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Michigan history

slab of butter frying in a pan.
George Brett / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In the mid-20th century, there was a smuggling ring running between western Upper Peninsula and people in Wisconsin. It didn’t involve whisky, or gun-running, but rather a substitute for butter.

Rachel Clarke with the Michigan History Center says there was demand in Wisconsin for margarine, which was illegal in the badger state, but was still for sale in stores in Michigan.

plaque with michigan flag
Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

The federal government may have orchestrated the United State's history-making voyage to the moon in 1969, but the states weren't left out entirely. The crew of Apollo 11 took all 50 state flags along for the ride, and then returned each flag to its owner with an added gift: a moon rock.

Michigan’s moon rock was given to Governor William Milliken, and it sat in his garage for years afterward. Then, in the late 1980s, Milliken's family delivered it to the Michigan History Center, where it's now on exhibit. 

State Police records, RG 90-240, housed in the Archives of Michigan

It was nearly fifty years ago when Michigan music lovers attended a Woodstock-like music festival in south-central Michigan. But not everyone was happy about it.

The Michigan History Center’s Mark Harvey joined Stateside today dig into the story surrounding the Goose Lake Music Festival.

Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan

It’s recognized as the Snow Capital of the Midwest. That’s quite a distinction for a town that no longer exists.

Rachel Clark from the Michigan History Center joined Stateside to explain how the mining town of Delaware, Michigan became a ghost town.

Highway surrounded by trees beneath a blue sky
Stratosphere / creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

If you've ever been driving through the countryside, unsure of exactly where you are, maybe you’ve told a friend: “I passed some podunk town in the middle of nowhere.”

Many Michiganders are familiar with the saying. But there’s really only one Podunk, Michigan.

Courtesy of the Crawford County HIstorical Society / Michigan History Center

If you like bird watching, Pere Cheney is a great place to see the Kirtland Warbler. Other than that, there isn't much there.

It's what you might call a ghost town.

If you're wondering how that happened, you're not alone. Michigan Radio listener Olivia Cushway of Ypsilanti posed that very question to our MI Curious team. 

postcard of singamore michigan
Courtesy of the Archives of Michigan

When you hear the words "ghost town," you might imagine a dusty, vacant place in the Old West, where cowboys once tread.

Well, think again because Michigan has its share of ghost towns, too. 

Mark Harvey from the Michigan History Center joined Stateside to talk about one of them: Singapore, Michigan. 

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

In 1884, Congress passed a bill recognizing the service of, and granting a pension to Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmundson Seelye for her service to the country. She served in the Civil War as a soldier in Company F of the Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, under the name of Franklin Thompson. 

Archives of Michigan

Beards and baseball mixed with roller coasters and religion. That could be a nutshell description of a West Michigan religious society known as the House of David. 

Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Before Europeans arrived in Michigan, “moose were pretty much all over” the state, said Rachel Clark of the Michigan History Center.

After that arrival, the moose population declined as settlers began over-hunting the animal and damaging its habitat.

Poet and educator Denise Miller
Courtesy of Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE)

Hiding people in barns, or stowing people in secret rooms while keeping the watchful eyes of law enforcement and bounty hunters away from their clandestine activities. That's our image of Michiganders who helped thousands of escaping slaves through the Underground Railroad.

But there are many more dimensions to the Underground Railroad in Michigan.

Historian Michelle S. Johnson has made it her mission to help us more fully understand Michigan's role in the Underground Railroad.

Michigan History Center

"Ancient relics from the Mediterranean found across Michigan!"

That headline turned heads at the turn of the last century.

Eric Perkins from the Michigan History Center joined Stateside to talk about the story of these ancient "relics" and how they ended up being "discovered" in Michigan.

Archives of Michigan

 


 

May 18 marks the 90th anniversary of largest school massacre in U.S. history. On that day in 1927, in Bath, Michigan, 38 elementary school children and six adults were killed and nearly 60 others were injured. Andrew Philip Kehoe had packed 100 pounds of dynamite and blown up half of a school. 

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

Major General George Owen Squier. The name may not be familiar, but his work in the fields of aeronautics and radio communications rivaled that of better-known contemporaries like Alexander Bell and the Wright Brothers.

Squier, a native of Dryden, Michigan, was the first military officer to fly, in a plane piloted by Orville Wright. Today, his hometown hopes to build a statue in his honor.

flickr user vasenka / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


It's graduation season at the University of Michigan. 

