Archive for December 2010

Father Marquette Statue

December 29, 2010

The history of Marquette’s own Father Marquette statue, as reprinted from My Marquette.

Tyler in front of the Father Marquette Statue in April 2010

            In another second, the figure of Father Marquette was clearly revealed to all the residents of his namesake city. The crowd applauded and the people murmured with delight that the statue faced the town. The figure of the Jesuit priest stood atop a pedestal of sandstone, and on its base was a relief of Father Marquette preaching to the Indians at Lighthouse Point. But most striking was the statue itself. Father Marquette stood looking about him with wonder, as though admiring the beauty of the land he had visited; his brow spoke of determination to carry out his Christian mission to the Indians. His bearded face and large forehead suggested wisdom beyond his years. History had lost all record of the Jesuit missionary’s appearance, only knowing he had died at the young age of thirty-eight, but here he was portrayed as a figure of indestructible and eternal force. His left hand clutched his robe, as if he had just stepped out of a canoe and was steeling himself against a harsh northern wind; in one hand he held a piece of paper, perhaps Marquette’s city charter.

            Margaret looked at the statue and saw a romantic hero, but the older residents of Marquette, saw a pioneer like themselves; someone with a harsh, grim look who had known years of hardship; Father Marquette was one of them, the very first to experience the rigors of this land. Molly Montoni looked at the statue and remembered her first husband who like Father Marquette had also died young, but who would be proud of the community’s survival. Charles Kawbawgam saw in the statue a symbol of how much his world had changed, and that change had begun with the coming of this black robe. Jacob Whitman looked at the statue and saw the immigrant spirit of all those pioneers, his parents and grandparents, his in-laws, cousins, aunt and uncle, his precious Agnes, and even himself, when he had come as a boy to a village of a few wooden buildings on the shores of Lake Superior. That moment of the statue’s unveiling seemed a little eternity as everyone contemplated the changes of Marquette’s half century. — Iron Pioneers

            Father Marquette first arrived on the shores of Marquette in 1671, where in 1849 a city would be founded in his honor. By the 1890s, Marquette was a prosperous town with several prominent city buildings and a significant role in the nation’s industry. Out of civic pride, the time had come to erect a statue to its namesake. Marquette’s citizens were aware that Wisconsin had just commissioned a statue of Father Marquette for Statuary Hall in Washington D.C., so they wanted a similar statue for themselves. Peter White was opposed at first to the statue because of the financial panic of 1893 and initially did not donate money to the cause, but later, he did support the cause, and when the statue was unveiled, rumors would surface that the statue looked like Peter White.

At the time, no one knew what Father Marquette looked like. Not until the 1960s did a portrait surface, which the Marquette County History Museum received from a museum in Paris. The portrait was supposedly drawn just before Father Marquette left France in 1666. He would have been in his late twenties at the time, although the portrait makes him look like a balding middle-aged man.

The statue was placed near the new waterworks building across from the foot of Ridge Street. It was a beautiful part of town at the time, with the Longyear Mansion overlooking it and the lakeshore nearby. Controversy ensued as to whether Father Marquette should face the lake or the city, so not until the unveiling in 1897 was it revealed he would face the town.

The day of the unveiling, as described in Iron Pioneers, was a day of great civic pride in Marquette. Peter White was so proud of the statue he raised money to have a similar one placed in Marquette Park on Mackinac Island. (A photo of the unveiling is included in the print copy of My Marquette.)

My Marquette by Tyler R. Tichelaar

In 1912, the statue was moved to its current location in Lakeside Park near the current Chamber of Commerce building. The move occurred after railroad tracks laid near the Waterworks building ended plans for a park along the lakeshore. The giant cast iron flowerpot by the new City Waterworks building is the only sign remaining of the statue’s original foundation.

In her 1906 children’s novel The Girls of Gardenville, local author Carroll Watson Rankin depicts a young lady first learning how to drive an automobile. Losing control of her vehicle as she comes down a large hill, she smashes into a statue. Rankin must have imagined a car bolting down Ridge Street’s hill into the Father Marquette statue. History has not preserved any actual automobile assaults to the statue but that same year, discussion about moving the statue began. Hopefully, Father Marquette feels safe today on a small hill, far from the reach of any out-of-control vehicles.

Marquette’s First Christmas

December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Today’s blog is a passage from my novel Iron Pioneers about Marquette’s first Christmas in 1849. That December, the expected supply ship had not survived and the settlers to the new village that was still called by its original name, Worcester, feared they would starve to death. The group of German immigrants decided they would walk to Milwaukee so the remaining settlers would have enough provisions to make it through the winter. At this point in the novel, Molly, an Irish woman, and Fritz Bergmann, her German husband, are among those immigrants who have begun the trek to Milwaukee when this scene begins:

