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

Join us for the premiere of Ann Arbor Cooks!

Join us Downtown at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, for the premiere of Ann Arbor Cooks, our new online database of local historical cookbooks and heirloom recipes. On hand to introduce this new service will be the nationally-known (and always enjoyable!) heirloom cooking experts from New England, Marilynn and Sheila Brass, authors of Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. This delightful evening includes a demonstration of Ann Arbor Cooks, a discussion of heirloom baking by the Brass sisters, and refreshments made by the Washtenaw County Historical Society from heirloom recipes. The Brass sisters will also sign their book, for sale at the event courtesy of Nicola's Books.

All the Rage

feastsfeasts

Culinary History is hot. Whether it's the long look back in Moveable Feasts or one ingredient like Salt or Cod. Did you know one of the most read and respected culinary history newsletters, Repast, is published here in Ann Arbor by the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor? Ann Arbor is also home to one of the premiere culinary history collections in the world, the Longone Center for American Culinary Research at the University of Michigan's Clements Library.

Never Too Many Cooks or Cookbooks

cookbookcookbook

Where did the Cookbook Collection in Ann Arbor Cooks come from? From hundreds of area cooks who contributed thousands of recipes to the local cookbooks owned by the Washtenaw Historical Society, Hadassah, local churches and AADL. If you've got a local family, community or organization cookbook you'd love to share with us, please Contact Us.

George Corselius, Ann Arbor's Pioneer Librarian

George Corselius

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

"GEO. CORSELIUS'
"CIRCULATING LIBRARY.
"This volume may be kept ____ days. ____
cents will be charged for each additional day.
"Soiling, tearing, or breaking books is a spe-
cies of Vandalism entirely without excuse. A
fine of from six to fifty cents will be taxed for
every such outrage committed on this volume."

George Corselius was for a time the editor of the first newspaper in Ann Arbor, "The Western Emigrant," which commenced publication in 1829. (The paper was owned by John Allen and Samuel W. Dexter, the founders, respectively, of Ann Arbor and of Dexter Village.) Corselius also has the distinction of being the first Ann Arborite to leave town for the California Gold Rush in 1849 -- a journey he did not live to complete; he got as far as the Isthmus of Panama where, becoming ill, he turned back; but he died aboard ship, and was buried at sea. "Buried in the Atlantic" is the inscription on his memorial -- a tree-stump cenotaph in Ann Arbor's Forest Hill Cemetery. During the twenty years between those dates, Corselius was, among other things, Ann Arbor's first librarian: lending books, for a fee, from his private stock. This is a specimen of the labels that were pasted inside the front covers of his precious volumes.

Corselius' daughter, Cornelia Corselius, was bookish also. An Ann Arbor school teacher, she wrote a book for children, "Financie and Other Stories." Two of the tales are local, and tell of children trudging the roads to Dixboro and Dexter Village.

(The label above was copied from a poor photo in an old eBay listing; if anyone reading this has a better copy of a Corselius label, please post it and let me know.)

Zion Lutheran Church

Zion Lutheran Church
(Click for larger view.)

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

This view from ninety+ years ago looks west on Washington Street, across Fifth Avenue, and gives us a glimpse of the square Doric columns on a Greek Revival house (visible through trees at far right) which also is depicted on the 1880 birdseye-view map of Ann Arbor. It resembled the Kempf House. It is regrettable that no good photo of that house has survived. It must have been replaced by the Bell Telephone building, which was erected in 1925.

When this photo was taken, Zion Lutheran Church was located on the northeast corner of Washington at Fifth Avenue. For a few years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the parish hall beside the church served as an annex (one of several) to Ann Arbor's cramped 1907 City Hall. (The Lutherans by then had moved to their present location on West Liberty.) The city abandoned these quarters in 1963, when offices were moved to the new (now Larcom) City Hall. The old church was then demolished, and Huron Valley Bank ("The Apple Bank") rose on this site.

Herb Bartlett, early chairman of the Ann Arbor Historical Commission

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

Herb Bartlett was a retired civil engineer who served as president of the historical society and was an early chairman of the Ann Arbor Historical Commission (now the Historic District Commission). The historical society celebrated Herb's 90th birthday at Hathaway's building on Ashley Street, probably around 1980. Dr. C. Howard Ross was in attendance on that day, and we were a bit chagrined to discover that he too had recently turned 90, but didn't get a birthday party. I guess he had neglected to tell anybody.

