1838 : Brady Guards, Detroit’s Militia Company, Called into Service During Patriot War in Canada
Feb 5 all-day

On February 5, 1838, Detroit’s militia company, the Brady guards, was called into service during the Patriot War in Canada to prevent Americans from attempting to overthrow the Canadian government and to preserve the peace between the two countries.

In 1832, at the end of the Black Hawk War, the Detroit City Guards were disbanded. A number of young men, including some former members of the Detroit City Guard, formed a new independent volunteer company in Detroit on April 2, 1836.  They sought and received permission from Brigadier General Hugh Brady to name themselves after him.

In 1855, the Brady Guards became the Detroit Light Guard. This unit has had a continuous existence to the present-day and is now Company A, 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry.


Michigan History magazine

Brady Guards entry posted by Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

1909 : Haskell Home Orphanage (Battle Creek) Burns Down
Feb 5 all-day

A postcard of the Haskell Home Orphanage in Battle Creek as it burned on February 5, 1909, killing three children.

Fourteen-year-old Lena McKelvey was a temporary guest at the Haskell Home orphanage. The Battle Creek girl was being treated for an injured hand while her family visited Florida.

Cecil Coutant, who was 12, had lived at the orphanage for seven years. Originally from Iowa, her sister lived with Dr. Rowland Harris of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and her brother lived at the home of a farmer near Urbandale.

George Goodenow, 10, had only just arrived there by way of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The only black boy at the institution, he was quartered in the boys dormitory. But on the morning of February 5, 1909, he was nowhere to be seen.

Thirty-seven children were sleeping at the Haskell Home that night when a fire started.

Lena, Cecil and George didn’t make it out.


In the early 1880s, the Seventh-day Adventist Church began an effort to open an orphanage as well as an “old folks home” in the name of the church’s co-founder, James White. Seventeen acres of land was purchased for the orphanage on what is now Hubbard Street in 1891, but fundraising for the project stalled at $10,000.

“In the 1880s, people were asking Dr. Kellogg to take in orphans all the time, and at some point he said we need some institution,” said Brian Wilson, professor of religious studies at Western Michigan University and author of “Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living.” “That’s when he approached the general conference. An orphanage and an old folks home was seen as a package deal.”

Caroline E. Haskell, a visitor to the Battle Creek Sanitarium from Indiana, donated $30,000 to build the orphanage, on condition it be named after her late husband and remain a non-denominational institution (she was Episcopalian) open to all races.

“We have an orphanage that was integrated,” Wilson noted. “It points to the fact that the home was really open to kids of all races, which, for the day and time, is quite remarkable.”

A postcard of the Haskell Home Orphanage in Battle Creek before it burned on February 5, 1909, killing three children.

A postcard of the Haskell Home for Orphans Before it Burned

The Haskell Home for Orphans was operated by the Benevolent Association, of which Kellogg was president. He would be later described as the home’s “godfather and guiding spirit,” and was credited for devising its unique ventilation system.

The Gothic-style structure was designed by architect A.D. Ordway. Built to accommodate 150 children, it was made of Georgia pine with brick veneer, and had a 14-foot wide by 12-foot high veranda around its west and south sides. It could be seen by all passengers from the city’s three railroads.

Inside, there was a gymnasium, classrooms, a library, playrooms and an observatory that overlooked both the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo rivers.

A photo of the children and staff at the Haskell Home for Orphans, as it appeared in the Oct. 4, 1887 edition of "The Haskell Home Appeal."

A photo of the children and staff at the Haskell Home for Orphans, as it appeared in the Oct. 4, 1887 edition of “The Haskell Home Appeal.”

The Haskell Home was said to be the “grandest institution” in Battle Creek when it was dedicated on Jan. 16, 1894.

