In Search of the Real Rosie the Riveter

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:




Author: James Mann

As part of the effort to save the Willow Run Bomber Plant from demolition, some 776 women dressed as Rosie the Riveter to set a Guinness Book of World Record. The requirements for participation were stringent, the white poke-dots on the red bandanna had to be the right size and the women had to have on the right shoes and pants. The women succeeded in achieving their goal. Pity, none of the women who set the record were dressed as Rosie the Riveter.

The requirements were based on the World War II era “We Can Do It” poster. This poster has come to be accepted as the image of Rosie the Riveter, urging women to leave the traditional role of homemaker and replace men in the factory. The problem is the girl in the poster was not Rosie the Riveter. There is nothing in the poster, to indicate that her name is Rosie or that she is a riveter. The poster tells us, “We can do it,” but does not tell us what we are to do.

The “We Can Do It” poster was the work of graphic artist J. Howard Miller, who was commissioned by the Westinghouse Company to create a series of posters. The purpose of this series of posters was not to empower women, or encourage women to join the workforce, but to discourage disputes between labor and management. Workers were encouraged to meet production goals, cooperate with management and accept corporate values. Workers were not to consider joining a union, demand higher wages or better working conditions. The posters were displayed in employee only areas of Westinghouse plants, and were never seen by the general public during the war years.

On the bottom of the “We Can Do It” poster is the Westinghouse logo, as well as the words, War Production Coordinating Committee, a Westinghouse committee to deal with issues that might affect war production. The woman is wearing a badge on her collar, such as workers wore on the plant floor, and includes an employee number. In the bottom left corner of the poster are the instructions: “Post Feb. 15 to Feb. 28.” The poster was taken down after this time and forgotten until the 1980's, when it reemerged as a feminist icon.

The young woman in the poster was most likely molded after Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who graduated from high school in Ann Arbor, and at age 17, found employment as a metal presser in the American Broach & Machine Co. of Ann Arbor. She left the factory after only a few weeks, because as a cellist, she feared she might injure her hands in the machine. During her brief time at the factory, she was photographed by a wire service photographer. The photograph shows Doyle standing at the metal press, wearing a bandanna with white poke-dots. This image may have inspired J. Howard Miller to create the We Can do It poster. Doyle did not know of the poster, until 1984.

At about the time the We Can Do It poster was being taken down, to be replaced with the next one in the series, the song Rosie the Riveter was being released. The song was the work of Redd Evens and John Jacob Loeb. The two may have been influenced by the story of Rosalind P. Walter, who was employed by Corsair, building the F4U marine gull-winged fighter plane.

All the day long, whether rain or shine
She's a part of the assembly line
She's making history, working for victory
Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do more than a male can do
Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Rosie's got a boyfriend, Charlie
Charlie, he's a Marine
Rosie is protecting Charlie
Workin' overtime on the riveting machine

When they gave her a production 'E'
She was as proud as a girl could be
There's something true about, red, white, and blue about
Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Doo-doo-doo-doo
Ev'ryone stops to admire the scene
Rosie at work on the P-19
She's never twittery, nervous or jittery
I'm Rosie, hm-hm-hm-hmm, the riveter

What if she's smeared full of oil and grease
Doin' her bit for the old lend-lease
She keeps the gang around, they love to hang around
Rosie (Hm-hm-hm-hm, that's me, the riveter)

Rosie buys a lot of War Bonds
That girl really has sense
Wishes she could purchase more Bonds
Putting all her extra cash in National Defense

Oh, when they gave her a production 'E'
She was as proud as a girl could be
There's something true about, red, white, and blue about
Rosie the riveter gal

While other girls attend their favorite cocktail bar
Sipping dry Martinis, munching caviar
There's a girl who's really putting them to shame
Rosie is her name

Oh, Rosie buys a lot of War Bonds
That girl really has sense
Wishes she could purchase more Bonds
Putting all her extra cash into National Defense

Oh, Senator Jones, who was in the know
Shouted these words on the radio
Berlin will hear about, Moscow will cheer about
Rosie (Hah-hah-hah-hee-hee-hee), Rosie (Hee-hee-hee-hee)
Rosie the riveter gal

The song was originally recorded by Kay Kyser, the big band leader, and was played on radio, becoming a hit.

Norman Rockwell, the popular cover illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post, was almost certainly among those who had heard the song. This was when women were leaving the home to work in industry, as the men were entering military service. Early in the war effort, there was not only a call to arms, but a call to the production line. At Willow Run, the work force would hit a high of 60% women out of the 42,000 workers there.

Rockwell asked Mary Doyle Keefe, then a 19 year old red-haired telephone operator, to pose for a picture. Mary Doyle Keefe agreed, and posed twice for Rockwell, and for this she was paid $10. The finished picture was the cover for the May 29, 1943, Memorial Day, issue of The Saturday Evening Post. This image is clearly “Rosie the Riveter.”

We know this is Rosie, because her name is on her lunchbox. She is clearly a riveter, as there is a large rivet gun in her lap. The focus of the cover is her large masculine arms, and she is wearing rouge and lipstick, as well as nail polish. She is dressed in overalls, as women did not wear pants in public at this time. That would change as the war went on. She wears penny loafers, as there were no safety shoes made for women until July of 1943. One foot rests on a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf. This gal means business.

In fact, Mary Doyle Keefe did not have the masculine build of the cover image, and she took a lot of ribbing because of it over the years. “The kidding you took was all my fault,” wrote Rockwell in a 1967 letter, “because I really thought you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.”

Rockwell was known for his penchant for touches of humor and satire in his work. Not long after the publication of the issue, it was noticed the Rosie bore a remarkable resemblance to Michelangelo's Prophet Isaiah from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Rockwell Rosie is not as well known today as the “We Can Do It” poster, perhaps in part because of concerns over copyright. The cover was published soon after the release of the song “Rosie the Riveter” and the publishing company may have feared it could be sued over copyright infringement.

At about this time Hollywood leading man actor Walter Pidgeon arrived at the Willow Run Bomber Plant near Ypsilanti, Michigan, to appear in a promotional film for war bonds. There he met Rose Will Monroe, who was employed as a riveter. A real woman named Rosie, who was working as a riveter in an aircraft factory was too good to pass up. She was asked to appear in the film, and she agreed. As her daughter Vicki Javis noted years later, “Mom happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

Born Rose Will Leigh on March 12, 1920, at Pulaski County, Kentucky, she was one of nine brothers and sisters. “She was,” as her daughter recalled, “the one who was a tomboy who could use tools. She could do everything.”

She moved to Michigan with her two children, after the death of her husband in an automobile accident, to seek employment in the war industry. Her hope was to be chosen to learn to fly transport planes to carry aircraft parts around the country. She was passed over, because she was a single mother. Instead, she went to work on the line, as a riveter.

The movie was shown throughout the nation in theaters between the features, to encourage the sale of war bonds. After the war, Rose drove a cab, operated a beauty shop and founded a construction company called Rose Builders. She died at the age of 77 in 1997.

Geraldine Doyle, of the We Can Do It poster, married Leo Doyle, a dentist, in 1943. The couple had six children. She died at the age of 86 in 2010.

The experience of the war years changed life in America, including the role of women. Before the war, women were expected to be content as housewives and mothers. Working and living on their own brought a new freedom to many, and they were never going back to the old ways. The number of women working outside the home has never dropped to prewar levels since.

There is no wonder in this, as They Can Do It.

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


Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The original “We Can Do It” poster.

Photo 2: The original “We Can Do It” poster may have been inspired by a photograph of Geraldine Hoff Doyle taken by a wire service photographer.

Photo 3: Normal Rockwell, the cover illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post asked Mary Doyle Keefe to pose for the cover of the 1943 Memorial Day issue.

Photo 4: Walter Pidgeon visited the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti and asked Rose Will Monroe to appear in a film, which she agreed to do.

We are Seeking: Lost Restaurants of Ypsilanti

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

Summer 2010

Author: Peg Porter

It started when a friend and I happened to be reminiscing. We both remembered a restaurant in a house just off Packard. The red brick house still stands. Neither of us could remember its name or much else. But the fact that we both remembered such a place was reassuring. My friend, Judy, was visiting with another Ypsilantian who thought the house/restaurant on Packard was named The Gables. As a result, it occurred to us that there were a number of restaurants in Ypsilanti over the years. There were “special occasion” restaurants (e.g. Mothers Day), date restaurants, Italian and Greek restaurants. Some were very small while others featured linen table cloths and napkins.

