1778 : Daniel Boone is brought to Detroit As a Prisoner
Apr 5 all-day

portrait of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding, 1820

This 1820 painting by Chester Harding is the only portrait of Daniel Boone made during his lifetime.

On April 5, 1778, Daniel Boone arrived at Detroit as a prisoner. During the American Revolution, Boone’s settlement of Boonesborough, Kentucky, suffered repeated attacks by Native Americans.

During one of these raids, Boone was captured by Native Americans and brought to Detroit. Detroit’s British commandant, Lt. Colonel Henry Hamilton, tried unsuccessfully to pay ransom for the famous frontiersman. After a short stay in Detroit, Boone’s captors took him to Ohio, where he later escaped.

According to Lyman C. Draper and Ted Ranklin Belue’s book The Life of Daniel Boone (1998), Boone arrived in Detroit on March 30th and left Detroit on April 10.

Sources :

Michigan History.

Sheryl James, “The Battle for Daniel Boone”, Michigan History, March/April 2015, pp.21-24.

1845: Immigrants Depart Germany On Their Way To Found Frankenmuth
Apr 5 all-day

The emigrants departed from Nuernberg on April 5, 1845 and traveled by foot, wagons, and trains to Bremerhafen, where they bought the provisions for their voyage. On April 20 they boarded the CAROLINE, where four engaged couples in the party were married, since they hadn’t been able to satisfy the strict German marriage law requirements. The trip began with a bad start, as the drunken captain steered the ship into a sand bank of the Weser River. Because of winds and storms, they had to sail around Scotland instead of through the English Channel.

Their journey across the Atlantic encountered violent storms, seasickness, a nightmare collision with an English trawler, and undesirable winds which drove the ship north into icebergs and dense fog for three days. The ship was damp and overcrowded, and their food became stale. Toward the end of the journey almost everyone in the group contracted smallpox, and a child in the party died from it. They reached New York Harbor on June 8, after 50 days of sailing.

To reach Michigan, they took a steamboat, a train (which collided with a coal train, giving them only slight injuries), and another steamboat. They took another steamer to Detroit and then a sailing ship on Lake Huron for a week-long trip to Bay City. From there they had to pull the ship 15 miles up the Saginaw River to Saginaw, where they stayed until their exact settlement site was chosen. They were objects of curiosity to the French and English of the city because of their Franconian dress and habits.

A few of the colonists walked to the future settlement region to examine the land. They selected a slightly hilly area which reminded them of the native Mittelfranken and built a rough shelter there. On August 18, almost four months after they had left Bremerhafen, the 15 colonists packed their belongings in an oxcart and walked about 12 miles through forest, thickets, and swamps to Frankenmuth.

They purchased 680 acres of Indian Reservation land from the federal government for $1,700.00. The colonists were often weakened with malaria while working at clearing the forest. A combination church-school-parsonage log cabin, built in the center of the land tract, was completed before Christmas day. The church was named St. Lorenz, after their mother churches in Neuendettelsau and Rosstal. The settlement, however wasn’t developed exactly according to Loehe’s original plan.

Pastors Loehe and Craemer wanted everyone to build their homes together near the church, so that the group would remain intact and organized in the manner of German villages. The colonists disagreed, and all decided to live on their own 120 acre farms which they would clear.

For the full story of the founding of Frankenmuth, visit here. Immigrating to Michigan wasn’t an easy trip!

Source : History of Frankenmuth.

1882 : Battle of Manton
Apr 5 all-day

April 4-6, 1882.

Cadillac’s decade-long struggle for the county seat came to a head on April 4, 1882, when ballots were cast throughout the county to determine whether the coveted prize should be moved from Manton to Cadillac. Twelve months earlier, residents of Cadillac and Manton had united to remove the county seat from Sherman to Manton. Now Cadillac was determined to secure the prize for itself.

Feeling duped by Cadillac, Manton residents were furious. A couple of townships destroyed their ballots, refusing to make a return. But when the “official” count of the April 4 vote was totaled, the results were overwhelming: 1,363 “yes” voters favored moving the county seat to Cadillac, while 309 voted “no.”

In the early dawn following the election, a train left Cadillac with the sheriff and twenty “specially deputized” men and headed to Manton to collect the county property. Legend has it that the train backed quietly into a sleeping Manton, coming to a halt in front of the courthouse. Within a half hour, most of the county records and much of the furniture was aboard the train. As the Cadillac faction attempted to remove the first of three safes from the courthouse, however, Manton residents awoke.

