Archive for the ‘Upper Michigan History’ category

My Newest Book: Haunted Marquette-Ghost Stories from the Queen City

October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017—Local author Tyler Tichelaar will be giving his readers a treat this Halloween season. On Wednesday, October 11 at 6:00 p.m. at the Marquette Regional History Center he will be releasing his newest book, Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City. The book contains more than forty stories of ghosts and paranormal activity within the city of Marquette.

Tyler Tichelaar, 7th generation Marquette resident, has spent years collecting stories of Marquette’s hauntings.

“For years I’ve heard stories of various hauntings and collected them,” says Tichelaar. “I never thought I’d have enough for a book, but as I interviewed people, one story led to another. I’ve found sufficient evidence to make me believe several buildings in Marquette may be haunted or have experienced hauntings in the past.”

Haunted Marquette is divided into several sections on hauntings in Marquette’s churches and cemeteries, the downtown businesses, the lakeshore, various houses, and Northern Michigan University. Tichelaar researched each location to determine the likelihood of a haunting there and whether any historical evidence existed to make the haunting plausible. He also interviewed numerous people about their personal experiences with ghosts.

“I was afraid I would end up talking to a bunch of crazy people when I set out to write this book,” said Tichelaar, “but everyone I talked to was very sincere. Not one of them was seeking attention; most had not believed in ghosts before until they had a strange experience they could not explain logically.”

Numerous city landmarks are highlighted in the book as locations where ghosts have been sighted, including the former Holy Family Orphanage, Park Cemetery, the Marquette lighthouse, the Landmark Inn, the Peter White Public Library, and the Thomas Fine Arts building at NMU.

“Haunted Marquette” highlights more than forty places in Marquette that may be haunted.

“Only a couple of the hauntings can really be described as frightening,” says Tichelaar. “Most of these stories are about unexplainable phenomena; a few are heart-wrenching when you realize the tragedies some of the alleged ghosts experienced while still human, which has caused them to linger on this earth.”

Tichelaar will release Haunted Marquette at the Marquette Regional History Center on Wednesday, October 11. A presentation will begin at 6:00 p.m. and last about an hour, followed by a book signing. Partial proceeds from the book signing will be donated to the history center.

Tyler R. Tichelaar is a seventh generation Marquette resident. He is the author of The Marquette Trilogy, My Marquette, and numerous other books. In 2011, he received the Outstanding Writer Award in the Marquette County Arts Awards, and the Barb H. Kelly Historic Preservation Award. His novel Narrow Lives won the 2008 Reader Views Historical Fiction Award. In 2014, his play Willpower was produced by the Marquette Regional History Center at Kaufman Auditorium. You can learn more at Tichelaar’s website www.MarquetteFiction.com and at the MRHC’s website www.marquettehistory.org.

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Visiting Sault Sainte Marie

July 4, 2017

Few cities are more closely connected to Marquette’s history than Sault Sainte Marie. Just as Negaunee and Ishpeming play a key role in Marquette’s history because they are the source of the iron ore shipped out of Marquette’s harbor, so the Sault is where the ore has to pass through the locks to reach its destination in the major cities on the lower Great Lakes. As a result, in 1855, the Sault locks began construction under the guidance of Charles Harvey, who would also found Marquette’s neighboring city, Harvey, Michigan.

Sault Sainte Marie’s history is long and fascinating. Marquette is not even half as old since it was founded in 1849, while the Sault dates to 1688 when Father Jacques Marquette established a mission there, making it the first permanent European settlement in Michigan. The Sault remained a significant gathering place for the Chippewa (Ojibwa) whom Father Marquette came to convert to Christianity throughout the eighteenth century, but its real history begins in the nineteenth.

I recently visited Sault Sainte Marie for a book fair at Island Books and Crafts where I got to spend time with ten of my fellow Michigan authors. I also used this trip as an opportunity to see the sites and do some research for an upcoming book I plan to write.

China from Ireland owned by the Johnstons.

One of the places I visited were the historic homes on the waterfront. The first of these homes belonged to John Johnston, an Irishman who settled in the Sault in 1796 as a fur trader. Johnston married Oshahguscodaywayquay, the daughter of a local Chippewa chief. She took the English name Susan and went to live in Johnston’s home but all her life she retained her Native clothing and she would only speak her native tongue, although she understood French and English. She and Johnston would raise a family of four sons and four daughters.

Johnston, being British, sided with the British in the War of 1812, leading a group of men from the Sault to Mackinac Island to aid the British. In retaliation, the Americans went to the Sault and burned down his home as well as the Northwest Fur Company offices. After the war, Johnston tried to receive compensation, but since the Sault became American territory and he had fought against them, he never received compensation. Not surprisingly, he also never applied for American citizenship.

Dining room of the Johnston home.

The Chippewa were not pleased by the Americans moving into the Sault and were planning to attack General Cass who was sent to Fort Brady to claim it for the Americans. He took down the last British flag to fly on American soil there. Fortunately, Susan Johnston was wiser than the Chippewa men and she persuaded them not to attack the Americans, thus saving many lives on both sides. Cass, who would later become Governor of Michigan, always afterwards said he owed her his life.

Spinning wheel in the Johnston home.

