Port Huron and other St. Clair County High School Yearbooks

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.

Miss Richards (English IV): “Who was Roger Bacon?”  M. Akers: “He was a good friar.”

Two small boys enrolled in the first grade and the teacher began to take the roll. “What is your name, little boy?” “Tom,” answered the child. “You should say Thomas” said the teacher. “What is your name?” she asked the next child, and he promptly replied, “Jackass.”

A good example of the world turned upside down, is Mark Collins getting 90 on a test.

Miss Lakin:  “We are the survival of the fittest. Land knows what came before us.”

Bob Farr (Eng 3B):  “Well, if another boy and I were having a fight, when we were nearing the end that would be a climax, wouldn’t it?” Prof. Lewis:  “Well–that might be one for him.”

H. Parsons (in restaurant):  “Do you serve crabs here?”   H. Lane (waiter):  “Sure! We serve all customers alike.”

Mr. Jones:  “I gave a rainbow kiss to my wife when I left home this morning.”  Mr. Smith:  “What in the world is a rainbow kiss?”  Mr. Jones:  “One that follows a storm.”

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Why Oscar Mueller, an invested “man among men,” left Port Huron

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.

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Oscar Mueller. Undated photo from muellerfamilytree.com.

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.

Hieronymus’ interest in automobiles led him to demonstrate his patents. His youngest son Oscar was the driver of their modified car in the first race in this country, perhaps the world, in 1895. He came in first place in the 92 mile race in Chicago, speeding through the track at 10 miles per hour (one source said his car was the only one to finish). Another (official) race was held the next year and Oscar and the Mueller car came in second. Unfortunately, Hieronymus’ work with autos also led to his death. While working on an auto in 1900, his oil-soaked clothes caught fire and he died from his injuries some days later. He had plans to open an auto factory, but those plans were not carried out by the family after his death.

Mueller Manufacturing had a New York branch, which Oscar began to manage in 1904. During their time in New York, in 1906, a second child was born to Oscar and Beatrice, Beatrice Florence (known as Florence). The Muellers expanded into Canada with Oscar as president, and their Sarnia plant was opened in 1912. During World War I, the English government requisitioned this plant for munitions (precision detonation fuses) manufacture, but when the U.S. entered the war the government canceled their contract with Mueller without warning. This left the company in a real bind, as it had had more than $1,000,000 worth of materials in stock. The Muellers had talks with the U.S. government, which decided it would like those detonators made for its own military. A new plant in Port Huron would allow all the machinery to be relocated close by. This plant, Mueller Metals, was up and running in 1917 with Oscar in charge.

After the war, the Mueller family invested about $2,000,000 for the plant to be converted to manufacture other metal-based (primarily brass) products instead of munitions. This plant did very well and Oscar liked Port Huron enough to commit to it entirely, both selling his interest in Mueller Manufacturing (the name was actually simply “Mueller” beginning in 1924) and acquiring all interest in the Port Huron plant in 1927. Apparently he had been planning this for a few years.

Oscar sold the family house at 1117 Pine Grove Avenue late in 1925 (or early in 1926) and built his new home far up Water Street (on what would later be Strawberry Lane). The 100 acre estate came to be called Waldheim. It was filled with an extensive orchard, and vegetable and flowers gardens, all of which were watered with a sprinkler system. His Mueller Country Club was announced in 1924 and all was up and running by 1926. This recreation area was made for his employees but still exists, in part at least, as the Black River Country Club. Oscar Mueller was highly regarded by all, even his employees, whom he took a great interest in. He felt a responsibility for his employees, was amongst them all the time, and even looked into their welfare indirectly. One fellow recalled Oscar calling him into his office and asking about his family and financial situation, which surprised him since he didn’t know how Mueller knew about his problems. Upon finding out the nature of the problems and the amount of debt the employee was in, Oscar wrote the man a check for $2000 to cover it all (Times Herald, April 25, 1941, pp 1, 4; this same article is the source of the quote found in the title).

Beatrice Florence Mueller Irving. Undated photo from muellerfamilytree.com.

So things seemed good for Oscar and his family. He had obviously made plans to stay in Port Huron and the fruition of his plans, the acquisition of the Mueller company plant here, came to pass. He liked it here and people liked him. But then tragedy struck the family in the same year that he gained sole control of Mueller Brass. His daughter, Florence, who had just gotten married in June of that year at the Waldheim estate, was killed in an automobile accident in Seattle, Washington.

She had married John Hamilton Irving who lived there (he was a nephew of Hamilton Irving, a Safety Commissioner for Port Huron), and it was in August 1927 that the car they were passengers in crashed. She was the only person to die. According to one article (Detroit Free Press, Aug. 12, 1935, p. 8), Florence had earlier suffered from the strange “sleeping sickness” that struck people starting in 1916 and afflicted Americans into the 1920s. Many died from this strange ailment, and if they didn’t die they usually never fully recovered. So it must have been with a great deal of relief and gladness that Florence had finally recovered after a years’ time. Yet she was still taken from her loved ones while still very young. One of Oscars brothers, Phillip, also died that year, and another, Frederick, died the next, in 1928.

