1829 : Detroit Gazette Editor Fined
Mar 5 all-day

You had to be careful what you published in early Michigan.

Detroit Gazette editor John P. Sheldon was fined on March 5, 1829 for writing articles critical of the territorial court decisions, and jailed when he refused to pay.

Angry Detroit citizens, however, collected money and paid Sheldon’s fine and held a festive reception upon his release.

Source : Historical Society of Michigan.

1836 : Former Slaves Petition State Legislature for a Church
Mar 5 all-day

On March 5, 1836, thirteen escaped or freed slaves petition the legislature to start a church.

Their efforts lead to the formation of the Second Baptist Church – the first African American church in Detroit. Its members met in various halls and schools until 1857, when the group purchased the Zion Reformed Evangelical Church on the site of the present Second Baptist Church.

Source : Michigan is Amazing

1885 : Ring Lardner Born, Future Sports Journalist and Short Story Rider
Mar 5 all-day

Ring Lardner LC-DIG-npcc-03879.jpg

Ringgold Wilmer “Ring” Lardner (March 5, 1885 – September 25, 1933) was an American sports columnist and short-story writer best known for his satirical writings on sports, marriage, and the theatre. His contemporaries Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all professed strong admiration for his writing.

Born in Niles, Michigan, Ring Lardner was the son of wealthy parents, Henry and Lena Phillips Lardner. He was the youngest of nine children. Lardner’s name came from a cousin of the same name. The cousin had been named by Lardner’s uncle, Rear Admiral James L. Lardner, who had decided to name his son after a friend, Rear Admiral Cadwalader Ringgold, who was from a distinguished military family. Lardner never liked his given name and abbreviated it to Ring, naming one of his sons Ring Jr.

In childhood he wore a brace for his deformed foot until he was eleven. He also had a passion for baseball, stage, and music.   He later attended the Armour Institute in Chicago.

The rest of the story:

Here’s a summary of Ring Lardner’s significance from lardermania : an appreciation of Ring W. Lardner :

“Ring Lardner was one of the most successful writers of the 1920s, enjoying the rare combination of critical and popular approval of his work. From his beginnings as a sports journalist to his later work as a humorist, recorder of the slang vernacular, and satirist, Lardner distinguished himself as one of the best writers in these genres, earning himself a permanent place in the history of American letters.

Lardner began his writing career as a sports journalist and columnist for various Chicago newspapers, and it is in this role that he first rose to a level of national prominence. In the early years of his career, he gained a reputation as one of the most insightful, entertaining, and innovative sports reporters in the country. His columns and articles about baseball endeared him to editors, readers, and players. There were many dull games, but rarely a dull article by Lardner about them. He filled his reports with comedy and insights into the personal lives of the players. At the Chicago Tribune, and later for the Bell Syndicate, he created an engaging style that still influences columnists today. His nationally syndicated column, which humorously commented on national sporting events and other personal and public items of interest, appeared in more than 115 newspapers. Throughout his lifetime, Lardner wrote more than 4500 articles and columns for newspapers and has been called the originator of the modern American newspaper column.

One of the most recognizable traits of much of Ring Lardner’s writing, both in his columns and in his fiction, is the use of the American slang vernacular. Lardner took what was in the early 1900s a popular comic device and brought it to new heights of accuracy and style. Whereas earlier writers used this style of writing to make fun of the speakers, Lardner used it to produce an authentic American voice, to show not only how people sounded but how they thought. His practice of “listening hard” to those around him enabled him to portray the language of uneducated baseball players, aspiring musicians, and Jazz Age flirts, which fill the pages of his writing, in a realistic manner. Hemingway was influenced in his early career by Lardner’s realistic dialogue and Mencken used Lardner’s idiom as an example of American slang in The American Language.

