Voice of America Visits Ypsilanti

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

Spring 2011

Author: Bill Nickels

After some time at the North American International Auto Show, Sean E. Liu, from the China Branch of Voice of America, spent time recently in Ypsilanti learning its history, and touring its museums and attractions.

Visiting our 1898 water tower was one of his first priorities; so we opened the doors and shared the tower's history and legends with Sean. Wanting to know the early history of our City, we told him about the founding of Ypsilanti at the crossroads of two Indian trails, namesake Demetrius Ypsilanti, the arrival of the railroad, gifting of land by the City for what eventually became EMU, and Henry Ford's contributions to the area.

Sean visited with Curator Matt Lee at the Michigan Firehouse Museum and learned that Ypsilanti has one of the top ten fire museums in the country. Following the visit with Matt, Sean learned about the long history of the Sidetrack Bar and Grill from co-owner Jessica French.

The home of Preston Tucker, the story of the Tucker automobile, the Bomber Restaurant and World War II history, and the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum were on Sean's list, but program limitations narrowed what he can use.

Sean will use the footage he recorded to prepare a 5-10 minute feature story for a weekly prime time program titled "Cultural Odyssey," that airs by satellite TV and Internet to about 30 million viewers in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore. Chinese language programs are often picked up by other services and aired in other languages as well.

The Voice of America is the United States’ non-commercial international network, currently broadcasting in 44 languages by radio, TV, and Internet to a global audience of over 100 million.

(Bill Nickels is an active member of the YHS, contributes in many ways to the maintenance and operation of the Museum and Archives, and is a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: Sean E. Liu from the China Branch of Voice of America taking a picture of Larry Thomas inside the Ypsilanti water tower.

Photo 2: Sean E. Liu from the China Branch of Voice of America talking to Jessica French at the Sidetrack Bar and Grill.

Education Night at the Archives

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

Spring 2011

Author: Al Rudisill

Education Night at the YHS Fletcher-White Archives will begin in April and will feature educational programs relating to historical people, places and subjects. The new programming has been made possible by the addition of new theater equipment recently installed in the Archives Education Center. The 56 inch high-definition television set with associated Blu-ray, dvd and video players was donated by Joe and Mae Butcko, life members of the Society. The “Joe and Mae Butcko Theater” comfortably seats 30 people and will assist us in reaching our goal of “…bringing together people interested in the history of Ypsilanti and the surrounding area.”

A dedication ceremony was held on Thursday, January 13 to celebrate the opening of the theater. Following a few brief remarks by Peter Fletcher, the new documentary movie titled “The Girl in Centerfield” was shown. Joe and Mae Butcko were not able to be present but Joe Butcko Jr. and his wife Pat accepted a Certificate of Appreciation from the YHS for making the new theater a reality.

During April of this year the following Education Nights have been scheduled:

Friday, April 8, 7:30 pm – “The Chicago Road”
Friday, April 15, 7:30 pm – “Willow Run – World War II”
Friday, April 29, 7:30 pm – “Historical Highlights of Ypsilanti”

James Mann, local historian and author, will introduce each program and lead a discussion session following the feature film and/or video. The sessions are free and open to the public, Popcorn will be served.

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The new “Joe and Mae Butcko Theater” in the YHS Archives featuring a 56” high-definition television set with Blu-ray, dvd and video players.

Photo 2: Joe Butcko Jr. and his wife Pat accepted a Certificate of Appreciation from Peter Fletcher on behalf of Joe and Mae Butcko.

Museum Advisory Board Report

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

Winter 2010

Author: Kathryn Howard, Chair – Museum Advisory Board

The Museum had a very busy and exciting fall with many activities. We started with the Quilt Exhibit in September and October.  Our 44 exhibitors brought 87 beautiful quilts, hangings and table pieces.  It took two floors to show all of them.   We thank all of the exhibitors for their talents to make a beautiful showing which was admired by more than 200 visitors. Many of the visitors to the Museum on scheduled tours also had an opportunity to view the Quilt Exhibit. Our thanks to Rita, Kathleen and all the helpers.