Bernhardt “Bud” Mueller. Undated photo from muellerfamilytree.com.

Time passed and Oscar’s son Bernhardt, known as “Bud,” learned his dad’s trade and became Vice President of Mueller Brass. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s legislative committee and General Chairman of that organization’s FHA committee. As such, Bernhardt was in charge of the local Better Housing Program, a program of the new (depression-era) Federal Housing Administration. His personal life appears to have had some ups and downs, as he married Mayme M. MacQueen in 1923, and after apparently divorcing, married her again in New York in 1931. They never had any children, and while reference to Mayme could still be found in papers, Bernhardt married Alberta F. Chartier in February 1934. They had a boy, Frederic, in the spring of 1935. But then tragedy struck the Mueller family again.

Bernhardt wanted to have some fun with his new car and with his friends, which ended up costing him his life as well as the life of one of those friends. While taking a drive with three others in his car, Bernhardt swerved to miss hitting a dog, but the swerve led to a plunge. Gordon Godley, husband and father, was killed instantly, and Bernhardt was seriously injured. The two others were much less injured in the May 18th, 1935 accident. Very sadly, Bernhardt succumbed to his injuries and died on May 25th.

Idealized sketch of Bernhardt (Bud) Mueller. From the Times Herald, May 23, 1935, page 1.

Reading testimony presented in probate court2, one wonders if Fate was trying to take a holiday and Bernhardt just wasn’t listening. The following is not meant to demean Bernhardt, but to wonder at events seen in hindsight. When he and his friends had left the Black Water Country Club that evening, Bernhardt was very insistent that they go with him for a drive in his new car, which was at his house. They didn’t want to go, but he was insistent. When he arrived at his house, he argued with his wife. He also realized he left his new car’s keys at the club house. He wanted to take the drive so badly that he wouldn’t take no for an answer from his friends, he appears to have disregarded his wife’s interests, he drove all the way back to the club house to get his keys, and he was driving dangerously fast at the time of the crash (the odometer read 92 miles per hour after the crash). The last thing Bernhardt said in the car was in response to his friends commenting on the speed he was driving.

So, enduring what no parent should have to—the death of all one’s children3 before one’s self—Oscar decided to retire and leave behind all he had done here. Considering how he had developed his estate Oscar no doubt planned on spending his retirement years here, watching his son run the company he had built.4 But that all changed. After the arrangements to transfer the company were made in 1935 he sold his interest in it and retired the following summer. He and his wife had a summer home in Florida and that’s where they moved to permanently, although they also spent much time in North Carolina. In Florida, Oscar fished like he wanted to, catching a 99 pound Tarpon during a 1937 contest (the winner was actually 120 ½ pounds!), and he and Beatrice involved themselves with other social and community doings. Back in Port Huron the Waldheim estate, described as “one of the most beautiful sites on the Black River” (The Times Herald July 28, 1940, page 5), began to be subdivided in 1940. Oscar died in Bradenton, Florida, in 1941, and Beatrice followed him some years later in 1952.

Notes

1) This house was likely demolished with one of the later hospital expansions; an inventory of the affected properties needs to be taken. If demolished it might seem ironic, since the new hospital that was finished in 1937 was largely funded by Oscar, other Mueller family members, and Mueller Brass.

2) The cases against the Bernhardt Mueller estate also went to the circuit and state supreme courts, but were ultimately settled out of court or dismissed.

From the Honolulu Advertiser, May 5, 1989, page 6.

3) Bernhardt’s son, Frederic, was raised by his mother and her new husband (Cyrenus Gillette) in Hawaii. He had inherited $2.5 million from his grandparents and went to Harvard, graduating with a degree in art history. He enjoyed acting and produced a play in 1961 that included Barbra Streisand and Dom De Luise. His primary activity, however, was running an art gallery, the Pace, in New York. Frederic returned to Hawaii a few years before he died, which was in 1989. He left no children, ending the Oscar Mueller and Beatrice Wetzel line. Sources: The Times Herald July 12, 1952, p. 1; The Honolulu Advertiser May 5, 1989, p. 6; New York Times May 9, 1989, archived; The Times Herald May 20, 1989, p. 3.

4) When he left, Mueller Brass was having its best year ever. It was expanding. In 1925 the Detroit Free Press (August 12, p 8) called it the city’s leading industry, and when he died The Times Herald (April 24, 1941, p 1) wrote that Oscar founded the “city’s largest plant.”

Sources. In addition to those included in the article itself, the following sources were used for this piece (those sources read and compared, but not used directly, are not included):

Bellows, Alan. The Sleepy Sickness (this isn’t the best source, but it is accessible; see ScienceDirect.com for “encephalitis lethargica” if you want to know more).

Find A Grave Memorial #162186202, Beatrice A. Wetzel Mueller.

Hieronymus Mueller Museum, various pages and photos.

News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida). December 24, 1937, p 5.

Tallahassee Democrat. March 8, 1931, p 7.

The Decatur Daily Review. July 17, 1932, pp 7-9; April 24, 1941, p 48.

The Decatur Herald. April 25, 1941, p 3.

