Archives Film Production

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

Author: James Mann

The City of Ypsilanti has been the site of several motion picture productions film- ing scenes of movies here. Each has been the subject of publicity and great interest. What is not so well known is the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives has also been the site of a motion picture production. This production was not the work of a Hollywood film company, but the crew of a documentary production company. The company, Signature Communications of Huntington, Maryland, was commissioned by the National Parks Service to produce a film for the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in California.

The purpose of the film was to present a big-picture view of the American home front during the World War II. The time of the war was a period of major and ir- revocable social change that was affected and shaped by everyday people. For this reason the production company wanted to interview people who could provide in- sight into how the Bomber Plant at Willow Run changed Ypsilanti. The company is creating mini-documentaries on a number of themes, including: migration, support of the war effort, and the experience of women workers in the plant.

The company arrived at the Archives early on the morning of Friday, July 1, 2011, to set up their equipment. Tables and chairs were moved from the room, and a back- drop put in place for filming. Lights were set up and the camera made ready. All they needed now was someone to inter- view. The first person to be interviewed was Peter Fletcher (son of a previous City archivist and member of the Endowment Fund Advisory Board), who proved to be the ideal subject. When asked a question, he answered at length and in detail. Peter told his stories, with facts that clearly re- flected what life was like in Ypsilanti during the war.

The next two people to be interviewed were women who had worked at the Bomber Plant during the war. Each was eighty-nine or ninety years of age. The two were not as talkative as Peter had been. The interviewer asked one of the women, “I understand you got married on a week- end, and nine months later had a baby?” The woman answered, “Yes.” Then the interviewer asked further questions, to elicit more details.

The filming was finished by the end of the day, and the crew moved on to the next site. When finished, a copy of the film will be sent to everyone who took part. The ar- chives will have a copy as well.

(James Mann is a local historian, author and a regular contributor to the GLEANINGS.)

Photo captions:

Photo 1: The control room

Photo 2: The set

Photo 3: The talent: Peter B. Fletcher

Fletcher-White Archives

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

The weather outside is frightful but down in the YHS Archives the temperature is absolutely delightful! In fact, Richard and Polly Sprague came all the way from Portland, Oregon just to cool off and do research with the help of our staff of talented volunteers. Good to have the Sprague’s back here in their hometown! There is plenty of really hot weather left this summer so come on down to our comfortable hideaway!

Well, we got a chance to try out our microfilm reader that we received in the spring and it is just the coolest thing to do research with. You can actually read the images without temporarily losing your eyesight. With just a little instruction our guests can use it too. Thanks again to all of you who participated/contributed to the cause. It is really something that we have needed for a very long time.

We continue to receive a significant number of contributions for our various collections. Even though some of them are not large or momentous, they still add to the information that we rely on to do research. Some of these items end up inspiring our writers or helping place a little history within reach of an understanding of what happened many years ago. Some of these stories from James, Laura, George, Jan, Peg and others end up in the “GLEANINGS,” which you are enjoying right now. So don’t throw it away if you believe it may contain something of value for us or other historical societies.

Besides the books we carry about the history of this area, we have for sale a book for all of you baby boomers about early Detroit television in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. It is a glimpse back to the simple days of Soupy Sales, Sagebrush Shorty, Johnny Ginger and all of the favorites that warped our young minds.

This book really explains a lot about who we are and why we all turned out soooo strange. Ed Golick is the author and he has an addendum website with many of the “interesting” videos mentioned in the book. We have a limited number of these books on sale in the Archives. It would be a great Christmas stocking--stuffer so come on down and take a look at it: “Detroit Television” by Ed Golick and Tim Kiska, part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Press.