Iron Pioneers - Marquette's First Christmas and more history in fiction

            The German immigrants left the next morning, taking the Indian trail east then south on their three hundred mile trek to Milwaukee. By the second day, Molly’s legs ached from walking through heavy snow, and sleeping in the cold night air. Still, she did her best not to complain, knowing everyone suffered from the same difficulties; nor did she want to worry about Fritz worrying about her; she already had enough to worry about with his poor health. She loved Fritz dearly, perhaps all the more because he had been so sick; he was all she had in the world now. She would not go back to Boston, though her parents and brother were there–she had come here for a better life than she had known in Boston or in Ireland, yet it did not seem to matter where she went, she always ended up poor and desperate. Before coming here, she had asked everyone she met what they knew of Upper Michigan. She had heard tales of harsh winters, a climate like a tundra, a land of glaciers, an impenetrable wilderness, completely uninhabitable. But she had also heard the land was rich with iron and copper and that the plentiful forests could be logged to make a thousand men rich. Perhaps here, she had thought, she could escape the constant fear of hunger and want she had known since her childhood during the great potato famine, and she could overcome the prejudice she had known against the Irish in Boston.

            In Europe, both she and Fritz had been told any dream could come true in America, but after Boston and now Worcester, Molly was beginning to lose faith in this new world. Each dream she had tried to follow only seemed to lead her down a worse path, until now she was trudging through three hundred miles of snow; her heart became as bitter as the cold winds biting her cheeks. She felt guilty for lying to Clara; she knew they would never return to the settlement, and she was sorry to lose the only female friend she had found since her arrival in America. But it could not be helped. Fritz could never make this trip back, if he even made it to Milwaukee; and what would they do when they reached Milwaukee, except starve in its streets? She would not go to his cousin again for charity–the cousin had made it clear they were not wanted. Fritz would probably die before he got there, and then she would be alone. She tried not to think what would become of her then.

            They seemed to be walking forever. They had to travel east until they reached some place called Au Train, and then they would turn south. They had walked all of yesterday, and now today, and yet they were still following along the shore of Lake Superior. A piercing wind blew off the lake, while beneath her clothes, Molly sweated from the strenuous walking. Then the sweat froze until she had ice against her skin. If she were alone, she wondered whether she would have had the courage to walk into the lake and be done with it all. That sudden cold shock of an ending would be better than this prolonged bitter cold. Such an act would be a sin, but could even God blame her when she was so terribly cold? Still, she kept putting one foot before the other, while watching that her husband did not collapse in front of her from exhaustion.

            Then she realized her companions had halted. She looked around to see a man running and hollering behind them; the wind howled so loud she could not understand what he shouted until he was only a few feet away.

            “Stop! Stop!”

            Molly had been near the front of the party, and by the time she and Fritz turned around and returned to where half the group had stopped, everyone was shaking hands, clasping each other around the shoulders and shouting for joy.

            “What is it? What is it?” she asked, stunned by the transformation in her formerly morose companions.

            “The supply ship is in L’Anse!” a man shouted. He had run on snowshoes from Worcester, and though he had to keep pausing to catch his breath, he quickly told the news. “An Indian came to tell us, and now a couple men have left to snowshoe back to L’Anse. The ship was forced to take shelter there, and it’s locked in by some snow and ice, but the men are determined to bring the ship back with them. There’ll be enough supplies for the entire winter, so you can all return.”

            Molly could scarcely believe it. Everyone started to talk at once.

            “Praise the Lord!”

            “But it’s eighty miles from L’Anse to Worcester.”

            “Even if they get the ship into the lake, it will never be able to sail in the winter storms.”

            “Why don’t they haul the supplies overland by sled?”

            “No, that would take days.”

            Molly doubted the news was hope enough to cling to, was reason enough to walk back to Worcester, but they were only a tenth of the way to Milwaukee. If they went back, they would have lost three or four days, but what did it matter when they had no food for their journey anyway? When her companions turned back toward Worcester, she and Fritz did the same; they could not go on to Milwaukee alone.

            As the group walked, everyone spoke excitedly in mixed German and English while clapping the messenger on the back. Fritz smiled and linked his arm in Molly’s. She saw how exhausted he looked despite his smile. For the moment, he felt invigorated, but she knew he never would have made it to Milwaukee. Better they return to starve in Worcester–at least there he could die in bed. She reconciled herself to whatever fate was before them.


            Molly soon learned she had no reason to dread for the immediate future. The good news was true; it seemed like a Christmas miracle to the settlement. The Swallow and its precious cargo had been prevented by a storm from reaching shelter in Worcester’s Iron Bay, so the crew had sought shelter in the L’Anse harbor. An Indian had then been sent from L’Anse to Worcester with word of the schooner’s whereabouts. When the news was heard, Captain Moody and his sailor companion, Mr. Broadbent, snowshoed their way to L’Anse, following an Indian trail along Lake Superior. After three days of long hiking over soft and consequently difficult snow, they arrived to find the Swallow trapped in the harbor’s ice. They also found another schooner, the Siscowit, the same size as the Swallow and able to sail. With determination, Captain Moody took charge, had all the Swallow’s supplies transferred to the other vessel, and pointed a shotgun on the Siscowit’s owner when he objected to the proceedings. Captain Moody, knowing the supplies meant life or death to the settlers of Worcester, refused to back down, until finally, its owner begrudgingly agreed to let the Siscowit sail to Iron Bay.

