Chapelle School

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1995,
April 1995
Original Images:

Author: Doris Milliman

E.H. Chapelle Elementary School
111 South Wallace Boulevard
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Considerable research was done to select the site of Chapelle School. A survey was made of the number of children of school age in the area and the number of homes being built, as well as the availability of Land and of utilities.

The Board of Education spent many hours planning the building which had to be approved by the Michigan Department of Education and by the Federal Government. No local fund were used in the construction of this school which opened March 15, 1954. A Federal law had been enacted to assist School Districts where there had been a large influx of students due to defense related industries in the area. The furniture for the original lobby-lounge area, the Teachers' Lounge and some office furniture was donated by the Architect, R.S. Gerganoff.

The School was named for Earnest H. Chapelle who had been Superintendent of Ypsilanti School for nineteen years. Some of the highlights of the School Board's Resolution to name the School are:
“In nineteen years as Superindent of Schools in Ypsilanti, Mr. Chapelle has strived to maintain the highest level of an educational program.

Through their association with Mr. Chapelle, the Personnel of the School System have profited by the confidence he expresses, and the principles he represents have served as an ideal for those engaged in Teaching.

He has given freely of his time in all phases of Church Work.

In his association with the youth of our community through his contact with the Boy Scouts, he has inspired other men to assist in that organization.

“Having served in many offices of the Rotary Club in recognition of his ability, he has been elected District Governor of that organization”.

Other parts of the Resolution refer to Mr. Chapelle's work as a member of the Board of Directors of the Huron Valley Child Guidance Clinic, work with the Community Fund, The Red Cross and other Service Organizations, as well as serving as President of the Ypsilanti Board of Commerce”.
The dedication Ceremony for the School was held May 10,1954 with Mr. Clair M. Taylor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, delivering the Address. Mr Ralph Gerganoff, Architect, Mr. Carl Johnson, President of the Board of Education, and Mrs. Chapelle presented a portrait of Mr. Chapelle to the School.

Chapelle School with its 314 pupiles continues to serve its eommunity under the Supervison of the Principal, Mrs. Tulane Smith Sambi.

E. H. CHAPELLE SCHOOL construction begins with groundbreaking ceremonies this morning. Ypsilanti city school board President Carl Johnson mans the spade as Mrs. Ernest Chapelle, right watches. Attending, left to right, are. Mrs. H. deB Barss and Dr. Arold Brown, school, board members: Donald Porter, school business manager; John Roth and H. F. Campbell, of Campbell Construction Co., builders; R. S. Gerganoff, architect: Clyde Budd. Dr. Lawrence Perry, Walter Sturm and Edward Cuthbert, school board members.

School Tours

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, June 1984,
June 1984
Original Images:

The Ypsilanti Historical Museum has been very busy during the month of May this year. Our guides have worked overtime to provide specially arranged tours for students before the end of the school year. We serviced 12 groups from the elementary schools of Adams, Chapelle, Estabrook and George. These students included second, third and fifth grade classes. Altogether 295 students toured the Museum in May. These school tours were in addition to other adult groups who arranged to visit us. We are very grateful indeed to the volunteer guides who gave extra time and made these tours possible. Our guides have reported that the students have shown much interest and have been highly motivated to learn about the early beginnings of Ypsilanti and their ancestors. We hope the students will retain this interest and return to the Museum to learn more.

It has been an exciting and interesting month for us and very worthwhile.

Adams School

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, November 1994,
November 1994
Original Images:

Author: Doris Milliman


Adams School at the corner of Prospect and Oak streets is one of the oldest schools in the city with a history dating back to the 1830's. It was in 1825 when Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Peck and their five children came from New York State and bought a farm on East Forest Avenue. There were no Public Schools in the area at that time. So after becoming settled, Mr. Peck built a school on family property, near the intersection of River and Forest. The Brick Schoolhouse was known as the “Peck School Primary”. Later Mr. Peck sold the School to the 4th Ward School District. There were 99 children who attended the school.

A new site was chosen for the corner of Prospect and Oak Streets and in 1878, a four room school house was erected there at a cost of $4,000.00. It was called the 4th Ward School until 1902, when the School District was consolidated and the 4th Ward School was renamed Prospect School.

In 1919 the population of the area had increased and it became necessary to build a larger building, which was said to be the first one story school building in town. During the construction period, the school pupils attended a “Makeshift” building erected in Prospect Park.