Now, dear readers, we ask your assistance in identifying the Lost Restaurants of Ypsilanti. What dining establishments do you remember? Where were they? Did you have a particular favorite on the menu? When, approximately, did they close? Please share any special memories. Would the restaurant do well in today’s Ypsilanti?

Running a restaurant is hard work and since eating out is more often a luxury than a necessity; the business is particularly vulnerable to changes in the economy. And yet, some of them live on in our memories. Please share your memories and stories. Let’s hear from former wait staff, cooks and owners as well.

We will report back in an upcoming issue. Bon Appétit!

(Send your recollections to Peg Porter, c/o Ypsilanti Historical Museum, or by email: margaret.porter@comcast.net. Mention “restaurant” in subject line. Responses requested by September 1, 2010.)

The Chautauqua Movement – More of the Story

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

Author: Jack Minzey

I greatly enjoyed the article about the Chautauqua Movement called “Enlightened Ypsilanti” by Derek Spinei which appeared in the Spring, 2010 issue of the Ypsilanti Gleanings. The story took me back to one of my personal experiences which is a story I have never told, and only a few people are aware that it happened.

In 1966, I was employed by John Porter, Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction in Michigan, as Supervisor of Higher Education for the State of Michigan. Among my job responsibilities was overseeing veterans programs at Michigan Colleges, creation of a higher education directory, monitoring of the private trade schools in Michigan and supervising the private colleges and universities in the state.

One of my functions was to check on institutions from outside the State of Michigan which were not legitimate operations and which would advertise false degrees and programs to our citizens. These groups would come to Michigan on weekends or for other short periods of time, often establish themselves in hotel rooms and promise people a degree for a limited amount of effort. The exchange was a nice sounding degree for a substantial amount of money. In many cases, they did not even come to the state, but allowed clients to obtain a degree through the mail. I was to check on the legitimacy of these operations and to turn violators over to the Attorney General for prosecution.

My main duty was to monitor Michigan Institutions of Higher Education to ascertain that they were operating within the limits of their state charter. The interesting fact about private higher education in Michigan is that each institution is given a charter under the corporate laws of the state, and they are bound by the mandates of that charter. In a few cases, such as the Detroit School of Music, the charter was broad based and actually permitted that institution to offer any and all degrees which they desired to give. For the vast number of institutions, however, they were limited in their programs and degrees by the wording of their charters. It was my role to review all of these charters and to visit each of the private state institutions of higher education to assure that they were in compliance with their charter.

For the majority of instances, the review and visit were simply a formality and a public relations venture. After each visit, I would write a letter to the president and the trustees of each visited institution, congratulating them on their program and their institutions contribution to the people of the state of Michigan. On occasion, I did have institutions which wanted to expand or change their charter. In these cases, they were required to submit a proposal dealing with how they wanted their charter altered. This was reviewed by my staff and then a visitation was arranged. The visitation consisted of a three day visit by a group of recognized experts related to the proposed changes. The visitation committee would include curricula specialists, facility experts, administrators in higher education and library personnel. Following the visit, the visitation team would evaluate each aspect of the visit in writing and would submit their recommendation. This recommendation was then taken to the State Board of Education for approval. This entire process usually took at least a year to achieve.

During my tenure in this position, there were two occasions in which I discovered institutions which were violating their charter. One of these was Cleary College. Though absolutely unintentional, Cleary was awarding graduate degrees which had not been a part of their original charter. When this was called to the attention of the officials at Cleary, they immediately started the process to request a change in their charter. This was accomplished and approved by the State Board.

The other institution in violation was Bayview College. As Mr. Spieni points out in his article, the Chautauqua movement had found its way to the Bayview Colony in Petoskey, Michigan through the efforts of the Mayor of Ypsilanti, Mr. Watson Snyder. What appears to have happened is that after a few years of operation, there was a request by people who attended that Chautauqua for college credit. In order to achieve this, the leaders at Bayview asked Albion College, which had a Methodist affiliation, to grant credit from their institution. Albion College agreed, and it thus became possible to not only enjoy the programs at Bayview, but to get college credits for doing so.

Somewhere along the way, Albion College decided to no longer honor this affiliation. It is not clear when this happened, but for some reason, Albion withdrew from this arrangement. The leadership at Bayview then decided to create their own college and award their own college credits. They created Bayview College and somehow got it listed as a legitimate college in the Michigan Directory of Higher Education. They then created their own method of providing transcripts and for a number of years, functioned as a legal Michigan College, operating without a state charter.

When I visited them in 1967, they were made aware of the problem. Naturally, this was an issue of great concern since they had been operating in this fashion for a number of years. They were given the same options as were required under the law. They could prepare a proposal and go through an evaluation which could lead to a legitimate charter, or they could simply end the awarding of college credits. At that time, they opted to end their college designation.

It was unfortunate that their story had a negative ending. They had operated with the best of intentions and really had been unaware of the illegality of their actions. However, the procedure for organizing and operating a credit and degree granting institution in Michigan has assured the citizens of Michigan of the legitimacy of their degrees in this state and protected them from possible fraudulent operations of unprofessional and meaningless programs and degrees.

(Jack Minzey is a retired administrator and professor from Eastern Michigan University and is a member of the YHS Endowment Fund Advisory Board.)

History of the King and Lamb Grocery Store

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







Author: Charles King Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter from William Watts to his Family in England, 1836

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, December 1973: Pioneers of the Ypsilanti Area,
December 1973
Original Images:











Author: William Watts

Date: 1836

"There are all those early memories;
one cannot get another set; one has
only those."
Willa Siebert Cather (1876–1947)

From: Shadows on the Rock

The following is from the copy of a letter written by William Watts in 1836 to his family in England. The original was obtained by his son, the late B.F.Watts of Ann Arbor, upon a visit to the old family home in England. We have thought it best not to change the spelling nor the style or the letter.

William Watts was born in England June 21st, 1799 and died in Ypsilanti March 15th, 1876. His first wife was a Rachel Horner and they had ten children. His second wife was Jemima Linn, whom he married in 1838, and they had four children. He was Superintendent of Mark Norris' Cross Street Mill for sixteen years. His health failed and he went into the grocery business. His store was at 18 Cross and his home at 22 W. Cross. Benjamin, the baby mentioned, moved from Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor in 1852 and with his brother, Joseph Cook Watts, went into the jewelry business at 10 S. Main, Ann Arbor.

The first part of the letter tells of the long trip, over eight weeks, in a ‘sailer' from London to New York, In New York they took passage to Buffalo at $6.25 per head (1/2 half price for children), and $1. per hundred for the luggage. They left New York in a large tow boat fastened to a large steamer which took them 160 miles to Albany. Then by steam coach to Schenectady and a tow boat drawn by two horses to Buffalo and and from Buffalo by boat to Detroit.

“I left my family at Detroit about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, with a few pence in my pocket, intending to walk all night, but the roads was so bad, which compelled me to stop at the tavern. They charged 3 d. for my bed.

I came to Ypsilanti about noon, 30 miles from Detroit. I went to the house of Mr. Norris the miller. I asked him for work in his mill. He said he did not want a miller at present, but thought he soon should. He offered to engage me for a month at 22 dollars. Having no money to travel with I was glad to accept it. He said twould cost near 20 dollars to get my family and luggage to Ypsilanti, in consequence of the roads being almost impassible. What to do I did not know. I had spent the last shilling. He gave me a very excellent supper and bed, and after breakfast he told me he would send his man for my family and luggage tomorrow. I felt thankful, but had no money to pay expenses on the road. Thursday morning after breakfast I told Mr. Norris I had no money. I offered him my watch which he took and lent me 4 dollars. About 8 o'clock this morning, (Friday) I came to Detroit, and the man about noon. We loaded our luggage and traveled about 4 miles that night. We staid at a Tavern where we had an excellent supper and breakfast. They charged 1 shilling for meals and half price for the children. October 1 we came about 16 miles through such a road as you never saw. We staid at a Tavern 10 miles from Ypsilanti. Mr. Norris was on his way to Detroit, and in consequence of the rain he slept at the same place. After paying for the best supper we ever had, & dry, we laid our beds on the floor. This morning I told the landlord we could not take breakfast as our money was all spent. He gave my wife and children some Coffe (sp) and gave me great encouragement, and told me Mr. Norris was an excellent man to work for. Just as we left the Tavern Mr. Norris gave me another Dollar, he said if the waggon (sp) broke down we might be another night on the road. We passed several broken wagons that were left in the mud, and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon we came to Ypsilanti.

