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

Finding Your Way Through the Family Tree

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Looking for new ways to research the family tree? "Learning More at the Library of Michigan," a free annual genealogy seminar set for Saturday, March 29, will focus on utilizing online resources for family history research. The workshop runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Michigan Library and Historical Center. Seating is limited, so registration is recommended. Sign up online at www.michigan.gov/familyhistory, by e-mail at librarian@michigan.gov or by phone at (517) 373-1300.

Ann Arbor bids adieu to colorful citizens

from Dale Leslie

Someone much smarter than I observed, "Life is stranger than fiction." That remark was confirmed in the last few days with the passing of businessman Paul Lohr and his son Fred Lohr, coincidentally within hours of each other, and then later Fred Mammel, former City utilities head for at least two decades, and a fellow Kiwanian of Paul's, died at Arbor Hospice. Adding to the irony of these real-life events, all three final observances were held at approximately the same time on Monday, March 10th.

The Lohrs are pure-bred Ann Arborites. Undoubtedly, you know or know of at least one family member. The working Lohr farm was on Lohr Road near the Ann Arbor Airport where Paul caught the bug for flying. Ann Arbor Implement Company- known to many locals as Ann Arbor Imp-ment- saw the same family ownership over three generations, first by Grandpa Ernest Lohr- then son Paul Lohr-and Grandson Fred Lohr. (It was Fred- fighting illness for many years- who passed away after hearing of his dad's death.) Paul Lohr loved to show anyone the former wine cellars, spreading deep under their store at First Street and Liberty.

Create your own album and upload photos to pictureAnnArbor

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Do you have photographs of Ann Arbor you'd like to share? You can now sign up and submit your photos online to pictureAnnArbor. Just log in to your aadl.org account, fill out this form, and an album will be created for you. Upload as many images as you'd like to your pictureAnnArbor gallery. (There's a delay before your uploaded images will show up in your gallery, usually one business day.)

Walking and Talking Ann Arbor History

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The best walking the town brochure, Guide to Ann Arbor Architecture, by the Huron Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, is now the best walking the town Podcast. Twenty different podcasts on the Law Quad, Nickels Arcade, St. Andrew's Church to name a few, are available for your viewing and listening pleasure. After viewing the videos online, load them on your MP3 Player and start rambling.

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.

The More Things Change ...

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"The question of street repairs and improvements will always be with you and cannot be too thoroughly studied." So said the Mayor of Ann Arbor. No, not Mayor Hieftje in 2008, but Mayor Francis M. Hamilton in 1905. The collection of Council Minutes and Proceedings of the City of Ann Arbor in the Local History Room at the Downtown Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library provides ample proof that elected officials may come and go (and come again) but the issues, concerns and downright quirkiness of Tree Town remain constant.

But Wait ... There's More

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The Local History Room at the Ann Arbor District Library also boasts a complete run of the Ann Arbor Observer from 1976 as well as the Observer's City Guide from 1987. We use the Observer constantly at the Reference Desk to answer all questions local. The covers alone are worth a visit!

Good News on Old News

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There is a treasure trove of area newsletters in the Ann Arbor District Library Local History Room and they provide histories of our streets and neighborhoods, social events and social groups, churches and businesses that cannot be found anywhere else. We have Washtenaw Impressions from 1943, Old West Side News from 1975, Family History Capers from 1979 and Washtenaw Jewish News from 1977 to name just a few. The Local History Room is located on the 2nd floor of the Downtown Branch Library.

Carrie Nation in Ann Arbor, May 3, 1902

Carrie Nation

submitted by Wystan Stevens. Click here for a version with mouse-over features highlighting historical details in the photograph; or here, for a much larger view.

Mob cheers for a State Street hatchet job: but hey, who axed that woman to come here, anyway?

Carrie A. Nation (1846-1911), the "Vessel of Wrath," was 56 and at the peak of her fame on May 3, 1902, when, standing on the back of a horse-drawn cab at the corner of State Street and North University Avenue, she engaged in rollicking repartee with a boisterous crowd of Michigan students. Emerging as a Prohibition crusader in Kansas in 1900, Mrs. Nation had obtained quick national renown by vandalizing the stock and furnishings of numerous saloons -- at first hurling rocks, then switching her M.O. to smashing with a hatchet that she carried beneath her waterproof cape. She was arrested again and again, and paid the fines for her "hatchetations" by lecturing and selling souvenir hatchets and photographs. In this area, she spoke in nearby Milan and in Ann Arbor (at the Athens Theater, the former Opera House, at the SW corner of Main and Ann). Although she entered several Ann Arbor saloons to confront their owners or barkeeps, she was on good behavior there, and smashed nothing. Newspaper reports suggest that too-high admission fees kept her Ann Arbor lecture audiences small, and there were few verbal fireworks. In fact, while here she drew her biggest crowd during this free appearance on the edge of the University of Michigan campus.

"I have been to all the principal universities of the United States. At Cambridge, where Harvard is situated, there are no saloons allowed, but in Ann Arbor the places are thick where manhood is drugged and destroyed." --Carrie Nation, in her memoirs (1905).

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