The Humble Hobby Shop

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2011,
Spring 2011
Original Images:

Spring 2011

Author: Derek Spinei

In the 1940s, Ypsilanti was home to one of the tiniest businesses in the state of Michigan. Terence S. Vincent’s hobby shop at 103 ½ North Washington was 4.5 ft by 10 ft. with a 12 ft. ceiling. No one seems to know where he came from, but according to a 1947 Detroit Free Press article he moved to Ypsilanti and opened his business because “it’s a good way to retire” and keep up interest in persons and events. In a former life he was a newspaper man, having written 2,000 one-page stories and 400 radio transcripts. He continued writing accounts of his neighborhood while sitting in the shop waiting for customers.

To say he was an eccentric is an understatement. He was known to promote the sale of box kites for “kite fishing,” whereby he would use a kite to drag fishing lines across the water while he relaxed on the bank. However his real specialty was “travelcraft,” as he called things that go. A 1947 advertisement stated:

Terence Vincent’s Aircraft Are “Easy To Make - Sure to Fly For Beginners”
Balsa - Wire - Cement - Dope - Boats - Wagons - Model Airplanes - Knives and Blades - Tissue - Thinner - Engines (Gas, Diesel, CO2) - Fuel.

Few business ventures can function in so small a space. Prior to the hobby shop, it served as a news stand and in the 1930s it was a taxi stand for the Wolverine Cab Company. More recently the space was part of Carty’s Music until the commercial buildings on the northwest corner of Washington and Pearl Streets were demolished for an entrance to a parking lot in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

As for Mr. Vincent, he seems to have slipped through the cracks of history. After residing in a modest old house at 501 North Hamilton Street, he quietly disappears from the public record in the 1950s, with no evidence in the archives as to when he passed away or where he is buried. At least we know that for a short time he was able to bring joy to the children of Ypsilanti and enjoy his final years.

(Derek Spinei is a student in the graduate program in Historical Preservation at EMU and is serving an internship in the YHS Archives.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: Terence Vincent standing in the doorway of his hobby shop.

Photo 2: Terence Vincent outside his hobby shop demonstrating how to fly a kite to potential customers.

Photo 3: Terence Vincent demonstrating how to assemble one of the kits sold in his hobby shop.
Photo 4: In a former life Vincent was a newspaper man and he continued to write stories about his neighborhood as he sat in his shop waiting for customers.

Photo 5: Children looking at the window display in the front door of Vincent’s hobby shop.

Lost Businesses of Ypsilanti….Packers Outlet

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2011,
Spring 2011
Original Images:

Spring 2011

Author: Peg Porter

The supermarket is a 20th century development. In the past, those who were not able to grow their own food relied on small grocery stores, and specialty shops such as the butchers or the bakers. In more rural areas the larger towns might have a General Store that sold food, clothing, household implements and almost anything else for which there was a demand. In towns and cities, grocery shopping occurred on almost a daily basis. You took your list to the grocer and waited while the order was filled or you called in your order with delivery as an option.

Selection was limited to what the grocer had in stock on that particular day. Since the icebox was used for storing foods that needed refrigeration, “stocking up” was pretty much limited to items the housewife had managed to preserve. As a result, purchasing and preparing food were time-consuming tasks.

By the late 1930s, Ypsilanti had two supermarkets, an A&P and Packers Outlet, both located on Michigan Avenue; the A & P was on the corner of Grove while Packers stood near the intersection with River Street. Supermarkets would have a significant impact on American life. Less time was needed for marketing, more types of foods became readily available affecting the American diet, and the cost of many goods was reduced.
Ypsilanti’s first two supermarkets had very different origins. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company was founded in1859 as a mail order tea and spice business by George Huntington Hartford and George Gilman. The company opened stores along the East Coast to supplement their mail order business. In 1912 John Hartford pushed for the development of an economy store, limited assortment, cash and carry, no frills format. By the early 1930s, A&P had 15,737 stores nationwide including a number in Canada. A&P developed a number of house brands such as Eight O’clock Coffee and Quaker Maid products. Clearly they were the Goliath of the grocery business.

In the meantime, Charles Grosberg, a native of New York who settled in Detroit after his marriage, established a wholesale grocery business. His father-in-law, Joseph Wolf, was a retail grocer. The two businesses merged. A small chain of Wolf Cash Markets was established in and around Detroit, while the wholesale business continued to prosper. The Depression acted as an impetus to create a type of “hybrid” store, a warehouse type food store, self-service, featuring surplus or distressed merchandise from canners, packers and other merchandisers affected by the Depression. Grosberg would soon modify the concept to include national brands, meat and produce at lower prices than the small independent retailers.

Grosberg was an innovator whose marketing strategy would later be adopted by merchants such as Sam Walton. He was ahead of his time in another way: he recycled buildings. He used industrial buildings, automobile showrooms, furniture buildings, and in the case of Ypsilanti, the car barn that once housed the Inter Urban trolleys. He needed at least 5,000 square feet for his operation. Initially planks were laid on sawhorses to hold the cartons of merchandise. Meat and dairy products were sold behind a counter and produce was weighed and packaged by clerks.

My father, Don Porter, was the first manager of the Ypsilanti Packers. Dad had learned the grocery business while working for Lamb’s, a well-established grocer in the heart of downtown. He started out as a delivery boy in his teens and ended up as a junior partner. After he married, it became clear that he needed a position that would bring increased income as well as longer-term potential. An innovator himself, he was a natural to manage this new type of store.

The grocery store shared a parking lot with Miller’s Ice Cream on the corner of Michigan and River. When you entered Packers you faced a row of five or six checkout stands. The meat department was on the left side of the store with produce on the right. There was a loft at the back of the store that served as the manager’s office. The center had aisles of canned and packaged goods.

Eddie Mayfield, the butcher, was a particular favorite of mine. Occasionally, he would come to visit. One time when I was in the front yard he slowed his car as he approached and drove up with two wheels on the margin and two on the street. I found this stunt very funny and asked him to “Drive your car on the sidewalk, Eddie!” Eddie was a bit of a wild and crazy guy but hardworking. Later he would marry one of the checkers.
Dad hired a number of high school and college students to carry out groceries for customers and stock shelves. Some of them went on to become leaders in the community. Vanzetti Hamilton, the late African-American attorney, used to say, “Don Porter gave me a job when no one else would hire me.”

The store held regular promotions. One was for Phillip Morris and featured a visit from Johnny the Bellhop. I had heard Johnny’s “Call for Phillip Morris” on the radio and was excited at the prospect at meeting this “celebrity.” Johnny was a Little Person. I think I knew this but became very shy when I actually went up to meet this man who was about my size.

Charlie Grosberg would come by the store almost every week. Dad got along well with his boss. After a meeting in the store, they would cross the parking lot to Miller’s where Charlie would treat Dad to a dish of ice cream. My father, who was also a skilled carpenter, shared his ideas on shelving and displays with Grosberg. Soon Packers Outlet became Packers Supermarket with Dad acquiring regional responsibilities for layout and shelving of new stores in the growing chain.

The long hours, travel and talk of a pending merger combined with my father’s increasing community involvement brought my Dad’s supermarket career to a close. He went across Michigan Avenue to become a sales manager for Davis Motors. Less than two years later he was named Business Manager for the Ypsilanti Public Schools, a position he held until his retirement. In 1951, Packers merged with another chain to become Wrigley’s Super Markets.

During the 1970s the large, chain supermarkets left Ypsilanti to establish stores outside the city. The city had one small supermarket in the downtown area. The neighborhood “Mom and Pop” stores held on for awhile but eventually most of them closed.

Today, there is a growing demand for food stores in cities. Few of the existing chains have established urban markets. The Ypsilanti Food Coop on River Street reflects this need. Corinne Sirkowski, General Manager, reports that business has more than doubled in the last two. Charlie Grosberg’s innovations (i.e., recycling existing buildings, focusing on meat, produce and groceries, no frills with an emphasis on customer service) seem even more relevant today.

Epilogue: A & P filed for bankruptcy in December 2010.

Sources: 1. A & P’s History (available on the web), and 2. Charles Grosberg: a Supermarket Pioneer, Jewish Historical Society of Michigan, 1985.

(Peg Porter is the Assistant Editor of the Gleanings and regularly contributes articles)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: An early Ypsilanti grocery store. The pulleys on the right held string or twine to wrap customer’s parcels.

Photo 2: Don Porter’s Roosevelt High School graduation picture. He began work as a delivery boy for Lamb’s Grocery while still in his teens.

Photo 3: An order slip written in Porter’s unique handwriting, a cross between printing and script.

Photo 4: The Ypsilanti car barn that was converted to house Packers Outlet.

Photo 5: Johnny, the voice of “Call for Phillip Morris” visited Packers on a promotional tour.

Photo 6: Packers, 27 East Michigan Avenue, exterior around 1940.

Bob and Otto's Amoco (Standard)

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, August 2000,
August 2000
Original Images:

Author: Billie Zolkosky

1465 Washtenaw Ave.
Ypsilanti, Ml 48197 (734) 482-2811, FAX (734) 483-8167

Dear Friends, Customers, and New Comers;

Ypsilanti's oldest full facility, family owned business (retail gasoline and garage) has been sold.

