On October 11, 1869, black children were admitted to the Detroit Public Schools for the first time. Detroit’s black residents had been fighting for educational opportunities since the state established whites-only schools in the 19th Century. Black successfully appealed for their own school and one was opened in Detroit in 1841.
Following Emancipation, blacks in northern states litigated Jim Crow laws. Those in Detroit sued over segregated schools and the state’s supreme court ordered integration.
Richard W. Thomas, Life for Us Is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915-1945 (1992) Also available online.
Detroit Divided (2000), by Reynolds Farley, Sheldon Danziner, and Harry Holzer.
In 1896 Augustus Moore Herring applied for what was possibly the earliest patent of its type in the country, a United States Patent for a man-supporting, heavier-than-air, motorized, controllable, “flying machine”.
Financed by Matthias Arnot of Elmira, New York, Herring developed his flying machine while living in St. Joseph, Michigan.
In late 1896, Herring tested a triplane, weighting it with sandbags to simulate the weight of a motor.
The Herring-Arnot glider of 1897 was very similar to the Chanute-Herring glider, but Herring made subtle improvements in the tail and the air frame.
In 1897, Octave Chanute and Augustus Herring jointly patented a powered triplane, but Chanute would not consent to financing its construction.
In 1898, with funding from Arnot, Herring built a small biplane powered in the same manner as his joint patent with Chanute.
The compressed air engine used by Herring in his 1898 airplane. The motor was not powerful enough to sustain flight, but Herring managed some brief hops.
On October 11, 1899, Herring successfully flew his craft along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan at Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. According to Herring, this historic flight carried him approximately 50 feet.
Eleven days later, October 22, he managed an “eight to ten seconds”, 73-foot flight, as was witnessed by a newspaper reporter:
“During the flight, which lasted eight to ten seconds, Herring’s feet seemed to … almost graze the ground, which the machine skimmed along on a level path above the beach. The landing was characterized by a slight turning to the left and slowing of the engine when the machine came gently to rest on the sand.”
Herring’s craft was a biplane glider of his own design with a compressed air engine.
So, why is it that the nation celebrates the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers and not Augustus Herring whose motorized flight preceded the Wright Brothers by four years?
Interesting Side Note: “History is often shaped in favor of the storyteller” or in this case, “… by the number of storytellers.” Augustus Herring’s first flight took place a few days before and his second flight took place a few days after an eventful visit by US President William McKinley on October 17, 1899. President William McKinley was visiting Three Oaks, Michigan — just south of Herring’s St. Joseph, to dedicate a cannon captured during the Spanish-American War by Admiral Dewey. Had the press coverage of Herring’s flight not been so distracted by this rare presidential visit, the world just might be more familiar with the name Augustus Herring than William and Orville Wright.
According to Phil Scott’s book, The Shoulders of Giants: A History of Human Flight to 1919, Herring’s glider was difficult to steer and because of his two-cylinder, three-horsepower compressed air engine, could operate for only 30 seconds at a time.
Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. said that Herring’s flight, while first of its kind and truly on the road to bigger developments, “wasn’t significant”.
In his book, A Dream of Wings: Americans and the Airplane, 1875-1905, Crouch writes, “Herring’s 1898 motorized machine represented nothing more than the culmination of the hang-gliding tradition. Having made his brief powered hops, he found himself at a technological dead end.”
Herring’s craft may have had issues to work through, however, it did show that such flight was “solvable” in Herring’s words. Unfortunately a fire and financial problems prevented Herring from further experimentation.
Many aviation enthusiasts along with a growing number of historians consider Augustus Herring as the world’s true “First in Flight”. Consider this: today’s hang glider pilots are still flying in the same manner as Herring, shifting their weight to control their craft. The Wright Brothers, on the other hand, operated their “Flyer” with wing-warping mechanisms that were quite awkward and fell out of favor shortly after their first flight.
For the full article, visit America’s First Airplance Flight
Augustus Moore Herring, AirScape Magazine, November 3, 2018.
For another see Roger Rosentreter, “First in Flight?”, Seeking Michigan, August 6, 2013.
On October 11, 1907, the Chicago Cubs beat the Tigers 6-1 in the first World Series game ever played in Detroit. A crowd of 11,036 attended the game at Bennett Park. The Tigers went on to lose the Series the next day.
Source : Detroit Historical Society
On October 11, 1910, a Michigan Daily editorial strongly requested that University of Michigan’s football players be identified during future games by sewing numbers on their jerseys. But Coach Fielding H. Yost vetoed the idea, saying he feared it would interfere with teamwork by singling out the efforts of individuals.
