Spotlighting Our Volunteers

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

Ethel O'Connor-One who has been a faithful worker since our days in the present building is Ethel O'Connor who resides with her friend, Gertrude Murray. Ethel has been in charge of scheduling sixty volunteers for the past eight years, and has also arranged for special groups to visit the Museum. To save postage, the schedule is planned for six months and each volunteer receives a copy. She also acts as a hostess at least once a month, and frequently assists with special groups. Her assistance is invaluable and she approaches her assign-ments with interest and enthusiasm. Her activity in telling children about the Museum is similar to her activity as a “master teacher.” She is a most cooperative person, meets the public extremely well and is a highly valued volunteer.

Besides her Museum duties, Ethel assisto with Mass at the Parkview Nursing Facility once a week, for which she schedules helpers. She is a monthly worker at the Thrift Shop and has held office in that organization.

In April of this year, Ethel was given an an award at the annual meeting of the Michigan Federation of Women's Clubs for being “Miss Club Woman”.

She has been active, and has held offices in the Women's Study Club in this city.

All of these activities show what a worthwhile life Ethel leads in her retirement.

Ethel's garden is beautifully kept, too, which as any gardener knows requires time and energy.


We, at the Museum have found Ruth Reynolds to be an interest-ed and a knowledgeable help with the clothing. She does a fine job of mending and organizing our collection. As she says, she has the ‘expertise’ for doing the work. Ruth is also a very pleasant person and we are glad to see her come on Tuesday morning. She very kindly wrote the following brief article about herself for us.

Ruth Reynolds-Dorothy Disbrow asked me to write an autobio-graphy about one paragraph long. That will be a hard thing to do, to condense my long and active life into one para-graph. Therefore, I will tell some of the activities that have prepared me for the work I am now doing at the Historical Museum.

I lived in Plymouth, Indiana during my growing-up years. As a small lass of seven or eight years old, I remember sewing for dolls. We called them “penny dolls.” They were made of china, with movable arms, were about 2” long and cost a penny. I also learned to crochet about this time. In the 7th grade I was in the first sewing class in the public schools. The regular grade teacher knew very little about sewing, so we worked out the instructions together. During World War I I learned to knit. Up until I was through Bus-iness College and working, I had had one ready-made dress and one ready-made coat. All my clothes were made by my mother and some I made myself.

In due course I was married and had two girls to clothe. And as I had been taught I also made all their clothes, dresses, coats, hats, underwear, etc. Whenever there was a sewing class or a course in arts and crafts that I could conven-iently attend I did so, always wanting to learn more. Just this last winter I took a course in “Stretch and Sew”.

After my husband passed on I retired and moved from Somerville, New Jersey back to Plymouth. In order to have something to keep me busy I taught knitting in the local department store for about a year and a half. I also trained as a Laubach teacher and have taught this method of “Each One Teach One” off and on for twelve years. At the present time I tutor two pup-ils.

In 1957 I had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Lands by way of Egypt. Most of the momentoes I brought back were dress materials, linens and beautiful hand work.

About a year before I moved to Ypsilanti from Plymouth the R.S. V.P. gave me a job at the Marshall County Historical Society with the title of “Curator of Antique Costumes”. I thought I was just a “patcher-upper”. After moving to Ypsilanti a little over a year ago, the R.S.V.P. placed me in the Ypsilanti His-torical Museum doing the same kind of work. I serve three hours a week and have enjoyed every minute of it. I am still learn-more about sewing from these antique costumes. But I must admit I prefer modern clothing.

My mother often said: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I have endeavored to follow this advice in sewing and hand crafts.


NOTICE! Do you, or any of your friends or relatives have any hobbies or collections that you would like to have on display at the Museum? We would like to know about them. Please call the Museum: 482-4990 (mornings) or 483-3236

The Willow Run Settlement

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

Author: J. W. McMath

“My memory of the southeast part of Washtenaw and the western portion of Wayne county, known formerly as the “Willow Run”, goes back to the year 1828, and I propose to give my personal recollections of that locality, of its first settlers, and of some of the events which oc-curred there from that date on for about six years.

The Willow Run is a small stream that gives its name to the region, and is a tributary to the river Huron, into which it empties its waters near the present village of Bellville (sic.). With this part of the State and its first inhabitants are connected my earliest as well as many of my pleasant memories. I knew all the people who first settled there, and was myself one of them. I was born in the town of Romulus, in that beautiful part of the State of New York lying between the Seneca and Cayga lakes, and came at quite an early are with other members of our mother's family, late in the year 1827, into this portion of the then territory of Michigan. We moved at once upon a farm, previously purchased from the general government by my late father, Samuel McMath, who, with my two older brothers, Archy and Fleming, had come on the year before to select and prepare a home for the family in this new country. My father, after having made the purchase and assisted in making some improvements upon the land, was smitten with the fever and died before the family came.

The place chosen for the dwelling and buildings was pleasantly situated upon the east bank of the Willow Run. When we all arrived (there were nine of us, I being the Youngest,) there were built and ready for use, a good large log house and a large log barn, with the other small buildings usually found upon a farm. All these old structures are well photographed upon my young mind, and though they have long since disappeared, they now come up before me as dis-tinct and as well defined in every outline as any object I see today. On the east side of the house, running along the whole length, was a generous stoop, as it was then called, with the usual mass of vines and ivies reaching up and over the windows on that side. To the southeast forty or fifty feet, was the well, with its old fashioned sweep and bucket. From this well we drew and drank the purest and best of cold water. The large log barn with one or more sheds at-tached, stood a few rods to the north and just across the old territorial road (later known as Tyler Road) which ran from the bank of the stream east and was supposed to lead to Detroit. On the west, and eight or ten rods from the house and just across another road running north and south, was the deep bank of the Willow Run. Down this bank a short distance and right opposite the house, was a fine spring of clear cold water, the flow from which never seemed to dim-inish or increase. Upon and along this bank were a number of fine old black oak trees with their wide, leafy tops. To the northwest of our place, four and a half miles was the village of Ypsilanti, started upon the east side of the Huron river, while adjoining our farm on the south, was the one of Clement Loveder, who with his wife had settled there the year before we came. They were English people and had come directly from near the city of London. They were good, honest, intelligent folks, and made good neigh-bors. They built their dwelling upon the bank of this same Willow Run and had as beautiful and fine a situation for a home as I have ever seen. They had no children for me to play with, yet I often went to their house and much did I enjoy my visits, hearing her talk of her dear old England. and looking upon the many quaint old pictures that hung here and there upon the walls. He was now and then a little petulant and harsh towards his better half, and, believing in the old English common law rule, that the husband was not only the head of the domestic establishment, but had as such the right to administer corporal punishment to the wife on such occasions as he might deem proper, that is, when he was mad about something, he attempted at times, as I remember, to put this rule into force, but as she was quite a large, strong woman, while he was rather a small man, his success in these efforts was not always just what he liked. The good faithful wife, however, never seemed to question his legal right in this matter, though she never conceded that her conduct was such as to warrant an enforcement of the rule. In the main they lived very happily, and he soon changed his views as to his marital rights, accepting the more modern American theory. They both died many years since, leaving, as I believe, no heirs or relatives in this country.

Farther on to the south, beyond the Loveder farm, and by a winding woods road, one and one half miles distant, was the village of Rawsonville; why the vile was added to this name I do not know. There was only one house and a very small mill there, they being upon the north side of the Huron river. To the east of our house, and within the door yard, stood the old fashioned brick oven, in which all the delicious loaves of good, honest bread, the pumpkin pies, biscuits and cookies for the family were duly baked, and where, too, everything was done just right…

To the west of the house and across the Willow Run was an unbroken wilderness for several miles to the westward. It remained so, unsettled and uninhabited for many years, the home and hiding place of wolves and other wild beasts. Wild hogs in great numbers roamed over the whole region. They were often hunted as game, caught with great difficulty, and like the man's horse, worth but little when caught; they were too poor for pork, and too wild and savage to be either fatted or tamed.