We selected the best applicant available continue to conduct the business you're use to.

There will be some changes naturally, with improvements of course, for better service.

Hopefully the goals set forty years ago have been met. Quality and friendly service to all, help with understanding for your car needs and a place you like to come to also.

We've had the pleasure of servicing three and four generations of the same families, and many one on one.

Dieter (seven years as owner), after twenty one years is now looking forward to a career change and up grading his education

Otto after; two years in the Navy (diesel mechanic), three years as an airplane mechanic, eleven years in a car dealership working as a mechanic, shop foreman and service manager, and forty years at Bob & Otto's-retired seven years ago-now he will retirel

When Bob retired he said, “I'm going to miss the people most.” As the Ottos' close out their careers (Dieter and Harlan), we will miss all, our customers and our new friends and co-workers that have been invaluable over the years.

The new owner will offer jobs to our employees-you will see familiar friends.

Again we thank you for the privilege to be of service to all of you! Sincerely,

Dieter Otto

Harlan Otto

Your car will receive conscientious care and service from the well-trained mechanics at Bob & Otto's Standard Service. Forty-eight years of mechanical experience and 25 years in car dealership have established this firm as an expert in its field. Turn to this station for front-end alignment, wheel balancing and trueing, brake repairing, and other services that will keep your car in top-running condition. The Problem Solvers.

1465 Washtenaw, Ypsilanti

Phone 482-2811 or 483-9072

Robert M. Robinson was born January 1,1920, in Saginaw Michigan. In WWII Bob was in tank corp…Europe liberation of Southern Germany.

Came to U of M under GI Bill. Lack of math skills and attended only 2 years.

Went to work in Nash car dealership in Ann Arbor and then for Lee Havalin on West Cross Street in Ypsilanti where High Scope first started. Was sold to M.D. Obermeyer “Obie” who was later Mayor of Ypsilanti who took on Oldsmobile franchise. Olds/Chevy dealerships were dual units at this time. Olds with new Rocket 88 engines wanted to increase sales so they split them up.

Doran Chevrolet then was Chevys only.

Mr. Doran was a personal friend of Louis Chevrolet.

Allen Chapel Mercury dealership in building where Ypsilanti Press on Michigan Avenue was, was then sold to Mr. Sesi, a personal friend of Henry Ford. Sesi Lincoln Mercury reached a status of “10 top dealers in the USA”.

This was a car town.

Michigan and Water Streets-Schaeffer Chrysler/Plymouth to Chapel Line. then Joe Sesi bought them. Across the street was Joe Thompson Dodge-Plymouth in building with Paul Chapman Sr.-Cadillac/Pontiac. Then across the street was DeSoto-Plymouth next to them was Chevrolet. Believe it was Vincent Chevrolet Co.

After World War II, Cutler Motor Sales, 334 E. Michigan Avenue-Started Kaiser Frazer Sales. Of course he had Fords too.

E. G. Weidman Ford on Pearl Street where parking lot is behind current Bus Station. The Weidman Brothers each had Ford dealerships in Saline, Ypsilanti, and Plymouth, Michigan. Gene Butman obtained dealership in about 1956. Only 2 Ford dealers, Weidman and Butman, in Ypsilanti.

Alex Longnecker Buick was on Michigan Avenue and Prospect.

Harlan H. Otto, born September 10, 1926, in old westside of Ann Arbor, two blocks west of Main Street (dirt road, tar sidewalk on east side and path on west side of street). House had Michigan basement, pot belly stove, cistern and pump and out-house.

Dad put in electricity, plumbing and steam heat. Hard to believe Ann Arbor of today vs 75 plus years ago.

WW II found me at age 17 in the US Navy and all but one of my male cousins ended up in WW II. I served in the Pacific, Philippines and Okinowa.

Coming home at age 19, I had no job skills and no job.

Got a job with Kaiser-Frazer and worked at Willow Run. Worked at Willow Run Airport. Edgar Kaiser ran the place, started with one airplane to finally 5. I was there 3 years-first big recession in 1949 I got first permanent lay-off.

Mr. Kaiser loaned 3 pilots and myself money to buy Cutler Motors K.F. dealership on 9-1-49. Norris Motors-Ron Norris, Bob Lawry, Sam Lamdin and myself. We sold Kaiser-Frazers, Henry J's and Willy Jeeps until December 1953. Kaiser moved to Toledo and less than 2 years was defunct.

Where Bob and Otto meet. Obermeyer Olds was in a poor location, no parking, no used car lot, etc. and Norris Motors combined locations and dealerships (Olds) at 334 E. Michigan. New dealers, Obie, Ron and Sam and Bob came with dealership. I did salvage my Service Manager job.

I asked Bob later if he ever thought of going into business. He said yes. Next question was would you like to go into business with me? He answered yes and said look around for something and let me know. Five years later, finally he decided on Standard Oil (our 3rd choice) paid rent-no chance to buy-versus other two could be bought. 11 years at 334 E. Michigan Avenue.

In 1960 we started Bob and Otto's. Bob was my partner for 21 years and we never had an argument. We thought alike due to our backgrounds.

We understood each other. I was owner until 1993 and my son, Dieter Otto, owned it for seven years until May 2000.

It was a pleasure to serve so many people. Three and four generations of some families and the new customers as well. We met and cherish so many friends….it was difficult to say good bye.

Bob, Otto and Dieter (21 years)

Otto gave me this story of his living in Ypsilanti. He is greatly missed but is doing well in retirement. He comes to town often.

Handy Store: Fine Foods for Fine Folks

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

Edd Dykman worked at Mclellans Store for some time and brags that he found a Million Dollar Baby in a 5 & 10 cents store, as that is where as an Assistant Manager he met and married her, his wife, Laura. He quit there and went to work for Herbert Renton at the famous “Handy Store” on Sheridan Street in Ypsilanti. He enjoyed the store and the customers, so he bought it.

Mrs. Walters worked for Edd, Laura was supposed to, but she became pregnant so Mrs. Walters being a person like the Dykman's worked for them for several years. Ed Bauer joined the store and he worked there until Edd sold it. Laura tells of Edd being asked to go to a Christmas party and to bring his wife. He did and tongues were wagging as where was his wife? Finally after the folks got to the person's house someone asked him Where she was. He explained that Laura was his wife. Everyone thought Mrs. Walters was, this caused many a chuckle.

Edd was a favorite with the children. One day a little fellow came in (must have been after inflation) with a nickel and looked at all the candy bars, finally he came to Edd and laid the nickel on the counter and said it wouldn't buy anything. (Edd didn't say but I would not be surprised if he gave him the candy bar for a nickel). Another incident a little fellow came in to buy something his Mother requested, the store being very busy at the time he piped up and said “take this off my mind before I forget it”. Many neighbors that came in, Hopps, Milton Barnes, Doris Milliman, McCrystals, Kerbysons, LaRues, Moffitts and of course Zolkoskys have very fond memories of the Handy Store.

One of his famous customers that went on to greater things(I guess there are greater things outside of Ypsilanti) Phyliss Diller. She says “thanks to Edd's early tutelage when she knew nothing about cooking. She is now a great cook, it is a pleasure rather than a mystery.”

Phyliss stated on an interview to a newspaper “When she moved to Ypsilanti, Half a block away her salvation was a little old fashioned one man grocery owned by this wonderful man, Edd Dykman. Every morning I sent the ogre off to work and took my cookbook to the store. I didn't know a piece of meat from a glove. In fact, the night I served Braised Gove, Fang liked it better than the Peach Melba she made, dissolving in laughter”. They have many memories such as that

Who had a baby, Who lost their job, Who had company, Who's Son went into the Service, Who was happy or sad.

There was an incident one afternoon, Pat McCrystal came into the store for something and told Edd his Mother had hurt her back and had to go to the Doctor, but she couldn't go because she had no one to take care of the twins, about a year old. There was a lady in the store so she said to Pat, Lets go Pat, go and take care of them while she goes to the Doctors. So you see what a friendly store the Dykman's had.

We have taken a copy of the Dykman's Christmas card that Phyliss sent to them in January of 1998. Her picture also a gift to the Dykman's.

Laura had left for home one afternoon, taking the money out of the drawer, she put in a bag and put it on the counter. Well she forgot to pick it up. She had to drive to their home out on Packard, having to go home on Washtenaw and then drive through the muck and mire from Washtenaw to Packard, No pavement. It was a terrible day, Then a robber came into the store to rob Edd, but did not get the money. He shot Edd and Edd was in the hospital for 2 weeks.

Not long after that Edd sold the store, needless to say it did not last too long, it has been closed for several years. It is now a house.

To know The Dykmans is to love them. They have many stories to tell, interesting ones and Edd chuckles as he remembers some of his experiences. I know the children were favorites of his.

They have three children, Arthur, Cora May, (Corkey) Beth Marie (Buzz.). They can be very proud of their folks as they were an asset to our community. We can be very proud to know that we knew Edd and Laura Dykman.