[Gerry Pety is Director of the Fletcher-White Archives and a regular contributor to the GLEANINGS]


The Ypsilanti Historical Archives
contains the following collections related to people and places in Ypsilanti’s history:
Black History
Book–Early Education
Book–Local History
City & Township
Civil Docket
Criminal Docket
Directory–City & County
Family History Capers
General Subject
Michigan Pioneer
News Clippings
Tax Assessment Rolls
Telephone Directory
Willow Run
Ypsilanti Government
Veterans Project

The Archives are located in the basement of the Museum. The main entrance is on the north side of the Museum. You may park in the Museum parking lot or in the church lot across the street.

HOURS: The Archives are open Tuesday through Sunday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm except on national holidays. Serious historians and researchers, who need additional times or days, should call Gerry Pety at 734-572-0437 to make further arrangements.

Museum Board Report

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

Author: Kathryn Howard, Chair Museum Advisory Board

Since our spring issue of GLEANINGS there have been many exciting and interesting activities at the Museum.

With the opening of the 1860s Civil War Exhibit in June we have had many tours and visitors. The Exhibit has proven very interesting to the public. Many visitors have found names of their ancestors and many have given us more information. The Exhibit will end on September 18.

The Heritage Festival was held in August and the Museum and Archives had extended open hours. Although the attendance was down this year, those who visited indicated they enjoyed the new and updated presentations including the Civil War “Lost Ypsilanti” exhibit. Lower attendance was probably due to the uncertain weather during the Heritage Festival.

We are getting ready for our Quilt Exhibit starting September 25th through October 9th. If you have a handmade quilt you would like to exhibit, contact Rita Sprague at 483-3600 or the Museum Office at 482-4990. We expect 100 lovely quilts. We are fortunate to have very talented people in our community. Hours will be regular Museum hours, with an opening reception on Sunday, September 25th.

Our exhibits for the autumn season will be store items that Ypsilanti merchants advertised and sold. Many items were made and sold in Ypsilanti in those early days. The mannequins will have new costumes and will be ready for the autumn season.

Our two interns are very good in helping with our extra activities. Lauren has completely redone the Solarium. Many more new plants have been added.

The new Calendars for 2012 are here and can be purchased in the Archives. Where the Gift Shop was is now the reception room––called “The Heritage Room”––with portraits of residents of Ypsilanti and our past ancestors.

From the President's Desk

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

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

If you notice some changes in this issue of the GLEANINGS it is because Tom Dodd has joined our editorial staff. Tom is assisting with editorial duties as well as doing all the design and layout for the publication. Tom is a retired teacher of Art, English, and Journalism, and served as editor of the Depot Town Rag for over 30 years. We welcome Tom to our staff and look forward to his expertise in helping us continue to serve our membership and the wider Ypsilanti community with the publication of the GLEANINGS. I want to thank Keith Bretzius, who has done the layout and design for the GLEANINGS in the past, for his dedicated efforts in setting up the original design for the GLEANINGS. Keith has won several state level awards for his design and creativity and whose expertise enabled the GLEANINGS to win the 2009 Historical Society of Michigan award for “Outstanding Newsletter.”

The Museum Advisory Board has done an excellent job with exhibits and the 1860s Civil War Exhibit has been extremely popular. If you have not seen this exhibit, please visit us before September 18 as that is when the exhibit will close. Shortly after the close of the Civil War Exhibit the Quilt Exhibit will open and will run from September 25th to October 9th.

The extended open hours during the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival provided the opportunity for many out-of-town visitors to spend time in the YHS Archives and Museum. Many of those who stopped by were first time visitors and we heard many comments about how surprised many were about the wide variety and number of displays and exhibits included in the Dow House. The Archives was also very busy with out-of-town visitors seeking information about parents and/or relatives who lived in Ypsilanti during earlier times.

We are always looking for volunteer docents for the Museum or research assistants for the Archives. Both the Museum and Archives are open from 2 to 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday. If you are available during that time and are interested in helping us preserve the historical information and artifacts of the area, or in educating the general public about our history, please give me a call at 734-476-6658.