            And if any doubt remained of their friendliness, the Chippewa now received the praise of the white folks, for they took their axes and went out on the frozen lake, chopping the dangerously thin ice for three miles out on L’Anse Bay so the Siscowit could move into Lake Superior’s open water. Then, fully supplied and with her sails lifted, the Siscowit was dragged by the Chippewa out into the lake until it broke free of the ice and reached rolling waves. Yet all this human effort was no match for winter’s fury; soon after leaving L’Anse, the Siscowit sailed into a snow squall and lost sight of the shore.

            In Worcester, the people waited, praying the ship would arrive, unaware of how the snow squall had effected the schooner’s journey. Winter on Lake Superior is always dangerous, and with ice floating on the lake, the danger of crashing into invisible ice floes was as serious as a heavy wind that could toss over a ship. The sailors aboard the Siscowit knew they might capsize, but they were determined the settlers of Worcester would not starve that winter. Through that snowstorm they sailed, the entire eighty miles, despite cold and ice, fierce winds and threatening waters. The lake’s mist froze on the sails, and the deck became a skating rink of inch thick ice. The hulls and masts were so encased with ice it was feared they would crack and break. The sailors did not know whether they were even following the south shore of Lake Superior or whether they were heading straight across the lake to Canada, but they sailed on nevertheless. Sometimes the frozen ice caused the ship to tilt sideways, nearly overturning. At any moment of the journey, all could turn futile, the brave sailors and the desperately needed supplies being claimed by Lake Superior’s frigid depths.

            Then on Christmas Day, on the distant horizon, a sail was spotted by a Worcester man. A holler went up. People gathered to look. Cheers rang out. Every man, woman and child in the village rushed to the shore, the ship clearly in view. In came the Siscowit, in it came to Iron Bay! Safe again were the courageous mariners; saved was the settlement of Worcester! The schooner docked at Ripley’s Rock, its brave men, their bodies frozen, forgot the cold as they were warmly hailed as heroes. The village burst with good will as each person helped to unload the supplies and praise the men who had saved them all. This Christmas was the finest any of them had ever known. This Christmas was the one they would remember when all others were forgotten. This moment had been the most vital in the village’s history. Not a single heart failed to give thanks that day. Worcester would survive through this winter, to face many more winters to come.

            Clara felt how splendid it all was. What an adventure it had been! And the ship arriving on Christmas day, like something straight out of a fairy tale. That night, she and Gerald invited Molly and Fritz for supper; Fritz, despite the long walk, looked like a new man, and Molly told herself he would get well now, and Clara could already imagine herself being a mother by this time next year. They all thanked God for the good fortune that had come to them, and they imagined only future happiness and prosperity in this dangerous but exciting land they now called home.

My Christmases at the White House

December 20, 2010

When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in the White House. No, not the one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but rather on the 1600 block of Wilkinson Ave. in Marquette. Actually, there were two White Houses on Wilkinson Ave.

You see, my mother’s maiden name was White, so she actually grew up in the White House. My great-grandparents had lived on the 1800 block of Wilkinson Ave—the White House Sr. you might say, while my grandparents lived two blocks down the street at the junior White House. In fact, my great-uncles always answered the phone as “The White House” which made telemarketers think twice.

The White House - Christmas Day 1982, a rare Christmas without snow

Christmas was a busy day when I was a kid. My brother and I would get up early at our home in Stonegate and open our presents from Santa. Then our parents would drive us to our grandparents’ house to pick up Grandma to go to church at St. Michael’s while Grandpa stayed home to get breakfast ready. Then we’d have breakfast and more presents would be open at Grandpa and Grandma White’s house. Later, we would go to Great-Aunt Sadie’s house for dinner around noon, and then drive to Hardwood to Grandpa and Grandma Tichelaar’s house for supper. It was a very full day.

Christmas morning at the White House was always special because my grandparents were always so wonderful to us, not just in giving us presents, but just that they always treated us very well. We couldn’t have had better grandparents—they also were very loving toward one another.

Grandma loved Christmas and especially Christmas trees. She always had Grandpa find the biggest, widest trees possible, always live ones. He would put up the tree and then Grandma would be concerned about bare spots, so he would cut off branches, poke holes in the tree, and reinsert the branches where they would make the tree look its best.

Christmas 1978 - My brother Danny and me - I love our matching blue socks!

Grandma had numerous old ornaments, many of them dating back to the 1930s, and she always had bubble lights, which have since made a comeback, but in the 1970s and early 1980s when I was growing up, her bubble lights were already antiques.

And then there were the gifts. I honestly don’t remember much about the presents except one year, it must have been about Christmas 1981, when I got the “Smurfing Sing Song” record and my brother got the “Smurfs All Star Show” record—at least, those were the records we each wanted, but Grandma put my brother’s name on mine and vice-versa. I knew enough just to switch them and not say anything but my brother didn’t and Grandma looked worried that she had messed up. She also had a tendency to lose presents, forgetting where she had hidden them. After she passed away, we found a bag of chocolates she must have hidden away for Christmas and forgotten about that had to be at least a decade old and no longer edible. As for my grandparents, on their presents to each other they always wrote out gift tags that said things like “To Dear Hubby from Crabby Wifey” or “To Wifey from Lovey Hubby.”

