Head Start

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, February 1991,
February 1991
Original Images:

Publisher: Doris Milliman

Our attention has been called to an article in the Magazine Insight for December 10, 1990 which mentions the Head Start Program at Perry School in Ypsilanti.

The National Program for Head Start was started in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson to provide Educational, Social, Nutritional and Medical aid to poor children from deprived families. The program has been so successful that Congress and President Bush have given it 400 million more in 1991.

The latter claim came from a study that followed 59 youngsters from age 3 until 19, wh had attended the Perry Preschool Project in Ypsilanti, MIchigan. The study showed striking gains in school achievement and reduced delinquency, crime, welfare use and teenage pregnancy. The Authors of the study concluded that the value of the Preschool Project to Society is seven times its cost per child.

Critics claim that Head Start lacks no long term effects yet they look kindly on it because it is different from other similar efforts in the war on poverty.

The copy of Insight is available in the Archives.






In Remembrance of Merry Maude Wallace

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



Author: Ethel O'Connor

Delivered by Miss Ethel O'Connor, May 12, 1981 for the Emeritus Faculty Meeting held at Eastern Michigan University.

When I read of the death of Merry Maude on March 24, 1981, my first thought was a light has gone out in the world. As I attended the memorial service and as I visited with the many people who respected her work and loved and admired her, I realized that “her light” will continue to be reflected in the lives of many people. Thus it seemed fitting to contact and include the reflections of many of her friends.

Miss Gertrude Roser and Mrs. Emma Rogers who worked with her at Eastern Michigan University prepared the following information and tribute.

Merry Maude Wallace

Born April 28, 1910-March 24, 1981 in Benton Harbor, Mi.

Came to EMU 1945-Retired June 30, 1975

Miss Wallace acted as classroom teacher for physically handicapped children from 1945 to 1966 when her responsibilities were changed to college teaching only.

During her term of classroom teaching with the children, Miss Wallace contributed much to the education and personal lives of the children with whom she worked. Through the years many of her ex-students kept in touch with her, announcing weddings, births and activities in their lives, and Miss Wallace was always happy to keep in touch with them. Also, during the time she was teaching children she was engaged in teaching college courses as were all other classroom teachers in the Rackham building at that time.

Her interest in the handicapped was also reflected in her participation in activities of the Easter Seal Society where she was a Board Member for many years.

Merry Maude Wallaces's varied interests gave the children in her class a desire to learn and to have interests beyond the 4 walls of their classroom.

Her philosophy as concerned each child was to set his or her physical and mental goals high and to aim for achievement in both.

She never gave up on any physical handicap that a child had no matter how severe that handicap. Her optimistic attitude carried over to each child's outlook on life.

Merry Maude was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, American Association of University Women, P.E.O., Ladies Literary Club and the Ypsilanti Historical Society. From people in these organizations came the reply she was willing to accept leadership responsibilities. As a leader she was a caring, objective, helpful and creative person who lead for the good of all with no concern for the personal gratification of her own ideas. She was an avid reader and a most intelligent woman who kept up to date on current issues and shared stimulating ideas and information. Many noted that to them she was an ageless vital person whose outlook on life inspired them.

Merry Maude's family sent these thoughts through her sisters, Katie Bloom and Edie Vandenbosch:

She was a cohesive factor in our family. She kept us very close. Marry Maude loved to travel from the time she was two and took her first steps down a country lane accompanied by the family dog.

Keeping up family traditions was important to Merry Maude.

She awakened in each of our children a curiousity about the world and life itself. Their lives have been enriched by the books and trips she gave them.

The things she taught us – love and concern for each other and the world are now being evidenced in our grand-children.

She will live on in each of their lives.

From the Reverend Donald B. Strobe came the following tribute:

At her memorial service, I quoted a couple of lines of a poem written by Bishop Ralph Spaulding Cushman of the United Methodist Church:

There are two kinds of people,
You know them,
As you journey along life's track;
those who take all your strength from you,
and others who put it all back!

Merry Maude was the kind of person who brought strength to those with whom she came in contact. It was a privilege for me to be her pastor, and close friend, having toured both England and Europe with her on two different occasions. She will be sorely missed, and we thank God for the impact of her life on so many people.

What's New In The Archives

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

Several items of interest have recently been added to the Archives Collection. One is a copy of the American Heritage in which there is an articles entitled “Connecting with Eastern Europe” which mentions Ypsilanti being named as it was because of the influence of the Philhellene Societies in America. There is also a picture of the statue of Demetrius Ypsilanti. Our attention was called to this article by Mr. Herbert Cornish who also donated the magazine.

Another item received is a very attractive and well organized scrap book about Ypsilanti High School's Girl's Drum and Bugle Corps from 1935 to 1978, complied by Mrs. Roger Katon (Lois Hopp). A section is devoted to the eight directors who led the corps during its time of activity. A history of each year is given followed by the lists of girls who were members of the corps. There were ten mothers and daughters in the corps; Dorothy Rice Norton and Cindy Norton; Lois Hopp Katon and Cheri Katon Brondyks; Suzanne Oakes Buck and Sue Buck; Marlene Moffett Britton and Charlene Britton; Cora MacDonald Delano and Diane Delano; Sue Baker Hopp Pittman and Lauri Hopp Kruzel, to name a few. There were many family members too; Cousins, Nieces, and sisters.

The Corps performed for many occasions in many areas and was noted for its precision and proficiency. The girls in their colorful uniforms were spectacular as they appeared in parades and competitions, and were called “The Pride of Ypsilanti”.

The concluding paragraph of the history states “After 43 glorious years as “The Pride of Ypsilanti”, the Highland Lassies disbanded. It was the only All-Girl High School Drum and Bugle Corps in the state-perhaps in the country-and indeed became famous for the many years it thrilled and dazzled crowds at home and far away. As the flage passed and our spectacular Scottish Corps marched by in perfect precision, it always brought a tear to the eye and a lump in the throat of Ypsilanti townspeople, and especially, former drum corps members. In 1979, a proud Ypsilanti tradition came to an end, but for those of us who remember it well, the Ypsilanti High School Drum and Bugle Corps will live in our hearts forever”. (We have uniforms of the Corps on display in the Museum.)

The Fords of Dearborn by Ford R. Bryan is now part of our collection. It is an autographed copy donated by Mr. James Porter. The book contains a series of short stories based on information and photographs in the Ford Archives of the Henry Ford Museum and Greefield Village. The articles are illustrated and include information about the Ford Family History from the time before the first of the Fords came to America, until after the death of its most important member, Henry.

The author includes a chapter on Fairlane, Henry Ford's home, with many pictures, and another chapter about his farms and activites of the family.

A Scrapbook History Of Lincoln Consolidated (The Building) (1924-1961)

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

Author: David S. Flower

The Author has done much research, taken many pictures and has interviewed many people in preparation for this history of Lincoln School.

Lincoln School was first given the name of Rural agricultural School District, Number 1, Fractional. It included the Townships of Ypsilanti and Augusta. The next name associated with the school was the Marvin S. Pittman School, the person who was the founder of the school. However, in 1924 Dr. Pittman asked the school board to reconsider and to give the school another name. (Dr. Pittman was the Head of the Rural Education Department at the Normal College). The Board then chose the name of Lincoln and it was confirmed by the school students.

A part of the book deals with the One Room Schools, some of which have been destroyed, and some have been converted into homes. There are pictures of the schools, maps to locate them, and lists of some of the students who attended the schools. The story of how some of the schools were converted into homes provides interesting reading.






The Early Elementary and Secondary School of Ypsilanti

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1979,
April 1979
Original Images:


















The following article about the Schools of Ypsilanti was researched and written by Dorothy Disbrow, Archivist for the Ypsilanti Historical Museum.

Since the days when Ypsilanti became an established village, the importance of the schools has been a chief feature of great pride. For instance, it has been said to have graduated from the Ypsilanti Union Seminary was an honor only second to a similar success at the University of Michigan.

We know very little about these earliest schools in our pioneer settlement. However, THE WASHTENAW COUNTY HISTORY for 1881 says: “The first school outside the village was taught by Catharine Rosencrantz”. Perhaps this is the school mentioned in THE DETROIT GAZETTE for November 7, 1825:-

Wednesday, the schoolhouse in Woodruff's Grove entirely burned.

We do know that these schools, which were not tax-supported ‘free’ schools were but a desultory effort to teach children the alphabet. Children were called together and organized into classes and were taught by a local lady who had the time and some education and was glad to get paid, small as the salary was, for her services. It soon became obvious that the efforts were not accomplishing the results sought so a full-time teacher was hired and in 1826 a Miss Hope Johnson opened a school ‘at the Grove’. About the same time a school was started by Miss Olive Gorton in Ypsilanti. Miss Gorton married Lyman Graves (1794–1880) and their son, Albert (1840–1921) fondly wrote of this mother:-

Mrs. Olive Gorton Graves was born in New Lisbon, Otsego Co., New York, Sept. 30, 1804, and died Oct. 29, 1886. In 1825, with her father's family, she crossed Lake Erie in the schnooer ‘Red Jacket’, Captain Walker, master. After a somewhat perilous voyage of about two weeks, they reached Detroit, transfered their effects to a barge and plunged into a wilderness, pulling the barge up the Huron River to Woodruff's Grove on the east bank of the Huron River. At the age of fifteen she had entered upon the vocation of school teaching, which she followed upon her arrival here, by opening the first school in Ypsilanti on the west bank of the river. Children were sent to her school from the east side of the river and were rowed across the river by herself morning and evening.

After teaching there long enough, at two dollars a week, with the money saved she purchased her wedding outfit and in August, 1826, she was married to the late Lyman Graves.

During the summer of 1828 a Miss Miriam Brooks took over from Mrs. Graves. In the winter of 1828–29 Mrs. Mark Norris opened part of her home for classrooms. In 1830 a little brick schoolhouse was built on the east side of the river by William Harwood with a Miss Laura Vail as teacher. Mr. Harwood owned many acres on the east side of the Huron River. When he came in 1825 all the lots on the East side in the original plat were in his holdings. He built the small brick building which stood until 1929 on Babbitt Street in back of the present Woodruff school. This modest building was really the beginning of the Ypsilanti Public Schools. William Harwood gave the land for the East Public Square bounded by Lincoln Street to Park Street and from Parsons to Babbitt Street. The little brick school was on the north edge of the square.

Another brick building begun in 1831, 110 River Street was used by Methodist Congregation until 1835. The building was subsequently bought by the Baptist Society and used until 1847 after which it was given over to school purposes. Later this building was sold to the Worden Brothers who had to remove school furnishings before they could establish their factory. About 1857 this school was united with District #4 on the east side of the river. We have not been able to find out if this school was kept up until 1866 when a four room brick building was erected on the northeast corner of East Congress, (Michigan Avenue) and Prospect.

Another school of the early days was ‘The Peck Street Primary’. This school stood on the property of Joseph and Sophia Churchill Peck who in 1823 came with their five children to this section from New York state and settled on East Forest near River Street. They first built a small log cabin and then a commodious farm house. The Peck home was a center of hospitality and a cordial welcome was given to all new settlers and travellers coming along. Soon this section was known as ‘Peckville’. We do not know the exact date of the brick schoolhouse. The property was deeded by Joseph Peck to School District #3 for $40 in 1850 and known as the Fourth Ward Schoolhouse. In 1858 ninety-nine children were enrolled. This school property was later deeded to Mr. George George, November 17 1866 and a new site for a school was chosen. (The site chosen was on Oak Street and the school named ‘Prospect’. In 1963 it was renamed ‘Adams’ School in honor of Olive M. Adams who had been principal there for twenty-nine years and who was retiring that year). The property was later purchased by Mr. Frederick J. Swaine, about 1872 from a L.C. Wallington. Both Mr. Wallington and Mr. Swaine were ‘malters’. Mr. Wallington had made the old schoolhouse into a small malt house and Mr. Swaine enlarged it. After the death of Jessie Swaine, daughter of Frederick, the house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs Robert R. Anschuetz.

The first public school west of the river was taught by Chauncey Joslin, (1813–1889), who came to Ypsilanti in 1857 and who studied in local law offices and became Judge of Probate in 1852 and Mayor of Ypsilanti in 1858 and who served on the School Board for twenty years. The school in which he taught was called ‘The White Schoolhouse, District #4’. The building, enlarged and altered is at 137 N. Washington and was the home of James Westfall and his sister, Mary. The building was originally a one room building and was used for school purposes up until the time of the purchase of the of the old Seminary in 1848 when it was no longer used for a school building. There was no bell on the room and school was opened when the teacher had called the children from all directions by ringing a large hand bell. From records in our archives we find that there were only fifteen houses on that side of the river at that time. The pupils brought their dinners in pails and on pleasant days ate outdoor under the trees, and when the teacher wanted them back in the schoolroom she rapped on the window with a very long ruler.

The late Mrs. Lorenz Kisor gave an interesting and valuable gift to the Archives which reads:-

Re: of Mr. Glover eighty-nine cents in full for State, Town, County and School tax on S 1/2 of SE 1/4 40 acres for the year 1843

Ypsilanti

January 31, 1844


(signed) A. Craddock

In 1851 another district south of Congress, (Michigan Ave), united with District #4. The Ypsilanti City Directory for 1860 lists:-Washington Street Primary School-west side of Washington between Catherine and Woodward, and a Miss Helen Buck is listed as ‘teacher in the Washington Street Primary School’ or ‘The Red Brick School’. The building was struck by lighting and extensively damaged. The site was bought by Dr. Parmenio Davis (1816–1883) in order to convert the remains of the school building into a dwelling. The Abstract states that on December 29, 1864, School District #4 gave a Warranty Deed to the Doctor for lots #51 and #52. The consideration was $1,254.00. Just how much Dr. Davis changed the lines of the original school building we are unable to determine. On December 4, 1867, Parmenio and Carlista Showerman Davis, gave a Warranty Deed to William H. Payne for lots #51, #52 and #53, for a consideration of $3,000.00. Mr. Payne had been hired as Principal of the Ypsilanti Schools in 1866 and served until 1870. The Paynes with their family, were probably the first occupants of the new dwelling that replaced the old schoolhouse. The new dwelling with Paynes in residence, become a social and civic center for the community. The orgaizational meeting for the Ladies' Library Association was held in the library of the Payne home and Mrs. Eva Fort Payne was one of the original incorporators of the Association in 1869. The Payne family moved away from Ypsilanti in 1870. The property was most recently owned by Dr. and Mrs. Bradley Harris, 206 S. Washington.

