Col. John L. Burleigh was not "apocryphal."

submitted by Wystan Stevens

While I was doing a Google search on John L. Burleigh, I noticed an item about him in the online pages of Stanley Wertheim's A Stephen Crane Encyclopedia (1997), where he is referenced (p. 43) as being "probably an apocryphal character invented by Elbert Hubbard." Nay, it is not so.

Col. John L. Burleigh got his law degree, and his start in politics, in my home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Early histories of this area contain references to his activities, especially as the founder in 1878 of a weekly newspaper, the Ann Arbor Democrat. Two years later, it was noted that Burleigh had sold out his interest in that publication to a business partner and left to seek opportunities in Chicago. From Chicago he evidently migrated to New York. The New York Times on January 9, 1895, posted a reference to him as an attorney practicing in NYC:

A Washtenaw County (Michigan) history notes that Burleigh had been an alderman in Brooklyn. Burleigh's death notice (no obit, alas) appeared in the NYT on May 10, 1909, a day after his demise. His death notice in the New York Tribune (again, no obit) stated that the funeral would be held on May 11 at the Church of the Redeemer, in Brooklyn.

In 1877, Burleigh participated in ceremonies at the laying of the cornerstone of the Washtenaw County Courthouse in Ann Arbor (1881 History of Washtenaw County, p. 346).

We Are a Winning Walkable City

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Add another accolade to Ann Arbor's cap: Prevention magazine and the American Podiatric Medical Association named Tree Town as one of the 10 Best Walking Cities in America. According to the judges, our parks, mass transit system, dynamic Downtown and Kerrytown, 400 miles of sidewalks, 22.5 miles of shared use paths and a population that loves to walk all add up to a walking wonderland.

City directories available through HeritageQuest

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Genealogists have long placed old city directories at the top of their wishlist of books to be digitized. And now it's happening! The Google books project already includes a few local directories and the Books section of our Heritage Quest product includes Ann Arbor and Washtenaw county directories from 1886-87, 1888-89, 1909, 1914, 1915, and 1916. For those of you who prefer perusing the original print editions, you'll find them in our Local History room on the second floor of the Downtown library.

Here are the local directories available through Google: Cole & Keating’s Ann Arbor City Directory for the year 1872; Glen V. Mills Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti City Directory 1892; Polk’s Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Washtenaw County Directory, 1916(7)

The Lost Street Names of Ann Arbor

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view from Cedar Bend Drive, ca. 1900-1919, Making of Ann Arbor

Little did I know that each time I trudge up Spring Street to Hunt Park, I pass by Pardon Street (formerly Walnut Street), which now lies buried under the grass and trees of lower Hunt Park. In his July 2002 Ann Arbor Observer article, "The Lost Streets of Ann Arbor," former AADL librarian, Don Callard, takes you on a fascinating historical tour down Ann Arbor's lost streets -- past Lulu's Court, down dangerous Chubb Street, over to Bowery Street and across the river to California Avenue. You'll find this article in our Streets and Roads binder on the second floor of the Downtown branch. Meanwhile, we've posted a handy list of former Ann Arbor street names and their current counterparts under the new Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County - History link from our AADL Select Sites.

Sanborn Maps

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Want to know more about your house? Then you need the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. These indispensable tools for historical cartographic research were created by the Sanborn Map and Publishing Company to help fire insurance companies find who they needed to bill and what they needed to pay, they now serve as an important record of America's urbanization.

The maps cover some 12,000 cities and towns across the country and were published from 1867 to 1970. Many libraries and historical societies will carry maps of their surrounding areas. The Ann Arbor District Library has copies (on micro film) for Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Saline, and Ypsilanti (with dates from 1884 to 1948). They can be found in the micro film drawers (2nd floor, way behind the periodicals desk).

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