News from the Museum Gift Shop

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

A sale on all Gift Shop items is now in progress through May 30th. All items are 10% off the ticketed price.

We continue our practice of NO DISCOUNT on Archive materials and books (such as the Atlas, Colburn, etc.)

Come in and take advantage of the sale. Some Easter items are available.

Support your Historical Society and Museum.

Erastus W. Basom: 1909

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

This Narrative refers to the early settlers of Ypsilanti and surrounding country in Washtenaw County, Michigan, since the Year, 1823.

The writer of this part of this narrative wishes it distinctly understood that he does not vouch for the correctness of these statements, having obtained them from statistics and other sources as best he could, dating back to the first white settler in Ypsilanti in the year 1823, while Michigan was yet a territory.

As near as the writer has been able to learn, a man by the name of Benjamin Woodruff was the first purchaser of land from the Government in the year 1823, said to be located very near where Mr. Forrester now resides, known in those days as Woodruff's Grove. It is said he built a house there and moved his family into it July 6th, 1823, expecting he had started the village of Ypsilanti there, but he seemed doomed to disappointment. I will tell you later.

The next buyer was Titus Brunson, who bought at or near the grove in 1823, expecting that would be the real Ypsilanti, which soon proved a mistake, for on the first of June, 1825, the road from Detroit to Chicago was surveyed by a United States Commissioner, assisted by Orring Ridson, a surveyor, living at Saline Village and they established the Road where it now is, leaving Woodruff's Grove out in the cold.

The next settler at the Grove was a man by the name of John Bryant. He and his family arrived at the Grove October 23, 1823, and in 1824 purchased land, erected a house and moved into it December 31, of the same year.

I will state here what was said by Mrs. Bryant, one of the settlers at the Grove in 1823. She said it was amusing to hear the corn mills in operation every morning and described thus: A hole was burned in the top of a sound oak stump after scraping this clean from coal, a stick about six feet long and eight inches in diameter was rounded at one end and suspended by a spring pole directly over the stump. A hole was bored through this pestle for handles and the mill was done. A man would pound a pack of corn in half an hour so that half of it would go through a sieve, so we see that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

Mr. Bryant was a carpenter by trade and it is said he built the County Court House in Ann Arbor in the year 1834. And it is said that a man by the name of Robert Flemming built in this County, the first saw-mill on Section twenty-five, Ann Arbor Township in the summer of 1824. It was located on a small creek running though the County near Ann Arbor, named Flemming Creek.

Harvey H. Snow as the tenth buyer, and the owner of Snow's Landing now called “Rawsonville”. This settler disposed of his interest to Abel Millington in 1825 or 1826 and moved further West.

George W. Noyse was a settler near the Grove in the year 1823, but he moved to Ann Arbor in 1824 and two years later was the principle mover in building the first gristmill in Ann Arbor. But misfortune seemed to overtake him, while he was assisting at the raising of a house owned by Andrew Nowland of Ann Arbor, some of present settlers will remember. This man Noyse got killed by accident.

The first school established in Ypsilanti was organized and taught by Miss Olive Gorton, in a small building which stood where the Occidental Hotel(doubtful) now stands. In the Summer and Fall of 1825 and among her pupils was Lieut. Mortimer Rosencranz whose remains rest in our Highland Cemetery. Miss Gorton after the close of her school that year, married Lyman Graves, and made her home three miles South of Ypsilanti, where she spent her life. They raised quite a family but most of them passed away. There is one son and his family now living in Ypsilanti City, who is a very worthy citizen and has held several very important offices and is considered a good business man. His name is Albert Graves, living on Washington Street, Ypsilanti City.

I will speak of some of the present citizens of Ypsilanti and what they have done for their home town. I will refer first to Mr. Daniel Quirk, Senior, as doing a great thing for the City and the surrounding country when he built that building known as the Vault in Highland Cemetery and donated it to the City, which was certainly a very generous act, and his memory will be cherished by the generation as one of the most respected citizens of Ypsilanti City. He is now in his ninety-second year and President of the First National Bank, which position he has held for several years and his memory is considered very good,

I will speak of one more of Ypsilanti's Business men who has passed away, but he will be remembered by most of the present citizens. He was Doctor Rexford who was business straight through. He has left sons who are very much like him in that respect.

I will now speak of Mrs. John Starkweather and her generous donation to the City; one gift being the Ladies' Library building, another was the Chapel in Highland Cemetery which was built by her and given to the City which is a great thing for the City and the surrounding country. In a great many ways I feel as though the citizens all must feel very grateful and thankful for these donations although she has gone to the vale beyond. There is yet one more to mention. I hear the Water Fountain in front of the Savings Bank was a gift also.

I will speak of another one of the present business men of the city, who is Mr. Robert W. Hemphill, Sr., who is now President of the Savings Bank in Ypsilanti City, which position he has held for sometime. He has been concerned in the Banking Business ever since I knew him which is nearly fifty years and is a straight business man. It is said that in 1825 a man by the name of Rawon operated a sawmill at Snow's Landing, now called Belleville. I learn from statistics that a man by the name of John Stuart, it is said, built the first sawmill in Ypsilanti near where the Woolen Factory now stands in June 1826.

The first Town meeting was held in 1827. Doctor Millington was elected Supervisor, and Benjamin Woodruff, Justice of the Peace. It is to be remembered that Michigan is yet a Territory and was not admitted as a State until 1837.

I learn from statistics also that a man by the name of Godfrey had a Trading Post established with the Indians at or near the Grove as early as the year 1823, carrying on a good trade with the Indians for their furs for it is said they were numerous. I know they were numerous when I first saw Ypsilanti.

In the year 1833 a man by the name of William Harwood who will be remembered by some of the present citizens, owned quite a tract of land on the East side of the river and also a Grist Mill standing near where the present Huron Mill now stands, which it is said was built by Benjamin Woodruff in 1824 and he sold it to Harwood, who was the owner of it in 1833, when I first saw Ypsilanti, and Mr. George McDugal was the Miller who has passed to the other shore. But he left two sons who live near Ypsilanti in the Town of Superior who are known by the present citizens of Ypsilanti. In the year of 1835, Mr. Harwood made a deal with old Mr. John Gilbert disposing of all his interests on the East side of the river, Mill and all. I will tell you more later about this deal and about this Mill property. I will say now that old Mr. John Gilbert built the present Huron Mill on or near the same ground where the old Mill stood, that he bought of Mr. Harwood. This old Mr. Gilbert that I refer to was the father of young John Gilbert, named the same, who died a few years ago and his widow still lives in Ypsilanti City.

I will give a sketch of what I know of Ypsilanti when I first saw it in the year 1833 and who the settlers were at that time, and what condition the Village was in.

I came with my father and his family from the State of New York, Steuben County, arriving at Ypsilanti June 18, 1833. My father brought a pair of horses and a wagon with him and we came from Buffalo to Detroit by boat on Lake Erie and from Detroit we came without the team to Ypsilanti.

We found no bridge across the Huron River at Ypsilanti, but we were ferried over on a flat bottom boat, horses, wagon and all by a man by the name of Stout.

I will name some of the inhabitants of the little Village as I remember them. A man by the name of Charles Stuck who operated an Ashery on the South side of Congress Street where Mr. Demarsh now has a livery barn and he was then the father of Al Stuck who is now a citizen of Ypsilanti, who is well known there by the present citizens. And farther West at the corner of Huron and Congress Streets where the Savings Bank now is, that corner was opened and occupied by the forefathers of the present King family that is there now. It has been handed down so that the King family hold it yet. And farther to the West there was various offices and stores, there were two men by the name of Lane, both Lawyers, and they were brothers and their first names were Marcus and Charles Lane. The had an office on that side of the street. Chancy Joslyn was in their office with them at that time, then a young man reading Law also. And farther West on the South side of Congress Street was two men by the name of Moore and McAllister, keeping a Dry Goods Store and on the corner of that block where the National Bank is now. It was at that time owned and occupied by Elijah Grant who kept a Dry Goods Store also. He was the father of E. Grant, now one of the citizens of Ypsilanti, that block comprised about all on the South side of Congress as for business.

I will go back to the river and tell something about the North Side of Congress Street. The first buildings next to the river was quite a structure and it was there when I came to Ypsilanti, and was said to have been built by Deacon Post, who was Hatter by trade, and he carried on a business there. It was known in those days as the “Nunnery Building”.

We will go West to the West Side of Huron Street and there on the corner where now is the Kishler Store, we found Arden H. Ballard and James Edmunds running a General Store; and a little West of them, Julius Movious and a man named Goddard running a Hardware Store. Still farther West we find a Jewelry Store run by Mr. McGrady and Miss Fanny Nichols, a Milliner, and sister of Mr. H. James Nichols, who will be remembered as the father of the Pittsfield farmer who was found in the Detroit River murdered by Edward Asher, who is now serving time in Jackson Prison for the crime.

Mr. Walter B. Hewitt run a large Boot and Shoe Store near the West end of the block right north of the First National Bank. The corner is still owned by the Hewitt Family. In the year 1851 fire took everything clean from the block in the shape of the buildings excepting two stores and one of them that is on the corner of Washington and Pearl Streets.