The original school stood in an oak grove for an old article on the schools says:-

…‘In my early childhood there still stood in the center of the sidewalk in front of the house three large oak trees with walks on either side wide enough for two to walk abreast. They are gone now, victims of our straight sidewalk committee!’

There were other schools and other teachers scattered around the village. The teacher's salary was so very nominal and in not a few instances districts allowed their houses to be occupied by whomsoever would undertake to teach and for whatever he could obtain from his patrons. Such was the state of educational affairs in Ypsilanti from 1836 until 1848–49.

In 1840 a Francis Griffin established a school. He first used the meeting room of the Presbyterian Church on Pearson Street and later located in the ‘Nunnery’ S.E. corner Congress and S. Huron. He advertised to teach Latin and Greek and when his pupils inquired about these courses he advised them to wait for a more convenient time to take them. About the same time a Mr. Landreth opened his school which was located in the Larzalere Block at the s.w.corner of Washington and Congress, (Michigan Avenue). He later went to Detroit where he established a very flourishing school for a year or so when Detroit, in 1842, opened the first tax supported school in the state.

In May 1836 Charles Woodruff and his parents, from Waterloo New York, came and settled at Carpenter's Corners in Pitts-field Township. Charles went east to Allegheny College in Pennsylvania graduating in 1841. Upon his return he was hired to teach in Mr. Landreth's school. Soon after he hired Woodruff Mr. Landreth left for Detroit and Charles Woodruff took over his duties. He offered opportunity to ‘teachers of district schools to improve themselves in the branches of learning pertaining to their department of teaching’. It might be reasonable to assume that the location in Ypsilanti a few years later of the State Normal School may have been influenced by the beginning in training teachers made by this school.

Charles Woodruff wished to move his school away from the commercial portion of the city and rented a large building, ‘Tecumseh’ built in 1844 as a railroad hotel, and which had been standing empty for several years. Woodruff wanted the city to buy a building for his school but they refused, so he rented a portion of the ‘Tecumseh’. He held very successful classes there until 1845. One day a Reverend Lyman H. Moore, Pastor of the Baptist Church during the forties, came as a visitor to Woodruff's School and enrolled his son and brother as pupils. Reverend Moore was a frequent visitor to the school and told Charles Woodruff of his great interest in the advancement of education.

Soon, Woodruff always claimed that it was without his knowledge, Pastor Moore bought the ‘Tecumseh’ building and opened a school which he called ‘The Ypsilanti Seminary’.

The academic year was divided into two terms of 22 weeks commencing the first Monday of September and the second Monday in February. The tuition was for $3 and $8 and board and room $14 per quarter of 11 weeks. William L. Easton and Mary B.F. Brown were Principals and Lyman Moore and Wm. A. Moore, Proprietors. By act of the State Legislature, approved March 12, 1849, the ‘Ypsilanti Seminary’ received its full recognition under Board of Education of District #4. In 1851 a second district was added and soon other districts, including those across the river, united with District #4 and thus gradually and by common consent the school became known as ‘The Union Seminary’.

Perhaps Charles Woodruff could have stayed on as a teacher in Reverend Moore's school but he was angered by what he considered Moore's underhand treatment and withdrew from school teaching as an occupation. However he always remained a champion of good education for all. Indeed when he became editor of the SENTINEL he wrote many editorials tending to advance the cause of education in Ypsilanti. Charles Woodruff was born in New York State in 1816 and died in 1896 at the home of his son, Marcus Tullius Woodruff, at 717 Cross Street. Woodruff School, built in 1901, was named in his honor and not for Benjamin Woodruff.

In April of 1853 Reverend Joseph Estabrook became Principal of the ‘Union Seminary’. The school became known as ‘the model’ and much progress was made along intellectual lines. Rooms were rented to students whose homes were outside of Ypsilanti and to its teachers. For awhile more students from outside attended the school than from the school district. The first graduating class received their diplomas in 1852.

In the 1910 December issue of ‘The Ypsi-Sem’, Henry R. Utley, class of 1857 wrote of what he remembered about the Seminary;-

I first attended Ypsilanti Union Seminary in the early fall of 1852. I was the bashfullest kind of boy, fresh from the farm, and everything in the town was to me grand and impressive. The old Seminary building stood on the same lot as it is at present, but was close to the sidewalk, immediately at the corner. It was originally built for a hotel in the stage coach days. But the opening of the railroad sidetracked it for hotel purposes. After standing idle for sometime, it was bought for about $8,000 and in 1849 was opened as a public school and Seminary under the auspices of the School Board of the consolidated district of Ypsilanti.

It was a two-story brick in the form of a letter ‘L’, the lower wing running west from the corner and the shorter running north. The latter was extended about 1853 to meet the demand for more room. Attached to the west wing was a two-story frame building, originally a dwelling. The ground floor of the entire building was developed to recitation and study rooms. The second floor, having been guest rooms in the hotel days, was left unchanged and the rooms were rented as dormitories to non-resident students. The west wing was occupied by the boys, the north by girls. Professor James Jackson, the Vice Principal, occupied a room in the boys' wing and attended to the preservation of order. Miss A.C. Rogers, the ‘Preceptress’, had a room in the girls' wing. The regulation of the dormitories was very strict. A bell in a cupola on the roof gave signals for rising in the morning, retiring at night, for chapel exercises and for changing classes. All lights in the rooms were required to be out at 10 o'clock at night. No one was permitted to leave the building during study hours without a pass.

Professor Joseph Estabrook was the Principal, having been called from Tecumseh to take charge of the school in the fall of 1852. He remained several years. Miss Rogers, the Preceptress, resigned at the end of that year to accept a like position at the Normal. She was succeeded by Miss Harriet M. Cutcheon, who continued as Preceptress many years.

The pupils of the school were mainly boys and girls of the town. But there was a goodly number of non-residents from neighboring towns. All the dormitories being occupied by them, while others found quarters in private houses or roomed over stores on Main Street. There were three male teachers and a like number of women. The teaching staff of that day would certainly compare in point of character and ability with that of any educational institution, even of this day.

Beside class studies, literary exercises were required of all. Every Friday evening was given to public affairs, in which, following a literary program, special pleasurers afforded free opportunity for boys and girls to meet and mingle. I feel sure that every one of the students of my day have preserved throughout their lives the most delightful recollections of their teachers and of those with whom they studied and recited in the old Ypsilanti Seminary.

Joseph Estabrook, Principal of the Seminary from 1852 to 1865 was born in Bath, New Hampshire in 1820 and died in Olivet, Michigan in 1894. His family settled near Clinton, Michigan about 1835. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1847. When he left college he taught at various district schools near Clinton and Tecumseh and came to Ypsilanti in 1853. In 1865 he became Superintendent of Schools in East Saginaw and in 1871 was appointed ‘Principal’ of the Normal School in Ypsilanti. He was also a Regent of the University of Michigan, State Superintendent of Education and an ordained Minister. Professor Estabrook was a much loved citizen of our town. In THE HISTORY OF MICHIGAN STATE NORMAL COLLEGE (pub. 1899), the author, Daniel Putnam, says of his friend and collegue:-

No teacher ever connected with the school was more loved, was remembered with kindlier feelings, or greeted wherever he went, with warmer or more sincere words of personal regards.

Eastabrook School, 1555 W. Cross was named in honor of Joseph Estabrook. In 1880 Reverend Estabrook went to Olivet College to teach and remained there until his death.

No history of the Seminary would be complete without mentioning the Cutcheon brothers and sisters who came here from Pembroke, New Hampshire. There were ten children of James and Hannah Tripp McCutcheon, which is how the name was spelt in the New England area. The first to come was Dr. Lewis Cutcheon was was a co-author of a textbook on physiology and who traveled lecturing on the subject. In In 1849 under the auspices of the Superintendent of Public Instruction he gave lectures to teachers and students of the Seminary. Many times his lectures were so well attended that the assembly room of the school was too small and a larger room at one of the local churches was used.

Early in 1853 when Miss Rogers, the Preceptress resigned, he called the attention of the Board to his sister, Harriet, then teaching at East Bloomfield, New York, and she was appointed to the position.

Harriet, (1817–1908), attended the local academy in her home town of Pembroke, taught in a district school there and graduated from Mt. Holyoke Seminary in 1851. She came to the Ypsilanti Seminary shortly after Joseph Estabrook. She left Ypsilanti in 1860 and was Preceptress of Monroe High School and Monroe Female Academy, head of the Women's Department at the University of Wisconsin and Preceptress of Flint High School. She returned to Ypsilanti to help take care of the family of one of her brothers and spent the remaining years of her life as an honored resident of Ypsilanti doing valuable volunteer work.

Anna (1840–1921) attended the school in Pembroke and in 1854 joined her older sister in Ypsilanti and graduated from the Seminary in 1857. She taught schools in Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois and taught for eight years in the Department of Literature at the Normal School and for thirteen years was the senior Principal of the Detroit Seminary. In the summer it was her habit to take young ladies to Europe touring Great Britain and the Continent. She, too, returned to Ypsilanti and for the Seminary Semi-Centennial celebration in 1899 she gave the first of the series of addresses by the Alumni and was Secretary of the Alumni Library Committee.

Sullivan Cutcheon (1833–1900) and Byron Cutcheon (1836–1908) obviously impressed by what they heard from their sisters about the Seminary and Ypsilanti followed them here. Sullivan graduated from Dartmouth College in 1856 and the same year he became Principal of the Seminary and took charge of the boys' dormitory. After two years of successful work as a teacher he accepted the position as Superintendent of schools in Springfield, Illinois. While here he put into operation the first public school system in the State of Illinois. He also met and was a friend of young Abraham Lincoln and the two of them liked to play a form of hand-ball together-sometimes wacking their heads together in the excitement of the game. While in Springfield he gained admission to the Bar. In 1859 he returned to Ypsilanti and married Louise Moore (Seminary-class of 1858) daughter of Charles Moore who bult the house at 110 Woodward later the home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz Kisor. He and his wife moved to Detroit where Sullivan had a large and lucrative law practice. He was interested in banking and was President of the Dime Savings Bank of Detroit from 1884 and of the Ypsilanti Savings Bank from 1892, until his death. He was twice a member of the Legislature and was Speaker of the House in 1863.

Byron Cutcheon, too, started his education in Pembroke but came to this city in order to graduate from the Seminary in 1857. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1861 and in that fall became Principal of the school here. In July 1862, under President Lincoln's call for 300,000 men, he recruited Company B., Twentieth Michigan Volunteers, at Ypsilanti, and was commissioned Captain. It is interesting to note that every Commissioned officer, four of the five Sergeants, six of the eight Corporals and a large proportion of the Privates, were pupils of the Seminary. Byron was in twenty-five battles and engagements and became Major, Lieutenant Colonel and Brevet Colonel of the 20th for gallant service. He became Colonel of the 27th Michigan and was Breveted Brigadier-General for gallantry at the Battle of the Wilderness and received a Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1863 he married Marie Annie Warner (Seminary-class of 1857) and in 1866 received the degree of LL. B. from the University of Michigan Law School and M.A. from the Literary Department. In 1867 he moved his family to Manistee, Michigan and while there he was Congressman from 1883 to 1891. In 1891 Byron moved to Grand Rapids and there resumed his law practice. Although Byron's active connection with the Seminary was not a long one, he was, as were his brother and sisters always most loyal to the school and to the city and he delivered the main address at the Semi-Centennial of the Seminary in 1899.

On Sunday morning, March 29th, the original Seminary building was destroyed by fire. Temporary quarters were found-and perhaps to the students' dismay-school work was hardly interrupted. A new building was soon erected and it was said that it was the finest school building of its kind. Dedication Day, August 17, 1853, conincided exactly with the day that gas lights appeared in Ypsilanti. On January 7, 1859 the famous Horace Greeley lectured at the Seminary-his topic being “Great Men”.

In 1859 another school building in Ypsilanti burned. The original building of ‘The Normal’, found in 1849, burned to the ground.

When he had made his report to the State Board of Education advising them to accept Ypsilanti as the site for the Normal School John D. Pierce, ‘Father of Public Instruction in Michigan’ and the first State Superintendent, had said:-

‘… The Village of Ypsilanti is sufficiently large to furnish every facility for boarding pupils, and the character of its population, and the deep interest manifested by them upon the subject of education, cannot fail to surround the institution with good influences.’

A second fire, December 8, 1877, completely destroyed the second Seminary building. Again the students were given class work in buildings scattered around the city. The third building was dedicated in 1879. At that time R.W. Putnam was Superintendent and he stayed until 1891 when he left to become a professor at Kalamazoc College. The third building, too, was partially destroyed by fire May 3, 1894 but quickly repaired in a better style.

The following excerpt is taken from an article “An Historical Sketch of Ypsilanti High School” written by Carolyn Case of the class of 1916 for that year's ‘Ypsi-Dixit’.

The first graduating class received their diplomas in the year 1852, and since then there has been an annual succession of graduating classes with the exception of 1872 and 1873, during which years the High School and academic departments of the Normal college were combined.(*)

It is interesting to note that the first graduating class was composed of three young women. This is rather remarkable in view of that fact that in early years this was about the only full college preparatory school in the state, and as the University at that time did not admit women, the alumni of the school were, for the first twelve years, almost exclusively men.

In the late fifties and early sixties there were two sets of graduates. In 1860 and 1861 there are graduation programs bearing date of the last Friday in September. These students took a six weeks' review after vacation to prepare for their University entrance examination. Those not going to college were graduated less formally the last of June. The classical section of the class of 1862 remained in the High School one year after graduation, completing the first year of their University work there…In 1870 the University opened its doors to women and since then the portion of young women in the graduating classes has increased until now they number more than half of the outgoing class.