The old territorial road, but little used after the building of the Chicago road, was the route usually taken by the Indians, then roaming over this part of the terri-tory, when going to and returning from Detroit, to obtain their annuities from the general government. Their pil-grimage was made in the fall, and they went in bands num-bering from fifty to five hundred, counting squaws, pap-pooses and ponies, and not counting the dogs. While on the march they were generally quiet and orderly, marching always single file, each pony carrying a squaw, two or three pappooses and a lot of camping utensils. They often camped near our house in the woods a little to the east, and when they had no liquor, they were quiet and peaceful, but this seldom happened. Whisky was cheap then and, if possible, more easily obtained than now, and it required but a very small quantity of whisky to cause a very large drunk among the noble red man, and then the very mischief was to pay; quarreling and fighting was in order and they made night hideous with their racket…

The location and general appearance of our old place was indeed very fine to look at, and gave promise not only of a happy home for the family, but of abundant crops as a reward for their industry. The timber consisted mostly of black oak, white oak, oak bushes, and a species of wooden turnip, which was called oak grubs. These last had above ground a clump of bushes resting upon an immense bulb of the size and shape of a half bushel basket. These oak grubs gave no little trouble in clearing the land, and their use in the economy of nature, if they ever had any, is a lost art. The timber was not large nor the tree numerous, hence the land was cleared easily. During the first three years, from seventy-five to ninety acres of this farm were cleared, fenced and put under the plow. By the fourth and fifth years the soil had been thoroughly tested and its productive capa-city fully ascertained…

As the land did not grow tame hay, the corn stalks and straw used for fodder for the stock were supplemented by wild hay cut from a marsh, three or four miles to the east, lying along the tarritorial road. My first knowledge of legal proceedings was obtained from a lawsuit which grew out of this wild hay business. My brother Fleming had, during the summer, cut and stacked a quantity of this hay, leaving it to be hauled home as wanted for winter use. After this was done, and while it remained on the place where cut, a man bought the land and claimed to own the hay. Fleming removed it and was sued for its value, the plaintiff com-mencing proceedings by civil warrant issued by a neighboring justice whose name was Dalrimple. The arrest was made at our house where Fleming happened to be, the justice him-self being present with the constable to see that every-thing was done in proper legal form. Fleming requested permission to go over to his own house for some papers and for his other clothes, in order that he might not only better defend his legal rights, but that he might make a more respectable appearance in court. But as his house was just over the county line, and within the county of Washtenaw, and as our house was in the county of Wayne, where these proceedings were being carried on, his request was denied, and when he absolutely refused to go he was taken by the coat collar and forcibly compelled by the officers of the law, very much to his indignation and to the terror of all present. But on the trial the case went against the plaintiff and the prisoner was discharged…

A mile or so northeast of us lived the Combs family. Old grandfather Combs (he was a very old man), during the fair weather, visited us two or three times a week to gossip and talk over old revolutionary times. He and my mother had, during the colonial struggle for freedom, lived in the State of New Jersey, and she had, when a child, fled with her parents before the marauding march of the British army, across that State. The other members of the Combs family were John Combs, his wife and their four or five children. John was the hunter of the settlement, and many a gallant stag fell before his deadly rifle, to furnish venison, not only to the Combs household, but to the neigh-bors as well. He was also chief musician for the community and played the violin when the young people gathered for a dance. A very nice, clever fellow was John, but he had a fondness for whisky and betimes took more than was proper.

There was also another member of the Combs family deserving mention; old Lois, a colored woman. She was quite large and of a clear coal black color; born a slave, the property of old grandfather Combs, she was given her freedom by the laws of the State of New York, in 1824. She had remained with the family, however, and followed their fortunes to the new territory of Michigan. She was a kind, faithful creature, caring for the children and doing most of the work, not only in the house, but in the fields as well. She could use an ax as well as a man, and I often looked on in wonder while she would chop down the trees and then chop up the trunks into wood. The family, however, did not seem to thrive. Too much time was spent in hunting and playing the violin, and too little in work upon the farm.

In 1827 our oldest sister, Roxana, was married, in the old home, to Orrin Derby, and they went at once to Ypsilanti to live. Wedding tours were not fashionable then. Mr. Derby was a New England youth, of good habits, had a good trade, was active and thrifty, and he and his little wife (she was very small) began life with good prospects. He built a house on the east side of the river Huron, some three blocks back, and on the south side of the main street. For a time they “kepp tavern” here; he, however, had a shop near by, where he made and sold saddles and harnesses. As soon as they were well settled, sister Mary went from the old home to live with them, and remained a member of the Derby family till she married.

In 1830 our oldest brother, Archy, who, since father's death had, under our mother, been the head man of the family, was married to Miss Elisabeth Kimmel and went over to the north about five miles, near his father-in-law's, Henry Kimmel, and began business upon a piece of new land, with the view of making a home. His wife, when they were first married, was one of the brightest, prettiest and smartest brides I ever saw, and “chockfull” of innocent fun and mischief. She was called “Betsy” by her own people, and is better known by that name now. Her parents were from Pennsylvania. In their early married life they had settled in southern Illinois, upon the Kaskaskia river. After remaining there a few years they left and came, with all their stock of cattle, horses, wagons, etc., through the State of Illinois to the south and of Lake Michigan, and thence on around the end of that lake up through northwest Indiana, and nearly the whole width of Michigan, to where he was living in 1830, and where he remained till his death, which occurred only a short time since.

I think it was the next year after brother Archy married that the cholera broke out. This caused great excitement, but I remember of no cases of it in our vicinity.

In 1831 our good sister Mabelle was married at the same old home. This was made eventful by the large number present, and more particularly to me, by the fact (sorry to admit it) that I got most ingloriously drunk on the occasion. It was the custom then to have wine at wedding dinners. A large table had been spread, at which the guests had just dined; at the side of each plate was one of those very small wine glasses, filled with wine; this the guest was supposed to taste of only, leaving some of it in the glass. Being myself very small, I did not sit down with the grown folks, but when they had all left I came into the room, hungry and dry (a boy is always dry), and seeing these little glasses tasted one and rather liked it. It occurred to me to see how many of then I could dispose of; so I began going around the table taking them in course. Very soon everything be-gan to swim around, then I began to feel queer myself. I lay down, then rolled over and over; finally I lay quite still. Some one coming in thought I was dead, but I wasn't. Finally, after I had created quite a commotion, I was laid on mother's bed to sober off. The usual headache followed on this, and is still well remembered.

Sister Mabelle and her husband, Asahel Williams, also went to Ypsilanti to live after their marriage. He was a fine looking young man, bright and active, but was lacking in that stability in business pursuits essential to ultimate success. He was a tailor by trade, but soon left that for other business.

After living at Ypsilanti for two or three years he went to some place in Indiana, where his wife soon after joined him.

The next to leave the old home was our brother Robert. In 1831 or 1832, and when he was about 17 years of age, it was decided, after much talk with our then pastor, Rev. Ira M. Weed, and after many family consultations, that he should become a minister, and with that in view he left home to begin the studies preparatory to entering college. He was then small of his age, not very robust in health, but was of a studious turn of mind, loved to study and to read. Brother Samuel, on the other hand, who was two or three years older than he, was the mechanic of the family. Everything in that line seemed naturally to go to him, and I must say that he was always able to do about everything; could make a sled, mend a wagon, make a pair of shoes, a drum or a violin. He also played well upon the snare drum. Brother Robert blew good music upon the fife, and together they often made the whole country echo at evening time with the best of martial music.

The habits of the people of this settlement were simple and their wants few. Grocery and dry goods bills were light. Maple sugar was made in the spring and did duty for most purposes the whole year round. The making of it was hard work; we had to go four or five miles to find the trees; but it was looked upon as a sort of holiday entertainment; was engaged in by whole families and heartily enjoyed by all. Barley did very well for coffee; the best of butter was made at home; pork and beef were home productions; of good, fresh eggs we had an abundance; the river Huron supplied us with excellent fish of choice varieties, and the forest held plenty of nice strawberries, whortleberries and sweet nuts, all to be had in their proper season. Farmers never buy flour, corn meal or vegetables; we did not then. Buggies either with or without canopy tops were not used. When a young man wanted to attend a social, five or ten miles away, he just mounted his good horse and taking his best girl on behind, went. This may have been a little hard on the horse, but the riders enjoyed this mode of conveyance and always had a lively time of it. The nearest mills where corn and wheat could be ground, during the first two years, were at Detroit and Pontiac. Going to mill then was no small matter and took several days; but in the third year Mark Norris and John Brown built a gristmill on the Huron river, at Ypsilanti, and then our wants in this direction were more easily supplied. The health of our people, if nothing be said of the fever and argue, was generally good. I remember of no deaths occuring while we lived there. The argue, however, was there, and it stayed. The doctor, with his whole saddle bags of medicine, did but little good; it paid its unwelcome visits to about everyone, and none could shake it off. I alone of the whole family escaped; that was a wonder to the others, but I am not willing to confess that I ever regretted not having it.

