2017 : Detroit plans to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day in 2018
Oct 11 all-day

Detroit plans to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day starting next year instead of Columbus Day.

The Detroit News reports City Council approved a proposal Tuesday on the issue about how to mark the second Monday of October.  Some other U.S. cities have made changes. Columbus Day, the federal holiday commemorating the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus, has been protested by those who argue his arrival to the Americas ushered in centuries of mistreatment of Native Americans.

Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez proposed the resolution, saying it will help illuminate history that’s overlooked by “mainstream society.”

For the full article, see “Detroit plans to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day next year“,  WILX Channel 10, October 11, 2017.

Casimir Pulaski Day
Oct 11 all-day

Sec. 1.  October 11 of each year shall be known as the “Casimir Pulaski Day”.

MCL 435.141

1852 : Michigan State Teacher’s Association Organized, Later Called MEA
Oct 12 all-day

The Michigan State Teacher’s Association was organized on this day in 1852. It was the forerunner of the Michigan Education Association.

The Michigan State Teacher’s Association got its start five years before the National Education Association was organized. The state group was renamed the Michigan Education Association in 1926. It is currently the largest public employee union in Michigan and the third-largest education association in the United States.

Headquartered in East Lansing, the MEA has about 157,000 members, who are K-12 teachers, college instructors, custodians, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other school workers.

Source: #MIHistory – Oct. 12: The Forerunner of the MEA, the Official Blog of the Michigan House Democrats

1864 : Harper Hospital Opens in Detroit
Oct 12 all-day

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On October 12, 1864, Harper Hospital opened as a general military hospital for wounded Civil War soldiers. Occupying the same site as the modern hospital on the east side of Woodward Ave., it was built on land donated by wealthy Detroiter Walter Harper.

Source : Detroit Historical Society post, October 12, 2018.

1898 : Austin Blair Statue Dedicated
Oct 12 all-day

Dedicated on October 12, 1898, this bronze statue commemorates Michigan’s Civil War Governor, who served the state from 1861 to 1864.

Source: A Walking Tour of Capitol Square. Provided by: Capitol Tour Guide Services

Gov. Austin Blair is known as Michigan’s “Civil War governor.” But history reveals, he was much more than that.

He was the 13th governor of Michigan from 1861 to 1864, during the height of the Civil War. Like President Abraham Lincoln, he was a member of the Republican Party.

Blair was a staunch supporter of the Union, personally raising about $100,000 to equip the 1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. But historians note, he will be remembered most for being a champion of human rights.

As a state representative, Blair was a key supporter in passing legislation in 1847 to outlaw capital punishment, making Michigan the first in the nation to do so.

Blair will also be remembered for being a staunch abolitionist, and fought the expansion of slavery in the U.S. He later led efforts to give women and black citizens the right to vote.

Blair died in 1894. The next year, in 1895, the Michigan Legislature directed a statue honoring Blair be placed on the east side of the Capitol building.

Source : Matt Barbour, “Remembering Michigan’s ‘Civil War governor’ who led a push for human rights”, ABC 12 News (Flint), June 22, 2020.

1921 : Art Clokey Born, Creator of Gumby
Oct 12 all-day

Clokey was born Arthur Farrington in Detroit in October 1921 and grew up making mud figures on his grandparents’ Michigan farm. “He always had this in him,” his son, Joseph, recalled Friday.

At age 8, Clokey’s life took a tragic turn when his father was killed in a car accident soon after his parents divorced. The unusual shape of Gumby’s head would eventually be modeled after one of the few surviving photos of Clokey’s father, which shows him with a large wave of hair protruding from the right side of his head.

After moving to California, Clokey was abandoned by his mother and her new husband and lived in a halfway house near Hollywood until age 11, when he was adopted by a classical music composer Joseph W. Clokey. The renowned music teacher at Pomona College taught him to draw, paint and shoot film and took him on journeys to Mexico and Canada.

Art Clokey attended the Webb School in Claremont, whose annual fossil hunting expeditions also inspired a taste for adventure that stayed with him. “That’s why ‘The Adventures of Gumby’ were so adventurous,” his son said.

Clokey served in World War II, conducting photo reconnaissance over North Africa and France. Back in Hartford, Conn., after the war, he was studying to be an Episcopal minister when he met Ruth Parkander, the daughter of a minister. The two married and moved to California to pursue their true passion: filmmaking.

During the day, the Clokeys taught at the Harvard School for Boys in Studio City, now Harvard-Westlake. At night, Art Clokey studied film at USC under Slavko Vorkapich, a pioneer of modern montage techniques.

Clokey’s 1953 experimental film, “Gumbasia,” used stop-motion clay animation set to a lively jazz tempo. It became the inspiration for the subsequent Gumby TV show when Sam Engel, the president of 20th Century Fox and father of one of Clokey’s students, saw the film and asked Clokey to produce a children’s television show based on the idea.