…Some of the subjects formerly taught are: Elements of Criticism, Moral Science, Mental Philosophy, Evidences of Christianity, Astronomy, Logic Greek, University Algebra, Intellectual Philosophy and Ancient Geography.

(*) We have been unable to find this information anywhere else.

No matter how time consuming the class work or how strict the school routine young people have always found time for school pranks-and the pupils of the Seminary were no different in that respect. One of the favorite passtimes was to climb up into the old clock tower and be there when the clock struck even though the escapade was against the school rules. The sound was deafening-but it was a challenge and something to be done before graduating-at least by the boys! All the classroom bells were controlled by a clock in the Principal's office and once long ago a group of boys set the clock a head with the happy result that all classes were dismissed early. We don't know whether or not the culprits were found out.

In 1896 Austin George became the Superintendent of Schools in Ypsilanti. He was born June 15th, 1841 at Litchfield, Michigan and at the age of twelve had lost his right arm in the machinery of a flouring mill at Jonesville. He came to the Normal and while there in the summer of 1863 he was instrumental in raising the Normal Company “E” of the 17th Michigan Infantry and he went to the front as Company Clerk. After the battles of South Mountain and Antiedam he held the positions of Regimental Postmaster and Clerk of Brigade at Division Headquarters. He returned to the Normal and graduated in March 1863, and from Kalamazoo College in 1866. He taught at Kalamazoo College and was superintendent of the schools there. In 1882 he returned to the Normal in charge of the Practice School and while there the name ‘Practice’ was changed to ‘Training School’ and he also started “The Normal News”.

While he was Superintendent of Schools in Ypsilanti not only did he increase the enrollment of the Seminary by fifty percent but he was also active in community affairs being a city Alderman and was active in the development and the building of the city water works and while he was a member of the Board of Public Works the sewer system of the city was devised and the principal sewers constructed.

The 1903 ‘Ypsi-Dixit’ says of him:

Professor George will be remembered in Ypsilanti as a public spirited citizen, one ready to do his full share of public work without regard to compensation, as a warm personal friend to a great number of people in the town; but he will be remembered especially by those who during the years of his Superintendency went out from the schools bearing the impress of his high and mainly character.

Austin George died in 1903.

Early in 1900 the ‘Union Seminary’ had its name changed to ‘High School’. But a much loved name is hard to change or be forgotten and many who went there and taught there and taught there still referred to the High School as ‘The Seminary’. At any rate, the old building was much too crowded and lacked up to date facilities. As early as 1911 plans were hpefully made by Superintendent William B. Arbaugh and the members of the School Board for a new building. After two school bond issues were turned down by the people of Ypsilanti, (City and Township), the needed amount was approved and in January of 1916 the new school was opened for inspection by the public. A newspaper article of that month, describing the opening and praising the new school quoted this short poem sent in by an unnamed citizen of Ypsilanti:-

When I paid my winter taxes I was hot around the neck; When I saw the nice new building It cooled me off a speck

‘Taxpayer’

The Superintendent of Schools of Ypsilanti in 1916 was William B. Arbaugh who came to Ypsilanti from Ohio in 1896 as Principal and in 1903 became Superintendent. The ‘Ypsi-Dixit’ of 1916 says of him:-

His interest in his work in this city has been a deep-seated one and one that has accomplished a great deal for our benefit.

Mr. Arbaugh left Ypsilanti in November 1919 to become General Secretary of the Clearing House of Schools of Wayne County.

The Principal of the High School in 1916 was Stanley Morris a graduate of Oberlin College who came to the city in 1914. He left in 1918 for war community service under the Army and Navy Department Commission Training Camp Activities.

The faculty of the Central High School in 1916 were:

Edith Steere-Algebra
Jessie C. Laird-German
DeForest Ross-Physics and Chemistry
Carrie E. McKnight-English
Branson A. Walpole-Science and Agriculture (*)
Daniel Ohlinger-Manual Training
Ethel Minnard-English
Ellen Hoffman-Librarian
Jessie C. Swaine-Domestic Science
George W. Frasier-Science
Elsie Cooper-Latin
Carrie A. Hardy-Science

(*) Ypsilanti High School was one of the first high schools in the state to teach Agriculture

As in other towns and cities all over this country the early parochial schools of our area have been an extremely important part in our development. Any article on the schools of Ypsilanti would be lacking if it did not include something of the first years of the St. John Elementary School.

In 1862 Father Edward Van Paemal came as Priest for the St John Baptist Church and stayed until 1871. Father Van Paemel came from Detroit to Ypsilanti but had been born in Belguim and came to America While still a seminarian. In 1862 the Parish purchased two lots on West Cross Street adjoining the Church property and there built a parish house. A little frame school house was added to the Church property in 1867. These were two adjoining lots purchased from Patrick Kelly on Florence Street. We do not know just what this school looked like. Some say it was simply the Kelly home remodeled. The education was elementary since the children left school about the age of twelve. It has been said that all early discipline problems were attended to immediately by Father Van Paemel's strong right hand. The earliest teachers in this school were ‘lay’ teachers:

Miss Elizabeth Foy
Miss Maggie Murphy
Miss Bridget Monaghan
Mr. Michael Moren
Mr ? Devlin

The Priest who succeeded Father Van Paemel was Father Patrick Murphy. He, too, was interested in teaching and spent much of his time in the little school. He loved playing with the children at recess time but he, too, was quick with discipline.

Father William DeBever took charge of Saint John's Parish in 1876 and one of the problems facing his pastorate was that he found the first school inadequate as a building and as a center of learning. With his typical directness he attacked the problems of building a new school. The frame schoolhouse was torn down and a two story brick structure was built in its place. Sisters of Providence from Terre Haute, Indiana, were secured as instructors. A square frame house on the lot adjoining the school property was purchased on November 4, 1880 to be the home of the Sisters.

The second school opened in 1884 and a pupil of that time, Mrs. Sarah Austin, has written what she remembered of the opening exercises:-

The children were grouped in a formation to make the figures of ‘5’ and ‘4’, as it was Father DeBever's fifty-fourth birthday. They presented Father with a fur cap, which I well remember cost $17. As visiting Pastor of the Milan and Whitaker Parishes, Father DeBever had to take long cold drives in the winter so the fur cap was considered a very practical gift.

There were six Sisters and instruction was given in elementary and in high school subjects, algebra, chemistry and geomentry were taught to the upper classes. Music held an important place in the curriculum for Father DeBever was a student of music and always interested in musical activities. Botany was taught by Sister Saint Cosmos and her field trips were very popular. Needlework, with emphasis upon needle work tapestry was stressed. One little girl, working in needlepoint on “Christ Blessing the Children” caused considerable merriment in her class when it was being worked on for she was frequently heard to say, “I'm going to do our Lord's head in chenille”.

This school provided accomodations for boarding pupils. In the Sisters' home was a dormitory with fourteen beds. Girls from Clinton, Manchester, Wayne and other townships surrounding Ypsilanti availed themselves of these boarding priviledges. The girls rose at five o'clock and retired at 3:30. They played croquet on the ground between the church and the school and sometimes Father DeBever took them riding in his carriage.

Father DeBever left Ypsilanti in 1892, returning occasionally to substitute. He was elevated to the rank of Monsignor in 1906 and died in Dexter April 19, 1919 at the age of 89 years.

About 1896 the school was discontinued. Lack of funds was the principal reason for its closing, and for a short time after the Sisters left, lay teachers were hired to teach the lower grades. After the school closed no further use was made of the building for a number of years. During the pastorate of Father Kennedy about 1910 the Catholic Students' club, with the help of interested townspeople, reclaimed the old school building and soon the Parish found itself with a pleasant place for the meeting of Parish organizations. This old school was also used for a while as the weekly meeting place of the Ypsilanti Rotary Club-from 1917 until 1920. When they moved their meeting place to the High School they donated to the St John's Club House, silver and linens which were greatly appreciated.

In 1922 Father Dennis Needham came to Ypsilanti. Plans were formulated for a new church and the basement was dug and plans were made to open a grade school in the fall of 1925. Dominican Sisters from Adrian, Michigan, were selected as teachers and the house at 309 N. Hamilton was purchased to be a home for the Sisters. However, Father Needham died prematurely in 1925 and the Priest who succeeded him also died in 1931 before the completion of his plans for the church and school building. It was not until the Pastorate of Father Warren Peck in the 1930s that the St. John the Baptist Elementary School was completed.

Other churches of Ypsilanti also had early schools connected with them. Many in our City will remember the Parish School of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church. The following information on this school was graciously given to us by Miss Edith Lidke, 279 Harris Road. Miss Lidke, herself, did not attend the school but had relatives and friends who did. Miss Lidke graduated from Ypsilanti Central High School in 1911 and also taught Latin at the high school.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church established a Parish Day School in the 1830s which all children of the parish were required to attend. Public School attendance laws did not exist then. In 1834 there were fifty-two families listed on the membership roll. It seems about this time eight families did not send their children to the Parish School but to the Academy. The church school board members, the pastor and lay members became quite disturbed over the situation.

The school first of all aimed to teach Christian faith, but the children could not read and understand the Bible in the literary German because at home the families spoke ‘low German’ or ‘Plattdeutsch’. So a great deal of time was spent in teaching ‘high’ or ‘Literary German’. Records show that the Rev Klonka who left the church in 1890 had his brother come to help him with the classes.

Traditional hearsay gives the impression that attendance at the Parish School was required for the five school days of the week and for two or three years. This we learned in part from the late Mrs. Frank Lidke, Sr. Her sister, the late Mrs. Henry Helzermann, nee Minnie Wolter, and her brother, the late Otto Walter, and Mrs. Lidke all attended the school in the 1880s. Mrs. Lidke used to tell how Mrs. Herbert Hopkins, nee Mary Wallace, used to go the school and teach the girls crocheting and knitting when she was a young woman and lived with her parents at the home at the corner of E. Michigan and S. Prospect. On special holidays she sometimes invited the school children to her home and treated them to goodies. She even sensed when some children needed clothing and secured some for them. All of this was done by Mrs. Hopkins as a community project.

When the Parish Day School was established the classes met, in the home of a member, the Esslinger family, who lived at 114 N. River Street where the octagon house now stands. In 1886 the congregation built a schoolhouse on the east side of the Church which stood at that time on the northeast corner of E. Michigan and N. Grove. The Parish School was discontinued in the early 1890s. Instruction of the children continued on Saturday classes and sometimes after the public school hours.

The copy of the old Church constitution translated from the German orginal says:-‘Article 17: The members of the congregation who are minors must attend Christian instruction’. ‘Article LV. Sec. D’. says:-‘The School Board members shall be an example to the congregation and especially to the youth in word and deed…They must care for the school in the best possible manner and carry out all orders of the congregation in this. They shall see to it that the teacher not only teaches according to the teaching plan but also practices it; that he begins school on time and holds it regularly. For this purpose the School Board members shall not only visit classes from time to time but also attend school public examinations; they especially note that the religious instructions be taught in the strict belief of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Bible stories. Above all they shall support the teacher and promote the best for the school as well as see to it that the teacher receive regularly the salary promised by the congregation. They shall investigate all complaints made about the teacher and where possible minimize same as well as admonish in love the parents who send their children to a nonreligious school instead of to the Christian Parish School’.

Most of the time the Pastor was also the teacher of the school.

In 1959 for the Centennial of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church Miss Lidke translated all of the material from the Church's old constitution for research material for their pageant.

Originally the black children of Ypsilanti attended the old Seminary. However, in 1860 a separate school was provided for them, in an old shop, at the northeast corner of Adams and Congress Streets and the first teacher was a John Hall. This building was later moved up on Congress Street, west, and made into a double house, owned by W.W. Worden. In 1864 the first ward, or Adams Street School building was erected, a one room affair with one teacher, on east side of Adams south of Buffalo.

It is an historical fact that many of the black men who enlisted to fight in the Civil War came out of the infant class of this school. Miss Loretta D. Pitkin, mother of Mrs. Shelley Hutchinson, was the first teacher in this school. In the 1870s a Reverend Isaac Burdine, who died in April of 1896, was the teacher and he was always very proud of the fact that many of his pupils went on to graduate from the Seminary.

The Ypsilanti Board of Education hired Benjamin Harrison Locke as its first African-American school principal on Sept. 1, 1914. A brief article in BLACK EXPERIENCES IN MICHIGAN HISTORY by Reginald Larrie a publication of Michigan Dept. of State in 1975, says:-

Locke was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 14, 1888, and he had received his bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1912. After graduation he did additional post-graduate work at Columbia Univ. in New York. Before he finished his studies at Columbia, Locke moved to Michigan to take a job.

Benjamin H. Locke, like other blacks who are hired to do a job, entered the Ypsilanti school system with more than the necessary qualifications to handle the task before him. Locke was assigned to the Adams School which had no plumbing and the building was heated by a defective stove called ‘Smokie’. Across the street from the Adams School, there was a two-room portable structure and adult night classes were held there.

By 1919 Benjamin Locke had left Ypsilanti and the faculty at Adams School were: Joseph S. Price, Ruth Dydes and Bernice Kersey.

In the 1920s the Harriet Street School was built at the s/w corner of Hawkins and Harriet. The Adams street school at 407 S. Adams was closed and the New Jerusalem Baptist Church is now located at the Adams Street address.

Lewis M. Lash was an early Principal at the Harriet Street School and early teachers were:-Mildred Forsberg, Edith M. Bates and Xema Skeels. In 1956 the name of this school was changed to ‘Perry’ School in honor of Dr. Lawrence C. Perry (1898 Montgomery, Alabama-died 1955-Ypsilanti), a local dentist, community leader and a member of the School Board for many years.

There were many one room schools in the area. One that has been rebuilt and serves as a home, was the Thorne School on Textile Road.

It is where our distinguished member, Jay Seaver began his education as had his father before him.

The recitation given by Jay J. Seaver when age five years and on the last day of school, June 1890, goes:-

Here I stand
Ragged and dirty,
When the girls
Come to kiss me,
I run like a turkey

That ‘little five year old’ is living in Green Valley, Arizona and celebrated his 94th birthday, January of 1979.