As the years progressed, Lardner wrote less for newspapers, concentrating his efforts on short stories and theatrical pieces. The tone and subject matter of Lardner’s fiction moved away from the essentially humorous first-person baseball tales written in the slang vernacular to satirical looks at all aspects of American life. After the publication of How to Write Short Stories in 1924, Lardner’s fiction began to receive critical attention. Many of his stories were regarded by the critics as being exceptionally well crafted and more satirical than simply humorous. He was compared favorably with writers such as Sinclair Lewis, and was placed with Twain in the tradition of American satirists. Among those critics and writers that held Lardner in high regard were Edmund Wilson, H. L. Mencken, Sir James Barrie, and Virginia Woolf. Even though critical attention and popularity of his work have waned in the years following his death, a few short stories remain standards in anthologies (“Haircut,” “Some Like Them Cold,” and “Golden Honeymoon”) and new collections of his work continue to be published.”

Sources :

Ring Lardner wikipedia entry

lardermania : an appreciation of Ring W. Lardner


1916 : Engineering Building Burns at Michigan Agricultural College
Mar 5 all-day

Michigan State University is recalling a dark day in its long history: the 100th anniversary of a fire that destroyed the school’s engineering building.

The pre-dawn fire on March 5, 1916, likely began in the cement labs in the engineering building’s basement. No one died but the building was a total loss. It was less than 10 years old.

A century ago, MSU was known as Michigan Agricultural College. Auto executive R.E. Olds said he would contribute $100,000 to a new building, and Olds Hall opened 15 months after the fire.

It served as the home for engineering for 45 years until a larger building opened in 1962. Olds Hall is still in use and will turn 100 next year.

Source : “Century later, MSU remembers fire at engineering building”, Detroit Free Press, March 6, 2016.

Ablaze in 1916: On a quiet Sunday morning 100 years ago, Michigan State lost its Engineering Building to fire. MSU School of Engineering News Release, March 3, 2016.

1933 : Script Replaces Bank Checks During Depression
Mar 5 all-day

On Valentine's Day in 1933, Michigan Gov. William Comstock issued a proclamation closing all banks. He signed it at 1:32 A.M. that day, and the next morning people gathered at their banks, stunned by the news. Business was paralyzed and the crisis hit bottom when President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed all banks in the country on March 6.

On Valentine’s Day in 1933, Michigan Governor William Comstock issued a proclamation closing all banks.  On March 6, President Roosevelt followed suit at the federal level to keep banks from going bankrupt due to the large number of anxious customers trying to withdraw their savings.

On March 5, 1933, as a stopgap measure,City of Detroit Controller Charles Richter announced a city scrip program to pay municipal employees. While born out of emergency, the effectiveness of the program stands out as a civic success story.

An ad that ran in the Free Press in 1933 for the Barlum Hotel.

The program paid all municipal salaries, including those of police and firefighters, in scrip, in place of cash. City merchants willing to accept the alternate currency could redeem it as payment against outstanding city tax debts.

The city even allowed tenants whose landlords’ taxes were in arrears to present their scrip at the City Treasurer’s Office. A receipt would be issued that satisfied the person’s rent obligation, with the funds being credit toward the owner’s tax debt. The scrip document’s fine print states that it was technically a municipal bond, thus avoiding the legal prohibition against a local government issuing its own currency.

At first, the business community embraced the program wholeheartedly. Period ads in the Free Press from businesses as varied as boarding houses to the J.L. Hudson Co. promote their willingness to accept the scrip.

Hudson’s ran thousands of ads in Detroit newspapers over the decades. This notice, from 1933, is one of the most unusual.

“City Scrip Accepted for Room and Meals—Barlum Hotel, Cadillac Square at Bates St,” reads an ad from May 1933.

Publix Theaters, a national operator of movie houses, advertised its acceptance of city scrip at its three Detroit venues, the Fisher, the Riviera and the Michigan.

But after a short time, several downtown businesses collected far more of the ersatz cash than they anticipated.

“City scrip has been coming in so rapidly that we that we now have accepted almost sufficient to pay our entire city tax bill for this year,” Hudson General Manager Oscar Webber said.

Hudson began accepting scrip only for payments on charge accounts. Soon after Detroit Edison and Michigan Bell Telephone followed suit.

Detroit designed its scrip to make it carry the same visual feel as real money.

Fortunately, the situation was only temporary.