Children in the home were grouped by “families” of six or seven, boys and girls slept in separate dormitories on the upper floors and classes were taught in subjects such as furniture building, mattress stuffing, cooking, agriculture. Some of the children would be “farmed out,” while others tended to the fruit trees and gardens on the property.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church published “The Haskell Home Appeal,” a quarterly that encouraged church members of the international Protestant sect to offer financial support for the orphanage.

However, Adventist co-founder and prophetess Ellen White increasingly feared centralizing the church in Battle Creek and called for a “scattering” of believers. In 1902, following a fire that destroyed the church’s Review and Herald publishing house, she transferred the Seventh-day Adventist headquarters to Washington D.C.

Beginning in 1903, White claimed to have visions that “a sword of fire hung over Battle Creek.”

By 1907, after Kellogg had been excommunicated from the church along with hundreds of others, the Seventh-day Adventist Church “disinherited” the Haskell Home.

The church urged followers to “withdraw their subscriptions, owing to Dr. Kellogg’s ungodliness,” according to the Sept. 9, 1907, edition of the Battle Creek Daily Moon.

The orphanage was reportedly closed for a time, but the sprawling 67-acre property continued to provide a home for children under Kellogg’s stewardship. He personally fostered at least 42 children, and he and his wife Ella legally adopted eight kids of various ethnic backgrounds.

“Kellogg had a genuine interest in children,” Wilson said. “He liked children. He liked educating them. His concern for kids was genuine. He came from a large family, and he was genuinely moved by tales of poverty. On the other hand, he also probably saw it as an opportunity to do a social experiment.”

Violet Armstrong (Bordeau) survived the fire and later settled down in Marshall. She was 16 at the time of the incident, and was staying at the Haskell Home along with five of her 12 siblings.

“I was awakened by the screams of my sister, Mary,” she told the Battle Creek Enquirer the day of the fire. “I tried to find my way to the door but the smoke drove me back. Then I went to the window and jumped, and was knocked senseless. My hair and eyebrows were burned by the flames in the room.”

Mary Armstrong, who was 15 at the time, was widely recognized as a heroine for waking the children and encouraging seven girls to take what would be a perilous three-story leap to a coal shed below. She was later described as an “angel of mercy” for her role as a Chicago nurse, caring for hundreds during the 1918 flu epidemic. Later in life, she and her husband operated a rooming house on Chicago’s west side.

Ivan Confer, 11, and his brother Oren, 9, had been living at the Haskell Home for three years when the fire broke out.

“We never knew what caused it,” Ivan recalled in a 1965 interview with the Battle Creek Enquirer. “But I can still see James Armstrong waking up us boys. There were a dozen of us in the boys’ dormitory, second floor, facing Hubbard. We got out by the stairs and in our nightgowns marched or ran across the snow to the old laundry building in back, to the northwest. I can still look back and see Mr. Armstrong shoving some of the girls out the window of their wing onto the coal shed roof…. I still can see the steamer fire engine, horse-drawn, lined up pumping. They came from Washington and Manchester, and I suppose the whole town force, too.”

James Armstrong, 12, was credited for saving two of his younger siblings from the burning building by dropping them from a window before making the leap himself. He then absorbed the fall of two more while his sister, Mary, encouraged the youngsters to jump. The floor collapsed on Lena and Cecil before they could make it to the window.

“Immediately following the alarm, the western sky reflected a dull glow,” the Battle Creek Enquirer wrote in the Feb. 5, 1909 edition. “A minute later the entire sky reflected the ugly blaze and the heavens were lighted by the fire till rays of the rising sun dispelled it.”

Rodney Owen, superintendent of the Haskell Home, ran into the kitchen at the first sign of smoke, but no flames were present. His wife, Sarah, ushered the boys in the dormitory to safety as they clung to her dress, but not before leading them back into danger for the sake of a newborn baby.

“We were outside the door and about to go down the stairs when I remembered Donald Webber, a six-weeks-old babe,” Sarah Owen recalled to the Battle Creek Daily Moon. “I returned to get the sleeping babe from his crib, the entire brood still clinging to me. Thank God were able to make our way out again in safety.”