The School was renamed again in 1963 when Olive M. Adams retired as Principal, a position she had held since 1934. After her retirement, Miss Adams moved to Midland, Michigan where she died in 1992.

In 1979, voters in the Ypsilanti School District approved a Bond Issue for the razing and the reconstruction of Adams Elementary School at 505 Oak Street. Two years later the new school was opened with 20 regular classrooms for grades one through 6, and many features that the former building did not have. It is now a well equipped school and serves a large part of the School Population.

Doris Milliman
City Historian

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, December 1993,
December 1993
Original Images:

By Jack Miller

The 15th annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival was host to 29 Hudsons on a warm and sunny Saturday August 21st. The three day festival draws over 250,000 people annually with Saturday being the biggest day with the 2nd largest parade in Michigan taking place in the morning. Jow Amman of Chesaning Michigan and Bob Elton of Ann Arbor showed off their sharp Hudson cars a 1928 Landau sedan and a newly painted two tone maroon 1950 Pacemaker sedan respectively in the parade.

HET members Chuck Foster and Bill Wilt of Monroe, Michigan arrived early Saturday to help Loren Hansen with the set up and display of our HET cars on Depot Towns Cross Street. Don Horner of Toledo got the award for the oldest Hudson with his 1927 seven-passenger and Dennis Pastor of Allenton finally got a oldest Terraplane award as Ric Pinder and family could not come this year with the 1933 convertible. Heritage Festival committee awards went to Leo Palowski's sharp ‘49 Super Eight club coupe and Joe Amman's beautiful ‘28 Landau Sedan.

Lunch at Miller Motors was ably handled by Hudson own Hudson owner Joe Mikulec of Max's Deli and Catering. The day was concluded with a traditional evening trip to Haabs an Ypsilanti landmark since 1934 for prime rib and steaks. About 50 HET'ers were greeted with the Haabs staff wearing Hudson pins and placemats with the Hudson and Home Chapter logo's along with Haabs menu. The festival actually began on Tuesday with HET member Jack Wiltse doing a super job washing windows, dusting, vacuuming and detailing all the Hudson cars that were on display at Miller Motors.

Museum Activities

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, February 1984,
February 1984
Original Images:

Our Valentine Exhibit has been admired, and has brought many comments about remembrances of long-ago childhoods. As a part of Valentines Day activities, Towner House had a program on February 11, in which children made Valentines to give them ideas. Thirty children visited our Museum to study our exhibit.

On February 16, a special four was given to thirteen people from The Ypsilanti Senior Citizen Center who showed great interest in our Museum. We were pleased to have them visit us.

School Tours 1992

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, June 1992,
June 1992
Original Images:

This Spring we had approximately 175 school children tour the Museum.
One class from the Huron Valley School, three classes from Fletcher School, one class from Chapelle School and three classes from Ardis School.
I would like to thank the following docents who guided:

Kathy Campbell
Marge Gauntlett
Doris Olson

Janet Ford
Normajean Anderson
Joan Carpenter

Lois Katon
Virginia Davis
Kathryn Howard

Virginia Abos
Jean Berg
Howard Berg

Ann McCarthy

Why Comb, Tomb and Bomb?

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, August 1982,
August 1982
Original Images:

Author: Nancor Szent-Gyorgyi

Northbrook— “Bested and Worsted” by Herb. Daniels (Modern Almanac, May 8) made us remember our first English lesson in our native Hungary. When my wife and I questioned the logic of English spelling and pronunciation rules, our teacher, an Englishman, replied with the following verse:

When the English tongue we speak,
Why is break not rhymed with freak?
Will you tell me why it's true
We say sew but likewise Jew?
And a maker of a verse
Cannot rhyme his horse with worse.
Beard sounds not the same as heard,
Cord is different from word.
Cow is cow, but low is low.
Shoe is never rhymed with foe.
Think of hose and dose and lose.
And of comb and tomb and bomb,
Doll and roll, and home and some.
And since pay is rhymed with say,
Why not paid with said, I pray?
We have blood and food and good;
Mould is not pronounced like could.
Wherefore done, but gone and lone–
Is there any reason known?
And in short it seems to me,
Sounds and letters disagree.