The Tampa Tribune. August 11, 1927, p 3; March 8, 1931, p 26; June 4, 1937, p 18

The Times Herald: March 21, 1922, p 16; December 24, 1923, p 6; January 21, 1924, p 7; June 26, 1925, p 4; July 17, 1925, p 14; October 27, 1925, p 4 (house ad in later months as well); January 14, 1926, pp 1, 8; June 22, 1927, p 8; August 8, 1927, p 1; February 2, 1924, p 8; December 21, 1931, p 8; October 30, 1934, pp 1, 2; January 30, 1935, p 7; May 18, 1935, p 3; May 23, 1935, pp 1, 6, 14; May 25, 1935, p 7; May 28, 1935, pp 1, 14; November 30, 1935, pp 1, 12; June 9, 1936, p 1; June 23, 1936, p 1; June 24, 1936, pp 1, 12; August 6, 1937, p 7; April 25, 1941, p 6.

WTVP. Illinois Adventure #1406 “Mueller Museum”

Wm. Soutar Collection, from Friends, 1871 – 1878

As briefly written of in a previous post, William Soutar was lumberman Wm. Jenkinson’s private secretary in Port Huron for many years (City Directories, 1893-94, page 226, and 1899-1900, page 297). Although Soutar was connected to Jenkinson in some way by 1879, when he first appears in Port Huron a couple of years later he is a bookkeeper for Brooks & Joslyn (1883 City Directory, page 134; he is not listed in the previous 1881 directory, but that doesn’t tell us or not if he had actually moved here by then).  Previous to living in Port Huron, Soutar worked and lived in Saginaw, although his actual home was in Rattle Run, St. Clair County, where his wife and other family members lived.

From the other letters in the collection, we know that Soutar was from Newport on Tay, Fife (or thereabouts), Scotland. The three letters here appear to be the only ones from friends, although the collection has not yet been fully studied.  The collection, too, is what seems to be only one group of papers that was saved by someone and does not at all include all of Soutar’s correspondence.  The documents relating directly to William Jenkinson were already posted.  Future posts will include letters from his wife, Agnes, and letters from his family members back in Scotland.  What remains, business documents, will also be scanned and posted.

The Sim letter was in excellent shape and needed no enhancing, but the writing of the other two letters was very dim (especially Gowling’s) and the images here are enhanced ones.  While the images alone (with captions) are posted first, the texts will be typed up and added to this post at a later date.  The images are provided as .jpg and are clickable for large-scale viewing.  Please give credit to PHAHPA if you use them.

From H. Batchelor, 1877, page 1 of 4; mentions farm life and thoughts on lumbering investment.

From H. Batchelor, 1877, page 2 of 4; mentions thoughts on land and lumbering investment.

From H. Batchelor, page 3 of 4, 1877; more thoughts on lumbering investment and lumberers cutting quickly, no matter the market, over fire fears.

From H. Batchelor, page 4 of 4, 1877.

From Gowling (?), pages 1 and 4, 1878; regarding Soutar’s illness (1), and, (4) “Henry Howard has bought the Hibbard Mill,” mentions McMorran’s mill and the mills doing well, the National Bank moving to building across the street.

From Gowling (?), pages 2 and 3, 1878; thoughts on future position, work that doesn’t just put money in other men’s pockets, and moving permanently to Port Huron (2), and, (3) business doing better than it has for some time, railroads came or expanded quickly, Mr. Batchelor has moved, the Phoenix (?) burned down on Butler Street and the owners building a new brick block in its place (3).

From Charles Sims, relating to Boston, page 1 of 4, 1871.  The entire letter includes information about the conditions of employment in various parts of the country, and gives some details on amount of pay and costs of living.

From Charles Sim, page 2 of 4, relating to Boston, 1871.

From Charles Sim, page 3 of 4, relating to Boston, 1871.

From Charles Sim, page 4 of 4, relating to Boston, 1871.

Wm. Jenkinson Letters to Wm. R. Soutar, 1879-1892

Portrait of William Jenkinson (in Andreas 1883, page 576.5).

Below are some letters and other items from the William Robert Soutar collection (used by permission from Lynne Secory).  All are either written by William Jenkinson (1834-1896), or pertain to him and his family.  A brief but very telling biography of Jenkinson is included below.

William Soutar was Jenkinson’s private secretary for many years, and even served as the estate’s secretary after his employer and friend’s death (City Directories, 1893-94, page 226, and 1899-1900, page 297). Although Soutar was connected to Jenkinson in some way by 1879, as evidenced by one of the letters here, when he first appears a couple of years later in Port Huron he is a bookkeeper for Brooks & Joslyn (1883 City Directory, page 134; he is not listed in the previous 1881 directory, but that doesn’t tell us or not if he had actually moved here by then).  From the other letters in the collection, we know that Soutar was from Newport on Tay, Fife (or thereabouts), Scotland.  In a letter from his parents, dated January 31, 1880 (#2.0207), the writer answers his inquiry about the Tay Bridge Disaster (1879) and tells him that none of his friends were on the train.

The documents are provided as .png images and clickable for full, large-scale viewing.  Please give credit to PHAHPA if you use them.