One final thing about those Christmases I recall is the Christmas records. Grandma had lots of Christmas records but the one that we seemed to play the most was the Tijuana Brass Christmas Album. Those tooting horns made for festive Christmas mornings. I also remember the song, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” playing a lot. And the first record I ever owned, a 45 Peter Pan record of “Jingle Bells” I got for Christmas about 1974 when I was three, and I first played it at my grandparents. That record had four songs in total—“Jingle Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” “The North Pole Express,” and “10,000 Santa Clauses” (a very odd song about a girl who doesn’t get to see Santa Claus even though there are Santas all over town because she gets the mumps). “I still own it and bring it out to play every now and then.

My first record - "Jingle Bells" from Peter Pan records

I think the childhood Christmases are always the ones you remember best. Unfortunately, I had little luck finding photos of Christmases that included my grandparents in the photos. The only one I could find with Grandma in it she was in her curlers, so she wouldn’t have wanted anyone to see that one. But I do rather like the picture of my grandpa with his mother (my great-grandma), plus my brother and me. I’d trade just about anything for one more hour with my grandparents on Christmas morning. They are now gone but not forgotten at Christmas or any day of the year. I was glad the other day to drive by their house, now in other hands, and see a large Christmas tree in the front window, just like Grandma would have liked.

I don’t think Christmas at the Pennsylvania Ave. White House could have been any better.

Christmas 1974 - Tyler and Danny Tichelaar, Grandpa Lester White, and Great-Grandma Barbara White

Marquette’s Christmas Caroling Burt Family

December 18, 2010

The following information is taken from my book My Marquette in the section about St. Paul’s Episcopal Church:

St. Paul's Episcopal Church where Rev. Bates Burt was minister

Marquette’s Christmas Carol writing Burt family began in Marquette with the Reverend Bates Burt who was minister of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the early 1900s. During the time Rev. Burt was St. Paul’s minister, the church’s former Guild Hall was constructed in 1907. Surprisingly, Marquette had two Burt families who were  not related to each other, the other family including surveyor William Austin Burt, who made the famous iron ore find that resulted in Marquette, Negaunee, and Ishpeming being established.

Although Reverend Burt would later move his family downstate, his children, born in Marquette, would make their hometown proud. Son Alfred Burt would become a famous composer of Christmas Carols. The tradition began with his father, who composed a carol every year for his Christmas card, but Alfred was the one who made the family tradition famous nationally. Although Alfred Burt’s life was cut short in 1954, he would write at least fifteen well known carols, including “Caroling, Caroling.” His carols have been recorded by such famous artists as Tennessee Ernie Ford, Julie Andrews, and Nat King Cole. Reprinted her is one of the Burt Christmas Cards with permission from Emily Bates Burt.

Alfred Burt's 1951 Christmas Card that included the carol "Some Children See Him"

Bates Burt’s daughter, Deborah, was also very musical. She moved to Milwaukee where she taught music for many years using the Suzuki method. Another of Rev. Burt’s sons, John H. Burt, followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming first a minister and then eighth Episcopal Bishop of Ohio. As a leading voice for social justice, Bishop John Burt worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Rally for Freedom in Los Angeles, California, even having a bomb threat made on his home for his efforts for civil rights. Later, he would stand up for the right of women to become priests in the Episcopal Church, declaring he would resign if the Episcopal General Convention failed to approve it in 1976. Once women’s ordination was approved, Burt ordained eight women as priests during his years as Bishop of Ohio. Both Burt brothers are buried in the family plot in Park Cemetery.

The Burt brothers’ descendants, although they don’t reside in Marquette, remain closely linked to the town and the family’s Christmas Carol tradition. Alfred Burt’s daughter, Diane Bates Burt, founded “The Caroling Company” in California, and with her husband Nick D’Amico, they released the CD “A Christmas Present from the Caroling Company” which contains eight carols by her father. Bishop John Burt’s granddaughter, Abbie Betinis, today carries on the family tradition by composing an annual original Christmas Carol and her mother, Emily Burt Betinis, illustrates the Christmas cards. Abbie has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio, has received several awards, and been commissioned by numerous music organizations to compose works for them to perform. Her music is featured on six commercially available recordings. More information about this former Marquette musical family can be found at and You can view all the original Christmas cards at as well as purchase the “Alfred Burt Christmas Carols” Golden Anniversary edition.

Merry Christmas to All!

Tyler Tichelaar

My Marquette: Explore the Queen City of the North - Its History, People, and Places

Paul Bunyan and the Black Rocks

December 13, 2010

The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two

The winter storm we’ve been having the last few days reminds me of another storm just before the holidays that I had one of my characters, the logger Karl Bergmann, tell in the second book of my Marquette Trilogy, The Queen City, so I am posting it here for those of you who enjoy tall tales about Paul Bunyan.

