1821 : Detroiters Present Alexander Macomb with Silver Tankard
Jun 4 all-day

In 1821, when he left for Washington to become Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, the citizens of Detroit presented him with a silver tankard of gratitude bearing the inscription:









June 4, A.D., 1821

Alexander Macomb went on to become, like Alexander Hamilton (and Mad Anthony Wayne!) before him, Commanding General of the U.S. Army.

He also painted this —

(Detroit as Seen from Canadian Shore, 1821. Alexander Macomb. Source.)

— and wrote a play about Chief Pontiac. Renaissance man!

Excerpt from Amy Elliott Bragg, “Detroit history in Washington, D.C.: Alexander Macomb“, Night Train, May 9, 2012.

1892 : Leander Burnett, Ottawa Indian and MAC’s First Bona Fide Athletic Hero
Jun 4 all-day

Baseball player Leander Burnett, an American Indian from Harbor Springs, completed an extraordinary four year athletic career at MAC by providing the winning hit in a game against Olivet College on  June 4, 1892.

The final game of the 1892 Field Day tournament between MAC and Olivet was a true pitchers’ duel.  The crowd, included a smattering of ladies and some of MAC’s most distinguished professors, wore various shades of green and yelled out shouts of “Rah Rah Rah” and “Boom-de-dah”.    When the fans got really excited, their yell of “Aggies’ even made the grandstands quiver.

Just as the game seemed destined for extra innings, the Aggies’ William Bernart was perched on third in the bottom of the eighth.  (According to a recap by the Lansing State Journal, Bernart had singled, stolen second, and reached third on a passed ball.)     Leander Burnett then displayed why he was recognized as MAC’s premier athlete of the time by slashing out what proved to be the game-winning RBI single.

According to the Lansing Republican newspaper, following the game the fans — the largest turnout ever by MAC –went wild as “Hats, canes, umbrellas, chairs, anything that could be got hold of were thrown in the air.  The first man caught was Bernart, then came Burnett, the telling scorer, and then every man on the team was carried around on the one-fifth-mile track, followed by two hundred students yelling, blowing tin horns, floating green flags and ribbons and yelling for kill”.

The rest of the story:

According to MSU sports historians Lyman Frimodig and Fred Stabley, Burnett earns the honor of being MAC’s “first bona fide athletic hero” for his efforts in baseball (1889-1892) and track (1888-1892).  He was born of an Ottawa Indian mother on December 14, 1868 in Little Traverse (now called Harbor Springs) Michigan.  Following his graduation from Harbor Springs High School in 1887, he entered Michigan Agricultural College to study agriculture.

At the time MAC was a charter member of the MIAA along with Olivet, Hillsdale, and Albion.  It was in this competitive atmosphere that Leander excelled as a baseball player (pitcher, third baseman, outfielder) and shined as a track and field star in the annual MIAA spring  Field Days.  These were the only two sports offered at the time.   Although many of his Field Day Gold medals were in unheralded events such as the backward broad jump, the fact is that he won 37 events in a span of five years. His feat of June 6, 1890 is particularly noteworthy.   Of the 20 events contested that afternoon, Burnett completed in 12, winning 10, and finishing second in the other two.

Sources :

David Thomas, “Fans Took Baseball Seriously in 1892“, Lansing State Journal, July 23, 1989

Jack Siebold, “Spartan Sports Encyclopedia : A History of the Michigan State Men’s Athletic Program, 2nd edition, 2014.   Note: the 2003 edition is available in print.  Pictures of Leander Burnett and his baseball team are available in the encyclopedia.

1896 : Ford Test Drives His Quadricycle, His First Gasoline-Powered Automobile
Jun 4 all-day

On June 4, 1896, Henry Ford test drove the Quadricycle, his first gasoline-powered automobile, on the streets of Detroit. It’s pictured along with Ford’s first workshop, a portrait of Ford and an aerial view of the Ford River Rouge Complex on this 1930s-era postcard.

Source: Detroit Historical Society

1910 : President Taft Visits Jackson To Dedicate Monument
Jun 4 all-day

On June 4, 1910 President William Howard Taft visited Jackson to help dedicate a monument celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republican Party.

Sources :

Tom George, “Leading the Way : Michigan and the Birth of the Republican Party”, Michigan History, September/October 2004.

Zlati Meyer, “President Taft dedicates boulder to mark where Republican Party was founded”, Detroit Free Press, June 1, 2014.

1910: President Taft Visits Monroe to Dedicate Statue of General George Armstrong Custer
Jun 4 all-day

George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument, Southwest corner of North Monroe Street and Elm Street, Monroe

George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument, Southwest corner of North Monroe Street and Elm Street, Monroe

Edward C. Potter’s sculpture Sighting The Enemy depicts General George Armstrong Custer pulling his horse up before entering battle. Custer is presented at a young age; he was only twenty-three years old when he faced the Confederate cavalry at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Potter, educated at Amherst College, Boston Art Museum and in France, was selected because of his reputation for sculpting equestrian statues. Custer’s widow, Libbe, was instrumental in his selection. The monument was originally dedicated at Washington and First streets on June 4, 1910 by President William H. Taft, Governor Fred M. Warner and Libbe Custer. Michigan Cavalry Brigade veterans serving on the monument commission included Colonel George C. Briggs, Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd and Lieutenant Frederick A. Nims.