Today, Gumby is a cultural icon recognized around the world. It has more than 134,000 fans on Facebook.

Gumby sm.png

In the 1960s, Clokey and his wife Ruth created and produced the Christian TV series “Davey and Goliath”,  funded by the Lutheran Church in America,  so they they were finally able to make use of their religious education.

Gumby and Art clokey, 1985

Gumby’s ability to enchant generations of children and adults had a mystical quality to it, said his son, and reflected his father’s spiritual quest. In the 1970s, Clokey studied Zen Buddhism, traveled to India to study with gurus and experimented with LSD and other drugs, though all of that came long after the creation of Gumby, his son said.


Jason Felch, “Art Clokey dies at 88; creator of Gumby“, Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2010.

Art Clokey wikipedia entry.

8 fun and flexible facts about Gumby“, MeTV, September 26, 2016.

1929 : Ingham County Circuit Court Orders Malcolm X’s Parents to Vacate Lansing Home
Oct 12 all-day

Born May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little (Malcolm X’s birth name) was the fourth child of Earl and Louise Little. Earl Little, a self-proclaimed Baptist minister, was known for his ardent outspokenness on civil rights. Like many African Americans at the time, the Littles followed the teachings of Marcus Garvey. “Garveyism,” as the movement was known, taught that American society would never accept African Americans as their equals, and so, African Americans would have to establish their own country in Africa. Although the movement had hundreds of chapters worldwide, followers faced opposition and often violent retaliation from the established white society. While Mrs. Little was pregnant with Malcolm, the local Omaha Ku Klux Klan threatened the family and even stormed their home because Earl was “spreading trouble among the good Negroes.”

Because of this affront, Earl Little relocated his family first to Milwaukee (1926), and then to Lansing (1928). In Lansing, he bought a house in the white neighborhood of Westmont, located near the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Waverly Road. To earn money, he preached at the local Baptist churches and continued recruiting followers to the Garvey movement.

However, as in Omaha, Earl Little’s reputation again spread as being an “uppity Negro” who disturbed the status quo by refusing to move to the “black” area of town. The land company that owned the Westmont subdivision took Earl Little to circuit court in 1929. The company argued that because the land contract stated only Caucasians could live there, Earl was in breach of contract. The court ruled that Earl Little could own property in the subdivision, but could not have a home there, and thus, had to vacate his home. Before the eviction took place, the Little’s house was burned down. The State Journal reported that Earl Little was held on arson charges that were later dropped. The family always held the Black Legion, a white supremacist group with connections to the KKK, responsible for the burning.

From there, Earl Little moved his family to 401 Charles St. near the border of East Lansing. The family stayed there from 1929-1930, but decided that the racially segregated situation in East Lansing was too stressful. So, in late 1930, Earl Little built a house two miles out of town on Logan Street (now MLK Avenue), where the Malcolm X historical marker now stands. While there, Malcolm enrolled at Pleasant Grove Elementary in January of 1931.

On September 28, 1931 tragedy struck the family when Earl Little was hit by a streetcar. The authorities ruled it a suicide, but Malcolm and his family believed that the Black Legion was responsible. Because his death certificate stated that Earl killed himself, Louise Little could not collect insurance money, and the family fell into financial hardship. Malcolm’s two oldest siblings quit school and, along with their mother, took odd jobs to support the family. Despite the family’s best efforts, they eventually had to go on welfare. Even with odd jobs and a welfare check, Louise Little struggled to feed and clothe her eight children.

By 1934, Malcolm began to get into trouble both at school and at home. He regularly went downtown and tried to steal treats, whether it was apples or trinkets for himself. As he was caught for more of these offenses, the welfare board continually brought him up as an example of Louise Little’s parental incompetence. The stress of their impoverished situation eventually began wearing on Malcolm’s mother. In early 1939, Louise Little was declared legally insane and formally committed to the Kalamazoo State Hospital. The eldest two siblings were able to stay in the family home, but the younger children were divided between neighbors and friends.

Malcolm moved in with the Gohannas family, who also lived in Lansing on Williams Street (where the Grand River General Motors plant now stands). He enjoyed his time there, but missed living with his brothers and sisters. Since they were all in Lansing, they visited each other often. However, the strain of his family’s situation still haunted Malcolm; he misbehaved in school one too many times and was expelled at the age of thirteen from West Junior High School.

After this offense, the state intervened and sent Malcolm to a detention home in nearby Mason, Michigan. Originally, Malcolm was supposed to go to reform school, but when the day come for his departure, the family in charge of the detention home refused to make him leave. They accepted Malcolm into their family, and in 1939, they decided to enroll him at Mason High School.