University of Michigan players were not assigned numbers until the 1916 season.
Source: Mich-Again’s Day
Coach John Macklin initially told George Gauthier he couldn’t join the MAC football team because he only stood 5-foot-6 and weighed only 133 pounds.
Macklin eventually relented and Gauthier helped lead MAC to its first win over the University of Michigan in eight tries, 12-7, primarily because they couldn’t cope with the forward passes thrown by the little Detroiter.
Referred to in one headline as the “Wolverine killer”, Gauthier completed 7 of 19 passes for 100 yards, which was a remarkable feat since it was years before the football was streamlined for throwing.
Source and photograph : Steve Grinezel, Michigan State Football : They are Spartans. Arcadia Press, 2003, p.15.
The rest of the story:
Born on February 3, 1890 and a native of Detroit, Michigan, George Gauthier played both basketball and football for Michigan Agricultural College between 1911 and 1914. While attending the school, “Gauthier peeled three bushels of potatotes daily to pay for his meals and delivered laundry for expense money.” He was also president of the student council as a senior. He was the starting quarterback for the school’s football team in 1912 and 1913 and led the team to upset victories over Ohio State in 1912 and Michigan in 1913. In the 1912 game against Ohio State, the Aggies trailed 20–0 at halftime but scored 32 points in the second half, including two scores by Gauthier, to win the game, 32–20.
Years later, Gauthier described the victory over Michigan as his first great thrill:
“My mind goes back to 1913, when Michigan State’s team — a little band of agriculture students — journeyed to Ann Arbor to meet mighty Michigan. I was the 130-pound quarterback, cocky and confident we could beat the Wolverines. I insisted my mother come over from Detroit to see the game, her first football contest. We won the game 12–7 and my mother became a football fan to provide my first big thrill.”
The 12-7 win over the Wolverines marked the first victory by a Michigan State team in the long Michigan-Michigan State rivalry and ruined Michigan’s unbeaten season. The 1912 and 1913 football teams with Gauthier as quarterback won 14 games and lost only one game.
After graduating from M.A.C. in 1914, Gauthier remained in East Lansing as an assistant athletic director for six years. He was an assistant football coach under John Macklin from 1915 to 1917, and became the head football coach in 1918, compiling a record of 4–3. The biggest victory in his single season as head football coach was a 12-9 decision over Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame team. Gauthier was also the head basketball coach at Michigan Agricultural from 1916 to 1920, tallying a record of 38–35.
Gauthier served as the head football coach at Ohio Wesleyan University for 26 years from 1921 to 1946 and compiled a record of 121–98–15. He coached the Ohio Wesleyan football team to a 17–7 win over the Michigan Wolverines in the opening game of the 1928 college football season, marking the first loss by Michigan in a season opener since 1883. The 1928 victory over Michigan was also the first game played in the newly constructed Michigan Stadium. Gauthier later described the victory over Michigan as the greatest thrill of his career:
“No one who was there will ever forget — that little band of Battling Bishops against the mighty Wolves. A special train-load of faculty, alumni and students went along for the dedication game. We were nervous in the unfinished dressing rooms. With a half-hour to go to game time someone started singing, and soon the locker room rang with close harmony college songs. We were relaxed, and we were ready. After the first few minutes, a player coming off the field told me: ‘They’re not too tough, coach. We can take them.'”
Gauthier also served as Ohio Wesleyan’s athletic director for 34 years from 1921 to 1955. He also served as the men’s track & field coach from 1922–1955 and as cross country coach from 1955–1958. He was nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960. Gauthier was one of the initial inductees into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame in 1961. He was also a charter inductee into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall Of Fame in 1969. He was also inducted into the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame for his contributions to collegiate athletics.
Gauthier died in August 1964 in a hospital in Ontario, Canada, two weeks after suffering a heart attack. He was survived by his wife, Ruth Gauthier, a son Richard Gauthier, and two stepchildren. The Board of Education in Delaware, Ohio, voted just a few hours before Gauthier’s death to name a new high school stadium in his honor.
Gideon Smith was the first African-American to participate in athletics at MSU and one of the first in the country to play intercollegiate football. And lest we forget, he was not only a pioneering football player at Michigan Agricultural College, but he also was one of the first African-American males to graduate.