By the first half of 1934 the city’s fortunes had improved, as tax receipts had more than doubled from 1933. After July, the city terminated the issuance of new scrip but would continue to credit scrip still in circulation against outstanding tax bills. If the presenter had no tax debt, the notes could be redeemed for cash.

Source: Paul Vachon, “In 1933, when banks closed, Detroit printed its own money“, Detroit Free Press, February 26, 2021.

2013 : Michigan Supreme Court Starts Live Streaming
Mar 5 all-day

Can’t get enough of the Supremes?

Starting Tuesday, the Michigan Supreme Court will begin live streaming all oral arguments and proceedings. According to Chief Justice Robert Young, live streaming is “a natural extension of this Court’s commitment to transparency. We are using technology to improve public service. If the public can see this Court in action — now from their own PCs and in the convenient settings of home, office or school — they will be better informed about their government.”

Case summaries, prepared by the Court’s Office of Public Information, are online with briefs in the cases at… .

Video of Supreme Court Oral Arguments via the Michigan Bar.

The court’s live streaming can be seen here.

Source : Michigan Newswire, March 4, 2013.

For the full article, see “Supreme Streaming Starts Tomorrow”, Inside MIRS Today, March 4, 2013.

Full access to is available via the MSU Library electronic resources page. Access is restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.

1863 : Michigan’s First Race Riot
Mar 6 all-day


After hearing Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and conscription orders, white Detroiters used the trial of William Faulkner as a catalyst to destroy property within black neighborhoods. Two were killed, hundreds injured.

The riot was one of many riots across the country in response to the Enrollment Act of Conscription. Similar to the riot in New York, the Detroit riot was in response to race and class tension surrounding the issues of slavery, draft exemption, and employment. The Detroit Free Press is accused of inciting resentment against African Americans.

The riot resulted in the creation of a full-time police force for Detroit.

Sources :

Detroit Draft Riot, courtesy of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Ironically, the two girls recanted their testimony and seven years later William Faulkner was releasted from prison. 3:24 minutes.

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.: TRIAL OF THE NEGRO FAULKNER. Detroit Free Press, March 6, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.: TRIAL OF THE NEGRO FAULKNER. Conclusion of the Case and Arguments for the Defense. The Jury Immediately Return a Verdit of “Guilty.” HE IS SENTENCED TO THE STATE PRISON FOR LIFE. INTENSE EXCITMENT. Detroit Free Press, March 7, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.

A BLOODY RIOT.: The Provost Guard Fire Upon a Defenseless Crowd. ONE MAN KILLED AND MANY WOUNDED. Assault upon a Negro Hovel and Murder of the Inmates. A BLOOD-THIRSTY AND UNMANAGEABLE MOB. The City Fired in Twenty Places. THE MILITARY OUT TO SUPPRESS THE RIOT. The Twenty-Seventh Regiment Summoned ffom Ypsilanti. Patrol Guards Established Throughout the city. THE GREATEST EXCITEMENT EVER KNOWN IN DETROIT. Detroit Free Press, March 7, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.

THE GREAT RIOT.: Thirty-five Buildings Destroyed. NO NEGROES KILLED. The Wounded Rapidly Recovering. Outside Reports and Street Rumors Greatly Exaggerated. EFFICIENT SERVICE OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. A Large Police Force Guarding the City. PROCLAMATION OF THE MAYOR. Detroit Free Press, March 8, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.

Steve Neavling, “Today in history: White mobs attacked blacks during Detroit race riot of 1863“, Motor City Muckracker,  March 6, 2017.

Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State by Willis Frederick Dunbar.

Historical Society of Michigan Michigan History Calendar

Detroit Race Riot of 1863 wikipedia entry

Matthew Kundinger, Racial Rhetoric: The Detroit Free Press and Its Part in the Detroit Race Riot of 1863, Michigan Journal of History.

But wait, wasn’t there a race riot in Detroit back in 1833?  See June 17, 1833 : Thorton Blackbird and his Wife Lucie, Runaway Slaves, Rescued by Detroit African Americans

1877 : Detroit Club Witnesses the Power of the Telephone
Mar 6 all-day

On this evening 150 ladies and gentlemen at the Detroit Club listened to a live concert in Chicago via telephone. Elisha Grey, electrician from the Western Telegraphic Manufacturing Company of Chicago, arranged the demonstration. The previous longest transmission was 84 miles. The one at the Detroit Club covered a distance of 284 miles.

