1818 : First Permanent Protestant Church Established in Michigan
Mar 31 all-day

On March 31, 1818, the Society of Methodists erected a log building near the Rouge River that became Michigan’s first permanent Protestant church.

Source : Detroit Historical Society of Michigan

1871 : New Capitol Building Authorized in Lansing
Mar 31 all-day

On March 31, 1871, Gov. Henry P. Baldwin signed legislation to build a new state capitol building and a building for the temporary use of the state officers. Exactly $1.2 million was set aside for the building. The facility was paid for through a 16 7/8 cent-per-year tax on Michigan residents for six years. The ultimate cost, including furniture, fittings and improvement of the grounds, was $1,427,743.

Construction began in 1872 and was completed Sept. 23, 1878. It’s still the Capitol building Michigan uses today.


The Michigan Senate web page

Stefani Chudnow, “The Lion of Lansing: A Brief History of Michigan’s Capitol Building“, Awesome Mitten Blog, March 28, 2017.

1918 : Major Edward Edgar Hartwick Dies
Mar 31 all-day
Maj Edward Edgar Hartwick

In honor of her deceased husband, Karen Hartwick purchased the last virgin pine forest in the lower peninsula and donated it to the state, creating the Hartwick Pines State Park.

Picture of

Edward Hartwick by sculptor Julius Loester in Woodlawn Cemetery (Detroit)

Sources :

Michigan Every Day

A  biographical sketch of Major Edward E. Hartwick / Gordon K. Miller

Edward Edgar Hartwick wikipedia entry


A Visit to Hartwick Pines State Park (2007) via YouTube

1921 : Referee Wears Zebra Stripes for the First Time At MAC Gymnasium?
Mar 31 all-day

March 31-April 2, 1921

According to an article from the archives of Referee magazine, the striped design of a referee’s shirt was the brainchild of one Lloyd W. Olds, a longtime high-school and college sports official from Michigan. The impetus for the idea came in 1920, when he was working a college football game while wearing a white shirt, which was customary at the time for officials in most sports. The visiting team wore white as well. At one point, the quarterback mistakenly handed off the ball to Olds. “Of course I dropped it,” he later recalled, “and, thank goodness, he recovered same.”

Olds figured this white-on-white confusion could be avoided if officials wore stripes. So he had a friend (George Moe) in the sporting goods biz create a prototype, which he first wore while working the 1921 Michigan state high-school basketball championships. When I appeared on the basketball court in the striped shirt, I received plenty of boos from the crowd,” Olds told Referee in a 1981 interview.

As Olds continued to wear stripes while officiating in several different sports, the idea spread rapidly throughout the world of high-school and collegiate athletics.

Question : According to the Detroit Free Press, the 1921 Michigan state high-school basketball championships were held at the Michigan Agricultural College Gymnasium on March 31, April 1, and April 2, 1921 – so can we infer that the first appearance of a referee in a striped shirt occured at Michigan State University?

A little more about Lloyd W. Olds. Olds graduated from Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) in 1916 and completed a PhD. in public health at the University of Michigan. Returning to his alma mater under the direction of Professor Wilbur Bowen, he joined the Department of Physical Education and coached EMU’s track team from 1921-42, during which time the team won 85% of their meets. He also founded EMU’s intramural program. During the 1920s, EMU earned praise for having one of the most extensive intramural programs in the Midwest. Olds also served as the head of the Department of Physical Education from 1956-63. On a national level he served as an associate track and field coach for the 1932 Olympic games and as an Olympic track manager in 1948, in addition to coming up with the idea for the referee’s zebra stripes.

For the full article, see Paul Lukas, “How the zebra got its stripes”, Slate, March 10, 2004.

Also see Olds/Robb Student Recreation Center

MyReferee, July 2010 : indicates that the 1921 High School Basketball Championships were held in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press indicates they were held at the MAC Gymnasium. Also this article indicates Olds got the idea at an Arizona – Michigan State football game in 1920. The Michigan State football teams did not play Arizona in 1920.

1954 : Augusta Rosenthal-Thompson, Traverse City’s First Woman Doctor, Dies
Mar 31 all-day

Augusta Rosenthal-Thompson, Traverse City’s first woman doctor, and the six-year-old son she could not save from diphtheria in the 1890s, finally will get a headstone at Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City.

A graveside memorial dedication is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. — Rosenthal-Thompson’s birthday — thanks to the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society, Zonta Club of Traverse City and local history writers Gini LeClaire and Richard Fidler.