I had engaged a very bad house, the only one I could get, for 3 shillings per week, until we could get a better one.

Monday the 3d (sp) and two following days I served the brick layer at one of Mr. Norris' new houses. One Tuesday night another brick layer came to my house and offered me $1.25 per day. I told him I was engaged. He had been all over the town and could not get a man. The next 14 days Mr. Norris set me to work in his Pearl Ash Mill. I boiled and baked 18 barrels of Pearl Ash. He was very pleased with it. Said it was almost the best he ever see, (he had ever seen) think is worth $500. He gave me 6 shillings more than my wages.

Saturday the 22nd I went to work in his Corn Mill where I am to remain. There are three men beside (s) me, one an Englishman. My wages is (are) $26 per month, a house and Garden and keeping for a cow as soon as I can get one, but that must be some time first as we have our house to furnish and a large doctors (‘s) bill to pay for my wife and children. Mr. Norris soon provided us a better home, he emptied his office where he used to do his writing and bought us a cooking stove. It cost 36 dollars and is the most convenient thing you ever see. (You have ever seen). He have (has) begun to build a new house for us in a very pleasant place, not far from the Mill, and a new Rail Road will run quite past, and there is near 1/2 acre of Excellent ground for a garden. I have made one Bedstead and my Master has sent me two Bedsteads and four chairs and he have (has) sold me a Table for 2 dollars.

Mr. Norris is an Excellent man, he have (has) in about 10 years saved a large property, he came from New York State to Ypsilanti 10 years ago. He told me he was forced to borrow money to pay his Expenses on the Road. Since that time he has done Wonders. He have (has) now one of the finest farms you ever saw, he told me he had a field of wheat last year of 80 acres the finest Crop he (has) ever see (seen). It all came ripe at once and all Carted in Excelent (sp) Condition. He have (has) also a fine handsome house where he lives and several cottages beside a Corn Mill and a fine Saw Mill that work (s) night and day. There looks to be timber enough all ready Cut out to build a town, besides hundreds of large timbers laying around the saw mill. And since I have been with him he have (has) bought a large farm. It lay (s) about a hundred miles to the West, on the Great Illinois Road. He have (has) also several shares in the New Rail Road. Next summer he intends to build a new Store and also a new Water Corn Mill.

Mrs. Norris is an Excelent (sp) Woman. She engaged Rachel the first day I went to work and she has been there evry (sp) since. She is treated as one of the family and like (s) her place very much. Her Missis (sp) is fond of her. She giver (gives her) 3 shillings per week and have (has) bought her a handsome dress for the winter.

Ypsilanti is a very pleasant place. It stands on a hill on both sides of the River. The first house was built by Mr. Norris about ten years ago. The town is rappidly enlarging and by next Spring we expect the great Western Rail Road from Detroit will be completed which will be an Excelent thing for the town as then goods of all kinds can be brought from all parts with little expense, then we expect to get Groceries much cheaper. There is in the town 4 Taverns Several Grocery and Drapery Shps 3 blacksmith Shops one Foundery, 3 Corn Mills 3 Saw, and 2 Cooper Shops, one close by our Mill. They make all the flour barrels we use about 50 in a week, there is also a new bank now opened. There is 3 Chapels, one for the Baptist one for the Presbyterians, and one for the Methodist. We joined the Class with four others on Sunday, October 9th. We have 80 members.

Wheat is 5s, Barley 3s, Oats 2s, Indian Corn 4s, Buckwheat 3s and Potatoes Is 6d per bushel. Clothing is dear, Shoes are Cheap. Tea 3s per pound, Candles 8d, Butter 3s, Cheese 6d, Sugar 8d very good, they are dearer now than ever was known, from the Roads being so bad which we hope will soon be prevented by the Rail Road. Beef and Mutton 3d per pound, plenty of Wood for the fire, we can have a two-horse load brought to our door for 2s 6d. Expected this will be one of the finest towns in the State in a few years. The Wheat is quite Equal to the Wheat in England and make the finest of Flour. All trades are in a flourishing State, farming appears to be the best, as Corn is high and tithes. No poor rates and but little expense, as plough the land only one and sew six pecks of wheat on an acre and harrow it in, and can; sell everything they grow for ready money. We have no poor people compared with England, we have no complaining in our streets. Every man appears to be comfortably enjoying the fruit of his labor. Day wages are 1.00 per day. Carpenters and brick layers get 2.00 per day. Here are a great many English and several from Norfolk. Two of them from near Swatham told me they often Earned 2.00 per day taking work.

Michigan is reconed a very fine State very Excelent and very fine timber. There is plenty of land to sell about 100 miles West and the price is 1.25 or 5s 2d per acre the same as in Illinois. The two States Join. We are according to the map about 400 miles from Mr. Read, 250 acrost this state to Chicago the first town in Ill. and then 150 southwest. Here is a Mr. Wilson from England one of the first settlers in Ypsilanti, he lives 3 miles from the town and frequently come to the Mill, he have lived here 11 years and have saved a great deal of money, but cannot save it fast enough, he intend to move to Ill. as soon as he can sell out to an advantage. He says he cannot raise so much Cattel nor grow so much corn as in Illois where the Climate is more temprate. Others say Michigan is quite equal to Illinois and hundreds have settled there this season. Tell Mr. Charles Cooper of Mattask there is plenty of room for him and his family. We very much want a good shoemaker. Tell him I am glad I am here, I like America, I like Michigan, I like Y psilanti, I like my Neighbors they are very friendly. I like my Master and I like my employment and for these reasons I am glad I am not in England. I should be very glad if you could send me a few pounds to buy a cow, as we are loosing every week for want of money to buy one as the keep with us cost us nothing. You can pay it into a bank in London which I think Mr. Windham will do for you and get their receipt and send to me, then I can take it to Detroit, but if Farms by come you had better send it by him if you spare any. If not I hope I shall get through. I hope I shall see Farms by and as many of the family as like to come. I will give him a home until he can get one, hope he will leave early in March as possible. I have no doubt if he come early he will save money enough to buy a farm, he can get employment as a Cooper or a Carpenter, as a great deal of building will be next, summer, and they are not very partickular, he may have 6s per day and his board. Let him bring plenty of Clothing as tis near double the price here. Will thank him to bring me a good piece of Beverteen and a good piece of Cord, and I will pay him when he come. If he can let him bring some Cuttings of the gooseberry and Currents, and some Sweede and white turnip seed Cabbage and Colliflower seed, and what flower seed he can get as I have 1/2 acre of Excelent, ground for Gardening.

I had begun to write you several weeks back, but in consequence of my Children being unwell and also my wife being confined I was forced to write my letter over again. I thank God my health is excelent, the Climate suit me well, and our Children since their sickness are all of them getting very healthy and very hearty. The baby, I should have told you in the first part of my letter, is a sweet little boy. His name is to be Benjamin. He is a very healthy Child and the quietest Child we ever had, but I am sorry to inform you that my wife still remain in a very weak State. She has a very bad cough and can eat very little and is so weak that she can scarcely keep from her bed.

Sometime have past away since I could write a line on this sheete, and circumstances are very much altered. I have now the Meloncholly tidings to Send you that My Wife is no more in this World. She has left me and my helpless Children behind and is now where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. I will now endeaver to give you a short account of her sickness and death. When she had been confined five weeks, I and my family removed to our new house and Mrs. Norris took my wife and the baby and Betsey to her house, Still hoping that She would soon get better. Mrs. Norris waited on my wife herself, and nursed her as she would her own Child. She had everything that Could be thought of for her Comfort but all in vain, but still she kept getting weaker. She wished to Come home to her family. Mr. Norris sent her home in his carriage. As soon as She was home and the Neighbors knew it, presents came from all parts. Mrs. Showerman the Class Leader's wife came and took the baby, another lady took the next younger and they have them at present. My Wife had everything sent to her that could be thought of. One day three fat chickens and preserved peaches, apple tarts and many other things were sent to her. She enjoyed them very much. Two doctors attended her. They said she would soon get better. For a few days she felt herself better and eat pretty hearty. Her Cough was better and the pain in her side was gone and we hoped that she would soon get well, but the next day which was Thursday she appeared much weaker, and on Friday she had 4 doctors attending her.