The Hattie Deubel oil portrait, age 14 as a young lady who lived either on North Huron or North Washington Street is ready to be displayed for the Holidays.  It has been newly framed.  Hattie was only 14 years when she passed away in the late 1800’s and the picture was finished after her death.

We have a wonderful exhibit for the Holidays.  Mr. Richard Robine, owner of the Olde Coin and Gold Shop in Depot Town, has loaned us his collection of beautiful paperweights.

We have a number of new volunteers in the Museum. A new member of the Advisory Board is Daneen Zuriech.  She will be helping with special decorations, exhibit placements, etc. New docents are Jim Curran, Shirley Graessley, and Lindsey Wooten.  We welcome all of these new volunteers.

Our book sales are now being handled by the YHS Archives.  We still have many items on sale in the Museum Gift Shop including our 2011 Calendar.  The Gift Shop will be closing on December 31, 2010, so please hurry on over.

Tours have kept Nancy Wheeler and a number of our docents busy.   More than ten tours have been scheduled during the Holiday Season. If you have a group that would like to tour the Museum and Archives please call the Museum.

Our manikins have all been dressed by Fofie Pappas, Doreen Binder,  Nancy Wheeler and Irene Hamilton and are ready for winter and the Holiday Season. Karen Nickels has refinished a chest of drawers, which is now part of the Lewis House Collection.  It will provide much needed storage for the costume room. What a beautiful piece.  Thank you, Karen.

With our Holiday Open House here soon, decorating is going on.  We have a very special musical group for our Open House on December 5th.  The Huron Valley Harmonizers will be with us.  Eight members in all have been thoughtful in providing their talent and time.  Thank you.

Our Holiday Reception is scheduled for December 29, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. This is a great time to stop and visit with friends and neighbors after Christmas.  Anne Stevenson is in charge of the Reception and has planned for some great musical entertainment and refreshments.  Do come!

Please make sure you notice the repairs that were done to the front steps and the threshold under the front door! They look great!

The Museum Advisory Board wishes all of you a wonderful, safe Holiday Season.  Please be sure to visit us.

From the President’s Desk

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

Winter 2010

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

Over $16,000 in pledges and contributions have been received for the “Storm Window Project” and the donor plaque will be made up in early January.  In this issue of the Gleanings you will find a list of contributors as they will be listed on the plaque.  If you are one of the contributors please check to see if your name(s) is appropriately listed.  If corrections need to be made you can email me at al@rudisill.ws. Thanks again to all those who made this project possible. A total of 52 windows were repaired and painted, and 52 new storm windows were constructed and installed by Ron Rupert.

Our next quarterly meeting will be held on Sunday, December 5, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. We will have a very brief business meeting followed with entertainment by a number of members of the Huron Valley Harmonizers. We hope you will attend to enjoy the entertainment, view the beautiful holiday decorations, and partake of the refreshments.

Our Holiday Open House will be held on Sunday, December 29, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. There will be musical entertainment and holiday goodies to warm the body on a cold winter night. Bring your family and friends to help us celebrate the 150th anniversary of the historic Dow House.

The Front Step Repair Project has been completed and has improved not only the appearance of our entrance but has also removed some of the safety issues with uneven sidewalks and a cracked vestibule. The new limestone sides on the steps and the new limestone vestibule were cut to match those that had deteriorated so we have retained the historic look of the entrance. Many thanks to an anonymous donor who gave $8,600 to cover the cost of this project.

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 from 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: The Huron Valley Harmonizers.

Family Photo Pageant

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


Winter 2010

Author: Derek Spinei

Our massive undertaking to digitize and document the Fletcher-White Archives’ collection of family photo albums is 50% complete. To celebrate the achievement we held a Family Photo Pageant for people who have lived or had family that lived in Ypsilanti. Immediately eliminated from contention were unidentified photos. Also, no contestant could compete in more than one category and their photo had to be in reasonably good condition for reproduction. Through careful contemplation, our panel of judges chaired by Michael Newberry made the painstaking decisions as follows. And the winners are:

(Disclaimer: The people in the photographs are real, but historical facts have been rearranged for entertainment purposes.)

Most Attractive Woman: Nora Delphine Varney (nee Jacox)

Nora’s beauty and the billowing sleeves of her gowns were the talk of the town.