From the President’s Desk

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

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

There never seems to be a break in all the activity in and around the YHS Museum and Archives. Spring projects included “brick tucking” on both the Museum and Carriage House, repair of the support structure under the handicapped entrance at the back of the Museum, repair and resurfacing of the floors in the old gift shop, the William Edmunds Ypsilanti Room and the first floor office, and painting the rooms where the floors were repaired.

Kathy and Jenn, our renters in the lower level of the Carriage House, have taken over the responsibility for yard work on the property. Many flower beds have been expanded and others added and we are receiving many complements on the appearance of the grounds.

We appreciate very much the support of all the volunteers who assisted with the annual yard sale. This was the most successful yard sale ever held and a special thanks is due Karen and Bill Nickels for hosting the event and for all their efforts over the past year in collecting items for the sale. Please read the article in this issue of the Gleanings on the yard sale.

Our relationship with the graduate program in Historical Preservation at Eastern Michigan University continues with the appointment of two new interns. Lauren Carpenter has been assigned to assist in running the Museum and Deirdre Fortino (Dee) will assist in running the Archives. Our best wishes to former interns Derek Spinei and Michael Newberry as they complete their graduate programs and pursue their careers.

Considerable effort is being put forth to develop a digitized database of all the collections in the YHS Archives. The database is searchable via computer and has been posted on the Society web site. Our activities at the present time are focused on the organization of our photographic collections which include tintypes, glass slides, negatives and photographs in all sizes and shapes. In addition to digitizing the photographs, appropriate preservation and storage issues are being addressed.

Our next quarterly meeting will be held on Sunday, September 11, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. We will have a brief business meeting followed by a program. Members will be notified of program details by email or postcard. If you are not currently on our email listserv please call the Museum and have your name added. We are using the listserv only for program notifications. Your email address will not be shared by others.

We are always looking for volunteers as docents for the Museum or research assistants for the Archives. Both the Museum and Archives are open from 2:00 to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday. If you are available during that time and are interested in helping us preserve the historical information and artifacts of the area, or in educating the general public about our history, please give me a call at 734-476-6658.

Ypsilanti Gleanings, Fall 2011

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Publisher: Ypsilanti Historical Society

Date: Fall 2011

Get PDF: ypsigleanings/2011-Fall.pdf

In this issue....

* Keep Smiling Brown: James Mann describes the colorful life of a turn of the century resident.
* The Friendly Feud: “Ypsi and Annie” in 1891 poetry A 19th century poem takes a look at the relationship between two.
* Ypsi History – It’s a Test!: Test your wits with our celebrated wit, Peter Fletcher
* Family Bible Collection: Thinking about the value of a special kind of heirloom.
* The Civil War Blood Vials: We follow the story of the 'first shed' blood of the Civil War as it passes through Ypsilanti and into history.
* The Ypsilantis: Constantine, Alexander, and Demetrius: Further notes on Demetrius Ypsilanti, his family, and the differing accounts of his life.
* Cemeteries Found at EMU: Recently found forgotten graves remind Laura Bien of another time that the University's uncovered some history.
* Ypsilanti History in Photographs: An Update on the Digital Photo Archives Project: By Debi Hoos-Lemke
* Abortion for Wicked Purposes The story of the trial of Dr. William G. Cox, charged with malpractice.
* Ypsilanti Songs! A couple of seldom-sung songs with Ypsilanti as their subject.
* Answers to 'Ypsilanti History -- It's a Test!'
* Peck Street: A Story of Broken Dreams!: A garage tells the tale of a family whose fortune faded in Ypsilanti.
* Brayton Mausoleum was First in the County: A description of the historic structure.

Society Briefs:

* From the President’s Desk...
* Museum Board Report...
* Fletcher-White Archives...

Museum Advisory Board Report

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

Spring 2011

Author: Kathryn J. Howard, Chair

Although we have experienced a cold and snowy winter at the Museum, we were warm and busy inside. Robert Southgate is now our Vice Chairman. Now Hurrah for our Spring and Summer activities.