The building, valued at $50,000 ($1.4 million adjusted for inflation), was a complete loss. Due to the intense heat of the smoldering ruins, it would take days before investigators could review the scene.

The tragedy led to immediate suspicion and insinuation of foul play, as recorded in at least five of Battle Creek’s newspapers.

On front page of the Feb. 6, 1909 edition of the Battle Creek Daily Moon, the main headline reads: “THEORY OF INCENDIARISM NOW GROWING; NO BODIES ARE FOUND.” That same day, Battle Creek Daily Journal had a headline that said, “INCENDIARISM MAY BE BACK OF HASKELL HOME FIRE AND THE POLICE PROBE.” And the Battle Creek Enquirer invoked Ellen White’s “sword of fire” over Battle Creek in its lead to the story, printing a list of 13 Seventh-day Adventist properties that had burned since 1887.

The Feb. 7, 1909 Battle Creek Sunday Journal discredited a rumor that a nurse was lost in the fire and the home’s administrators were attempting to cover it up.

The Haskell Home fire was, in fact, one of 103 fires to damage or destroy Battle Creek buildings in 1909.

The official cause of the was never determined. However, Battle Creek Fire Chief W.P. Weeks told the Journal on Feb. 9 that he did not incline to the theory of arson. He believed the fire originated from the dust chute. Used for sweeping dust and dirt from the third floor down to the basement and located in the north end of the building, the fire was potentially caused by spontaneous combustion.

After the fire, the Sanitarium’s Benevolent Association continued to operate the orphanage on a reduced scale after $100,000 in renovations to the power house and laundry on Welch Avenue. The facility closed in 1922.

Source : Nick Buckley, “3 children died when the Haskell Home orphanage burned in 1909. Their grave is still unmarked“, Battle Creek Enquirer, February 13, 2020.

1918 : Muskegon Native Arthur Siplon Survives WWI U-Boat Attack
Feb 5 all-day

It is February 5, 1918 and the SS Tuscania is floating just off the Scottish coast. Dusk is setting in.

The English luxury liner is carrying more than 2,000 American troops, many from Michigan, bound for Liverpool.

It has been an arduous voyage across the North Atlantic and most of those aboard, in sight of the Irish coast to starboard and the Scottish coast to port, believe the worst part of their journey is over.

It wasn’t.

At 6:40 p.m., the 567-foot vessel is struck by a torpedo sent from the German U-boat UB-77. Within hours, it sinks, sending more than 200 men to a watery grave.

Muskegon native Arthur Siplon was a second class machinist mate aboard the Tuscania on the fateful day.

A Muskegon Police official for more than 30 years following his service, Siplon recounted his experiences of the sinking and ensuing fight for survival to Muskegon Chronicle reporter G.B. Dobben in an article published on Dec. 6, 1930.

This is his story.

Siplon, a motorcycle rider in the 100th Aero Squadron, is standing on the deck of the SS Tuscania, scanning the horizon. The vessel is one of the convoy of eight and is flanked by British destroyers on either side.

Just after 5 p.m., word passes from mouth to mouth that the submarine zone had been entered and a stir of excitement develops among the troops, many wondering what would the next hour could bring.

Tex Holly, a young Texan, turns to Siplon and says, “I wish we’d get torpedoed. It’d be a great experience if we came out of it alive.” Siplon agreed, the article said, “particularly to the part about coming out alive.”

Somewhat annoyed by the Texan, Siplon heads to the lower deck to buy some candy from the barber. As he extends a bag of sweets, Siplon holds up a quarter as payment. Then, there is a deafening detonation.

“The barber grabbed the quarter and ran, so did I,” Siplon recounted to Dobben in 1930. “I hurried upstairs to my life boat station and there found the soldiers with life preservers on, waiting for orders.”