Smith was born in Northwest Norfolk County, Va., on July 13, 1889, just 24 years after the abolition of slavery. Believe it or not but Gideon Smith actually played football at Ferris State for two years before transferring to the Michigan Agricultural College. In those days, Ferris founder Woodbridge Ferris had a working agreement with what is now known as Hampton University in Virginia to bring about a dozen black students a year to Ferris. They were given college prep classes and then transferred on to places such as Michigan State and Michigan. Smith was among the students and discovered his athletic prowess at Ferris.
But he still had to overcome challenges. Although Jim Crow America was not as bad in Michigan as it was in Virginia, it still existed.
When Smith decided to try out for the all-White MAC team in 1912, Coach Macklin wouldn’t issue him a practice uniform, temporarily blocking him from participating. However, a veterinary student named Chuck Fuffy loaned Smith his old high school uniform so he showed up for practice anyway and eventually won over Coach Macklin.
1913 Michigan Agricultural College football team
Smith’s biggest challenge came on Oct. 11, 1913, when his team faced off against Michigan. The Wolverines simply dominated the Aggies in their first seven match-ups producing such scores as 39-0, 119-0, 46-0 and 55-7. To everyone’s surprise, MAC took a quick 12-0 lead, and held on for the win by a final score of 12-7. Smith played a key role in the 1913 game by taking down Michigan’s quarterback several times. The Detroit Free Press called the contest “among the biggest upsets in college football history.” It was also MAC’s first win over Michigan.
MAC students and teammates tried to be supportive, but Gideon obviously faced challenges the average white student would never think of. “Students used to walk Smith home on Friday nights before games to see that he arrived safely and got a good night’s sleep.”
On the field teammates also tried to help out, but there were times when he had to deal with issues all alone. “If you wanted to have a bunch of aroused Aggies on your hands, all you had to do was make some slur at Gideon or throw a loose elbow his way,” former Michigan State multi-sport star and administrator Lyman Frimodig once said. End Blake Miller, who lined up next to Smith, put it a lot more bluntly; “the abuse he took from opponents was unprintable, but Smith kept quiet and did his job, eventually earning the respect of friends and foes alike.”
However, road trips could be even more challenging. Not allowed to check into the team’s whites-only hotel on road trips, Smith would get off the train and ask Macklin what time practice would be held? With money provided by Macklin to pay for food and lodging in the local black community, Smith would not be seen by Aggies again except at practice, at the game, and on the train ride back to East Lansing.
The media of the day had their own peculiar way of celebrating Smith’s exploits. After MAC’s 75-6 victory over Akron in 1914, the Saginaw Courier-Herald singled Smith out with a headline that read: “Julian Makes Seven Touchdowns, While Negro Lineman Furnishes Thrill with Sprint for 95-Yard Gain.”
The following season, Smith was instrumental in the Aggies’ 56-0 victory against Carroll in 1915.”Gideon Smith, the giant negro tackle of MAC, was in the limelight throughout the game,” said The Lansing Press. “On one occasion, he intercepted a forward pass and ran 20 yards for a touchdown, and later he took the ball half the length of the field for another score. Throughout the game, he was called on to take the ball and never failed to gain.”
In the subsequent 24-0 victory over the Wolverines by a score of 24-0 ─ memorialized by posters as “The Slaughter on Ferry Field” ─ in Ann Arbor, “Gideon Smith added to his enviable record by stopping play after play,” reported a student newspaper. “He seemed to be in on every play and his presence meant death to Michigan’s efforts.” It was also MAC’s second win against the Wolverines.
After Smith’s final college game, representatives of the greater Lansing area presented him with a gold watch for his contributions to what would eventually become known as Michigan State University. Smith was also named to All-Star teams picked by the Chicago Daily News and Collier’s Magazine. He decided to try out professional football, joining Jim Thorpe and the Canton Bulldogs just in time to face former Notre Dame stars Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais of the Massillon Tigers.
After one season, Smith left to serve in World War I. Upon his return home in 1920, he would become a professor at Hampton Institute (Hampton University) and become the head football coach one year later. In his second season as head coach, Smith and the Hampton Pirates won the black college national championship in 1922 with a 5-1 record. Smith would go on to be the face of Hampton football and lead the team from the sidelines until 1940.
After retiring from coaching in 1940, Smith served as Hampton’s assistant athletic director for 15 years. In 1947, Smith showed his devotion to education by returning to Michigan Agricultural College to earn his masters degree. In 1955, Smith retired from his position as assistant athletic director at Hampton. He passed away in 1968 at the age of 78.
