Thanksgiving 1904 was a somber affair at MAC. A MAC football player died from injuries suffered during a football practice. John W. Burdette’s parents and siblings were with him when he passed on November 25.
Members of the freshman class accompanied their classmate’s remains to the Lakeshore Depot. Burdette’s roommate and fellow member of the Columbian Literary Society accompanied the body home to Kentucky.
Memorial services were held at Y.M.C.A. that Sunday. Burdette was remembered as a student who always listened to his fellow students and his fairness and sportsmanship on the athletic field. The president of the college praised Burdette for his bravery and kindness in his last hours of life.
M.A.C Record-November 29th, 1904 edition
Reposted by Max Forton, “A Somber Spartan Thanksgiving”, Campus Archaeology Blog, November 4, 2013.
On November 25, 1922, contracts for the erection of a building, with 47 rooms, to be used for East Lansing’s first hotel, was let by Mary E. Champs. While East Lansing, the home of the Michigan Agricultural College has many rooming houses, it has no hotel, which is a severe inconvenience for visitors, who have to look for accommodations in Lansing. The cost is estimated at $75,000.
Source : “Lansing”, Detroit Free Press, November 26, 1922, pg. 8.
The aftermath of the 1973 Ohio State vs. Michigan football game was one of the most notorious episodes in Big Ten history. In this game, both teams were undefeated, with Ohio State ranked 1st, and Michigan ranked 4th. A conference championship, Rose Bowl appearance, and possible national championship was on the line in this monumental game, part of the hotly contested stretch of the rivalry known as The Ten Year War. A then-NCAA record crowd of 105,233 watched the game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Michigan’s coaches and players felt that although the game was a tie, that they were the better team and deserved to go to the Rose Bowl. Even Ohio State coach Woody Hayes admitted that his team wouldn’t go to the Rose Bowl. There was lots of debate on who would play in the Rose Bowl. Michigan’s strong second half, and Franklin’s injury were factors in debating who would represent the conference in the “granddaddy of them all”.
Ohio State had gone to the Rose Bowl the year before. The Big Ten at the time had a longstanding policy stating that only the conference champion would go to a bowl, the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten also had a “no-repeat” rule until 1971, and had it still been in effect, Michigan would have gone to the Rose Bowl automatically, even if it had lost to Ohio State. With the latter rule abolished, the decision as to who would represent the conference would be left up to a telephone vote by the Big Ten’s athletic directors. According to Michigan coach Bo Schembechler’s 1989 autobiography, the Big Ten was nervous because the conference had lost the previous four Rose Bowls, and Franklin’s injury may have been a deciding factor.
On the day after the game, following a conference call (or a meeting in Chicago — a current ESPN documentary reports both possibilities), it was announced that Ohio State would play in the Rose Bowl instead of Michigan. Ohio State won the game.
What were the deciding factors? The ESPN documentary speculates that the Big Ten Commissioner revealed that the Michigan quarterback had broken his collarbone in the game, seriously hurting Michigan’s chances in The Rose Bowl. It was also pointed out that Michigan State either voted for Ohio State or itself to go, denying Michigan the spot. Despite being a Michigan man, the MSU athletic director may have been influenced by Michigan’s vote in 1949 to deny MSU a spot in the Big Ten. At any rate, the envelope containing each of the Athletic Director’s votes disappeared, and the Big Ten Commissioner and the Big Ten’s Attorney, the only other two individuals to know the vote’s outcome, never revealed what happened.
At any rate Schembechler was furious at the call, referring to it as “an embarrassment to the Big Ten Conference” and claiming “petty jealousies” were involved, and remained bitter about the decision to his death. Schembechler went on to demand changes to the Big Ten’s policies regarding post-season play.
Soon afterwards the Big Ten Conference abolished the archaic “Rose Bowl or No Bowl” rule. This would allow conference teams other than the champion to accept invitations to other bowls. Michigan would be the first team to receive such an invite, to the Orange Bowl following the 1975 season. Another change, which also took effect in 1975, was the dropping of the athletic directors’ vote in the event of a tie for the championship. The new rule stated the team which had gone the longest without appearing in the Rose Bowl would go to Pasadena. Schembechler had pushed for that reform, claiming that the athletic directors were not qualified to decide which team would better represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.
Bill Livingston, ‘Tiebreaker’ — Vietnam, Watergate, Michigan-Ohio State, and Big Ten concern for its 1973 football image, Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 16, 2013.