Fidler, a retired Traverse City junior science and biology teacher, includes a chapter on Rosenthal-Thompson in his 2006 book, “Who We Were, What We Did.” It noted that the doctor and her son were buried next to each other in an unmarked grave, something Fidler discovered while researching his book.

“I was touched that this woman who did so much for the community was buried in an unmarked grave and I wondered why,” he said. “The genealogical society really went to bat to make this happen. All I offered was a little window of her life.”

The unmarked grave also bothered LeClaire, another local history writer, who thought the genealogical society should raise money to purchase a granite headstone. About that time, GTAGS member Kathleen Farley saw a short Record-Eagle story that Zonta, an international women’s service club, sought grant applications for local projects.

LeClaire submitted one. Zonta replied with a $1,200 grant to pay for the headstone, a bronze plaque and the memorial ceremony.

“We have no idea why she was buried in an unmarked grave,” Farley said. “I assume it was because she wanted to be buried by her son, Jackie.”

Rosenthal-Thompson was born June 1, 1859 in Fort Wayne, Ind., the third of 11 children, wrote Robert E. Wilson in his three-volume Grand Traverse Legends, a local history published over the last decade about important people in area history.

Four of her siblings died in a cholera epidemic. She lost her mother to cancer and became a second mother to the younger children in the family, who eventually moved to Grand Rapids.

In 1884, at age 25, she became of one the early women to graduate from the University of Michigan medical school. She opened her Traverse City practice in 1886, advertising that her specialty was treating women and children. She married Dr. Isaac Alonzo Rosenthal the following year.

Jackie, whose full name is Isaac Alonzo Rosenthal Jr., was born in 1889 and died March 2, 1896, at the age of “6 years, 3 months and 11 days, “ as tombstones and death certificates often recorded ages then.

The little boy’s death spurred the grieving mother to search for a cure. She traveled to New York and then Europe, and took classes in Vienna, Austria and visited hospitals and clinics in Berlin, Budapest, and Zurich. She returned to Traverse City two years later with the first apparatus for blood infusions.

That same day, the parents of one of Jackie’s friends came to her with their sick son and asked her to save him from diphtheria. She did.

She moved to Grand Rapids about 1911, nine years after she and her husband divorced. In 1917, she went to Philadelphia to treat women and children of World War I veterans and later returned to Grand Rapids. She retired about 1930 and died at age 94 on March 31, 1954 in a Berrien Springs nursing home.

Rosenthal-Thompson received local acclaim last fall when she was one of three Traverse City citizens to be named a “Legend” in the History Center of Traverse City’s ongoing project to identify people who blazed trails and made an important difference in the lives of local residents.

For the full article, see Loraine Anderson, “Headstone awaits pioneering woman doctor”, Traverse City Record Eagle, May 29, 2013.

For more information, see Lynn Geiger, “Is the Doctor In? Why Yes, She Is”, the Ticker, September 21, 2012.

Megan Moore, Now You Know: Dr. Augusta Rosenthal-Thompson, UpNorthLive, September 27, 2012.

Video from History Center of Traverse City Facebook Page.

1957 : Elvis Presley Performs at Olympia Stadium
Mar 31 all-day

On Sunday March 31, 1957 Elvis Presley made his second appearances in Detroit, this time performing at the Olympia. Less than a year earlier they had performed in Detroit at the Fox Theater to about 15,000 fans. On the day after the Olympia shows the Detroit Free Press reported they had this time performed to at least 24,000.

It was like a Saturday matinee at the movies, only a thousand times more shrill, penetrating and hysterical. His fans shrieked, sobbed, moaned and writhed in their seats, the noise reaching deafening crescendos with each intonation of the palpitating Presley voice. Only occasionally could his songs be heard and recognized. But sing, stomp, stagger and strum he did for a perspiring 40 minutes. And when he got around to his closing number, ‘You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Houn’ Dog,’ the ultimate in acoustical terrors was achieved. Hearing became a liability for uninitiated eldsters.

The 140 extra Detroit policemen assigned to Olympia, including a squad of police commandos (12 men) and 10 policewomen, in addition to the reinforced Olympia ushering staff, fought a nip-and-tuck battle to keep Elvis out of the clutches of his fans. Flashbulbs popped like frantic fireflies on a summer evening. Presley’s security squad of four huskies got him on and off the stage without damage, whisking the steaming singer through a cordon of policemen and into a waiting cab after each appearance.

An unnerving situation developed after the afternoon show, with Presley safely out of the building. His fans, refusing to believe he was gone, piled up behind police barricades about 1,000 strong and threatened to trample the police and each other in an effort to get to Presley’s dressing room. The evening crowd, equally as large, was older and more orderly. It set up a tremendous din on occasion, but generally it reacted to Elvis’ wailings and wiggles on cue.

