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

Longone's Lost Cookbook Author

cookbookcookbook

Ann Arbor's own Jan Longone, curator of the Longone Culinary Archive at the William L. Clements Library makes an appearance today in the New York Times with A 19th Century Gost Awakens to Redefine Soul, about Jan's quest to uncover more information about Malinda Russell, author of "the earliest cookbook by an African-American woman that had ever come to light." The Ann Arbor District Library is one of the lucky recipients of a limited-edition facsimile of the only known copy of Mrs. Russell’s cookbook from the Longone Center. The Ann Arbor Cooks website provides digital access to a growing collection of heirloom local cookbooks.

The DKE house at 1912 Geddes Avenue, 1913-1967

DKE fraternity
(Click for larger view.)
Submitted by Wystan Stevens

I looked up the City Directory information on the house at 1912 Geddes (across from the entrance to the Arboretum), which is pictured here on a lovely handcolored Albertype postcard view, from c. 1930, that was published by Ann Arbor book merchant George Wahr. The photo shows the house after it had become home to the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) Fraternity, which was Gerald Ford's fraternity while he was a student at Michigan in the 1930s.

This house was built as a private residence for George W. Millen, and is first listed in the 1913 directory. Millen was a vice president of Ann Arbor's Farmers and Mechanics Bank.

The Dekes moved here when their former home on State Street was demolished for construction of the U-M Law Quadrangle. They had occupied that house for about 35 years. The DKE Shant, their ceremonial meeting place on East William, never was a residence.

When Millen left 1912 Geddes, he moved to 816 East University Avenue. The Dekes were here until 1967, when the house burned down. Another building now occupies the site, but the lot was empty for quite a few years after the old one burned.

Fischer and Finnell Building: 1910 and Now

Fischer and Finnell Store, 1910
(Click for larger view.)
Photo montage by Kim Scarborough. Comments, below, by Wystan Stevens.

An interesting partnership -- Fischer was the son of German immigrants, and James Finnell was Irish, from a Northfield Township family. Although most of Ann Arbor's German settlers were Protestants, Fischer was a parishioner of St. Thomas Catholic Church. He and Finnell probably had gone to the parish school together. Finnell later became a traveling auctioneer, in the style of Braun and Helmer of these latter days.

The horse-drawn delivery van was one of a fleet of dozens operated by the Merchants' Delivery Company. A housewife could shop downtown on foot, or by way of the trolley, and not have to lug her packages home --the Merchants' Delivery took care of that chore.

The donkey was a photographer's prop. He would lead the docile animal through the neighborhoods, getting parents to pose their children with it. He probably charged a fee up front, then delivered the prints in person or by mail. As a child in the '30s, my brother posed in a cowboy outfit on the saddle of a pony led around in just this way. (My parents lived on Marshall Court, just a few blocks from this intersection.)

In the 1920s, this building was called "The Delta" because of its shape, but I don't know if that was the original name.

Calling All Yearbooks

high school

The Ann Arbor District Library is looking for a few good high school yearbooks. Donations of past yearbooks from old Ann Arbor High School, Clemente, Community, Huron, Pioneer and Stone for our Local History Collection would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Debbie Gallagher at 327-8332 or gallagherd@aadl.org to make a donation or for more information about the Local History Collection.

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

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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.

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