The Detroit Land Office, established by an Act of Congress, opened in March 26, 1804. It listed and sold surveyed government-owned land. Interested parties entered the building and saw a large map on the wall noting available acreage and acreage already sold. In 1817 land sold for a dollar an acre; after 1817 the price rose to $1.25 an acre.
Farmers would review the board for potential open land, then ride or walk out to the property to check it out first hand. Farmers knew that the relationship of trees to soil was a fairly reliable index on the quality of the land. For instance if a farmer saw burr oaks he knew the land was one of the best soils for wheat. Yellow loam soil in open land with hickory trees was also considered good for wheat. In general, heavily timbered land was held not to be so congenial to wheat, and was not warm enough for corn, but was known to produce excellent crops of hay, oats and potatoes. The good soils were supposed to lie under a covering of black walnut, ash, buckeye, and sugar maple, while the poorer land sprouted soft maples and beech.
As settlers continued to pour in, Michigan’s land quickly changed from public to private hands. The book “Economic and Social Beginnings of Michigan” by George Newman Fuller tells us that:
“… in 1820 there were sold at the Detroit Land Office 2,860 acres; … sales ran rapidly up to 20,068 in 1822; the increase continued until in 1825 they reached 92,332 acres. From this point there was a steady falling off until 1830, when 70,441 acres were sold. But with a sudden impulse sales mounted in the following year to 217,943 acres. Then, probably under the influence of the Black Hawk war and the epidemics of cholera in 1832 and 1834, there was a gradual decline. But again, in 1835 sales suddenly leaped to 405,331 acres and in 1836 to nearly one and a half million acres.”
In May of 1836 public lands were in such demand that the office had to close its doors and receive payment through a window, because too many tried to squeeze into the building. Charles Lamb had to move fast; in 1836 he liked what he saw, so bought his land.
On the road to the wilderness
With land secured, the settler then repacked the wagon and headed out. In preparation for their departure, families packed the wagon with clothing, cooking utensils, firearms, bedding and tools. The women prepared a complete medicine chest to take along. They also packed hand-sewn sacks with flour, cornmeal, dried fruits and other foodstuff; assembled dishes and cooking utensils; made candles and assembled workbaskets of various sewing tools, thread and other accessories, all of which were packed into the wagon.
Farm implements and some cherished furniture were added to the loads. On the outside of the wagon they hung a bucket of grease for the axles, a barrel of water for humans and stock, and spare parts for the wagons.
The women rode on the seats in front of the wagons. Here they were sometimes joined by the man or some of the children, but men generally strode ahead of their wagon. The smaller children rode at the back on the extensions built over the back wheels and the feed boxes attached to the back of the wagon. It was not unusual for a child to become drowsy and tragically fall off the wagon, to be crushed under the hooves of draft animals or the wheels of the wagon.
The older children trudged along behind, prodding and pushing the sheep, cow or hogs that constantly tried to wander off into the woods or fields on either side of the road or trail.
Pioneering families made about nine miles a day. Some reported wagons sunk to the hubs in sticky mud for mile after mile. There are many accounts in the letters or diaries of pioneers struggling down the Old Chicago Road (Michigan Avenue). It was a mud-clogged quagmire, especially in spring when the River Rouge would overflow its banks.
One experience was related by the Mills Family in 1836:
“It was a beautiful day in mid October that our party left Detroit. … We advanced with our slow paced oxen team … If the land was timbered, the road was proverbial bad. … We found scattered along the road here and there poles and rails, used as levers, broken tongues, pieces of felloes [the outer circle of a wheel to which the spokes are fitted], an old wagon wheel, or an entire wagon, or sometimes an old abandoned stage coach laid careened and moldering by the roadside; each fragment or hulk telling a tale of adventure or mishap — mute reminders of the trials of those emigrants who had gone before.”
First, clear the land
Reaching their acreage in West Bloomfield in early spring, the Lamb family decided the importance of clearing land and planting early potatoes and corn superseded building a cabin. He chopped trees from dawn to dusk: shagbark hickory, red oak, butternut, basswood and chestnut. He left the sugar maples and black walnuts.
