Calendar

Nov
29
Mon
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.

Sources:

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.

1870 : Susan B. Anthony Demands Right to Vote In Detroit
Nov 29 all-day

Speaking at the Northwestern Woman’s Suffrage Association in Detroit on November 29, 1870, Susan B. Anthony shared her ideas on woman suffrage, her reasons for demanding it, the abuses women suffer for lacking it.

The Democrats of Wyoming first granted the privilege and she hoped that Democracy all across the country would follow suit.

“Woman”, Detroit Free Press, November 30, 1870, column three.

1883 : Former Michigan Gov. William Greenly Dies, Signed Legislation to Move Capitol to Lansing
Nov 29 all-day

On Nov. 29, 1883, former Michigan Gov. William Greenly, the state’s sixth governor, died in his hometown of Adrian at age 70.

Greenly served as lieutenant governor until Mar. 4, 1847, when Gov. Alpheus Felch left office to become U.S. Senator. In his 10 months in office, Greenly signed legislation that moved the state capitol from Detroit to Lansing.

He was mayor of Adrian in 1858 and was justice of the peace 12 years. He took part in the dedication of the new capitol in Lansing in 1879. He was described as a “scholarly, cultivated and genial man.”

Source: Early History With Biographies Of State Officers  Also available online via the HathiTrust.

Nov
30
Tue
1816 : Tiffin, U.S. Surveyor General, Reports That Michigan is “Interminable Swamp”
Nov 30 all-day

At the end of the War of 1812, Congress authorized bounty lands to be awarded to soldiers, to compensate them for their service. Each man would get 160 acres in the Old Northwest Territory, which included present day Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and a portion of Minnesota.

To do this, they first needed to survey the land to determine its agricultural qualities. In 1815, Ohio native Edward Tiffin, the U.S Surveyor General, visited the Michigan Territory and reported on November 30, 1816 to the Secretary of War that “there would not be more than one acre out of a hundred if there would be one out of a thousand would … admit of cultivation. … It was unsafe for men or pack mules, the ground sinking at every step and shaking for several feet around, having indications of being over a vast underground lake covered by a thin crust though which a man or mule might easily break and be lost.

“ … The intermediate space between the swamps and lakes, which is probably nearly one half of the country, is, with a very few exceptions, a poor, barren, sandy land, on which scarcely any vegetation grows, except very small scrubby oaks. … The abandonment of colonization is urged as being dangerous and unnecessary.”

It is likely that Tiffin and his team of surveyors saw very little of Michigan.

As a result of the Tiffin report, President Madison recommended to Congress that, since the lands in Michigan were covered with swamps and unfit for farming, only a small proportion could be applied to the intended grants, and that other lands should be designated to take the place of Michigan’s portion. Accordingly, three-fourths of that amount was ordered to be surveyed in Illinois.

School geographies and guide books reportedly contained maps with the words “Interminable Swamp” across the interior of Michigan.

As a result of Tiffin’s report, the settlement of Michigan was delayed for a number of years.

Territorial Governor Lewis Cass tried to counteract the bad publicity by saying that Tiffin’s report “grossly misrepresented” the territory’s land and lobbied Congress for a new survey of the land between Detroit and Chicago as a matter of national security.

Many articles on successful farming ran in the Detroit Gazette, an early newspaper founded in 1817, and were reprinted in New York papers. Other countering influences were letters from successful pioneers published in eastern papers, reports made by settlers revisiting their old homes in the East, and the circulars of land speculators.

By about 1825 the effects of the Tiffin report in the East began to wane. That year was marked by the appearance of John Farmer’s maps and gazetteers of Michigan, published in Detroit. Farmer’s maps were considered essential tools for emigrants and by 1830 had reached a high demand in eastern cities.

For the rest of the story, see Bill Loomis, “How one bad review delayed the settlement of Michigan“, Detroit News Blog, June 3, 2012.

John Farmer, Mapmaker, 1798-1859 courtesy of the Michigan State University Map Library.

1885 : Traverse City State Hospital for the Insane Opens
Nov 30 all-day
Image result for Traverse City State Hospital for the Insane photo

Created by Michigan Public Act Number 155, and originally called the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane, the Traverse City mental health institution had a total of five names in its one hundred plus year history. Medical advances during the institution’s existence made the treatment of patients more humane as time went on, but early treatment was anything but gentle. Opium and morphine therapy, in addition to insulin shock, induced metrazol shock, lobotomies, and the infamous electroshock therapy were used to treat patients with illnesses ranging from typhoid to polio to shell shock. When the hospital closed in 1989, patients with continuing mental health problems were turned loose and ended up homeless, in jail, or in inadequate private care. Some even tried to return to the abandoned hospital, which they referred to as “home.”

