1706 : Trouble Breaks Out Between the French and Indians in Detroit
Jun 6 all-day

While Cadillac is away from the French settlement of Detroit, the temporary commander’s dog bites an an Ottawa, the Ottawa beats the dog, the commander beats the Indian to death, and things go downhill from there, resulting in a number of deaths.

Source : The Detroit Almanac.

1822 : Alexis St. Martin Shot In Stomach on Mackinac Island
Jun 6 all-day

St Martin Alexis 67.jpg

On June 6, 1822, Alexis St-Martin — a 19-year old Canadian voyageur who worked for the American Fur Company — was accidentally shot with a musket at close range at the fur trading post on Mackinac Island. The charge of the musket shot left a hole through his side that healed to form a fistula aperture into his stomach

Fortunately for the French Canadian fur trader, Dr. William Beaumont, an army surgeon stationed at Fort Mackinac, was able to operate and save the patient’s life. Unfortunately for the patient, the hole in his stomach never fully closed.

Unable to continue working as a voyageur, Dr. Beaumont hired Alexis as a handyman.   During the day he did various chores such as chop wood, fetch supplies, etc., but at night Beaumont persuaded the patient to allow him to study his stomach’s digestion abilities. Beaumont eventually became famous for his gastric medicine and was the namesake for a hospital in Royal Oak.

St. Martin did ok too, marrying, fathering 17 children, and living to the ripe old age of 76.

Sources :

Michigan Every Day

Alexis St. Martin Wikipedia Entry

1925 : Chrysler Corporation Incorporated
Jun 6 all-day

On June 6, 1925, the Chrysler Corporation was incorporated, as Walter Chrysler reorganized the remnants of the Maxwell Motor Company which had made cars since 1904.

Sources :

Detroit Historical Society Facebook page

Chrysler Corporation Timeline

1926 : Wrestling’s Greatest Villain, The Sheik, Born in Lansing, Michigan
Jun 6 all-day

A master showman, an internationally infamous villain of popular culture, a “pioneer of mayhem”, the godfather of hardcore professional wrestling, was a Lansing native. Born June 6, 1926 to Lebanese immigrants Edward George Farhat was known to fans and enemies alike as “The Sheik”. He created a character which has been described as the Wrestling’s Greatest Villain. That is the title of a new documentary about this unique businessman who made his impact in sports entertainment by poking opponents in the forehead with taped pencils and hitting them with folding chairs.

For decades “The Sheik” ruled Big Time Wrestling, based in the beautiful, air-conditioned Cobo Area in Detroit. Before the nationalization of professional wrestling in the 1980s local organizations hewed regional boundaries, mostly by television market. The Detroit enterprise was an industry leader in pandemonium. Farhat, not only a multiple and long-time champion, was also the owner and CEO. His longtime nemesis was “Bobo Brazil” aka Houston Harris. They wrestled hundreds of times. In later decades, Farhat worked for various national and international wrestling organizations.

Farhat died on January 18, 2003.

For the full article, see “Wrestling’s Greatest Villain – A Lansing Native”, Lost Lansing, Capital Area District Librry Blog, July 4, 2010.

1944 : Michigan Glider From Greenville First to Land During D-Day
Jun 6 all-day

The first glider to land in France on D-Day was built in Greenville by the Gibson Refrigerator Company.

Source : Michigan History, May/June 2013

The following documentary has a segment on the D-Day glider landings: D-Day : Code name: Overlord / Timeless Media Group. Eugene, OR : Timeless Media Group, [2010]

The following feature movie also shows the glider landings:

The longest day / British exterior episodes directed by Ken Annakin ; American exterior episodes directed by Andrew Marton ; German episodes directed by Bernhard Wicki ; produced by Darryl F. Zanuck ; screenplay by Cornelius Ryan ; additional episodes written by Romain Gary [and others] ; Twentieth Century Fox.  Beverly Hills, Calif. : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2006]

The following streaming video also has a clip about the glider landings:

The Soldier’s Story / ABC News Productions. New York, N.Y. : Infobase, [2013] Courtesy of Films on Demand.

1944 : Wallace Stroebel of Saginaw Featured in D-Day Publicity Shot
Jun 6 all-day

June 6, 1944.   Eisenhower in England giving D-Day orders—“Full victory-nothing else”—to Wallace Strobel (#23) of Saginaw and other paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division. After asking Strobel where he was from, Eisenhower responded with “Oh yes, Michigan. Great fishing there. I like it.” After the two discussed fishing for a few minutes, Strobel assured the General that “we’ve been well-briefed and we are ready.” Over 1700 men of the division would lose their lives during the war. Strobel survived, passing away in 1999.