It was then that Siplon realized his life preserver was under his bunk three decks below. He had to get it. Lights were flickering as he descended into the bowels of the sinking ship.

Eventually there were no lights at all, but somehow, someway, he made his way back to the lifeboats with his life preserver wrapped tightly around his neck.

“Men were in good spirits, despite tragedy occurring all around them,” Siplon said. “Difficulty in lowering cargo boats resulted in human cargoes dumped into the sea. Some were caught in the suction of propellers of nearby British destroyers. Others clung to ropes and climbed aboard the ill-fated vessel for another try.”

More than two hours elapsed before the last life boat was lowered. In an act of true heroism, Siplon and another man volunteered to ride the davit ropes downward on either side of the boat to keep it at an even keel. When the boat reached the water, they cut the ropes.

“It seemed like a thousand men started going over the side of the sinking vessel,” Siplon said. “Trying to get into the small boat.”

A fight for survival 

As darkness fell, the small craft pulled away from the Tuscania, hoping to avoid the suction caused by its sinking. Nearby destroyers passed up the life boat holding 48 men, instead focusing on men who had failed to get into boats.

Siplon and the other men in the boat were now at the mercy of the rising sea. They had just 3 1/2 oars and half the men needed to adequately man the vessel. Underequipped and undermanned, the distance between the life boat and the Tuscania increased until “it was a silhouette on the horizon and sunk from sight with one mighty lunge,” Siplon recalled.

Many men died in the life boat and, when a leak was discovered, they took turns bailing water. Soon, a monstrous wave struck the boat which had turned sideways with a tremendous impact and more than two score men went into the sea.

When Siplon emerged on the surface, the upturned life boat was right alongside him. He used the cleats on the bottom of the boat to climb up and began pulling others from the water. One of those men was Wilbur Clark of Jackson, a close friend of Siplon’s.

But another wave ended their reunion and the two were thrown against a nearby rock. Siplon landed on his back, he remembered, but Clark struck the rock with his head and then sank from sight without another sound.

Siplon later said that writing to the family of Wilbur Clark telling them how he died was one of the single hardest things he would ever have to do in his life.

“So this is death,” he remembered thinking. “I was ready to give up. I lay my head back and was just ready to take my first gulp of water when a breath of fresh air hit my nostrils. Simultaneously, a wave struck me from behind and threw me forward. Something hit me in the stomach and I threw my arms around it. When the waves subsided I was clutching a jutting rock close to shore.”

Soon, another soldier washed ashore and the two found shelter in a natural cave nearby. They later learned that they had reached the Isle of Islay.

“That night was cold,” he said. “Our faces, hands and bodies were a mass of blood and bruises. It was a question of trying to keep from freezing throughout the night and then finding food and warmth in the morning. What if this land was not inhabited? Constantly this thought ran through my mind.”

Early the next day, the two men were discovered by a Scottish farmer who took them home and soon to hot tea and Scotch biscuits. Others emerged at the farm throughout the day, Siplon said, others were found at the nearby town of Port Ellen.

But many, were never seen again.

“There were many funerals on that lonely Isle that day,” Siplon said. “Many of them still lie in the foreign soil.”

Siplon eventually reenlisted in the armed forces. And nearly 50 years later, Siplon was named president of the National Association of Tuscania, an organization dedicated to the survivors and fallen aboard the vessel that day.

Arthur Siplon survived and lived until Nov. 17, 1975.  He was 81.

Source : Brandon Champion, “First-hand account of SS Tuscania sinking by U-boat in 1918: ‘So this is death'”, MLive, July 5, 2016; updated July 15, 2016.


1953 : John Beilein Born, University of Michigan Basketball Coach
Feb 5 all-day

20130406 John Beilein cropped.jpg

Happy birthday to Coach Beilein of the University of Michigan who was born on February 5, 1953.

Sources :

John Beilein wikipedia entry.