Miss Congeniality: Alice E. Henderson

On the back of Alice’s photo is a detailed description of how she had the prettiest hands in town.

Studliest Man: Frank I. Cobb

Women loved him. Men loved to hate him.

Best Dressed: David Montangua

It was obvious that Mr. Montangua was particular about his appearance.

Most Feared: William L. McCullough

An adventuresome young William carrying two pistols and a rifle.

Most Flamboyant: Delinn C. Whitmire (nee Deubel)

Delinn’s wardrobe would be considered flamboyant even by today’s standards.

Best Couple: Will J. Stone and Bess Neat

This couple would be competitive today on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Cutest Baby: Amy Irene Crittenden

As a baby, Amy was hospitalized twice because of old women pinching her cheeks.

Best Dressed Child: Eloise Crittenden

Eloise loved to dress  up and have her picture taken.

Most Direct: John B. Russell

“I spent all day getting ready for this, now take the damn picture.”

Liberty Awakes in Washtenaw County: When Women Won the Vote

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

Winter 2010

Visit the Women’s Suffrage Exhibit opening January 8th, 2011 at the Museum on Main Street in Ann Arbor to learn answers to the following questions: Why did Washtenaw County vote against suffrage, not once, but twice? What town passed the Woman Suffrage Referendum in 1912 and 1913? What famous woman came to Ann Arbor to speak in 1912? And, how many equal suffrage associations were there in Washtenaw County in 1912?

The exhibit is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area in conjunction with the Washtenaw County Historical Society. The exhibit runs from January 8th through February 11, 2011. Co-curators of the exhibit are Jeanne Delay and Zoe Behnke. The hours of the exhibit are 12:00 to 4:00 Sunday through Saturday. To arrange a private tour for a group please email lwvannarbor.org.

Museum Board Report…

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

Author: Kathryn Howard

With summer flying by, the Museum has been busy and interesting. We have had many out of country, national, state and local visitors. Representatives visited the Museum from Sweden, China, Greece and many other states within the United States.

The Babbitt Collection is now displayed throughout the Museum and has attracted a lot of attention. Some visitors have indicated they have seen Babbitt collections in other places such as Grand Rapids and Toledo.

Karen Nickels and Nancy Wheeler have set up a wonderful permanent exhibit on the Underground Railroad in the Ypsilanti Room. The Cleary College display is now located on the second floor of the Museum in the hallway.

Our most wonderful acquisition recently is a Ferrand 1907 reed organ that was manufactured in Detroit, Michigan. It is a beautifully restored organ given by local resident Mr. Roland Schaedig. We are so grateful and cannot thank him enough for this gift.

To add to our John Barnhill Collection, the family of James Keegan has donated his 1959 Ypsilanti High School Band uniform.

Local residents and visitors in Ypsilanti for high school and college reunions regularly express their thanks for the memories our displays bring back about their youth. The Lost Ypsilanti Display at this time seems to be the favorite for visitors who grew up in Ypsilanti.

Our next function will be the Quilt Exhibit that will run from September 26 to October 10. We welcome all quilters to register and display their wonderful talents at this annual program. If you have exhibited before we ask for quilts that were not previously displayed. Also, if you wish to be a docent during the show, we would be grateful. Please contact Kathleen J. Campbell by telephone at (734) 483-5693 or by email at kjcampbelllace@sbcglobal.net or Rita Sprague at (734) 483-4600.

The weather was not kind during the Heritage Festival so our attendance was down compared to previous years. Those who came in the rain Saturday enjoyed their Museum tour and also our lacemakers, who braved working in the tent.

We are sorry to announce the closing of the Gift Shop due to the slow sale of gift items. We still have some pottery and everything is now on sale. Items have been marked off one-half or more from the original sale price. We will still be selling books at the lower level in the Archives. The local history books make wonderful gifts and Christmas is quickly approaching. Also, we will continue to sell the 2011 calendars with the wonderful views from Ypsilanti of yesteryears in both the Museum and the Archives.

We welcome Anne Stevenson as a new member on the Museum Advisory Board. Anne served as the Chair of the 2009 Holiday Reception and is also a Docent in the Museum.

It is hard to believe how fast the Christmas Open House on December 5th and the Holiday Reception on December 29th are approaching.