The old shop where Mr. Minor worked at Blacksmithing for years and the other was a small house near where the present Post office now stands owned by Mr. Sears Loveridge. The fire took everything clear to the river, the old Nunnery Building with the rest. The Law Fraternity consisted of Elias Skinner, Grove Spencer and Marcus and Charles Lane.

The Doctors when I came here were Dr. Millington, Dr. Morse and Dr. Fairchilds; and Richard Martin was the City Baker. Gilman Davis was the Cabinet Maker and later was the Undertaker of the town. He was the father of Mr. Ira Davis, now a citizen of Ypsilanti City. Ira Weed was the Officiating Clergyman of the Presbyterian faith. The first Saddler was Abram Sage and the first gunsmith was Ormsby. Mr. Joseph Stockdale was the first wagon maker of the little village of the North side of Congress Street, but the fire of 1851 burned his shop, which was a big loss to him. He, like the rest of the first settlers, has passed away, leaving two or three sons living in or near Ypsilanti, who are well known in the City and community. there is no doubt but that Mr. Jonathan Norton was the first dry goods merchant in Ypsilanti, while Michigan was a Territory. Mr. Morton and his wife both died on that farm. I lived neighbor to them and was one of the pall bearers at the funeral of both. He told me himself that he got his goods from Detroit on a flat bottom boat on the Huron River and his place of business was on the corner of Washington and Pearl Streets.

One of the Officiating Lawyers, Mr. Grover Spencer, when I first saw the Village of Ypsilanti, was the father of the present citizen, well known in this community by the name of Richard Spencer, the stock buyer. His father's family when I came here lived just East of the little Village on a farm that is still known to many as the Spencer farm. A man by the name of Jack Wheelock kept a livery stable on Huron Street, South of Congress. The first Sheriff of the County, after Michigan became a State was William Anderson, living just South of the Ann Arbor Road. Mr. Mark Norris was Postmaster at Ypsilanti and Hon, Chancey Joslyn was the first Mayor of the City of Ypsilanti, after it was incorporated as a City in 1857, and in 1863 was elected Probate Judge of the District. He has passed away leaving three sons and two daughters. One of the Sons, Mr. Frank Joslyn, is an Attorney, residing in Ypsilanti City, practicing his profession.

A man by the name of Mr. James Turner run a Stage Coach from Detroit to Ypsilanti and Saline, when I first remember, and a man by the name of Anthony Collins was the Village Drayman, he had a two wheeled dray and a big sorrel horse that was inclined to bite people when they came near his head and he was obliged to keep him muzzled so he could not hurt the citizens.

A colored man and his wife, by the name of Wells, carried on a barber shop on the other side of Congress Street. In the basement of the Ballard Edmunds Shop on the corner where Kishlar's Store now is, there were two Tailor Shops. John Hawkins run a shop on the South Side of Congress Street and the other man run a shop on the North Side of Congress and his name was Mr. Wilkerson, and has long since passed to the other shore. He has a daughter now living in Ypsilanti whose name is Mrs. Janet Campbell. I remember the restaurant kept by a Mr. Towner on the West side of Washington Street and on the South side of Congress Street. He also kept some liquors for sale and was grandfather to Tracy Towner who is now an Attorney in Ypsilanti City and well known as a business man and a lawyer. Mr. Abriel Hawkins kept a Tavern on the corner of Washington and Congress Streets where the Union Block now stands who will be remembered by some of the citizens as the father of Walter and Fred Hawkins. The old gentleman kept the Hotel and he furnished his table with plenty of good vitals to eat and less style, which was quite the reverse of most of the Hotels nowadays, they had more style then vitals. The old Mr. Howland run a Tannery near where his son John Howland runs one now, North of the Woolen Mill. A man by the name of Norton run a distillery near the North part of the little Village.

I will now come back to Congress and tell you a man by the name of Griffin kept what was called a Select School in a part of the building known as the Nunnery owned by Deacon Post, who was the father of Hon. Samuel Post of Detroit. On the South side of Congress Street West of Martin Dawsons Feed Store. I think a family lived and owned the premises by the name of McKinstry and I think it yet occupied by some of the family. The house stands back from the street a short distance. Still farther West where Mr. Curtis' building now stands was a building known as the Red Schoolhouse, where Priest Weed often preached to the settlers of the little Village and all who came from the surrounding country with their Ox Teams to hear him and still farther West along Chicago Avenue on the place now owned and occupied by Mr. Oliver Ainsworth, was then owned and occupied by Mr. Benjamin Woodruff, the founder of the Grove, as I told you. He was disappointed there and he moved his family here, and he and his wife both died here and his homestead passed into the hands of a man by the name of Alfred Hunter, who purchased the Huron Mill from Mr. Gilbert., Mr. Hunter, it is said, failed and the Mill passed into the hands of Nathan Follett who will be remembered by some of the citizens of Ypsilanti and from in time, it was purchased by the present owners. I said I would tell more about the Gilbert-Harwood deal later, Mr. Gilbert traded him a tract of land lying West of the Chicago Road towards Saline and Mr, Harwood moved his family on to it and farmed it and there died and some of his descendants still live there on the same land.

I will now go from King's Corners South and mention some more of the settlers as I remember them going South on then Village. Mr. Peter Miller lived and owned the premises on the West side of Huron Street where his son Henry Miller now lives. Mr. Peter Miller worked at the Mason's trade, but he and his wife have passed to the other shore. Still farther South lived Mr. Van Cleaf on the hill known as the West Monroe Road, we find a man living by the name of Joseph Burt on the West side of the road on the farm known as the Hammond farm at the present time. We come next to the brick house farm at the fork of the road now owned and occupied by George Crane, which was owned and occupied by a man by the name of William Rollo, who was considered quite a singer and he taught singing at school in the Winter and he was a good singer. Taking the West road at the fork by the brick house, just South of the creek, on the hill, a man by the name of Churchill who bought his land from the Government, it is the farm where the house burned a year or two ago that was owned at that time by Samuel Rogers. The next farm on Stoney Creek Road was owned by Mr. Glover, father of Henry Glover, who is now a citizen of the City of Ypsilanti. He is one of the men who has helped to make Ypsilanti what it is now with Money and personal council, he being a good business man. The farm is now owned and occupied by Seeley Davis and the farm next South was then owned by Mr. Glover, a brother of Henry Glover's father and it passed into the hands of Mr. Palmer Elliott, who was the grandfather to the present occupant at the present time. The old gentleman and his wife both died on that farm years ago.

The next farm South when I first remember it was owned and occupied by an old gentleman generally called Captain Macy. His family consisted of a wife, and son and one daughter. The present owners purchased it from Mr. Macy some years ago. The Macy family have all passed away at different dates. And the next farm where Mr. Neat lives now, was then owned by a family by the name of Densmore who owned the land where Mr. Frank White lives and John Seaver. The Desnmore people owned the three eighty acres but no buildings, except the one where Mr. Neat lives. There is but one relative of the Densmore family in this part of the county that I know of and that is Cord Densmore, a grandson to the old man Densmore, who was called Doctor at the time I first remember him. On the West side of the road where Mr. Rodney Noory now lives. It was owned and occupied by a Mr. John Hammond and where Mr. Howlett now lives that place was occupied by a Mr. White and his family, and the Hammond family, John's relatives, owned all the West side of the road as far South as is now known as the Newton Crittendens Land including the Horace Laflin farm where he now lives. It was all owned by the Hammond family when I first remember it 1833. The farm that Newton Crittendens family now owns and occupies was owned and occupied by a Mr. Marton Doty.

The next farm South was occupied by a man by the name of Seth Strong but it was purchased by Mr., James Lowden, Sr. in the Spring of 1835. It is now owned by the heirs of the son, Hon. James L. Lowden Jr., who has passed to the other shore. And the next settler South on the West side of the road on the farm known as the Andrew Luke farm, there was a man living by the name of Mr. Luke, but he died soon after I came. There was no settlers south then till the farm where Mr. Barr now lives. A man and his wife lived there and they owned the farm and his name was Daniel Bird, the next settler South was Mr. James Miller on the South side of Stoney Creek. It is the farm Levi Rogers left to his widow and she sold it to a man by the name of Wright. Mr. Miller was Andrew Miller's father and he claimed when he first moved there in 1831 that one day he saw a big bear come and take a good sized shoat of his out of the yard and he did not care to hinder him as he had no gun. Mr. Daniel W. Russell and wife was here when I came and they lived on the little place joining Mr. Barr's land on the South, the same ground that is now called the Presbyterian Parsonage. Mrs. Russell was a sister to James Miller and the little place on the rise of ground South of the Rogers farm where Mrs. Albright now lives, it was then owned and occupied by old Mrs. Miller who was the mother of James Miller and Mrs. Russell, another daughter lived with the old lady at the time I remember them but they have all passed over to the other shore.