Official Michigan Biography.

1959 : Governor Jennifer Granholm Born
Feb 5 all-day

Jennifer Granholm (cropped).jpg

Although born in Vancouver, Canada, Jennifer Granholm made history in Michigan, being elected the first woman Attorney General in 1998 and the first woman governor in 2002. She easily won reelection in 2006.

Source : Michigan Every Day.

For more information, see Jennifer Granholm Wikipedia entry

Jennifer Granhom : Michigan Governor

Women Wielding Power : Pioneer Female State Legislators

A governor’s story : the fight for jobs and America’s economic future / Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern. New York : PublicAffairs, c2011.

1988: Brook Trout Designated Michigan’s State Fish
Feb 5 all-day
Image result for Michigan State Fish: Brook Trout

In 1965, even as the bluegill was being proposed as the state fish in the Michigan House of Representatives, the adoption of the “trout” as the official fish of Michigan was being promoted in the Senate, sponsored by none other than State Senator Terry L. “Troutt.”

Seemingly destined for the position, the trout easily dominated the run for “officialdom” with the more significant lobbying effort. Present during the signing of the legislation in 1965 by Governor George Romney, were Dr. Don F. Woomer (Chairman of the Michigan Council for Trout Unlimited), Mary Louise Paxton of Traverse City (National Trout Queen), and Arthur Hutchings of Rochester (National Trout King).

When the time came to document the official fish in brochures and reference materials, it soon became apparent that a major shortcoming of the law was the legislation’s failure to specify a particular species of trout. Governor Romney referred this dilemma to the State Conservation Department and the Brook Trout was assigned the job.

The Conservation Department settled on the brook trout. According to a spokesperson for the department, referring to finalists in the selection process,

“Both are fine fish, and you can certainly make a strong argument for either one. Selection of the brook trout in no way puts the laker in an inferior light. Lake trout have made great contributions to Michigan’s commercial and sport fishing. The fact that so much money and effort are being expended to restore them in the Great Lakes is proof of the esteem in which they are held.

We had to choose, and the brookie seemed a little the better bet for this particular purpose.

Michigan fishermen are fortunate indeed to have so many species of trout – all of them excellent sport fish – available in the waters of their state. The brook trout will serve as a symbol for them all.”1

In 1988, the law was amended to officially recognize the “brook trout” as the “official fish of the State of Michigan.”

Michigan Law

The following information was excerpted from the Michigan Revised Statutes, Chapter 2, Section 15.

Chapter 2 State
Section 2.15 STATE FISH

2.15 Brook trout as state fish; use of materials containing reference to trout.

Sec. 1.

(1) The brook trout is designated as the official fish of the state of Michigan.

(2) The state shall make use of all materials previously prepared that contain a reference to the trout as the official fish of the state before it prepares or has prepared new materials that contain a reference to the brook trout as the official fish of the state.

History: 1965, Act 58, Eff. Mar. 31, 1966 ;– Am. 1988, Act 5, Imd. Eff. Feb. 5, 1988

1991 : Dr. Kevorkian Barred From Assisting in Suicides
Feb 5 all-day
Image result for Dr. Jack Kevorkian

A Michigan court bars Dr Jack Kevorkian from assisting in suicides.

Source :

For more information, see :

Between the dying and the dead : Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s life and the battle to legalize euthanasia / Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie. Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press/Terrace Books, c2006. 273pp. Main Library Stacks R726 .N53 2006

Dr. Jack Kevorkian—the enigmatic and intrepid physician dubbed “Dr. Death”—has for years declined public interviews about his life and the events that led him to be a vehement advocate of doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. But here, finally, is his own life story, as told to Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie.

Dr. Kevorkian gained international notoriety in the 1990s for his passionate advocacy of choice for terminal patients, who have increasingly won the right to decide the time, place, and method of their own death in several western countries. In 1998, he assisted Thomas Youk, a terminally ill patient suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, with a lethal injection that was broadcast on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Immediately thereafter, Kevorkian was arrested, charged with second-degree murder, tried, and sentenced to 10-25 years in Michigan’s maximum-security prison system.