Battle of Manton, Part I

There are two different versions of what happened next. Cadillac’s version tells of a mob of over two hundred Manton men who drove off the small band of deputies.

Manton’s version claims the city was deserted and only a handful of men were in town. Although outnumbered, these “brave few” quickly gathered at the courthouse and confronted the heavily armed “Cadillackers.” The safe was overturned, Cadillac men produced firearms and a drunken county clerk urged the murder of the Mantonites. Nonetheless, the Mantonites managed to force the attackers “back to Cadillac in fear.”

Battle of Manton, Part II

The Cadillac faction returned home where they were greeted by an ever-increasing jovial crowd. When the crowd learned that three county safes of records remained in Manton, a second invasion of Manton was planned. Cadillac beefed up its force to include not only the sheriff and his deputies, but also city officials, many of Cadillac’s finer citizens and several hundred mill hands. Provisions consisted of a barrel of whiskey and fifty repeating rifles donated from a local hardware store. Some Cadillac citizens bought clubs, poles, brooms and crowbars.

Again, there are two versions of the second assault on Manton. Cadillac’s version is that they numbered three hundred men and were cautioned by the sheriff to avoid violence or damage to property. When they arrived in Manton, they found a waiting angry mob made up of every able-bodied citizen of Manton and most of the farmers from miles around. Cadillac claims Manton attempted to hang the county clerk and that Manton women rallied to grease the rails with lard and butter to make the tracks too slippery for the train to move.

Manton’s story claims “an unopposed invasion by a drunken mob of five hundred to six hundred men, led by a drunken sheriff and clerk.” The sheriff ordered that the courthouse be demolished and turned his men loose onto Manton streets “like a pack of crazed hounds.”

A New County Seat

While we may never know the full extent of what took place during the “Battle of Manton” on April 5, 1882, we do know it was a highly charged confrontation. Weapons were carried and injuries did occur. There were no deaths. Fortunately, the only gunshots fired that day were those in celebration on the victorious return trip to Cadillac with the county safes – and Wexford’s new county seat.

Source: Brenda Irish, Battle for Wexford County, Seeking Michigan, November 27, 2012. This article originally appeared in the September/October 2006 issue of Michigan History Magazine.

1920 : Detroit Voters Endorse Municipally-Owned Street Railway System
Apr 5 all-day

On April 5, 1920, Detroit voters approved Mayor James Couzens’ $15 million bond issue proposal to build and operate a (separate from the existing Detroit United Railway) municipally-owned street railway system.

Source : Detroit Historical Society Facebook page

1947 : Flint Experiences Second Worst Natural Disaster
Apr 5 all-day

The flood of 1947 ranks No. 2 for the worst natural disasters in Flint history, topped only by the deadly Beecher tornado in 1953.

Today, Riverbank Park looks the way it does because of the 1947 flood. Soon after, the Holloway Reservoir was built and the river was later channelized by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent future disasters.

For the full article, see Kristin Longley, “Flint residents reflect 65 years after disastrous flood of 1947 wrecked downtown”, MLive, April 5, 2012.

1993: Michigan Loses to North Carolina in NCAA Basketball Final
Apr 5 all-day


The Fab Five reached the NCAA championship game as freshmen on April 6, 1992 and again as sophomores on  April 5, 1993. They lost to Duke 71–51 in the 1992 title game and lost 77–71 to North Carolina in 1993, a game which is remembered mostly for Chris Webber’s costly “timeout”, which resulted in a technical foul as Michigan had no timeouts remaining.

However, most of their wins and both of their Final Four appearances were vacated due to Webber (and others) accepting money from Ed Martin, compromising their amateur status.

Source : Fab Five (University of Michigan) wikipedia entry.

2018: Hazel Park Raceway Closes After 69 Years
Apr 5 all-day

The long, twilight struggle for thoroughbred racing in Michigan finally may have ended.

Like a lot of owners and breeders and others when they heard Thursday that the 69-year-old Hazel Park Raceway closed, Lisa Campbell said she believes her life in horse racing is slipping away.

Historic trends in gambling and at the track, with the advent of the state lottery and casinos, may finally have sounded the death knell for the sport. Northville Downs is now the only track in the state, and it offers harness racing.