The next settler was on the first farm South of the School House now, but then there was no School House, that settlers name was Mike Warner, a young married man. He staid a year or two and then sold and moved to Monroe and the next settler was a man by the name of Howard. I think he was a bachelor, but he sold out in a year or two. The buyer will be remembered by the settlers, he was Jacob Dancingburg. He and his wife passed away. There is some of their descendants left, Mrs. Thomas Talliday is a doughier, also Mrs. Henry Stumphenhusan of Augusta, and Mrs. Frank Fletcher of Ypsilanti City.

The next settler, at that time was Hiram Thompson, St., on the old farm where his son Hiram lives now. There is also one daughter living in Ypsilanti City who is Mrs. Anson Williams, the old people and one daughter have passed away. The daughter, Mrs. William Martin, whose husband was a son of Byard Martin and a brother of Jacob Martin now living in the City Of Ypsilanti.

More early settlers of Augusta that I first remember was Jr, John Minzey who lived with his family on the farm now owned by Hiram Brown. Mr. Minzey sold it to John B. Stark. Mr. Stark sold it to the present owner, and he and most of the family have passed away. I think there is one son and one daughter still living of the Stark family.

Mr. Minzey then settled on the farm where his two daughters now live, right south of Charles Rogers in Augusta Township, Mr. Minzey was the father of Redner Minzey who was well known by many of the present settlers who with his father and others have passed to the vale beyond. Mr. Robert Reynolds who has long since passed away, was the father of John Reynolds now living in Augusta Township. I mention a man known as Captain Hardy that settled on the Southeast quarter of section 34 and he run a saw mill located at the junction of Paint Creek and Stoney Creek in the year 1831, and he was the father of W.K. Childs of Ann Arbor City at the present time, who is a veteran of the Civil War. The first town meeting was held at the house of Aaron Childs in the year 1836, Steven Mead was elected Supervisor; Aaron Childs, Township Clerk; David Hardy, Justice of the Peace: Hiram H. Warner, Treasurer.

In regard to Section 16 of the Town of Augusta, that in 1840 it was a perfect swamp, but it had the best white wood timber on it of any section of land in the county but it was quite a chore to get it out, it was nothing strange to upset a load from one to three times in getting it to hard land.

Some of the settlers that came in the Fall of 1833 and settled on the West side of the Township now known as Augusta, but was at that time called Ypsilanti including the Town of York and Pittsfield they were all called Ypsilanti Township. Mr. Andrew Rogers came with his family and settled east of the Redner School House on the farm now owned by the only living son of Andrew Rogers. His family consisted of eight grown children. He died about forty years ago, there were five sons and three daughters, the oldest daughter died in the year 1872, and was the wife of the writer of the narrative. The Mother and the other five children have passed to the other shore, leaving the two youngest children of the family here, who is Charles, on the homestead and the daughter who is Mrs. Josephine Kenyon, a widow. There was other families who came here at the same time that Mr. Rogers did and settled near him. Mr. Peter Dancingburg who was the father of William Dancingburg, who will be remembered by most of the present citizens and his mother who was familiarly known as Aunt Betsy, she was not easily frightened, but one afternoon near night, as she was going home from the West from some neighbors, carrying a piece of fresh meat for her supper, the wolves were quite thick here and some of them were very near Aunt Betsy and on this occasion wanted a taste of the meat and she being a very good woman and tender hearted gave it to them and then skipped for home as fast as she could, but she had to walk on some logs at the time to keep out of the water.

I now mention coming at or about the same Fall was Mr. Aaron Alber, who bought the land from the Government right East of the road where Mr. Freeman owns and lives now. Mr. Alber lived there a number of years, then sold it to Mr. Holland Williams, father of Jerome Williams who is now living just East of the old home, Section 16, in the Township of Augusta. Mr. Alber then bought a short distance West of the City of Ypsilanti, the farm that is now owned and occupied by Mr. Dell Wayne and there Mr. Alber died, nearly forty years ago and his wife died there also a few years later. The family consisted of two sons and one daughter who was the wife of Lawson Rogers, the oldest brother of Charles Rogers, referred to before in this sketch. The two sons are yet living, one at Lansing, Michigan and the other at St. Paul, Minnesota, I think. Mr. Coon Redner coming in the Fall of 1833 purchasing the farm from the Government that Norman Redner had recently sold to Joseph Rockwood, it being the homestead of Redners, located near the Stoney Creek Creamery. Mr. Coon Redner's family consisted of four sons and four daughters, who have all passed to the other shore but the two youngest daughters, and one of them is Mrs. Harriett Platt and the other is Mrs. Matilda Hinkley, wife of Franklin Hinkley, who I will refer to later, I now refer to another family that moved into Augusta Township soon after I came here. Mr. Robert Campbell owns and lives there at the present time. A man by the name of Wiley sold it to Mr. Campbell when the county was nearly a forest. Mr. Campbell's family consisted of two daughters and six sons. The father, mother and two daughters and one son has passed away and the remaining sons are William, Honorable Andrew, Gabriel, Robert and Honorable John K. Campbell, who are all well and favorably known in this County of Washtenaw. All farmers except Gabriel who is a Professor in an Eastern College.

I will now pass back to the little village and on my way back, I will say something in regard to the land I have said was owned by the Hammond Family where Mr. Rodney Moory now lives that was sold to Mr. Henry Redner, who was the oldest son of Coon Redner. Henry Redner sold it to Mr. Benham who was the father of Horatio Benham and Mrs. Rodney Moory, who now owns and lives on the land owned by John Hammond. Mr. Hammond died in Ann Arbor a few years ago, he has one daughter living in Ann Arbor, who is the wife of Mr. Martin, a son of Mr. James Martin that moved in to this county in 1825. More about him later.

Just East of the present bridge across the river on the South side of Congress Street, a Mr. Emerick run a grocery store who was the father of Benjamin Emerick who will be remembered by many of the present citizens who has passed to the vale beyond. Benjamin left two sons, Fred who now owns his father's homestead and Frank, the other son is Circuit Judge, living at Alpena, Michigan. I refer to Erastus Samson, who was then a young lad about twelve years old, who was a clerk in the store on Arden H. Ballard and Edmunds. He will be remembered as one of the most thorough Business men.

The next settler South of the Roberts farm that was here in 1833. It was then owned and occupied by a man by the name of Mr. Snow. It has now a brick house on it, built by Mr. Sherman Hinkley who passed away a few years ago. That farm is now owned by one of his daughters living in California. Mr. Hinkley also owned the next farm, South, known to many as the old homestead of Sherman Hinkley where he settled in 1831. The property is owned now by another daughter now living in Detroit City, who is a widow. The other heirs of the estate was a son, an attorney living in Ypsilanti, Franklin Hinkley, who I have referred to before; and Mrs. Ann Cook, the widow of Hon. Peter Cook, who was a farmer in York Township. The next settler South of the Hinkley homestead was Mr John Shipman. The farm is now owned and occupied by Mr. Henry Schreen and farther South on the four corners of the West side of the road we find a family by the name of George Collins, a family of nine children and a wife. Two sons and three daughters have passed away, and the rest all living in Washtenaw County. The oldest daughter now living in Mary C. Whiting, widow of Ralph E. Whiting. She is a graduate of the Law Department of the University of Michigan and a member of the Washtenaw County Bar and practicing her profession at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mr. George Collins died about sixty years ago. A son William Collins, a farmer living a short distant east of Ypsilanti City on the Motor Line towards Detroit. A daughter name Abi, is the mother of Hiram and William Fisk. These two sons are living at Ypsilanti at the present time, a daughter, Mrs. Sophronia Wilbur, wife of a farmer living in the Township of Superior.

The next farm West of the four corners on the town line road and the owner and occupant, was a man by the name of David J. Gilbert and he sold to Porter Hinkley several years later. Mr. Hinkley was not in Michigan for sometime after my father came here. He built the brick house where the oldest son and his mother now live. She is said to be quite smart for a person of ninety-three years of age. Mr. Hinkley bought the Collins farm from the Collins heirs.

The next settler South of the Collins farm was my father who moved onto the eighty acres that he bought from a man by the name of Willard Hall. At the time we moved on to it near the last of June 1833, there was a log house on the Hall land and three or four acres had been ploughed. My father also bought the eighty acre lots of Mr. John Gilbert of Ypsilanti, the same man that made the deal with Mr. Harwood and got the Huron Mill in Ypsilanti of Mr. Harwood. My father lived and died there in April 1873, and the children of his family were nine, but six passed away, and the other three yet live in Washtenaw County.

Mr. Samuel Begole owned eighty acres of land on Section two, joining my father's. He was here when we came, then a young man but he married and lived on his farm until he retired from labor, moving to Ypsilanti in his old age and there died. He left one son and two daughters still living in the County. The son is Milton Begole, a farmer, living in Pittsfield Township; one of the daughters lives in Ann Arbor City, the widow of Mr. Homer Cady, who has recently passed away; and the other daughter lives in Ypsilanti City, the wife of Chris Enders.