The clothing for the family, as well as the materials for it, were made at home, excepting, perhaps, the materials for extra fine dresses and a few articles in the millinery line for the women folk. Linen sheets, woolen blankets and rag carpets adorned the house; hair mattresses, patent spring beds and marble topped bedroom sets were not known then; but we had, instead, good feather beds, nice pillows, and home made bedsteads which, if they did not cost as much as the modern kind, were considered then very good, and gave just as sweet and refreshing sleep. The big spinning wheel for wool, and the little wheel, with its distaff, for flax, then so common in every house, have long since gone out of use, and are now objects of curiosity only. A few sheep provided the wool which was clipped, carded and spun at home. A hand loom wove it into cloth, which was sent away to be fulled. It was soon returned a good, substantial gray cloth, which was cut and made up in the house into winter suits for the men folks, and always did good service. There was not much effort at style; clothes were just cut, made and put on, and that was about the whole of it. For summer wear, for the men and boys, a good linen suit was always in order. Boys did not tear these linen clothes; they couldn't. The girls made us straw hats for summer, and for winter they manufactured for us hats or caps of some kind of woolen stuff. These latter would hardly be thought in style now, but they were comfortable and handy and kept the ears from freezing in cold weather. For shoes, the leather had to be bought, but brother Samuel, somehow without having learned the trade, made us very good shoes. They might not have locked as well as those now worn, but they fitted the feet and did not hurt the corns.

The Beers family came in 1830, and built a small house on a part of Brother Flemin's land, just north of his house, where they lived two or three years. Mrs. Beers taught the first school in the neighborhood, and the first I ever at-tended. Later I attended a school tauught by my sister Mabelle, over on the Chicago road, nearly a mile east of Bowen's place. While I was attending this school some one broke into the schoolhouse one night and stole nearly all our little school books, with about everything else that could be carried off. We learned, a few days after, that the thief had been caught near Detroit, tried and convicted, and severely punished by whipping; such was the law then in the territory. Our books were returned to us. A little later I went part of a summer to a school located near the Supes farm, about a mile southeast of Mr. Loveder's place…

Most of the settlers were of Presbyterian stock and at-tended public worship on the Sabbath. Our family, Mr. and Mrs. Loveder and Uncle Fleming's people went to Ypsilanti. Betimes some wandering minister would favor us and hold ser-vices on an evening at some of the private houses. I well remember my first appearence in meeting at the old red Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti. The late Rev. Ira M. Weed was in the pulpit; he had but recently come from some-where among the hills of New Hampshire to make his first effort here as pastor of a church. Long board seats were arranged on three sides of the audience room, rising one above another for the use of the men and boys, while in the body of the church were some long seats with backs to them; these were for the ladies and the more genteel part of the congregation. There were no pews and no organ. We had a long sermon in the forenoon, an intermission (Sabbath schools were not commenced then) of two hours, then another service lasting until half past three, and then again another in the evening. People in the country did not usually remain for the evening service. Such long services, filling up nearly the entire day, would be thought tiresome now and we are inclined to pity those who formerly had to endure them; yet it must not be forgotten that most of the men and women who grew up under those old fashioned ways, and long Sunday ninistrations, were strong in religious faith and doctrine and good honest people who paid a hundred cents on the dollar every time.

Besides those already mentioned there were a few others that came and settled near us, but not many. Mr. Supe located on the Huron river two or three miles below us. He was a German of the Pennsylvania kind, a man of means. He soon had a fine, well cleared farm. The Vining family lived near him, while two miles or so to the northeast of us settled a family by the name of Horner, a respectable, thrifty, well to do household.

Ypsilanti grew apace meantime, the west side of the river after awhile taking the lead. The present part of the town where the depct and upper bridge are now seen, was then still overgrown with trees and brush. Among its prominent men I now recall the nane of Solomon Champion, Mark Norris, A. H. Ballard, Jas. M. Edmunds, Madison Cook, John Brown, Walter B. Hewitt and Orrin Derby. The good old Dr. Millington looked after the health of the people, while the lawyers, Marcus Lane and Elias M. Skinner, saw to it that their legal rights were preserved or a fair opportunity given to contend for them before the proper courts."

Volume #14-1889-section headed “Annual Meeting”

McMATH, John Watson-born July 3, 1824, Romulus, New York, son of Samuel & Mary Fleming McMath-John was the last child in a family of ten children-died July 21, 1900 Bay City, Michigan. Graduate of University of Michigan 1851. Judge of Probate, Bay County 1875–79.

John's father was Samuel McMath who served in the war of 1812 and became a Colonel. “He was born in January of 1782 in Pennsylvania and died in September of 1826 in log house he built on farm taken up from government in 1825. Buried at Woodruff's Grove in a field near a lone apple tree a few rods nw of where Mr. Foersters' house now stands (and of Grove Street). Supposed to be second white person to die in county”. Fr. McMath generalogy.

"O Pioneers"

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

Author: Henry F. Horner

From the reminiscenses of Henry F. Horner as published in the February 20th 1925 issue of the “Ypsilanti Daily Press”-rescued by Dorothy Disbrow, Archivist.

He built the first frame house at Cherry Hill. He was a cabinet maker and made spring beds, wheelbarrows, bee hives, clothes and coffins in his shop.

The coffins of solid walnut were lined by his wife with crimped paper cambric and sold for $5.00. If handles were added, coffins sold for $10.00.

This unusual man was Thom as Mount Horner an early pioneer in Washtenaw County born June 9 1806 and died May 14 1879. Son Henry Frederick Horner was born February 15 1842 in the family log cabin in Cherry Hill. At that time the homes were built of logs, most of them measuring 24 × 30. An alcove at one end was used as sleeping quarters, while in loft reached by a ladder blankets were hung dividing the space into as many sleepin' rooms as were needed (There were six youngsters in this family).

Every house had a stone fireplace. The backlog for the fire place was two feet thick and a farmer would bring the log by oxen to the opposite door and then attach it again to the ox and drag the log into the house.

To heat the Dutch ovens a wood fire was built inside them and kept burning until the bricks were well heated. Then the remains of the fire swept out and bread inserted and baked. No coal or kerosene and every home made their own candles.

Primitive? In those days farming was primitivel (Henry Horner article-continued)

“…One of my earliest memories is that as I was sitting in the old school house I could see the men drag-ging in oats with a thorn tree and a yoke of oxen. The ground was plowed with an old wooden beam-plow by the oxen. The grain was sowed by hand and covered up by dragging a thorn bush over the ground.

But it is a false impression people have that the pioneers suffered. We raised corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, cattle, hogs, turkeys and chickens; we dried our own fruits after we had an orchard. At first we had none and our first apples came from Monroe County. By the early 1850s we had a big orchard and used to pick hundreds of barrels. One time I remember that peaches were so plentiful and cheap I sold five bushels for twenty-five cents. The peaches were really cheaper than that, because the man who bought them said he would pay me on his way back and he never came back.

We made our own clothing too, carding the wool and spinning it, and there would always be someone in the neighborhood who had a loom. The summer clothes were made of linen or flax. We would take a wooden, sword-like implement to break the flax and after it had been heckled and drawn out in long string, the women would pin it and weave coarse linen.

We didn't have very much actual money. And then prices and expenses were very different in those days. The taxes on the farm would run from $18 to $30. The taxes now on this same land are over $600. Wages were low. A farm hand would get $140 to $144 a year. Day laborers got fifty cents a day. Carpenters and masons got $1. to $1.50 a day and would work fourteen hours.

