Just a quickie here, sharing an educational timeline that’s a pleasure to use and learn from. Click on the image to be taken to the Local Preservation School’s link.
by Vicki Priest (c) 2019
Upon perusing files at the St. Clair Library earlier this year, I was totally delighted after stumbling upon some original art boards by Joseph T. Miskell (Michigan Room, Picture Files, “P-R” drawer). They looked like they were made for a children’s picture history of Port Huron. I found instead that they were published in The Port Huron Times Herald in 1937 as part of the centennial; the artwork looks quite different in the paper. The beautiful pencil sketching is much less clear, and the square originals were re-sized into rectangles.
Two originals are missing, pages 7 and 13, and in the paper, page 11 is missing (page 10 was printed twice and no correction has been found so far). Not everything in this history is necessarily accurate, but inaccuracies like that can be amended. If only pages 7 and 13 could be found, what a neat children’s picture book this would make! However, since those pages are reproduced in the newspaper, a re-creation of them could be made by the right person.
Joseph Miskell, 1904-1981, was an employee of Mueller Brass for 34 years, first in Port Huron and then in San Francisco, California (The Times Herald, November 24th 1981, page 13).
The boards are very large. The images immediately below are just a couple of examples of portions of pages. Below them are the pages from The Port Huron Times Herald, screen captured from the digitized paper.
When images from the original page 11 become available, they will be added to this post.
After running across and reading the following article in The Port Huron Times Herald (October 9th, 1923, page 1), I couldn’t help but say “I love Jenks.” This is William Jenks, of course, the author of the 1912 St. Clair County history book, important Michigan map collector, and a primary mover in the building of the Carnegie Library (now museum) here. My sentiments on the subject are expressed by Jenks wonderfully; some brief explanatory notes and a historic map follow. Enjoy!
“Preserve Historical Names, Attorney’s Plea”
“Protest against the changing of the name of Gillett street to Hammond street, which was recently asked by the residents of the street in a petition to the city commission, is voiced in a letter sent the commission by W. L. Jenks, prominent attorney of Port Huron and member of the state Historical society.”
“In his letter Mr. Jenks comments on the tendency resent in cities today to give streets high-sounding and meaningless titles, and deplores inappropriate and thoughtless changes. he points out two blunders in changing street names made recently by the commission.”
“The letter follows:”
I noticed recently that a petition had been filed with you to change the name of Gillett street to Hammond street in honor of the late Lieut. Hammond.
I sincerely hope that the name will not be changed. Gillett street commemorates the name of one of the early prominent citizens of Port Huron[,] a man of the highest character, one of the leading business men and a man who was very generous and public-spirited, and his name ought not to be forgotten in this city.
I do not wish to belittle in any manner the propriety of naming a street in honor of Lieutenant Hammond, but there are several streets in the city which have names that do not contain any significance and the changing of a name of that kind to commemorate the name of Lieut. Hammond would be appropriate in every way.
The city has already made two serious blunders in the changing of names of streets–when it changed Butler street commemorating the name of an honored man of national reputation, and a prominent philanthropist, to Grand River avenue[,] a name which has absolutely no significance here. The name apparently was copied from Detroit where Grand River avenue has a meaning, it being the direct route from Detroit to the Grand River country, including the cities of Lansing, Grand Rapids and Grand Haven.
The name of Suffern street which bore the name of prominent merchant of New York City who was largely interested in Port Huron property for several years was changed to Glenwood avenue, a high sounding name which has no appropriateness as there is neither a glen nor any wood in or near the street.
Such changes are to be deplored and not to be encouraged by good citizens.
The city did not change Gillett to Hammond, as there is no Hammond Street in Port Huron and Gillett is still there. Lieut. Hammond is remembered here though, as the American Legion post is named after him. On Gillett/Gillette and Jenks streets, a 1925 article states: “Gillette street is named after Martin S. Gillette, lumberman and president of the village board in 1850. Jenks street is named after W. L. Jenks, pioneer and historian of the county” (there were other prominent Jenks in Port Huron, too; “Street Names Tell the History of City,” The Port Huron Times-Herald, February 13, 1925, page 11).