Honors received: American Football Coaches Association’s recipient of the 2014 Trailblazer Award, an award created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities. He was also a charter member of the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Hampton University Athletics Hall of Fame as well.
Another Gideon Smith story. Jimmy Raye arrived at Michigan State as a freshman in the fall of 1964 from segregated Fayetteville, N.C. He said portrait of Smith at Jenison Fieldhouse inspired him, deciding if Smith could overcome obstacles in 1913 he could do the same 50 years later.
“It was so remarkable to see a black football player from 1913, and my initial thoughts were to try to imagine what kind of support system he had in the environment that existed at that time,” said Raye. “What a tremendous individual Gideon must have been, and couple that with the extraordinary talent he must have possessed to be issued a uniform. I realized what he faced must have been overwhelming, and later I felt the obstacles I faced were not as insurmountable.”
Raye would later write a book called “Raye of Light” on Michigan State’s leading role in the integration of college football under head coach Duffy Daugherty, but also found time to recall Gideon Smith in Chapter 5.
For more information, see Gideon Smith: Warrior of His Time, from Big Ten Celebrating Black History Month, February 13, 2008.
Steve Grinczel, “Celebrating the Legacy of Gideon Smith“, MSUSpartans.com, October 15, 2013.
Joe Rexrode, “Spartans’ first black player, Gideon Smith, helped M.A.C beat Michigan for first time in 1913”, Detroit Free Press, November 1, 2013.
Tom Shanahan, “Ferris State and Michigan State pioneer Gideon Smith honored”, Tom Shanahan Report, December 19, 2014.
For a sketch of Smith in the 1914 MAC Football program and other photographs, see Steve Grinezel, Michigan State Football : They are Spartans. Arcadia Press, 2003, pp.2 and 17.
In preparation for the trip to East Lansing On October 17, the Wolverines are hoping for a big turnout since the trip can be made for less than $3 and since student passbooks will be honored at the gate. The railroad has announced a round-trip fare of only $2.46. Thanks to the success of the team at the De Pauw game, and the fact that the Farmer clash at the Michigan Athletic College will be their only opportunity to view a game on foreign territory should ensure a good turnout, particularly since the cost of attending games at Syracuse and Harvard will be too much for the average student. Plus the intense antipathy of the Wolverine rooter for an Aggie is expected to prove an irresistable magnet.
Source : “Wolverines Hope To Have More Rooters at Mac Than Aggies”, Detroit Free Press, October 11, 1914, pg. 19.
Michigan Agricultural College had been playing the game of football since 1896, but it wasn’t until 1923 — when Ralph Young became coach and athletic director — that things really started to evolve.
A $160,000 special act of the Michigan legislature allowed the college to construct Michigan Agricultural College Stadium (M.A.C. Stadium) on Shaw Lane, where it still plays today.
There were permanent east and west stands, each with six sections of reinforced concrete, that held roughly 14,000 people. A 15-square-foot scoreboard stood behind temporary bleaches on the south end.
But the pride and joy of M.A.C. Stadium was evident in the dedication game held on Oct.11, 1924. While the Aggies had hosted the likes of Albion, Alma and even Notre Dame, M.A.C. had not been able to woo their own state’s marquee program, the University of Michigan, to play in East Lansing. Until Oct.11, 1924, all games against the Wolverines had been in Ann Arbor.
The dedication event was the hot ticket for Michiganders all around the state. The governor (Alex Groesbeck) and the presidents of both M.A.C. and U-M made speeches and spoke of the benefit to the state of Michigan to be able to host such an event.
M.A.C president Kenyon L. Butterfield hailed it as the day the farmers from East Lansing were “no longer on foreign fields.” The Aggies lost, 7-0.
It was a big day for the state of Michigan, but it also was symbolic of MSU’s potential for future growth.
Additional Spartan Stadium Improvements
In 1935, the MAC Stadium was expanded and renamed Macklin Field after one of MAC’s most successful coaches; it could now accommodate 26,000 fans.
Thirteen years later, in 1948, the second rebuilding would take place, and the facility’s name was changed to Macklin Stadium, with accommodation for 51,000 people.
In 1956 the stadium underwent yet another significant transformation and became Spartan Stadium with capacity for 76,000 spectators.
Michigan State University turned Macklin Stadium into a double decker in 1956, bringing its capacity to 76,000. From this point on it would be known as Spartan Stadium. (Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections)
In 2005, Spartan Stadium was again upgraded with a new press box, luxury suites and new club seats.