View images of Woodruff School and the Michigan State Normal School in our Gleanings image gallery.

They Board at $1 a Week: from the Ypsilanti Sentinel Commercial, January 30, 1902

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


Many Normal co'eds subsist on this amount; Are their own cooks; While board in clubs varies from $1.60 to $1.80 per week

“Fully one-third of the 700 or 800 co-eds at the Normal board themselves,” said the keeper of a Normal college boarding house, “and their expenses are about $1 a week. Board at the Clubs is $1.75 or &$1.80 a week and at some places this rate is cut to $1.60, but even this is not economical enough for a large number of the girls, who prefer to buy their own provisions and cook their meals on an oil stove.

“It isn't always a case of necessity, either for one of the prominent society girls of the college lived on practically one meal a day last year in order to have money enough to keep in the social swim. This girl took her dinners at my club, and one Sunday just before dinner she asked one of the waiters to hurry up with the preparations for the meal, as she hadn't had a thing to eat since Saturday noon.

“By no means all of the students scrimp on eating, and some would be willing to pay more than the club rates, but outsiders would be amazed to know how many look on the matter of board as an opportunity for curtailing expenses, and attempt to carry heavy school work with no better backing than just enough food to keep the body and soul together.

The Ypsilanti boarding house keepers are naturally not able to attain sudden riches by attempting to give three “squares” for $1.80 per week, and every year an effort is made to organize a modest “trust” to boost prices, but the enterprise invariably falls through by the discovery on the part of half of the trust that the other portion is secretly cutting prices to the old level.







High School Compositions from Students of Ypsilanti Seminary (1848)

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



"When Time, who steals away our years,
Shall steal our pleasures too,
The Mem'ry of the past will stay
And half our Joys renew."
Thomas Moore 1780-1852

High School Composition copied from story written by High School student of Ypsilanti Seminary, February 3rd, 1848.


Places that I would like to visit

There are many places in our own country that I would like to visit among which are Niagara Falls, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

At New York I would like to visit the city Hall a beautiful building of white marble also the museums where we will see a great many curious things. I would like to see the wire bridge over the Schuylkill river at Philadelphia and the Fairmont water works which supply the city with beautiful water. About two or three miles out of town there are several large wheels so constructed as to force the water into large reservoirs on the top of a high hill, and it from thence is easily conducted in pipes. There is also a most interesting museum there, called Peals museum. In the collection we may find hundreds of stuffed animals, such as grizzly bears, deers, elks, serpents, and birds of beautiful feathers, with bugs and butterflies and somethings of which we will not know the names.

I would like to get to Europe, and see the great city of London, which contains so many spacious buildings as Westminster Abbey, St. Pauls Cathedral and the Bank of England. There are a number of beautiful bridges in London all of stone except one which is constructed of iron and I believe is a superior bridge. The Tunnel of the Thames must be a wonderful work. Five miles below London is Greenwich, the place from which longitude is reckoned.

I should like to see Jerusalum the once famous capitol of the Jewish nation, which David and Solomon reigned and where Christ and his disciples lived. Bethleham 6 miles from Jerusalum was the birthplace of our Savior.

Amelia


Our School-room

This is a neat little room on the first floor of the Ypsilanti Seminary. It has a fireplace and a stone and wood work around the fire place is a little burned. The mantle piece is covered with writing books and inkstands for which purpose it is reserved. On the sides of the room are some pieces of wood, into which nails are driven, for us to hang our cloaks and bonnets on.

Around the room are hung a great many maps from which we recite every Saturday. There are four black boards about a foot and a half square on which we do sums. Our room is very light, for it has four large windows with only a part of a paper curtain for the whole. We have nine seats with desks and three without. Our teacher has a table on which are some books and papers, a globe of the heavens and one of the earth. There are folding doors leading to another room quite as pleasant as our own. We have 25 scholars and plenty of room and enjoy ourselves very much.

Emeline


Home

In a beautiful spot, surrounded by trees, stood our old family mansion. Well do I remember the many pretty stories, that I there heard related while seated by the cheerful fireside. And with what eagerness would we wait the approach of old St. Nicholas the eve before Christmas.

And there too was our beautiful garden, with its flowers and luscious fruits and its pleasant little arbor where I was wont to retire from the fatigue of my childish sports to regale myself with weaving garlands for the fair brow of some of my companions.

There stood the village church, where we all assembled to hear the word of God, and be instructed in its precepts from the life of our pious and devoted Pastor. And the village green where we had our holiday sports, and the school house where we all met to commit our daily tasks, and participate in the same amusements.

These indeed were joyous days, but they are past and gone save in my remembrances.

Frances

News from the Museum & Archives

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



On Saturday morning, October 11, Harriet Feldlaufer, Coordinator, Gifted Programs, Willow Run Schools arranged to have thirty gifted children, 2nd through 5th grades, come to the Ypsilanti Historical Museum to learn about Willow Run and Ypsilanti. Willow Run is an old name in this area, perhaps dating back before Ypsilanti.

The youngsters were well-mannered and seemed delighted with the Museum and especially with the talk by Eileen Harrison about the wool and the spinning wheel.

The children were brought by their parents and several parents stayed on for the hour and joined with interest the tour of the Museum.

The special guides were Rene Moran, Eileen Harrison and Foster Fletcher who gave an oral history of pioneer days in the area.

A worthwhile and interesting endeavor for the youngsters, we hope, and for the adults.

On October 13th from 7 to 8 PM, Ypsilanti City Officials were hosted by our Board of Directors and Administration Committee for a special evening at the Museum.

"As It Was in the Beginning" (Part I)

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, March 1976,
March 1976
Original Images:




























Author: Foster L. Fletcher

It is impossible to record all the events and happenings in Ypsilanti during the two decades from 1850 to 1870 even if our space was not limited. However, certain ones must be listed while many deserving mention are left out.

The Ypsilanti Normal Teacher Training School was dedicated October 5 1852 and there were three in the first graduating class: Helen C. Norris, Alzina Horton and J.M.B. Sill. On October 29 1859, the original building burned. It was replaced and classes resumed April 10 1860.

March 29 1857, the Seminary burned and did not reopen until August 17 1858. That building stood until it too burned in 1877. Prior to 1860, Primary Grades were conducted in the brick building on the East side of River Street which had housed the First Methodist Society; a brick structure on East Forest Avenue at River was a Grade School and another was in the building on the SW corner of South Washington and Woodward Street.

By 1857 the First Presbyterian Society which also included the Congregational Society, had outgrown the frane building on Pearson Street, North of the Westside Public Square. A handsome stone and brick structure with a single steeple was built on the NE corner of Washington at Emmet. The dedication that year had Rev. G. L. Foster as distinquished speaker.

The Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1859 with a membership of 16. Mark Norris contributed the lot on which the first Church for Lutherans was built, NE corner of E. Michigan and Grove Street.

The Home Association was organized in 1857.

Charles Griswold Wiard, born June 25 1835, had married a widow, Mrs. Catherine Arnold Ackley in 1858. Later he purchased the Ezra D. Lay farm on East Michigan, which was formerly known as the Colby Stand which was taken up from the Government by Zolva Bowen. Zolva was an early Tavern Keeper at that location.

August 29 1859, the first oil well was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, causing a greater change in our civilization than that other event in the same year: Charles Darwin published his “Origin of the Species” astonishing only a few scientific minds. Both events went unnoticed in Ypsilanti where citizens were doing very well with the horse and buggy, well water, the outhouse and unpaved streets.

The ‘American Troubador’, Stephen Foster, composed “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Old Folks at Home” and other simple, sentimental appealing melodies; Henry Clay Work published “Carry Me Back to Old Virginie”, the popular temperance song, “Father Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now”, “Year of Jubillo” and many others. September 19 1858 Daniel Decatur Emmett composed the stirring song “Dixie”. Music caused or follows the moods of the people.

October 6, 1859 the most militant of the abolitionists, John Brown, and 21 of his followers, seized the little town of Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and then captured the United States Arsenal there. Under command of Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee, the United States Marines, retook the Armory, killing 11 of the raiders including two of John Brown's sons, and five cililians. The Marines lost one man. On December 2nd, John Brown and five of his followers were convicted of Treason and publicly hanged in what is now Charles Town, West Virginia.

March 19 1860, William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois. Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City, October 27 1858.

The Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1833 causing serious division of citizens in the United States with violence, bloodshed and death in several of the States.

Slavery was the greatest problem facing the Nation but there were many places where opinions differed on problems having nothing to do with Slavery. During the 1850s local problems led to anger and a division of Ypsilanti. The prominent men on the East side of the River Huron were determined to separate from the city on the west side of the river. It took state legislative pressure to join the two factions and establish the City of Ypsilanti in 1858 with Chauncey Joslyn as Mayor and Arden Ballard graciously retiring as President of the Village of Ypsilanti.

Benjamin Thompson came to Ypsilanti in 1828 as a young millwright and helped install machinery in many sawmills; gristmills and pulp-paper mills on the Huron River. During the next decades the Thompson name was prominent in the business and civic affairs of the City. He established his own business making carriages and wagons.

When Mark Norris sold the triangle of land occupied by his Great Western Hotel-an imposing brick structure, on the NE corner of River and East Cross. Benjamin Thompson moved his wagon and carriage works into that building and was joined by his son Oliver E. Thompson who manufactured farm implements in that location for the next sixty years. The many Thompson properties located between E. Cross and Maple Street, were part of the growing 4th Ward of the city. The first Volunteer Fire Department, the Masonic Lodge in the Norris Block and many other Civic enterprises always found the name Thompson leading the way.

Oliver E. Thompson was Mayor of Ypsilanti. 1901–02 and it was his personal project which arranged bringing the big Parrot Rifle to Ypsilanti and having it mounted in Prospect Park where it stands after 112 years of lonely silence having never been fired in its lifetime. This unusual cannon was cast in a foundry at West Point, New York and in 1864 it was mounted at Fort McClery, Kittery, Maine, as part of the defense of the Atlantic Coast.

The intention is to make a modest outline of the history of Ypsilanti but it is so easy to expand on certain names and events. Those selected are not the only ones that deserve mention.

Daniel Lace Quirk and Asa Dow his close friend and business associate from Chicago, built handsome brick mansions side by side on North Huron Street with grounds extending down to the Huron River. Quirk, with Mansard roof style at 304 North Huron and Dow at 220. Both had carriage houses to match their hones. Two of the really fine homes in Ypsilanti.

Robert Lambie, who had come as a youth of 14 with his parents, Francis and Mary Lambie, from Strathaven, Scotland in 1839 to Superior Township, built a Greek Revival type house on the NE corner of Hamilton and old Ellis.

The John Gilbert residence, with square tower and other features, at 227 N. Grove Street, became an imposing show place for Washtenaw County when completed in 1860. Spacious grounds provided ample room for tennis courts, outdoor Roman type swiming pool with attractive fountain in the center, fruit orchard, flower gardens and fish pend. The Gilberts entertained graciously thru the years for many social gatherings in their lovely home.

The 350 mile Erie Canal opened in 1825 and several million people and tons of merchandise and household goods passed thru it until the 1850s when the railroads took over.

Toward the end of the 1850s, there was a great amount of building, both brick and frame, in the newly incorporated City of Ypsilanti.

One of the largest and finest brick homes, was that of John S. Jenness at 324 West Forest Avenue. John A. Watling who became a world famous dentist, built his brick residence with handsome square tower, at 121 N. Huron Street. The Jerome Walton brick at 404 N. Huron is an example of how brick was used in building the Greek Revival style.

Edwin J. Mills, successful hardware merchant, built his large Victorian brick house at 130 N. Huron which twenty years later became the home of the John Starkweathers and then the location of the Ladies' Library when Mrs. Starkweather gave the property to that active association of women in 1890.

The Nathan Follett home at 219 North Huron is a combination of cobblestone and brick, a portion of the house having been built in 1845. Much of the Arden Ballard house at 125 North Huron is brick construction and commands attention after 140 years.

The Isaac H. Conklin house at 126 Adams Street is basicly brick, and the Charles King at 103 North Adams is one of the fine homes built by Cecil Millington. Erastus Samson, a drug store owner as early as 1840, built and lived in the sturdy Italiante brick home at 302 West Cross Street. The William H. Deubels built and lived graciously for many years in the handsome brick at 211 North Washington, Street, a site of many social gatherings. The Hiram Batcheldor brick home at 210 North Washington Street was another of note in that block along with the Charles Bassett house at 201 North Washington. The brick house of Mark Horris. dating back to 1834, stands at 213 River Street. George W. Kishlar, an early builder, built the impressive brick house at 221 South Washington Street. There were many more brick houses built during the time of Ypsilanti's expansion, so many gone even though the ravages of time did not destroy them.

The Brick Yards of Charles McCormick and Murray P. Holmes & Co., were classed among the great brick yards of the State.

In 1860 the United States Census listed a population of 3956 for the City of Ypsilantiand 1357 for the Township. There was no distinct division of City and Township except on the maps showing the surveyed boundries of the City. Chickens, cows, pigs and horses, though less in numbers were as common in the City of Ypsilanti as in the Township farms where there were elemant homes equally those in the City. Because of the great forests in Michigan, and the coming of the saw and abundant waterpower to operate the circular saw, the shift from log cabin to the clapboard house was rapid. The axe, hand hewn beams, studs continued as long as labor was cheap and plentiful. Log cabins and farm log structures were in evidence on Hitchingham Road, Willis Road and other parts of Ypsilanti Township even a decade or more after the turn of the Century.

The Greek Revival style of Architecture, conspicuous because of its simple balance, was brought to Ypsilanti from New York State and New England and used extensively.

The Timothy Showermans built a home at 206. North Huron using this style as did Dr. Francis Rexford at 111 North Huron, on the West side of the Street. At the south end of old Cemetery Street, now Prospect Street, where it joins South Grove Street, Addison Fletcher built a Greek Revival house, side to be the finest example in Ypsilanti of that style. The lot on which it was built was part of the site of Woodruff's Grove, now lost as well as the house, to antiquity except for the Marker placed by the Ypsilanti Chapter of the DAR in 1923 to commemorate the location of Woodruff's Grove.