The History of Ypsilanti: A Brief Summary from the Colburn's History

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, March 1992,
March 1992
Original Images:

Long ago our city was a forest. A beautiful river wound among the trees, inviting the deer, wolves and small animals to drink the clean water. The only sounds were the songs of the birds, the rustle and swaying of the wind blown trees, and the speech of the animals.

There came a day when Indians began camping on the river bank. They were walking to a clearing called Detroit. Here they could trade furs for beads and other things they had never seen before.

The Indian tribe called the Hurons, made their homes, from time to time, along the river bank. They were Iroquois who had been driven from Canada. The Potawatomi tribe were Algonquins and since they were friendly with the Huron, they camped nearby. A trial called the Potawatomi Trial reached to Detroit from the place where the Michigan Avenue bridge is today.

The Indians used only things they found in the woods to help with their survival. Their clothing was made from skins and furs. Tools and dishes were made from wood, stone, and bone. They were very good carpenters and, with their stone hatchets, made huts, boats, paddles, bows, arrows, bark baskets bowls and traps. They built lodges by bending young trees together and covering them with bark. Fires were built in the center and the smoke escaped through a hole at the top.

Food was uncertain since they depended upon hunting and fishing and had only crude ways to be successful. The men did the hunting but women and children were kept busy gathering berries and digging up wild roots. Later the women learned that seeds could be planted and corn would grow and could be used for good. Crude tools for planting and harvesting were left and found later in the earth on the south side of the river near where our city is now. This proves that an Indian camp became a village where they stayed for some time.

In 1809 it was a great distance to walk single file to Detroit so the Indians were pleased when a Frenchman named Godfroy built a trading post on the river bank. Indians brought their furs here to trade and the Godfroys sent them across the ocean. One day the trading post burned to the ground.

In 1820 the second post was built. This one was also destroyed by fire but not before the Godfroys and two other Frenchman had bought 2000 acres of land west of our river. The Indians could not understand about land ownership and were surprised when they were asked to move. They had believed that they would continue to live as usual and share the land with the new owners.

In 1823, one spring day some men from Ohio came up the river on flat boats. They were looking for a place to build new homes. These men were brave men who were willing to live in a wilderness without even a path in order to make a clearing and build a log house they could call their own.

Many hugh houses were built near the college site. They added elegance to the area.

A setback occured in 1851. A fire broke out and most of the business places on Michigan Avenue burned. They were soon replaced by better buildings and an iron bridge took the place of the old wooden one across the river. All of this prompted the first fire engine called the Tea Kettle. Fireman pumped the water from cisterns behind each house.

By 1850 there were newspapers and people were traveling from north to south by train. The states in the north learned what was happening in the south. The news stated that black people were called slaves because they were owned by the people for whom they worked. If these slaves could run away and get into Canada they were free. Some people in Ypsilanti sympathized with them and helped to free them.

Many came to Ypsilanti in the night and were hidden and fed until they could be taken further under cover of darkness.

One man took them to the river in a covered wagon with two floors. The top floor was stacked with boxes of cigars which he made for sale, but between the two floors lay the people seeking freedom. When they got to the Detroit River a boat would be waiting to take them to Canada

In 1861 the states in the south decided to leave the Union. President Lincoln called for help to keep the United States together and the men from Ypsilanti were some of the first in the state to offer themselves for service. When this Civil War ended the black men were free and many came to Ypsilanti because the city was anti-slavery.

The East side of the town was unhappy with the West side and decided to leave the town and form one of its own. After many meetings the two sides decided that they needed each other so they united and found that together they could form a city. They elected Mr. Chauncey Joslin the first mayor.

The city bloomed like a garden during the next twenty years. The first Prospect School was built and the cemetery was moved and a park took its place. The ladies club planted trees and bushes and added a pond. A cannon was sent from Maine.

In 1893 a Business School called Cleary College brought many people to the city.

The bicycle had made its appearance so people were meeting more. A streetcar called the Ypsi-Ann was pulled by horses between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

Electricity came in the next ten years and the street-car used it instead of horses to make the wheels turn.

The first electric light was on the porch of the mill on Cross Street.

Beautiful gardens were planted at the depot and small bouquets were presented to the passengers on the train when it stopped in Ypsilanti.

A stone has been marked where Prospect Street and Grove Road meet to show us where Woodruff's Grove was located.