For more information visit

George Armstrong Custer, Michigan Historical Marker

George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument


2015 : Beyond the Mask (Movie) Released
Jun 4 all-day

Filmed entirely in Michigan in 2013 by Burns Family Studios in Oakland County, “Beyond the Mask” stands out from many other independent films because it’s a Christian-based action movie, a new genre combining action-adventure with faith and family values.

Shot in Oakland, Lapeer, Genesee and Wayne counties, the Revolutionary War-era story had a budget of $4 million — half in cash, half in donations and gifts — and a production involving 400 volunteers. It’s being released this week in more than 100 theaters nationwide, with a planned fall arrival on video on demand.

“Beyond the Mask” occurs around the time of the Revolutionary War. Will Reynolds (Andrew Cheney, “Seasons of Gray”), a mercenary for the British East India Company, is double-crossed and hiding in the American colonies. He allies himself with Charlotte (Kara Killmer, TV’s “Chicago Fire”), whom he loves, and Benjamin Franklin (Detroit native Alan Madlane, “Wendigo”) to thwart Charles Kemp and the British East India Company.

When casting the key role of Kemp, cousins Aaron and Chad Burns had one actor in mind: John Rhys-Davies.

Source : “Local filmmakers make national splash with Christian action movie“, Detroit Free Press, June 4, 2015.

2021 : Michigan Legislature Recognized Pride Month
Jun 4 all-day

Both the Michigan House and Senate have formally recognized June as Pride Month for the first time in state history, according to the key backer of the measure.

Senate Resolution 60 and House Resolution 122, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, and Rep. Tim Sneller, D-Burton, recognizes June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month in Michigan. Both were adopted via voice vote on Thursday.

The resolutions outline the history of Pride Month, acknowledge ongoing struggles the LGBTQ community has faced and recognize the contributions of Michigan’s LGBTQ residents to the state.

Attorney General Dana Nessel — who on June 1 released a video with Moss recognizing Pride Month — and other Michigan elected officials celebrated the news, calling the measures significant and praising Moss for his years of work on the issue.

Source : Lauren Gibbons, “Michigan Legislature formally recognizes Pride Month for the first time“, MLive, June 4, 2021.

1768 : Lt. George McDougall Buys Belle Isle from Ottowa and Ojibwa Chiefs
Jun 5 all-day

Belle Isle was privately owned in 1879, as it had been since June 5, 1768, when Lieutenant George McDougall (with the blessing of King George III) purchased the island from local Ottowa and Ojibwa chiefs for, famously, five barrels of rum, three rolls of tobacco, three pounds of vermilion and a wampum belt. The McDougalls sold the island to the Macomb family (they also owned Grosse Ile! Own all the islands!) in 1793, and the Macomb family sold the island to Barnabas Campau in 1817. Descendants of Barney Campau lived and operated fisheries on the island until its sale to the city. But people continued to use the island more or less publicly, to picnic, wander, resort, and to fight duels.

Source : Amy Elliott Bragg, “Belle Isle and The Park Question: 1879-1881 (Part II)”, The Night Train Blog, February 15, 2013.

1866 : Michigan State Medical Society Organized
Jun 5 all-day


On June 5, 1866, Michigan physicians met in Detroit to organize the Michigan State Medical Society. With the end of the Civil War in 1865, the many young doctors who had recently entered the field provided a strong base for a renewed professional organization.

Source : Central Michigan University, Clarke Historical Library, Michigan Historical Calendar

1885 : Michigan Legislature Approves Ten Hour Work Day
Jun 5 all-day

Delivering lumber by horse drawn sleighs, Saginaw, Michigan, circa 1880s, courtesy of Seeking Michigan (Archives of Michigan)

Public Act 137 — calling for a ten-hour work day — was approved by the Michigan Legislature on June 5, 1885, although it did not take effect until September.

Saginaw Valley lumber industry workers tried to get a jump on the ten hour day by going on strike early. During the month of July, 1885, mills in Bay City and Saginaw shut down. The main demands of the workers were that ten hours constitutes a work day and that the pay remains the same as an eleven hour day. Mill owners rejected these demands. What workers didn’t realize was that it was in the mill’s best interest that work stop and lumber pile up. With lumber becoming scarce throughout the Midwest, prices were going up.

The Governor of Michigan during the 1885 Saginaw Valley strike was Russell Alger, a wealthy lumberman with many mills in northern Michigan. As violence and destruction increased in Bay City, he wasted no time in calling in State Troops from Flint, Port Huron, Detroit and Alpena to save the mills and return peace.

The strikes continued on through summer, dying down in August. In September, Public Act 137 went into effect, and ten-hours was, by law, a workday.

Source : Rachel Clark, “Ten-Hour Work Day”, Seeking Michigan, September 16, 2014.