For those interested in more Paul Bunyan stories, I will publish another in my novel Spirit of the North, which will be published in 2011 or early 2012. In the meantime, while many books have been published of Paul Bunyan stories, the two best I have found, that firmly plant him in Upper Michigan are Marquette author James Cloyd Bowman’s The Adventures of Paul Bunyan and Stan Newton’s Paul Bunyan of the Great Lakes. (We find out Paul was born in Marquette of all places, and despite Minnesota and Maine and even Saginaw, Michigan’s claims he is their native son.)


            “This happened many years ago,” Karl began, “when I first started out as a lumberjack and Ben and I had just become partners. Let me tell you, my pal Ben was about the best logger I ever saw. He had arms thick and strong as jackpines. You’d almost think he was a jackpine himself, he was so tall and sturdy. He could hack down more trees in a day than you would have time to count.”

            “Yes, he could,” Frank said. “I remember him.”

            “He wasn’t as strong as you though, was he, Uncle Karl?” asked Jeremy. Despite the good-natured ribbing of his uncle, Jeremy did not idolize any man as much as Uncle Karl, not even his own father.

            “Well, to be honest with you,” Karl said, “Ben’s the only man who ever laid me flat on my back. For years we wondered who was stronger, until one day we decided to arm wrestle; we strained for a good hour until Ben slammed my arm down, clear right through the table, knocking me clean on the ground. I never would have crossed him after that, not that I ever had reason to because he was the best tempered man I ever knew.”

            “But what about Paul Bunyan?” asked Michael.

            “Well, as I was saying, my friend Ben and I were the most successful loggers in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan save for Paul Bunyan. Sometimes we thought Paul would put us clean out of business, but when he realized what good folks Ben and I was, we all became friends, and he would give us hints on how to cut down trees all the faster.

            “Anyway, one year about Christmas time, Ben and I were coming up here to Marquette to visit. We were riding through the woods in our sleigh on the road from L’anse when who did we happen upon but Paul Bunyan and his Big Blue Ox, Babe. They were just walking along the road although the snow was already piled up in drifts. They thought nothing about a little snow. Paul Bunyan could step over the snowbanks as you and I would step over an ant mound. Paul said he was walking to Marquette all the way from Ontonagon, a walk he could usually do in two hours because his legs were so long and his strides so big. Well, Ben and I offered him a ride, only he said he’d never fit in the sleigh, he was so big, and we didn’t want to risk him breaking it, so we continued along the road and he walked beside us in his snowshoes, but even with our horses going at a swift trot, we could barely keep up with him.

            “Then, a fierce blizzard sprang up, and before we knew it, we were lost in that blustery storm. Even Paul Bunyan could not walk in that nasty weather. We couldn’t see an inch ahead of us, and pretty soon we didn’t know where the horses were pulling the sleigh, but we figured we were off the trail. Not all the forest trees could protect us from those chilling gusts. The wind was so loud we could barely yell over it, and when Paul claimed he could hear Lake Superior’s waves pounding, we got scared that we might walk plumb into the lake. Not wanting to risk the danger, we decided to stop for the night.

            “We found a sturdy clump of trees all sprung up together to break the wind for us. Then Paul took his ax, and in half a minute, he had half a dozen trees chopped down and split into boards to make a lean-to. If we’d had a few nails, we could have had ourselves a real comfortable little cabin.

            “So we went inside our little shelter, and tried to stay warm throughout the storm. Wasn’t too hard because Paul had on two flannel shirts, so he loaned one to me and Ben to use as a blanket–he was so big his shirts could have made a tent with room left over for a pair of curtains. We weren’t worried about no wild animals bothering us out in the wild ’cause Babe slept right there in the shelter with us, and that ox has a fierce temper when it’s angry. Even without Babe, we wouldn’t have had to worry because Paul snores just like a bear growls, only a might bit louder. But we’d had such a hard long ride from the Keweenaw in all that blinding snow that we napped right well that night, even with Paul and Babe snoring. I only remember waking up once that night, and then I peeked outside and saw nothing but sheer white. Since the storm was still raging, I cuddled back under Paul’s giant shirt and went back to sleep. The next time I woke was a full day later, and again I saw the snow still pouring down, and again I went back to sleep. And the next day, the snow was still raging, only that time I could hear the wind blowing fierce, so I didn’t even bother to look outside but just rolled over and kept my eyes closed.”

            “How’d you know how many days had passed?” asked Michael.

            “Shh,” Jeremy shushed his brother. “Don’t interrupt.”

            “Well, I lost track of how many days we were actually there. But when I finally did wake up and stayed awake, a crack of light was peering into our shelter, and the snow had piled up, foot after foot all around us. We were lucky the storm stopped when it did, or we might all have been buried under the snow and not been found until spring. Why half the trees were bent over to the ground from the weight of the snow, and the drifts were so thick and wet, it was impossible to walk through them.

            “‘It’ll be May before all this snow melts and we can travel again,’ Ben said.

