1901 : Horrible Train Wreck Near Adrian
Nov 27 all-day

On November 27, 1901, Thanksgiving Eve, one of the worst railroad disasters in Michigan history occurred about a mile north-east of the tiny village of Seneca in southern Lenawee County. The number of people who died in this head-on collision is still wrapped in controversy and mystery to this day. The official number of fatalities as reported by the Wabash Railroad still holds today at 23. However, most newspapers at the time, and reporters on scene, claim at least 80 passed away, and possibly closer to 100.

As news got out around the countryside, many local residents came to help in the recovery and care of those injured. Many of the homes became makeshift hospitals as they awaited for emergency medical care to come from down the line in Peru, Indiana, and doctors with staff from Adrian. Within 24 hours, many large newspapers had reporters on site, and the wreckage had drawn thousands of spectators.

Sources :

The Wreck On The Wabash-1901“, Geocaching.

Michael H. Hodges, “Adrian honors 100 Italians who died in 1901 catastrophe“, Detroit News, August 2, 2016.

1953 : Curtis Armstrong (Booger) Born in Detroit
Nov 27 all-day

Curtis Armstrong (born November 27, 1953) is an American actor known for his portrayal as Booger in the Revenge of the Nerds movies, as Herbert Viola on Moonlighting, as famed record producer Ahmet Ertegün in the film Ray and for voicing the titular character in the show Dan Vs. He is also the co-host of the TBS reality television competition series King of the Nerds.

Armstrong was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Norma E. (née D’Amico), a teacher, and Robert Leroy Armstrong. He graduated from Berkley High School in Berkley, Michigan, and later attended and was graduated from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

Source : Curtis Armstrong Wikipedia entry

1960 : Gordie Howe Scores 1000th Point
Nov 27 all-day

On Nov. 27, 1960, Gordie Howe scored his 1,000th point. Better known as “Mr. Hockey,” Howe made his professional debut with the Detroit Red Wings in 1946 at the age of 18. In 1997, Howe played in his final professional hockey game. His one-game contract with the Detroit Vipers meant that Howe’s professional career spanned six decades.


Michigan History magazine

“He just kept going and going and …”, article by Larry Schwartz, ESPN Sport Century.

Gordie Howe wikipedia entry

2011 : Mitch Albom’s Have A Little Faith Premieres on Hallmark Channel
Nov 27 all-day

Mitch Albom (Bradley Whitford) has a pretty great life. He lives in Detroit and is happily married, he’s an award-winning sportswriter, a must-read newspaper columnist, a screenwriter, a radio and television broadcaster. Then two men come into his life, and he realizes something’s missing. Rabbi Albert Lewis (Martin Landau) presides over a thriving synagogue in a comfortable New Jersey suburb, and pastor Henry Covington (Laurence Fishburne), a recovering drug user and dealer, preaches to the poor and homeless in a crumbling Detroit inner-city church. Moving between their worlds – Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and privileged – Albom witnesses first-hand how these two very different men not only live life, but celebrate it. What else do these two have in common? They believe there’s divine spark in all of us – and that a single person can make a big difference in others’ lives, as long as they have a little faith.

The movie was filmed in Detroit.

For the full article, see Mitch Albom, “This film has the story — and the spirit”, Detroit Free Press, November 27, 2011.

1864 : Battle of Honey Hill, Georgia
Nov 28 all-day

During the last days of November 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman was nearing the end of his epic march across Georgia to the sea. As he approached Savanah, Sherman requested that Union forces stationed at Hilton Head, South Carolina be dispatched to assist him by cutting the Charleston & Savannah Railroad near Pocotaligo. Cutting this railroad would prevent Confederate reinforcements from beefing up Savanah’s defenses before Sherman’s arrival.

On November 28, an expedition of 5,500 Union soldiers, sailors and marines sailed for the Broad River. Among them were the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops (originally the First Michigan Colored Infantry). There were delays, as fog and poor navigation sent some ships up the wrong stream. The troops were again delayed after disembarking from their ships at Boyd’s Landing, as they took the wrong road and had to backtrack. While Union forces marched and countermarched, Confederates dug into their earth and log fortifications on Honey Hill, a rocky ridge that blocked the road on which the expedition needed to travel.

The 102nd arrived at Boyd’s Landing at 11 a.m. and marched to the battlefield to find carnage before them. Part of the unit was stationed behind the front lines to stop any Union soldiers attempting to straggle away to escape the fighting. As the assault stalled, and with Northern troops pinned down and running low on ammunition, the order was given to retreat. One battery of Union cannons had nearly been wiped out in the attack. The battery had “lost two of its officers and most of its horses and cannoneers; two of the ammunition-chests on the limbers were blown up.”

The 102nd was ordered forward into the storm of Confederate fire to pull the cannons back to prevent their capture. Each cannon weighed around 2,600 pounds, and, with their ammunition and equipment, was normally pulled by a team of six horses. The commander of the expedition, General John Hatch, describes the repeated attempts of the officers and men of the 102nd to pull the cannons back to Union lines:

A detail of a company from the One hundred and second U.S. Colored Troops was ordered to bring off the guns. Capt. A. E. Lindsay, commanding the company, was killed, and Lieut. H. H. Alvord was severely wounded. The command of the company devolved upon a sergeant, who did not understand the object of the advance, and failed to accomplish it. First Lieut. O. W. Bennett, One hundred and second U.S. Colored Troops, with thirty men was detached for the same purpose, and executed it in the coolest and most gallant manner.