“Musical Lightning”, Detroit Free Press, March 7, 1877, column 6.

1896: First Gasoline-Powered Automobile in Detroit
Mar 6 all-day

Charles B. King and His Car

On March 6, 1896, 10 years after Carl Benz patented the first gasoline-powered automobile in Germany, and three years after the Duryea Brothers’ first vehicle, Charles King became the first driver of a gasoline automobile in Detroit.

Three months before Ford took the wheel, King had his own momentous first drive, a spin that began when he steered his vehicle down St. Antoine Street to Jefferson Avenue, and then swung north on Detroit’s famous Woodward Avenue to Grand Boulevard. After that, he turned around and headed home, only to be greeted by a police officer who threatened to ticket him for disturbing the peace.

The drive was accomplished in full view of hundreds of spectators who were thrilled with what they were seeing.

Residents woke up to the Detroit Free Press story: “The first horseless carriage seen in this city was out on the streets last night … It is the invention of Charles B. King, a Detroiter, and its progress up Woodward Avenue about 11 o’clock caused a deal of comment, people crowding around it so that its progress was impeded. The apparatus seemed to work all right, and went at the rate of 5 or 6 miles an hour at an even rate of speed.”

“I am convinced,” King told the Detroit Journal, “that, in time, the horseless carriage will supercede the horse.”

Born in California in the mid-1860s to a father who was an Army general in the Civil War Union, King received his training in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He had a million ideas of what to do with his life.

King moved to Detroit in 1889 at age 21, but it was only after a visit to the Chicago Exposition in 1893 that he realized a way to channel his ideas.

There, he spotted Gottlieb Daimler’s self-propelled carriage. If you could imagine after hundreds of years of horse-drawn wagons, there was suddenly no horse.

King set about to build a horseless carriage of his own and upon learning that New England’s Duryea Brothers, Charles and Frank, had already built and tested an automobile, there was no time to waste.

King served as a mentor to Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, Jonathan Maxwell, Henry Joy and others. In fact, he provided parts, instructed and assisted Henry Ford on his first quadricycle at the same time King developed his own car.

In 1903, King became chief engineer of the Northern Motor Car Co., where he designed the two-cylinder “Silent Northern” automobile that featured numerous innovations and the first running boards.

On the 1907 Northern model, he designed air brakes, an air-controlled clutch and other innovations for which he was granted patents. He was wildly successful, but boredom was starting to show.

Five years later, King left the company and spent two years in Europe studying automotive design. He returned to Detroit in 1910 and launched the King Motor Car Co. The King “Eight” (V-8) was billed as “The Car of No Regrets.”

In fact, at the New York Auto Show in 1912, the King automobile was the only one to feature left-hand steering, which soon became the industry standard. At that time, he already had more than 40 automotive patents to his credit.

That year, however, he left his company, devoting his time to working on numerous other experiments and inventions.

Sources :

Steven Rieve, Charles B. King pioneered horseless carriages, Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 27, 2009.

Photograph of First Car


More trivia from 1896

Librarians must have sensed they were on to something when they bought the Detroit Public Library’s (DPL) first automotive book in 1896. That was the same year that inventor Charles Brady King took his gas-powered automobile on its maiden voyage on the streets of Detroit, beating out Henry Ford by three months.

From then on, the library’s automotive stockpile accelerated to the point that the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) was created in 1953. It’s the world’s largest public automotive archive.

Originally housed on the fourth floor of the Main Library, the non-circulating NAHC has been on the second floor of the Skillman branch in downtown Detroit since 2003.

For more information, see “Tracking Car Culture”, Hour Detroit, January 2011.

1997 : President Bill Clinton Addresses Michigan Legislature
Mar 6 all-day

William Clinton spoke to the state legislature becoming only the second sitting U.S. President to address Michigan’s lawmakers. Theodore Roosevelt was the first in 1907.

Source : Historical Society of Michigan