We were happy to be allowed to scan a booklet in the collection of Lisa Kraus-Purcell, Port Huron’s 1949 Centennial Souvenir booklet. Currently, a couple of central pages, which covered part of the schedule of events, are missing; this will be corrected when possible. Links to the viewable PDFs are here: https://phahpa.org/research-sources/phahpa-scanned-booklets/ . We also scanned some of the images into photo files, some of which are included below (the booklet does not have page numbers, so such numbers are not provided here). Feel free to use any source that we share, but make sure to cite us/give credit for this source that we provide. (If you like our work and want to see more, please consider a donation of any amount! We would be very grateful indeed. Mail check to PHAHPA, PO Box 611380, Port Huron, MI 48061-1380 – Thank you!) Copyright note: We provide this for research purposes only, as the booklet may still be under copyright protection.
We decided to announce the winners on the same page used for the entries, making it easier to find and also giving the opportunity for everyone to see all entries (if they haven’t already). It was difficult for us to finalize some winners, as judging for a contest like this is necessarily subjective to a certain degree. And we’d like to give something to everyone simply for participating and trying! Thank you all! We wanted to mention that although a couple of the entries did not meet the rules for the contest, we really liked them anyway and do not wish to discourage anyone. We have a similar contest planned for next year; it will be announced sooner and will hopefully appeal to more people. Watch out for it! The winners are announced with their photos below (images can be clicked on in order to view them in a larger size). Prizes are listed at the contest page, but we have added more “honorable mention” prizes ($10 gift certificates from the Raven Cafe) since that was posted.
Below are the entries to the Peeps in (local) History contest, in no particular order. Please enjoy looking at them, and feel free to leave comments–we’ll be reading these and taking them into consideration as we decide on the winners!
Please leave comments below! Winners will be announced on April 20th.
by Vicki Priest (c) 2018
You may have clicked on this article thinking, “why does this matter?” or perhaps out of annoyance, but how people perceive the dwellings in their community can have some real and possibly unpleasant consequences. What do I mean by that? Well, Victorian is a period in history and not a single architectural style. The many styles from that period in the U.S. are mostly from after the Civil War to about 1910. But if to your knowledge all homes built during that time are “Victorian style,” then it may seem reasonable to not get too upset over a few more losses—since there seem to be so many of them.
However, not only are there many styles within the Victorian period, there are styles from other periods that overlap with the Victorian. So, while there are, say, many vernacular homes that had, or may still have, “Queen Anne” ornament (the style people often associate with Victorian), there aren’t so many Second Empire buildings left here. If all the Second Empire homes remaining in Port Huron were razed, it would equal only a small percent of all those remaining from the 2nd half of the 19th century. Knowing this, once a building is identified as a rarer type and not just another “Victorian,” then it is hoped that it will be favored with benevolence in its future. And Second Empire style is rarer; the style is the oldest of the Victorian Period and Port Huron has already lost much of its significant and beautiful stock (see Image 1 and its caption). A great many Italiantes, an earlier period style that overlaps with Victorian, have also been lost due to fires and demolitions. Continue reading
PEEPS IN (local) HISTORY CONTEST!
Take photos of peeps (any type) at or in an area historic property or with a historic photo (the photo above is an example). Photos can be a close-up of a nice detail; don’t be afraid to get creative, and certainly have fun! Filtered, modified, and “photoshopped” images are also welcome! The included property doesn’t have to be a “landmark,” but can even be your own home–just as long as it’s at least 50 years old. Creativity is the top consideration, not quality (you don’t have to be a professional photographer!). The image above is a regular photo that has had filters applied to it (using ipiccy.com, but there are other free photo editing applications out there too). Photos taken with phones are of course acceptable. Rules and submission policy are below.
Deadline is April 13, 2019. Photos will be posted at PHAHPA.ORG at that time, and comments accepted. We will consider comments when judging the entries. Winners will be announced on April 20th.