Malcolm excelled in school and was elected president of his seventh grade class. He played basketball on the school team and traveled to other predominantly white towns, such as Howell and Charlotte. Although he faced racist attitudes in these areas, Malcolm stated that it did not bother him much and that he was accepted in Mason, albeit as a black person and not on equal terms with as whites.

In the last semester of his eighth grade year, Malcolm experienced what he called the first major turning point of his life. As he recalled in his autobiography, an English teacher whom he always admired asked Malcolm what he wanted to be when he grew up. When Malcolm responded, “a lawyer,” the teacher took him aside and told him to “be realistic” and that as a “Negro,” that was an unattainable dream. He suggested carpentry for Malcolm instead, since he did well in woodshop and was well liked by his white peers. After that experience, Malcolm became much more withdrawn in school. He finished eighth grade, but dropped out that year. He then moved to Boston with his half-sister and only came back to the mid-Michigan area to visit his family and friends.

Malcolm X went on to become an outspoken leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. His ardent message of “by any means necessary” resonated with much of the African American community and made him into one of the most revered and controversial Civil Rights leaders of our time.

This article is based upon Malcolm X’s recollections as told in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Source : Nicole Garrett, “Malcolm X in Michigan”, Seeking Michigan, February 14, 2012.

1948 : Governor John Engler Born
Oct 12 all-day

John Engler.jpg

On Oct. 12, 1948, Gov. John Engler was born in Mt. Pleasant. Engler grew up in Beal City and attended Michigan State University. He made history at the time by being elected to the state House at age 22, which was a modern record. He stayed in the Legislature until 1990, serving in the House and the Senate until Michigan voters elected him Governor.

Engler ended up serving three terms as Governor, being the last governor whose entire term was not impacted by term limits. Engler now lives in Virginia. He previously served as president the National Association of Manufacturers, but is now president of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of U.S. corporations.

Update:   Following President Lou Anna Simon’s resignation due to the Larry Nasser scandal, Engler was selected by the Board of Trustees to serve as interim President until all the problems related to Larry Nassar (including a $500 million payout for victims) were settled.


John Engler wikipedia Entry

John Engler Politico Entry

Business Roundtable

2013 : 500th Game at Spartan Stadium
Oct 12 all-day

The Saturday, October 12th game between Indiana University and Michigan State University will be the 500th game played at Spartan Stadium, which opened in 1923 as Macklin Field.

Some epic games played in Spartan Stadium :

1923 – Several years of construction led to the opening of the 14,000 seat College Field, which put Michigan Agricultural College on the college sports map. Under head coach Ralph Young, the Aggies, the team’s nickname prior to changing to Spartans in 1926, defeated Lake Forest 21-6 in the inaugural game. (October 6, 1923)

1953 – After years of being kept out of the Big Ten by rival Michigan, the Spartans get the sweetest revenge in their first year in the conference by defeating the Wolverines 14-6 to advance to the Rose Bowl in their first chance. (November 14, 1953)

1963 – In a game postponed to Thanksgiving Day because of John F. Kennedy’s assasination five days earlier, the Spartans lost 13-0 to the Illini led by linebacker Dick Butkus. (November 28, 1963)

1966 – What’s now called “Game of Century” ended with No. 2 MSU and top-ranked Notre Dame tied at 10 (November 19, 1966)

1968 – Coach Duffy tells the media the night before he might start the game with an onside kick if he won the toss — and it happened. MSU recovered and scored a touchdown and never looked back, winning 21-17 over the heavily favored top-ranked Irish. Great goal line stand to end the game and preserve the victory.

1974 – Unranked MSU ruins top-ranked Ohio State’s national title hopes with 16-13 win. The game wasn’t decided until 45 minutes after it ended because Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke had to make a final ruling on an Ohio State touchdown or penalty in front of the tunnel. Levi Jackson’s late 88 yard run turned out to be the winner (November 9, 1974)

1986 – Dave Yarema was intercepted in the end zone in the final seconds to end MSU’s bid for an upset in a 24-21 loss to No. 11 Iowa (October 4, 1986)

1987 – In first night game at Spartan Stadium on Labor Day, MSU upsets No. 19 USC 27-13 (September 1, 1987)

1987 – MSU drubs Indiana 27-3, punching its first ticket to Pasadena in more than two decades. (November 14, 1987)

1990 – In a game that featured Spartan Stadium’s largest crowd, MSU falls to top-ranked Notre Dame 20-19

1999 – Burke bests Brady 34-31 in a classic matchup of unbeatens and 10-2 teams, proving there’s more than one team in the State of Michigan. (October 9, 1999)

2001 – Jeff Smoker connects with T.J. Duckett on final play to lift MSU to a 26-24 win over Michigan in a game known as “Clockgate” (November 3, 2001)