Frederik Meijer, the Grand Rapids billionaire credited with inventing the supercenter store format in 1962 that made his Meijer chain a successful Midwest retailer and was copied by Sam Walton for his chain Wal-Mart, died Friday at age 91.
Mr. Meijer — Fred to most who knew him — will be remembered for his philanthrophy. He invested millions into the West Michigan, including creating the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, which quickly became one of the state’s top destinations. Other contributions include: numerous donations to hospitals, universities and landmarks such as the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail and the Pickeral Lake Fred Meijer Nature Preserve.
Mr. Meijer’s family became one of the richest in the country, yet the patriarch of the Walker-based retail chain once remarked: “Money is only a tool. And money doesn’t buy happiness.“
If that’s true, Mr. Meijer found pleasure in giving much of his away, and the people of West Michigan were the beneficiaries.
Despite having his name on numerous stores throughout the region, Mr. Meijer remained very humble. “In the early 80s, he gave Mike Lloyd, Executive Editor, Grand Rapids Press a tour of the new Meijer headquarters in Walker. Along the way he showed me his personal office, which was moderate in size and plainly furnished. He said the architect had originally included an executive washroom in his office. Fred said he flushed the bathroom idea. Being Dutch, he pointed out how expensive plumbing is to install and that his personal use of this facility wouldn’t justify the cost. “That’s what I told the architect,” he said. “The truth was, when I walk down the hall to use the same restroom as the people I work with, it’s clear that I go to the bathroom the same as everyone else.” He also said that those necessary trips got him out of his office and gave people a chance to talk with him. “Few things strip away the pomp and title of the corner office like a trip to the bathroom.”
“In addition to the penny pony rides, the other Meijer icon that is synonymous with having fun is the Purple Cow ice-cream card. Fred and Lena have passed these generously to kids of all ages. Lena personally signs each one she gives out. Fred estimates that they have distributed over 500,000 in the past four decades. Former Michigan Governor James Blanchard once yelled across a banquet room his request for a card. Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos have lined up for their freebies. Summoned to the White House, Fred presented ice cream cards to Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. Even presidential brother Billy Carter got one. Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwartzkopf have ice-cream cards, and, on the international scene, so does Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Fred always uses the cards as icebreakers. “You can always tell when Fred is in the store because the Purple Cow suddenly gets busy,” commented one store director. “The cards have no expiration date, and he once told a customer in Indianapolis, “You have fifty years to redeem that.” The man replied, “Fifty years? I’ll be with the Lord by then.” Fred handed him another card, “Well, in that case, here’s one for the Lord, too.”
For the full article, see “Fred Meijer, West Michigan billionaire grocery magnate, dies at 91“, MLive, November 25, 2011.
Excerpts from ‘Fred Meijer: Stories of His Life’, MLive, March 19, 2009.
Michele Felice Corné (1752–1845), The Landing of the Pilgrims, 1803. Credit: U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Reception Rooms
“The antidote to feel-good history is not feel-bad history, but honest and inclusive history.” —James W. Loewen, Plagues & Pilgrims: The Truth about the First Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving story you know and the one I know are most likely the same. It’s the story deeply rooted in America’s curriculum—the one that inspires arguably the most important and tradition-filled holiday in American culture. We’re taught that in 1620 the Pilgrims fled harsh religious suppression in Britain, sailed across the Atlantic, and in December stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock, in what is now Massachusetts. With little food and no shelter, the colonists struggled to survive a brutal winter until a friendly Indian, Squanto, came along and showed them how to cultivate crops. Their first harvest resulted in a feast, as the Pilgrims gave thanks to the kind Indians for helping to bring the colony back to life.
This version of Thanksgiving, while pleasant, isn’t terribly accurate. Told from a perspective that frames the Pilgrims as the main characters, the story leaves out major details, glorifying the Pilgrims’ endeavor and the holiday it birthed, forcing the Wampanoag Indians into forgotten roles. It also erases a monumentally sad history. When we pay homage to the Pilgrims and their bravery, and react to the tragic background of America’s founding myth with silence, we essentially support a mindset that only some people’s history matters.
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1850–1936), The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914. Collection of Pilgrim Hall Museum. Not all mythical history is verbal. The Plains Indian headdresses worn by Brownscombe’s Wampanoag leaders are probably enough said about The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth. Top: The shirtless-in-December figure on shore in Corné’s Landing of the Pilgrims notwithstanding, William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony, wrote in his journal that it was four months before the Pilgrims saw the first Indians. Credit: Pilgrim Hall Museum
The true history of Thanksgiving begins with the Indians.