Charles Sherman Woodard, a Civil Engineer who came with the new railroad to Ypsilanti in 1838 made his home in Ypsilanti and his fine residence was at 301 North Grove Street. The Greek Revival structure at 218 North Washington Street has the name of Arden Ballard linked to it and became the home of Elijah Grant. It hss been restored recently by the Ladies' Literary Club, the owner for sixty-two years, and is a very lovely structure of which Ypsilanti is proud.

Joseph Estabrook, an early influence in Education and Religion in the State of Michigan, built a fine frame house at the NW corner of West Forest and Lowell Street. Joseph Kitchen, a well known merchant, built an elegant home at 116 North Adams Street in which many beautiful stained glass windows were used. In Ypsilanti Township, an example of Greek Reviral Architecture can be seen at 1276 North Huron River Drive. built in 1842 by John Starkweathar.

The Ezra Lay home, an impressive Greek Revival example with corner pilasters, was built at 1701 East Michigan (the Chicago Road) in 1834. It was saved from destruction and oblivion in 1966 by the Charles Haglers who moved it to 3401 Berry Road in Superior Township, restoring it, perhaps, even beyond its former elegance.

East of the Lay residence a quarter mile or more was the large handsome home of the Spencers, Grove and Edward with templelike pillars in front. The George Wiards, the Lyman Wiards, the Burrells and many others were on the East edge of the Township. There was a Tollgate on the Northside of East Michigan at Holmes Road. Following the Huron River south, we find Edward King whose land in the riverbottom was known as ‘Kings Flats’, Charles Crane, Ben Emerick, Alvim Cross, Adam Yeckley, Isaac Bumpus and many names long forgotten. South, along the Monroe Road, as Whittaker Road was known, Seth Arnold, Hiram Seaver, George Moorman, A. R. and Lyman Graves …along Stoney Creek Road was George Elliott, N.E. Crittenden, with David Gardner, Watson Barr and Robert Campbell in Augusta Township.

As the Monroe Road turns southeast, there was the Joseph McIntyre farm and that of Edward Gorton with the Paint Creek Post Office on Willis Road in Augusta Township. Others of note were Asa Darling and Aaron Childs.

Going toward the west on the Sauk Trail, (Chicago Road, now Michigan Avenue), there is the Gothic Victorian house, the former farm home or Edwin C. Warner. 1024 Michigan Avenue. The Evan Begole home was just beyond the West edge of French Claim #690. Fountain Watling and George Sherwood, south of the Trail at the West edge of Ypsilanti Township, with excellent farm and well kept buildings; Philo Parsons, west of Evan Begole with a white frame house, a modified Victorian style; a mile farther West at the corner of Ellsworth and Carpenter Road, was the impressive home of H.H. Ellsworth, with balanced pilasters at the two front corners, a structure that only neglect could destroy with indifference. H.B. Hewitt's farm was in the NW corner of French Claim #691, on the eastside of Hewitt Road.

The Victorian frame house began to outnumber the Greek style, which had lasted with variations for thirty years in popularity. The home of Randall Ross, 5138 West Michigan. was a splendid example of the Victorian style. Today it is preserved and kept in excellent condition by the Joseph Schmidts. The Grove Sanders house at 4980 W. Michigan is another example of that style and giving evidence that the old builders produced sturdy, handsome houses.

North of Ypsilanti there is an unusual brick house, the Jeremiah Newton farm at 830 W. Clark Road in Superior Township, built in 1847 by Charles Francis Newton, son of Jeremiah, and now owned by Mr. & Mrs. Herbert H. Cornish.

Other handsome homes on the North and in Superior Township: James W. Voorhees, SE corner of LeForge and Geddes a splendid Greek style home with attractive innovations; the homes of J.L. Strang and William Mulholland on Cherry Hill road; O.A. Sober and I.M. Loverridge on Geddes Road East of Prospect; L.L. Kimmel, Harris road and the sturdy brick of John Rooke on the west side of Gotfredson road.

Many of the roads were given their present names by the Detroit Edison Company after 1900.

As land was cleared to raise crops, crops for live stock, the crops and live stock were often housed better than the farmer's family.

During the 1860s, the name Worden was very prominent in Ypsilanti. Alva Worden, an inventor with several patents to his credit; Charles Worden, a drygoods merchant; William H. Worden with a gun shop upstairs in the building of the NE corner of North Huron and old Congress Street with John S. Worden in the same building on the first floor with a popular saloon. 105 North Huron was once a Worden home. Three Wordens built handsome brick structures, mansard style, one at twenty East Michigan, another at 24 East Michigan and one on the NW corner of River and Congress Street. Such elegant homes and now all gone, the last one in 1974 to make more parking space.

Ypsilanti had a Distillery as early as 1827, only two years after the Village was platted and named. A Temperance Society was formed in 1829.

For the first Independence Day Celebration in the County, July 4 1824 and in Woodruff's Grove, Clark Sills, walked to Detroit to procure two gallons of whiskey which he brought back on his back…perhaps lightening the load a little by taking a swig now and then to reduce the weight. That first Distillery was located on the south side of Congress not far from the west end of the old bridge. Nearby was the Tannery of Isaac Crane. Another early Tannery was that of John Howland located on the north side of Forest Avenue at the west end of that bridge. Across the road, was the Jacob Grob home and icehouse, also the first established Brewery. Breweries make Beer and Distilleries make Whiskey and both used to make money.

April 3, 1860 the Pony Express began service between Sacremento, California and St Joseph, Missouri-80 riders, 40 saddle horses and 190 relay stations.

Thirteen months later the Pony Express gave up, even though one of the riders was William Frederick Cody, later attaining dime-novel fame as ‘Buffalo Bill’. ‘Buffalo Bill’ was in an Ypsilanti parade in the summer of 1899.

In May of that year, one George W. Washburne, a local butcher, was accused of killing his wife, Ypsilanti's first murder.

May 18, 1860 Abraham Lincoln was nominated as Republican Candidate for President.

Evidence of homor is found for those days in the 1860 City Directory for Ypsilanti where the following is found:

J.M. Howard, principal business is courting what few ladies there are that are willing to be bored with him, boards east side Huron between Emmet and Ellis (Washtenaw).

1860-Edgar and F.B. Bogardus opened a private Bank in a frame building on the south side of Congress Street near the SE corner of Washington Street. ‘The Barton Hotel’ was built on the NW corner of Pearl and Washington.

The State Legislature denied Michigan State Normal School money for a Gymnasium. The Normal School now had 255 students.

Nov. 6-Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States, with a salary of $25,000. In ten of the thirty-three States he did not receive a single vote.

Dec. 4-President Buchanan's Annual Message to Congress is read to that body. Buchanan holds that no State has a right to secede from the Union.

Dec 6.-A Committee of thirty-three is appointed by the Speaker of the House, one from each State, to consider and try to resolve the issues between the South and the North.

Dec. 20.-The South Carolina Convention passes an Ordinance of Secession from the United States.

Dec. 31.-Judah Benjamin, in a dramatic scene in the Senate, declares “The North Can never subjugate the South-Never-Never!”.

The ‘War Between the States’ was about to begin. There is no record of War ever being declared.

1861:-

January 9.-Mississippi voted to seceed followed by nine other States.

The first shot fired in the ‘War Between the States’. A cannon was fired at the unarmed merchant steamer, “Star of the West”, as it entered the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina with supplies for the troops in Fort Sumpter.

January 29.-Kansas admitted to the Union.

February 4.-First meeting of the Confederate Congress.

February 5.-Moving picture Peep-show machine patented by S. D. Goodale.

February 9.-Jefferson Davis elected President of the newly formed Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama.

February 11.-Abraham Lincoln and family say farewell to Springfield, Illinois and the only home they ever owned.

March 4.-Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States.

April 2.-Dakota Territory created.

April 9.-Meanwhile, in Ypsilanti, Ralph W. Van Fossen was appointed Postmaster. Parmenio Davis elected Mayor of Ypsilanti and served for the next two years.

April 9.-Sixty-seven year old Edmund Ruffin fired on Fort Sumpter.

April 17.-President Lincoln sent out a call for 75,000 men.

April 20-Col. Robert E. Lee resigned from the Army of the United States after having been offered Com= mand of the Arny of the North by General Winfield Scott.

April 23-Robert E. Lee became Commander of the Army of Virginia the “Old Dominion State”.

When the United States became a Nation after the Revolution, the Armed Forces were reduced to a small number. Every man was supposed to answer a call to Arms if necessary. Each State was to supply their own quota and recruit the needed men.

The Congress made the demand for men from the States in the time of the Civil War and after the first burst of Patriotism, the response was small. A Draft Law was put in operation, but aain it was the problem of each State to enforce it. Bounties as much as $300 caused forceful recruiting by Bounty Hunters and there was wide spread corruption by families able to pay for a substitute. The Draft Law included all men from twenty-one to forty-five and did not exempt anyone for occupation or married with a family to care for. Riots were frequent in the big cities, New York City having the largest and most destructive, 1000 or more being killed in the riots.

In 1861, Ypsilanti responded immediately to President Lincoln's call for 75,000 men. The names of Ypsilanti's first recruits are listed here followed by the old newspaper story telling of those spirited exciting times.

First enlistment roll at Ypsilanti for Civil War “The undersigned, citizens of the State of Michigan, do hereby by enlist and consent to be mustered into the Military Service of the State of Michigan, pursuant to an Act entitled “An Act to provide a Military Force”, first approved March 16, 1861, and to hold ourselves subject to all liabilites and obligations, created by said Act, and for the period and purposes therein set forth”

Name, age, residence

J. S. Whittlesey, 34, Ypsilanti
David A. Wise, 35, "
M.A. Parks, 35, "
George R. Anderson, 21, Canton
Smith Babcock, 22, "
George W. Baker, 23, "
Murray Baker, 21, "
Thomas Baker, 27, "
James W. Bingham, 20, Green Oak
Hiram S. Boutell , 25, Ypsilanti
Decatur Brundage, 21, Augusta
J.M. Carr, 23, Belleville
Edward J. Carson, 21, "
Phillip Chivers, 24, Ypsilanti
Peter Clark, 22, Milan
Addison Curtis, 21, Belleville
Joseph Davis, 21, "
Thomas Davis, 21, York
F. Eaton, 21, Saline
Norman Ellis, 37, Belleville
Truman W. Elton, 21, Ypsilanti
Alonzo Ford, 21, "
Benjamin W. Fuller, 40, Van Buren
L. Haight, 21, Saline
Wm. Herdman, 18, Ypsilanti
Edwin A. Herrick, 19, "
Jas H. Hodgkin, 18, "
A. D. Hoffman, 28, Belleville
Fred C. Joslin, 18, Ypsilanti
Michael Kean, 25 Ypsilanti
Wm. B.Kelly, 21, Canton
Orin King, 27, Ypsilanti
Rufus Lawrence, 28, "
Clark Macomber, 21, Augusta
George Marshall, 24, Belleville
James McCoy, 19, Ypsilanti
Geo. W. Monroe , 21, Dundee
Cicero Newell, 20, Ypsilanti
John Norton, 21, "
Wm. H. Parker, 25, "
R. J. Parkhurst, 20, "
C.P. Perry, 29, "
G.S. Phillips, 20, "
Henry Post, 25, "
David Punches, 41, Belleville
Nathan Putnam, 21, Milan
Lewis C. Randall, 34, Pittsfield
Wm. H. Randall, 20, Ypsilanti
J. L. Ransom, 28, "
Henry Reed, 21, Belleville
Robert Reynolds, 26, Ypsilanti
W. W. A. Russell, 20, Green Oak
H.R. Scovill, 19, Ypsilanti
J.E. Schafer, 23, "
G.H. Simmons, 18, York
W. D. Simmons, 22, "
Alvah Smith, Jr., 25, Clinton
Charles Smith, 21, Livonia
Fenton W. Smith, 23, Augusta
John Smith, 21, Belleville
Lewis Spawn, 41, "
Clinton Spencer, 21, Ypsilanti
J. StClair, 21, "
Albert Stuck, 23, "
Charles Twist, 23, "
Ira B. Tuttle, 25, "
Oscar VanValkenburg , 21, York
Marcus Vining, 19, Ypsilanti
James N. Wallace, 21, Ionia
Harman Wise, 18, Ypsilanti
Wm. H. Worden, 27, "

From the front page of THE YPSILANTI COMMERCIAL, published every Saturday morning at the corner of Huron and Cross Streets, Ypsilanti, Michigan, by C.R. Pattison, January 6, 1877:

Prior to the Civil War, there was a Militia Company existing in Ypsilanti, one of the best drilled in the State. J.W. Whittlesey was Captain of the Company; F.P. Bogardus, 1st Lieutenant. When news reached Ypsilanti of the fire on Fort Sumpter the Company disbanded. A public meeting was called at Hewitt Hall (3rd fl. of the building NE corner Michigan and Washington), the 22nd day of April 1861. The most intense enthusiasm pervaded the meeting, and before noon of that day the persons whose names are given were inscribed upon the roll of honor. Mr. F.P. Bogardus was anong the most influential in organizing the Company, though his name does not appear on the Roll, on account of the necessity of his abiding by the bank of which he is now cashier. Mr. B. preserved the enlistment roll, each member signing his own name. We are indebted, however, to David A. Wise for the manuscript, having it in his possession. We requested it for publication. The next Sunday, April 28, 1861, was one of the most thrilling ever seen in this City. The Company, in the afternoon, were drawn up in the Public Square (The Public Square was open space on W. Congress between Adams and Hamilton) and religious services were held, participated by all the Clergymen of the City. The officers of the Company, as far as we can ascertain, were: Captain-J.W. Whittlesey; First Lieutenant-David A. Wise; Second Lieutenant-M.A. Parks. Sergeants-C.P. Perry, Cicero Newell, H.R.Scovill, Fred C. Joslin. The Company went to Fort Wayne, Detroit, and then to Washington, forming Co. H. of the First Regiment, Col. Wilcox commanding. July 21, 1861, the Company was in the Battle of Bull Run, and acquitted itself nobly. The enlistmen was for three months, and during that time it did splendid service. Not a single company was so favored in furnishing Officers for special duty as Co.H. At the end of three months it disbanded and coming home a large number united with the First Infantry Regiment organized at Ann Arbor. We are able to give a brief record and present whereabouts of a few members of this Company. Captain Whittlesey, after the captrure of Alexandria was made Provost Marshal of that City, and though in a trying position received high enconium from his Superior Officers. He served as a Major at the Battle of Bull Run. Grand Rapids is his present place of residence. Lieutenant Wise, at Alexandria was appointed Quarter master of the Regiment and placed in charge of the Marshal House. M.A. Parks was promoted to the Captaincy of the Company and at Bull Run was taken prisoner. He lay in that hell of doom the remainder of the year and came out a wreck. He is dead. (Parks was given an Honorable Medical Discharge and returned to Ypsilanti where he established a jewelry store in part of the Samson Drug Store on West Michigan). Fred Joslin is now in California. James W. Bingham was the son of Senator Bingham and died during the war. Captain Wallace, W.A. Russell and Bingham were students at the Normal Collere. Captain Wallace served for four years and at the close of the War was a Major. Captain Clinton Spencer, our Postmaster, was a brave soldier and left a leg at the battle of Gettysburg which was not as agreeable as his three months experience. Lewis Spawn was wounded at Bull Run. Captain Newell at the expiration of his enlistment entered the Cavalry and served during the War with high honor. Harmon Wise, age 18 when he enlisted was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness, Phillip Chivers disappeared at the battle of Bull Run and has never been heard from. L. Haight from Saline was killed at the Battle of Chancellors-ville. H.R. Scovill at the end of his enlistment drove a lumber wagon to California, returning after the War to become a partner, with Follmore in the Sash and Blind business on Frog Island.