They said they had little hope. It appeared to them to be a very quick Consumption. She continued much the same until half past 12 that night. Her speech began to fail and she breathed very short, but did not appear to have any pain. Two of her Neighbors were sitting up with her. They called me to her bedside and I soon found she was dying. I spoke to her several times and she tried to speak, but I could not understand her. I thought if that was dying, I should never more fear the pains of death. She appeared to have no pain, but gently, and I thought Sweetly, breathed her last breath and gave up the ghost. My prayer to God was, let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like hers. She died in peace, and is now far from this world of grief and sin with God eternal shut in. She died on Saturday morning at half past one, Dec 24th, 1836, and was buried on Christmas day, Sunday the 25th, in the most Respectful manner. The Custome here is to bury the dead the second day. She was taken to the Chapel in a carriage and I and my children followed in Mr. Norris's carriage and Mr. N. and Mrs. N. and family, and two other carriages beside, and a number of friends on feet. The corpse stood near the pulpit, while one of the travelling preachers preached her funeral. After she was burried, we returned to our homes the same way we went.

The neighbors are very kind and Mrs. Norris has took Joseph home to her house and send him to School. I was forced to take Rachel home to keep house, but I appear to have no home. I feel like one that is left alone. My wife and myself had been counting how comfortable we should be in our new Situation, but alas, my Exportatious are out, off, my hopes are blasted. I should be glad if Elizabeth and Sophia would come with Farnesby, as I want some one to guide my Children. I will find them both a good home. I will give them their board for looking after the Children and they may earn a great deal of money. They can have plenty of work. They get 6 or 7 shillings for making a dress. Hope they will not be afraid to come. Here is a very fruitful country, a very healthy Climate and a very pleasant situation, and everything to make them Comfortable, hope I may expect them. I hope for the sake of the dear Children I shall not be disappointed. Let them come from London in the American line of packets. It will cost them 5 pound 4s 6d, but they will Sail on the day appointed and will go in half the time and better accommodation. Bring plenty of flour and beef suite, Tea and Sugar, Cheese and Butter, and some salt pork for their passage. When they get to New York, let them leave the same afternoon, take their passage in a tow boat to Buffalo. That will cost them two and one half dollars. Get some provisions for two days, as you can get more on the way. When you get to Buffalo, take passage in a steam boat for Detroit. That will cost three dollars. Take some provision when you come to Detroit. If the Rail Road is finished that will bring you down to my house, where the Coaches stop, if not, you can come by the Stage Coach that run every day. I shall be glad to see as Many more of the family as like to come. If any of your Brother's family like to come, I shall be glad to see them. I hope you will write to me directly and let me Know who is coming. There is thousands *** thousands, acres of land you ever sow for 50 2 1/2d per acre. Timber land or Meadow land all at one price. The Climate is much the same as in England. The ground is hardly covered with snow, the frost is pretty sharp, with a fine, clear, healthy air.

Give my kind love to all the family. Hope I shall one day see them all in America. Government have now one hundred million dollars of Money that they have no use for. This is and must remain the finest Country in all the world. Mr. Norris is no Miller himself. He like me very much. He has spoken very highly of me. I have the Chief care of the Mill. I have an Excelent place, such a one as you cannot, find in England, and most likely can keep it as long as I like. I can have two other places and more wages, but I am satisfied. I must Conclude by saying that I hope to see a large part of the family next spring, and that I and all my Children are hearty and well, and that I still remain


Your affectionate son-in-law

WM WATTS

The copy of this letter was given to the Archives of the Ypsilanti Museum some years ago by the Michigan Historical Collection, Ann Arbor.

Ypsilanti Gleanings, August 1973: The History of Paper Making in Washtenaw County

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:


















Author: Daniel J. Quirk

Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: August 1973

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/1973-Aug.pdf

The use of paper may well be considered a measure of the culture and the business activity of the people making up a community or a nation. Since the beginning of modern civilization paper has been a fundamental necessity to culture and business. It was a prime necessity in the early life of the American colonists but, like numerous other commoditissproduced in the Mother County, its manufacture was restricted largely to the home country and therefore, even though a necessity, it was a luxury to be used by the few who could afford it.

In 1690 the first paper mill was licensed to operate at Germantown, then just outside of Philadelphia. This mill, a part of which still stands, produced a few pounds of handmade paper a day, using the most primitive methods in reducing rags to pulp and fixing the fibres in the pulp in sheet form in a hand mold. Not until the outbreak of the Revolution was there a serious need of paper in the Colonies, for the limited purposes to which it was put, and this need brought very interesting appeals from the local Colonial governments and from the Continental Army to save rags from which paper might be made.

Very slowly small mills were built in Massachusetts and New York and the paper needs of the new country were met in a way. For more than a hundred years after the first mill was built at Germantown, the growth of the industry was exceedingly slow. Processes were simple, almost primitive, mills were isolated, and there was but one raw material and that was cotton and linen rags.

The financing of a paper mill in Colonial days was a very simple matter as plant and machinery cost a few hundred dollars, as compared with modern mills costing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. As with most of the early industries, the paper mills were largely family affairs, seldom employing more than a few men or boys outside of the family of the owner.

With all the primitiveness of the early paper mills, and with these mills turning out pounds where today tons are produced, the paper was usually of a very high grade, comparing favorably with the best grades of the rag content papers produced today. One has but to see some of the books printed in early colonial days to appreciate the fact that the art of paper making was in a way as well understood in 1727 as in 1944.

The growth of the pulp and paper industry in the United States from 1765 to 1865 was slow but steady. With the exception of the introduction, in 1798, of the Fourdrinier (moving wire) upon which the sheet of paper was formed, thereby greatly speeding production, there was very little improvement in machinery in the paper mill between 1765 and 1865. Cotton and linen rags continued to be the principal raw material. Rags were collected much as they are today, taken to the mill, cleaned, and made into pulp by cooking and bleaching, and then through the use of quantities of clear water the fibres of the pulp were carried onto the wire and formed into a sheet. The paper as it came from the wire was cut into sheets and hung up in lofts to dry. These was much skill used in the formation of the sheet and naturally much hand labor entered into the h andling of the paper, from the rags as they were carefully sorted and cleaned to the paper as it was taken from the drying loft to be bundled and shipped.

With the industrial development which began following the Civil War, there was a growing demand for cheaper paper which could be more widely used. The pulp and paper manufacturer was ever on the outlook for new processes which would make it possible for him to meet the demand for more paper. In the late ‘60's, certain manufacturers, some of whom are still active in the industry, learned that a process for the reduction of wood to pulp and the use of pulp in the manufacture of paper had been perfected in Europe. Some of these men went to Europe and brought back with them licenses for foreign patents under which they could produce pulp from wood. The foreign patents under which they could produce wood pulp was crude indeed and for some time there was doubt if wood pulp could be used in producing the better grades of paper. Gradually methods of bleaching the pulp were perfected, and through the 1870's and 1880's wood pulp and paper made from wood pulp were produced in increasing quantities.

In considering the development of the pulp and paper industry of the United States it is interesting and significant to note that the paper industry is the only great industry which has changed its raw material in large part with a human generation. Rags are still used in large quantities for the production of the better grades of paper for use where durability and permanence are essential, but more than 90% of the fifteen million odd tons of paper produced in this country in 1943 was made from wood pulp.

The demonstration of the fact that paper could be made from an abundant and cheap raw material, the supply of which in the years preceding 1900 seemed absolutely inexaustible in this country, brought home to the minds of the consuming public the idea that it was possible to use a cheaper grade of paper in increasing quantities for printing and other uses. It is not too much to say that the modern printing press, now turning out the great metropolitan newspapers and books by the hundreds of thousands, resulted from the successful demonstration that paper could be made cheaply from wood.

Though experiments were conducted earlier it was not until about 1874 that the first chemical treatment was applied to wood to separate the individual fibres so that they could be used for making paper on a commercial basis.

The period of the rapid growth of the industry, from 1865 to 1925, brought the segregation of mills in certain districts where here was available water for power and process and where raw materials were easily accessible. So we had a great group of mills in Massachusetts manufacturing the bulk of fine paper produced in the U.S. Another segregation of mills came in northern New York and again in northern New England, where for many years the better grades of book paper and the coarser papers, such as newsprint and wrapping, have been produced in large quantities. Westward we had such paper mill districts as those of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. More recently there has come the rapid development of mills in the south and the Northwest.