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“WILLIAM JENKINSON, manufacturer and dealer to pine lumber, is a native of the North of Ireland, and was born in 1834.  Upon reaching manhood, emigrated to the United States in 1853, and four years later came to Port Huron and engaged in buying white oak staves, and continued in that business for twenty years.  In 1874, he engaged in manufacturing pine lumber. He owns seven thousand acres pf pine land, and cuts from five to ten million feet annually; ships his lumber to Chicago, Buffalo, Rochester and other Eastern points.  He controls steamers and barges for freighting his lumber from the mills; he is a director and the largest stockholder in the First National Bank, and is largely interested in real estate and city property.  In 1856, Mr. Jenkinson was united in marriage to Miss Eliza M. Stettler, a native of Canada.  They have one daughter–Jennie” (History of St. Clair County, Michigan, A.T. Andreas 1883, page 577).  (Jennie later married Dr. Mortimer Willson.  It might be expected that Wm. Jenkinson’s house was built well, and no doubt it was, but it is no longer standing.)

February 18th, 1879, letter to Wm. Soutar. Envelopes in the collection from this time place him in either Sandusky, Ohio, or Saginaw, Michigan, while his home–where his wife lived–was in Rattle Run, St. Clair County, Michigan.  (#1.0074)

April 4th, 1881 letter to Soutar while in Saginaw, Michigan, with one subject seeming to address Soutar’s interest in moving to Port Huron. Since Port Huron is closer to Rattle Run, his interest in doing this would make sense. Wm Jenkinson’s simple calling card is included in this image also.  (#2.0294 and #2.0295)

July 8th, 1883 letter from Glasgow, Scotland. Please excuse that the pages are transposed.  (#2.0249)

Short letter from London, on their way to Rome via Liverpool. October 8th, 1883.  (#2.0199)

From San Francisco, after having visited Los Angeles. If you can decipher what Jenkinson is referring to regarding Mr. Upton, please leave a comment. Dated April 7, 1886.  (#2.0289)

A short letter letting Soutar know they were leaving and stopping at some other places before their expected arrival home on April 27th. Dates April 16th, 1886. Note the change in stationery during the 9 day interval.  (#1.0060)

You probably noticed that this letter from Jenkinson isn’t to Soutar, but to the president of Grand Trunk Elevator Company. As can be seen from the company stationery, Jenkinson was the treasurer. It is included because of its probably significance related to the company and to Botsford, and perhaps the rarity of the stationery. Why Soutar kept a few of these types of correspondence is not known. Dated January 3rd, 1887. I like Jenkinson’s endnote (and not because of the misspellings), “hope you will come home as Earley in the Spring as posable–remember I know nothing about an Elevator . . .”  (#1.0181)

This also is not a letter to Soutar, but included for any persons interested in the companies that are parties in the court case. Please see the district court (Detroit) summons for the names. Dated January 10th, 1888.  (#2.0209)

Dated March 6, 1891, this letter to Soutar was from Mexico City. They went sightseeing with the legate of Mexico and his wife (Mr. & Mrs. Butter?). I wonder if Mr. Soutar ever felt envious.  (#1.0100)

A bit longer letter with personal and business references. Note the testimonial on the hotel stationery–it’s no wonder health seekers rushed to California. This hotel is still in business, is a National Landmark, and the area is indeed nice; it must’ve been astounding when Jenkinson was there, however, without all the urban growth that now exists. Dated April 16th, 1891.  (#2.0201 and #2.0201A)

Eliza wrote this personal letter to the Soutars from Scotland, but what’s wonderful about this is that she sent heather from the Soutar’s homeland in the letter and its “shadow” is visible in the paper. A fitting ending to the Jenkinson correspondence within the Soutar collection. Dated September 15th, 1892.  (#1.0109)

History of Port Huron from an 1876 Atlas

For reference purposes, the following word-for-word history of Port Huron (city) is provided here.  From the Combination Atlas Map of St. Clair County Michigan . . .  by Everts & Stewart, Philadelphia, 1876, page XVIII.

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In the year 1819, when the Hon. D. B. Harrington came to this place to make it his abiding place, nothing but a vast wilderness met the eye on every side.  The Chippewa tribe of Indians were the occupants of this region; and during the fishing and hunting season they congregated at the mouth of the Black River in large numbers; and their huts and wigwams dotted the shores for a long distance north and south.  There were at this time a few French families scattered around, whose names are mentioned in the early history of the County, and who at times were seriously annoyed by the Indians.  The propensity to steal was largely developed among them.

The first house ever built in Port Huron, or, as it was then called, Desmond, was located near the Hogan House, in Court Street, and was occupied by Anselm Petit.  The second building was occupied by a half-breed named John Riley, and was located on the site of William Stewart’s hardware store.  These two buildings comprised the village in 1819.  There were no inhabitants north of Fort Gratiot at that date, on the eastern slope of the lower peninsula, with the exception of three or four families scattered along the Black River and Mill Creek.  On the Canada side a wilderness prevailed, with nothing to indicate the presence of humanity except the wigwams of the Indians.