 2 people, people standing and outdoor
1956 : Two Men Fall To Their Deaths Building Mackinac Bridge
Jun 6 all-day

On the afternoon of June 6, 1956, Louis “Big Louie” Stepman and three other workers were stringing a catwalk from the north tower of the Mackinac Bridge. The catwalk – a bundle of chain link fencing to be strung on steel cables from the north tower to the south tower – would provide a temporary walking surface for workers installing the cables that held up the bridge’s roadway. The bundles of chain link were folded like an accordion in 100-foot sections. As the four men readied a bundle at 552 feet above the Straits of Mackinac, it snapped free and began a rapid descent down the cables.

One man’s ankle caught in one of the folds, pinning him in place on top of the fencing. His ankle had been crushed, but he was alive. The other three workers were jolted and fell from their narrow platform. Two men fell to their death, but Stepman fell 70 feet before he grabbed hold of the wire mesh and held on as it raced down the cable. It slowed when it reached the bottom arc. Dangling 400 feet above the water, Stepman thought about dropping to the water and taking his chances. Instead, he climbed 70 vertical feet up the wire mesh to safety.

Three other men lost their lives building the Mackinac Bridge. The names of all five men are remembered in a bronze plaque at the foot of the bridge in Mackinaw City.

Source : “They Paid the Highest Price”, Absolute Michigan.

For more information, see “50 Years of the Mighty Mac”, Michigan History, July/August 2007.

1958 : Ozzie Virgil, the Detroit Tiger’s First Player of Color Takes the Field
Jun 6 all-day

On June 6, 1958, the Detroit Tigers’ first nonwhite player debuted. Eleven years after Jackie Robinson made his historic entrance into modern baseball, the Detroit Tigers played a black man. Escaping the distinction of being the last major league team to integrate (Boston was last), the Tigers acquired Ozzie Virgil, a 25-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic. Virgil played his first game for the Tigers in Washington, DC. In his first home game, on June 17, he went 5 for 5 in another victory. Virgil spent nine years in the majors. After his playing days were over, he coached for several professional teams.

Source: Michigan History magazine

1961 : G. I. Joe (The Pigeon) Dies at Detroit Zoo
Jun 6 all-day

On June 6, 1961, G.I. Joe, a pigeon credited with saving the lives of 1,000 Allied soldiers during World War II, died of old age at the Detroit Zoo.

In October 1943, a note ordering that a raid by British planes, which would have unknowingly killed their own soldiers, be called off was successfully delivered on the leg of the bird after a 20-mile journey.

The pigeon later received a medal of gallantry from London’s mayor and recognition from the U.S. Congress before retiring to his home at the Detroit Zoo.

— Source: Mich-Again’s Day.

Also see Joe Razes, “Pigeons of War”, America In WWII : In fierce fighting and deep in enemy territory, American pigeons carried life-or-death messages that radio and field phones could not.

1962: First Meijer “Thrifty Acres” Opens in Grand Rapids
Jun 6 all-day

Hendrik and Fred Meijer opened the first “Thrifty Acres” in Grand Rapids on this day, marking the birth of the first supercenter nationwide and an innovative concept that would springboard into a retail phenomenon.

Meijer’s origins go back to 1934 during the Great Depression when a modest local barber in Greenville, Michigan saw a need and an opportunity. In an effort to take care of the customers who visited his barbershop, Hendrik Meijer purchased $328.76 worth of merchandise on credit. Together with his 14-year-old son, Fred, they opened North Side Grocery.

Meijer continued to look for innovative opportunities and ways provide higher levels of service to his customers. He renamed his store Meijer’s Grocery and began broadening his business through the use of newspaper ads and fancy metal shopping carts. As World War II raged, Hendrik pledged his company’s support to the war effort, and just like the Arsenal of Democracy, women became a key part of the Meijer workforce, numbering nearly half of all team members.

After the war, growth at Meijer began in earnest. The company acquired an office in Greenville and opened its first store in Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan. As Meijer’s customer base grew, the company asked its customers to help choose a name for a new symbol. Through a local contest, a customer suggested the name “Thrifty” for the Meijer little Dutch Boy mascot, who became the company’s symbol for the next thirty years.

With the start of the baby boom and advancements in technology, Meijer found new ways to help its customers. With the introduction of the automatic conveyor belt, Meijer was one of the first grocers in the region to help customers speed down the checkout lane. And when television took over in the 1950s, Meijer soon followed, advertising on the popular Romper Room show.

In 1962 Meijer opened its first Thrifty Acres, a food and general merchandise store that allowed customers to shop for everything they needed in just one trip. It was the birth of the Supercenter and the springboard for a concept that would grow into a retail phenomenon.

Meijer has always been a leader in finding and using new technology. This includes everything from the introduction of checkout scanners in the 1970’s to the decision to stay open 24 hours in the 1980’s to the launch of in the 1990’s.

Our commitment to innovation and taking care of our customers has led to continued growth throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. And our philosophy hasn’t changed. From the 1960’s when the company had 26 stores and 4,000 team members in Michigan to today’s 190 plus stores and 60,000 team members in five states, Meijer continues to do business based on the simple philosophy that led Hendrik Meijer in 1934—meeting the needs of our customers, team members and the communities we serve.

Source : Meijer Corporate History Page