They chose a site for the house and barn — a rise of ground facing the trail on the east. Lamb needed logs 22 feet long for the sides and 18 feet for the ends. Trunks of red oak were cut into six-foot lengths, and then split thin and flat for “shakes” to cover the roof. He made hundreds of wooden pegs in different sizes from the red oak which, when wet, would swell and hold the cabin together as tightly as iron spikes or nails.
When ready to build, he walked the “neighborhood” sometimes 20 miles to invite neighbors to help in raising the house. He was pleased to hear “I’ll be there” over and over as he finally returned near midnight.
The neighbors came early and in a day had the walls up; they used oxen and ramps to stack the logs. On the second day Lamb laid the shakes overlapping to finish the roof and cut out the large hearth fireplace. The logs were “chinked” with mud to keep out the cold. Later he built a barn to protect the milk cow and livestock from wolves and bears.
With the structures up, the routine of farm work and life began early in the year. In March he tapped the sugar maples and boiled sap to make maple syrup. In April the family sheered sheep while his wife prepared the wool and spun yarn. In May he planted his fields: “part to potatoes, part to cabbages, and part to turnips.” Elsewhere he sowed oats and later, “When the red oak leaves were the size of a squirrel’s ear,” he planted corn.
An early American writer, Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, wrote of his similar experiences in Letters from an American Farmer published around 1800:
“Often when I plough my low ground, I place my little boy on a chair which screws to the beam of the plough — its motion and that of the horses pleases him; he is perfectly happy and begins to chat. As I lean over the handle various are the thoughts that crowd into my mind. I am now doing for him, I say, what my father formerly did for me. … Can more pleasure, more dignity, be added to that primary occupation?”
Bill Loomis, “How one bad review delayed the settlement of Michigan“, Detroit News, June 3, 2012.
Henry Ormal Severance, Michigan Trailmakers, Ann Arbor, G. Wahr, 1930. Describes the life of pioneer families in 1836, such as Charles and Martha Lamb and their three children leaving Geneva, N.Y., to start a farm in Michigan. The MSU community has free online access via the Hathitrust. Other may have to request it through interlibrary loan (available from the Library of Michigan for example)
Harry George Kipke, the son of German immigrants, grew up in Lansing. He attended Lansing High School, and was captain of the school’s undefeated football team. He next played football for Fielding H. Yost at the University of Michigan. He is one of the few individuals in Michigan Wolverines history to have been a letterman nine times, doing so in football, basketball, and baseball. Kipke played halfback and punter for the football team under the legendary head coach Fielding H. Yost. Kipke was an All-American halfback from 1921-1923 and is regarded as one of the school’s all-time greats as a punter. His ability to punt out of bounds near the opposition’s goal line helped Michigan to a 19–1–2 record from 1921 through 1923. Kipke was also the captain of the 1923 Michigan team that went 8–0 and won a national title. Kipke wore number 6 and weighed 158 pounds. And he was no slouch in the other sports either, becoming an All-American basketball player in 1924. One could argue he was one of the greatest all-round athletes Lansing ever produced.
Kipke, Lansing High School and University of Michigan Athlete
After serving as assistant football coach at the University of Missouri for four years, Kipke was hired as head football coach at the Michigan Agricultural College in 1928. Kipke had signed a three-year contract with Michigan State, but the athletic board there accepted his resignation and agreed to release him from the final two years of his contract so that he could move on to the University of Michigan to serve as head coach of the Wolverines from 1929 to 1937. Under Kipke the team would win four conference titles and two National Championships in 1932 and 1933. He is one of only three coaches, along with Fielding H. Yost and Bo Schembechler, in Michigan football history to direct teams to four consecutive conference championships.
Kipke called his system “a punt, a pass, and a prayer” in a 1933 article for The Saturday Evening Post. He also reportedly coined the phrase, “A great defense is a great offense.”