            “‘Not even our sleigh could make it through this mess,’ I agreed.

            “But Paul just looked about him, thinking and thinking and not saying a word.

            “‘I’m starving,’ I said, and that’s how I knew we had been there for several days. I was so hungry I could have eaten an ox.

            “‘But we can’t stay here,’ said Ben. ‘We’ll starve to death if we do ’cause there’s nothing here to eat but snow.’

            “‘Not even a deer,’ I replied.

            “‘And if there was a deer,’ Ben said, ‘we ain’t got a gun to shoot it with.’

            “But Paul was still silent. He just thought and thought, and we stared at him until we thought maybe the cold had frozen him in place. Then we noticed a little tear starting down his cheek, and in a second, it turned into a footlong icicle.

            “‘He’s crying from fear of starvation,’ Ben whispered to me.

            “Neither of us could believe it. Paul Bunyan was the biggest, strongest, bravest, most courageous fellow anyone could ever meet, but here he was crying ’cause he feared starving.

            “‘It’s all right, Paul,’ I told him. ‘We’ll get by somehow.’

            “‘We can always eat the horses if we have to,’ said Ben.

            “But Paul just kept crying and letting those tears turn into icicles. He was such a big man he must have had a tremendous size heart, and a tender one too I guess. Maybe he pitied others who were weaker than him. I don’t know. He never would have killed a deer though, even though up here is big hunting country. We figured maybe he was crying now over having to slaughter our poor horses.

            “‘We gotta eat, Paul,’ Ben told him.

            “‘I know,’ Paul sighed.

            “‘Those horses are our only chance of surviving the winter,’ I said.

            “‘No, we won’t eat the horses,’ he said, wiping the icicles from his eyes. ‘We’ll eat Babe instead.’

            “‘BABE!!!’ Ben and I exclaimed together. Babe was Paul’s best friend. We could never consent to eating him. Paul’s heart would wither away and break if we were to do such a thing.

            “‘Not Babe,’ we told him. ‘We’d rather starve, Paul.’

            “But Paul was looking deep into Babe’s big blue eyes now, and Babe seemed to understand what he was thinking. Babe rolled his eyes sadly at Paul. Paul scratched his ears and rubbed Babe’s nose. I doubt I’ll ever again see such love between a man and his beast as there was between Paul and that Big Blue Ox.

            “‘Paul,’ Ben and I said, ‘you just can’t do it.’

            “‘It’s all right,’ he said, after blowing his nose. ‘I know a trick an Indian medicine man taught me. I saved this medicine man once from a grizzly bear, and in exchange, he enchanted Babe. See, Babe can be eaten once, and so long as we only eat the meat and don’t break the bones, then there won’t be no trouble. After we’re done eating, I can just say a spell and cast some snow over the bones and Babe will come back alive like new.’

            “‘But Paul,’ said I. ‘What if it don’t work? What if the medicine man lied to you?’

            “‘He wouldn’t have done that,’ Paul said. ‘He was grateful for my saving his life.’

            “‘But what if–’ Ben tried to protest, but Paul hushed us both, saying nothing else was to be done, and it would all go well. Babe didn’t look so sure, but he loved Paul so well, he gladly laid down his life for his friend.

            “‘Now I’ll do the deed,’ Paul said, ‘but you and Ben are going to have to cut down some trees and make a clearing where we can roast the meat.’

            “Ben and I willingly left the shelter. We cut down a few trees that were not in the path of the wind so they did not shelter us. Then we dug down with our bare hands about twenty or maybe it was thirty feet–the snow was that deep–until we came to real rocky ground to build a fire on. If we had not found rock, any fire we started would have melted all the snow beneath it and started a flood. Meanwhile, Paul said goodbye to Babe, and then he lifted his ax and did the deed. When he called us back inside the tent, Babe looked as if he were just sleeping peacefully. Our hearts were aching with trouble and worry, and the only thing that kept us from crying was not wanting to make Paul cry, but we helped Paul cut up that Big Blue Ox and roast the meat over the fire. We were careful all through the process to save and pile the bones where they would not be lost. Now you might think this would be hard, especially with something as small as a toe bone, but Babe’s toes were the size of a man’s leg, so you see, not much chance existed of us losing any bone because it was too small.

            “Now it takes a mighty long time to cook anything in the middle of winter, especially when it’s forty degrees below zero, and it takes even longer to cook a Big Blue Ox. We kept the extra meat stored up in the snowbanks, and we rationed it out over weeks and weeks as one horrible storm after another pounded around us. We started to think the snow had continued clear through summer and we were into the next winter. Then just as we were about to run out of meat, the snow finally started to melt. Soon the grass started to poke up through the ground, and then Paul said it was time we find our way back to civilization. I think Paul started to worry that if he didn’t bring Babe back to life pretty soon, there would be no bringing Babe back. During all that winter, we had tried to be good company to Paul, playing poker with him, and telling our lumberjack stories, but Paul sure had a fondness for that Ox, and we could see he was missing Babe sorely.

