Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

True Crimes of Ann Arbor

As crime dramas broadcast their final episodes of the season and channel surfing after 9pm proves fruitless, look no further than the Ann Arbor Police Department Online History Exhibit for murder mysteries that carry the added thrill of being true.

You can find this exhibit in our database collection, which can be accessed via the Research tab on this website. More than just a list of Ann Arbor marshals from the 1800s, the site also contains a history of some of the most notorious criminal cases in Ann Arbor history, including the 'Student Riot of 1908', 'The Murder of Officer Clifford Stang', 'The Co-ed Murders', and many others. Much of the history is written by Sergeant Michael Logghe, who published a book on the subject in 2002. The Library owns his book and the videorecording of his lecture at the Library in 2006 on DVD.

The Downtown library is also home to the Ann Arbor News on microfilm, where one can research the original news reports of these cases, and perhaps even be the first to write a screenplay based on these local events. Find these and other items on true crime here at the AADL.

Fire destroys Delta Upsilon fraternity

Delta UpsilonDelta Upsilon

A Friday morning fire raced through the historic Delta Upsilon fraternity at 1331 Hill St. Read the story on mlive. The fraternity was designed in 1903 and restored more recently by U of M alumni who valued the house and its history. You can read about the building in Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, MI, by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg, and zoom in for a closer view through its accompanying image database. (The text and images are available to search and browse online; the book is also available for checkout.)

Fantasy author and former Ann Arborite Robert Asprin dies at 61

AsprinAsprin

Robert Asprin was reportedly reading a novel by British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett when he died in bed last week at the age of 61. Asprin, author of the Thieves' World and Myth Adventure series, and the 1990 bestseller Phule's Company, is said to have effectively invented the humor fantasy genre back in the 1970s. Local historian Wystan Stevens recalls: "Asprin wrote many of his books in longhand, on legal pads, while nursing cups of coffee at the Brown Jug on South University Avenue."

Read more about Asprin in wikipedia.
Asprin's obituary.

Historic buildings on the go

Raeder CenterRaeder Center

A stroll through the Arboretum's lovely Peony Garden (which should bloom within the next couple weeks), will take you past the Reader Center on Washington Heights, formerly the Nathan Burnham house, built in 1837 and previously located at 947 Wall Street/940 Maiden Lane. More information on historic buildings around town (including another house that's moved from one location to another) can be found among the 200 images in AADL's Ann Arbor Architecture Archive. The archive includes text from the book Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, MI, which is also available to check out or browse online.

Video of Grace Shackman discussing her book 'Ann Arbor Observed' now available

One of the newest additions to our ever-growing collection of AADL Videos on Demand is an event from December 2006 featuring Grace Shackman discussing her book Ann Arbor Observed. This event, from our Sunday Edition Author Series, features Shackman discussing the process of becoming a writer for the Observer, reading excerpts from her book, and answering questions. Over twenty-five years, Shackman's articles on all aspects of Ann Arbor and its history became a highly popular feature of the Observer. Download a high-quality version of the video or an audio version you can put on your iPod or mp3 player from our AADL Videos on Demand collection.

Music in Ypsi

This summer's Ypsilanti Crossroads Music Festival will be kicking off again on June 6th! Be sure to check out the event and appreciate our neighboring city. It will take place at the intersection of Washington and Pearl Streets every Friday night this summer from 7-10 pm. In the meantime, check out our collection on Ypsilanti history, including Ypsilanti in the 20th Century, Ypsilanti: A History in Pictures, and Our Heritage: Down by the Depot in Ypsilanti.

Map of Washtenaw County Indian trails

Indians map
Click image for larger view. A key to trails and historical markers appears below the map image.

We recently spruced up the Making of Ann Arbor site with a new design and some additional content, including a map of Indian trails in Washtenaw County taken from the 1927 book The Indians of Washtenaw County, Michigan by W. B. Hinsdale. This map and others are available on the Making of Ann Arbor maps page. Additional maps and atlases of Washtenaw county are available through the Michigan County Histories and Atlases digitization project.

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).

Stunning, sharp view of Lower Town

lower town
Click image for larger view.

Stunning, sharp view of Lower Town from across the river shows flooding in slaughterhouse area. Date unknown. From the Burton Historical collection.

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

New old photo of Winchell octagon turns up.

Octagan house
Click image for larger view.

University of Michigan Professor Alexander Winchell's octagon house in Ann Arbor, 1904-06, built on the site where Hill Auditorium was later erected. From Early Detroit Images from the Burton Historical Collection.

The best-ever image of the lost landmark.

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

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