The village of Port Huron was originally in Desmond Township, embracing all that part of St. Clair county north of Township 5.

The first meeting held to effect its organization was at Fort Gratiot, on the first Monday in May, 1826, when the following officers were elected:  Martin Pickens, Supervisor; Jeremiah Harrington and Isaac Davis, Assessors; Morris McGarvey, Isaac Davis, and Richard Sansbury, Highway Commissioners; Reuben Dodge, Lewis Facer, and Francis Duchein, Constables.  The first village plat was made in 1835, by Mr. E. Petit, and was called Peru.  The next made was in the fall of 1835, by D. B. Harrington, and the lots sold by White & Harrington.

In 1837 the third piece of land was platted and sold by Major John Thorn, and called Paris.

The name of Port Huron is accredited to Mr. D. B. Harrington in 1835; and the projectors of the other village plats followed his example, and the whole assumed the name which it has since borne.

The first school-house erected was by Francis P. Browning, and was located on the west side of the park and north of Black River.  The first hotel built was of logs, in 1827, on Quay Street.

Early map of Port Huron showing the park west of which was built the first school. This early era area of Port Huron is now taken up by McMorran plaza and the community college.
Detail from the 1859 Geil map of Macomb and St. Clair counties.

In 1833 the road now known as Military Street was built, and a bridge erected across Black River.  In 1832, during the Black Hawk war, the citizens of Port Huron rendered effective service in palisading the fort.  John B. Phillips built the first steamboat at this place.

The village of Port Huron became a city under a charter obtained April 8, 1857, at which time the City Council met for the first time, W. L. Bancroft presiding as Mayor.  The city of Port Huron of to-day looms up grandly beside the little straggling hamlet that nestled on the shores of the St. Clair River forty years ago.  The natural advantages possessed by this place surpass by far those of any other section of the County, and it is only a question of time when this city shall take a prominent position among the first cities of the State in population and business interests.

It has a very large lake and river traffic, and the great railroad lines centering here bring a heavy trade to this point.

The Grand Trunk, and Chicago and Lake Huron Railroads on the Port Huron side, and the Great Western Railroad on the Sarnia side, give to it an air of busy importance.  For Gratiot is located on the northern limit of the city, and was occupied in 1814 by a detachment of United States regulars and militia, under Major Forsyth of the regular army.  Captain Gratiot was the engineer officer who built the first fort, and after whom it is named.  Its original cost was three hundred dollars.  In 1822 it was abandoned, and the buildings turned over to two Presbyterian missionaries named Hart and Hudson, who occupied them until 1828, when they were reoccupied by the Government, and the buildings and grounds were enlarged and strengthened.  The fort has since been occupied as a military post, with the exception of a period during the Mexican war and the war of the Rebellion [the Civil War].  The date of the first village organization is not clearly established, but from the most reliable information obtained, it was incorporated about the year 1842, and the first paper published was in 1835 or 1836, by D. B. Harrington, and was called the “Lake Huron Observer.”  The most important business interests here are the cutting of lumber and ship-building, furnishing employment to large numbers of men.

The marine interests of the city are large; many officers and sailors residing here with their families, and many vessels being owned here.  A large wholesale trade is also being rapidly developed with the country north and west, especially in the grocery and hardware lines.  This is the market for the produce of St. Clair, and large portions of Sanilac, Lapeer, and Macomb Counties.

The city has a population of eight thousand three hundred, and is rapidly increasing.  It is the County seat of St. Clair, and contains among its public buildings and enterprises three public or graded schools, two on the south side of Black River, and one on the north side; a very handsome structure occupying the site of the one burned in 1873, with two more contracted for, and to be speedily erected, one in the Fifth and the other in the Sixth Wards.  A new city hall and court-house, and engine-house on Water Street, a new custom-house of elegant design, Pine Grove Park, city cemetery, now water-works building, all owned by the city, except the custom-house, which is a Government building.  The fire department consists of one stream and one hand engine.  The water-works are of the Holly pattern, with four engines, having a pumping capacity of three million gallons per day.  The city is divided into six wards, with regularly laid out streets and fine side-walks, principally of wood.  There are street railways, and the city is well supplied with gas.

There are eight churches, two large iron bridges spanning the Black River, two lines of ferry-boats plying between Port Huron and Sarnia, Masonic, Odd-Fellow, Good Templar, and other lodges, besides stores, hotels, and shops in large numbers.  The United States Signal Service Bureau have also established a station here, and render excellent service to the shipping interests.

 

 

Petit Family Child Abducted by Indians Finds Family as Adult

By Vicki Priest (c) (All Rights Reserved)

This is an amazing tale of Edward Petit’s firstborn son,* which so far as I have seen from genealogies is unknown, and of crazy “coincidence.” It’s also an example for remembering that when, historically, folks report how many children they have or had, they usually only give the number that have survived past infancy or early childhood. In Edward’s case, Victoria Louise is said to be his oldest child and the child that is the subject of the article below was not in his will, for whatever reason. To me, anyway, there’s no reason to doubt the story. The only oddity I’ve noticed so far is that it took so long for the son to meet the father (the mother, Henriette Victoria Stevens, died in 1873, and the Civil War ended in 1865; Edward died in 1875, so the meeting must have occurred very shortly before Edward died). The article is reproduced as it was posted in The Times Herald, May 16, 1891 (page 6), and includes historically important information beyond the story of Henry.

