A hundred years ago, Thanksgiving in Lansing was a quiescent affair. The paper describes an abeyance of business throughout the city. However, the post office was open from 7-9 am and a delivery was made.
Local news was brief. In the paper the day before Thanksgiving, November 23rd there was a notice “NO DANGER IN LANSING ON ACCOUNT OF SMALLPOX”, four houses were under quarantine. There were only a few local stories and no newspaper on Thanksgiving proper. One article told how little was happening in town over the holiday. It explained when the meal would be served at the Industrial School for Boys and that there would be “some speaker”. Holiday themed advertisements peppered the paper. Many Lansing retailers ran sales to lure shoppers.
Large stories in the included articles concerning the Mexican Revolution, suffragettes hurling rocks and the hanging of American Dr. H.H. Crippen in London. Crippen, convicted of murdering his wife, is known as the first criminal captured with the aid of wireless communication. In 2007, evidence surfaced in the form of DNA studies conducted at MSU, which resulted in doubt being cast on the conviction.
The biggest event covered in the paper was a banquet held the night before Thanksgiving at the Hotel Downey to honor outgoing Michigan Agricultural College football, baseball and basketball coach Chester Brewer. Brewer coached the MAC Aggies from 1903-1910, never losing a home game on the gridiron. He returned to MAC from 1917-1920. Seventy-five guests, including many prominent citizens, attended.
After a “sumptuous and well-served banquet” the guests were treated to cigars. Then the speeches began. Among the presenters were future Michigan Supreme Court Justice Howard Wiest and founder of Motor Wheel William K. Prudden.
The Hotel Downey, standing in the current location of the Knapp’s building, was built as the Lansing House Hotel with bounty money obtained from the capture of John Wilkes Booth. The Downey burned in February 1912.
-Dave V., CADL Local History Librarian
Thanksgiving in Lansing 100 Years Ago, CADL Blog, November 28, 2010.