Have a wonderful fall season.

(Kathryn Howard is the Chair of the Museum Advisory Board.)

From the President’s Desk…

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

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

Recently a visitor to the Museum related this story to my wife, Jan, who at the time was serving as a docent. The visitor was viewing our display of old cameras and indicated that a friend of hers had found an old Kodak Brownie camera in the attic along with military items from World War II. She discovered there was film in the camera and took it to be developed. To her surprise the clear photos revealed a detailed account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Jan said that one of the “perks” of being a docent is hearing the stories told by the many visitors that come to tour the Museum and Archives.

Our fall quarterly meeting was held on Sunday, October 12 and we had an excellent presentation by Randy Hotton on the importance of the Willow Run Bomber Plant during World War II. Our next quarterly meeting and the holiday open house is on Sunday, December 5th from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. We hope you will join us for the meeting and program. Refreshments will be served following the meeting and program.

We are very pleased to report that the “Storm Window Project” has been successfully completed. A total of 52 windows were repaired and painted and 52 storm windows were built and installed. We have received pledges and contributions for over $15,000 which will cover the cost of the project plus the design and purchase of a “Storm Window Project” donor plaque for display in the Museum.

Another project currently underway is the repair of the front steps and entrance. The project involves replacing the limestone pad under the front door and the limestone sides on the front steps and porch. The limestone sections have been removed and sent to a contractor who will use them for patterns to cut and shape the replacements. The project cost is $8,650 which has been covered by a contribution from an anonymous donor.

We sincerely thank all those who have made contributions in support of the various projects undertaken over the past few months. The Museum and Archives are a local treasure and it is important that the property and artifacts are preserved for the use and enjoyment of future generations.

Thanks to everyone who contributes their time and money in support YHS projects but a special thank you this month to Board of Trustee member Jerry Jennings. Jerry supervises all the ongoing maintenance projects and completes many of his own. In the past couple of months he has removed a leaking roof vent, repaired and painted the ceiling in the living room, constructed several book shelves for the Archives, repaired and replaced a chandelier in one of the upstairs bedrooms, as well as other projects.

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 from 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 educating the general public about our history, please give me a call at 734-476-6658.

YHS Archives Postcard Collection

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

Author: Derek Spinei

The collection of postcards in the Archives has recently been digitized. This collection provides illustrations and photographs of the natural and built environment of Ypsilanti and is a valuable and little-used resource for research. Especially well represented in the collection are the Huron River, Eastern Michigan University, and city parks, but there are also quite a few postcards displaying images of Cleary College, bridges, streetscapes, public schools and, of course, the water tower.

Physically, the most unique postcard is one made of floppy leather which is postmarked 1906. An inherent problem with postcards is that we can’t necessarily glean from them the date they were printed, only when they were sent – and many of our postcards were never sent. Much of the other novelty souvenir postcard-type stationery we have does not lend itself to digitization because they feature multiple pull-out or fold-out images.

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

Postcard Captions:

Photo 1: The former Washtenaw Country Club at the time titled “Country Club and Golf Links, near Ypsilanti, Michigan.”

Photo 2: The log cabin constructed in Gilbert Park by the Kiwanis Club for the Ypsilanti Centennial in 1923.

Photo 3: Luna Lake in Prospect Park, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Photo 4: Willow Run Airport Terminal.

Reed Organ Donated to the Museum

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

On August 7, 2010 the Ypsilanti Historical Society acquired a substantial furniture item that now occupies the space in the Library Room where the upright grand piano once stood. Local resident Roland Schaedig generously donated his antique parlor reed organ to be displayed as a static furniture item in the Dow House. Built on March 11, 1907 by the Ferrand Organ Company in Detroit, Michigan, this reed organ superbly suits the turn-of-the-century time-frame of the museum’s interior appearance. Schaedig restored the interior works of the reed organ in 1972 and it remains fully functional. The upright grand piano previously owned by Mrs. Effie Stone-Warren was donated to the Stony Creek Methodist Church in Ypsilanti where it will receive loving care and congregational use for many years to come.

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The newly acquired reed organ was built on March 11, 1907 by the Ferrand Organ Company of Detroit, Michigan.

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