In an interview before his first show, Presley met officers of his fan clubs and autographed his new album. He answered questions readily and was scrupulously polite. Would he have his hair cut when he is inducted into the Army? Elvis said he wasn’t worried about it, since his famous hairdo, sideburns and all, would soon fall on the cutting room floor of a Hollywood studio. (He is to play in a prison melodrama, ‘The Hard Way,` following his current tour. Will he seek a special services assignment in the Army as an entertainer? ‘I don’t intend to ask for any favors,’ Presley said. ‘What I do is up to them.’

Is he considering marriage? Elvis’ smoky, black eyes roved over his audience, composed largely of females, and he said he wasn’t thinking of anything of the sort. There were sighs of relief from the officers of the Presley fan clubs. Would he share a proffered spot on the first television program of a series planned by his crooning rival, Pat Boone? Elvis said, ‘Sure, if I am invited and it can be arranged.’ As for continuing his singing career after his service in the Army, Presley said he would ‘if people haven’t forgotten me by then.’

1957 publicity shot of Elvis for Jailhouse Rock, courtesy of Wikipedia

For those who relish statistics, the pouty-looking Lothario of the guitar supplied the information that he is 22, weighs 180 pounds and is six feet tall. He now owns eight automobiles, including a sports car, and is building a colonial-style Southern mansion, ‘with pillars,’ on an 18-acre tract in the suburbs of Memphis, Tenn.

For his appearances yesterday, Elvis wore a coat of gold metallic material, gold shoes and tie, and twanged a guitar on which his first name was written in gold script. One of Presley’s sidekicks said the gold coat with matching pants cost $2,500.

Elvis also retains a golden touch at the box offices, his Detroit representatives said. Seats sold for up to $5 for his show. They figured he would collect more than $10,000 for each performance here, adding that his appearances in Chicago and St. Louis were both sellouts.

Not bad for a lad who three years ago was attending a Memphis high school and fooling around with a ‘gee-tar,’ who since then has become a singing and recording phenomenon (more than 13 million records). No one can quite explain his success—not even his most avid fans. An enraptured teen-ager, wearing an ‘Elvis for President` button, was asked—between sobs and screams—the question. ‘I don’t know—and I don’t care,’ she shrieked. ‘He’s just wonderful. It’s the way he does it. When he sings I get goose bumps all over. I just can’t explain it.’

Another article in the Free Press read, The trouble with going to see Elvis Presley is that you’re liable to get killed. The experience is the closest thing to getting bashed on the head with an atomic bomb. Elvis gave two performances Sunday in the Olympia —each to shrieking audiences of around 14.000.

PRESLEY, the singing troubadour with the long sideburns, gives off more electricity than the Detroit Edison Co’s combined transmitters. When he made his grand entrance, pandemonium broke loose and carnage waited in the wings. Most of the afternoon throng were little girls, nice little girls who just adore Elvis. They wore Elvis buttons, Elvis hats and carried Elvis pictures.

Sources :

John Fislayson, “Elvis Wiggles and Wails as 24,000 Scream and Sob”, Detroit Free Press, Apr. 1, 1957

Frank Beckman and Carter Van Lopik, “Hysterical Shrieks greet Elvis in his Gold Jacket and Shoes”, Detroit Free Press Apr. 1, 1957

Scotty Moore’s Olympia Stadium website including numerous photographs.

George Bulanda, “The Way It Was : Elvis Visits Detroit”, Hour Detroit, February 29, 2016

1976 : Turning Right on Red Legalized in Michigan
Mar 31 all-day
Related image

A new traffic law went into effect, which allowed drivers to make right turns after stopping at a red light. The law was adopted in part to conserve fuel.

Source : Michigan is Amazing

1998 : Sen. Henry Stallings II Resigns from Michigan Senate
Mar 31 all-day
Image result for Sen. Henry Stallings II photo

Sen. Henry Stallings II resigned reluctantly rather than face expulsion after admitting he used public money to employ a state worker in his Detroit art gallery.  The move spared senators from having to expel a senator for the first time and relieved the Senate of a major embarrassment. Stallings’ resignation will take effect March 31. The Detroit Democrat agreed not to attend session or vote between now and then. But he didn’t go willingly.

He pleaded guilty to taking money under false pretenses, but later said he did nothing wrong.

Under Cloud, Senator Quits“, Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1998.

Emily Lawler, “Deaths, drugs and skullduggery: A brief history of Michigan political scandals“, MLive, August 21, 2015; Updated August 24, 2015.