Colonel Henry Chapman, commander of the 102nd, also singled out Lieutenant Bennett in his report of the action:

First Lieut. O. W. Bennett was sent with his company to endeavor, if possible, to save the guns. Lieutenant Bennett, with thirty men, went forward fully 100 yards in advance of our first line, and succeeded in bringing away the three guns. Too high praise cannot be awarded to Lieutenant Bennett for the gallant manner in which he led his men in that perilous enterprise, nor to his men who so faithfully followed their leader.

The 102nd stayed on the battlefield until 7.30 p.m., when they fell back with the rest of the army to their landing place. Bennett who – like all the officers of the 102nd – was white, received the Medal of Honor for his courage at the Battle of Honey Hill. None of his men were even considered for the honor, though their undeniable bravery was memorialized in army reports and newspapers. A correspondent who witnessed the 102nd in battle wrote, “after having been three and a half years in the field and participated In sixteen different engagements, I never before saw men exhibit such unyielding bravery In battle.”

Source : Eric Perkins, “Covered Themselves with Glory”, Seeking Michigan, March 3, 2015.

1905: Lake Superior Storm
Nov 28 all-day

On this day, 29 ships were either damaged or lost during a winter gale on Lake Superior.

Source : Pasty Central Day in History, November 28

However, many think the greatest storm ever to occur on the Great Lakes happened between November 7-12, 1913. It caused over 40 shipwrecks and cost at least 235 lives. See YouTube video

Also see Freshwater Fury: The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, Michigan In Pictures, November 7, 2009.

1929 : Berry Gordy, Jr. Born in Detroit
Nov 28 all-day

Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. brought black music to white audiences. He premiered a new sound, and launched the careers of such artists as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and the Supremes. In 1975, Gordy was given a lifetime achievement award at the American Music Awards, and in 1988, Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For more information, visit Caleb Marsh, Happy Birthday Berry Gordy, Founder of Motown, Finding Dulcinea, November 29, 2009.

2016 : Michael ‘Jim’ Delligatti Dies, Creator of Big Mac and MSU Grad
Nov 28 all-day

Michael “Jim” Delligatti, an early Ray Kroc franchisee and the man who created the most iconic item on the McDonald’s menu, the Big Mac, died Monday at the age of 98.

Delligatti created the infamous burger — known for its two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun — calling it “The Big Mac Super Sandwich” and began selling them at his Uniontown, Pennsylvania store in 1967, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

The burger was so popular that he began selling them at all 47 of his stores before the company eventually made it a staple item on the menu. He is also credited with being among the first franchisees to serve breakfast at his stores.

Delligatti graduated from Michigan State University in 1964 from The School of Hospitality Business and in 2006, he was inducted into the Alumni Association Wall of Fame, Class of Owners.

McDonald’s estimates that 550 million Big Mac sandwiches are sold in each year in the United States and are sold in over 100 countries.

For the full article, see Matt Durr, “Creator of Big Mac and MSU grad, Michael ‘Jim’ Delligatti dies at 98“, MLive, November 30, 2016.

Big Mac wikipedia entry

1760 : French Surrender Michigan to British
Nov 29 all-day

 1 person, standing and outdoor
Painting of the French surrender of Fort Pontchartain du Detroit to English.

On Nov. 29, 1760, the French surrendered Michigan to the British after only three-score years of rule.

Captain Francoise-Marie Picote, Sieur de Bellestre, officially surrendered Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit and Michigan to the British after English Major Robert Rogers arrived with more  than 200 soldiers in 19 bateaux and  whale-boats.  Rogers bore a letter of capitulation from Marquis du Vaudreuil, the last French Governor of Canada, who had surrendered Montreal on September 8, 1760.   Rogers had also sent a messenger in advance of his party bearing letters spelling out the terms of capitulation.

Waiting on the south shore a half-mile below the town, Rogers gave Bellestre until four o’clock in the afternoon to surrender.  After reviewing the various letters outlining the terms of surrender, Bellestre wisely decided to vacate the fort peacefully and allowed the English soldiers to take possession around noon.

After taking possession of the fort, Rogers  summoned the Canadian (that is, French-Canadian) militia, disarmed them, and ordered them to take an oath of allegiance.  Some did so on November 30th and the rest on December 1st.  The militia consisted of every able-bodied man between 16 and 60.  The loss of guns was a great hardship since most depending on hunting for food and money (furs were used to barter for goods since money was so scarce).   Later these regulations were eased, guns returned, and the French militia captains were recommissioned.

Under escort, the 35 French soldiers departed Detroit on December 2nd, headed toward Fort Pitt, and eventually Philadelphia where they would disembark for France.  Messengers were also sent to other outlying French forts informing them of the turn of events.

Many of the letters sent back and forth survive to this day and are available in the Windsor Border Region compilation listed below.  It also includes journal entries from a George Croghan.


François-Marie Picoté de Belestre Wikipeda Entry.

The Windsor Border Region: Canada’s Southernmost Frontier (A collection of documents).  Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1960, p lxxvi.

Detroit Places: Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit – French Rule – 1701-1760

1847 : Michigan’s First Telegraph Line Completed
Nov 29 all-day

On November 29, 1847, Michigan’s first telegraph line was completed along the Michigan Central railroad tracks between Detroit and Ypsilanti. The first messages sent were long and ranged from the price of wheat and putty to the Mexican War and military reputation.

Source: Mich-Again’s Day.