Today, Dr. Kevorkian is in his late seventies and in failing health himself. He shares an eight-by-twelve-foot cell with another inmate in the Thumb Correctional Facility at Lapeer, Michigan. The unique story Prisoner Number 284797 shares far exceeds the battle to legalize euthanasia and end human suffering for terminal patients. “Personal choice is really what it is all about. Quality of life, as opposed to maintaining existence”

1844: Grand Rapids versus Kent Name Finally Settled
Feb 6 all-day

In a letter written to his brother and sister December 23, 1833, describing his arrival here the previous summer, Joel Guild said: “After looking about for a home, I thought it best to move about fifty miles down Grand river” (from its junction with Maple river) “to a place called Grand River Falls.” However, there appears to be no official record that the city was at any time known as Grand River Falls.

During the first ten years after the pioneer colony of easterners arrived, the name which the community should bear was the cause of considerable strife. At first the name was “Grand Rapids,” then for eight years it was “Kent.” Finally the postal department changed it back to “Grand Rapids.”

The battle of names began away back at the time Louis Campau won out against Lucius Lyon in the race to the government land office at White Pigeon and secured a grant for the 72 acres, now the heart of the city. This tract, as the reader will recall, was bounded by the river and Division avenue, and by Fulton and Michigan streets. Uncle Louis sold the north half of it to Lucius Lyon and had his brother plat what was left as “The Village of Grand Rapids.” Mr. Lyon called his half, “Kent,” and later, joining with Dexter, Ransom, Sheldon, Daniels, Bostwick and other holders of land north, east and south of the Campau plat, had a “Village of Kent” plat recorded at Kalamazoo February 8, 1836.

Mr. Lyon and his associates were influential enough to have the post office name changed from “Grand Rapids” to “Kent,” on September 1, 1836, when Darius Winsor was appointed postmaster to succeed Leonard Slater, who had lived on the west side. And “Kent” it remained until February 6, 1844, when it was changed back to Grand Rapids once more.

Sources: Grand Rapids or Kent?

Also see Etten, William J., A Citizens’ History of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Published by A. P. Johnson for the Campau Centennial Committee, 1926.

1854 : First Student Arrives at Michigan Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind
Feb 6 all-day

In 1848, the Michigan Legislature voted to establish a Michigan Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind in Flint. The first student arrived on February 6, 1854. After the School for the Blind was established in Lansing in 1880, the Flint school refocused on training the deaf. Boys studied carpentry, printing, tailoring, and farming, while girls learned the sciences of cooking, sewing, darning, and patching.

Source : Michigan School for the Deaf historical marker; Traveling Through Time : A Guide to Michigan’s Historical Markers

1905 : Merze Tate Born, First African American Graduate at Western Michigan University
Feb 6 all-day

Merze Tate (1905 - 1996) graduated from  WMU, Harvard University and Oxford University / Merze Tate Collection-WMU Archives & Regional History Collections

A professor, scholar and expert on United States diplomacy, Merze Tate was the first African American graduate of Western Michigan Teachers College, first African American woman to attend the University of Oxford, first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in government and international relations from Harvard University (then Radcliffe College), as well as one of the first two female members to join the Department of History at Howard University.

In 1990, she gave WMU a $1 million gift to establish the Merze Tate Student Education Endowment Fund, which provides support for student needs. At the time, she said she wanted to thank Western and the other institutions for helping her overcome the barriers of race and sex.

For more information, see Wikipedia entry

Mark Ranzenberger, “Merze Tate blazed her own trail”, Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun, December 29, 2009.

Sharon A. Hanks, Rediscovering Merze Tate: A remarkable African-American woman who grew up in our own backyard, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council.