None of these men is Henry, but his brother Marshal is shown standing on the right. From George Smith’s book “A History of Port Huron in Pictures” (1971, page 30). An 1890 date is given to the photo. The other fellows are (L to R) Lewis Atkins, William Bottomby, and Jacob Jacobi.

Romance of an Abduction (Indianapolis Journal)” [no date is provided for the reprinted piece]

There is a barber named Henry Petit who has a rare tale of adventure to tell concerning himself, of how he was stolen when four years old by the Indians, and how he finally found his father. Petit was born in 1838 at the Indian trading post near Port Huron, Michigan, where his father had an exchange store and was patronized by the Indians.

In 1842 Turkey Foot, chief of the Black Creek Indians, got into a difficulty with the father of Petit, claiming that he had given him a “wildcat” dollar in making change. This was denied by Petit, who would not take back the money. The Indian went away mad, and vowing that he would get even. The Indians about this time sold their lands about port Huron, and were being removed to a reservation near the present city of Sandusky. This Indian at once executed a plan to get revenge on Petit.

The night before Turkey Foot left he stole the boy in this manner: He found out that Petit was not at home one night, and he entered the house about midnight. Walking lightly across the floor he jerked the sleeping babe from the arms of the mother, who awoke in alarm only to find that her baby was gone. A diligent search failed to find a trace of the missing boy, and he was given up as dead. The Indian took the lad, now four years old, to Ohio, where an old squaw took charge of him.

There was a white man with the tribe named Timothy Crocker, whom the Indians sent back to Port Huron to tell Petit that his boy died in Canada. Thus the parents were made to believe that their boy was dead. The lad lived with the Indians until 11 years old, when a man named Howser, of Williamsport, Pa., who was among these Indians, bought the boy for a small consideration and took him back to his home. The boy there learned the barbers’ trade, but as to where the Indians got him he could not remember. He was sent to school at Republic, O., where he received a license to teach. He was there going by the name of Timothy Crocker, and in 1855 he was married to Miss Catherine Eckert, who lived at Delphi, Indiana where he purchased a barber shop.

When the war commenced he enlisted in the Ninth Indiana infantry. While this regiment was with Sherman in the “march to the sea” and in Alabama, “Crocker” was approached by a man who asked him his name. “Crocker” told him, and the man denited it, saying that he was the very counterpart of a Mr. Petit, at Port Huron, Mich.; that he must be the missing son, long since supposed to be dead. The stranger took the name of the town where “Crocker” lived, and told him that when the war closed proof would be presented showing that “Timothy Crocker” was Henry Petit, the son of Edward Petit.

After the war “Crocker” settled at Westville, near La Porte, where he soon heard from the mysterious person who had told him such a strange story while in the army. This was soon followed by a telegram from Edward Petit, of Port Huron, saying, “Come at once and lose no time.” “Crocker” went hardly knowing what to think would be the outcome of the trip. He arrived at Port Huron, and upon stepping from the train he met his father face to face—two men almost the exact image of each other. There could be no mistaking the fact that one was the father and the other the son. The mother had died many years before. [The End]

* Edit of January 15, 2018:  Actually, Edward F., born and died in 1837 (Lakeside Cemetery, Port Huron), is very probably Edward and Victoria’s first-born child.  He has Edward’s name, just as the first girl born to them has her mother’s and grandmother’s name–Louise/Louisa Victoria (b. 1841).  A news entry from when Victoria died in 1873 says that she and Edward had 10 children, but only 4 were still living at the time.  These would’ve been Louise, Marshal (1849-1939), Franklin (1855-1910), and John/Jean B. (1857-1917).  There was a Basil born to them in 1855, and now we know about Henry (b. 1838) (and Edward F., b. 1837), leaving three more that are unknown; the gaps in births are between 1842 and 1848, and 1850-1854.

 

 

 

Beloved Community Leader, Stanley McFarland

After spending some time researching people from the past, it would be hard not to notice how some people are remembered fondly at passing, and others not so much. Some well-known people in the community get their obligatory obituaries, tersely written, while others get a long and detailed one, splashed with kind words and compliments; and, memorials besides the obituary are found.*

Stanley McFarland (The Times Herald, February 24, 1940, page one).

A case in point is that of Stanley McFarland, 1879-1940. One could say he was a beautiful man who led a beautiful life; I say that he appears to have been a rare, super-fine human being. The following information is from his obituary in The Times Herald (February 24, 1940, pages 1 and 5). Following that, two memorials that anyone would be proud of are quoted in full; please read them to learn more about this example of a man.