We have several new exhibits you must see. We were given Joyce Mallory’s collection of beautiful crystal vinegar and condiment cruets. There are thirty-seven that are now in the showcase of the Ypsilanti room. We also have two collections of Earnest Griffin’s, one of silver tea spoons of Michigan State Normal College and Eastern Michigan University, the other case is spoons of Ypsilanti. The Kitchen case has baking powder containers of the past, spice containers, and utensils.

The Spring Art Exhibit is our biggest event from May 8th to 22nd. Our local artists will be showing their watercolor, oil and pastel work. If interested in displaying your work call Kathryn Howard at 734-482-7081 or Kathleen Campbell at 734-483-5693 for details. The “Lost Ypsilanti” group is working on an entirely new presentation of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. The exhibit will start right after the Art Exhibit in late May and continue through June. The American Indian Exhibit is being refurbished and will be on view in late April.

We have had several tour groups go through the Museum including the Redner 2nd Grade Class from the Lincoln School District. We also had a large group of visitors from Germany. Coming on March 22nd is the Project Transition Group and on April 2nd a Yankee Air Force Museum Group will visit. We will soon have a Hands-on Exhibit for school groups touring the Museum.

The Gift Shop is now closed but you can purchase maps, calendars, pottery and other articles in the Archives downstairs. The Gift Shop will soon be a Welcome Room and display area for the Museum.

Do plan to visit us for the Art Exhibit and other interests. We will be showing over 100 paintings. There is no charge—and you will receive a warm welcome.
Have a wonderful Spring and Summer,

From the President’s Desk

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

Spring 2011

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

Several new projects have been completed since the publication of the last “From the President’s Desk” report in the Winter 2010 issue of the Gleanings. First, a new theater system has been installed in the Education Center thanks to the generosity of Joe and Mae Butcko. Another project completed is the construction of a back-lit box and the mounting of the Charles Stewart Mott stained glass portrait in the entrance to the Archives. The portrait was a gift to the Society by Jack and Esther Minzey.

Jerry Jennings and Bill Nickels assisted with the installation of a beam and supporting posts in the basement under the William Edmunds Ypsilanti Room. The beam was necessary to support the floor which had become unstable.

Beginning in April we will have an “Education Night at the Archives” which will features historically significant movies and documentaries utilizing the new theater. James Mann is the coordinator and will also provide an introduction to each program and lead a discussion following the program.

Some time in April we will be losing Derek Spinei as an Intern in the Archives. Derek will be completing his graduate program in Historical Preservation at Eastern Michigan University and will be joining the work force. Michael Newberry, who has been serving as the Intern upstairs in the Museum will be moving downstairs to replace Derek. Lauren Carpenter, another Intern from the EMU graduate program in Historical Preservation, will replace Michael in the Museum. Also, in January we signed a four-year extension with EMU on our Intern Agreement.

Our next quarterly meeting will be held on Sunday, May 1, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. We will have a very brief business meeting followed by a program on “Historical Preservation in the 21st Century.” The program will be presented by Derek Spinei and Michael Newberry, the two interns currently working in the YHS Archives and Museum.

Considerable effort is being put forth to develop a digitized database of all the collections in the YHS Archives. The database will be searchable via computer and will assist visitors in locating specific data contained in all 33 archive collections.

We are always looking for volunteers as docents for the Museum or research assistants for the Archives. Both the Museum and Archives are open from 2:00 to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday. If you are available during that time and are interested in helping us preserve the historical information and artifacts of the area, or in educating the general public about our history, please give me a call at 734-476-6658.

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: EMU President Sue Martin and YHS President Al Rudisill sign a new Intern Agreement. In the center is Ted Ligibel who coordinates the graduate program in Historical Preservation at EMU.

