the same cattle. He felt he had fulfilled his obligation. In the end, Justice Curtiss did not agree, and awarded Gotts $51 and costs.

“The case is typical of the frequent claims for damages that arise among farmers for the breaking in of neighboring stock,” wrote Justice Curtiss in his decision, which was published by The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Saturday, February 28, 1920, “and injuring and destroying crops. Usually, as in this case, inefficient fencing plays an important part in the trouble.”

“There is a statute restraining the collection of damage done when the complainant has failed to maintain a legal fence,” noted Justice Curtiss, “But the testimony shows that neither party had a legal fence, so the court took the view that the cattle broke in across the line of both parties, and Lewis is stopped from availing himself of the statute.”

Curtiss thought it doubtful Gotts could legally recover the time and effort spent in driving the Lewis cattle from his property, and dropped the $5 car charge from the bill.

“No person,” concluded Curtiss, “is bound by common law to fence against the beast of another, but owners of beasts are liable for any damage done by them on the lands of another.” The Ypsilanti Fence case was settled.

(James Mann is a local author and historian, a volunteer in the YHS Archives, and a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Harvey C. Colburn

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2010,
Spring 2010
Original Images:

Author: Margaret Porter

Any student of Ypsilanti history knows about Harvey C. Colburn and what he wrote. Chances are, though, that very few know little more about the author of the first history of Ypsilanti. Some may know he was the minister of the First Congregational Church during the 1920’s and most of the 1930’s. There is much more to Harvey Colburn. In fact, his personal history is worthy of publication.

Colburn was a relative newcomer when he authored the history. He arrived in Ypsilanti in 1918 to assume the ministry of First Congregational. Just five years later he produced The Story of Ypsilanti in recognition of the city’s Centennial. He drafted the book in Charleston, South Carolina, his birthplace.

So just how did it happen that a South Carolinian became the city’s pre-eminent historian? It all started with the Civil War. His father, William Harvey Colburn was born in Vermont in 1847. He enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 but was discharged a year later due to a disability. Harvey’s mother, Alice Cade, was born in 1849 in Rochester, New York. Alice’s father was a builder. It is likely that Alice’s father moved his family south shortly after the Civil War in order to take advantage of Reconstruction monies.

It is unclear why William Colburn relocated to Charleston. It was there he met Alice Cade and married her October 22, 1874. Harvey was born two years later. His father died when he was three, leaving Harvey to be raised by his mother and maternal grandmother. He grew up in Charleston, leaving when he was about 19 to head north and enroll in Hillsdale, College in Hillsdale, Michigan. He graduated in 1900 and was honored for composing his class poem. He would continue to write poetry throughout much of his life.

Following graduation from Hillsdale, he enrolled in Oberlin’s Graduate School of Theology receiving his master’s degree in 1903. He married Mary Scott on May 22, 1907 in Marysville, Ohio. She would be a wonderful life partner. Together they would raise a family of six, four girls and two boys. During the early years of their marriage, they moved several times as Reverend Colburn accepted calls from various churches in Ohio. While serving as the minister in Bellevue, Ohio, he came to the attention of the First Congregational Church of Ypsilanti which was looking for a minister to succeed Lloyd Morris. Dr. Benjamin D’Ooge, a Professor of Classics at the then Michigan State Normal College, visited Bellevue and extended an invitation to Colburn to “visit Ypsilanti to look us over.”

Evidently Harvey Colburn and his wife liked what they saw. He assumed the position of Minister on July 1, 1918. First Congregational was a good fit for the Colburns. The congregation was growing; its finances sound and its members were involved in the life of the larger community. Further, Ypsilanti was not only a college town but also a center of manufacturing and commerce. The city established a Board of Commerce in the early 1900s. The Board provided oversight for the City’s Centennial. A Committee on History was established in anticipation of the city’s Centennial in 1923.