In 2012, Michigan State University upgraded its 567 square foot scoreboard to a new 5,300 square foot display. The expansion was part of a $10 million project to upgrade the stadium’s viewing experience. Helical piers provided an ideal solution to overcome poor soil conditions and uplift concerns on the current scoreboard. Piers were driven approximately 45 feet deep to transfer the weight of the structure to slate beneath the stadium. In addition, two new video boards as well as an LED ribbon board were added to the north end zone. The LED ribbon board covers 4,500 square feet (450-feet long and 10-feet high). Combined, the south and north video screens/scoreboards total 13,300-square feet.
Testing the New Scoreboard. Photo courtesy of BTN.
On August 25, 2014 the MSU Stadium was upgraded once again with a two-story, 50,000-square-foot addition as well as an entrance plaza, renovated gates, and additional restrooms and concessions. The building includes locker rooms for teams, coaches and officials, including a 4,500-square-foot home locker room and a 700-square-foot home training room, in addition to a 3,600-square-foot media center and a 4,000-square-foot engagement center for all varsity sports. Former All-America offensive lineman Flozell Adams provided a leadership gift of $1.5 million for MSU’s new locker room, which is named in honor of his later mother, Rachel Adams.
In December 2016, the south end of Spartan Stadium was upgraded with a 20,000-square-foot single-story project featuring the addition of 236 bathrooms, four concession stand areas (completed as a separate project for the 2018 season), and movement of the ticket entrances out from the stadium structure to create donor plazas and renovated gates similar to the North End Zone. In addition, permanent light structures, featuring LED field lighting, were installed over the summer in 2017 as part of the requirement of the new Big Ten broadcast agreement. The $2 million project meets NCAA national championship broadcast lighting levels of 125 vertical foot candles, and the field lighting will be fully controllable.
A recent night game in Spartan Stadium.
Gillian Van Stratt, “The evolution of Spartan Stadium as told through rare historical photos”, Lansing State Journal, August 25, 2014.
MSU Sports History website, with pictures.
For a few seasons in 1930 and 1931, Hilda Johanna Mueller of Bay City was the darling of the National Outboard Association, winning numerous races in hydroplane boat racing. On Memorial Day, 1930, she set her first world record reaching 38.528i mph in Worcester, Massachusetts. On October 16, she broke another record in Middletown, Connecticut, winning the national championship, and on October 11, 1931 won another national championship in Lake Merritt (Oakland, CA). During the 1931 season she would go on to break six world records. In 1933, she married Earl Wuepper and left her glory days behind, deciding instead to raise a family.
For the full article, see Geoffrey Reynolds, “Hilda Mueller : The Queen of Speed”, Michigan History, January/February 2013, pp. 31-35.
Sandra Thompson was the first black woman to become a Michigan State Police trooper.
Thompson graduated from state police recruit school in 1974 and retired in 1999 after 25 years at the Lansing and state Capitol posts. She became the first black female sergeant in 1985.
“In very, very difficult times, Sandy was truly a trailblazer,” said her friend and fellow trooper Sandy Miller. “It was not easy in her early years in the state police and yet she held her head up high and she wore that uniform proudly.”
In 1974, Thompson and the few other female officers were technically classified as policewomen. It wasn’t until 1975 that the state police allowed women to be troopers.
“It’s hard enough in those days just being a female,” said Thompson’s sister, Susan Pope. “Being a black female you stood out even more. It was definitely difficult.”
Thompson grew up in Detroit and studied teaching at Wayne State University before deciding the field was too crowded.
She spent most of her state police career in juvenile-related roles. She worked in crime prevention services, which oversaw programs in schools. She also was in charge of the missing and exploited children program and ran summer law enforcement career camps for teens.
“A lot of young people are probably now in the criminal justice field because of Sandy,” Miller said.
Thompson also was instrumental in starting a program that provided troopers with teddy bears to give to children at accident scenes or other situations, said state police Lt. Karla Christiansen.
Now (October 2009), there are 13 black women in the state police enlisted ranks, which range from trooper to colonel, said Melody Kindraka, state police spokeswoman. In all, there are a total of 1,679 officers in those ranks, of which 202 are women.
Melissa Domsic, “Delta Twp. resident recalled as ‘trailblazer'”, Lansing State Journal, October 31, 2009.
“Trooper in Culottes Just ‘One of the Boys'”, Lansing State Journal, October 11, 1974, p34.