The new road was built by cutting logs and placing them side by side across the trail. The thin logs were placed on high ground and thick ones went on the low wet spots. It was called a corduroy road. A cart or wagon could be heard rattling over the logs for a mile coming or going.

The new road had brought enough people to join the villagers, to form a town. There was a store, a mill, a small school house and a church.

People began buying land for one dollar twenty-five cents an acre. Many homes were built. The materials were nicer and were replacing logs and bark. The Norris family built a large home on the east bank of the river. They drove the first two wheeled carriage in town. A stage coach began carrying people from town to town. Other settlements like Plymouth, and Ann Arbor and Dearbornville had sprung up.

A name for the town was necessary. Judge Woodward from Detroit was asked for advice. The news from across the ocean told about a brave Greek General who won a battle for his country. His name was Demetrius Ypsilanti. The people decided to name the town for him so it has been called Ypsilanti to this day. A statue of the general may be seen where Cross street and Washtenaw Avenue meet.

In 1837 Michigan became large enough to be made a state and to get a star in the flag. Soon after Governor Mason visted Ypsilanti.

The first steam engine was coming to town on the railroad track which had joined us to Detroit.

Wood from the trees had played another important role. Very little iron was used in building the track but first blocks, stringers, ties, sills and wedges, all made from wood, formed the bed for the track. Wood would be used in the engine furnaces to make the steam to drive the wheels.

Nearly all the people had gathered at the track to wait for the first iron horse to come in. History tells us that the Governor walked into town because the engine broke down but surely the monster must have followed, snorting fire and smoke and breathing hard.

There was very little talked about around Ypsilanti, except the “cars”. Everyone knew that a new era had begun for Ypsilanti and Michigan.

A depot was built to receive the passengers from the train. This brought a hotel and some stores to the Cross Street area.

The city cemetery was placed where Prospect Park is now. High School pupils were traveling from the outside and staying at school during the week. A hotel where the Cross Street High School now stands was made into a seminary for these pupils. The sleeping rooms were on the third floor.

In 1849 Ypsilanti was chosed as a site for a State Normal School. This was a great honor for the town. Teachers would be trained here. The students would come from all over the country and would need “rooming houses”.

They found just the right place near our river. They began wearing out the axes they had brought with them. New sounds were made in the stillness, by the heavy blows of these axes as many trees were falling. The ground shook with the force of their fall and the birds and animals fled deeper into the forest.

As soon as the homes were built the men went back to Ohio for their families, furniture and stock. One of the men was Mr. Woodruff.

When the families, especially the wives were introduced to their log homes they were quite unhappy. They found the ground wet and swampy, the homes crude and cold and the forest lonely and scarey. They were also brave and unselfish and began thinking of making the best of their fortune. Detroit was the nearest postoffice. The settlement was named Woodruff's Grove.

This same year (1823) in the fall, Mr. John Bryan and his family came all the way from New York in an ox cart. The last four days of their journey was spent hacking a road through to this area. The BRyans stayed with the people in woodruff's Grove until they finished their log cabin in December. In February a baby boy was born to them. They called him Alpha Washtenaw which meant First in the County.

The next spring these few families planted seeds they had brought with them and soon were enjoying potatoes, squash, beans, and corn from their gardens. The men rode their horses to Detroit and bought a few things like molasses and raisins, Mr. Woodruff would bring their mail home in his hat. Honey from the bees provided sweets, game from the forest and fish from the river furnished their meat. The next year 1824 more people came and brought good seed, currant bushes, rose bushes and small apple trees.

The Woodruff's were kind to the new neighbors who were tired and homesick. Mr. Woodruff decided that everyone who had survived the move to this part of Michigan should meet and celebrate. He planned a picnic for July Fourth, when Independence Day is celebrated.

This time, he took the flat boat to Detroit and brought back barrels of food. The ladies cooked over fires in the yard.

Thirty-eight people were living in Washtenaw County and they were all invited. It have been something like the first Thanksgiving.

Ond day in June in 1825 an exciting thing happened. Some men came to measure land. They were trying to find the best place to make a road between Detroit and places west of it. Many people wanted to come to Michigan to build homes and the soldiers needed roads to protect the people.

The surveyors knew about the old trail and they decided to build the new road over it.