This country was level and sightly for a new country and it was not a strange thing to see the wild deer feeding with the settlers cattle on the prairie and quite often the bear could be seen loping over the plains and plenty of wild turkeys and wolves also, the first two or three years after we came. Some of the settlers who were here at that time were, a family known by the name of Welch living on the farm where William Miller now lives. It consisted of the old people, two sons and three daughters. The sons married and raised families. Some of them are in Chicago and some in Wyandotte, and a son of Horace Welch, Wallace, lives in Ann Arbor city, who is a veteran of the Civil War and a man well thought of by his neighbors. The old gentlemen's other son, Owen, had but one son and he was killed in the Civil War, over forty years ago. Now the old stock has all passed away, the last one departed this life one year ago last winter, she was the youngest daughter.

Some settlers of the Town of York: It was then called Ypsilanti Township for it must be remembered Michigan was yet a Territory. On Section twelve there lived a man by the name of Hiram Fisk who bought his land from the Government. He was not a married man at that time. His sister and her daughter kept house for him. He was quite a hunter and a good marksman, killing all kinds of game which was very plentiful then. He will be remembered by many of the present citizens. I refer to the farm that Mr. Charles Thompson owns and occupies now. Mr. Fisk married after a time a lady by the name of Comstock and raised some children. I remember the oldest, a son, who married a girl I knew from childhood, a daughter of our nearest neighbor. They lived quite a number of years together. They raised two sons that are citizens of Ypsilanti City and their mother lives there also. Her husband Charles Fisk, met his death by falling from a building, the circumstance will be remembered by many of the present citizens. Mr. Hiram Fisk had two daughters, one was married but both passed to the vale beyond, the first of any of the Fisk family. The old people have gone also. Mr. Fisk had the misfortune when trimming a tree in his own dooryard he fell to his death in the summer of 1872, and the old lady passed away since that date.

I will now speak of Mr. Cary Stark who lived and owned the farm now owned and occupied by Mr. Avery in York Township. He had a large family of children but most of them, as well as the old people have passed away. I know one daughter who is now living in the Town of York, who is the widow of Henry Coe, who I will speak of later. One of the settlers at that time 1833, on the farm now owned an occupied by Mr. William Kelsey, known as the Aaron R. Wheeler farm, it was owned and then occupied by a man and his family by the name of Alanson Snow. Mr. A.R. Wheeler came in the Spring of 1834 and bought out Mr. Snow; and Mr. Wheeler lived and the old people died there. The only son of A.R. Wheeler, Charles, has left a son and daughter, who is the wife of Mr. William Kelsey, who is the present owner of the Snow farm; and his wife's mother, Mrs. Charles Wheeler lives with him. I will now tell you about Mr. Snow, the first settler in the Township of York and known as the Indian hater so called on account of his inveterate hatred of the Indians. When a lad the members of his father's family were massacred in Ohio right before his eyes and from that hour he vowed eternal vengeance of the redskins, a vow that he kept with unrelenting hatred. He roamed the woods from morning until night with his trusty rifle in hand, and as settlers came he moved still farther into the forest, the better to satisfy his love for hunting and his desire to keep that terrible vow he made in childhood.

Mr. Arthur Coe, a brother-in-law of Mr. Coon Redner, who came in the Fall of 1833, did not come until 1835 and he bought land on Section Two., York Township of the two settlers that were here when we came in 1833 and their names were Allbrow, a father and son. After his first purchase, Mr. Coe bought more land, so at the time of his death he owned nearly six hundred acres of good farming land. His family consisted of four sons and four daughters and himself and his wife. The children were all married, two sons and one daughter with their father and mother has passed away at different dates.

The first Township meeting held in the Town of York at the house of Noah Wolcotts at a small place called Mooreville, so named because a number of families of that name had settled there at this Township. Hon. William Moore was elected Supervisor, and Othniel Gooding, Township Clerk; Dr. Bowers was practicing physician, living at Mooreville. He also kept a dry goods store. I will relate a little incident that I heard Mr. Woolcott tell in his Hotel at Mooreville about the year 1839 or 40. There was a certain man in the Township of York about that time who had married a wife living in one of the neighboring towns and he was anxious to bring her home with a good horse team in good style, and in those days such teams were scarce and not easily got, although Mr. Woolcott was fortunate enough to own one and the bridegroom being well acquainted with him ventured to ask him for his team for that occasion. His wife happened to be a good size woman weighing nearly 300 pounds. Mr. Woolcott says “Yes Sir, you can have my team on condition that you do as I tell you. I say you must not bring her all at one load”. I was well acquainted with the wedded pair but decline to mention names but suffice to say the team was not used on that occasion. This Noah Woolcott has some descendants now living in the little Village of Milan, Michigan.

A few words about my father who was Frederick Bason, familiarly called by neighbors and settlers as “Uncle Fred”. He came first to Michigan, viewing the year before we moved here and then he bought four eighty acre lots from the Government Land Office then located at Detroit. When he moved his family here the next year, he bought 240 acres more of the parties I have mentioned before, joining some of the land he bought of the Government and in the year 1835 he bought another eighty acres of one of our neighbors by the name of Taylor Stuart. That made him the owner of six hundred and forty acres, all joining, excepting one eighty acres of timber land, lying on what is known as the Ridge Road, and is the land now owned by Mr. Othniel Gooding, southwest of the Stoney Creek Creamery on the Ridge Road towards Mooreville, My father sold that eighty acres of land to Mr. Elnathan Gooding who was the father of the present owner in 1839 or 40, as I remember it now, and my father gave that eighty acres that he bought of Mr. Stuart to my oldest brother Samuel, who has since passed away at about the age of eighty. The farm referred to is now occupied and owned by Mr, Lewis Laflin on Section one in the Township of York, where he and his family now live. My father drew a small pension up to the time of his death, having been a soldier in the War of 1812. I well remember hearing his say with reference to one of the engagements he was in that he thought some of them shot rather carelessly, for one of their bullets slivered his tomahawk handle in his belt by his side. When I first remember him, I was six or seven years old, in the Town of Poultney, Steuben County. Which office he resigned when he moved to Michigan in 1833. I will say here that from the time of my first recollection it was the law that all able bodied male citizens of the United States between the age of eighteen and forty-five were required to do Military duty five days in every year, known as Company training days, which was still the law when I reached my eighteenth year and in the year 1842 I Joined the rifle company of the Township of York, and in the Spring of 1844 I was elected First Lieutenant of the Company and my Commission was sent to me by John S. Barry who was then Governor of the State of Michigan but about or near the year 1848 this law was repealed. I had a brother William who was over two years older than I but we resembled each other so closely that some of the people thought we were twins. We could wear each others clothes and fitted well on the other. At the proper age we both married at different dates and in time his family consisted of four daughters and one boy but when he was ten days old the mother died in the 1859, which was a terrible stroke to my brother. At that time the oldest girl was about twelve years old and the youngest daughter was about eighteen months when their mother passed away.

He kept the children together and lived to see them all settled in life, but he himself became nearly helpless with rheumatism and other ailments before he passed away in the year 1900 at the age of seventy-nine years. He lived around among his children as he wished and died at the home of the second daughter, Mrs. Frank Johnson, and is laid to rest in the Stoney Creek Cemetery by the side of his wife.

Now a few words regarding myself. I was about twenty-two years old, the daughter of Andrew Rogers became my wife and we lived happily together for twenty-five years, then death took her from my embrace which left me alone as we had no children. In time, I married again, a second cousin to my first wife, by the name of Rogers also, and we lived happily together for thirty years, then she too passed away three years ago last May which leaves me alone again. Through the kindness of my niece the youngest daughter of my brother William, I am offered a home at her house, she being the wife of Thomas Rowe, the laundryman, on Detroit Street in the City of Ann Arbor. I try to help some in the laundry what I can but it is not generally expected that a young lad like me (only eighty-five years of age) can do much anyway, yet I have to bear the accusation of being the smartest acting man and a man of the best memory of any one of my age, that is known in this community. I will say that I am usually healthy, and no organic disease of any kind lurking about me that I know of unless it is a streak of laziness and I am willing to take the opinion of those that know me best and call their decision final.

Erastus W. Basom

The Author and writer of this narrative in the year 1909.

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

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

Author: Charles Rich Pattison

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

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

This is the final section in the series.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Advantages of Locality, Climate, Residences, Etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Our Fire Company

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


Ypsilanti Light Guard

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


Hewitt Hall.

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

Follett Hall.

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

Batchelder's Hall.

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

Samson's Hall

A neat place for social and festive gatherings.

The Post Office

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

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

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

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

City Government.

Mayor—Watson Snyder

City Clerk—Charles M. Woodruff

Treasurer—Cornelius N. Ganson

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


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


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

Our Census Statistics

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

Surrounding country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Produce Exportations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Livery Stables.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembrance of Things Past

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, December 1978,
December 1978
Original Images:

Author: Foster L. Fletcher

I have been accused of remembering incidents, events and scenes before I was born in 1897.