When we were sick there were no nurses to hire, no hos-pitals to go to. The family and the neighbors took care of one, and we never thought it a hardship to sit up at night with sick people; it was just a simple duty. Now about the school. The Cherry Hill school house was built in 1834-of logs of course, 21 x 24 feet with a low ceiling. Ventilation was a simple matter. When it was too hot we opened the door; and when it was too cold we built up the fire, and I well remember the long box-stoves we had. The temperature ranged anywhere from 40 to 90 degrees.

Around three sides of the school were two rows of slabs, held up by pegs. The slabs low down were seats and those higher up were our desks. When we wanted to write, we turned around and faced the wall, with our backs to the teacher. There were still lower benches of slabs for the littlest pupils and they had no desks. At the end of the bench next to the door stood the water pail. There were three months in the winter and two months in summer when we had school. Winter school was always taught by a man, and the salary was $18 to $20 a month-and he boarded around. Fuel was furnished by each family being assessed a load of wood. If the supply ran out, then the larger families would bring a second load. There was no school tax. The teacher was paid by what was known as a ‘rate bill’. He kept a record of the attendance of the pupils and they paid accordingly. You can see that, if parents wished to economize, they could do so by keeping their children out of school, and they did:

We had efficient teachers; Munson Utley, who was later a librarian in the Detroit City Library, was a Cherry Hill teacher. B. W. Huston, later attorney-general, was another. The mayor of one of our large cities was still another. We had remarkable pupils there too. You may have heard of Helen Norris, who married Professor Estabrook? She was a pupil out there. Also Rocena, or “Rocky” Norris. One of our boys became a colonel in the army, another, Provost Marshall, General of the District of Alabama, another was dean of a number of Michigan schools, and two or three held commissions during the Civil War.

Our principal studies were reading, writing and arith-metic. But the better pupils did not stop with these. They studied higher mathematics, philosophy, and chemistry. The teacher ruled with an iron rod, and discipline was much stricter than now. This was enforced by means of a ruler or whip. I have had the experience of being sent out to cut a new bunch of willow whips. There was a willow marsh conveniently behind the school. I re-member once three boys got whipped for some offense. They felt they had been punished beyond reason and wanted to get even. A week or so later when the teacher came to school and started to build a fire, the stove smoked. He tried again. He took down the stove pipe to examine it, but he could not make the fire burn. He sent for a school director who lived near. He built a fire, but it smoked. He took down the pipe too, and found it had been stuffed full of hay and grass, it was ten or eleven o'clock before school started that morning. They never found out who did it. In fact there is only one person living who knows who did it.

At school we would play ball-old-fashioned baseball. In winter we liked fox-and-geese and crack-the-whip and wheel. In ‘wheel’ we chose side and would roll a wheel about eight or ten inches in diameter between the rows. The other side would stop the wheel if they could and send it back.

I left the country school when I was twelve. My father hired a house in Ypsilanti and had five children in school here at one time. My oldest brother was in the second class that graduated at the ‘Normal’. My father was a manufacturer of fanning mills, milk safes and corn shellers and later, spring beds.

Yes, I am glad I was born and lived on a farm. In winter we had such good times. We would have spelling, singing, writing and geography schools. The man who taught them would get up perhaps six schools-one for every night, and he would take different groups around and let them compete with each other. We learned geography by singing it. There were a great many who would sing and bound every one of the 18 or 22 states that there were then; they could name every county in the state, tell the capi-tals of every state, tell the length of the principal river and the height of the principal mountains. The man would have a great map ten feet square up in front of us. These evening schools were great fun. The teacher would give a column of figures like 46, 93, 72, 54, 38 etc., and a dozen would be ready with the answer the moment he stopped.

We had lots of parties and bees. There were apple-paring bees, too, as dried apples and peaches too were much used. One winter I had four idle horses and about three nights a week I'd hitch up this four-horse team and go twenty-one miles to Ridgway to a dance. I have many good times to look back upon, and I'm very glad I had all these experi-ences.”

From the reminiscenses of Henry F. Horner as published in the February 20th 1925 issue of the “Ypsilanti Daily Press”-rescued by Dorothy Disbrow, Archivist.

Henry Frederick Horner (1842–1928)

From the Archives

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1980,
April 1980
Original Images:

The Grove-Lower Huron
October 27, 1823

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please to pay the bearer Mr. Beverly, for me, four dollas and fifty cents in goods out of your store and oblige yours-

Henry H.Snow

(Henry H.Snow owned the land where Rawsonville is located and was known as “Snow's Landing”).

Woodruff's Grove
November 13, 1823

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please to send me by Mr. Cross, the bearer, 2 gallons whisky-4 lbs sugar-1/2 powder and 2 lbs shot and charge same to Sir, yours,

Henry H. Snow

l lb powder delivered, in addition to the above send one pound of tea and your bill if you please-H.H.Snow

Woodruff's Grove
January 17, 1824

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please deliver the bearer, Benjamin J. Woodruff, goods out of your store to the amount of five dollars and charge the same to your humble servant-

Henry H. Snow

Woodruff's Grove
February 13, 1824

Messers F. & T. Farmer:

Please to let the bearer, G.W. Noyes have three dollars out of your store and charge to me.

Henry H. Snow

Chronological History Following Civil War to 1880 (continued)

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, April 1980,
April 1980
Original Images:

Author: Foster L. Fletcher, City Historian

In 1871 the Chicago and Canadian Railroad began building a railroad to connect Niagara Falls Ontario with Chicago, Illinois. In June of 1872 the rail were laid as far as the Detroit River. A bridge was proposed across the river but the Wayne County Board of Supervisors denied such a structure saying it would bother the traffic on the river. (From an article furnished by our member James Pugsley). So a ferry service was established from Stoney Island off Grosse Isle to Gordon, Ontario, a small port just above Amherstburg, Ontario.

John J. Bagley elected Governor of Michigan, serving two terms. He reorganized the State Militia into the National Guard.

March 1
The Governor appointed George H. Hopkins, Ypsilanti as his private Secretary. George had served with distinction in the 17th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War. He was a graduate of Michigan State Normal College in 1867 and University of Michigan Law 1871.

February Adv. in the Commercial:
Bordine Bros. Livery Stable
Horses, Carriages, Cutters, etc. Tip Top rigs at reasonable rates. Stable on Huron Street, just south of Congress at A.M. Noble's old stand (212 South Huron Street)

John H. Wortley having found a business connection in Kalamazoo, the Directors of the Farmers' and Mechanics' Association (Farmer's Store on East Cross) tendered him a unanimous vote of thanks for the faithful service rendered the Association.

William H. Sweet with partner William Robbins, bought out the retail clothing business of Robert Lambie. Lambie did not sell the building at 120 W. Congress (Michigan Avenue)

Enrico Caruso, W.C.Handy (“St Louis Blues”) and Feodor Chaliapin were born.

Feb. 3
Fire at Ypsilanti Cornwell Mill, loss $16,624 (on the Huron River where the Ford Generator plant is).

February 25
Married: Elijah McCoy to Mrs. Mary E. Brownlow in the A.M.E. Church by Reverend Jesse Bass.

February 27
Married: Herbert Sweet to Amada Seely at the residence of the bride's father, James Seely, South Washington Street.

March 1
The Commercial typewriter came on the market.

March 1
C.R. Pattison again assumed full management of the Ypsilanti Commercial.
A quote from the Commercial of that date. “The new Cross Street Bridge is ready for wagon and team traffic. It was built by the American Bridge Co., of Chicago. Two trusses 231 feet long, 37 1/2 feet wide… . Total cost of $12,000”.

April 16
One Day Only-In Hewitt Hall, the great and original and renowned General Tom Thumb and wife-(Hewitt Hall 3rd floor-NE corner Michigan Avenue and Washington).

May 1
David W. Livingstone died. It is also the date of the first postal card.
Marie Dressler (Leila Koerber) was born in Ontario. World Almanac lists her birth as 1869.

July 4
Semi-Centennial celebration for the Settlement of Woodruff's Grove. The celebration was held on Independence Island, an island in the bend of the Huron River at old Race Street.