The people at Woodruff's Grove were very happy about the road but they were sorry it did not go through their village. Soon they joined the people who were planning a new village where the trail crossed the river.

In 1893 Ypsilanti had another set back. A cyclone either damaged or destroyed most of the business places. Luckily not one was killed. The buildings had to be rebuilt and by 1900 the city looked much like it does today except for the horses and carriages that drove up and down every street and were tied in front of the shops while the owners were inside.

1900 brought the invention of the first automobile. Miss Woodward drove one of the first cars in Ypsilanti. It was a Covert Motorette. The horses snorted, reared, and ran out of control whenever they met one of the contraptions.

The car demanded a change from rough roads. Cross street was the first paved street. Michigan Avenue was bricked so the dirt road was only on the side streets and in the country.

By 1904 Ypsilanti had its first Beyer Hospital, a daily newspaper, 126 street lights, 10 churches, 15 shops and 3 parks. 7587 people lived here and 993 students came to college.

In 1905 a three day reunion was held and 1000 people came back to visit. There were ballon ascensions, parties, band concerts and parades.

The United States had entered a World War in 1914 but by 1920 it was over. An American Legion Post was formed in Ypsilanti. Its members were men who had fought in the war. Another Club called the Chamber of Commerce was working to make Ypsilanti a successful business place.

These organizations united to furnish the best of parades and carnivals. People came from all over the state to see the American Legion Parade on the Fourth of July.

Almost every family had some sort of an automobile and the horse and carriage was disappearing on the streets.

The airplane had been invented and used during the war but one was seldom seen over Ypsilanti.

The Normal was educating teachers from the entire country. A six weeks summer course plus a teacher's examination made a high school graduate into a teacher. A two year course made one a teacher for life. Since graduates wore a cap and gown, Ypsilanti adopted a Town and Gown slogan.

Twenty years of peace then another world war in 1941 found us joining up. Airplanes were quite a common thing by this time and were used to do the greatest damage in battles because they dropped bombs on targets.

A mammoth building and airfield were added just outside of Ypsilanti and bombers were built there.

It seemed like the whole United States moved to Ypsilanti. The big houses were divided into apartments. A whole village called Willow Village was built near the Bomber Plant and homes were built in groups called subdivisions.

New Schools, churches, eating places and Business were added to care for the new neighbors.

When the war ended and the Bomber plant closed the people stayed because the airway became Willow Run Airport and our sky was filled with passenger planes. Kaiser Fraser made automobiles in the factory and later General Motors made auto parts. Ypsilanti had become industrial so the slogan became Where Commerce and Education Meet.

The Normal had grown from a College to Eastern Michigan University.

So much has happened since this metropolis was a dense forest with a winding river we tend to forget the early days.

To prevent this, The Ypsilanti Historical Society has been formed in Ypsilanti.

Interested citizens have furnished a Museum near where the first settlements stood.

When you visit this Museum each picture, early furnishing, articles of clothing or other objects from a former era should remind you of a story in these pages.

The memories of the days gone by should be remembered and told to our children, grandchildren and our great grandchildren so they will be aware of the changes that have taken place and what will take place in years to come.



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

An Ad in the August 12, 1876 “Commercial” —

University of Michigan-Department of Medicine & Surgery

The 27th Annual Course of lectures will commence October 2nd, 1876.

Course separate but equal for women.

Metriculation Fees--Residents of Michigan $10.00; non-Residents $25.00.

Annual Dues-Residents $15; Non-Residents $20.00 Graduation Fee-For all alike $15.

Send for circular and catalogue A.B. Palmer, M.D. Dean-Ann Arbor, Michigan

Annual Report of the Inspectors of the State Prisons-1875

Under the most adverse circumstances, the Prison has been self-supporting the past year. Washtenaw County furnished 5 inmates during 1875. The number from the entire State 391. Only one school teacher, one Bank Cashier, one Journalist and one Preacher.

Sketch of the Life of E.M. Foote (1915)

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

Author: Miss Abba Owen

(The following interesting article on Ypsilanti's pioneer teacher of public school music, a man whose musical influence extended through many states, was written for Ypsilanti Chapter D.A.R., by Miss Abba Owen, the granddaughter of Prof. Foote, herself one of Ypsilanti's favorite musicians and a teacher in the Normal College Conservatory of Music. It is published by the request of the Members of the Chapter as a valuable contribution to Ypsilanti history.—Editor Record.) dated October 21, 1915.