            “So Ben and I, we gathered up all Babe’s bones and hooked them back together. We had us quite a puzzle at times since we didn’t always know which bone went where, none of us being doctors of any sort, but Paul insisted we wouldn’t stop trying until we knew for certain every single piece was in the right place because he didn’t want no limping ox.

            “When we finally had all the pieces together, Paul sprinkled the snow over the bones and began to chant in the Ojibwa language. Suddenly a North wind sprung up, and then came a blinding flurry of snow. At first I thought it was another blizzard, and since we’d eaten all of Babe, I figured we would starve for sure this time. But then the snow stopped, and sun broke forth, and there stood Babe, big and blue as ever, and Paul threw his arms around Babe’s neck.

            “Even Ben and I shed a couple tears, and I ain’t ashamed to mention it.

            “‘Now, let’s find our way back to civilization,’ I said.

            “‘Look at that,’ Ben then exclaimed. ‘There’s water over there.’ And as we watched, we saw the snow melt down to ice, and then the ice break up and fall into Lake Superior. All that winter, we had been camped just a few feet from the lakeshore. We all felt lucky we hadn’t walked right into the lake when the first storm hit.

            “‘And look here,’ I said, pointing to the ground.

            “Where we had cooked ox meat all winter, the rocks had turned completely black.

            “So that’s how the Black Rocks came to be at Presque Isle, and they’ll always stand as a monument to an animal who loved a man enough to give his life for him.”


Carroll Watson Rankin – Marquette’s First Author

December 9, 2010

The following post is from My Marquette in the section on historical homes and the Carroll Watson Rankin home specifically. Carroll Watson Rankin was the first person to write books set in Marquette, although she changed the name to Lakeville. She is my predecessor who helped to form the beginnings of what is today a flourishing and vibrant UP literature.

From My Marquette  (a photo of Carroll Watson Rankin is included in the printed version of the book):


The Rankin Home (a private residence today)

219 E. Ridge ~ Rankin Home


Local author Carroll Watson Rankin wrote her many novels, beginning with Dandelion Cottage (1904), in this home. Born Caroline Watson in Marquette in 1864, she would later use the male spelling of her name, Carroll, to help her career as an author; she would alternately use other pen names to disguise her gender, but always retained the initials C.W.R.

The Rankin home was built in 1877 by Rankin’s mother, Emily Watson, following the death of her husband Jonas Watson. Carroll Watson Rankin would inherit the property and live there with her husband and children. Later, the home would be inherited by her daughter, Phyllis Rankin, long-time librarian at Peter White Public Library.

Born in 1864, Carroll Watson Rankin began writing in childhood and published her first short story at age eleven. At sixteen, she became a reporter for the Daily Mining Journal, a job she kept until her marriage in 1886 to Ernest Rankin. The Rankins would have four children, Imogene, Eleanor, Ernest Jr., and Phyllis. While raising her family, Rankin would continue to write and be published in major national magazines including Harpers, Ladies’ Home Journal, Gardening Magazine, Century, Youth’s Companion, and Mother’s Magazine. She was inspired to write her first children’s book, Dandelion Cottage, after her daughter Eleanor complained that she had read all the books ever written for children. The book would be based on a real cottage in Marquette and the antics of Rankin’s daughters and their friends. (More information about the book and cottage is under the section for 440 E. Arch Street).

Dandelion Cottage quickly found a publisher and was successful enough that Rankin went on to write many more children’s books. Altogether, three sequels to Dandelion Cottage would be written (The Adopting of Rosa Marie, The Castaways of Pete’s Patch, and The Girls of Highland Hall), as well as the boy’s book Wolf’s Rock and six other novels for children. Today the books are out of print except Dandelion Cottage (published by the Marquette County Historical Society) but copies can still be found at the Peter White Public Library.

Carroll Watson Rankin and her son Ernest Jr. also recorded their memories of early Marquette, which are available as an unpublished manuscript at Peter White Public Library. I am sure Rankin would appreciate that her own memory lives on in Marquette as does the small cottage she made famous. Copies of Dandelion Cottage continue to sell as generation after generation falls in love with the charming story.

Like their mother, the Rankin children would contribute a great deal to Marquette. Phyllis Rankin would be the head librarian at Peter White Public Library for over forty years and be well known for promoting reading in the community, especially to children. Ernest Rankin Jr., as a member of the Marquette County Historical Society, would do much to preserve the area’s history. Imogene would marry and move away but return later to Marquette. (For more information about Imogene, see the section on 209 E. Arch Street in My Marquette as well as more information on the real Dandelion Cottage and the book it inspired).

No Book is Written Alone – Thank You to Everyone Who Helped with My Marquette

December 6, 2010

I am so very pleased and a bit overwhelmed by the positive responses My Marquette has been receiving, most recently through fabulous sales at the TV 6 Christmas Show and my appearance on the Doug Garrison show which you can view on YouTube. So it seems appropriate that I again thank the many people who helped to make the book possible. Following is the Acknowledgments from My Marquette, but with links to websites included.