July 18
From the Diaries of William Lambie: “Paid Mr. Garrison $4.75 for new rent”.

August 1
Fire destroyed what was called the first Gymnasium of the Michigan State Normal College. The building was back of the old main building, south of Forest Avenue and East of where Starkweather Hall is now located.

August 2
Cornwell & Co. Paper Makers, offer to donate $1,000 toward purchasing a a Steam Fire Engine for the City and kept “no farther North than Pearl Street and no farther West than Washington Street”.

August 16
A submarine diver from Detroit, Mr. Thomas Wilson, explored the river channel above the Iron Bridge (Old Congress Street-now Michigan Avenue) and found the big coffeesack containing the valuable City Records which had been stolen.
Mayor Watson Snyder came in a carriage and took the sack to Edwards, McKinstry & VanCline's Dry Kiln (NE corner Adams and Michigan Avenue). At least nine tenths of the papers were saved.

August 16
Ad in the Commercial:
$500 Reward
The above reward will be given for such information as will lead to the detection and conviction of the incendiaries who set fire to the Normal School Gymnasium, and to the Barn and Sheds opposite the Follett Mill on the on the nights of August 1st and 2nd 1873
Watson Snyder, Mayor

August 26
The Stoney Creek Grange was organized.

The Deubel Brothers, William H. and James P., coming from Plymouth Michigan bought the Huron Flouring Mill located at the East end of Cross Street Bridge and on the North side of Cross Street, which had been owned by Nathan Follett.

During the same year, the father of the two Deubel Brothers, William D. Deubel, bought the Ypsilanti City Mill located on the East Side of the Huron River below the the Congress Street (Michigan Avenue) Bridge.

At this time, there were several cigar makers. Growing tobacco plants was common in the Ypsilanti area during this decade and the largest cigar makers were: Schimmeld and Cook followed by Guild & Son.

L.C. Wallington converted the old Peck School House on East Forest, called Mill Street, in the old days, into a Malt House. He was followed by F.J.Swaine who enlarged the building and continued the business. He also built the handsome brick house that year at 201 East Forest.

September 13
The Arbeiters Versin had a big time in their Grove (South Grove, NE corner of Stewart Street) last Tuesday. It was preceeded by the Parade of the Light Guards-they marched thru several Streets and made a fine appearance.

September 20
Great excitement in Wall Street-Jay Cook & Co. suspended from trading. A financial panic. They had dealt too heavily in Northern Pacific railroad. Ypsilanti Banks offered to give anyone their money if they wanted it. Very few withdrawals and most deposited next day.

The new Steam Fire Engine has come-It can be seen at Curtis' Carriage Factory (SW corner of Michigan Ave. and Adams Street).

September 27
Washtenaw County Medical Society Meeting at Follett House on East Cross Street. The all male membership was astonished by a membership application from Miss Gertrude Banker.

Dr. Batwell from Ypsilanti offered a Resolution excluding ladies from Membership. After much discussion pro and con, the Resolution was lost and Gertrude Banker accepted as a member.

October 4
Reverend A.T.Hall will suceed Reverend Jesse Bass as Pastor of the A.M.E. Church. Reverend Bass goes to a parish in Southern Indiana.

Advertisement in the Commercial:
The Best seat in the Presbyterian Church for sale on reasonable terms. Inquire Champion's Drug Store (South Side of East Cross, opposite the Railroad Station),
Charles R. Champion

October 10
Eighth Annual Reunion of the 20th Regiment of Michigan Infantry-120 Members of this Regiment met for their Reunion in Ypsilanti: Three Ypsilanti men were given credit for the splendid success of the affair: C. S. Wortley, Secretary-Treasurer; A.A. VanCleve and John Wise.

October 14
Mrs. Lois Ninde died from Typhoid Fever, daughter of George C. Crane and sister of Albert Crane, age 26.
Notes from Ann Arbor: Land was plenty when the University got its 40 acre Campus and so we have a good ballground giving plenty of impulse to base and football. Considering ourselves as good as anybody, we have challenged Cornell University to play us a match game of football in three weeks… (The game was cancelled by the Presidents of both Universities).

October 25
City Council was asked by Cornwell Fire Company for water wells to be made at the end of Congress Street at the Bridge (now Michigan Avenue), Cross and Forest Avenue bridges and for an Engine House.
Reverend G.P. Tindall completes ten years as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church.
Bishop Wyman of the A.M.E. Church preached in the A.M.E. House of Worship last week to a crowded house. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland (from the Commercial).
More from the Commercial: We give credit to George Carr for closing his saloon, but we see it open again, conducted by a third person we suppose. It seems to us, George, that you might have retired in full of your laurels last week. We are informed that you cleared $500 Tuesday evening. An eyewitness told us that at 12 o'clock a large crowd was in front of the saloon waiting their turn to get in.
Commercial advertisement:
Ypsilanti Medical Institute, Arcade Block (next door south to Detroit Edison office building on North Huron Street).
Health Life-Electric Baths-Russian Baths-The Swedish Movement These and other remedial agents are here used in the treatment of Rheumatism, Paralysis, Catarrh, Dysepsia, Disease of Females of the Kidneys, Liver, Eye and Ear, etc.
W.H. Hall, M.D. & O.E. Good, M.D.

November 15
“The hanging of 48 Americans by the Spanish authorities in Cuba, is an outrage upon modern civilization”.

December 20
I. Burdine, teacher of the Colored School, is elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, A.Y.M. (colored) of the State of Michigan.

The new fire engine pumped water for two hours into the new cisterns but they did not hold water.

December 27
William G. Shipman has leased the Barton House and proposes to keep a Temperance Hotel (corner of North Washington and Pearl Street NW).

Nineteen divorces in Washtenaw County

Chronological History Following Civil War up to 1880

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, February 1980,
February 1980
Original Images:

Author: Foster Fletcher, City Historian

That was the year fifty six members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, thirty five of these men died before the year 1800.
News about our Postal System which really is remarkable, is always interesting and these two old items deserve repeating and attention:
President James K. Polk was born November 2 1795 in North Carolina (five of our Presidents have had birthdays in the month of November). He was installed as President March 4th 1845. During his term, Postage Stamps were introduce; gas installed in the White House, the sewing machine patented and it was the first year of the Rotary Printing Press. The United States Naval Academy was established during his Administration, Gold discovered in California and there was the Mexican War. He was our 11th President and died a natural death June 15 1849.
Zachary Taylor, our 12th President, was born in Virginia November 24 1784. He spent most of his life in the Army and did not vote until he was sixty two years old. He did not learn of his Presidential Nomination for time because he refused to pay Postage Due on a letter from the Nominating Committee. President Taylor was in office only 127 days, dying July 9 1850.

August 24, John Hopkins University Chartered. John Hopkins (1795–1873) American financier and philthanthropist, gave more than three million dollars to found this world famous Hospital.

In Ypsilanti William McAndrew joined James Wallace and William J. Clarke in the furniture and undertaking business.
William S. Henderson and Henry P. Glover bought out the Samuel Post Drygoods store. In a short time Henderson withdrew and the business was owned and managed by H. P. Glover, located 102 W. Congress (Michigan Ave.).

April 29, General John A. Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, spoke at a Memorial Day celebration in Carbondale, Illinois. It was mostly a local celebration and the first generally observed Memorial Day was May 30th 1868. The Confederates observe a different date honoring their dead.

March 30, Russia sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million. Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated the deal, often referred to as ‘Seward's Folly’.
July 1, Proclomation of the British North American Act established the Dominion of Canada.
Money Order Division established in the Post Office and Miss Frances Stewart became Deputy Post Mistress of the Ypsilanti office, the only woman in our history to serve as such.