Kipke is given credit for helping future President Gerald Ford attend the University of Michigan. The principal of Ford’s high school wrote to Kipke and invited him to Grand Rapids to meet Ford and his family. In an era before football scholarships, Kipke arranged for Ford to get a job in the university hospital busing tables to help pay for his college education. In a 1975 speech, Ford recalled losing seven out of eight games in 1934, including a 34–0 loss to Ohio State. Ford joked that “what really hurt me the most was when my teammates voted me their most valuable player. I didn’t know whether to smile or sue.”
Back in 1931 Kipke also recruited Willis Ward, a star athlete at Northwestern High School in Detroit and an African American, to play for Michigan. Kipke took the heat for this move and gave it back. As Ward heard the tale, “Kipke would be down at the Detroit Club or the DAC [Detroit Athletic Club] or the University Club with a bunch of whites saying: ‘Well, what are you using a Negro for? Michigan was great without ’em!’”
Ward learned of moments when Kipke, encountering white critics in a restaurant or a bar, would take off his coat and offer to take the disagreement outside. “He was perfectly willing to fight—physically fight—because he was going to do it [integrate the team]. He had the backing of strong alumni, and he was doing what he felt was morally right… He was like, I suppose, Branch Rickey [the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who would recruit Jackie Robinson to break the color line in major league baseball] and many coming down the line—that maybe the majority kept them from doing what they wanted to do, but if they ever got in a position to do something, they’d do it. And he was in a position to do something. And assuming that I had the talent to make the team and contribute to it, he was not going to let color get in the way of it. There was every evidence that he believed this.”
Kipke also found Ward a job at the Parrot Café, a student hangout. When the owner thought too many students were dropping in just to talk with the towering star from Detroit, he told Ward to start using the back door. Instead, Ward quit, and Kipke found him another job washing dishes at the Michigan Union.
With Kipke’s help, Ward was able to attend the University of Michigan and became the NCAA champion in the high jump in his freshman year. In his sophomore year he joined the varsity football team and started at end in four games.
In 1932 and 1933, Ward stood out on two undefeated Michigan teams. When the team traveled, he roomed with his teammates in hotels.
Then, in 1934, Fielding Yost scheduled a football game for Ward’s senior year with all-white Georgia Tech, a school that would refuse to take the field against any team that treated a black player as the equal of whites. When the Georgia Tech coach agreed to play only if Michigan would bench Willis Ward—and offered to bench a white Georgia player of comparable skills—Yost dallied and delayed.
“When Yost booked the Georgia Tech game, originally, most people felt that I would play because it was going to be played up at Ann Arbor,” Ward remembered. “Now, these were the solid Michigan rooters who had seen me perform on two undefeated Michigan teams. It was just unconscionable that I wouldn’t play. It was just unheard of.”
Then, as the football season approached, Ward heard that Harry Kipke had agreed in advance to keep him out of the Georgia Tech game. Shocked and heartbroken, he warned Kipke he might quit if the rumor was true.
“I wrote Kipke a letter that word had come back that I would not play in the Georgia Tech game. And I said I’d just never heard of a lineup being made before the day of a game. Now, bear in mind, here’s Kipke who had fought this battle to get this black kid an opportunity…
“Then he gets this letter from me saying, ‘Coach, what about it? Are you really calling the lineup now?’ I’m heartbroken, frustrated, maybe I’ll quit and so forth.
“And so he drives down to see me, and we had a conversation, and he says, ‘Well, Willis, I played you because I thought it was right. You were good enough. It was right. But for the problems that a coach goes through playing a black athlete today, if you quit now, it’s not worth the struggle. And I won’t play a black athlete again.’”
Ward thought it over. He decided to stay on the team.
When this intrigue became public, students rallied and signed petitions insisting that Ward be allowed to play. But nothing changed. Playwright Arthur Miller, then a writer for Michigan’s student newspaper arranged a meeting with Georgia Tech players and appealed to their sense of fair play. The Georgia Tech players rebuffed “the Yankee” Miller “in salty language” and told him they would actually kill Ward if he set foot on the Michigan gridiron. Miller was furious and wrote an angry article which the newspaper refused to publish. Gerald Ford, Ward’s roommate for away games, even threatened to quit the team, if Ward was not allowed to play. In the end Ford played, Michigan played, Ward did not play, and Ward’s whereabouts during the game were a mystery, and Michigan beat Georgia Tech 9-2. Because of the controversy, it was one of the darkest days in Michigan football according to one writer.