Where the photos can be from: Port Huron, Port Huron Township, Fort Gratiot Township, or Marysville
Prizes (4): 1st Place, Enter Stage Right gift certificate for 2 tickets to a production + refreshments, plus a PHAHPA 16 GB flash drive; 2nd Place, Enter Stage Right gift certificate for 2 tickets to a production + refreshments; 3rd Place, $20 gift certificate to Kate’s Downtown coffee restaurant, and; Honorable Mention, $10 gift certificate to Port Huron’s downtown vinyl record store, State Perceptory.
Please support our kind sponsors, representing the local arts and downtown businesses!
Check out Enter Stage Right and their upcoming plays! 609 Huron Avenue, Port Huron.
Caffeine comes in great packages at Kate’s Downtown. Give them a try next time you’re in the heart of Port Huron.
Visit State Perceptory for vinyl records and more in downtown Port Huron (219 Huron Ave., open 10 am to 7 pm Mon-Sat).
- Photos can be any size–large file sizes may be reduced when we post them to our website. They can be “as is” or filtered, or even photoshopped (modified peeps photo inserted in, or layered onto, another photo, for example).
- Photos must be the submittor’s original work. By submitting a photo to this contest you are attesting to its originality. Photos must not have been used in any previous contest. Your name will be posted with the photo.
- You MUST provide information about the location and age of the property in the photo. If you do not know the exact age, say so, but provide other information as to why you think it meets the rule of “50+” years. Remember that the properties must be in either Port Huron, Port Huron Township, Marysville, or Fort Gratiot Township; these are currently the areas PHAHPA specifically serves. (Maybe next year we will have expanded our service area before the next contest.)
- If you want to submit a caption along with the photo, please do. You can have fun with the caption like we did in our sample. We reserve the right to edit the caption.
- One submission per person only.
- By submitting an entry you are agreeing that PHAHPA can post it at its website and use it at other social media places it utilizes, and that PHAHPA may also print it with marketing and informational materials if it ever deems that would be useful. You would retain full copyright otherwise.
- Email your submission to email@example.com, subject: Peeps Contest. Provide your name and another way to contact you (besides email) if you desire. If you are a winner we will contact you to ask the best way to get the prize to you.
- Have fun 🙂 (questions? write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- We know, but just so you know, PHAHPA board members (the only volunteers associated with PHAHPA at this time; there are no employees) are not allowed to submit entries to the contest.
Below is an editorial by William Collins, Executive Director of the Thumb Land Conservancy. It was submitted to The Times Herald, but not published. A very short version can be found at the online paper, however.
The City of Port Huron seems content to sit on its hands while the Port Huron Yacht Club seeks to demolish the historic Pere Marquette Railroad bascule lift bridge over the Black River. Meanwhile, the City of Ashtabula, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie has just approved construction of a new hotel designed specifically for views of Ashtabula Harbor and their historic bascule lift bridge over the Ashtabula River. Ashtabula is actually capitalizing on their “ugly” old steel, which is 6 years older than Port Huron’s and still in use. The developer of the new River Bend Hotel says, “We think that it’s going to be quite a unique concept, unrivaled in the region. It’s going to be an incredibly beautiful scene.” (River Bend Hotel planned for Ashtabula’s harbor district is town’s first new hotel in 100 years) Continue reading
The following article is from The Port Huron Times-Herald, February 20, 1915, pages 18 and 22. Two words had typos and it was decided to correct the spelling, but the temptation to add commas was successfully avoided. If you are unaware of Jenks, he was the author of the 1912 St. Clair County, Michigan, Its History and Its People (two volumes), and was a member of the Michigan Historical Commission, among other things. In one place below a corrected date is shown. This had to have been an editorial typo since Jenks and everyone else who knew the history of Port Huron knew the year; it was at least somewhat common knowledge.