Daniel Bethencourt, “Ex-state Sen. Henry Stallings II dies“, Detroit Free Press, September 10, 2015.

Cesar Chavez Day in Michigan
Mar 31 all-day

With Hispanic community leaders from Michigan gathered around her, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed legislation on December 3, 2003 that establishes March 31 as Cesar E. Chavez Day in Michigan. The day commemorates the late civil rights and labor leader who died in 1993.

Governor Jennifer Granholm and State Senator Buzz Thomas
Photo Gallery
Senate Bill No. 352 – PDF
Program – 90kb PDF

“Cesar Chavez serves as an inspiration not only to the Hispanic community but to all people who work to improve their communities by fighting discrimination, working for economic equality, and ensuring safe and fair working conditions,” Granholm said. “I am pleased to sign this legislation today that recognizes a true American leader and hero.”

Granholm and the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit), participated in a celebratory bill signing at the Cristo Rey Community Center in Lansing. The Cristo Rey center provides programs and services to the area’s Hispanic community.

“Cesar Chavez is not only a hero to the Hispanic community but to all people who labor and dream for peace, social justice, and dignity,” said Senator Thomas. “This legislation is long overdue. Cesar E. Chavez’s legacy has touched us all, and this fitting recognition will continue to inform future generations of his accomplishments.”

Chavez founded the United Farm Workers of America in 1962 as a way to help farm workers improve their working conditions and wages. He employed nonviolent tactics such as boycotts, strikes, and pickets to make people more aware of the working and wage conditions of farm workers.

The legislation also establishes July 14 as Gerald R. Ford Day, and July 30 as Henry Ford Day. These dates join several other commemorative days that have been established in Michigan, including, Rosa L. Parks Day on February 4, John F. Kennedy Day on May 29, and Casimir Pulaski Day on October 11.

Source : Governor Granholm Signs New Law Creating Cesar Chavez Day in Michigan

For the record MCL 435.301 states:

Sec. 1.  (1) The legislature recognizes the fundamental contribution that Cesar E. Chavez made to this nation by organizing farm workers to campaign for safe and fair working conditions, reasonable wages, decent housing, and the outlawing of child labor.  Cesar E. Chavez began working in the fields of Arizona and California at the age of 10.  Profoundly influenced by these humble beginnings, Chavez embraced the nonviolent principles of Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to crusade against racial and economic discrimination, coordinate voter registration drives, and found the united farm workers of America.  In 1994, Chavez was posthumously awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians by the United States government.  In memory of this great American, the legislature declares that March 31 of each year shall be known as “Cesar E. Chavez Day”.

(2) The legislature encourages each individual in the great state of Michigan to pause on Cesar E. Chavez day and reflect upon the courage and sacrifice of a man Robert Kennedy once referred to as “one of the heroic figures of our time”.

1812 : Governor William Hull Becomes Commander of the Army of the Northwest
Apr 1 all-day


Portrait of General William Hull by Rembrandt Peale

Governor William Hull became the commander of the Army of the Northwest. His first task was to lead his army from Dayton, Ohio, to Detroit, building Hull’s Trace, a two hundred mile long road, as it marched. The army left Dayton on June 1. As it cut the trace through the wilderness from Urbana north, it laid logs crosswise across swampy areas to create a rough but stable corduroy roadbed that could support supply wagons. In late June, a detachment from Frenchtown commanded by Hubert Lacroix also worked on the road, attempting to follow a route laid out under an 1808 territorial Legislative Council act. On June 18, 1812, war was declared. Hull’s army arrived in Detroit on July 6. Hull;’s Trace, which linked Detroit and Ohio, was to be the Michigan Territory’s inland lifeline during the War of 1812. However, the Detroit River and Lake Erie gave the British easy access to the Michigan portion of the road. American efforts to use the road to bring supplies and men from Frenchtown, present day Monroe, were foiled twice before Hull surrendered Detroit on August 16, 1812. After the war the Hull’s trace route was used for ever-improving roads, beginning in 1817 with a new military road. In 2000 low water levels in the Huron River revealed 1,247 feet of the old corduroy road, lying three to six feet beneath Jefferson Avenue. Axe marks were visible o some of the logs. This rare example of a surviving corduroy road is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information about the War of 1812, see:

The War of 1812 / a production of WNED-TV, Buffalo/Toronto and Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc., in association with WETA Washington, D.C. ; a film by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey ; written by Ken Chowder.
[United States] : PBS Distribution, c2011.
1 DVD videodisc (ca. 120 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.
Digital and Multimedia Center (4 West) E354 .W37 2011 VideoDVD