Between 1934 and 1937, Kipke’s team accumulated a 10–22 record. Kipke was let go after the 1937 season and was replaced by Fritz Crisler. Kipke expressed surprise by saying he had been looking forward to a a “splendid season” in 1938 based on the performance of 1937’s freshman squad which included future Heisman Winner Tom Harmon.
More football trivia:
Michigan coach Kipke is the only head coach in Michigan football history to have also served as the head football coach for the Michigan State Spartans. During the Kipke years, Michigan compiled a 3-4-2 record in the Michigan – Michigan State football rivalry. The Kipke years began with three wins and two ties. The Wolverines then lost four consecutive games to the Spartans from 1934 to 1937. Prior to the Kipke years, Michigan had lost only two games to Michigan State.
On October 19, 1929, a record crowd of 85,088 spectators attended the Ohio State game, setting a single-game attendance record that stood until 1943. Ten days after the record-setting crowd attended the Ohio State game, the stock market crash of 1929 struck on Black Tuesday. The Great Depression followed for the next ten years and resulted in greatly reduced attendance at college football games nationwide. Michigan was not immune from the trend and saw its attendance drop significantly before eventually recovering.
In October 1930, Michigan Stadium became the first to use electronic scoreboards. The electronic scoreboards, installed at both ends, were controlled from a switchboard in the press box and displayed the score, downs, yards to go, and other information on a current basis.
Even though Kipke was let go as Michigan’s coach, he remained popular with the fans. In 1939, the Republican party nominated him on a slate of four for the state Board of Regents, and he led the slate in the state‐wide election victory that April. He served on the Board of Regents from 1940 to 1947.
In 1942, he joined the United States Navy. He also became a vice-president of the Coco-Cola Company of Chicago and served on the board of directors of People’s Bank of Port Huron.
Kipke was inducted into of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.
In September 1972, Kipke died at a hospital in Port Huron, Michigan, where he had lived for several years. Two days after he died, the crowd at Michigan Stadium stood in a moment of silence during halftime in honor of Kipke. Students, alumni, and fans can continue to remember Kipke’s impact and achievements at Michigan as they walk past Kipke Drive, named after him, just outside Michigan Stadium (“The Big House”).
“University of Michigan Football Coach from Lansing“, Lost Lansing, September 4, 2016.
History of Michigan Wolverines Football in the Kipke Years
James Tobin, “Lonely As Hell“, University of Michigan Heritage Project provides the full story of Willis Ward and other early African American athletes at the University of Michigan.
On March 26, 1922, former Gov. William Milliken was born in Traverse City.
Governor Milliken, from Traverse City, was the longest serving Michigan Governor. He originally became governor in 1969, when Governor Romney accepted a spot in Richard Nixon’s cabinet. Thanks to his good nature and charm, he was elected in 1970, 1974, and 1978. As a moderate Republican, he was known for his progressive politics, his support of environmental issues such as the “bottle bill”, and his support of Mayor Coleman Young in Detroit.
“As governor, he tried to fix problems, not the blame. He worked hard and effectively to get things done; he is a big part of the reason we have bottle and can recycling in this state. He was no wimp; he was repeatedly wounded and barely survived World War II. But he treated everyone with courtesy and civility, even reporters.”
Michigan Every Day.
Governor William Milliken wikipedia entry
Jack Lessenberry, “Happy Birthday Governor Milliken“, Michigan Radio, March 26, 2017.
Visit the February 22, 2012 issue of Dome Magazine for more information about Governor Milliken
Jack Lessenberry, “Michigan’s Longest-Serving Governor, William Milliken, Remains Relevant”, Hour Detroit, February 2011.