The old hand written list of these young men who were the first volunteers in April 1861, was given to the Ypsilanti Historical Society by H.R.Scovill's daughter, Mrs. Genevieve Scovill Bisbee Moon and it is in the Archives. After the sobering disaster of the Battle of Bull Run, it was quiet along the Potomac for ten months.

1862:

January 12-Timothy Showerman died, an old prominent pioneer in the area. Showerman built a fine home in the mid 1850s on the large double lot at 206 N. Huron which later became the home of the William Deubles and then was bought and rebuilt by D.L.Quirk, Jr.

February 1-The Fowler Schoolhouse in Superior Township burned. The Fowler School was on the south side of Geddes Road 1/4 mile West of Ridge Road. James N. Wallace was the first teacher in that one room School which had 45 ungraded pupils.

February 5-“The Atlantic Monthly” printed “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe.

February 15-Fort Donelson of the Cumberland surrendered to General Grant.

Rev. G.L. Foster resigned as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church.

April 11-Charles Lvans Hughes born.

April 16-Slavery abolished in District of Columbia.

Thirteen members of the Presbyterian Church took letters of Mombership Severance to from a Congregational Churoh and erect a building on the East side of the Huron River. The plan did not work out and people returned to the Presbyterian Church.

Benjamin Follett formed a Bank with R.W. Hemphill and located in the Follett block on E. Cross Street.

Mark Norris died, a remarkable man who did much in guiding the growth of Ypsilanti.

May 6-Henry David Thoreau died.

May 29-The 17th Regiment of Infantry was authorized.

July 1-President Lincoln called for 300,000 men-Governor Blair issued orders for 7 more Regiments of Infantry and 4 of Calvary.

The Ypsilanti Normal School was still in session. A Normal Company was planned but the Summer Session closed before it was organized and students had scattered to their homes.

Austin George was born June 15, 1841, on a farm near Litchfield, Michigan. At the ape of 12 he lost his right arm in the machinery of a flouring mill in Jonesville, Mich.

Austin became a student in the Michigan State Normal School in Ypsilanti and was living in Ypsilanti when that July 1st call came in 1862 for more troops. Because of his disability, he was unable to enlist in the Army but being endowed with an excellent mind, unusual energy and engaging personality, he began recruiting for the Normal Company “E”. of the 17th Infantry, writing the scattered young students and urging their enlistment.

He opened a Recruiting office in the Smith & Kinne Book and Drug Store on the North side of old Congress Street near Huron. The Normal boys responded to his letters and many came to Ypsilanti to enlist. Some replied but could not join the Normal Company as they had already enlisted in their home community. Every morning Austin assumed the responsibility of hanging out the flag at the Recruiting Office. The Normal Company was soon full.

When the 17th Michigan Infantry went to the front, he went as Company Clerk, later serving as Regimental Postmaster and Clerk for Brigade and Division Headquarters but never being too busy to keep track of his Normal Company with sympathy and encouragement for every homesick youth.

Austin George became Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools in 1896 and he and his family lived out his lifetime in the handsome mansard roof style house at 111 N. Normal Street. A man who contributed so much to Ypsilanti and now the family name is gone except in our history.

Gebriel Campbell had graduated from Michigan State Normal School in 1861 and was a student at the University of Michigan the following academic year. Gabriel is credited with getting thirty of his former classmates to enlist and at the organization meeting was elected Captain; Thomas Mathews, First Lt., James T. Morgan, 2nd Lt., This Company was not entirely young Normal men but it originated there and the three Commissioned Officers, four of the five Sergeants, four of the eight Corporals and nearly one third of the men were Normal Students.

The Company went to Detroit and mustered in on August 19th, 1862. They were assigned to the 17th Infantry as Company “E” and left for Washington August 27th.

The Confederates had crossed the Potomac below Washington into Maryland and marched north around the Capitol. The Union Regiment was soon sent into Maryland and marched forty miles north, passing thru Frederick the home of Betsey Ross, while crowds gathered and cheered as the Normal Co. sang in beautiful harmony as they marched.

Company “E” was in the battle of South Mountain, less than three weeks after the ovation given their departure from Ypsilanti. Four in that Company were killed, two of them Normal Students-David S. Howard and Lucian Jones-and many badly wounded. Alexander McKinnor, well known in Ypsilanti was one of those killed. The holiday spirit of adventure had vanished.

William H. Brearly in later years wrote the following poignant account to Daniel Putnam:

When I was at the Normal in 1861, I had as my seatnate Alexander McKinnor. My age was then 14 and he was two years older. He tried to enlist with us but could not be taken as our number was complete. Although the Company was full, he went with us to the Darracks in Detroit, tried to get in and would not leave us; and he finally got accepted as a substitute for Stiles who was taken sick and discharged. We walked and talked and slept together on the way all along from Washington to South Mountain. He said he didn't expect to live but thought it was his duty to give his life to his country. You must know all about this and yet you didn't know him personally to such an extent as I did, nor know how sweet and patriotic a spirit he had. He was at my side at South Mountain, and when he fell, I stopped for a moment beside him to see if he was dead, and then went on. No loftier or purer life wnt out that day on the slope of South Mountain than that of dear McKinnor. His name and memory cannot be too highly honored by the Normal today. When the Regiment moved on, I was left in charge of the burial party and I saw McKinnon's body placed with the other Michigan dead in a long grave, and marked the spot with a head board for each.

It was in the battle of South Mountain that Captain Gabriel Campbell lost the handsome sword that was presented to him before the Company left Ypsilanti. (The Gabriel Campbell sword in the Ypsilanti Eistorical Archives is the splendid sword given as a replacement after the war ended).

On September 17 1862 was fought the great battle of Antietam in which the 17th lost 18 killed and 87 wounded. The loss to Company “E” was four killed including the Normal boys John H. Marvin, Webster Ruckman and Fred S. Webb. Antietam is now a small village on the north side of the Potomac and the battlefield National Historic Marker is on the south side of the river, nearly forty miles south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

A placque was made by the Michigan State Normal School “In Memory of the Students who Died at the Front in the ‘War of the Rebellion’”. Thirty names were placed on this plaque and room left at the bottom where more names when known could be added.

(The information given on Comapy “E” is from A HISTORY OF THE MICHIGAN STATE NORMAL SCHOOL at Ypsilanti, Michigan, 1649–1899 by Daniel Putnam, A.M.,L.L.D., Professor of Psychology and Pedagogy. For more information and interesting reading it is suggested you read Chapter X LV “The Normal School in the Civil War”.


The original hand-written list of the men of Company “E” was given to the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives by the local Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.


KEY-(to Street names & geographical locations)

THE MONROE ROAD-South Huron from City limits-becoming Whittaker Road.

CHICAGO POAD, (Chicago Avenue)-West Michigan Avenue from Ballard Street intersection

CONGRESS STREET-Ypsilanti's Main Street, Michigan Avenue, which was named ‘Michigan Avenue’ in 1914 when an attempt was made to have the Detroit to Chicago Road called ‘Michigan Avenue’. Ypsilanti already had a ‘Michigan Street’ which in 1914 became ‘Ferris Street’, honoring Woodbridge N. Ferris, Michigan Governor 1913–1916.

SAUK TRAIL-The Indian name for the Detroit to Chicago trail which became the route of the United States Servey for Michigan Avenue and US 12

ELLIS STREET-Namad for Elijah Ellis, prominent pioneer and changed in 1926 to Washtenaw when the road was paved making a direct road to Ann Arbor.


This article continues in the November 1976 issue.

Ypsilanti Gleanings, October 1973: The Early Elementary and Secondary Schools of Ypsilanti

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:



























Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: October 1973

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/1973-Oct.pdf


Since the days when Ypsilanti became an established village, the importance of her schools has been a chief feature of great pride. For instance, it has been said, to have graduated from the Ypsilanti Union Seminary was an honor only second to a similar success at the University of Michigan.

We know very little about these earliest schools in our pioneer settlement. However, THE WASHTENAW COUNTY HISTORY for 1881 says: “The first school without the village was taught by Catharine Rosencrantz”. Perhaps this is the school mentioned in THE DETROIT GAZETTE for December 7, 1825:-“Wednesday, the schoolhouse in Woodruff's Grove entirely burned.” We do know that these schools, which were not ‘free' schools were but an desultory effort to teach children the alphabet. Children were called together and organized into classes and were taught by a local lady who had the time and some education and was glad to get paid, small as the salary was, for her services. It soon became obvious that the efforts were not accomplishing the results sought so a full-time teacher was hired and in 1826 a Miss Hope Johnson opened a school ‘at the Grove' (*). About the same time a school was started by Miss Olive Gorton in Ypsilanti. Miss Gorton married Lyman Graves (1794–1880) and their son, Albert (1840–1921) fondly wrote of his mother:-

* ‘at the Grove'-there were many ‘groves' in the Ypsilanti area and we do not know if this ‘grove' mentioned referred to Woodruff's Grove or not.

Mrs. Olive Gorton Graves was born in New Lisbon, Otsego Co., New York, Sept. 30, 1804, and died Oct. 29, 1886. In 1825, with her father's family, she crossed Lake Erie in the schnooer ‘Red Jacket', Captain Walker, master. After a somewhat perilous voyage of about two weeks, they reached Detroit, transfered their effects to a barge and plunged into a wilderness, pulling the barge up the Huron River to Woodruff's Grove on the east bank of the H uron River. At the age of 15 she had entered upon the vocation of school teaching, which she followed upon her arrival here, by opening the first school in Ypsilanti on the west bank of the river. Children were sent to her school from the east side of the river and were rowed across the river by herself morning and evening.

After teaching there long enough, at two dollars a week, with the money saved she purchased her wedding outfit and in August, 1826, she was married to the late Lyman Graves.

During the summer of 1828 a Miss Mirian Brooks took over from Mrs. Graves. In the winter of 1828–29 Mrs. Mark Norris opened part of her home for classrooms. In 1830 a little brick school house was built on the east side of the river by Wm. Harwood with a Miss Laura Vail as teacher. Mr. Harwood owned many acres on the east side of the Huron River. When he came in 1825 all the lots in the original plat were in his holdings. He built the small brick building which stood until 1929 on Babbitt Street in back of the present Woodruff school. This modest building was really the beginning of the Ypsilanti Public Schools. Wm. Harwood gave the land for the East Public Square bounded by Lincoln Street to Park Street and from Parsons to Babbitt Street. The little brick school was on the edge of the square.

Another brick building begun in 1831, 110 River Street was used by the Methodist Congregation until 1835. The building was subsequently bought by the Baptist Society and used until 1847 after which it was given over to school purposes. Later this building was sold to the Worden Brothers who had to remove school furnishings before they could establish their factory. About 1857 this school was united with District #4 on the east side of the river. We have not been able to find out if this school was kept up until 1866 when a four room brick building was erected on the northeast corner of East Congress, (Michigan Avenue) and Prospect.

Another school of the early days was ‘The Peck Street Primary'. This school stood on the property of Joseph and Sophia Churchill Peck who in 1823 came with their five children to this section from New York state. They first built a small log cabin and then a commodious farm house. The Peck home was a center of hospitality and a cordial welcome was given to all new settlers and travellers coming along. Soon this section was known as ‘Peckville'. We do not know the exact date the brick schoolhouse, on the Peck property on East Forest, was built. The property was deeded by Joseph Peck to School District #3 for $40 in 1850 and was known as the Fourth Ward Schoolhouse. In 1858 ninety-nine children were enrolled. This school property was later deeded to Mr. George George, November 17 1866 and a now site for a school was chosen. The property was later purchased by Mr. Frederick J. Swaine. A few years ago the Swaine property, 101 E. Forest, was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert R. Anschuetz.

The first public school west of the river was taught by Chauncey Joslin, (1813–1889), who came to Ypsilanti in 1837 and who studied in local law offices and became Judge of Probate in 1852 and Mayor of Ypsilanti in 1858 and who served on the School B oard for twenty years. The school in which he taught was called. ‘The White Schoolhouse, District #4'. The building, enlarged and altered is at 137 N. Washington and is the home of James Westfall and his sister, Mary. The building was originally a one room building and was used for school purposes up until the time of the purchase of the old Seminary in 1848 when it was no longer used for a school building. There was no bell on the room and school was opened when the teacher had called the children from all directions by ringing a large hand bell. From records in our archives we find that there were only fifteen houses on that side of the river at that time. The pupils brought their dinners in pails and on pleasant days ate outdoors under the trees, and when the teacher wanted them back in the schoolroom she rapped on the window with a very long ruler.