Charles Stewart Mott Stained Glass Portrait

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

Spring 2011

Author: Al Rudisill

The entrance to the YHS Archives has a new look! In January a Charles Stewart Mott stained glass portrait that was donated by Jack and Esther Minzey was installed in the North entrance to the Archives. Jerry Jennings built a back-lit frame that highlights the features of Mr. Mott. Jack Minzey was a national leader in the field of Community Education, a field that Mr. Mott supported and promoted throughout the United States. In the Archives entrance at the top of the stairs a plaque has been placed with the following inscription:

“Charles Stewart Mott (1875-1973) was a very successful industrialist, unique politician, distinguished citizen, dedicated community supporter and willing philanthropist. Over the years, there have been many associations with Mr. Mott, the Mott foundation and people and programs at Eastern Michigan University.

For the last thirty years of Mr. Mott’s life, his primary focus was on the promotion of Community Education. This concept came about as a result of ideas presented to Mr. Mott by Frank Manley who had been motivated by his physical education instructor at Michigan State Normal College, Dr. Wilbur Bowen. Starting in Flint, Michigan as the “Mott Program”, it later became known as “Community Schools” and then “Community Education.” This led to an Eastern Michigan University training center in Flint, followed by Eastern’s involvement in the Mott Inter-University Clinical Preparation Program for Leaders, and the subsequent development of the Eastern Michigan University Center for Community Education. Eastern Michigan University offered the first graduate degree in Community Education, operated the National Center for Community Education in Flint, Michigan, and offered the premiere community education training program in the United States. In addition to Frank Manley (the perceived Father of Community Education), faculty associated with the development of Community Education at Eastern include Dr. Fred Totten, Dr. Jack Minzey, Dr. Clyde LeTarte, Dr. William Hetrick, Dr. James Satterfield, Dr. Donna Schmitt, Dr. Duane Brown, and Dr. William Kromer.

The stained glass portrait of Charles Stewart Mott was commissioned by the Mott Foundation, and for many years hung in a prominent place in the Mott Foundation funded National Center for Community Education in Flint, Michigan. When the National Center closed, the director gave the portrait to Dr. Jack Minzey who, in addition to serving as professor and administrator at Eastern Michigan University, was a national leader in the field of Community Education. Dr. Minzey donated the portrait to the Ypsilanti Historical Society in 2007.”

On Thursday, January 13 a celebration of the hanging of the stained glass window was held in conjunction with the dedication of the new theater in the YHS Archives Education Center. During the celebration Peter Fletcher presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Jack and Esther Minzey for their donation of the stained glass portrait and their continuing support for the Ypsilanti Historical Society.

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The Charles Stewart Mott stained glass portrait that now hangs in the entrance to the YHS Archives.

Photo 2: Peter Fletcher presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Jack and Esther Minzey for the donation of the Charles Stewart Mott portrait and their continuing support for the YHS.

Demetrius! Where are you?

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

Spring 2011

Author: James Mann

Looking down from the wall in the front entrance of the museum is a portrait of Demetrius Ypsilanti, for whom the city is named. There is a story behind how the portrait came to be there, a story filled with acts of kindness, mystery and some more mystery. You see, there are at least two other portraits of Demetrius, but no one is sure where the other two are now. Actually, there might be one or two other portraits as well, but no one can say where these are now, so the mystery deepens.

The first portrait of Demetrius to arrive in the city was a gift of the Greek counsel in New York City, who in the 1880’s had inquired as to the origin of the name of the city. On learning the city was named for the hero of the Greek War for Independence, he presented a portrait of the hero to the city. This portrait was hung in the council chamber of city hall, then on Cross Street. This was considered to be a safe place for the portrait. Then somehow the portrait disappeared from the chamber. What became of the portrait, no one could say.

In the 1890’s Prof. Strong of the Michigan State Normal College, had some correspondence with a Mr. E. D. Barff, Jr. of London, England. Mr. Barff noted the name of the community from which Prof. Strong was writing from, and informed Prof. Strong his father Mr. E. D. Barff had been the British consul at Zante, Greece, during the Greek War of Independence. There he had been a friend of Lord Byron, and was acquainted with the leaders of the struggle. The elder Barff was something of an artist, and had made portraits of the leaders. These included a portrait of Demetrius. He took great pains to procure a good likeness of the subjects.