The compiling of a history preceded the formation of the committee. It seems that Ypsilantians have long taken an interest in the history of their community. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution began preparing a series of papers on local history. Helen Jenks Cleary was the Chapter historian. The wife of the founder of Cleary College (now University), Helen devoted herself to research. She combed old newspaper files, reviewed old letters and set about interviewing the older members of the community. Her dedication produced a significant amount of material that was incorporated into The Story of Ypsilanti.

Helen Cleary was a member of the Committee on History along with Dr. Carl Pray, the Chairman of History and Social Science, at the Normal. The third member was Florence Shultes, a Professor of History who worked with Dr. Pray. Dr. Pray and Miss Shultes were both members of First Congregational. Dr. Pray held numerous positions in the Church. He is best remembered as the developer of an active youth program that drew young people to the Church. One of these was the author’s father, Don Porter. The Committee had the task of finding someone who had an interest in history and was an accomplished writer. Not surprisingly Harvey Colburn’s name was put forward. Despite his already busy life as the minister of a growing congregation and the father of six children, Colburn took on the task.

The history was produced under a tight timeline. It had to be published in time for the City’s Centennial. Colburn had to function both as editor and author. He had a number of prepared papers that he used whole or in part in addition to his own narrative. His aim was to tell a story. It’s likely that Carl Pray provided assistance with structuring the history; each chapter covers approximately a decade with subsections devoted to significant events or trends of that period. For example Chapter IX - 1870 to 1879 - highlights Shops and Stores, The Huckleberry Line, The Town Band, Decline of the Seminary, The Training of Teachers, Churches, and Ypsilanti’s Semi-Centennial.

During the summer of 1922, Colburn became ill during a trip with his family. A usually vigorous man, he was slow to recover. His doctor recommended a period of prolonged rest. He chose to return to Charleston to recuperate. However he took with him boxes of materials which he used to write the history. It’s doubtful this was the type of rest his physician had in mind! He later remarked, “I really enjoyed the coordinating of newspaper files, time-yellowed letters and ancient documents with County records and histories.”

The writing proved restorative and Colburn returned toYpsilanti with a first draft. Various citizens were enlisted to review the draft and corrections were made. Colburn added a Prelude beginning with the glaciers that moved slowly across our State and area creating its topography and geology. The closing pages are devoted to the upcoming Centennial Celebration with images from the first 100 years. The Story of Ypsilanti was completed April 10, 1923.

Harvey Colburn served as minister of First Congregational until August 1, 1937. During his ministry the Church celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. Colburn would live to deliver the sermon at the 75th anniversary service. It was a few years later when he announced he had “finally retired.” Between 1937 and 1957, he was the Chaplain of Ypsilanti State Hospital. Oberlin granted him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1930. In 1947 the First Congregational Church of Ypsilanti named him Minister Emeritus. He filled in for then minister Gordon Speer and officiated at weddings and funerals.

He also stayed active in the community and was frequently called upon to speak to community organizations. Often his topic was the history of our town. His listeners described him as both informative and entertaining. He particularly liked to tell the story of the short “secession” of East Ypsilanti from West Ypsilanti. He continued to write as well. He wrote and edited a monthly bulletin called Lawn Care for O.M. Scott and Sons. Orlando McLean Scott was Mary’s father and the founder of the business that would grow into Scott Lawn and Garden. Harvey and his wife Mary were avid gardeners. They enjoyed attending garden shows throughout the country.

While Colburn’s historical studies and writing included a history of Washtenaw County churches and research on Indian Trails, he was not above participating in the Centennial Town Pageant. He was an Indian Chief complete with an impressive feathered headdress. Harvey Colburn was a “Man for All Seasons.” A poet, writer, scholar, horticulturist and a clergyman, he was the ideal author for the history of Ypsilanti’s first 100 years. How fortunate we are that he agreed to take on this assignment and leave a wonderful legacy for his adopted hometown.

Sources: First Congregational Church of Ypsilanti publications, the Ypsilanti Press, History of Eastern Michigan University, U.S. Census Records, Union Army Records.

(Margaret Porter is the Assistant Editor of the Gleanings and a regular contributor of articles.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: Harvey C. Colburn.

Photo 2: The original version of “The Story of Ypsilanti.”