On March 26, 1944, recording artist Diana Ross was born in Detroit.
According to “Mich-Again’s Day,” by Gary W. Barfknecht, and VH1, Ross started her career in Detroit after she and friends Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, who called themselves the Supremes, signed with Detroit’s Motown Records in 1961.
Originally, the group was a quartet called the Primettes and included singer Barbara Martin. Martin eventually left the group. As a trio, the Supremes crafted chart-topping hits such as “Baby Love,””Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Where Did Our Love Go.”
During the 1960s, the Supremes, later renamed “Diana Ross and the Supremes,” became the best-selling group behind the Beatles. Ross left the group in 1969 after she decided to embark on a solo career.
Later in life, she also embarked on a movie career including Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogony, and the Wiz. Many of her songs can be found on YouTube, including:
Source : Michigan Every Day
For more information visit the Diana Ross wikipedia page
Andrea K. Farmer, This Week in Michigan History, Detroit Free Press, March 25, 2007, B.4.
Check out the Diana Ross Facebook Page
Harry Linn Martin was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry in action at Iwo Jima on March 26, 1945. 1st Lt. and platoon leader Harry Martin of Co. C, Fifth Pioneer Battalion, Fifth Marine Division heroically faced a surprise attack at dawn of the enemy Japanese forces. He worked his way through hostile fire to help his fellow soldiers who were trapped by the incoming barrage. Although he sustained two severe injuries in that action, he continued to battle the enemy by single-handedly charging a Japanese machine gun position, killing the hostile forces. He continued on, leading his men against the enemy until he was mortally wounded by a grenade blast. One of the great heroes of World War II, his legacy lives on in the name of the U.S. Navy Ship, the USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin, named in 2006.
The rest of the story:
First Lieutenant Harry Linn Martin (January 4, 1911 – March 26, 1945)
Harry Linn Martin was a member of the Ohio National Guard and graduated from Bucyrus High School and from Michigan State College in East Lansing, Michigan in 1936, where he majored in Business Administration. At State, he was on the football and wrestling teams and did some boxing and skiing. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Fraternity and served two years in the Cavalry unit of the ROTC. Following graduation, he worked in Honolulu, Hawaii, as an office manager for the Hawaiian Construction Tunnel Company.
On August 25, 1943, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. Following schooling at Quantico, Virginia, 2dLt Martin completed the Engineers School at New River, North Carolina, and was designated an Engineer Officer on March 13, 1944. Assigned to 2nd Battalion, 16th Marines, engineer regiment of the 5th Marine Division, he joined Company C when the designation of the battalion was changed to 5th Pioneer Battalion.
Second Lieutenant Martin went overseas with his unit in the summer of 1944 and went into training at Hawaii. On February 19, 1945, he landed on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands and before the day ended he had already sustained a slight wound. He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 1, 1945, twenty-five days before his death.
A few minutes before dawn on the morning of March 26, the day the Iwo campaign officially closed, the Japanese launched a concentrated attack and penetrated the Marine lines in the area where 1st Lt Martin’s platoon was bivouacked. He immediately organized a firing line among the men in the foxholes closest to his own, and temporarily stopped the headlong rush of the enemy. Several of his men were lying wounded in positions overrun by the enemy and the lieutenant was determined to rescue them. In the action which followed, he was severely wounded twice but continued to resist the enemy until he fell mortally wounded by a grenade.
He was the second MSU student to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Whitney Miller, MSU Moments, June 25, 2012.
On March 26, 1950, road officials said that virtually every unpaved road in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties had become an impassable muddy morass for vehicle traffic. Those living in rural communities were not able to get fuel supplies delivered to their homes. Food could only be gotten by “trudging weary miles in mud.”
Source : MIRS Capitol Capsule, Thursday, March 26, 2020.
Magic Johnson dunks the basketball against Bob Heaton of the Indiana State University Sycamores while Larry Bird (standing in front of No. 23) watches.