Recently Mrs. Lorenz Kisor gave an interesting and valuable gift to the Archives which reads:

Re. of Mr. Glover eighty-nine cents in full for State, Town, County and School tax on S 1/2 of SE 1/4 40 acres for the year 1843

Ypsilanti (signed) A. Craddock January 31, 1844

In 1851 another district south of Congress, (Michigan Ave.) united with District #4. The Ypsilanti City Directory for 1860 lists: ‘Washington Street Primary School-west side of Washington between Catherine and Woodward', and a Miss Helen Buck is listed as ‘teacher in the Washington Street Primary School'. This school was also called ‘The Southside School' or ‘The Red Brick School'. The building was struck by lighting and extensively damaged. Thesito was bought by Dr. Parmenio Davis (1816–1883) in order to covert the remains of the school building into a dwelling. The Abstract states that on December 29, 1864, School District #4 gave a Warranty Deed to the Doctor for lots #51 and #52. The consideration was $1,254.00. Just how much Dr. Davis changed the lines of the original school building we are unable to determine. On December 4, 1867, Parmenio and Carlista Showerman Davis, gave a Warranty Deed to William H. Payne for lots #51, #52 and #53, for a consideration of $3,000.00. Mr. Payne had been hired as Principal of the Ypsilanti Schools in 1866 and served until 1870. The Paynes with their family, were probably the first occupants of the new dwelling that replaced the old schoolhouse. The new dwelling, with the Paynes in residence, became a social and civic center for the community. The organizational meeting for the Ladies' Library Association was held in the library of the Payne home and Mrs. Eva Fort Payne was one of the original incorporators of the Association in 1869. The Payne family moved away from Ypsilanti in 1 870. Today the property is owned by Dr. and Mrs. Bradley Harris, 206 S. Washington. The orginal school stood in an oak grove for an old article on the schools says:-…‘In my early childhood there still stood in the center of the sidewalk in front of the house three large oak trees with walks on either side wide enough for two to walk abreast. They are gone now, victims of our straight sidewalk committee.'

There were other schools and other teachers scattered around the village. The teacher's salary was so very nominal and in not a few instances districts allowed their houses to be occupied by whomsoever would undertake to teach and for wahtever he could obtain from his patrons. Such was the state of educational affairs in Ypsilanti from 1836 until 1848–49.

In 1840 a Francis Griffin established a school. He first used the meeting room of the Presbyterian Church on Pearson Street and later located in the “Nunnery” on Congress Street. He advertised to teach Latin and Greek and when his pupils inquired about these courses advised them to wait for a more convenient time to take them. About the same time a Mr. Landreth opened his school which was located in the Larzalere Block at the corner of Washington and Congress, (Michigan Avenue.) He later went to Detroit where he established a very flourishing school for a year or so when Detroit, in 1842, opened the first free tax supported school in the state.

In May 1836 Charles Woodruff and his parents, from Waterloo, New York, came and settled at Carpenter's Corners in Pittsfield Township. Charles went east to Allegheny College in Pennsylvania graduating in 1841. Upon his return he was hired to teach in Mr. Landreth's school. Soon after he hired Woodruff Mr. Landreth left for Detroit and Charles Woodruff took over his duties. He offered opportunity to ‘teachers of district schools to improve themselves in the branches of learning pertaining to their department of teaching'. It might be reasonable to assume that the location in Ypsilanti a few years later of the State Normal School may have been influenced by the beginning in training teachers made by this earlier school.

Charles Woodruff wished to move his school away from the thickly built portion of the city and rented a large building, ‘Tecumseh' built in 1844 as a railroad hotel, and which had been standing empty for many years. Woodruff wanted the city to buy a building for his school but they refused, so he rented a portion of it. He held very successful classes there until 1845. One day a Reverend Lyman H. Moore, Pastor of the Baptist Church during the forties, came as a visitor to Woodruff's School and enrolled his son and brother as pupils. Reverend Moore was a frequent visitor to the school and told Charles Woodruff of his great interest in the advancement of education. Soon, Woodruff always claimed that it was without his knowledge, Pastor Moore bought the complete building and opened his school which he called ‘The Ypsilauti Seminary'. The academic year year was divided into two terms of 22 weeks commencing the 1st Monday of September and the 2nd Monday in February. The tuition was for $3 to $8 and board and room $14 per quarter of 11 weeks. William L. Easton and Mary B. F. Brown were Principals and Lyman Moore and Wm. A. Moore, Proprietors. By act of the State Legislature, approved March 12, 1849, the ‘Ypsilanti Seminary' received its full organization under Board of Education of District #4. In 1851 a second district was added and soon other districts, including those across the river, united with District #4 and thus gradually and by common consent, the school became known as ‘The Union Seminary'.

m Perhaps Charles Woodruff could have stayed on as a teacher in Reverend Moore's school but he was angered by what he considered Moore's underhand treatment and withdrew from school teaching as an occupation. However he always remained a champion of good education for all. Indeed when he became editor of THE SENTINEL he wrote many editorials tending to advance the cause of education in Ypsilanti. Charles Woodruff was born in New York State in 1816 and died in 1896 at the home of his son, Marcus Tullius Woodruff, at 717 Cross Street. Woodruff School, built in 1901, was named in his honor and not for Benjamin Woodruff.

In April of 1853 Reverend Joseph Estabrook became Principal of ‘The Union Seminary'. The school became known as 'the model' and much progress was made along intellectual lines.

Rooms were rented to students whose homes were outside of Ypsilanti and to its teachers. For awhile morestudents from outside attended the school than from the school district. The first graduating class received their diplomas in 1852.

In the 1910 December issue of “The Ypsi-Sem”, Henry Rm Utley, class of ‘57 wrote of what he remembered about the Seminary:-

I first attended Ypsilanti Union Seminary in the early fall of 1852. I was the bashfullest kind of boy, fresh from the farm, and everything in the town was to me grand and impressive. The old Seminary building stood on the same lot as it is at present, but was close to the sidewalk, immediately at the corner. It was originally built for a hotel in the stage coach days. But the opening of the railroad sidetracked it for hotel purposes. After standing idle for some time, it was bought by some public spirited citizens for about $8,000 and in 1849 was opened as a public school and seminary under the auspices of the school board of the consolidated district of Ypsilanti.

It was a two-story brick in the form of a letter ‘L', the lower wing running west from the corner and the shorter running north. The latter was extended about 1853 to meet the demand for more room. Attached to the west wing was a two-story frame building, originally a dwelling. The ground floor of the entire building was devoted to recitation and study rooms. The second floor, having been guest rooms in the hotel days, was left unchanged and the rooms were rented as dormitories to non-resident students. The west wing was occupied by boys, the north by girls. Professor James Jackson, the vice-principal, occupied a room in the boys' wing and attended to the preservation of order. Miss A. C. Rogers, the ‘preceptress', had a room in the girls' wing. The regulation of the dormitories was very strict. A bell in a cupola on the roof gave signals for rising in the morning, retiring at night, for chapel exercises and for changing classes. All lights in the rooms were required to be out at 10 o'clock at night. No one was permitted to leave the building during study hours without a pass.

Professor Joseph Estabrook was the Principal, having been called from Tecumseh to take charge of the school in the fall of 1852. He remained several years. Miss Rogers, the preceptress, resigned at the end of that year to accept a like position at the Normal. She was succeeded by Miss Harriet M. Cutcheon, who continued as preceptress many years.

The pupils of the school were mainly boys and girls of the town. But there was a goodly number of non-residents from neighboring towns. All the dormitories being occupied by them, while others found quarters in private houses or roomed over stores on Main street. There were three male teachers and a like number of women. The teaching staff of that day would certainly compare in point of character and ability with that of any educational institution, even of this day.

Beside class studies, literary exercises were required of all. Every Friday evening was given to public affairs, in which, following a literary program, special pleasures afforded free of-portunity for boys and girls to meet and mingle. I feel sure that every one of the students of my day have preserved throughout their lives the most delightful recollections of their teachers and of those with whom they studied and recited in the old Ypsilanti Seminary.

Joseph Estabrook, Principal of the Seminary from 1853 to 1865 was born in Bath, New Hampshire in 1820 and died in Olivet, Michigan, in 1894. His family settled near Clinton, Michigan, about 1835. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1847. When he left college he taught at various district schools near Clinton and Tecumseh and came to Ypsilanti in 1853. In 1865 he became Superintendent of Schools in East Saginaw and in 1871 was appointed ‘Principal' of the Normal school in Ypsilanti.

He was also a Regent of the University of Michigan and State Superintendent of Education. Professor Estabrook was a much loved citizen of our town. In THE HISTORY OF MICHIGAN STATE NORMAL COLLEGE (pub. 1899), the author, Daniel Putnam, says of his friend and collegue: ‘No teacher ever connected with the school was more loved, was remembered with kindlier feelings, or greeted wherever he went, with warmer or more sincere words of personal regards.' Estabrook School, 1555 W. Cross was named in honor of Joseph Estabrook. In 1880 Reverend Estabrook went to Olivet College to teach and remained there until his death.

No history of the Seminary would be complete without mentioning the Cutcheon brothers and sisters who came here from Pembroke, New Hampshire. There were ten children of James and Hannah Tripp McCutcheon, which is how the name was spelt in the New England area. The first to come was Dr. Lewis Cutcheon who was a co-author of a textbook on physiology and who traveled lecturing on that subject. In 1849 under the auspices of the Superintendent of Public Instruction he gave lectures to teachers and students of the Seminary. Many times his lectures were so well attended that the assembly room of the school was too small and a larger room at one of the local churches was used. Early in 1853 when Miss Rogers, the Preceptress resigned, he called the attention of the Board to his sister, Harriet, then teaching at East Bloonfield, New York, and she was appointed to the position.

Harriet, (1817–1908), attended the local academy in her home town of Pembroke, taught in a district school there and graduated from Mt. Holyoke Seminary in 1851. She came to the Seminary shortly after Joseph Estabrook. She left Ypsilanti in 1860 and was Preceptress of Monroe High School and of Monroe Female Academy, head of the Women's Department at the University of Wisconsin and Preceptress of Flint High School. She returned to Ypsilanti to help take care of the family of one of her brothers and spent the remaining years of her life as an honored resident of Ypsilanti during valuable volunteer work.

Anna (1840–1921) attended the school in Pembroke and in 1854 joined her older sister in Ypsilanti and graduated from the Seminary in 1857. She taught schools in Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois and taught for eight years in the Department of Literature at the Normal School and for thirteen years was the senior Principal of the Detroit Seminary. In the summer it was her habit to take young ladies to Europe touring Great Britain and the Continent. She, too, returned to Ypsilanti and for the Seminary Semi-Centennial celebration in 1899 she gave the first of the series of addresses by the Alumni and was Secretary of the Alumni Library Committee.

Sullivan (1833–1900) and Byron (1836–1908) obviously impressed by what they heard from their sisters about the Seminary and Ypsilanti followed them here. Sullivan graduated from Dartmouth College in 1856 and the same year he became Principal of the Seminary and took charge of the boys' dormitory. After two years of successful work as a teacher he accepted the position as Superintendent of Schools in Springfield, Illinois. While there he put into operation the first public school system in the state of Illinois. He also met and was a friend of young Abraham Lincoln and the two of them liked to play a form of hand-ball together-sometimes cricking their heads together in the excitement of the game. While in Springfield he gained admission to the bar. In 1859 he returned to Ypsilanti and married Joseph Louise Moore (Seminary-class of 1858), daughter of Charles Moore who built the house at 110 Woodward now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz Kisor. He and his wife moved to Detroit where Sullivan had a large and lucrative law practive. He was also interested in banking and was President of the Dime Savings Bank of Detroit from 1884 and of the Ypsilanti Savings Bank from 1892, until his death. He was twice a member of the Legislature and was Speaker of the House in 1863.

Byron, too, stated his education in Pembroke but came to this city in order to graduate from the Seminary in 1857. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1861 and in that fall became Principal of the school here. In July 1862, under President's Lincoln's call for 3000,000 men, he recruited Company B., Twentieth Michigan Volunteers, at Ypsilanti, and was commissioned Captain. It is interesting to note that every commissioned officer, four of the five Sergeants, six of the eight Corporals and a large proportion of the privates, were pupils of the Seminary. Byron was in twenty-five battles and engagements and became Major and Loeutenant-Colonel and Brevet Colonel of the 20th for ‘gallant service' He became Colonel of the 27th Michigan and was Breveted Birgadier-General for gallantry at the Battle of the Wilderness and received a Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1863 he married Marie Amnie Warner (Seminary-class of 1857) and in 1866 received the degree of LL. B. from the University of Michigan Law School and M.A. from the Literary Department. In 1867 he moved his family to Manistee, Michigan and while there he was Congressman from 1883 to 1891. In 1891 Byron moved to Grand Rapids and there resumed his law practice. Although Byron's active connection with the Seminary was not a long one, he, as were his brother and sisters always most loyal to the school and to the city and he delivered the main address at the Semi-Centennial of the Seminary in 1899.

On Sunday morning, March 29th 1857, the original Seminary building was destroyed by fire. Temporary quarters were found and-perhaps to the student's dismay-school work was hardly interrupted. A new building was soon erected and it was said that it was the finest school building of its kind. Dedication day, August 17, 1858, coincided exactly with the day that gas lights appeared in Ypsilanti. On January 7, 1859 the famous Horace Greeley lectured at the Seminary his topic being “Great Men”.

In 1859 another school building in Ypsilanti burned. The original building of ‘The Normal', founded in 1849, burned to the ground. When he had made his report to the State Board of Education advising them to accept Ypsilanti as the site for the Normal School John D. Pierce, ‘Father of Public Instruction in Michigan' and the first State Superintendent, had said:-

‘…The village of Ypsilanti is sufficiently large to furnish every facility for boarding pupils, and the character of its population, and the deep interest manifested by them upon the subject of education, cannot fail to surround the institution with good influences.'