River valleys presented the logical organization, for to a great extent they follow the chronological order of the mills. The first mill in Michigan being in the River Raisin Valley, that was the first development area in the state; the second mill being in the Huron River Valley, this was the second development area.

Thus there were five major divisions in this Michigan history:

1. River Raisin Valley includes Monroe, Dundee, Manchester, Adrian, and Tecumseh.
2. Huron River Valley includes Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and the intervening and surrounding small towns.
3. St Joseph River Valley includes Three Rivers, Niles and St. Joseph.
4. Kalamazoo River Valley includes Kalamazoo, Plainwell, Orsego, Allegan and Vicksburg; Watervliet which, although not on the Kalamazoo River, had mills started as off-shoots of the Kalamazoo mills by Kalamazoo men.

The first paper mill in Michigan was located in the River Raisin Valley at a small town called Raisinville, about 3 or 4 miles west of Monroe. There a man by the name of Christopher McDowell had erected a small shack containing a crude machine approximately 30 ft. long and 38 inches wide, on which the paper was dried by passing it around a drum 10 feet in diameter containing a wood fire. This mill was called the River Raisin Paper Company, but it was not connected with the present company of that name. The man who owned the mill lived on the opposite side of the river on a farm which is now owned by the President of the existent River Raisin Paper Company.

The McDowell mill manufactured, at first, a butcher's wrapping paper made from straw. This product was taken around in carts and sold to the merchants of the village stores. Shortly after its inception the mill branched out and began to manufacture other kinds of paper. Later companies were organized and other mills built in this locality.

The second developmental area, chronologically, in the Michigan paper and pulp industry was in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area. Here probably was located the second mill in Michigan. There is no conclusive data to prove this but it is known that there was constructed in Washtenaw County a paper mill some time between 1840 and 1850, and in a Detroit paper published in 1842 we find a reference to one paper mill in Washtenaw County in addition to several saw and grist mills there.

The next mill of which there is a record was one in which Volney Chapin purchased a half-interest in the year 1851. This was the J.H.Lund mill at Ann Arbor. This mill later burned. In 1854 this same Volney Chapin helped build the Geddes Mill called the Lund, Chapin and Company. In 1865 Lund sold out and it was merely Chapin & Company. This mill was eventually sold and the business discontinued.

The first mill in Ypsilanti was the Cornwell & Company's Paper Company, which was organized in 1855 or 1856. At that time Cornelius Cornwell bough the land where the lower paper mill stood, and with it one half the water power. Mrs. H.W. Larzelere put in the west side water power for a certain amount of stock in the paper mill. Mr. VanCleve put in $1,000, and thus the first paper factory was established. This can properly be called the beginning of paper making as an industry in Washtenaw County, because this marked the first enterprise on a large scale. All previous mills were merely small concerns making wrapping paper which they sold to local merchants, but this mill, utilizing both water and steam power, manufactured . In 1863, Van Cleve and Mrs. Larzelere sold out to Cornwell. In 1871 the mill was partially destroyed by fire and they suffered from another a little later, but the enterprise pushed onward.

In 1874 Cornelius Cornwell, his son Clark, and brothers erected a paper mill one and a half miles about the Peninsular mills, and in that day it was acclaimed the most extensive paper mill in the state. The water power at this point was considered the best on the Huron with a head of 17 feet. This power is still in existence and owned by the Detroit Edison Company, known as their Superior Plant. Water power head is still 17 feet.

From a member of the Cornwell family, Mr. Edward Cornwell, for many years associated with the Peninsular Paper Company, I am able to ascertain the names and locations of their various plants, but no dates:-

1. Mill at Foster's, manufacturing wrapping paper and later destroyed by fire.
2. Mill at Hudson above Dexter, manufacturing groundwood pulp, which also burned.
3. Mill just below Barton Dam, manufacturing groundwood pulp and later dismantled. (Oornwell Mill)
4. Mill at Superior, the site of the Detroit Edison Company's Superior Plant. This was destroyed by fire in 1906) ACornwell mill)
5. Mill manufacturing paper southeast of Ypsilanti on the outskirts of the city where the present Ford Plant is located. This mill was partially destroyed by fire in 1871, rebuilt and finally dismantled in 1886.
6. Mill at Jackson located just north of the prison, manufacturing soda pulp. This was destroyed by fire.

From the above you will gather the importance of the Cornwell Company's interest. The Cornwell family was the pioneer family of paper makers in Michigan.

The one and only existing paper mill in Washtenaw County at this time is the Peninsular Paper Company at Ypsilanti. This company was incorporated in 1867 with a capital stock of $50,000.00. The original incorporators were: John W. Van Cleve, Wm. H. Myers, Samuel Barnard. The original stockholders were: Samuel Barnard, Lambert A. Barnes, Wm. H. Myers, and Daniel L. Quirk. The first Board of Directors elected May, 1868, consisted of: Samuel Barnard, Lambert A. Barnes, Isaac N. Conklin, William H. Myers, and John W. Van Cleve.

The construction of the mill was begun in the spring of 1867 for one paper machine, and the first paper was made in 1868.

An important factor in the decision to build the mill at this time was the fortunate circumstance of obtaining a from the Chicago Tribune to take the output of the mill in newsprint. At that time newsprint was made from rags, and it is interesting to note that the price on this contract was 17¢ per pound.

After the mill was built and operating, the Chicago Tribune insisted that the Peninsular Paper Company build another mill, far enough removed from the original mill to safeguard the newspaper's supply in case of fire. May 8, 1876, therefore, the capitalization was increased from $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 and another one-machine mill was erected on the north side of the Huron River. This was operated until September 28, 1898, when it was destroyed by fire. All salvaged machinery was then removed to the original building which was enlarged to accomodate two paper machines and the additional equipment for increased output.

By this time, 1898, wood pulp and groundwood were being used extenisvely in the manufacture of lower priced papers, particularly newsprint, which had greatly reduced the cost of manufacture and therefore the selling price, and the company found it difficult to compete with the larger mills equopped with their own pulp-making and wood grinding machinery.

During all these years, the Peninsular Paper Company had been making rag papers. The machinery of the mill had been selected and installed for rag paper production; the paper makers were “rag men.” At that time, long lines of rag gatherers' carts and wagons extended each morning for a long distance down the river awaiting the opening of the mill. Since newsprint was no longer being made of rag stock, it was perfectly natural that the men in charge of the mills business should turn to other kinds of papers for which their experience and facilities were best adapted, and in which some rag stock as well as wood pulp could be used.

The new lines of the Peninsular Covers and other specialties were introduced and placed on the market about 1900. It was necessary to make many changes in both equipment and manner of operating the mill to suit the new conditions and to further increase the production. The sales plans and policies had also to be changed. The company has been operating ever since on more or less specialty lines until World War LL, when it became necessary to make papers essential to the government, directly and indirectly, and to war defense plants, in order to obtain raw material and supplies which are allocated by the government. The Peninsular Paper Company is a verysmallumily, as mills go today, but being small, it has specialized in papers that can be made to order in smaller lots, and are not as competitive, and for which the customer is willing to pay an extra price.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Daniel Lace Quirk, Jr. researched and wrote the splendid history of paper making and the impact the industry made on Washtenaw County and the City of Ypsilanti. Much of this material was read at meetings of the Ypsilanti Rotary Club and the Washtenaw County Historical Society.

Daniel Lace Quirk, Jr., joining management of the Peninsular Paper Company at the close of the 19th Century, served as President-Treasurer of Peninsular from January 14, 1914, until June 26, 1950 when he became Chairman of the Board having devoted 52 active years to that remarkable company. The officers then became: Daniel Trowbridge Quirk, President-Treasurer; Daniel Grover Quirk, Executive Vice-President and Florence S. Gilmore continued as Secretary. Paper.

Paper making thru the centuries had always been based on pulp made from rags, and during the rag paper years at Peninsular, girls and young women were employed as ‘rag pickers’. Many of these women were beauties and became the wives of prominent young men in Ypsilanti. But during the 19th Century woodpulp had made many technical advances and could not be ignored. The last rag paper that Peninsular made was in 1942.

