Lowell: The Ancient City

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Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1974,
April 1974
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During the period that immigration was rapidly flowing into Michigan– 1834–1840–every important water course, like the Huron, possessing first class mill power was seized upon by speculators, mapped into a village or city plat, advertisements and glowing accounts sent to the East, inviting the capitalist, the mechanic, etc. o come on and invest; corner lots were held at marvelous prices. The original proprietors saw big fortunes ahead, “wild cat” money was issued from nearly every four corners boasting a hotel and store and sometimes from imaginary points. The abundance of paper rags, (money so called), the ease of their manufacture floated for the time being every enterprise high and dry. But the bottom fell out and what a collapse. The panic of 1837–8, brought even the wildest visionary to his senses.

The above is not exactly a panorama of Lowell, for it really had an early day, a reasonable prospect of making its mark among the cities and villages of Washtenaw County. It has the best water power on the Huron. We have received the basis for the following historical facts from Mr. A.J. Knapp, whose farm now covers a part of ancient Lowell, and Mrs. Thomas Bush, mother of Charles and Erastus Bush, so well known to many of our citizens. Their father was one of the first class carpenters and bridgers of that day. In 1829, Messrs. James Forsythe and Mr. Andrew Beals, two miles up the river, built a saw mill, the dam being some forty rods below the present one. Soon after a chair factory was created, run by David Henson. Mr. Chipman, a prominent citizen of Owosso–a wheel wright–erected a factory for the manufacture of spinning wheels, reels, etc., and carried on a large business. In the meantime Forsythe and Beals sold out and moved away. Archibald McMath ran store. An estern (sp.) company was organized in Western New York, styled the Lowell Company, General Van Fossen acted as agent of the company. This company made things lively for a while. A paper mill was projected, a race dug about one hundred rods in length, about two-thirds of the way was the location of the paper mill, and at the other end another saw mill, which was run until it rotted down about twenty-five years ago. Hiram St.Johns, a son-in-law of Deacon Bacon, was the draughtsman (sp.) of the paper mill. A number of dwelling houses were erected. Now came a change in the tide of affairs and swift was the downward track. The digging of the race was let to an Irishman, Andrew Burgoyne. The company failed to pay him and to secure it he took possession of the Lowell land of the company, including mill property, driving off Whitlock, and satisfying Burgoyne. He sold one half of mills and one quarter of water power to Joseph Rogers, now dead. The flouring mill was completed and run for two years. Rogers sold to G.B. Nicholas & Dewey, same year was burned, in 1850. Thus was completed a grand ruin in comparison with the bright prospects of the early originators and speculators. For many years the only relic left, was seen by the passers by, from the trains on the Central, a wizzard, ghostlike, tattered building, a sad reminder of the past. This building was orginally erected in 1836 by Major McKinstry, the grandfather of James McKinstry, of this city, for a hotel. It was never occupied, however, the relapse coming on it was worthless for any such purpsoe. It was afterwards occupied by tenants. Many laborors, honest, hard working men, lost the fruits of their toil, bought lots, received bonds for deeds, and they were never executed.

Ypsilanti on the Chicago road, the main thoroughfare, and Ann Arbor, the County site and seat of the University, were too much for the infant Hercules and it never got much beyond its infantile nurses. The Central road was completed a little too late to infuse any fresh blood. He who loves archeological researches, to wander among the delapidated ruins of the past will be interested to follow the vestiges of the mill foundations, the old dam, the race, etc.

In 1874 Cornwell & Son of Ypsilanti Paper Company came to the rescue, built dam and erected their mills. There are now a number of residents occupied by the mill hands. The old Lowell Company's farming lands are now owned by A. J. Knapp and Artemus Sneidicor.

From “The Ypsilanti Commercial” March 20, 1880

But Lowell didn't disappear as quickly as C. R. Pattison, Editor ot The Ypsilanti Commercial author of the article printed would have us believe. Mrs. Minnie (Lambie) Clark, born in Superior Township, was a pupil in grade school with the children from Lowell and she has very kindly written what she remembers of the town and of the people who lived there.


“On the Huron river a few miles above the Peninsular Paper Mills, across on the north side of the river and a little west of where the Starkweather Grove was located, the Cornelius Cornwell family built a big dam and paper mill in 1874. Around it clustered a little settlement of homes where lived the families whose men folk worked in the mill. This mill was known as the Cornwell or the Lowell Mill. There was no community store, no blacksmith shop, no school, no church just a group of homes where lived a good sample of the melting pot of American workers. There was the Henry Miller family (Frank, Nellie, Minnie, Brownie) very English; The Sinkules of Bohemian origin (Mary, Mike, Anna, Eva, Fanny and Charlie); there were others whom I cannot name, my memory is too poor. As many may remember, Mathew (Mike) and brother, Charlie, had a very fine meat market on E. Cross Street and later Mike was President of the Ypsilanti Savings Bank.