Thomas D'Arcy McGee, great promoter of the British North American Act, was shot, the first Canadian political assassination.
President Andrew Johnson impeached but later acquitted when tried by the United States Senate.
In Ypsilanti Josiah F. Sanders and Clark S. Wortley bought the men's clothing stock of S. Hesslein and opened for business as ‘Sanders & Wortley’. In 1872 Sanders succeeded Wortley and in 1873. Clark S. Wortley opened his own men's clothing store.
December 25 President Andrew Johnson extended pardon, absolute, ‘to all directly or indirectly who participated in the late Rebellion’.
Scott Joplin, the great Black composer and musician was born.
The first Transcontinental Railroad was completed. Women were given the right to vote in the Territory of Wyoming.
In Ypsilanti O.A. Ainsworth came from New England and bought the old Benjamin Woodruff Greek Revival house on the Chicago Road just west of Ballard Street, as well as more than 100 acres adjoining farm land. He began with one cow and sold milk to neighbors, expaning to 100 cows and dominated the local retail milk business for many years.
The Peninsular Paper Co., began making paper. Daniel Lace Quirk was one of the stockholders in that company incorporated in 1867.

Before coming to Ypsilanti in 1860, he had been in several business ventures in Chicago where he was well known.
He knew the owners and publishers of the Chicago Tribune and obtained a contract to make news print for the Tribune with the proviso that Peninsular would build a second mill so that production would not be interrupted in case of fire. Such mill fires were common in those days.
Soon after the close of the Civil War in April 1865, James N. Wallace and his father-in-law, Parmeni Davis, bought ten acres of land on the south side of East Congress Street, between South Grove Street and Center Street and built several brick houses, two of them on South Prospect. The one near the Prospect-Congress corner became the James N. Wallace home, now gone. The Ypsilanti Real Estate Co., was formed and included Wallace, W. J. Clarke, Don C. Batcheldor and Robert W. Hemphill.
This company bought for developement, most of the property from Normal Street down to Ballard Street and between West Cross and Emmet Street. Brower Street, now College Place, was opened from Cross south across old Ellis, now Washtenaw, and almost to Pearl Street.
These men appear many times in Ypsilanti history during the next four decades.

March 4th, Ulysses Simpson Grant became our eighteenth President. He was born in that quaint little town of Point Pleasant, Ohio April 27, 1822 and died July 23, 1885.
September 12 National Prohibition Party organized.
September 24th Jay Gould, James Fiske, Jr., Abel Corbin and others attempted getting a corner on gold.
Corbin was a brother-in-law of President Grant.
Could managed to drive the price of Gold to 162 1/2. The Government stepped in and sold millions in gold from the Treasury and the price dropped to 133.
The conspiritors were warned of the Government action by Daniel Butterfield who was a member in the Treasury and knew of the Government action.

The Mays of Ypsilanti during the post Civil War years were: David Edwards 1867–68; Parmenio Davis 1868–1870; both had been alternating Mayors from 1861 to 1868.

January 10th Standard Oil was incorporated. Franco-Prussian War began.
February 2nd-Madelon Stockwell enrolled as the first woman student in the University of Michigan. She was born in Kalamazoo Michigan in 1845.
During the 1870–1880 Decade, there were many fires in Ypsilanti. After the great fire disaster in 1851 that burned out so much of the downtown block bounded by Michigan Avenue, Huron Street, Washington Street and Pearl, all of the replacement structures in that block were built of brick but there were many frame structures very close to the downtown.
February 27th-The Bucklin House, a frame structure at the SE corner of West Congress and South Huron burned completely.
Dr. Parmenio Davis completed his 2nd term as Mayor of Ypsilanti, 1868–70.
Ezra Lay had served as Ypsilanti Township Supervisor 1867–68 and was succeeded by W. Irving Yekley who served from 1868 to 1878.
Lee Yost was the Ypsilanti Supervisor 1868–72.
March 5th-Hon. C. L. Yost has been re-elected Superintendent of the Farmers' Store and William Campbell, Cashier.
March 12th from The Commercial, the weekly newspaper (there were fourteen weekly newspapers in Washtenaw County and one Daily).
“March 4th terminated the first year of the Admistration of General Grant (President). Its results may be summed up in brief. It has reduced the Taxes and yet raised $26,000,000 more Revenue than was raised in the last year of President Johnson. It has spent but $314,000,000 against $374,000,000 spent by Andrew Johnson's Administration in 1868. It has reduced the Public Debt $97,000,000.
The 6 per cent U. S. Bonds of 1861 within a few days have sold at Par in Gold. The surplus in the Treasury is $97,000,000.”.

April 16th-from The Commercial: ::Wrestling Match-A wrestling match is expected to come off in Detroit in May between Jacob Martin of Ypsilanti and J. H. McLaughlin of New York for $500 a side”.
Jacob Martin was a powerful young man who was born on a farm south of Ypsilanti and worked as a butcher for fifteen years in various Ypsilanti meat markets. Louis S. White has written on Jacob's biographical card: ‘at one time he was World Champion Wrestler’ but the source for such is not stated. About 1895, his parents lived at 306 South Huron Street.
The Ypsilanti St John the Baptist Catholic Church enlarged their building NW corner Cross and North Hamilton.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, 405 South Adams, remodelled the snall Church that had been erected in 1858.
William S. Hart, Dustin Farnam and Harry Lauder were born that year.
H.R. Scovill, who in 1861 had been in the first list of Volunteers from Ypsilanti served his three months enlistment and then gone to California, returning in 1864 and after serving in several jobs, joined George B. Follmor in a sawmill and lumberyard on Frog Island where they made window sash, doors and blinds until washed out in the Spring flood of 1904.
C. S. Smith, wholesale and retail meats was in the first block of North Huron Street and soon moved to the south side of the 100 bock of Congress Street (Michigan Avenue) above Huron Street. He took in Harrison Fairchild as a partner. Within a few years they divided, Smith locating on East Cross Street about where 40 East Cross is, and Fairchild staying on Congress Street. Smith was succeeded by his son H.H. Smith and then in 1911 the business was bought by Emil Schafrick and Mathew Sinkule.
O.E. Thompson & Sons having acquired the big brick building, NE corner of River and East Cross, moved their wagon making to that location and kept on making carriages and hand garden tools…
June 9th-Charles Dickens (John Huffam) died.
Ypsilanti population-5471. There were twenty divorces in Washtenaw County that year.

As early as December 1868, there was a proposal to build a railroad from Ypsilanti to Hillsdale and on into Indiana. Business men from Hillsdale came to Ypsilanti and soon a Corporation was formed. Work was begun on the railroad with D.L. Quirk as superintendent of the project. Charles King, F.K. Rex ford, the Doctor-business man, and Captain Edgar Bogardus. Hillsdale subscribed $1000., Ypsilanti $50,000 but would have pledged more, Superior Township voted aid as well as Salem Township and Augusta. The Railroad was called the Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad and later passed into the ownership of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and as a branch of the New York Central-Michigan Railroad.
October 1st-The Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad completed as far as Manchester.
November 4th-from the Diary of William Lambie “Went up to Manchester on an Excursion Train as a Stockholder of the Railroad-I had been given one share of stock by my brother Frank-pleasant ride-the engine broke at Saline-a crowd of strange faces gathered but we were given a free dinner”.

January 18th-William I of Hohenzollern proclaimed Emperor Kaiser.
The Methodists built a brick Parsonage at 212 Ellis Street (Washtenaw).
A great Temperance movement…Mayor Watson Snyder was opposed to the Saloons and was supported by Joseph Estabrook.
Dr. Helen McAndrew formed “The Band of Hope” which held weekly meetings and Sunday afternoon. Fred Cutler led “The Band” and others were Cub Berdan, Carl Webb, Al Stuck and John Wise. All young male members were called “Red Ribbon Men”.
January 23-the Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad completed to Hillsdale.
Francis P. Bogardus, Mayor 1871–73.
February-Common Council asked State of Michigan for permission to vacate the West Cemetery. It was located NW corner of the Chicago Road and South Summit Street. One of the Cross ancestors wrote that she remembered when there were 100 graves there…. no record so far of any names for those 100 graves.