Photo 3: Harvey Colburn portrayed an Indian chief in the historical play presented during Ypsilanti’s Centennial Celebration in 1923.

Child's Cemetery - A Peaceful Resting Place

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Winter 2009,
Winter 2009
Original Images:

Author: Brian Shelby

In October of 2004 I was searching for a lost dog on Tuttle Hill Road in Augusta Township where I do volunteer animal rescue. When I finally spotted him, he was running around an old damaged cemetery that had no markings as to its name. I later went to the Township Hall to inquire about these intriguing grounds, but the Township Clerk could find very little information on file. We did, however, discover that it was called Childs Cemetery (named after a local family), and that a young lady named Emily Cobb had written the Township a few years earlier to ask if anyone was going to do something about the sad condition of this historic site. Emily has ancestors buried there, so it bothered me that her letter had never been addressed by the Township Board.

I went to the next Board meeting, asked permission to restore the cemetery, and was unanimously appointed by the Board members to be the Childs Cemetery sexton. I began my research and landscape overhaul immediately. Upon closer inspection of the gravestones, the history buff in me was awestruck to discover that this all-but-forgotten, modest plot of ground contained the remains of soldiers from conflicts dating as far back as the Revolutionary War. Veterans from the Mexican-American War, Civil War, both World Wars, and the Korean War lay beneath my feet.

One of my first missions was to erect a flagpole and plaque to publicly honor, for the first time, these war veterans, as well as everyone else who rests there, many of whom still have family in the area. I also set a goal to have a dedication ceremony on Memorial Day of 2006. I ventured out to involve the community, and a community effort it did indeed become, allowing me to attain both goals and then some. I couldn't have improved Childs Cemetery, to the lovely restored state that it is today, without the help of so many people that I'm unable to name them all.
I asked friends for hard labor, businesses for supplies, strangers for flowers, and you name it. No one turned me down.

Linda Francis, the manager of Augusta Woods Manufactured Home Community, put in countless hours of help, as did others from the Augusta Woods Association. Ross Medos, at the VFW Hall in Belleville, arranged for TAPS to be played and a 21-gun salute made at the dedication. Nancy Davidson eloquently read a poem that Linda had found in her research. The Boy Scouts from Troup 793 in Belleville, headed by their troop leader, Doug Hudspeth, made two benches, cleaned the grounds, painted the fence, and helped with the dedication ceremony. Willis Baptist Church and its congregation officially blessed the cemetery for the first time in 150 years. Bob Williams used his heavy equipment to move dirt and raise headstones that had been pushed over by vandals. His wife, Kim, planted flowers, and they both put in hours of their time to help with the dedication. Martin Kailimai, owner of Hankansons Steel, made the star-shaped flag holders for the veterans' graves, and provided many other supplies. Troy McCarty, owner of the Willis Feed Mill, donated grass seed, fertilizer and his labor. He also had a sign made for the front gate that reads, "Childs Cemetery, a peaceful resting place." Shari and Mark Mellinger, owners of Arrow Awards in Willis, donated the beautiful dedication plaque. Pinters Green House on Judd Road donated flats of flowers. Ray Kidder and Jim McDonald helped tremendously with digging and other ground maintenance. Ron Mortiere and his daughter, Danielle, maintained the lawn, and Ron also helped with stone restoration. Bill and Wendy Tobler helped with research, picture taking and video recording. Dennis and Pat Messer provided many supplies and Pat's employer, Howe-Peterson Funeral Home, donated an American flag.

Many of these people continue to this day to help with labor, supplies, and grounds maintenance. And to my delight, as I continue to randomly dig up the sod, I'm still apt to discover toppled gravestones that became buried with the centuries, When a name turns out to be another war veteran, I'm humbled, grateful to have been involved in this restoration, and inspired to continue my work here. By the way, the oldest grave I've found is dated 1834 and was marked only by a small cross and two copper pennies.

(Brian Shelby is retired and spends a great deal of volunteer time doing animal rescue and cemetery restoration.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The cemetery condition in 2004 with many stones buried or damaged.