Sources :

“Michigan Historical Calendar“, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

Northern Michigan Asylum : a history of the Traverse City State Hospital / William A. Decker.  Traverse City, Mich. : Arbutus Press, [2010]

1911, Reid Stout, School Bus Safety Mirror Inventor, Born
Nov 30 all-day

 

Reid Stout, Born November 30, 1911, Died June 1, 1986

A near-accident was the inspiration for the invention of the school bus safety mirror. These mirrors help the bus drivers see the blind spots, and avoid hitting children that may be unseen in front of the bus.

Via the Toledo Blade, it all began with Reid Stout. Reid was not just the school principal, he was also a part-time bus driver. It was in the late 1940s and Reid was driving the bus, dropping kids off after school. A nine-year-old girl who had gotten off the bus accidently dropped her belongings…..in front of the bus. As she kneeled down to pick them up, Reid was about to put the bus in gear and move forward. The little girl was so far below the bus hood that she was completely hidden from view. The other students saw what was happening and began shouting and screaming to Reid to stop. He stopped, got out, went around to the front of the bus and saw the girl, still kneeling, picking up her things.

It was something that Reid could not get out of his mind, thinking about what might have happened if the alert students hadn’t yelled at him. Months later, he came up with the idea for a safety mirror after spotting an outdoor metallic gazing ball. He made a makeshift version and took it to a mirror plating firm that made about a dozen. In 1950, all Bedford Township buses had these mirrors installed.

More districts found out about the invention, but unfortunately it took a tragic accident to get the state legislature to make the mirrors mandatory. After a six-year-old girl was killed by a bus in Center Line, Michigan, Reid demonstrated his invention to education officials in Lansing. Impressed, they put it through, making the safety mirrors a necessity for all school buses.

Reid Stout passed away in 1986.

In October 2009, a marker was finally erected in Lambertville noting his historic achievement.

Source : Paul Robinson, : “ The School Bus Safety Mirror Was Invented in This Michigan Town “, 99.1 WFMK Blog, April 29, 2021.

1932 : Detroit Police Raid Oasis Club During the Height of Prohibition
Nov 30 all-day

On November 30, 1932, Detroit Police raided the Oasis Club, a blind pig located near the Detroit City College campus (now Wayne State University).

Source : Detroit Historical Society

For more information about Prohibition, see Philip P. Mason, Rumrunning and the roaring twenties : prohibition on the Michigan-Ontario Waterway, Wayne State University Press, 1996.

Also see Kathy Warnes, “The Gray Ghost Haunted the Detroit River During Prohibition”, Definitely Downriver, June 2012.

1961 : Michigan Nurse Killed in Vietnam, Only Female Casualty
Nov 30 all-day

On November 30, 1961,  Hedwig Diane Orlowkski, a 1st Lieutenant and member of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, was killed in Vietnam, the only Michigan woman killed in the conflict. 7 other female nurses also sacrificed their lives during the war. 56 other female civilians were also killed. Orlowski is buried in Olivet Cemetary in Detroit. She was awarded a Bronze Star posthumously.

Source: Christina Hall, “Couples Crusade : Find graves of the 2,654 Michigan Soldiers killed in Vietnam War”, Detroit Free Press, May 26, 2013.

1983 : Senator David Serotkin Recalled Over Tax Raise Vote
Nov 30 all-day

Recall fever swept the legislature in 1983 after it went along with newly elected Gov. James Blanchard’s call for a 38-percent increase in the state income tax. Only one Republican — Sen. Harry DeMaso of Battle Creek — voted for the controversial measure.

Numerous recall efforts were launched against lawmakers who voted for the tax hike. Two were successful.

On November 22, 1983, Sen. Phil Mastin (D-Pontiac) was recalled by voters in his district. Eight days later, Sen. David Serotkin (D-Mt. Clemens) met the same fate. Both men had been in office for less than a year and had won by the narrowest of margins.

They would be replaced by Republicans, switching Senate control to the GOP — a majority it has not relinquished. It also elevated John Engler to Senate majority leader, where he laid the groundwork to unseat heavily favored Gov. Blanchard in 1990.

Sources :

Charlie Cain, “Reporters Notes”, Dome, July 16, 2009.

David Serotkin recall, Michigan (1983) Ballotpedia entry