The year 1898 was the year of decision for the Peninsular Paper Company. That was the year the paper mill built in 1876 on the north side of the Huron River, across from the present plant, burned completely, leaving a mute rubble and the 75 foot brick chimney which for many years was an exciting hazard for boys who dared climb to its top. The disaster meant the termination of the newsprint contract with the Chicago Tribune, a major business loss. D.L. Quirk, Jr. joined the company at this time. The decision was made to not rebuild the burned mill but to change production to specialty papers. Soon several changes were made in the personnel, John P. Cooney replaced Benjamin S. Boyce as Superintendent and the young vigorous automobile companies changed the old style newsprint catalogues to attractive, smooth paper, colorful brochure type catalogues.

Peninsular Paper followed the trend into special papers requiring special machinery to make them. John G. Haviland came from the East as an experienced paper man and took over there as Sales Manager. In 1912, Enis Robtoy and Joseph II. Ely were hired as hourly workers. Enis Robtoy advanced thru the years, to the important position of Traffic Manager, retiring in 1962. Joseph J. Ely became familiar with all departments of the mill and retired in 1959 after serving several years as Mill Superintendent. After the untimely death of John G. Haviland in 1917, D.L. Quirk, Jr., assisted by Lee Mulnix, took over sales, followed by Jack Shepherd who died in 1937 because of terminal cancer.

After World War LL, it was necessary to make several major changes in machinery and an increase in the size of the manufacturing plant. In 1947 a Water Filtration System was installed allowing the use of more water from the Huron River. In 1951, $200,000 was expended for a new boiler, and in 1954, new dryers were add ed to Machine #1.

The Quirk family had two poignant losses in the 1950s. Daniel Lace Quirk, Jr., died October 14, 1955, and December 1, 1959, his sister, Mrs. (Edward) Jennie Quirk Cornwell passed away at the age of 99. She was a large stockholder in the Mill, always had a keen interest in its operation, often giving sage advice for important decisions. (There is a very noticeable, unusual vitality in the Quirks,-D.L. Quirk organizer and long time President of Peninsular Paper Company died at age 93, and D.L. Quirk, Jr. died at age 84.)

Harrison P. Quirk, after graduating from the University of Michigan in Engineering, joined Peninsular in 1959 as Chief Engineer and representing with his brother, Daniel Grover Quirk, the 4th generation of Quirks in that Company.

As the demand for specialty papers increased, more warehousing and machines were needed. $350.000 was spent in 1957 for warehousing and in 1962 the physical plant was expanded, new offices built. By 1966 it was necessary to rebuild Machine #1 at a cost of $446,000. Frank L. Wright became Sales Manager in 1967. In 1969, Florence S. Gilmore retired after ably serving many years as Secretary for the Company. On August of that year, Harrison P. (Hoddy)Quirk became President of the Company and Daniel Trowbridge Quirk became Chairman of the Board. October 22, 1969, Daniel T. Quirk passed away after 43 years with Peninsular Paper Company. On February 24, 1970, Jeanne G. Quirk, widow of Daniel T. served as Chairman of the Board and was succeeded by her son, Daniel Grover (Punk) Quirk as Chairman, February 16, 1971. On that date Harrison P.Quirk was elected President and Treasurer of Peninsular, placing the 4th generation of Quirks in command of the oldest, most successful manufacturing business in the State of Michigan.

The story of paper making and the history of the Peninsular Paper Company would not be complete unless more background material is given for the Quirk generations. The Quirk story has been told several times and in several places but it is unique and bears repeating.

Daniel Lace Quiark was born on the Isle of Man in 1818. (The Isle of Man was the first European community to allow women to vote.) He came with his parents to the United States in 1827. As a young man he leanred the trade of carpentry, later building many houses in the Ann Arbor area. While living in Belleville, he conducted the one and only store in that village and was appointed there by President Franklin Pierce. Has tremendous energy took him into politics and he was elected Auditor for Wayne County. Early investments included several hundred acres of land, a cooper and blacksmith shop, and a saw and grist mill in Belleville.

concerns. In 1904, D.L. as he was also so often called, built the two story brick structure on the west side of North Washington Street-the first building in the City lighted by electricity and heated by steam. He served as City Alderman, Ypsilanti School Board member, was prominent in organizing the Boy Scouts in Ypsilanti in 1910, served as Board Member of the Highland Cemetery Association and organized the Little Players Group early in 1915 when the Little Theatre idea was a new venture nationally and in Europe.

When the United States entered the War in 1917, Mrs. Quirk organized' a Patriot Service League which later became the Community Fund and Mr. Quirk served as a Major in the Red Cross in Europe. In Europe he met many famous persons and those connected with the arts and the theatre. At the close of the war he returned to Ypsilanti and devoted his energies to the Bank, the Paper Mill, Civic problems and expanded his Little Theatre, soon attaining national recognition in that endeavor. Today, the theatre on the campus at Eastern Michigan University bears his name. In later years, he arranged for the location and the building of the Gilbert Residence at 203 S. Huron Street. A remarkable man who had many friends in the business world as well as in the academic world and the arts.

The Quirk genes continued passing on the energy and intelligence, so noticeable in the older Quirks, to Daniel Trowbridge Quirk, the oldest son of D.L.Quirk, Jr. This third generation Quirk, not only managed the Paper Mill in its program of manufacturing fine cover papers, but entered into Civic affairs, serving 8 years on the Ypsilanti School Board, was Mayor of Ypsilanti for 5 years, President of the Chamber of Commerce, head of the United Fund for 3 years, and found time during the summers of these busy years to travel with the Ringling Brothers Circus living the strenuous life of the roustabout which provided him with a very interesting, colorful hobby.

As has been stated, the early paper mills were located where there was ample water supply as well as water power. Another unique point about these early mills was that the venture was always owned and operated by a family. As the mills flourished and increased in size, the family talent for paper making was lost or sought other outlets. The remarkable Cornwells are a local example.

The Cornwells had woodpulp mills and were paper makers more than a decade earlier than all others in Washtenaw County. But early in the 20th Century, Edward Cornwell, born in Ypsilanti in 1862, was the only Cornwell in the business of paper making. He served with Peninsular Paper Company, retiring 10 years prior to his death in 1949. His engineering talent was invaluable when Peninsular made the drastic change from newsprint to cover papers.

Today there are less than a dozen mills in the United States manufacturing special papers and Peninsular is now the only one owned and managed by the 4th generation in a family whose progenitor, more than a century ago, organized the company. The Quirks can be proud to make that claim.

The Present Quirks now managing the Company, are Harrison (Hoddy) P.Quirk, President-Treasmer, and Danial. (Punk) G. Quirk, Chairman of the Roard.

Hoddy Quirk has served in many capacities in the Ypsilanti area: Director and President of the Washtenaw County Humane Society, Board member of the Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Developement Corporation and also served as President of the Ypsilanti Rotary Club. Several years ago he became interested in building and racing inboard hydroplanes in the 850 cc class. This has become an absorbing hobby and he has driven his boat in many national races and just this month in Dayton, Ohio, became national champion in the 850 cc hydroplane race there.

Punk Quirk, after serving in the Army in Europe as an M.P., returned to take up civilian life with the Paper Mill and entering into the civic life of the community. His civic interests have been: President of Industrial Developement Corporation, promoter of real estate and investment s, Director Ypsilanti Savings Bank, Chamber of Commerce, Ypsilanti Rotary Club and the Washtenaw County H umane Society. His hobby in addition to providing storage for the Quirk family letters and records dating back to 1840, is the coll ection of the old whistles used by so many of our industrial plants as a time signal for the 10 hour day, 6 days a week: time to go to work, time to quit.

Under the guidance of these energetic young men, Peninsular Paper with 125 employees-100 hourly and 25 salary-manufactures 10,000 tons of specialty papers each year and every day 600,000 gallaons of water are used in the process. Production remains quite constant with wholesale paper merchants taking much of the product. The Company also has several nationaly known Greeting card accounts such as H American Greeting card, and consider it an honor to list the Milton Bradley Company of Springfield, Massachusetts as a valued customer for more than

Punk states that the big difference in the papers made today from those of the old days, is the brillance of colors, a cleaner pulp giving a very white paper and technological improvements making better control for a uniform product.

The Peninsular Paper Company is within the boundaries of the City of Ypsilanti and its success reflects on the entire County.

The Quirk Family:

Daniel Lace Quirk June 15, 1818-December 5, 1911
Daniel Lace Quirk, Jr. February 26, 1871–October 14,1955
Daniel Trowbridge Qurik June 8, 1903-October 22, 1969
Daniel Grover Quirk December 9, 1926
Harrison P. Quirk December 1, 1932

D.L.Quirk, Jr article was condensed and edited and the additional information on the Quirk family and the Paper Company was researched and written by Foster Fletcher, City Ilistorian. Research was done in the Archives of the Museum.

Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1973: The Lady Doctors of Ypsilanti 1860-1899

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:










Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: April 1973

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/1973-Apr.pdf

The Sentinel of July 7, 1899 stated that according to a Governmental Survey made that year there were 6,882 practicing women physicians in the United States. In Ypsilanti at that time there were three “lady” doctors. In fact, from the period of 1860 until early in the new century there never was a time that there were more than three or four women practicing medicine at the same time in our city. All of these women were interesting and courageous; virtually all of them played a vital part in the community life of Ypsilanti.

Probably the best remembered is Washtenaw's first woman doctor, Helen Walker McAndrew. Helen and William McAndrew, newly married, came from Scotland to Michigan in 1849. After a short stay in Detroit and Rawsonville the young couple came to Ypsilanti, which was to be their home for the rest of their lives. Helen, who had had some nursing experience in Scotland, soon discovered that the life of a “housewife” was not enough to fill her days. So with the blessings of her husband and the encouragement of her friends she took herself to Trail Institute in New York City to get a medical degree. At the time this school was the only one west of New York City which accepted women medical students. Mrs. McAndrew had learned the art of bookbinging in Scotland and obtained work at that trade in New York City. With that income and some nursing work she was able to get her medical degree in October of 1855.

Back again in Ypsilanti she found that the life of a woman doctor was indeed not as easy as she thought. If she had dreamed that she would have to turn patients away she was sadly awakened for her only patients were poor people, both black and white and if she was paid it was usually in food or fire wood. With much more time on their hands Doctor Helen and her husband, throughout their lives champions of the underdog, were active in the abolition movement. Indeed, William McAndrew, helped hide runaway slaves in barns and drove them in wagons at night, covered with hay, to the outskirts of Trenton, where rowboats ferried them to Canada.

When the wife of one of Ypsilanti's most prominent men, (Samuel Post), was ill and recovery seemed doubtful, he was advised by his gardener to try Dr. McAndrew. Mr. Post obtained the “lady doctor's” services and Mrs. Post recovered. Mr. Post and Dr. Parmenio Davis praised Dr. Helen's methods to their friends, the Uhls, the Folletts, the King family and others. In a small brochure prepared for the Business and Professional Woman's Club by her son William in 1931, he quoted S amuel Post as saying:-“She knows what she's about. She's a very superior woman. There's no nonsense about her.” Her son wrote:-“She was great in confinement cases. Whatever men and women born in Ypsilanti are now between forty-five and sixty five the chances are more than even that Helen McAndrew first held them in her hands and gave them their first baths.”

Dr. McAndrew firmly believed that a clean body helped much towards a healthy body. In the spring of 1870 she opened her “Water Cure” Sanitarium at 105 South Huron. Not only could her patients bathe under supervision in the Huron River but receive special health giving baths and well balanced meals in the Sanitarium as well. She called her establishment “Rest for the Weary”.

This was the period in which there were many such “water cure” semi-hospitals here in Michigan as well as in the east and they were most popular and well patronized. Ella, young daughter of Charles Pattison, editor of The Commercial, spent a week at the “Rest for the Weary” and her papa published her article telling of her stay. She wrote of receiving “homeopathic medicine”, rest, delicious meals and swims in the river. She describes the beauty of the setting and ended her article with purple prose:-

“The Rest for the Weary” is an appropriate name. Dr. McAndrew is a very pleasant and talented women, making the “Rest” a sunshiny one for her afflicted patients. I am told that this is the only water cure in the country embracing a swimming park. This is the crowning glory of the Institution, the patients learning to swim during the summer months, in the limpid currents of the Huron. On the banks of our beautiful river, though right in the center of the city, yet possessing fine landscape views, it is a place where those desiring rest and recovery of health, can find an abundance of both cheerful society, plenty of fun, and faithful medical attendance.

In the summer of 1871 the following advertisement appeared in The Commercial:-

DROWNED DROWNED THAT WOMAN WHO COULDN'T SWIM — AVOID HER FATE BY PROCURING TICKETS OF ADMISSION TO THE SWIMMING YARD OF HELEN McANDREW, M.D.

Back in Scotland Helen McAndrew had been most active in the unpopular temperance movement and an early member in that organization's “Band of Hope” which was for teen-age temperance workers. Helen and her husband started such an organization in Ypsilanti which met every Wednesday after school. Both she and her husband were active in the Temperance Sunday School and Church and the doctor regularly attended Temperance Conventions. She traveled around Michigan speaking in favor of Temperance and marching in Temperance parades. The doctor was also active in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Salvation Army and extremely active in Suffrage. Such leaders in the Suffrage movement as Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Mary Livermore and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were visitors at the McAndrew home. Son William says of his parents: “They marched in the streets in their old age with the same grim determination to back up some despised reform that they showed for abolution when it wasn't respectable, for women doctors when they were despised, for temperance when it was unpopular, for woman suffrance when it was ridiculous.”

(View an image of a Suffrage Rally in Recreation Park in our Gleanings image gallery.)

When after 1879 “life giving” mineral springs were founded in Ypsilanti Dr. Helen had mineral water piped into her establishment and along with the other sanitariums of Ypsilanti listed her daily patients in the pages of the local papers. Her advertisement read:-

Mineral Baths at Mrs. Dr. McAndrew's South Huron Street

Pleasant sitting rooms for ladies. No gentlemen admitted after 6 p.m.

Dr. Helen McAndrew died on October 26, 1906 at 80 years of age. It would be sometime gefore her two facorite “causes” Temperance and Suffrage would be legalized in the form of Constitutional Amendments. She missed marching in the streets of the big Eastern cities, she missed heckling President Wilson and other Government officials, but every cause has to have much ground work done to make it successful and no one could say that our Dr. McAndrew did not do her share.

Ypsilanti had another “lady” doctor who started practicing here at about the same time as Helen McAndrew. She was Dr. Ruth A. Gerry. Ruth and Seth Gerry, a dentist, came from Otsego in New York State. Dr. Seth Gerry received his education at the University of Michigan and Dr. Ruth at Woman's Hospital in Philadelphia.

Dr. Ruth Gerry was also most interested and active in the Suffrage movement, but her chief concern was for the poor of the city and county who could not afford medical attention. In 1872 she was instrumental in founding a local organization in Ypsilanti, called “The Ladies' Free Hospital Association”. At that time she and her husband lived at 57 Pearl Street (615 Pearl after the change in house numbers), and they had the house enlarged to give the use of rooms in it for Ypsilanti's Free Hospital. An article in The Commercial for February 17, 1872 spells out the need for the new facility:-

Mrs. Dr. Gerry, moved by the need of such an institution, put all of her available means into a building for this purpose on Pearl Street, 53 × 76 feet, including wings, and three stories high. Poor, sick students from abroad, especially Normal students, have been befriended, nursed and restored to health at this hospital. The faculty have come to regard it as an invaluable blessing to our city. In a growing community like our own-so many strangers from abroad-it is indispensible … Quite a number of our citizens have contributed nobly towards this Hospital. The ultimate design to make it a free one for friendless sick woman.

In June of 1872 Dr. Ruth Gerry was elected to membership in the County Medical State Society. This was a big step for men of the medical society to make, for just a year or so before when Dr. Gerry had applied for membership one male doctor complained in an article in the paper that he didn't see why women doctors wanted to join an organization where they knew they were not wanted.

In the summer of 1876 Dr. Gerry also started a bath establishment in connection with her hospital. In The Commercial of August 15, 1876 she advertised:-

Dr. R.A. Gerry Turkish Baths for Ladies and gentlemen. Hot, cold, shower and plunge baths with or without electricity. If you wish to enjoy real luxury, patronize the above. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and essential to perfect health, and nothing cleans so effectually as the TURKISH BATHS. An experienced matron in charge for the Ladies' Department-Open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays 6–10 a.m. 2–5 p.m.

Single baths .50 12 Tickets $5.00 Tickets $2.50

And in September of that same year the editor of The Commercial reported that Dr. Gerry had had her new “bathing rooms” running for over six weeks and had two hundred lady and gentlemen bathers up to that time.