Photo 2: Many gravestones had to be dug up, cleaned and repaired.

Photo 3: Later photo showing gravestones cleaned and repaired.

Photo 4: Many people attended the 2006 dedication of Childs Cemetery.

Photo 5: Emily Cobb raised the flag for the first time during the 2006 dedication.

Bridge Under Water!

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Fall 2009,
Fall 2009
Original Images:

Author: James Mann

A bridge is built to aid the traveler, to smooth the path and remove obstacles that would otherwise cause delay and make the journey longer. For this reason bridges are built over highways, valleys and rivers. So it is something of a surprise to learn there is a bridge under the waters of Ford Lake.

This bridge was built over the Huron River at Tuttle Hill Road before there was a Ford Lake. The bridge was built in the summer of 1885 on what was then one of the most traveled roads leading to Ypsilanti. This was an iron suspension bridge with trestle work that was built by the Massillon Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio. The bridge had a single spine resting on stone abutments and was 110 feet long and 16 feet wide.

“The abutment on the south side is completed. It is 18 feet high, the face 20 feet wide with wings at an angle to confine the filling, 8 feet thick at the bottom and 5 feet at the top. The mason work was done by A. Norton, his son Charles, and Wm. Collen, all of Ypsilanti. The base of the abutment is about three feet below the bed of the river and rests on gravel. The abutments on the north side will be duplicates of the one described, excepting that the base will be but six feet thick; it not being required of the other.” reported The Ypsilanti Commercial of August 22, 1885.

At first the abutments were to have been built of limestone from Dundee, but the cost of the freight proved too high, so sandstone was obtained from Stony Point, Ohio, at a better rate. These stones proved to be larger and filled the need better.

“Mr. Chas. Clow draws the stone to the bridge,” continued the account. “Messrs H. Ruthruff and E. L. Brown have taken the job of filling in on both sides. The earth is to be taken from the top of the hill and placing in on the road killing two birds with one stone. It is hard clay soil and dynamite is used to loosen it.”

“Town Clerk Alonzo Ford with his team of bays has been kept busy handling stone for the masons, etc. He is a practical me- chanic in bridge building. He will see that the wood work required is up to the stan- dard. The Highway Commissioner has expended the money with care, making every dollar count, so that the appropria- tion and cost of bridge complete will not vary materially.”

“The Stockdale engine,” concluded the account, “is busy threshing and an engine owned by Mr. D. A. Jones of this city, and run by his son Harry is pumping water day and night trying to keep the masons dry.” The bridge was expected to be completed by October 1, 1885, and cost about $4,000. The iron frame of the bridge cost about $1,700.

The bridge remained in use until the 1930’s, when a dam was built on the Huron River to provide hydroelectric power to a factory of the Ford Motor Company. The water of the Huron River backed up behind the dam flooding the valley and covering the bridge. For a few years the trestle work could be seen rising out of the lake. In time the winter ice pushed the bridge over onto its side, and it disappeared under the water. There it rests to this day.

For a time it appeared the bridge would be raised above the waters of Ford Lake, and once again put into use. This was in the summer of 1996, when there was talk of lifting the bridge out of the water, restoring it, and set it in place as part of the park system around the lake.

That summer members of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s dive team, with personnel from the University of Michigan, Department of Naval Architecture, examined the bridge to determine if it could be salvaged and placed in a new location. The bridge was found in 25 feet of water about 50 yards from shore. A remote controlled submarine, called M-Rover, was used to videotape the bridge. The bridge appeared to be in good shape. Grant money for the project was not forthcoming, so the bridge remains under water.

Photo caption: The Tuttle Bridge as it appeared prior to the existence of Ford Lake.