Herb on two occasions, ten years or so apart, gave presentations to the historical society on the history of the Chicago Road (Michigan Avenue). But he was no good as a speaker; he fumbled and unrolled maps and rolled them up again, and meandered around with his text. But he was a lovable character, and some of us miss him still. His wife was a nice lady, but delicate and quiet. She died a few years before he did.

1922 Detroit newspaper rotogravure portrait and bio of U-M President Marion LeRoy Burton

President Marion LeRoy Burton
(Click on image for larger view.)

President Burton died of complications of angina, on February 18, 1925, several months after he suffered a heart attack in the fall of 1924. He was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery. Burton was a star of the 1924 national Republican Convention, where he nominated President Calvin Coolidge for a full term in his own right. Coolidge, who had succeeded to the presidency on the death of Warren G. Harding, was indeed elected in 1924.

Photo by the Spedding portrait studio of Ann Arbor.
Submitted by Wystan Stevens

Photo by the Spedding portrait studio of Ann Arbor. From an eBay listing.

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

Murad Cigarettes -- tobacco silk, c. 1910; image of University of Michigan rowing crew member

Michigan Rowing

Silks like this one were inserted as souvenir premiums in early cigarette packages. Sometimes the smoker's sweetheart would sew a dozen or more together, to make a decorative cover for a throw pillow.

(The founding date of the U of M, given as 1837 on the seal reproduced here, in 1929 was corrected to 1817, the date of the progenitor institution's founding in the city of Detroit, in Michigan Territory.)

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, University of Michigan, c. 1902

Beta Theta Pi house

(Click on image for larger view.)

Beta Theta Pi house, State Street at Monroe (SW corner).

Submitted by Wystan Stevens

A Journey through Ann Arbor, in 1835

Submitted by Wystan Stevens:

An amazing fact: they check your guns when you arrive in Ann Arbor!

The following report, which I have transcribed in its entirety, is a letter from a traveler in Michigan, first published in 1835 in a tabloid: the New-York Mirror, A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts. Vol. XIII, No. 4, Saturday, July 25, 1835.

[My copy was purchased on eBay, in September, 2007.]

ORIGINAL LETTERS FROM THE WEST.
MICHIGAN.

IT is a marvelous country, this western world, and it is the only land under the sun that has not been too extravagantly spoken of by travellers. Yes, it keeps pace even with travellers' tales, and that is no small merit.

Mr. Hoffman's delightful volumes, and Washington Irving's "Tour," displayed to us a new world; the former spread before us a land shrouded in the mantle of winter, while the latter portrayed the "sere and yellow leaf" of autumn. But the spring and the summer are the boast of prairie land, and he that fails to see those seasons, loses half the pleasure of a trip to the west.

It was on a clear evening in "the leafy month of June," that I set forth from Detroit, late the outpost of civilization, but now called at the place whence I write, "down east." I had come from Buffalo to that city in company with a crowd of grave personages on a disinterested pilgrimage to Chicago, in search of the Golden Fleece, and was glad to take leave of these modern Jasons, and wish them a safe voyage on this new Argonautick expedition. For my own part, I found the steamboat intolerable, especially as a vehement sea-sickness prevented me from "getting my money's-worth" out of the worthy proprietors. I therefore provided myself with a little French pony, and resolved to set forth across the country in quest of adventures and pleasure. After riding nearly all the ponies in Detroit within an ace of their lives, by way of trying, (to the great perturbation of the several owners,) I finally pitched upon a little fellow that racked and paced and cantered to a charm. Having accoutered myself with a broad-brimmed straw hat, a pair of saddle-bags and a blanket, and slung my double-barrelled fowling-piece athwart my back, my pony soon ambled with me out of the busy town. How gloriously independent does a man feel at such a moment! In what supreme contempt does he hold the artificial life of a city, the cares, the bustle and the money-making of life! No matter who he be -- be he as poor as Job, ay, and as friendless too, his soul soars above the little world, he feels his value as a man, he recognises his personal sovereignty, his self-dependence, his native dignity, and with the poet he can feel that,

"Lord of himself, but not of lands,
He having nothing, yet hath all."

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