A second fire, December 8, 1877, completely destroyed the second Seminary building. Again the students were given class work in buildings scattered around the city. The third building was dedicated in 1879. At that time R.W. Putnam was Superintendent and he stayed until 1891 when he left to become a professor at Kalamazoo College. This third building, too, was partially destroyed by fire May 3, 1894 but quickly repaired in a better style.

The following excerpt is taken from an article “An Historical Sketch of Ypsilanti High School” written by Carolyn Case of the class of 1916 for that year's ‘Ypsi-Dixit'.

The first graduating class received their diplomas in the year 1852, and since then there has been an annual succession of of graduating classes with the exception of 1872 and 1873, during which years the High School and academic department of the Normal college were combined. (*) It is interesting to note that the first graduating class was composed of three young women. This is rather remarkable in view of the fact that in early years this was about the only full college preparatory school in the state, and as the University at that time did not admit women, the alumni of the school were, for the first twelve years, almost exclusively men. In the late fifties and early sixties there were two sets of graduates. In 1860 and 1861 there are graduation programs bearing date of the last Friday in September. These students took a six weeks' review after vacation to prepare for their University entrance examination. Those not going to college were graduated loss formally the last of June. The classical section of the class of '62 remained in the High School one year after graduation, completing the first year of their University work there…In 1870 the University opened its doors to women and since then the prepartion of young women in the graduating classes has increased until now they number more than half of the outgoing class.

…Some of the subjects formerly taught are: Elements of Criticism, Moral Science, Mental Philosophy, Evidences of Christianity, Astronomy, Logic Greek, University Algebra, Intellectual Philosophy and Ancient Geography.

No matter how time consuming the class work or how strict the school routine young people have always found time for school pranks-and the pupils of the Seminary were no different in that respect. One of the favorite passtimes was to climb up into the old clock tower and be there when the clock struck even though the escapade was against the school rules. The sound was ddeaennng-but it was a challenge and something to be

** We have been unable to find this information anywhere else.


done before graduating-at least by the boys. All the classroom bells were controlled by a clock in the principal's office and once long ago a group of boys set the clock ahead with the happy result that all classes were dismissed early. We don't know whether or not the culprits were found out!

In 1896 Austin George became the Superintendent of Schools in Ypsilanti. He was born June 15th, 1941 at Litchfield, Michigan and at the age of twelve he lost his right arm in the machinery of a flouring mill at Jonesville. He came to the Normal and while there in the summer of 1863 he was instrumental in raising the Normal Company “E” of the 17 Michigan Infantry and he went to the front as company clerk. After the battles of South Mountain and Antietam he held the positions of Regimental postmaster and clerk of Brigade at Division Headquarters. He returned to the Normal and graduated in March 1863, and from Kalamazoo College in 1866. He taught at Kalamazoo College and was Superintendent of the schools there. In 1882 he returned to the Normal in charge of the Practice School and while there the name ‘Practice' was changed to ‘Training School' and he also started “The Normal News”. While he was Superintendent of Schools in Ypsilanti not only did he increase the enrollment of the Seminary by fifty percent but he was also active in community affairs being a city Alderman and was active in the development and the building of the city water works and while he was a member of the Board of Public Works the sewer system of the city was devised and the principal sewers constructed. The 1903 ‘Ypsi-Dixit' says of him: “Professor George will be remembered in Ypsilanti, as a public spirited citizen, one ready to do his full share of public work without regard to compensation, as a warm personal friend to a great number of people in the town; but he will be remembered especially by those who during the years of his Superintendency went out from the schools bearing the impress of his high and manly character. Austin George died in 1903.

Early in 1900 the ‘Union Seminary' had its name changed to ‘High School'. But a much loved name is hard to change or be forgotten and many who went there and taught there still referred to the High School as ‘The Seminary'. At any rate, the old building was much too crowded and lacked up to date facilities. As early as 1911 plans were hopefully being made by Superintendent William B. Arbaugh and the members of the School Board for a new building. After two school bonds were turned down by the people of Ypsilanti, City and Township, the needed amount was approved and in January of 1916 the new school was opened for inspection by the public. A newspaper article of that month, describing the opening and praising the new school quoted this short poem sent in by an unnamed citizen of Ypsilanti:-

When I paid my winter taxes I was hot around the neck; When I saw the nice new building It cooled me off a speck ‘Taxpayer’

The Superintendent of Schools of Ypsilanti in 1916 was William R. Arbaugh who had come to Ypsilanti from Ohio in 1896 as Principal and in 1903 became Superintendent. The ‘Ypsi-Dixit' of 1916 says of him:-‘His interest in his work in this city has been a deep-seated one and one that has accomplished a great deal for our benefit.' Mr. Arbaugh left Ypsilanti in November of 1919 to become General Secretary of the Gloaring House of Schools of Wayne County.

The Principal of the Central High School in 1916 was Stanley Morris a graduate of Oberlin College who came to the city in 1914. He left in 1918 for war community service under the Army and Navy Department Commission on Training Camp Activities.

The faculty of Central High School in 1916 were:


Edith Steere-Algebra
Jessie C. Laird-German Ethel Minnard-English
DeForest Ross-Physics and Chemistry Ellen Hoff-Librarian
Carrie E. McKnight-English Jessie C. Swaine = Domestic Sci.
Branson A. Walpole-Science and Agriculture(*) George W. Frasier-Science
Daniel Ohlinger-Manual Training Elsie Cooper-Latin
Carrie A. Hardy-Science

(*) Ypsilanti Central High School was one of the first high schools in the state to teach Agriculture.

As in other towns and cities all over this country the early parochial schools of our area have been an extremely important part in our development. Any article on the schools of Ypsilanti would be lacking if it did not include something of the first years of the St. John Elementary school.

In 1862 Father Edward Van Paemal came as Priest for the St John Baptist Church and stayed until 1871. Father Van Paemel came from Detroit to Ypsilanti but had been born in Belguim and came to America while still a seminarian. In 1862 the Parish purchased two lots on Cross Street adjoining the Church property and there built a parish house. A little frame school house was added to the church property in 1867. These were two adjoining lots purchased from Patrick Kelly on Florence Street. We do not know just what this school looked like some, say it was simply the Kelly home remodeled. The education was elementary since the children left school about the age of twelve. It has been said that all early discipline problems were attended to immediately by Father Van Paemel's strong right hand. The earliest teachers in this school were ‘lay' teachers; Miss Elizabeth Foy, Miss Maggie Murphy, Miss Bridget Monaghan, and Mr. Michael Moren and a Mr. Devlin.

The Priest who succeeded Father Van Paemel was Father Patrick Murray. He, too, was interested in teaching and spent much of his time in the little school. He loved playing with the the children at recess time but he, too, was quick with discipline.

Father William DeBever took charge of Saint John's Parish in 1876 and one of the problems facing his pastorate was that he found the first school inadequate as a building and as a center of learning. With his typical directness he attacked the problems of building a new school. The frame schoolhouse was torn down and a two story brick structure was built in its place. Sisters of Providence from Terre Haute, Indiana, were secured as instructors. A square frame house on the lot adjoining the school property was purchased on November 4, 1880 to be the home of the sisters.

The second school opened in 1884 and a pupil of that time, Mrs. Sarah Austin, has written what she remembered of the opening exercises:-

The children were grouped in a formation to make the figures of 5 and 4, as it was Father DeBever's fifty-fourth birthday. They presented Father with a fur cap, which I well remember cost $17. As visiting pastor of the Milan and Whitaker Parishes, Father DeBever had to take long cold drives in the winter so the fur cap was considered a practical gift.

There were six sisters and instruction was given in elementary and in high school subjects, algebra, chemistry and geomentry were taught to the upper classes. Music held an important place in the curriculum for Father DeBever was a student of music and always interested in musical activities. Botany was taught by a Sister Saint Cosmos and her field trips were very popular. Needlework, with emphasis upon needle work tapestry was stressed. One little girl, working in needlepoint on “Christ Blessing the Children” caused considerable merriment in her class when it was being worked on for she was frequently heard to say, ‘I'm going to do our Lord's head in chenille'.

This school provided accomodations for boarding pupils. In the sisters' home was a dormitory with fourteen beds. Girls from Clinton, Manchester, Wayne and other townships surrounding Ypsilanti availed themselves of these boarding priviledges. The girls rose at five o'clock and retired at 8:30. They played croquet on the ground between the church and the school and sometimes Father DeBever took them riding in his carriage.

Father DeBever left Ypsilanti in 1892, returning occasionally to substitute. He was elevated to the rank of Monsignor in 1906 and died in Dexter April 19, 1919 at the age of 89 years.

About 1896 the school was discontinued. Lack of funds was the principal reason for its closing, and for a short time after the Sisters left, lay teachers were hired to teach the lower grades. After the school closed no further use was made of the building for a number of years. During the pastorate of Father Kennedy about 1910 the Catholic Students' Club, with the help of interested townspeople, reclaimed the old school building and soon the parish found itself with a pleasant place for the meeting of all parish organizations. This old school was also used for awhile as the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club and when they moved their meeting place to the High School they donated to the St. John's Club House dishes, silver and linens which were greatly appreciated.

In 1922 Father Dennis Needham came to Ypsilanti. Plans were formulated for a new church and the basement was dug and plans were made to open a grade school in the fall of 1925. Dominican Sisters from Adrian, Michigan, were selected as teachers and the house at 309 N. Hamilton was purchased to be a home for the sisters. However, Father Needham died promatinrely in 1925 and the Priest who succeeded him also died in 1931 before the completion of his plans for the church and school building. It was not until the Pastorate of Father Warren Peck in the 1930ties that the St. John the Baptist Elementary School was completed.

Other churches of Ypsilanti also had early schools connected with them. Many in our city will remember the Parish School of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church. The following information on this school was graciously given to us by Miss Edith Lidke, 279 Harris Road. Miss Lidke, herself, did not attend the school but had relatives and friends who did. Miss Lidke graduated from Central High School and also taught Latin at the high school.

“Emmanuel Lutheran Church established a Parish Day School in the 1880's which all children of the parish were required to attend. Public School attendance laws did not exist then. In 1884 there were fifty-two families listed on the membership roll. It seems about this time eight families did not send their children to the Parish School but to the Academy. The church school board members, the pastor and lay members became quite distrubed over the situation.

The school first of all aimed to teach Christian faith, but the children could not read and understand the Bible in the literary German because at home the families spoke ‘low German' or ‘Plattdeutsch'. So a great deal of time was spent in teaching the ‘high German' or ‘Literary German'. Records show that the Rev. Nionka, who left the church in 1890, had his brother come to help him with the classes.

Traditional hearsay gives the impression that attendance at the Parish School was required for the five school days of the week and for two or three years. This we learned in part from the late Mrs. Frank Lidke, Sr., mother of Frank J. Lidke who resides on East Forest Avenue. Her sister, the late Mrs. Henry Helzermann, nee Minnie Wolter, and her brother, the late Otto Wolter, husband of Mrs. Agnes Wolter, and Mrs. Lidke all attended this school in the 1880's. Mrs. Lidke used to tell how Mrs. Nat Hopkins, nee Mary Wallace, mother of Mrs. Laurence Thomas, nee Ellen Hopkins, used to come to the school and teach the girls crocheting and knitting when she was a young woman and lived with her parents at the home at the corner of E. Michigan and S. Prospect, site of the present telephone building. On special holidays she sometimes invited the school children to her home and treated them to goodies. She even sensed when some children needed clothing and secured some for them. All of this was done by Mrs. Hopkins as a community project.

When the Parish Day School was established the classes met in the home of a member, the Esslinger family, who lived diagonally across from the present church building on N. River Street where the octagon house now stands. In 1886 the congregation built a schoolhouse on the east side of the church which stood at that time on the northeast corner of E. Michigan and N. Grove, the “A and W” stands there now. the Parish School was discontinued in the early 1890's. Instruction of the children continued on Saturday classes and sometimes after the public school hours.

The copy of the old church constitution translated from the German original says, Article 17: “The members of the congregation who are minors must attend Christian instruction.” Article LV.Sec D. says: “The School Board members shall be an example to the congregation and especially to the youth in word and deed…They must care for the school in the best possible manner and carry out all orders of the congregation in this They shall see to it that the teacher not only teaches according to the teaching plan but also practices it; that he begins school on time and holds it regularly. For this purpose the School Board members shall not only visit classes from time to time but also attend school public examinations; they especially note that the religious instructions be taught in the strict belief of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Bible stories. Above all they shall support the teacher and promote the best for the school as well as to see to it that the teacher receive regularly the salary promised by the congregation. They shall investigate all complaints made about the teacher and where possible minimize same as well as admonish in love the parents who send their children to a nonreligious school instead of to the Christian Parish School.”

Most of the time the Pastor was also the teacher of the school”

In 1959 for the Centenial of the Emmanuel Luthern Church Miss Lidke translated all of the material from the church's old Constitution for research material for that event.

Originally the black children of Ypsilanti attended the Old Seminary. However, in 1860 a separate school was provided for them, in an old shop, at the northeast corner of Adams and Congress streets and the first teacher was a Mr. Hall. This building was later moved up on Congress Street, west, and made into a double house, owned by W.W. Worden. In 1864 the first ward, or Adams Street School Building was erected, a one room affair with one teacher, at east side of Adams near Buffalo. It is an historical fact that many of the black men who enlisted for the war came out of the infant class of this school. Miss Loretta A. Pitkin, mother of Mrs. Shelley Hutchinson, was the first teacher in this school. In the 1870's a Reverend Isaac Burdine, who died in April of 1896, was the teacher and he was always very proud of the fact that many of his pupils went on to graduate from the Seminary. In the 1920's the Harriet Street School was built at the SW corner of Hawkins and Harriet. Lewis M. Lash was an early Principal there and early teachers were: Mildred Forsberg, Edith M. Bates and Xema Skeels. In 1956 the name of this school was changed to ‘Perry' School in horor of Dr. Lawrence C. Perry, a local dentist, community leader and a member of the School Board for many years.

******************************

All of the research material for this article, with the exception of Miss Lidke's material, was done in the Archives of the Museum from old newspaper articles, ‘Ypsi-Dixit' yearbooks, and other resource material.

Syndicate content