However, some children of the families named walked into Ypsilanti to school most of the time walking along the railroad track; the roads of that day were pretty bad. They went to the Training school at the Michigan State Normal College a good two miles or more. You see, the Training School was a state supported school and children from the outside of the Ypsialnti School District could go there tuition free. What a blessing it was!

In the early day, it was planned to make quite a town of Lowell and other houses were soon started and others just in the planning stage. A boarding house was run by one or more of the ladies of the community and here men who did not bring the well-filled dinnerpail might find a good meal. The children took their lunch to school in a dinnerpail, box brown paper bag or part of the newspaper and were permitted to eat it in the furnace room in the basement of the Training School, now Welsh Hall. The little old fellow who was the jaintor–he would be a custodian now or some other fancy name, hated these children. They were lively, healthy kids and consequently noisy, mischievous careless and messy–just a nuisance. He did not stage a sitdown strike nor march around with a sign saying “Kids go home”. But each day during lunch time he came in with the hose, opened the ashpan door of the furnace and with a strong stream of water wet down the ashes and bathed all with a shower of ashes and dust. Then he came in with the wheelbarrow and the shovel and took up the ashes.

One of the characters who worked at Lowell was Verne Batterson, a man of varied talents. He called himself a millwright; his family ran one of the boarding houses, and later he drove a team with a light wagon with wooden seats running along the sides from the driver's seat to the tailgate. Each morning he picked up his load of workers and took them to the mill for the day's work and took them back in the evening.

A legend says that once there was a terrible explosion at the mill and the body of the engineer was blown and scattered over the countryside after which his ghost haunted the place at night. Before the community developed as had been planned, the mill burned (1906) and was never rebuilt; consequently the community gradually deteriorated and became a ghost town.”


The water power of the dam at Lowell was considered the best on the Huron River with a head of 17 feet. This power is still in existence and owned by the Detroit Edison Company known as their Superior Plant. There are still a few homes along the ‘main' street of Lowell but probably not one landowner knows that the section where he lives was a community before 1837.

The map on the following page showing the plat of Lowell is from the 1895 WASHTENAW COUNTY ATLAS.

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

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Ypsilanti Gleanings
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Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: October 1973

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ypsilanti (signed) A. Craddock January 31, 1844

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The faculty of Central High School in 1916 were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
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Author: Daniel J. Quirk

Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: August 1973

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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:-


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.

Ypsilanti Historical Society Newsletter, January 1972

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: January 1972

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/1972-Jan.pdf

THE MYSTERY SOLVED-One day when Eileen Harrison was at the Museum Mr. Wayne H. Predmore, Sr., came in to give our Museum other items beside THS TOOL CHEST. (See acquisitions list). And so the MYSTERY of the donor of our fascinating gift is SOLVED. Mr. Predmore told Eileen that the chest was built by his Uncle, Mr. H.W. Predmore, a graduate of Michigan Agricultural College where he learned cabinet making. The uncle, Mr. Predmore and Mr. Predmore's father, all worked in Detroit making oak frames for early automobiles. Mr. Predmore recalls that they had two deers on the left and one on the right for the driver. This was when he was working for Overland Motor Company. The uncle also worked for C.H. Wilson body company. He was a photographic buff and did his own printing and developing. Mr. Predmore says most of the pictures in the caseare schoolmates of the Uncle.


We are pleased to report that Mrs. Sally Robinson is improving after her recent operation. However, we are sorry to report, that because of her ill health Sally will have to give up the position of Corresponding Secretary for the Society. We hope that she continues to improve and that even after she leaves Ypsilanti for as other city she will be able to come to our meetings.


Mr. Alan Stewart has in is possession a beautiful piece of cherry wood and from it he plans to make a base for our Congressional Medal of Homer-which will be one of the permanent displays in the Civil War Room. Mrs. Carl Miller reports that the Special Civil War cases, made by Mr. Lee Boatwright. Just need to be stained and should soon be delivered and set up in the Museum.


On Saturday morning, January 15th, Miss Doris Milliman and other members of the Daughters of the American Revolution moved the D.A.R. records from their vault in the Public Library to their new location in our Museum. We are very pleased and proud to have the records of this organisation, and other organisations as well, at the Museum.


On Saturday afternoon, January 15th, members of our local American Association of University Women, braving the sere temperature outside, (and the not too warm temperature inside our building), met and heard one of the Society members give a brief talk on Ypsilanti from 1824 until the present day.


On Monday, January 24th, a third grade classfrom Ardin School, with their teacher, Mrs. Audrey Sperling, (and her assistant), took a bus tour of Ypsilanti seeing our Historical spots and a tour of the Museum. Members of the Society acted as guides on the bus trip and in the Museum. This is the second time that Society Members have acted as guides for the local school children on one of their “field trip” and we hope that there will be many more such affairs.