Ezra Meade Foote was born in the town of Shoreham, Vt., January 19, 1820. When three years of age, his parents moved to Cornwell, Vt. His father, Russel Foote, besides having one of the finest brick houses and largest farms in that vicinity, was the first man to own 1,000 fine-wool sheep. Prof. Foote often spoke of the large fireplaces this house contained, and the long-handled warming-pan his mother passed between the sheets before the children got into bed. At the age of sixteen, after becoming familiar with farm life, Mr. Foote started out to carve a fortune for himself and settled in Lockport, N.Y., where he studied medicine for two years. Then he decided to turn his attention more particularly to music, in which he had taken great delight from early boyhood. He studied in Boston, voice culture, harmony and thorough-bass with the foremost teachers of the time-—B.F. Baker, Lowell Mason and others.

At the age of twenty-five, he married Sarah S., daughter of Judge Lothrop Cooke of Lewiston, N.Y. In 1845 I find his name in the catalogue of the annual convention of teachers of music in Rochester, N.Y. under the direction of the professors in the Boston Academy of Music. In fact, I find him returning often to ‘Boston, the center of musical life at that time, to perfect himself better in the art of music. From 1845 to 1858, he resided in Lockport, having charge for many years of the First Presbyterian church choir, giving private music lessons, concerts and musical conventions in many parts of the United States.

In looking over his old scrapbook, with its hundreds of interesting notices from all the leading cities, towns and villages, one realizes more and more what a great and wonderful influence he had upon music through the whole country. At the time it was said of him: “The qualifications of Prof. Foote as teacher of this high art are equaled by few and surpassed by no other individual.” (The Buffalo Advocate says of the Musical Convention at Williamsville: “There were about 150 members of the class composed of gentlemen and ladies of much talent and experience in musical matters. There was much of science and good taste in the convention. We noticed Prof. Webb and other eminent musical characters from Buffalo were there. The musical exercises of the convention were under the direction of Prof. E.M. Foote of Lockport as conductor. His capacity and tact, his urbanity of manner and gentlemanly deportment won and invited the golden opinion of the whole class. He seems both by nature and education peculiarly adapted to systematize and bring into harmony of feeling and action a mass of strange singers who have never practiced together. May blessings be upon his clear head and warm heart!” The Tiffin, O., paper says: “We really believe that Mr. Foote could take a collection of boys and girls from the alleys and woods, and in a dozen days call out encores of applause from the most fastidious audience. As it is he has opened the eyes of our citizens to the fact that we have rare musical talent in our midst.”)

For several years Prof. Foote took charge of the music at the commencement exercises at Oberlin College. While there in 1855, he sought an accompanist to travel with him. Prof. Frederick H. Pease, then a young man of sixteen, applied for the position and was accepted. He traveled and made his home with the Foote family until his marriage five years later; in fact, he was associated with Prof. Foote for eight years, in which time he received his first instruction in vocal music and chorus directing. In later years he often said to Prof. Foote: “It was one of the most anxious moments of my life when I awaited the decision after playing an accompaniment for Miss Jennie Pierce.” Miss Pierce was a noted soprano, a pupil of Prof. Foote, who traveled with the Footes on these concert tours. During the many conventions that he held in in Jackson, Michigan, Prof. Foote always made it a point to visit and sing for the prisoners. The warden said that there was something strange about it, but that Prof. Foote would not be in the city more than a few hours before the prisoners would know it and watch for his coming. They presented him with a beautiful inlaid wooden box, made by a life convict, containing the following letter:

“Prof. E.M. Foote:—-

“Sir, in behalf of our convict choir, I present to you this small box as a testimony of their high esteem for you and an expression of their gratitude to Almighty God for his preserving care over yourself and those who assist you during another year since your last visit to this place, and in permitting you to come again to cheer our hearts with your pleasant voice and cheerful smiles. Also as an expression of our gratitude to you, Sir, for your kindness, both a year ago and at the present time, in coming to our abode of suffering, to sing for us as no other man has sung or can sing, allowing us to be the judges. We appreciate your kindness and your music, and thank you sincerely for these visits, hoping they may be repeated annually while we are so infortunate as to remain in this tomb of blasted hopes and broken hearts, where poor, unfortunate, depraved humanity comes to know the truth of the Scripture saying, Viz.: “That the way of the transgressor is hard.” Please accept this small token as the largest gift our present limited means will justify us in presenting to you, and please remember us kindly as you may from time to time open this little keepsake and call to remembrance the scenes of this Sabbath morning. We also feel grateful for the assistance you have had in rendering your music, so soul-stirring and heart-cheering, as has been the case in both instances, especially this day. If you should never visit us again, while we remain in this abode of misery, we hope to see the day when we shall meet you and hear you sing under circumstances widely different from these, when there will be no drawback upon our joys, experienced in the contrast between our condition and your own. In taking our leave of you today, we bid you Godspeed in your vocation, and hope you and those who travel with you as your assistants in this glorious work, may long be preserved in life and health, and may you many times ere going hence to be on earth no more, make glad the hearts of others, as you have ours today. Farewell.

Signed on behalf of the Choir,
R.A. Crawford, Chaplain Michigan State Prison.”

Jackson, Michigan,
Feb. 22, 1857.

In 1855 Prof. Foote was engaged to teach music and elocution in the Michigan State Normal School. Lockport, N.Y., at that time was called a town; Ypsilanti, like many other small places in Michigan, was called a City. Prof. Foote's small daughter, now Mrs. T.C. Owen of this city, was greatly excited, as children will be, over the thought of moving to a city and staying at a hotel. She could hardly wait to get to Ypsilanti. Judge of her disappointment on finding a city smaller than the town she had left, and insignificant “hotel” called the Soup House. The family stayed at this hotel one week, until their furniture arrived. The only houses available for rent at that time were the old Cole house back of the Cleary College, and the house now owned by Madison Parsons (401 N. Hamilton St.,) north of the Catholic church. The latter seemed altogether too far out of the city, as there was only one other house on “The Commons” as that part of the city was called. So they moved into the Cole house. Miss Pierce and Mr. Pease were with them. Although he had studied harmony, thorough bass, etc., with the best teachers Boston afforded, Prof. Foote, with great insight and pedagogical gifts, realized that this was not the music to teach to our public school teachers, who had but a limited time to devote to their musical studies, as they had many other subjects to study and teach at the same time. The foundation in all music should be to make all proficient in sight-reading, even as our boys and girls read the newspaper. This Prof Foote gave them, a feat that cannot be duplicated by our present public schools. If his method had been continued, the choirs would now be able to sing oratorios at sight, even as the orchestras play them, instead of spending three or four months, with the aid of a piano, in learning them.

Prof. Foote organized the first Normal Choir and was instrumental in procuring the first piano. He also realized that music at that time could be introduced only by appealing to the heart, and his patriotic and descriptive songs, interspersed with the classical music, created an interest never to be abated. The patriotic, descriptive and sentimental pieces mentioned by his contemporaries were always of the highest order--pure and chaste, doing more good often than many sermons. His patriotic songs during the war cheered many a weary heart. These were not at all like the popular songs, ragtime vaudeville or minstrel, that students love to entertain us with today. The Normal boys of Co. E, Seventeenth Michigan Infantry, were noted for their singing throughout the war, and in after years many of them said that they never would forget Prof. Foote's voice calling out to them: “Wake up, boys, Wake up!” when they were singing “We are Coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more.”

His choir was very proficient in rendering choruses from the Oratorios, the “Hallelujah Chorus” arousing great enthusiasm. The choruses from the best known operas were studied and the rendering of chants was considered remarkable. Prof. A.S. Welsh was principal at the time. During his absence in Europe on his wedding trip, his home was occupied by Prof. Foote and family, the house where Mrs. T.C. Owen now lives. At the time of the Normal fire in 1859, he was one of the first to arrive on the spot, his great anxiety being to save the piano. Some men volunteered to help him; they succeeded in gaining the first flight of stairs, but were obliged to literally crawl down again as the smoke was so dense they were almost suffocated.

Upon Prof. Welsh's return, Prof. Foote purchased the house next east of the Welsh place, which was his home so many years. After severing his connection with the Normal School in 1863, he traveled extensively through the south. From this time until his permanent settlement in Ypsilanti in 1881, he was difficult to keep track of, as he to be everywhere. Fifteen years before coming to Ypsilanti and eighteen years before returning here to take change of the music in the public schools here, thirty-four years in all, he traveled almost continuously through New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois. Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. He held conventions in every city of importance in Michigan, not only once, but several times. He is referred to by many as the pioneer of public school music in Michigan.