I do remember an uncle, William Scotney, bringing souvenirs in 1901 from the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. It was September 6th of that year that President McKinley was shot-shot by a harmless-looking little man with an arm in a sling and a bandaged hand as though injured. The few Security Guards in those days-you may remember, President Lincoln had only one guard the night he was shot-and McKinley's guards gave their attention to a men who looked suspicious and a trouble maker. So they passed the little man with his arm in a sling with hardly a glance. Leon Czolgosz, the unsuspected assasin, had no trouble coming face to face with the President. As the President put out his hand, the assasin moved his bandaged hand forward and shot the President in the stomach, or as Dr. Ray Yoder liked to say, in the level of the umbilicus.

After that World shaking event, we spent hours, not tracking down the assasin, but searching through the Sears-Roebuck Catalogue to find the picture of a pistol small enough to fit in the palm of a man's hand. The pistol was there alright and many others.

In the winter of 1910, two robbers broke into Brabb Jewelry Store at 110 W. Congress which is the location of the Moray Jewelers today. The two robbers, on foot of course, wuth their loot went over to the Depot to catch an early train to Detroit. In those days, there were fourteen passenger trains that stopped in Ypsilanti. The Station Master in the Depot was Henry C. Minor, telegrapher, dispatcher, ticket seller, a very able and industrious man. Minor knew there was something wrong with this pair and had them stand in a corner while he made a phone call to the Police. Milo Gage was the Marshall and naver had more than two men to help him. As Minor went to the phone he turned his back to the robbers and they immediately shot him and ran from the station. Minor, although fatality wounded managed to get over to East Cross Street, brace himself against a telephone and shot at the fleeing robbers. He hit one, wounded him severly, but they managed to get away and Minor simply slumped to the ground and bled to death. Later, the robbers were caught in Detroit largely because the wounded one had to have surgical attention.

In the station on that early morning was Thomas O'Brian, a thirteen year old boy there to pick up his morning papers as they were thrown off the Blind Baggage. But with the shooting, Tom got down under the passenger benches never having been in such a situation. He recounted the episode many times during the rest of his life.

Charles Edward King, Sr. was born September 12 1823 in London, England. The son of George R. and Maria Howell King and came with his parents to Ypsilanti in 1837 where his father opened a Grocery Store on E. Congress as it was called. In 1842, George R. King built the three story brick building at the SW corner of Congress Street and S. Huron. He established his grocery there which continued as an unusual grocery for the next one hundred years under the ownership of the King's son, the grandson, plus the addition of John Lamb, and succeeded by his son, Charles King Lamb.

Let us go on up Congress Street. Next door was the Smith Brothers Drug Store and then the Joseph King Shoe Store-no relation to Charles King-and every summer that shoe store, with every shoe sale, gave a shoebox of fire-works. Even though I was a barefoot boy with cheek all summer except on Sundays, in a family of four boys, somebody always needed a pair of shoes.
Further west was the Witmire Saloon and then the Clark Bakery, 107-109 W. Congress Street. James Clark was born December 23 1869 on Prince Edward Island-came to Ypsilanti about 1900 as a Baker.

In 1911, his wife stricken with a terminal illness, required constant nursing care. The nurse planned on be coming the second Mrs. Clark when the demise occured in 1912 but Clark had other ideas which did not include the nurse.

Soon wives and husbands of prominent people began receiving anonymous letters saying: “Did you know your husband, or wife, was in Recreation Park last night with so and so…?' Only the letters were much more lurid, in detail.

Soon an Ex-Mayor, a high ranking Educator, a well known Industralist and other prominent men left town…It was always men, never any of the women involved. Use of the mails was a Federal Offense, and some way or other, the Nurse was accused of writing those letters. One of the strangest bonbs that ever fell on Ypsilanti.

One successful shoe merchant named in the case, later said it all helped his business…women came to buy shoes and many women came just to look at him…The case was heard in Federal Court in Detroit and the morning interurban had defendants sitting on one side of the car and the outraged spouses on the other. It was front page news with pictures for the Detroit papers. Barely mentioned in the local paper. Handwriting experts could not agree and there never was a conviction.

But let us continue on Congress Street. The First National Bank was where the Willoughby Shoe store is at 121 Congress, with Asa Dow the first President. Asa Dow was the man who built the brick mansion where the Ypsilanti Historical Museum is located at 220 N. Huron Street. In 1905 the Bank moved to 133 Congress, the corner of S. Washington and Congress. It was a large three story brick building occupied in the 1890s by Harris Brothers & Co. Grocers with meats and baked goods-also manufacturers of Grape Leaf Baking Powder.

George Harris moved to Detroit in 1899 and D.L.Davis moved into the building with a Grocery and Crockery Store. When the First National Bank bought the building in 1905, Don Louis Davis moved to 200 W. Michigan on the corner with Herb Hopkins as partner.

I do not remember the entrance to any of the places I have mentioned, except one, and it had fascinating swinging doors. I thought it the entrance to the Bank…It was several years later I learned it was the Witmire Saloon. As you crossed Washington Street, there on the corner is the big three story brick building built in the 1840s by the Larzeleres and housing the Ament Saloon.
Later the Saloon was owned by the Max Brothers. Matt Max and brother Fred were tending bar at the time Jack Johnson, heavyweight Champion 1908–1915, with his automobile caval-cade stopped at the Bar for a drink on their way to Detroit. The road from Detroit to the East edge of Washtenaw County was paved in 1911 and one of the longest paved roads in the Middle We.

Before 1915, there were several shortorder restaurants and five full scale restaurants. The Hawkins House had begun to decline. There were Boarding Houses such as Patrick Doyles in the middle of the block on South Adams Street, and Oscar Westfall's-unrelated to Jim-on North Huron Street where the Masonic Temple was built in 1909. There were several Boarding Houses nearer the Normal College which had an enrollment of less than 1000 students and no dorms. I have heard from unreliable sources that most of the saloons had free lunches.

There were at least seven Drug Stores. The Frank Smith Drug Store was where the Greene Jewelry is located-or for those of you who may remember, it was next door to Davis & Kishlar Dry Goods.

Frank Smith was an enterprising young man. A graduate of Dartmouth College in 1857 and persuaded to come to Ypsilanti by Dr. F. K. Rexford. The Smiths lived at 7 N. Normal which later became the home of the P.R. Clearys.

On North Huron Street it was Rogers, Weinman & Mathews Drugs & Soda Fountain. Duane Spalsbury Drugs was at 112 Congress and Erastus Samson had a store as early at 1842 in a wooden frame building at 118 where he sold Drugs, Whiskey and Gin. That store was burned out in the great fire of 1851 but rebuilt with brick that same year. Samson was in business in that building until well into the 1890s and then sold to C.W. Rogers who operated a Drug-bookstore at 118 Congress and it became the second location for Rogers, Weinman & Mathews in 1901.

From a clever combination of those three names came the ‘Rowima' store on West Cross Street. A favorite spot for Normal Students.

The R.N. Kilians lived on North River Street and had an early Drug Store at 37 East Cross Street for many years. The Weber Drug Store in that location has been owned and operated by Don Wallaker since 1958.

And now if you are still awake and not as H. Allen Smith liked to say: ‘Lost in the Horse Latitudes', I would like to have you bring the Union Block into focus in your minds. It is the big three story brick structure on the NW corner of Michigan Ave. and N. Washington Street.
Joseph Sanders was the promoter of this tremendous brick structure. It extends for seven store fronts from 200 W. Michigan through 212. Anne And Gordon Wallace are to be commended for what they are doing in the building at 210 W. Michigan.

Joseph T. Sanders came to Ypsilanti in 1857 from New York State. He worked in a Grocery Store for several years and then in 1868 he jcined Clark S.Wortley in buying out S. Hesslein, Clothier.

Their store was on the North side of Congress, and perhaps that business was in the building at 110 Congress which was owned by C.S. Wortley and his heirs for many years. It was in 1873 that Sanders withdrew from the partnership. He became interested in real estate. C.S. Wortley moved the business to 124 W. Michigan.

In 1879 Sanders with others planned and executed the building of the Union Block, the largest structure ever built in downtown Ypsilanti. Three stories high and divided into seven store fronts with Sanders keeping the first two at the Washington Street corner.

He had a men's clothing store there for a decade and then set some kind of record on February 22 1890 by dropping dead in front of his store. In 1888, he built what was known as the pride of south Huron Street at 114 Huron. He did not live long to enjoy this fine home but it was Mrs. Sanders' home until her death in 1933.

When the Union Block was built in 1879, the Greek Revival frame structure known as the Hawkins Tavern was located on that corner and a very fine Tavern it was. Rooms for travelers and stables for the horses. That old handsome building was moved west and in back of the new brick Hawkins House Hotel which was west of the Union Block. The Greek Revival frame building was used as a storehouse and also to stable horses belonging to guests at the new Hawkins House. Sumptuous meals were served in thst hotel's elegant dining room. It was the one bright spot on the rough road from Detroit to Chicago. The old ninety nine year old Hawkins House is being remodelled into apartments by Andy Smith and Walter Patchak.

As you may remember, the survey for the Detroit to Chicago Road was begun by the United States Government in 1825 and intended as a military road. The road itself was built largely by each Township and County. No cannon or cavalry ever passed on that road. However, the Glideon Tour of Automobiles in 1909 from Detroit to Denver, came through Ypsilanti, turned on Ballard Street and over to Cross Street and then west instead of following the old Sauk Trail through the Irish Hills.