(James Mann is a local historian, a volunteer in the YHS Archives, and a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Community Education at Eastern Michigan University

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2006,
Spring 2006
Original Images:

Author: Jack D. Minzey

Community education is an educational concept that became prominent in the early 1900's in several places throughout the United States, and indeed, throughout the world. It fostered programs which combined recreational activities with the public schools. Outstanding programs developed in Arthursdale, West Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mississippi (The Tennessee Valley Authority); Georgia; Kentucky; Nambe, New Mexico; and the Philippine Islands. Professionals associated with this movement included John Dewey, Elsie Clapp, Calos Johnson, Maurice Seay, Dorothea Enderis, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

One of these professionals was a man named Wilbur Bowen. Professor Bowen was a faculty member at Michigan State Normal College, and he wove this concept and the classes which he taught and into his writings. In 1924, Bingo Brown, the dean of men and another legend at Michigan State Normal College, persuaded his brother in law, Frank Manley, to come to Ypsilanti to get his college education. Frank wanted to be a physical education teacher, and his choice of profession put him in constant contact with Professor Bowen and his philosophies. When Frank graduated in 1927, he was given a job in the Flint School System as a physical education teacher where he continued to promote the community education ideas which he had learned from Professor Bowen.

One of the people intrigued by Frank's ideas was Charles Stewart Mott. Mr. Mott was an influential industrialist and a politician. Fortuitously, he was also the largest stockholder in General Motors and was thus able to add financial assistance to Frank's ideas. He originally gave Frank $6,000 to develop community education in six elementary schools. This eventually led to placing a full time community educator in each of the Flint schools and the development of the premier community education laboratory in the world. The concept grew from one of recreation to changes in the school curriculum, maximum use of school facilities by the community, programs for adults, coordination of community agencies and the development of community councils. Soon, over 16,000 people a year were coming to visit the Flint Program.

Frank realized that there was a need for professional training of his community school directors, and he turned to his alma mater to provide this training. In 1950, Michigan State Normal College hired Dr. Fred Totten for the express purpose of providing graduate training for the directors in Flint. Flint was designated as a residential center, and in the ensuing years, every community school director in Flint possessed a graduate degree from MSNC.

However, as community education began to expand to other communities across the country, Flint began to lose its trained directors. Frank then conceived the idea of a leadership-training program which would involve seven Michigan Universities with Eastern Michigan University being one of these. The plan was to identify 50 people who demonstrated great leadership skills and bring them to Flint where they could spend a year earning advanced degrees and also becoming community education experts. The idea was that then, as these young people pursued successful careers in education, they would practice their professions based on the principles of community education. To make this program attractive, the stipend for the participants was equal to the salary of a school superintendent. This program, dubbed the Mott Intern Program, gained national renown and employers lined up to hire its graduates

Frank's next idea was to franchise community education through universities across the country. These community education centers were to develop programs regarding dissemination, implementation, and training related to community education, and they were to have seed monies for the purpose of financially motivating school districts, universities and state departments of education to get involved in community education. There were eight original centers of which Eastern was one. This number was later increased to sixteen and included institutions such as the University of Oregon, Arizona State, University of New Mexico, Texas A and M, University of Connecticut, University of Virginia, Florida Atlantic, and the University of Alabama. This number was then expanded into cooperative centers with each original center given the responsibility to develop satellite centers. Eastern's territory for development was southeastern Michigan, northern Ohio, Pennsylvania and western New York, and the cooperating centers which Eastern developed were Kent State, Syracuse, Indiana University (Pa.), Shippensburg, and the Departments of Education in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

One of the driving forces in perpetuating Eastern's role in community education was President Harold Sponberg. He used his influence to convince the Mott Foundation to take the community education center at Oakland University and give it to Eastern. He strongly believed in the community education philosophy and willingly gave his time to community education activities, including giving speeches at several community education conferences. He used university resources to manage Mott funds for their internship and other training programs. He also financially supported the National Community Education Association, especially during the year when the federal tax laws caused the Mott Foundation to withdraw their financial support. It is true that President Sponberg visualized a Mott-Manley College of Education building, but he was truly a community educator at heart.

Legendary Accomplishments

Eastern's role in community education then became legend, including the following accomplishments.