Hazel Park Raceway opened Aug. 17, 1949, with a thoroughbred meet. The first harness racing meet came in the spring of 1953.

The track ran both breeds from 1949 to 1984 before becoming exclusively a harness racing course.

In May 2014 it went back to the thoroughbreds.

The 1960s and 1970s were busy years at the track and many others around the state. But the advent of the Michigan State Lottery and the establishment of casinos did much to reduce the popularity of gambling at the track.

In 1996, the state allowed Hazel Park and other tracks to offer simulcast betting, including on the big, international races like the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup.

In 2004, a new 40,000-square-foot grandstand, including a press box and gaming facility, replaced the old grandstands.

The improvements were, in part, in anticipation of video lottery gaming and other casino devices coming to Hazel Park Raceway. But the legislation required never became law.

Gambling on horses has a long history in Michigan.

After the state legalized pari-mutuel betting in 1933, a track at the Detroit Fairgrounds held meets. It is there the great Seabiscuit turned around his career. The track became noted nationally for the Michigan Mile.

In the 1940s, Northville and Jackson became sites for harness racing tracks and Hazel Park opened.

In 1950, the Detroit Race Course replaced the track at the fairgrounds.

Although horse racing had already begun to decline, tracks opened in Hillsdale, Saginaw, Swartz Creek, Muskegon and Mount Pleasant in the 1970s and 1980s.

All of those tracks are now closed, except Northville.

Source: Gregg Krupa, “Hazel Park horse track closure ‘devastating’“, Detroit News, April 6, 2018; revised April 7, 2018.

2023 : Governor Whitmer Repeals 1931 Abortion Ban
Apr 5 all-day


Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation repealing the state’s 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing nurses and doctors for doing their jobs. Last year, Michiganders turned out in record numbers to get Proposal 3 on the ballot and enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution. The new laws remove the unconstitutional 1931 law from the books and ensure that Michiganders can make their own decisions about their own bodies.

With today’s signing, Michigan joins 10 other states who have moved to protect reproductive freedoms and access to safe, legal abortion in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson. The decision to become a parent or grow a family is one of the biggest economic decisions a person will make in their lifetime. Over 2/3rds of Michiganders support Roe v. Wade and want to repeal our 1931 law banning abortion. 77% of Michiganders believe that abortion should be a woman’s decision to make with a medical professional.

Source: Governor’s Office News Release, April 5, 2023.

1862 : First Michigan Light Artillery, Battery B, Sees Action at Shiloh, Tennessee
Apr 6 all-day

Battle of Shiloh

April 6-7, 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, fought in southwestern Tennessee. Participants included the men of Battery B, First Michigan Light Artillery. Larry R. Houghton told their story in Michigan History Magazine, March/April 1993 issue. Excerpts from his article follow.

Excerpt #1 (Sunday morning, April 6)

In position at about 9:00 A.M., Battery B began firing for the first time at human targets. Sergeant Mills recalled,

We could see the enemy advancing at a rapid rate. We formed in battery, and poured upon them the deadly shell. Our position then being so near, it was responded to by a volley which fell like hail around and in our midst. We then retired a short distance [back to the Hamburg-Savannah Road] and ceased to fire. Here, for the first time, the dreadful havoc of war became a stern reality to us, and was no longer a picture of imagination.

Source: Seeking Michigan, April 3, 2012.

1862 : Private George Sidman Receives Congressional Medal of Honor, Michigan’s Youngest Recipient
Apr 6 all-day

Private George Sidman, a drummer boy from Owosso, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism displayed on a Civil War battlefield in June 1862. He was the youngest man in the state to receive the commendation.

While not particularly gifted on the drum, Sidman was kept around in the hopes that he would become a soldier. He earned a soldier’s reputation at Gaines Mill, Virginia a year after he enlisted. Only 16, Sidman fought off the enemy and added enouragment to the battle until a mini ball struck his hip. He continued to fight until he fainted.

He was given the honor for carrying the 3rd Brigade’s new flag in the charge on Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg where Sidman was wounded again.

Source: Michigan Every Day

For more information, see George D. Sidman: the heroics of a Civil War drummer boy, Civil War Sources, December 21, 2008.

Also see A Distant Thunder: Michigan in the Civil War / Richard Bak. Ann Arbor, MI : Huron River Press, c2004.