The great success of the recent campaign to bring back the Grand Trunk shops to Port Huron, and the result it has had in unifying and bringing together in concerted action all sections of the city, seems to make this an appropriate time to look backward for a moment, and trace the general course of our city from its beginning. Continue reading
The William Soutar (1842-1918) Collection is discussed briefly in two previous posts, one presenting letters from his employer Wm. Jenkinson, and the other, letters from his friends. Below are scans of letters–written in pencil–from his wife Agnes (an obituary refers to her as Ann Bell; The Times Herald March 25, 1918, page 5). They are from Rattle Run, Michigan, where Agnes lived on a farm during a period when her husband made income while being employed elsewhere. Agnes’ writings give a little glimpse into rural life as well as what was, apparently, customary social exchange between husband and wife. A baby was born during this time, and in her excitement (probably coupled with exhaustion) Agnes forgets to date the letter. Continue reading
The portraits here are unaltered “snippets” (so the quality is on the low end) from a PDF version of the 1897 atlas of St. Clair County, and so are for your information and reference rather than republishing. If you need a better quality image, the Michigan Room of the St. Clair County library system, at the main branch in Port Huron, has a hard copy of the atlas which can be photographed or scanned. These are from pages 103, 105, 107, 109, and 111 of the Standard Atlas of St. Clair County Michigan, Geo. Ogle & Co, Chicago, 1897. Portraits in publications like these are limited to those who chose to pay for their inclusion.
We’re not advocating ancestor worship here at PHAHPA, but the report below–scanned to images so you can click on them to see large-scale–seems to be advocating the opposite. While Port Huron has lost many buildings to fires, it has lost a great many to redevelopment and blight removal. This 54-year-old report shows the attitude of the times, that the sturdy and artful buildings of downtown were “antiquated” and therefore ready for demolition. It is proud of the demolitions and of the building owners who otherwise covered up their old buildings’ “rustic” facades. When do you see buildings like that being made today, with actual brick, hardwoods, marble, etc.? Continue reading
This article was published first at Blue Water Healthy Living, earlier in October 2018.
Vicki Priest (c) 2018
Celebrating, or having community night-time activities, on October 31st goes way back in time. It was the New Year’s Eve (Samhain) of the ancient Druidic Celts, living in what are today France and the British Isles. After the Romans conquered these areas, aspects of the feast honoring the goddess of fruits, Pomona, were incorporated into Samhain. Dunking for apples stems from the Roman tradition.
But what were the “celebrations” of the Druids? Despite what many seem to think, the Druids on this day were attempting to ward off—not worship—ghosts, evil spirits, and witches (a number of cultures believed that there were women who sold themselves to the devil, and these are referred to as witches). For whatever reason the Druids thought that on this one night of the year, October 31st, the Lord of Death allowed the departed to roam the land of the living. And the dead could be dangerous. Continue reading
Great for genealogical and other types of research, the St. Clair County (Michigan) Library system digitized a number of the county’s high school yearbooks. Some other student publications are included as well. Here is the link to these resources: http://www.sccl.lib.mi.us/Yearbooks.aspx.
While looking through one the other day I read about the “The Bluffers Club Ltd.,” and went through the “funnies” that followed. Many of these are found within the sponsor’s ads that follow the main body of this Student Christmas 1916 (Port Huron High School; no page numbers). The following excerpts were also posted at our Facebook page, and the image was created by PHAHPA for these posts. Continue reading
The following article was first published at Blue Water Healthy Living on June 27, 2018, under a slightly different title. All rights belong to the author, Vicki Priest, however, and republished here by permission.
It was a happy day in Port Huron when Oscar Mueller announced that his family agreed to open a metal working plant here, and a sad one when he decided to sell his interests in what became Mueller Brass, and leave. He did so much to make a wonderful home for he and his wife, too—establishing a large recreational park for his employees along the Black River, and on his estate next door, planting a large orchard that he thoroughly enjoyed—that one would wonder why he left that all behind. But for those living here at the time, in 1935-1936, no doubt it was not a surprise at all.
Oscar was one of Hieronymus Mueller’s seven children to carry on with the family’s various factories (which primarily produced plumbing-related parts and fixtures), centered in Decatur, Illinois. His father was mechanically gifted and filed several patents, some of which, like the Mueller Water Tapper and various auto-engine features, are still being used today; he and his sons filed 501 patents. His sons, like their father, were gifted in business as well as mechanics and engineering. And as Mueller craftsmanship and products became recognized as the best, the family business grew, with their metal working factories springing up here and there. For his part, Oscar graduated from the University of Illinois, got married to Beatrice Wetzel in 1895, and together they had their first child, Bernhardt Frederic, in 1901. Continue reading