Prof. Strong suggested that a photograph of the portrait of Demetrius would be valued by the city. He further suggested he would take on the trouble and expense to see the portrait placed in a place where it would be permanently cared for. His personal feeling was the best place would be the Ladies Library Association building on North Huron Street, which had recently be donated by Mrs. Starkweather.

Mr. Barff sent a photograph of the portrait to Prof. Strong, who had originally planned to present either a crayon drawing or an enlarged photograph of the portrait to the association. He found that an untouched photograph would be too pale and either a touched up photo or crayon would miss the likeness. In the end, Prof. Strong presented to the association the photograph taken directly from the drawing. Where is this portrait today? No one can recall seeing it. It seems to have disappeared.

The portrait in the entrance to the museum is by local artist Edward I. Thompson, who in 1934 made every effort to get a good likeness of Demetrius. He even used a step ladder to get up close to the bust of the general in front of the Water Tower, so he could take pictures of Demetrius from every angle. Then he went home and painted the portrait of Demetrius. After that, he then painted a second portrait of Demetrius and then a third.

One of the portraits was displayed in the council chamber of City Hall, now on North Huron Street. At this time the council chamber was on the first floor of the building. Gertrude Woodard was so impressed with the portrait, she had a hand-rubbed walnut frame made for it. Then the council chamber was moved to the second floor of the building. The portrait, however, was moved to the third floor. At some point, Family Services Agency moved into the space on the third floor, and Demetrius gazed down on all the activity. When Family Services moved to 212 North Adams Street, the portrait went with them. The portrait was evidently placed in storage and forgotten until it was discovered in 1963.

To add to the mystery, a second portrait was found in the attic of City Hall, at about the same time. This one was “elegantly framed in carved oak, which was subsequently hung in City Hall,” reported the Ypsilanti Press of November 13, 1963.

Then on April 30, 1966 Mr. and Mrs. James Vourlites walked into the office of the Ypsilanti Greek Theater with a gift. It was the third portrait of Demetrius by Thompson.

“They told Greek Theatre President Clara G. Owens the painting had hung in their living room for years after they got it from a friend, who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend….” reported The Ypsilanti Press of May 1, 1966. The portrait was on display in the offices of the Ypsilanti Greek Theatre at 203 West Michigan, noted the report. What became of the portrait after that is not known.

The offices of government moved from North Huron Street to its current location on South Huron and Michigan Avenue in 1979, and the portrait of Demetrious went with them. This time the portrait was stored in a closet there. Found by Tim Conway in 1982, the portrait was turned over to City Historian Foster Fletcher. The painting measures 2 ½ feet wide and 3 feet long. “Fletcher said to make sure it’s not misplaced again, General Demetrius Ypsilanti will be hung over the fire place in the museum’s front room—where they can keep an eye on him,” noted the Ann Arbor News of March 20, 1982.

One mystery solved, but others remain. What became of the other two portraits? Where is the one donated by Mr. Barff to the library? What became of the one given by the Greek counsel so many years ago? Is anyone interested in organizing search parties to find out?

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

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: This might be the image of Demetrius provided by Mr. E. D. Barff of London, England and presented to the Ladies Library Association by Professor Strong. It may be the image in the Ypsilanti District Library in the Michigan Room of the Whittaker Road Branch.

Photo 2: This might be an image of the portrait of Demetrius presented by the Greek counsel in New York in the 1880’s. The portrait was displayed in the chamber of the city council for many years before it disappeared. What became of the portrait is not known.

Photo 3: This image of the Ypsilanti brothers, Alerandros and Demetrius was presented to the city by Prof. Frank Ross of Eastern Michigan University. It is now on display in the library room of the museum above the thermostat.

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