Michigan State University won the NCAA championship against Indiana State University in a March 26, 1979 game featuring MSU’s Earvin (Magic) Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird, who would carry their storied rivalry into the National Basketball Association, revitalizing the professional game.
The final score in the game that secured MSU’s first national championship at the Special Events Center in Salt Lake City was 75-64.
The Spartans, led by co-captains Johnson and Greg Kelser, reached the final by beating Lamar on March 11, Louisiana State on March 16, Notre Dame on March 18 and Pennsylvania on March 24.
Under Coach Jud Heathcote, the 1978-79 team compiled a 26-6 overall record.
Johnson, a Lansing native, went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers for 13 years, retiring in 1991. He was on five championship teams, plus the original Dream Team, which won the gold medal in basketball in the 1992 Olympics. The 6-foot-9 point guard was the most valuable player three times and the Finals MVP three times.
His college archrival, Bird, spent the same number of years on the Boston Celtics, where he was a two-time Finals MVP and the first non-center to win three consecutive MVP Awards.
Both were 12-time All-Stars.
The Spartans reclaimed the NCAA title with an 89-76 win over Florida on April 3, 2000.
Source : Detroit Free Press, March 25, 2012.
A jury in Michigan finds Dr. Jack Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man.
Source : HistoryOrb.com
For more information, see “People v Kevorkian, The Right to Die, 447 Mich 436 (1994)”, Michigan Bar Journal, March 2009, pp. 30-32.
Stateside Staff, “Kevorkian papers available to the public at Bentley Historical Museum”, Michigan Radio,
November 18, 2015
Jim Harrison, the fiction writer, poet, outdoorsman and reveler who wrote with gruff affection for the country’s landscape and rural life and enjoyed mainstream success in middle age with his historical saga “Legends of the Fall,” has died at age 78.
Spokeswoman Deb Seager of Grove Atlantic, Harrison’s publisher, told The Associated Press that Harrison died Saturday at his home in Patagonia, Arizona on March 26, 2016. Seager did not know the cause of death. Harrison’s wife of more than 50 years, Linda King Harrison, died last fall.
The versatile and prolific author — born in Grayling, Michigan December 11, 1937 — completed more than 30 books, most recently the novella collection “The Ancient Minstrel,” and was admired worldwide. Sometimes likened to Ernest Hemingway for the range and kinds of his interests, he was a hunter and fisherman who savored his time in a cabin near his Michigan hometown, a drinker and Hollywood script writer who was close friends with Jack Nicholson and came to know Sean Connery, Orson Welles and Warren Beatty among others. He was a sports writer and a man of extraordinary appetite who once polished off a 37-course lunch, a traveler and teller of tales, most famously “Legends of the Fall.”
Published in 1979, “Legends of the Fall” was a collection of three novellas that featured the title story about Montana rancher Col. William Ludlow and his three sons of sharply contrasting personalities and values, the narrative extending from before World War I to the mid-20th century, from San Francisco to Singapore. The book was a best-seller, and Harrison worked on the script for an Oscar-nominated 1994 film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn. Harrison’s screenplay credits also included “Revenge,” starring Kevin Costner, and the Nicholson film “Wolf.” But he would liken the unpredictable and nerve wracking process to being trapped in a “shuddering elevator” and reminded himself of his marginal status by inscribing a putdown by a Hollywood executive, “You’re just a writer,” on a piece of paper and taping it above his desk.
For the full article, see Hillel Italie, “Legends of the Fall’ author Jim Harrison dies“, Detroit News, March 27, 2016.
For another, see Anna Clark, “Jim Harrison: Exploring Michigan writer’s expansive career“, Detroit Free Press, March 27, 2016.
One of Greater Lansing’s most recognizable buildings makes its big-screen debut this weekend.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which opens nationwide this weekend, features at least one scene filmed at East Lansing’s Broad Art Museum. It includes the DC Comics “trinity” of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (played by Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot, respectively). The museum is even featured in the film’s two official trailers.
For the full article, see Ty Forquer, Gotham, Metropolis, and East Lansing?, Lansing City Pulse, March 23, 2016.