• Literally hundreds of school districts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada were impacted by the Eastern center through in-service and training.
• Almost every school district in southeastern Michigan received service from Eastern and most received financial assistance.
• Eastern had the most sophisticated graduate training program in the country. In 1975, a survey by the Mott Foundation discovered that 75% of the Community School Directors in the U.S. had received their training from Eastern.
• Eastern was instrumental in getting a basic community education class as part of the Michigan Administrator's Certification.
• In 1972, Eastern housed the National Community Education Association, and Eastern became the first institution to take out an institutional membership.
• John Porter, the former president of Eastern, has served on the Mott Foundation Board for the past ten years.
• Eastern awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Harding Mott and to Bill White, the current president of the Mott Foundation.
• Eastern has employed more community education trained personnel than any other institution in the United States. That list includes Jack Minzey, Clyde LeTarte, Bill Kromer, Pete Clancy, Jim Satterfield, Bill Hetrick, Jackie Tracy, Art McCafferty, George Kliminski, Tom Anderson, Donna Schmitt, Orv Kabat, and Duane Brown. All individuals in this group have been Mott Interns.

Career Highlights

Some of the highlights of these Eastern education trained personnel, other than being on Eastern's staff, are:

• Jack Minzey-Director of the Center for Community Education at Eastern, Board Member, President, and Treasurer of the National Community Education Association, board member of the Michigan Community School Association and one of original eight people involved in founding that organization, member of the Editorial Board of the Community Education Journal, recipient of two distinguished service awards from each of the national and state community education associations, author of over 100 published articles on community education, presenter of over 500 keynote speeches throughout the United States and six foreign countries, contributor to 11 community education books, and co-author of three community education text books, elected to the National Community Education Hall of Fame.
• Clyde LeTarte-Associate Director for the Community Education Center at Eastern, one of the founders of the National Community Education Association, executive secretary of the National Community Education Association, recipient of the distinguished service award from the National Community Education Association and co-author of the three main texts in community education.
• Donna Schmitt-Associate Director and Director of the Community Education Center at Eastern, authored numerous community education articles, editor of a book on community education, president of the Washtenaw County Community Education Association.
• Jackie Tracy-Board of Directors of the Michigan Community Education Association, first woman President of the Michigan Community Education Association, Director of Community Education for the Chelsea Schools.
• Bill Hetrick-Associate Director of the Center for Community Education at Eastern, distinguished service awards from the Florida and Mississippi community education associations, distinguished service award from the national association, Director of the Center for Community Education at the University of West Florida, Director of Community Education at Mississippi Southern University.
• Bill Kromer-President of the Michigan Community Education Association, Director of the National Center for Community Education, Director of Community Education at the Hazel Park Community Schools.
• Pete Clancy-Assistant Superintendent for Community Education in Flint and then became General Superintendent, Director of the Community Education Institute at Eastern.
• George Kliminski-Center Director for Community Education at Kent State, Director of Community Education at the University of Wisconsin, acting executive secretary of the National Community Education Association, recipient of the distinguished service award from the national organization, elected to the National Community Education Hall of Fame.
• Duane Brown-Director of the National Center for Community Education, recipient of the distinguished service award from the national organization, elected to the National Community Education Hall of Fame.
• Jim Satterfield-developed a community education training program at the University of Kansas.
• Orv Kabat-Director of Community Education for Rudyard, Michigan, President of the Michigan Community Education Association.
• Art McCafferty — Director of Community Education at Grand Rapids, Michigan
• Tom Anderson-developed a community education training program at Ferris State University

All of these people have gone on to other successes, which have included deanships, college vice-presidents, college presidents, college professors, and the Michigan House of Representatives.

Community education remained relatively strong at Eastern until about 1992. After that date, the programs and services began to decline. Materials were discarded, the center ceased to operate and the training program was greatly diluted. It did appear that the community education era at Eastern was reaching its end.

However, in the spring of 2005, a significant thing happened at Eastern that enhances the reputation of Eastern Michigan University related to Community Education and portends possibilities for the future. John Fallon was appointed President of Eastern Michigan University. John is a former Mott Intern and was actually in that program twice. He was later the community school director at Galesburg, Illinois and was a Community Education professional at Ball State University, which was one of the original sixteen community education centers. He was President of the National Community Education Association in 1979.