The last time a horse drawn vehicle came from Detroit to Ypsilanti on that road, was during our Centennial Celebration in 1923. It was a stagecoach with horses driven by Joe Warner Passengers were Mary Fowler Nissly, Mary Hover, City Nurse and Mrs. R. Clyde Ford.

West beyond the Hawkins House, in 1880 Daniel Lace Quirk headed a group that included F. P. Bogardus and Henry Curtis, they built the beautiful Opera House where many famous people performed. The old poet, James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916) of ‘The Frost is On the Pumpkin' fame read his poetry. James O'Neal (1847–1920), father of Eugene O'Neal, performed on that stage. The accoustics were perfect.

The front part of the building with the domed tower was destroyed by the cyclone in 1893. The tower was not replaced but the building and theatre was restored.

Stephen Dodge, with a jewelry store in 110 Congress was always interested in plays and theatre and promoted and directed many plays prior to 1914 with local people in the casts. Then the pig plays from New York which used to stop at the Opera House in Ypsilanti began going to the Whitney Theatre in Ann Arbor and our Opera House became a place for vaudeville and then moving pictures…with the famous screen vamp-Theda Bara-some of the old timers insisted Theda Bara was born in Ypsilanti, the daughter of a shoe cobbler-but Theda Bara was claimed by many small towns.

Emery Beal's Drug Store was at 224 Congress Street in the front part of the building that housed the beautiful Opera House which lost out to a parking lot. Emery Beal came to Ypsilanti in 1893 after graduating from the University of Michigan. He was succeeded in 1918 by Bruce Haig who moved the business to the corner of Washington Street in the Union Block.

I think two hardware stores had big freight elevators-Lefurge on North Huron Street and Carpenter on Congress-Lefurge was killed when he fell in his elevator shaft-and as the Insurance Companies might ask: “Did he slip or was he pushed?” Perhaps some of you who may have lately been in the Adult Book Store can tell me whether the big old creaking elevator is still there from the days of Wallace & Clarke Furniture and Undertaker and then Clarke & Augustus Furniture.

On North Huron Street in the first block, the Bert Readers opened the Vaudette Theatre with movies. Their son Russell was in school with this relict. He knew how to operate the projector while his parents went down near the screen and Mrs. Reader played the piano while Bert sang about “The Morning Glories twine around the same old door' as still color pictures were shown on the screen. Son Russell used to let us in in the afternoon after school to see the show. You sat in straight wooden kitchen chairs in a room like an empty store. A ticket cost 5¢ which none of us had. I was never in the movie across the street from the Vaudette and can't recapture the name. The Bijou was on old Congress Street and near the First National Bank. Al Rennie was an early manager of the Opera House and put in a big movie screen and also vaudeville. As late as 1920, movies are listed for the Martha Washington Theatre and in a place with movies and vaudeville-the Wuerth Theatre.

In those old days nearly every house had a barn for a horse and a manure pile from the horse…Several of the old brick barns survive. Back of 160 N. Washington and also one back of Mackraft Shop next door. An interesting one back of 120 N. Adams Street that was probably built by Joseph Kitchen, an early well to do merchant. At 106 S. Huron there is a brick barn on each side of the alley. When Ward Swarts was here, he used to visit about the unusual number of brick barns in Ypsilanti and thought they ought to be catalogued. In the 1890s, Ypsilanti had 15 groceries-13 on Congress Street between Huron and Adams, 11 saloons, 5 cigar makers, 4 blacksmith shops and 4 milliners. Today there are no cigar makers, cigar makers, blacksmiths or milliners. No meat markets or grocery stores in the downtown except perhaps the Bazley market in the old Dunlap Grocery location.

The tremendous Brooks Market, established not too far by Daniel Brooks in 1937. Expanded and successful, it has been carried on by Dan's two sons, Wilfred and Thomas. Thomas Brooks was brutely murdered on the morning of April 27th as the store opened for business. Wilfred Brooks continues going on with the business.

The last blacksmith in Ypsilanti did not have a shop. He was in the Golde Patent factory on South River Street and his name was Max Heesch. Milliners disappeared about 1930 along with the demise of the Electric Interurban and the Cigar Store Indian.

Wood was the source of heat in those old days. In 1888 there were 2 coal and wood dealers listed and 5 just out and out wood dealers-everybody had a woodshed and outhouse. The old baseburner coal stove came in the 1890s and there was one in nearly every living room. In 1901 there were at least 7 coal dealers and no wood dealers. Perhaps you can tell me where I can order a ton of coal today… A $50 cord of wood, yes, but I don't remember how many sticks in a cord.

O.E.Thompson & Sons sold lots of coal as one of their many business enterprises. The story is told, and I am certain it must have been a competitor who told it-that one day when the Thompsons were scolding one of their drivers for his mistakes. They said: ‘John, you are so dumb and stupid. why you haven't learned one thing since you came to work here six years ago.' John was used to scoldings and said: ‘Oh, yes I have. I've learned there is 1400 1bs in a ton of coal.'

And now what type business survives? Not the Groceries, the marvelous Meat Markets which were almost as numerous as Groceries. Nor the Drug Stores, or the Shoe Stores…It is the Saloon in spite of 14 years of Prohibition.

As you can see, I have been fumbling with those forgotten days and forgotten names in the years from the end of the Century and the beginning of the 20th. The Spanish American War in 1898 had little effect on life in general. It generated great Patriotiam and songs such as: ‘When Uncle Sam Finds Out About the Maine, Ther'll Be War Between Us And Spain.’ The horse, the bicycle and the interurban and the railroad took care of transportation-and everybody walked. The Church and the School were the centers of social life. But in September 1914, as we returned to high school, there was talk in the halls of something that had happened in far off Europe and War was beginning, all so far away. World War I began slowly with subtle changes; Woman's Sufferage, Durant had formed General Motors, the Ford Motel T was everywhere, Dodge Brothers began manufacturing of their auto-mobile, a Mexican bandit was a serious menace…then as the War ended, the great change was in evidence: Women openly smoking, Bobbed Hair and invading Barber Shops and Saloons. The popular song stated the problem clearly; “How You Gonna Keep Them Down On The Farm. After They've Seen Paree?”.

Thanks to LaRea and Ward Swarts

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, November 1977,
November 1977
Original Images:

On November first, LaRea and Ward Swarts moved to Reston, Virginia.

A great loss to Ypsilanti and especially to the Ypsilanti Historical Society and the Museum where LaRea has been the Director for four years.

LaRea Foote Swarts was born in Auburn, Indiana. After graduating from Auburn High School she went to the University of Indiana at Bloomington.

On September 2 1928 LaRea who was also born in Auburn. Ward began a Pre-Med. course at DePauw University but hated it. Desecting a frog was not to his liking at all. The young married couple moved to Ann Arbor where LaRea worked in Foster's Art Shop and joined the cultural life, going to concerts and hearing lectures by great world figures. She also took courses at the University in the School of Architecture and Design.

After Ward graduated in Architecture in 1935, they moved to Port Huron to wait out the required time before he took the State Board examination for Architects. Then in Ypsilanti 1938-1959 and on to Williamsburg, Virginia where Ward served on the Board of that fabulous project as an Engineer and later as Director of Architecture and Engineering.

LaRea was busy during those years with the rearing of their two children, Stephen and Susan. The family lived in the Greenhow House on Duke of Gloucester Street with its lovely flower gardens. LaRea found time to work in the Craft Shop, attend classes at the College of William and Mary, founded in 1693. Both Swarts' youngsters graduated from that famous college. LaRea and Ward also served as Host and Hostess for many of the Williamsburg functions, all the time learning from the very special wood and metal craftsmen who lived and work in Williamsburg.

In 1963, LaRea and Ward returned to Ypsilanti. They had spent fourteen years in Williamsburg. Virginia where they were deeply involved in the restoration of our finest example of America's Historical Heritage.

With such a background, how can we ever replace LaRea? She has always been so modest about her ability, just going ahead doing everything that had to be done in the Museum and making the place an outstanding Historical Museum in the State of Michigan and also the middle west. She set displays, entertained special groups with interesting talks but never too busy to check on the Museum to be certain all doors were locked, lights were out, rooms dusted and floors mopped after a leaking roof. Intelligence and energy, plus many talents…we are unable to heap enough praise and thanks on LaRea Foote Swarts.

She has been working with three of our devoted members; Doris Milliman, who was our first volunteer Museum Director, Harriet Stewart and Bets O'Neill, explaining techniques and procedures so that the Museum will be in good hands.

Ward and LaRea both served on the Board of Directors of the Ypsilanti Historical Society with Ward giving so many volunteer hours of architectural advice on old homes in Ypsilanti. He drew the plans for the present rooms for the Archives. No other City or Museum has ever had such a high ranking Williamsburg authority as a willing consultant.

We repeat again, Ypsilanti has been doubly blessed having Ward and LaRea Swarts as our residents.

Mr. & Mrs. Ward Swarts

11675 Charter Oak Ct. Apt 101
reston, Virginia 22090

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