About four years before the Pilgrims anchored off Massachusetts, British fishermen had already started making their way through New England, storming through Indian towns to kidnap Native people for profit in the slavery trade. Although it’s often left out of textbooks, this series of intrusions was the catalyst to what is probably the most important event in this nation’s history, without which Europeans would not have been able to settle on top of the millions of Native people who already lived in America—at least, not as fast: epidemic illness.
Before 1492, the Western Hemisphere was largely isolated, sparing its indigenous peoples from diseases the rest of the world succumbed to time and time again. But this lack of contact prevented Natives of the Americas from developing any type of immunity to European, Asian, and African pathogens. When Europeans started trekking through Indian towns, they brought sickness with them. Indians died at an alarming rate, making it substantially easier for colonists to overpower entire villages—well, what was left of them.
The Pilgrims already believed they were part of God’s plan. Finding empty villages as 90 percent—yes, 90 percent—of America’s Indians perished in front of them only furthered Europeans’ sense of their destiny, influencing them to continue the colonization westward. As Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora) and Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) wrote in Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories, one of the opening exhibitions at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, “That initial explosion of death is one of the greatest tragedies in human history because it was unintended, and unavoidable, and even inevitable. But what happened in its wake was not.”
One people who famously suffered from the onslaught of disease were the Wampanoag, a nation made up of 69 villages scattered throughout present-day Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Skilled hunters, gatherers, farmers, and fishers during spring and summer, the Wampanoag moved inland to more protected shelter during the colder months of the year. Like indigenous groups everywhere, the Wampanoag had a reciprocal relationship with nature and believed that as long as they gave thanks to the bountiful world, it would give back to them. Long before the arrival of the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag held frequent Thanksgiving-like celebrations, giving thanks in the form of feasts and ceremonial games.
Exposed to new diseases, the Wampanoag lost entire villages. Only a fraction of their nation survived. By the time the Pilgrim ships landed in 1620, the remaining Wampanoag were struggling to fend off the Narragansett, a nearby Native people who were less affected by the plague and now drastically outnumbered them.
For a moment of history, the interests of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag aligned. When the Pilgrims landed in New England, after failing to make their way to the milder mouth of the Hudson, they had little food and no knowledge of the new land. The Wampanoag suggested a mutually beneficial relationship, in which the Pilgrims would exchange European weaponry for Wampanoag for food. With the help of an English-speaking Patuxet Indian named Tisquantum (not Squanto; he spoke English because he was kidnapped and sold in the European slave trade before making his way back to America), the Pilgrims produced a bountiful supply of food that summer. For their part, the Wampanoag were able to defend themselves against the Narragansett. The feast of indigenous foods that took place in October 1621, after the harvest, was one of thanks, but it more notably symbolized the rare, peaceful coexistence of the two groups.
The events that followed the first Thanksgiving also depart from the peaceful ideal we celebrate. To read what happened next, see the earlier post Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?
Lindsay McVay is a senior at the University of Central Florida, majoring in writing and rhetoric. Her professional experience includes writing grants for nonprofits; contributing to blogs, especially Book Baristas; and designing websites for Florida independent publishers. During the fall of 2017, Lindsay has worked as an intern in Marketing and Communications at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Reposted from the National Museum of the American Indian Blog, November 22, 2017.
On November 25, 1824, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass declared the first Thanksgiving holiday for the residents of Michigan in Detroit. Now Thanksgiving also occurs on the 4th Thursday of November.
Thanksgiving at great-great-Grandma’s house, Detroit News Blog, November 18, 2012.
On November 26, 1827, Detroit passed an ordinance requiring city sidewalks. Planks were used for sidewalk construction into the early 1900s, as shown in this photo of an icy sidewalk on Milwaukee Ave.
Sojourner Truth, the noted abolitionist and women’s rights activist, died in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 26, 1883. When she passed away at age eighty-six, her funeral at the Congregational Church was thought the largest ever in that city.
Not content to honor local hero Sojourner Truth at merely life- or even heroic-size, Battle Creek has recreated her as a bronze giant. Had Sojourner really been this big she might’ve had less need to tirelessly campaign for her various worthy causes, from the abolition of slavery to women’s rights. But sometimes a normal-sized woman’s accomplishments merit a big statue.
The sculpture, by artist Tina Allen, was unveiled in 1997, which is the guesstimated bicentennial of Sojourner’s birth. No one knows exactly when that was, but Sojourner spent the last 16 years of her long life in Battle Creek, and she’s buried nearby. (Note: The little boy is just playing around for the photographer and is not attached to the statue.)