His wife, Sidney, was also a Mott Intern on two occasions and actually was in the Eastern Michigan University cohort group. She holds an Eastern Michigan University Master's Degree in Community Education. She also served as President of the National Community Education Association in 1980. In addition, she has a wealth of experience in community education. She was Program Associate for Community Education in the Flint Laboratory which was involved in the training of community educators. She also held positions as the Director of Training at the Midwest Community Education Development Center at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, Director of Research and Training at the Community Education Center at Ball State, and Interim Executive Director of the National Community Education Association.

It is not likely that there is another institution in the United States that could match the record of the number of outstanding employees at Eastern Michigan University with a background in Community Education, and more particularly, have a history of training as Mott Interns.

Council Proceedings Excerpts (1899)

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1989,
April 1989
Original Images:

Two Volumes of Council Proceedings for the years 1878–1881 and 1898–1900 have been given to the Archives by the City Clerk's Office Some excerpts from 1898–1900 records are:

Sidewalk Department

The Council during the last year has shown commendable zeal in repairing and building sidewalks in the City. But much is left to be done yet, not only for the safety and comfort of the people, but also because of the dangers of having heavy judgements against the corporation I urge you to continue in this good work until every walk in the City is safe. I believe all walks should be built by the Public Authorities and where they cost more than $10.00 the persons liable to pay for them should have a number of years to do so, Paying in installments at a low rate of interest, thus a funding to the City all its advancements.

In many cases it works a hardship on the persons and families of limited means to build their walks and yet public safety demand that it should be done. I am not certain but what the Charter gives the Council Power enough to adopt the system. I have suggested and if on further examination I find this to be true, I will bring the matter before the Council again.

Edwin Allen, Mayor May 1, 1899

A New City Hall

The electors indicated by an informal vote at the Spring Election their wish that a City Hall should be erected, the cost of which as submitted by the Council would be $10,000.00 including the site. If a City Hall is erected it sould be suitable and sufficient, and a credit to the City. I believe such a hall cannot be built for the sum named, including the site and if so, in my judgement, the people would prefer that you spend twice that much amount if necessary to erect a creditable building, else let the entire matter rest until this can be done.

Mayor's Office May 1, 1899

Motions and Resolutions

Alderman Van Fossen offered the following proposed Ordinance which was referred to the Ordinance Department by a Motion by Alderman Huston. An Ordinance for the protection of Squirrels and Birds within the Limits of the City of Ypsilanti.

The Common Council of the City of Ypsilanti Ordains:

Section I —It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot, kill, cripple, hunt, chase or in any way injure any squirrels within the Limits of the City Of Ypsilanti, Provided this section shall not apply to the Common Red Squirrel.

Section II —It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot, kill, cripple, hunt or in any way injure any wild birds within the City of Ypsilanti, provided this section does not apply to English Sparrow, Cros or Hawks. Motion by Alderman Moore, that the resolution Vetoed by adopted, the Mayor's Veto Notwithstanding, Motion Carried Ayes 7 Nays 0.

J.D. McGregor, City Clerk

An article in the Commercial (Local Newspaper)

June 1889 Free Mail Delivery in City about June 15, 1889.

The City came into possession of a Water Pumping Station and Power Plant owned by Ypsilanti Paper Company near Race Street(First Annual Report of Board of Water Commissioners).

Ypsilanti Electric Light 1887

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, November 1987,
November 1987
Original Images:

Author: Rev. Laurence N. Woodruff

In his walking around the City, Rev. Laurence N. Woodruff has noted and become interested in some of the old buildings. He has submitted the following material about the brick building in the City's storage yard on West Forest Avenue. We are pleased to have this building's one hundredth anniversary commemorated by Rev. Woodruff.

Street Light Centennial

Exactly one hundred years ago, Ypsilanti took a giant stride forward into the new world of technology and turned on its first electric street lights. In 1887 the little village of about 5,000 residents installed are lamps on top of five seventy-five foot towers, one in each ward. A number of “arm lights” were installed at major inter-sections. These are lamps mounted on their tall towers provided a soft, bluish-white light, suggesting moon light, and people joked about the romantic atmosphere, which had been created in our community.