This year, the university celebrates its bicentennial. That means the public university was established in Michigan 20 years before Michigan was a state.

Archives of Michigan / Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

Eighty years ago, a few years before Bruce Wayne made his comic book debut, our nation experienced its first wave of “bat-mania.”

In the 1930s, the country’s imagination was captured by winged daredevils like Michigander Clem Sohn.

Sleeping Bear Dunes
Jim D / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan Radio listener Ashley Lewis of Royal Oak posed this question to our MI Curious team:

A three dollar banknote from 1837, printed by the Bank of Manchester, Michigan.
Wystan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As banking and the transferring of funds continues to evolve from paper to electronic in the 21st century, let's think back to Michiganders in the 19th century. 

For them, procuring cash was way more complicated than rolling up to a nearby ATM and getting a stack of 20s. Without a National Bank issuing currency, states like Michigan chartered their own banks without federal oversight.

vintage cars at Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
F.D. Richards / Flickr

President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the federal funding for a group that works to preserve Michigan’s automotive history. The MotorCities National Heritage Area covers 16 counties and includes museums, parks and entertainment venues, including the Henry Ford Museum, the Michigan International Speedway and the Michigan Theatre in Jackson.

Michigan History Center

Big outdoor stadiums hosting hockey is a trend that’s been on the rise over the past decade. The 2014 NHL Winter Classic, held in Michigan Stadium, drew more than 100,000 fans to watch the Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional hockey game.

But the Wings' very first outdoor game wasn’t at a stadium or even in a big city. It took place in 1954, at the self-proclaimed “Alcatraz of the North.” The opponent: the Marquette Prison Pirates.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A museum dedicated to honoring Michigan women is moving to a new home, near to the food court in a Lansing area shopping mall.

Last week, movers were busy loading cardboard boxes at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame.   For 3 decades, the museum has called the Cooley Haze House home.   But the building, overlooking downtown Lansing from its perch next to General Motors Grand River assembly plant, is showing signs of its age. 

Michigan History Center

100 years ago this week, the United States officially entered what was then called "The Great War." We know it today as World War I.

Wikimedia Commons

 


“All she wanted to do was leave.”

 

That’s how Barbara Niess-May, executive director of SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor, described the case of Francine Hughes of Dansville, Michigan.

Michigan History Center

The story of how Lansing became our state capital starts when Michigan is in its infancy – back in the early 1800s.

When Michigan became a territory in 1805, Detroit was named territorial capital – and for good reason.

“It was the largest city, certainly, and it was also accessible by water, which was very important in an era when roads are, at best, terrible in most places,” said Valerie Marvin, Michigan state Capitol historian.

corktown sign
Robert Duffner / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s Irish traditions go back nearly 250 years.

The first Irish immigrants largely settled on the East Coast, in large cities like Boston and New York. But they soon started heading west.

Because Detroit was founded by the French, it was an established as a Catholic city, which was attractive to many of the Irish facing persecution by Protestants back home.

Courtesty of SEEKING MICHIGAN OF THE MICHIGAN HISTORY CENTER

All Thornton and his wife Lucie Blackburn wanted was freedom when they came to Detroit in 1831. The African-American couple came to what was then still Michigan territory to escape the inhumane, but legal institution of slavery in Kentucky.

Little did the couple know, but their escape to Detroit was just a prelude to a bigger story; a story that would impact tens of thousands in the future.

Schaetzl said glaciers carved out all of Michigan's peninsulas.
Screen grab Google Maps / Google

What's the story behind Michigan's Thumb?

Courtesy of David Kiley

Two young people kept their love alive throughout World War II with letters – hundreds of them.

David Mertl / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Get a group of Michiganders together, add a deck of cards, and chances are pretty good you'll wind up with a game of euchre.

It was once dubbed "the queen of all card-games" and was wildly popular in the late 1800s. But its popularity waned through the 20th century. That is, except in Michigan and a handful of Midwestern states, nicknamed the “Euchre Belt.”

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center/Archives of Michigan

Happy birthday, Michigan!

On Jan. 26, 1837, 180 years ago today, Michigan became the 26th state to join the union.

Before that could happen, there was some housekeeping to do, namely: to settle the fight between Michigan and Ohio over a narrow strip of land known as the Toledo Strip. The conflict is otherwise known as the "Toledo War."

State Archivist Mark Harvey from the Michigan History Center joined Stateside to look back at how the state of Michigan got started.

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