2006 – Against Notre Dame, MSU blows 16-point lead in loss. John L. Smith slaps himself in press conference after loss

2009 Michigan rallied late to force overtime in the final seconds, but freshman Larry Caper’s touchdown run in overtime lifted the Spartans to the win. (October 3, 2009)

2010 – Using “Little Giants” trick play, MSU posts 34-31 win over Notre Dame in overtime (September 18, 2010)

2011 – On a play called Rocket, Keith Nichol catches 44-yard Hail Mary to help Spartans upset Wisconsin, 37-31 (October 22, 2011)

For the full article, see Joe Rexrode, “Kristen Dantonio to dad Mark: Don’t forget that trick play; MSU’s coach responds with fist bump after ‘Hey Diddle Diddle'”, Lansing State Journal, October 8, 2013.

So what was the Hey Diddle Diddle play?   A win at Nebraska:  Nov. 16, 2013: No. 14 MSU 41, Nebraska 28.  This game is now known for one play – Hey Diddle Diddle, Mike Sadler up the middle.  But gimmick play and catchy name aside, this game was a monstrous victory for the Spartans. The tenth game of the 2013 Rose Bowl season was a daunting one as the Spartans never walked into Lincoln and flew out with a win. Well, until this day, of course.   With Sadler as the holder, Michael Geiger was lined up for a 45-yard field goal on 4th-and-1 with the Spartans holding a 27-21 lead with 10:24 left in the game. As the ball was snapped, Geiger turned into a lead blocker for Sadler as he powered through for a STATEMENT three-yard run. What happened three plays later? A 27-yard touchdown pass to Keith Mumphery to build the lead to 34-21.

1845 : Douglas Houghton Drowns
Oct 13 all-day

Painting of Dougalas Houghton by Alva Bradish (1850), courtesy of Wikipedia

Douglas Houghton, the state geologist who mapped much of Michigan, drowned in a storm on Lake Superior, near Eagle River on October 13, 1845.

His association with the Michigan Territory began in 1829, when the city fathers of Detroit took their search for a public lecturer on science to Eaton, who strongly recommended the youthful Houghton. He was enthusiastically received in Detroit and rapidly became one of its best-known citizens, with the young men of his acquaintance soon styling themselves “the Houghton boys.”


Houghton quickly was selected by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft to act as physician-naturalist on expeditions through Lake Superior and the upper Mississippi valley in 1831 and 1832. On these trips Houghton did extensive botanical collecting, investigated the Lake Superior copper deposits of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and provided medical services to the Indian tribes they encountered.

In 1833 he married his childhood friend Harriet Stevens, with whom he had two daughters. The establishment of a flourishing medical practice in Detroit earned him the affectionate designation, “the little doctor, our Dr. Houghton,” but by 1836 he had largely set aside the medical profession to concentrate on real estate speculation. His scientific interests remained strong, however, and as Michigan achieved statehood in 1837 he returned again to public life and his love of the natural world.

One of the first acts of the new Michigan state government was to organize a state geological survey, following a pattern already established in other states. Houghton’s appointment as the first state geologist was unanimously hailed, and he occupied that position for the remainder of his life.

In 1839 he was also named the first professor of geology, mineralogy, and chemistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but he continued to reside in Detroit. He and his survey assistants spent many weeks in the field each season, mapping and evaluating Michigan’s natural resources, and his personal influence with state legislators kept the project moving in the face of many financial difficulties. His fourth annual report, based on field work done in 1840, appeared February 1, 1841. It helped trigger the first great mining boom of American history, and earned him the title of “father of copper mining in the United States.”

He was a founding member and treasurer of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists (the predecessor of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) and served on several of its committees. A lifelong Episcopalian and staunch Democrat, he was elected to a term as mayor of Detroit in 1842, apparently against his wishes, but his competent administration raised the possibility of higher political office, perhaps governor.

The city of Houghton, Houghton County, Houghton Lake, the largest inland lake in the state, and Douglass Houghton Falls, southeast of Calumet are among many Michigan features named in his honor, as is Douglass Houghton Hall, a residence hall at Michigan Technological University. A plaque commemorating Houghton is at the entrance to the Department of Geological Sciences (now Earth and Environmental Sciences) at the University of Michigan. A plaque embedded into a stone monument was erected in the town of Eagle River, just a few miles where his boat went down. He and three other professors are also memorialized by a monument near the University of Michigan’s Graduate Library that features a broken pillar symbolizing lives cut short. In 2006 the University created the Douglass Houghton Scholars Program, designed to encourage students interested in careers in science. There is also a plant named after him: Houghton’s Goldenrod, a variety he discovered in 1839 along the southern shore of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A portrait of Houghton hangs in the chamber of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Sources :

September/October 2014 Michigan History magazine.

Douglas Houghton wikipedia entry