By our standards the five arc lamps on their high spires and the “arm lamps” would not have provided very much light. Nevertheless for people who knew only the night's natural darkness or the soft glow of a few gas lamps, these electric lights must have seemed like a magnificent advance into the future.

Where did the city get its electric power for these wonderful new street lights? The city produced its own power. After much debate the city council decided to build a power plant on West Forest Avenue. A red brick building housed a boiler, a steam engine and a generator which produced all of the power for the city's electric light system. The puffing steam engine and the whirl of of the generator producing electric current was the marvel of the community. It was reported that boys like to come to watch the steam engine and to magnetize their pocket knives with the powerful magnet of the generator.

In 1896 the city built a water works plant near where the Ford Plant is now located and moved its steam generator to the same location. By 1905 Detroit Edison had taken over this and all the other little power plants, public and private, in the county.

Although a hundred years have come and gone, the building, in which the electric power for Ypsilanti's first street lights was produced, still stand on West Forest Avenue in the Department of Public Works Yard. Inscribed in a stone plaque near the top of the front wall are the words, “Ypsilanti Electric Light, 1887.” This little red brick building ushered our community into the modern world of electric light and power.

(With gratitude to Doris Milliman, City Historian, who provided the research for this article)

President's Letter

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, October 1986,
October 1986
Original Images:

Author: David Gauntlett

All Members of the Ypsilanti Historical Society:

By the time you receive the Gleanings and read this, The Society will have had its Annual Meeting and elected new Board Members and a new President. I do hope that whoever the new President may be, he or she will be given the help and encouragement you gave to me during my time as President.

I feel we have accomplished a number of urgent, required things during my time in office. These include the following:

Renovation of the Basement
Removal of old Heating System and
Installation of complete climate-control system
Scraping and Painting outside of Museum
Repairing Flat Roofs
Repairing and Replacing Deteriorated Wood-work on Porches and under Eaves
Replacing Broken Window Glass
Replacing Ceiling Medallion in the Parlor
Repairing Water Seepage in the Dining Room
Redecorating the Parlor and Dining Room
Redecorating the Office and Archives
Installing Auxillliary Heating System in the Office and Archives Area
Installation of Old Post Office Light at
Front Door of Museum

In addition to the above we have also taken full, deeded Possession of the Lewis House and furnishings. I feel we have established a greater understanding with City Hall, this leading to much better cooperation and assistance from the City.

All of these things have been accomplished with the help of many people, whom I thank so very much. I also wish to thank the Membership for supporting my efforts during the past 3½ years-without this support many of these listed items could not have been completed.

To All Members of the Society my sincere thanks.


Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, May 1998,
May 1998
Original Images:

Author: Peter B. Fletcher

One of the most common themes in Early Pioneer letter back home” sent from the Ypsilanti area was the number and variety of impressive trees found along the banks of the Huron River and out into the surrounding countryside.

Over the years, disease, neglect and urban sprawl have done much to erode this inventory of stately sentinal of natural beauty… Silent witnesses at all which makes up our special heritage.

With this in mind the 175th Anniversary Celebration Committee of the First United Methodist Church of Ypsilanti brought forward the idea of the Church donating 175 trees to the City of Ypsilanti over the next 5 years to help mark this remarkable milestone in the history of the Church while sharing in a tangible way with the whole community. The offer of this gift to the City has prompted the organizing of an Ypsilanti Tree Endowment Group. These public spirited citizen volunteers are working with the professionals of the Ctiy to select public spaces in which to plant the Gift trees and then mobilize volunteers to care for the young trees during their first critical years of growth and development.

The Ypsilanti Historical Society is pleased to encourage this effort as it is a vital part of our History and an example of something which is enjoyed by so many over a long period of time. Those interested in helping can contact Amy McMillan of the Recreation Department of the City of Ypsilanti (734) 483-7272.

Peter B. Fletcher
Past President

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