February 28th-News from New York: “Gold has reached the level of 111, at which it closed today have drooped and varied 1/2¢.”
Adv. in The Commercial: Nice Dwelling house for $1,000.00-Terms $ 50 down and balance in small weekly payments. J.N. Wallace.
Pensions for those who served sixty days in the War of 1812, or their surviving widows are entitled under a recent Act of Congress to $8.00 a month.
May 13th-from The Commercial: “Two Grand Exhibitions-Van Amburgh & Co's, Great Golden Managerie! The largest and Best show on this Continent! Van Amburgh is the man who goes to all the shows; he goes into the Lion's Den and tells you all he knows. He puts his head in the Lion's Mouth and keeps it there awhile, and when he takes it out again he greets you with a Smile. The elephants now go round and round, the Band begins to play, Those boys around the monkey cage had better keep away…”
There were twenty-three divorces in Washtenaw County in 1871.
Winnipeg Universities in Manitoba, Dominion of Canada started.
Frank K. Owen having graduated in Medicine from the University of Michigan elected to come to Ypsilanti to practice.
August-Theodore Dreiser, Louise Homer were born.
August 19th-Ypsilanti Markets-
Apples 35¢ bushel
Butter 16¢
Cheese 14¢
Eggs 10¢ dozen
Potatoes 35¢ bushel

The Cornwell Paper Mill at Lowell was extensively damaged by fire.
The Shade block built at NE corner of old East Congress and Park Street by Leopold Shade.
November 10th-Henry M. Stanley found a man in the wilds of Africa and greeted him: “Dr. Livingston I presume?” It was indeed Dr. David Livingston. This famous explorer died in the wilds of Africa May 1 1873.

October 8th-The Great Chicago Fire, loss of lives 250, property loss, $196 million. The Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire was later that same night; loss of lives 1182, the greatest fire loss in the United States.
October-Ig has been reported that fire has destroyed timber from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan.
October 14-From The Commercial: “North and South, east and west, all around us fire is the order of the day. The villages of Elm Creek, Center Harbor, Sand Beach, Huron City and New River – all in Huron County-have been completely destroyed by fire-Port Hope reported gone except for Staffords Store and Home. Manistee is in ashes. Windsor, opposite Detroit, is in ashes … Hundreds are burned out and have lost everything. The ladies one and all, in the City of Ypsilanti are asked to meet until further notice at Samson's and Follette's Halls, at 1 o'clock to make comforters and such other work as may be presented to the needy”.
J.M. Chidister, E. Sampson, W.H. Hawkins, County Committee.
October 23rd-From the Diaries of Wm. Lambie who lived in Superior Township on the north edge of Ypsilanti Township: 'plowed in front of the house and in front of the orchard to save us from the fires-dense smoke at night from the forest fires in the north. William Campbell, my son Frank and I went to see the fire in Palmer's Marsh-like many of life's fears, it was as bad when we came to it as we had imagined.
October 31st-'rain, rain, rain, showers of blessings-it will refresh our parched earth'.
November 11th-The Commercial reports: “Our Presbyterian Friends are excavating under their Church for a more spacious Sunday School room. The Sunday School has pledged $500 toward the improvement.
November 22nd-from Ann Arbor-Professor A. D. White of Cornell University was in Ann Arbor last week…especially noting the effect of women on the University. He was accompanied by Mr. McGraw who proposes to give Cornell $250,000 provided women be admitted as at the University of Michigan.

January 14th-a 2nd destructive fire at the Cornwell Mill one mile SE of Ypsilanti.
Editorial from The Commercial: “We say here, we we must have an efficient fire Department-a paid one if necessary'.
Ann Arbor letter a week later in The Commercial: “We should like to enquire if the people of Ypsilanti have a Fire Department and if so, what were they doing at the time of the fire? Not a single firebell was rung and no one made an effort to get the Fire Engine out.
At last, the Cornwells sent their own team to get the engine. But at first the man who had care of it refused to let it go.
It is shame that a City of 6000 inhabitants should not have at least one well managed Fire Company to come on such an occassion as this and hell save a property that pays at least a third part of all the City Taxes.
We are informed that a few months ago the Common Council tried to build some large cisterns for water and some of the very prominent business men refused to allow water to be used or taken from their buildings to fill the cisterns”.
January 20th-From the diary of Wm. Lambie: 'Deep snow, went to town in the sleigh to attend the Annual meeting of the Farmers' Store Meeting. 20% again declared. Paid $5. for framing the big picture of the American Authors of the United States.
Mr. Chidister elected Superintendent of the store by a vote of the Directors.
Francis P. Bogardus Ypsilanti Mayor; from 1871 thru 1872.
In 1871 the Ypsilanti City Schools and the Teacher Training Department of the Michigan State Normal College, decided to try an integration. It seemed like an excellent plan. Professor Joseph Estabrook had served as head of the Seminary and been hired by the ‘Normal’ as well as other prominent teachers from that thriving institution.
The High School students of the Ypsilanti Seminary were admitted to classes in the ‘Normal’.
The plan was only partially successful and after a little more than a year it was abandoned but caused a slight decline in the prestige of the Seminary.
Mrs. Elizabeth Dunham came to Ypsilanti in 1871 and served the Public Schools in many capacities for seventeen years. Her work in the primary grades was unusual and outstanding. Professor Joseph Estabrook said: “Mrs. Dunham was really the first Kindergarten teacher in America and the best primary teacher I have ever known”.
April 5th-Local Markets:
Apples $2.00 barrel
Butter 25¢ 1b.
Cheese 12¢ 1b.
Chickens, dressed 10¢ and 12¢ 1b.
Live chickens 7 ¢ 1b.
Eggs 15¢ Dozen
Hams 13¢ 1b.
Turkeys (live) 10¢ 1b.
Turkeys (dressed) 12½¢ 1b.
May 11th-Hugh Downey has been arrested and taken before M. Warner, Justice of the Peace time and time again without any effect for reformation, but visa versa. He says we can nab him as many times as we like, we cant make a complaint against him under the Statute for a common drunkard; he says it wont hold for a man that has not drawn a sober breath for eleven years is an UNCOMMON drunkard and the Statute does not provide for such cases.
May 25th-NOTICE-Proposals will be received at the City Clerk's office two weeks from this date (June 5th) for repairing, winding and keeping in order the City Clock for one year from July st next.
C.N. Ganson, City Clerk

May 25th-Tubal Cain Owen has bought the Ypsilanti Milling Company, the well known flouring mill on the north side of East Cross Street and the East end of the Bridge. Owen comes as an energenic young man who has spent three years as a sailor on the Great Lakes.
June 3rd-Orville E. Hoyt and Caleb S. Pitkin are now managers of the Commercial with C.R. Pattison remaining as Editor.
P.C. Sherwood and his brother, A.H. Sherwood, who come from Pittsfield Township, have bought the shoe business of Aaron Aber in the Worden Block, NE corner of Huron Street and Congress Street (Michigan Avenue).
June 27th-Birth date of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, famous Negro poet.
July 4th-Calvin Coolidge born in Plymouth, Verment.
July 7th-Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Pastorate of Reverend John Wilson at the St. Lukes Episcopal Church, one of the longest Pastorates in the State of Michigan. The entire citizenry of Ypsilanti responded.
The Ladies' Library Association, founded in 1868, having outgrown the original modest quarters, have moved to the second floor of the Arcade Block in 1872.
Two intrepid women Doctors, Dr. Ruth Gerry and Cynthia Smith were in charge of the Free Hospital, 615 Pearl Street, assisted by twenty-one prominent women of the City who represent the members of the Free Hospital Association.
July 6th-Ground broken for the 2nd mill of the Peninsular Paper Co. across the river from the original mill.
September 17th-The Commercial reported about Sojourner Truth's visit to Ypsilanti. She spoke to a large gathering in Barnard Hall.
“She is really a remarkable person, over 80 years old, erect, strong voice and truly eloquent. Having pled for thirty years the cause of the poor slave, she now regards her great mission to be the securing from the Government of a territory to be set aside for the infirm and helpless of her race”.
“She described her visit to Abraham Lincoln and how courteously she was received. It was quite different with the visit to President Johnson. She has also visited President Grant and says he is next to Abraham Lincoln the noblest man God ever made”.
August 6th-Elijah McCoy applies for Patent for his Lubricating Cup as ‘Improvement in Lubrication’. Elijah McCoy was a resident of Ypsilanti for about fifteen years after he had been apprentice Engineer from 1861 to 1865 in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was while in Ypsilanti he reached his peak in engineering design, producing more than 70 items for Patent.
September 21st-William Gardner Shipman, an honored Civil War Veteran, says: “I have been using Elijah McCoy's Patent Lubricating Cup for some time and pronounce it the very best Lubricating Cup I have ever used. They will be manufactured and sold in this City by McCoy and Hamlin'. Shipman was an Engineer with Edwards, McKinstry and Van Cleeve.