Stanley was 60 when he died, having been laid low by a virulent infection that had started in his ear; apparently surgery made it worse. He had come to live in old Fort Gratiot as a boy when his parents, John and Catherine McFarland, moved here from Ontario (Port Hope), Canada. He grew to be 6’4” and was an “outstanding” athlete, being “an exceptionally good tennis player.” He was a director of the YMCA for some years. Stanley was known for an extraordinary mathematical ability, where “he could add large columns of figures in his head more rapidly than other clerks could do by using the adding machines. His answers to mathematical problems were always found to be accurate.” But he wasn’t just brilliant at adding numbers. He was highly regarded for his ability to analyze whole and difficult financial reports and regurgitating them in an easily understood way to others. He seemed pretty brilliant and inquisitive in general, as he traveled by car throughout the country, delighting in learning all about different areas. Continue reading

New Pages: I Love Your Rear and Wish List

Hello wonderful supporters and readers.  As you hopefully know already, we’ve been incorporated as a nonprofit in Michigan and are working toward 501(c)3 status (currently, we’d like at least one more board member to file our forms, and more on that if you want to message us).  So, we’re a fledgling organization with very little funds and need all the free promotions we can get.  That includes sharing our posts from here or from our Facebook page. If you love Port Huron history and the historic built environment, please share our information with others!  It’s discouraging (and odd) how very few people do in fact share about us (as a newer person that has come to this area and experiencing this disconnect, it is not surprising at all that so much has been demolished already).  We will be conducting studies, of course, nominating buildings and districts to registers, publishing a journal (hopefully!) for authors covering the history and built environment of the Thumb area, and more.  To do that takes support.

In any case, one of our new pages is called “I Love Your Rear,” where we’ll post the backs of buildings and then compare them to the fronts.

What does the front of this building look like?

Rear view of the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store on 24th St (1335), Port Huron.

The second page, Our Wish List (a subpage of About Us), will have–what else?–things the organization needs.  All donations will be tax-deductible retroactively (for example, donations made this year will still be tax-deductible even if we don’t obtain 501(c)3 status until 2018, although we have no intention to wait that long).

Thanks so much for reading this far, and for any support you can give or do!

Old house, new look. And, PHAH&PA is now on Facebook

Hello all!  As we move toward officialdom, we’ll be adding to our online presence (of course) and, eventually this site will be moved.  We would love to have you visit our new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/porthuronpreservation/ ; hopefully it will prove beneficial to you.  Below, our most recent post is copied.  New isn’t always better, new is too often regressive.

“Here is a powerful example of what has happened in Port Huron, and what has happened in our country generally. This house, estimated to have been built in the mid-1890s, is a regular-sized home on a regular street in Port Huron (Willow St). It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? The owners had the builders pay attention to detail because–why else?– those things mattered. Look at the second recent photo. Detail no longer matters, and it seems clear that uglifying it (and the neighborhood) is perfectly acceptable. Today it is a rental, divided up inside.

Continue reading

Early Michigan Maps: 1825, 1831, 1839, 1842

Fort Gratiot and future Port Huron area of the 1825 map by O. Risdon.

Fort Gratiot and future Port Huron area of the 1825 map by O. Risdon.  The native name of the short-lived Chippewa reservation is provided here, Aumichuanaw.

I wanted to share some historic maps with you that are held by the Michigan State Libraries.  These are viewable online, so you can go to the links and see them in detail to your heart’s content.  The first two are from the extraordinary map of the surveyed areas of Michigan Territory, as published by Orange Risdon in 1825 (engraved by Rawdon, Clark & Co of Albany, New York).  Reproduced here are portions of the blue water area.  To view the entire map, held by Michigan State University, please go to its source url: https://www.lib.msu.edu/branches/map/MiJPEGS/843-c-A-1825/

Continue reading

1896 Mayor’s Office Letterhead was Pretty Awesome

Port Huron mayor's letterhead from a letter dated 1896. Private collection.

Port Huron mayor’s letterhead from a letter dated 1896. Private collection.

Even though I had more pressing matters to attend to, I couldn’t help but look at the historic letters that someone let me view (very graciously!) from their private collection.  The last document was a bland letter from the mayor’s office, but, the letterhead is anything but bland.  Look at the St. Clair Tunnel (!), an engineering wonder of the time, but now, a basically hidden thing.  And while I still had other matters to attend to, this post just wouldn’t wait.

Continue reading

As Seen in Port Huron, April 24th 2016

Backways, Port Huron

The alleyscape of the southeast block of Military and Water Streets, Port Huron (taken April 24, 2016; filtered).

The lull in posts should not be confused with an absence of work on PHAH&PA’s part.  Research is being done, pages are being added to and edited, buildings and districts are being identified as possible National Register candidates, one-on-one meetings are being held, and there’s some training going on in there too.

Part of the page additions and research has involved taking and adding photographs, so I thought I’d share some here.  Today, not realizing that the Exquisite Corpse coffee house wasn’t open on Sundays, my son and I took a little stroll around the block it’s in, looking for the little things that make up the personality of a building and a block.  Here are a few.

Historic alleyway door and wall, Port Huron.

Old stonework and double door, Military street alley (at Water Street), Port Huron. I only wish you could really see what this photo can’t seem to convey about this historic doorway.

Pilaster detail, Water St, Port Huron

Pilaster detail, east end of Water St, Port Huron.