Come in and see the tool chest and our other new acquisitions-and while hers sign up to WORK-there is much to be done still before evening date.

December - January Acquisitions for the Museum

Donor Items
George & E. Mary Campbell 2313 Packard Road, Ann Arbor dell house & furniture
1880 Hammond typewriter
Child's blocks
black derby-fr. C.S. Wertley store
seven petticoats
two aprase
seven shirt waists
handmade hat
child's clothing
two piece navy blue dress
bureau scarf
Michigan Alumnus” 1924-
Illus. Price list-
Agri. Fair programs
“Life on Farm”-Wm. Lambio
A. A. railroad
adv. fan
old books
through Mr. E. Abbott from Wiedman
Automobile Agency-
Nine boxes letters and records
George Fox
3380 Pittsview Drive.
Ann Arber
Model (made by George) of Supreme Court
Building in Washington
Thrift Shop-through Mrs. Alan Stewart One coin silver napkin ring with legend
“H. P. Platt 1859”
Mrs. Wesley Dawsen
1587 S. Congress
“Aurora” for 1912 & 1913
Township plates of Washtenaw County
Standard Atlas of Washtenaw County-1915
A Friend partial brick-“original brick-Ladies”
Literary Club building
Dr. Wm. Edmunds
1303 Westmereland
Plaque formerly in front hall of Beyer
Hospital-“Federal Works Agency, War Public
Works, Philip B. Fleming, Major General, U. S. A.,
Federal Works Administrator, Franklin D.
Roosevelt, President of the United States
Ypsilanti Hospital 1944”
A Friend old fence wire
A Friend copies of YPSILANTI DAILY 1906 and
YPSILANTI EVENING PRESS 11/15/1904-1/8/1904
A Friend American flag with forty-five stars
Miss Eleaner Mesten
203 S. Huren
old books-including one “My First Book”
written by Miss Meston-letter from Miss
Meston to her sister describing 1922 trip
to French and Belgium battlefields
A “Friend” THE MILK INDUSTRY IN MICHIGAM AND AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 1933 by Frederick J. Peters (term paper for History Class t E.M.U.)
Mr. Wayne H. Predmore, Sr.
4901 Merritt Road
Tool chest
Shee repair outfit
Heavy jack
Fender rasp
Flerible carpenter's tool
floor place
Sheep shears
Hinge measure
Angle place
Saw set
Cushioned chisel
Silver butter dish
silver plated tea pet, sugar bowl
small bowl
grass seed measure
a “Friend” wig for dress model
A “Friend” photograph-“Ray Battery Team”
Thrift Shop vest pocket dictionary-1893
(Through Mrs.Fred older)
Chandelier-for one of the rooms
Mrs. Clare Anderson
702 Pearl
Records & minutes of Senior Citizens when this group met at the Episcopal Church
Mrs. A. L. Moore
914 Pleasant Drive
2 old L. C. Smith typewriters (about 50 yrs)
Electric Board Teaching Machine-on Michigan
Biographical material on Charles Moore family

Ypsilanti Historical Society Newsletter, November 1971

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: November 1971

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/1971-Nov.pdf

A sincere welcome to all new members of the Society.

THANK YOU, AGAIN—Since January first of 1971 to the present time over 70 people have contributed items to the Museum and the Archival collection, These gifts have all been catalogued. We regret that space just does not permit the listing of each and every donor-but all gifts are appreciated. In the future we plan to list the name of each contributor and gift in this Newsletter.

THANK YOU, AGAIN—To the ladies of the Antique Group of Eastern Michigan University Faculty Women who have voluntarily given of their time and ability to start the arrangement of our many books in the second floor Library room of the Museum. Also THANK YOU, AGAIN = to the members of the Historical Society man and women = who have spent many hours scrubbing floors, walls, shelves, setting up cases, doing carpentry work and storing exhibit materials.

THANK YOU, AGAIN—Sometime in October a very kind person stopped in at City Hall, there was no one at the Museum, got the front door key from Roberta Miller and put up in the front room a most magnificent tool chest = first made in 1907 and “revised” in 1917. It is a most unusual item and one which will fascinate Museum visitors for a long time to come. UNFORTUNATELY-a slip of paper with the name of the donor has been “misplaced” (surely not lost). and we know not whom to thank. If anyone knows anything about this gift wen't you please contact us.

DID YOU KNOW That according to the “Market reports” listed in the “Commercial” for 1871 (November) butter was selling for twenty five cents a pound and eggs for twenty five cents a dozen.

DID YOU KNOW that we have an egg box from the Charles King Grocery store in the Museum? The King Grocery store in 1871 was at the corner (S.W.) of Congress (now Michigan) and Huron. Mr. King's residence was at the n.e. corner of Pearl and Adams.

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