For the Love of Michigan Libraries

The first library that I remember in my hometown of Plainwell was inside 335 East Bridge Street (now a private home). My recollections are vague, but cloudy visions of story time are tucked in the back corner of my mind. I recall being jealous of my classmate Susan who later lived in the house…how lucky was she to reside inside a former library!

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Tragedy on South Manitou Island

Lighthouse keeper Aaron Sheridan was a Civil War soldier who lost the use of his arm in battle and as such, he was able to get his wife — Julia — appointed his assistant keeper oft his important beacon in the norther part of Lake Michigan. Given his injuries, when he needed to make the trip across the waters to the mainland, Aaron would often hire a local fisherman named Christ Ancharson to man the 25-foot Mackinaw sailboat. During such a trip, on Friday, March 15, 1878, high waves and bad weather overturned the boat just as it was approaching the harbor on South Manitou Island. Sadly, the Sheridans — including their infant son, Robert — died that day.

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Detroit’s Lost Mamajuda Lighthouse

One of Michigan’s many lost lighthouses – which boasted a female keeper for 11 years – also has ties to one of the state’s most significant figures in American history. The Mamajuda Lighthouse was built in 1849 (and rebuilt in 1866) in the Detroit River. The last keeper served there in 1921 and by the 1950s, the light had toppled into the water (which today covers the island). All is lost to time…but the history remains!

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Keweenaw Peninsula’s Unofficial Female Lighthouse Keeper, Henrietta Bergh

Over the past 170-plus years, women have been serving as lighthouse keepers in Michigan…sometimes officially recognized by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and sometimes not. Such is the case with Hansine Henrietta (Anderson) Bergh in Bete Gris. While she didn’t work at the official lighthouse she was known to hang a lantern in the window of her house so that her husband and other fishermen could find their way back home after dark. This story includes information gathered from her great great granddaughter, Nora Dee.

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2021 Milestones for Pure Michigan Businesses

Michigan was founded on January 26, 1837 as the 26th state of the United States of America. Currently home to nearly 10 million people, spread out throughout two peninsulas, Michigan is the Great Lakes State – the Mitten of Plenty – the Wolverine State. Michigan’s early business history is centered in industries that benefited from its proximity to the Great Lakes: fishing, lumbering, mining, fur trapping and agriculture.

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Holiday Classic “White Christmas” Was Likely Written in Charlevoix

Each holiday season, we are inundated with hour after hour of movies about Christmas airing on television and now streaming services. A handful have ties to Michigan, like Prancer (1989) and The Polar Express (2004). But did you know the beloved 1954 classic White Christmas is believed to have actually been written right here in the Great Lakes State?

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Thankful for (Michigan) Celery

Celery is an integral part of the Thanksgiving feast…as one of the main ingredients in homemade stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer). Did you know that Kalamazoo, Michigan is known as “Celery City” because it was the first place in the United States where this vegetable was commercially grown?

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The Power of the Gales of November

While tropical storms and hurricanes continue to attack the region in and around the Gulf of Mexico, the “Gales of November” are stirring up the Great Lakes region just as they have for centuries. This unique weather phenomenon is created when cold, dry air from northern Canada converges with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, over the still warm summer waters of the Great Lakes.

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The 2020 Census is Counting on You!

I think I first heard the word census during the summer of 1980, when I was in elementary school, and we spent our summer vacation researching our family tree on a cross-state road trip. I’m not sure I recall what it was or what it meant back then, but in recent years – as I’ve found a growing interest in my family history as well as the lives of others while researching for my writing, I have been finding more and more reason to access census data online.

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