Historic bldg details, Port Huron

Stone foundation and pilaster detail, east end of Water Street, Port Huron.

Pilaster base, north end Military St, Port Huron

We’d need to do a rubbing of this one. Pilaster base, at the north end Military St (east side), Port Huron.

Historic interior detail, Military St, Port Huron

Historic interior detail (or ghost of one), east side of Military Street (south of Water), Port Huron. East Lake Builders seem to be in the process of preserving and renovating this building.

Detail of the Old Masonic Lodge Bldg, Port Huron

 

 

 

At left is an upper door detail from what’s left of the 1912 Eagles Lodge No. 343 at 1001 Military Street. It used to be a stately three story structure with brick upper floors, but now only the bottom first floor remains (it is utilized as a social services building). See below. An image of the original building will be added when one becomes available.

1001 Military St, Port Huron

Below is a side view of what is probably the only red sandstone building in Port Huron, and it’s in pretty sorry shape.  This structure was one of the oldest banks in the city, St. Clair County Savings Bank.  Amazingly, it’s present location at Military and Pine streets is not it’s first–it was moved stone by stone from a location that was closer to the water (Endlich 1981:71).

Old St Clair County Bank bldg, Port Huron

St Clair Cty Savings Bank Endlich p72

At left is a scan of the building during better days (Endlich 1981:72); the photo is undated.

Source

Endlich, Helen.  A Story of Port Huron (Port Huron: Self-published, 1981).

Getting the Word Out about PHAHPA

I’ve been busy populating this site’s pages with useful information, researching and helping some folks with historical building questions, and trying to make more connections.  So, I hadn’t been focusing on developing the organization as a nonprofit quite as much.  But to make things clearer in everyone’s mind (including my own), I came up with a one page hand-out about the Port Huron Area History and Preservation Association.  Eventually, when the organization has a new host, pdf’s of forms, informational sheets and brochures, articles, etc., will be made available.

In the meantime, feel free to comment on the contents of this hand-out.  We would appreciate thoughtful feedback and any insights into the local situation that could prove helpful to furthering the preservation of our historic community.  First is an image of the sheet which could be copied and printed out, if desired, followed by standard text.

Port Huron Area History

The background color is quite off in this scan, but it’ll do for now.


Port Huron Area History & Preservation Association  

Community.  Uniqueness.  Home.

cropped-ph-1st-baptist-1867-2.jpg

Bringing the Port Huron area’s history to life.

We’re here to inform and inspire Port Huron area residents about the possibilities of preserving and rehabilitating their historic properties.  We’re here to help those same residents investigate their properties for the purposes of recognition, preservation, and the application for any possible monetary benefit or assistance.

We will do this by developing and presenting (1) data related to regional history, architecture, and planning, (2) historical narratives and contexts, (3) “how-to” articles and ready-to-use forms; by providing (4) assistance with research, technical forms, and report writing, and by (5) recognizing historical resources at the organizations’ web page and via public avenues, and when funds allow, (6) provide permanent informational plaques (to be mounted on the historic building). 

We are still in the development phase of establishing this organization for the greater Port Huron area, with the goal of incorporating and being awarded nonprofit (501[c]3) status.  To find out more and to contribute in any way (including volunteering, or even being on the Board of Directors or an advisory committee), please visit PHAHPA.ORG and/or contact Vicki Priest at 949-449-4731 (or phahpa@zoho.com).  Thank you!


 

The Wicked Journalist of Port Huron, from Andreas 1883

Devil's apprentices, who are "printer's devils"

Woodcut illustrating a devil and his apprentices, the printer’s devils.

Perhaps the editor Andreas* refers to in this little story took the title “printer’s devil” a little to seriously during his training.  Another example of guile and subterfuge at the local level, neighbor against neighbor.  But back to the story, which adds life to a time unknown to us.

Once there was a wicked journalist in Port Huron.  There may be wicked journalists in Port Huron now, but this wicked journalist is there no more.  Once while he was there, Elder Smart proposed to get up a revival, and went about the work systematically.  He set the date three weeks ahead, got out posters and made all arrangements to draw good houses.  The wicked journalist did not believe in revivals, and he said one day to another Port Huron editor who was not truly good, “I believe we can break  up that revival.”  The other editor thought not. 

Now it was just the time when the spelling mania was sweeping over the land.  At once the wicked editor put an item in his paper suggesting that Port Huron shouldn’t lag behind the age, and it was high time she began to spell.  T’other editor copied the item and urged Port Huron to do her duty.  The third day a call was issued for a spelling match.  In a week everybody had a spelling book in his pocket and studied at every odd moment.  Orthographic exercises  were the order of the day. 

When the time came for the revival to open, Port Huron and Sarnia were booked for an international spelling match, and Port Huronites scarcely knew whether they had souls to save or not.  They only knew they would spell the Canadians down or die in the attempt.  The revival was abandoned.  This does not profess to be a story with a moral, although it may tend to show how easily it is to set folks wild over nothing, and how like sheep they will go astray, or any other way, when some one chooses to lead them.

From History of St. Clair County, Michigan (Chicago: A.T. Andreas & Co, 1883), page 506.