Dr. Gerry had still one other pet project on which she spoke and wrote often; the stupidity of women wearing tight clothing and their vain pride in achieving small waists. In The Commercial of January 6, 1872, she was most melodramatic in her comdemnation of such habits:-

…What an achievement! How beautiful! How nice it would look on her tomestone. ‘She died early, but in her short life she succeeded in making for herself the smallest waist that was ever known!, noble creature! She died in the undertaking-but what of that! After such a pinnacle of glory has been reached!

On December 8 of 1876 Dr. Gerry died at the age of 48.

Her good friend, Charles Pattison, eulogized her in his paper.

…She was kind and large hearted; could not endure to see suffering without rendering all the assistance in her power to alleviate. She established a hospital in our city of high order. The Free Hospital Association was contributory to this institution, but over and above the aid rendered, nearly $1,000 per annum was expanded by this sacrificing woman and her husband in the aid of the suffering sick. Though she had a large practice in the city and vacinity she devoted one day a week to patients in Detroit. She possessed a consecrated seal in her profession, and this remarkable zeal made her a martyr. Rising from a sick bed to attend a patient was her last professional work…She felt that somebody must be sacrificed to pave the way for women to successfully practice medicine and be professionally recognized by the regular school, and that she was commissioned to make the sacrifice. Mrs. Gerry fought the battle, and drove the entering wedge for admission of our women to the Medical department of the University…Our city physicians acted as pall bearers, thus in the last sad rites showing a commendable professional recognition.

In 1878 the Ladies' Hospital Association errected a marker on Dr. Ruth A. Gerry's grave in Highland Cemetery.

Ruth A. Gerry, M.D. died

December 8, 1876 48 years

“She hath been a succorer of many” Romans, 16c and 9th v.

Erected by the Ladies' Hospital Association of which she herself was the founder.

Harriet, the Gerry's only child, received her medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1883. She practiced in Detroit and was the second woman on the staff of Harper Hospital. She contacted tuberculosis and died in 1899.

Dr. Seth Gerry returned to Otsego where he died in 1886. His obituary in The Commercial tells us that after Dr. Ruth's death the Sanitarium and Hospital were closed down. The house was then purchased by a Rev. E.P. Goodrich, passed through other hands, stood empty and Ypsilanti's “Free Hospital” is now an apartment house at 615 Pearl Street.

In September of 1877 Dr. Ruth A. French came to Ypsilanti. The notice of her arrival tells us:-

Miss Ruth A. French has taken Dr. Gerry's place. Rooms at Mrs. Wells on Adams Street and gives special attention to obstetrics and diseases of women and children.

An article in The Commerical for September 29, 1877 informed the public that Ruth French was a graduate of the Womans's College of Philadelphia, two years junior to Dr. Gerry, and that she had just returned from a year's study in a Parisian Hospital. Also in the same issue there is a letter of testimonial from ministers and doctors of the Philadelphia area telling of Dr. French's abilities.

Dr. French quickly became a part of the social life in Ypsilanti as well as the medical. She was a member of the Ladies' Literary Club and on the Board of the Ladies' Library Association. She joined the Methodist Church and was an active member. On February 26, 1881, perhaps her birthday, she was given a surprise party at the home of N.M. Thompson where-“numerous friends presented her with a black walnut bookcase, an office chair, an album, and ‘other articles' presented by patients and friends.

Although Dr. French was a popular doctor here and had many friends she seemed to find our climate not to her liking and left Ypsilanti and Michigan many times before she left for good. At various times over the years The Commercial tells of the comings and goings of this lady.

6/10/1882 Miss Dr. Ruth A. French left Tuesday to spend the summer in Topeka, Kansas. She has been a faithful friend and physician in this city, a worthy successor of the lamented Mrs. Dr. Gerry. Her many friends hope to see her return rested and improved in health.

She returned from Kansas, located in Detroit and came to Ypsilanti on Saturdays where she held office hours at the home of Mrs. E.N. Follett near the depot. In March of 1883 Dr. French settled in Knoxville, Tennessee to continue her practice and while there wrote many letters to friends here about her life and the people of Tennessee which were printed in the pages of The Commercial. In July of 1884 Dr. French returned to Ypsilanti and on November 1 of that year advertised:-

Dr. Ruth A. French after an absence of two years, returns to resume her practice at her office, on Huron Street near Cross Street and desires to correct a false impression made on a portion of the community that she sold her business at that time, as there was no consideration whatever received for anything except her furniture and household goods.

Dr. French's chief interest outside of the daily interest in her patients was in the prevention of commutiable diseases through the improvement of sanitary conditions-and on this subject she gave many talks in Ypsilanti, all faithfully reported in the pages of The Commercial.

In May of 1886 Dr. French again went to Kansas. If she did return once more to our city it is not noticed in the papers. In The Ypsilanti Press for June 12, 1905, there appears some sad news for her friends.

Word has been received in the city of a painful accident recently suffered by Ruth French, a former well known resident of this city, now of Petatuma, California. Last week while driving Dr. French, who is a prominent physician in Petatuma, was kicked in the head by her horse, receiving the full force of the blow from both horse's high feet, and suffering a severe fracture of the skull. Reports are to the effect that the patient shows no signs of improvement.

Dr. Ruth French died a few days after the accident.

When Dr. French left Ypsilanti in 1882 to go to Detroit and Knoxville, Dr. Belle Warner, “successor to Ruth A. French” came to Ypsilanti. Dr. Warner graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School. Her main interest outside of her practice of medicine was with Foreign Missions for there is an occasional report in the paper of Dr. Warner's attendance at Foreign Mission Conventions. On September 6 of 1884 the following notice appeared in The Commercial:-

We regret to report the leaving of Belle Warner, M.D. Miss Warner will remain until about the middle of the month when she proposes to visit her native home in New England. When she returns she will make her home in Detroit. Her successor is Mrs. Flora H. Ruch, M.D. who comes here from Adrian where she had had a successful practice. She is a graduate of the Medical Department of the University. She will retain the same residence and office so long occupied by Dr. Warner.

Dr. Warner came as successor to Dr. French and left when Dr. French returned to take up her practice in Ypsilanti again. Thinking back to Dr. French's paid announcement in the fall of 1884 concerning the fact that she had not “sold” her practice but only her furniture, one does wonder if erhaps there was a bit of misunderstanding and even hard feelings between the two doctors. Dr. Warner under the belief that she was really purchasing Dr. French's practice and that Dr. French was not planning to return. Perhaps, also, Dr. Warner felt that Ypsilanti did not have need of three “lady” doctors. As we read in The Commercial for December 8, 1886, Dr. Warner's future was a sad one after she left our city.

We were informed by a friend in Detroit, Monday, that Dr. Belle Warner, now Mrs. Reynolds, who was so highly esteemed in this city as a physician, for several years, has been taken to the Insane Asylum at Pontiac. Her insanity is caused by overwork being very anxious to excel, and having an extensive practice.

Dr. Warner's successor in Ypsilanti, Dr. Flora Ruch, like the others before her, quickly became an active member in the social life of the city. She belonged to the Ypsilanti's Woman's Club, a Chataqua Club and also found time to return to Adrian to attend former patients and to attend State Medical Meetings. However, by August 3 of 1888 she decided to leave Ypsilanti and go elsewhere for her practice of medicine.

Dr. Christine Marie Anderson, successor to Dr. Ruth Flora Ruch, was born in Green County, Iowa in 1862 and died in Ypsilanti in 1904. She was graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1888. Her assistant was a Dr. Emily Benn, also a University of Michigan Medical school graduate, and who came from Guelph, Ontario and died in Ypsilanti in 1902.

By this time the editors of the local papers and the people of Ypsilanti are getting quite unexcited about having “lady” doctors in our community and there is little in the papers about their activities.

On May 14 of 1895 there appeared a small article in The Commercial:-

Among those who will graduate from the Medical School at Ann Arbor this month we notice the names of Miss Harriet L. Hawkins and Miss Ellen Murray.

With no more introduction than that Dr. Ellen Murray, (born in Superior Township, November 22, 1867) started her practice in Ypsilanti. A “lady” doctor, even though she was a local girl, was no longer a novelty. By 1899 Dr. Murray not only belonged to the County Medical Society-she was Vice-President of it!. Before 1917 Dr. Ellen, (now Mrs. Edward F. Brown), had left Ypsilanti to move to Massachusetts.

In just about fifty years, spearheaded by the work of our' two pioneer “lady” doctors, Dr. Helen McAndrew and Dr. Ruth A. Gerry, the remale doctor had come of age in our city.

Syndicate content