In 1863, while Prof. Foote was holding a musical convention in St. Joseph, Mo., the following was printed in the St. Joseph Herald: “Yesterday afternoon. Mr. Ferguson of the Missouri Packet Line, invited the entire company, including Proof. Foote, his daughter, Miss Anne Foote, and party, to dine on board the magnificent steamer “Denver” which was at the wharf. We were present and found General Fisk and staff. Provost Marshal Dwight, Col. Haywood and lady, and several others enjoying themselves hugely. The dinner was superb, and after the removal of the cloth, toasts and songs were the of the day.” Prof. Foote sent to the Sanitary Commission at St. Louis the proceeds from concerts given his amounting to $8,000 to be needed for the Civil War sufferers. He gave a concert at Lockport, N.Y. at which $1,100 was raised, making the amount necessary for George Coins, a colored man who had been working very hard to buy the freedom of his family. During the war. too, Prof. Foote and his assistant; Prof. F.H. Pease, visited the camps near Baltimore and sang to the Michigan soldiers there, which included some from Ypsilanti and vicinity.

About 1865, he went to Chicago. One of the Chicago papers said: “We are much gratified to state that Prof Foote, the celebrated teacher of music and conductor of musical conventions, has made his arrangements to settle in Chicago. He brings with him an established reputation and bespeaks for him a cordial reception and trust that his superiority as a teacher will be
will be appreciated by our citizens. His services are by the First Baptist church of the city to teach music and build up a large choir, Already he has a pupils, which meets every Monday evening in the lecture room of this church. He also has a good class at the University of Chicago and one at the Bryant and Stratton College.” Besides this he had a studio for private lessons, and he was also connected with Root and Cady, the largest music publishing house in the west; and still he continued giving concerts and musical conventions in the larger cities. The New York Musical Review said: “The Northern Erie County Musical Association held its second annual convention in Williamsville, N.Y., continuing four days, and closing with a concert. A larger number of singers of more imposing array of musical talent we have never known assembled in western New York. Many eminent musicians from abroad were present. The exercises were under the direction of Mr. E.M. Foote, whose ability and tact for the management of classes we think rarely equaled. The exercises were varied by choruses, quartets, solos, etc., all of which were of a highly classic character and reflected great credit upon those concerned. It demonstrates the great utility of such conventions, not only by the interest which they arouse in the science of music, but also by the consequent benefit they bring to those engaged. All present were strikingly impressed with the great wealth of musical talent hitherto unknown or at least not understood, to exist in this delightful section of the country.”

These conventions usually lasted from two to four weeks, and ended with a large concert or the cantata of “Esther” or “Belshazzar's Feast.” The latter was dramatized by Prof. Foote just prior to the Chicago fire. All the books were burned except one copy which he had taken with him the night before. At the time of the fire, services were bring held in the First Baptist church, and Prof. Foote often told how the minister was saying in a very dramatic voice: “What if we should be consumed by fire at this present moment?” As he repeated the question, a policeman rushed in and screamed: “Run for your lives! The city is burning!” “Belshazzar's Feast, or the Fall of Babylon” was a dramatic cantata in seven scenes. The singers were dressed in full Jewish Chaldean costumes, thus giving a truthful representation of the sacred story contained in the Book of Daniel. The Lawrence paper says: “Our abounding home talent capped the climax of its achievements last night with the most brilliant entertainment Lawrence, (Kansas), had ever witnessed. Prof. Foote has had a large list of our best artists in training for three months, preparing the dramatic cantata of ‘Belshazzar’. Neither time, effort or expense were spared to enable them to thoroughly reproduce the gorgeous scenic and costume effect. The protracted voice training those engaged in its production have undergone, has had a marked effect upon the quality of those singing. The hall was crowded by an appreciative audience and will be packed again tonight. In the complicated scenes contained in this cantata, Prof. Foote has successfully combated the difficulties encountered and achieved a most pronounced success. Prof. Foote, as Belshazzar, the King enacted the part to perfection. His fine figure, venerable aspect, gorgeous robes and trained bass voice, combined with natural dramatic ability, made it an easy task for him.”

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