October 10th-the Seventh Annual Reunion of the Twentieth Michigan Infantry was held in Jackson, Michigan. About sixty members of the old Regiment were present.
The following Ypsilanti Veterans were elected: William Gardner Shipman, President; Secretary and Treasurer, Clark S. Wortley. John W. Wise and A.A. VanCleve to the Executive Committee. The Mortuary Committee reported that there have been no deaths among the members of the Regiment during the past year.
November 16th: from The Commercial: The new Fourth Ward School at the corner of Oak Street and Cemetery (Frospect) is now in full runing order. Constructed by Herschel Goodspeed. It is a two story brick building, divided to turn into four rooms and cost $3566.50.
Miss Emma Barr is in charge of the West Room on the first floor, Miss Mary Holbrook, the East room and Miss Drury is temporarily in charge of the West room on the second floor.
December 21st-The big fancy Band Wagon, owned by the City, has been sold at Auction by D.W. Thompson, City Marshall.
There were twenty divorces in Washtenaw County in 1872.
Winnipeg University in Manitoba, Canada, was founded in 1871 but in 1818 the Dalhousie University was founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada; McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and in 1857 The University of Windsor. All of them founded while Canada was known as ‘Great Britain of North America’.

(to be continued)

Reminiscences of Charles Fleming (1907)

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, October 1980,
October 1980
Original Images:

Charles Fleming, son of James and Martha Wade Fleming, was born October 30th 1816 near Romulus, New York.

He came to the Ypsilanti area with his parents May 17th 1827, living near Rawsonville, later moving to Ypsilanti in 1854 and living at 514 Emmet Street. He served three terms as City alderman.

Here is his interesting reminiscences written in 1907:

Reminiscences of Charles Fleming

In 1827 my father arrived in Detroit on his way west of Detroit to make a home. After storing part of our goods father found a team to take the balance and the family to Woodruff's Grove. There we were met by Archie McNath with an ox-team and taken to Aunt Polly McNath's home, on the bank of the Willow Run, about four miles east of Ypsilanti; and that night the wolves made the most hideous noise I ever heard by their howling. It seems the woods were full of them. The next morning we were up early, and I saw such a sight as I had never seen before. The air was fairly alive with pigeons as far as we could see every direction, all flying to the north and many of them flying so low that the boys with long whips could bring them to the ground. At dinner that day we had a delicious potpie, large enough for all, though there were twenty of us altogether. Father soon selected an 80-acre lot and went to Detroit to purchase it. It was about half a mile northwest of Aunt Polly's and about three and a half miles each of Ypsilanti. It lay on both sides of the Willow Run, and was so cut up by that stream as to make it very undesirable for a farm. After selecting his lot father returned to Detroit with an ox team to purchase it, and also a yoke of oxen and two cows, and to bring another load of goods. He could not bring it all, so he shipped the balance on a flat boat and there were brought up the Huron river to Rawsonville. The roads at that time were so bad that it took a week to make a trip to Detroit for a load of goodds, and even then a teamster would not think of going without an axe and an extra log chain, so as to cut pieces, for lifting the wagons out of the mud, doubling teams to pull them out.

I will give here one instance as a sample. My father was going to Detroit for a load of merchandise and let me go with him, and as we were returning night came on when we were about a mile from the tavern where we expected to stay overnight. The road was so muddy that the tired horses could not draw the load any farther, so we were obliged to unhitch and leave the wagon in the mud, and before we got to the tavern we passed two other wagons in the same condition. As we approached the tavern we heard the shout, “There comes another; misery loves company”. The men spent a jolly night together and in the morning, with teams rested, they started back for the wagons, ours being the farthest back; they all went with father to his wagon, hitched their horses ahead of ours and helped us on to better roads. Then father returned with them to their wagons and in this way all were able to proceed on their journey. This is a fair sample of the way transportation was carried on between here and Detroit for several years after we came to this county.

At first all our groceries and provisions excepting wild game and fish had to be Bought in Detroit and there were times when we could could scarcely get anything to eat. I remember seeing my mother taking ashes from the fire, making a strong lye and scalding corn in it to take the hulls off and boiling it soft, so we had to live on corn meal and potatoes. We were not alone in this condition. I remember at one time the mill dam was washed away and before it could be repaired every family in the neighborhood but one were entirely out of flour. There was scarcely any fruit to be had. We did find a few whortleberries, strawberries, wild plums and cranberries, but sugar was so scarce that sometimes it was necessary to use a little soda to neutralize the acid in the fruit. Canned fruit was not known at that time. All the fruit that was to be kept had to be dried. Pumpkins were used a good deal. They were cut in long strips and hung on poles before the kitchen fire. There were no cook stoves then, bread, cakes and pies being baked in a brick oven built outdoors, usually large enough to hold a dozen pans for baking. The oven was first heated with fine wood to what was supposed to be the proper heat, then the coals and ashes were scraped out and the bread was put to bake. Another way of baking was by the use of a bake bottle. This was of cast iron about five inches deep and fifteen inches in diameter, with sides nearly perpendicular, with legs two and a half inches long and the bottom perfectly flat, and a flat cover with a rim all around about one and a half inches high. This was placed over the live coals on the hearth and live coals on the cover. Then the thing was ready for business. This vessel was found quite useful for other purposes in cooking.

There was a great deal of sickness, many times not a well one in the family to take care of the sick, and only one doctor that we knew of. The sickness was mostly fevers and argue. There were a good many deaths, but not such a conveyance as a hearse was known. I remember one of our neighbors was sick and thought he was going to die, sent for my father and asked him if he would take his horse and carry his body to the grave, as he did not want to be drawn there by oxen.

It is utterly impossible for me to describe the trials, privations, anxieties, toils and suffering of the pioneers; but amid all this there was one thing that was really comforting: The citizens were all neighbors and friends; no one dared to be otherwise, for everyone was dependent on his neighbors, and when a stranger came he was sure of a hearty welcome. I will undertake to mention some things that were not to be had at that time by anyone no matter how much money they had, and which we think we could not possibly do without. There was not a match to light fire; no cook stoves, no carpets, no silver knives, forks or spoons, no kerosene lamps, no gas or electric lights, no envelopes, no refrigerators, sewing machines, spring beds, canned fruit, rubber shoes, baking powder, baby cabs, postage stamps, wall paper, photographs, telegram, telephone or railroads in the United States until 1826. The Erie Canal, New York, opened in 1825…

A remarkable man was Charles Fleming. On January 16 1907, the Flemings celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. He died in April of that year. Charles' wife, Jane Shuart, (11-9-1823/ 8/31/1908) came from New York and they were married January 16 1840 in Van Buren Township, Wayne County. On his 85th birthday he mounted his bicycle and went to call on some of his friends in the city who were more than 80 years old. He called on the following:

Erastus Samson, Dec. 22 1819
John Boyce, Oct. 26, 1816
C.B. Earl, Aug. 15, 1815
Chas. Woodward, Oct. 22, 1921
James P. Dickenson, Mar. 14, 1819
Philo Fowler, Dec 17, 1820
John Voorhees, Aug. 2, 1823
B. E. Varnum, Dec. 23, 1821
Jas. M. Chidister, Oct. 10, 1821
D. L. Quirk, June 15 1818
Mrs. Wm. Wortley, Feb 14, 1816
W. B. Clark, Feb. 19 1814
H. B. Lee, Aug 14, 1816
Thos. Busby, Nov. 18, 1822
Mrs. Ann Bassett, Jan 2, 1823
H. C. Dole, Aug 9 1829
C. W. Walterhouse, Sept. 29, 1816
Mrs. VanHorn, Feb. 22 1820

Charles Fleming died at his Emmett Street home in April 1907. His wife survived until August 1908.

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