Bust of Sojourner Truth in Emancipation Hall, U.S. Capitol. Also review short biography about Sojourner Truth and the Sculptor.
“Michigan Historical Calendar“, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.
Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: a life, a symbol, New York: W.W. Norton, 1996.
A hundred years ago, Thanksgiving in Lansing was a quiescent affair. The paper describes an abeyance of business throughout the city. However, the post office was open from 7-9 am and a delivery was made.
Local news was brief. In the paper the day before Thanksgiving, November 23rd there was a notice “NO DANGER IN LANSING ON ACCOUNT OF SMALLPOX”, four houses were under quarantine. There were only a few local stories and no newspaper on Thanksgiving proper. One article told how little was happening in town over the holiday. It explained when the meal would be served at the Industrial School for Boys and that there would be “some speaker”. Holiday themed advertisements peppered the paper. Many Lansing retailers ran sales to lure shoppers.
Large stories in the included articles concerning the Mexican Revolution, suffragettes hurling rocks and the hanging of American Dr. H.H. Crippen in London. Crippen, convicted of murdering his wife, is known as the first criminal captured with the aid of wireless communication. In 2007, evidence surfaced in the form of DNA studies conducted at MSU, which resulted in doubt being cast on the conviction.
The biggest event covered in the paper was a banquet held the night before Thanksgiving at the Hotel Downey to honor outgoing Michigan Agricultural College football, baseball and basketball coach Chester Brewer. Brewer coached the MAC Aggies from 1903-1910, never losing a home game on the gridiron. He returned to MAC from 1917-1920. Seventy-five guests, including many prominent citizens, attended.
After a “sumptuous and well-served banquet” the guests were treated to cigars. Then the speeches began. Among the presenters were future Michigan Supreme Court Justice Howard Wiest and founder of Motor Wheel William K. Prudden.
The Hotel Downey, standing in the current location of the Knapp’s building, was built as the Lansing House Hotel with bounty money obtained from the capture of John Wilkes Booth. The Downey burned in February 1912.
-Dave V., CADL Local History Librarian
Thanksgiving in Lansing 100 Years Ago, CADL Blog, November 28, 2010.
On Nov. 26, 1917, Daisy Elliott was born in Filbert, W.V. The Democrat would go on to co-sponsor seminal civil rights legislation in Michigan.
Like many, she later moved to Detroit during the Great Migration, a period between 1914 and 1950 when African Americans from the South moved to the Motor City seeking improved employment and housing opportunities.
Elliott served as an elected member of the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1961 and 1962, a 144-member body that revised the state governing document for the first time since 1908.
In December 1961, Elliott along with Lillian Hatcher and Coleman A. Young submitted Proposal No. 1522 and 1523 to their Michigan Constitutional Convention colleagues, according to the late Sidney Fine, author of “Expanding the Frontiers of Civil Rights: Michigan, 1948-1968.”
Proposal No.1522 provided for a civil rights commission with “enforcement powers to eliminate discrimination and segregation based on race, religion, color, national origin or ancestry in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and other such rights, privileges or immunities as are guaranteed under this Constitution.”
Proposal No.1523 prescribed how the commission should be constituted and the procedures that it is to follow in exercising its authority. Both proposals were later adopted by convention members, approved by state voters on April 1, 1963, and became a significant set of provisions included in the Michigan Constitution.
The Detroit Institute of Commerce graduate later served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1963 to 1978 and then 1981 to 1982.
She is best known for her co-sponsorship of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976. She partnered with Mel Larsen, an Oakland County Republican, in that effort. The measure banned discrimination statewide in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on religion, race, national origin, age, sex, and other factors.
After being convicted on charges of driving a stolen Cadillac that she purchased, Elliott served a 60-day sentence in Ingham County Jail in 1985. She maintained that she did not know that the car was stolen when she purchased it and suggested that “racial and political motives” were at play.
“People in the district know what it’s all about,” said Elliott in 1982. “They know that I would not do anything that would embarrass them or discredit myself … all I want is justice.”
Elliott died on Dec. 22, 2015, at age 98.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced in 2020 that the Lewis Cass building in Lansing would be renamed in Elliott’s and Larsen’s honor.
“Moving forward, we must continue to honor those who have worked to build a stronger Michigan for everyone, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” said Whitmer at the time. “Of course, our work to expand civil rights in Michigan is not done. It’s time for the legislature to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community and make Michigan a state where more people want to move to for opportunity.”
Source: Ken Coleman, “On this day in 1917: Civil rights legend Daisy Elliott was born“, Michigan Advocate, November 26, 2021.