Writing a book like this one is far from a solitary experience and more difficult in its own way than a novel that does not require all the additional layout, photographs,and even research. I have many people to thank for their words of encouragement and support who said, “I’d like to read that book” when I discussed my ideas with them. They are too numerous to thank individually, but I appreciate all their ideas.

The many past writers and historians of Marquette, most notably, Fred Rydholm, whose Superior Heartland kept me up late at night reading with fascination as I researched my novels, and Sonny Longtine, not only the co-author of the marvelous Marquette Then & Now but also my neighbor who generously shared his photographs, many of which are included in this book and on the cover, as well as his suggestions with me.

  Larry Alexander, the designer and layout person for this book. We have been friends since graduate school at Northern Michigan University. Not only has he put up with me all this time, but he has designed my websites and come to my aid in computer crises. I appreciate his patience as I continually asked to change where a picture was located or the way a page looked. If you need a book laid out or a website designed, he’s the one to talk to. Visit him at 

Jack Deo of Superior View also provided me with numerous photographs of Marquette, past and present, as well as the cover photos for most of my previous novels. 

Debbie Glade, author of The Travel Adventures of Lilly P. Badilly, for reading drafts of different sections of this book and offering encouraging words.
My second cousin, Nanette Rushton, who provided her memories of life on RidgeS treet and of the Rankin family and read early drafts of the residential section.

Lynn and Lon Emerick, fellow writers who have become like family over the years. I so appreciate their sharing their memories of Dorothy Maywood Bird with me, and all their advice over the years on publishing books.

Fred Stonehouse, the expert on all things maritime, who helped me sort out the Frink family’s roles as lighthouse keepers along Lake Superior.


Holly Barra and Jim Mansfield, descendants of Marquette architect Hampson Gregory, for sharing information about their ancestor.
Emily Bettinis, for sharing information about the Reverend Bates Burt family.

Many thanks to everyone over the years who has made me more aware of my family’s history, including my late cousins, Jerry McCombie, Jean Martel, and Robert Bishop. Thank you to my great-aunt, Sadie White Johnson Merchant, who was always willing to share family stories, and saved the day by having a photo of the Bavarian Inn when no others could be found. A special thanks to my late grandfather, Lester White, whose stories of his childhood first made me interested in Marquette’s past. Thank you to my cousin, Lynn Hiti, who has sent me numerous files and documents and shared genealogy discoveries with me for many, many years, especially about the Bishop family, and to my cousins, Shirley Herbert and her son Paul who provided me with our Civil War ancestors’ military records. Thank you to cousins Ben and Pat Hassenger for their information on our Zryd ancestors. Also to my distant cousin Kori Carothers, who sent me information about her ancestor Francis Marion Bishop. And thank you, especially, to my mother who allowed me to raid the family photograph albums for memorable moments captured on film. I have been in touch with so many relatives over the years who have given me information that if I forget any of their names here, know that your contributions have been greatly appreciated.Finally, thank you to all of my readers who have been integral to my fulfilling my dream since childhood to write books people would love to read and which would help make their lives happier.

Anne Outhwaite Maurer and James Pickands Cass for their information about their Outhwaite and Pickands ancestors.

John Frederickson, great-grandson of Carroll Watson Rankin, for his memories of the family.

Pat Ryan O’Day, publisher of Marquette Monthly, for her many stories of Marquette’s past and for putting me in touch with people who would have information I needed.

Babette Welch and her husband Gregg Seiple, who own the Swineford Home at 424 Cedar Street, for allowing me to see the inside of that Marquette landmark.

Dennis McCowen, owner of the Merritt Home, for giving me a tour inside, including allowing me to go up in its tower on a blizzardy spring day.

Lorana Jinkerson for sharing information on her underground home.

Rachel Goldsmith for information and a photo of her father, David Goldsmith.

Ann Gonyea for the cover photography and getting the right angle for a picture.

Joyce L. Mayer, director of the Moss Mansion in Montana, for sharing the history of that Lake Superior Sandstone home.

John and Nancy Grossman at Back Channel Press have managed the printing and layout of all my previous books, and they were more than understanding and willing to answer my many questions as I embarked on writing a new kind of book.

Victor Volkman (owner of Loving Healing Press) did a superb job in designing the cover for me and offering additional advice on layout to make the pages more easily readable.

Rosemary Michelin, librarian of the John M. Longyear Research Library at the Marquette County History Museum, not only tirelessly pulled files for me but led me to some new directions I would not otherwise have considered. Thanks also to assistance from Meridith Ruppert and Jennifer Lammi at the Museum. Thank you to Jim Koski for information about South Marquette during an informative walking tour. The Marquette County History Museum is also thanked for its permission to use many of the photographs in this book.In addition, thank you to everyone now who has purchased a copy of My Marquette and for all your compliments upon it.

Thank you especially to TV6 News, Christopher Diem of The Mining Journal, and The Doug Garrison Show for the interviews and helping to spread the word about My Marquette.

This book truly is about Our Marquette!

I equally thank all the readers of my previous novels whose constant questions about the true stories behind my novels made me think such a book would be enjoyable.