The Johnston’s daughter, Jane, was highly educated and made trips to Europe with her father. When Henry Schoolcraft came to the Sault as the Indian agent, he became familiar with the Johnston family and eventually married Jane. Schoolcraft had a job to do in treating with the Chippewa, but Susan Johnston took him under her wing, making him sympathetic and interested in the Chippewa and their culture. Schoolcraft would eventually write down many of the stories he heard from his wife Jane about the legends of Hiawatha, a book that would influence Longfellow’s famous poem of the same name.

Henry Schoolcraft’s Office

Of course, Bishop Baraga also resided in the Sault and would have known the Johnstons and Schoolcrafts. Baraga had come to Upper Michigan as a missionary to the Native Americans from his native Slovenia. He became known as the snowshoe priest because he would travel across the Upper Peninsula and even into Wisconsin and Minnesota by snowshoe to preach the gospel. After many years of missionary work, he was appointed the first Bishop of the Marquette diocese. The diocese’s see was Sault Sainte Marie, and there a house was built for Baraga which he called his palace since he had long slept in rude little huts or lived with fellow priests, but now he had his own house. He resided there for only two years, 1864-1866, before it was decided to move the see to Marquette as a more central location for the diocese. Baraga would die in Marquette in 1868 and be buried there in St. Peter’s Cathedral.

The Bishop Baraga Home as viewed from the Tower of History.

Overall, Sault Sainte Marie is full of history. There are many other museums to visit including the Valley Ship Museum, the Tower of History, the River History Museum, the Chippewa Historical Society, and the campus of Lake Superior State University, built where once Fort Brady stood.

I’m sure I’ll be making many more trips to this place where three Great Lakes meet and history is very much part of the present.

St. Mary’s Church as viewed from the Tower of History. This church is on the same property where the proto-cathedral stood – the first cathedral of the Diocese of Marquette before the see was moved to Marquette and St. Peter’s Cathedral there.

View of the Saint Mary’s River taken from the Tower of History

Interior of the Baraga Home

Interior of the Baraga Home

“Castle Nowhere”: Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Great Lakes Gothic

December 18, 2016

In October, my article “Constance Fenimore Woolson, the Mathers, and a Marquette Literary Mystery” was published in the Marquette Regional History Center’s publication Harlow’s Wooden Man. In that article I discussed how Woolson, who was the aunt to Samuel and William Gwinn Mather, probably traveled to Marquette and she also wrote the first stories set in Marquette back in the 1870s. Woolson is more famously known for her novel Anne (1882) set partly at Mackinac Island and for writing about the Great Lakes in general. In this article, I will talk about how she uses Gothic conventions to create some early U.P. Gothic literature.

In 1875, Constance Fenimore Woolson published a short story collection titled Castle Nowhere: Lake Country Sketches. The collection consists of three stories. The first, “Castle Nowhere,” is set off the shores of Lake Michigan and near Beaver Island, and the other two, “Jeanette” and “The Old Agency,” which are connected, are set on Mackinac Island.

Constance Fenimore Woolson was one of the best-selling authors of her day and a close friend to Henry James. She traveled the Great Lakes extensively in the 1850s and wrote about them in her later fiction.

Constance Fenimore Woolson was one of the best-selling authors of her day and a close friend to Henry James. She traveled the Great Lakes extensively in the 1850s and wrote about them in her later fiction.

While Woolson was not the first author to set fiction in Upper Michigan, she was one of the pioneers of regional fiction for the area, and I believe the short story, “Castle Nowhere,” is probably the first Gothic work set in this region. And even the other two stories in the collection have Gothic elements, although I would not classify them as truly Gothic so I will not discuss them here.

From the beginning of “Castle Nowhere,” Woolson applies a Gothic atmosphere. The first character we are introduced to, Jarvis Waring, is a wanderer figure. He is a surveyor sent to Upper Michigan, but he feels like he has no purpose in the world. He also has conversations with “the Spirit of Discontent,” which is his restless wanderer self—in other words, he speaks to himself. (While I don’t think Jarvis Waring’s name has any symbolic connotations, it’s interesting to note that Jarvis was Woolson’s father’s middle name.)

Woolson also clearly sees the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a Gothic place because of its wild forests. This concept of the forest as Gothic is something she borrows from her great-uncle, James Fenimore Cooper, and other earlier American authors like Charles Brockden Brown and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Cooper, especially, took the Gothic out of the castles of Europe and set it in the forests of America where people could easily become lost in the wilderness and where savage Indians threatened white settlers. That said, both Woolson and Cooper were sympathetic to Native Americans and often depicted Natives with redeeming characteristics. “Castle Nowhere” has no Native American characters in it, but the other two stories in the collection do, and Woolson includes other marginalized people in the story.

As the story begins, Waring has entered the woods of Upper Michigan to survey from the Lake Superior shore, but he becomes lost and finally stumbles back onto the lakeshore, not knowing where he is—later he’ll learn he has walked across the peninsula and has arrived on the shore of Lake Michigan, not far from the location of Beaver Island. As he is making camp for the night, Waring, speaking to his Spirit, says he would shake hands with Old Nick (the devil) himself because he is lonely. Soon after, “a phantom skiff” appears on the water, bearing Fog, a man who saw Waring’s fire and stops to visit him. Waring is wary of Fog, who says he comes from “Nowhere” and leads a “wandering life,” but he is polite and lets Fog stay.

Soon after, however, Waring wakes in the night to discover Fog has stolen a book and picture from him. Waring sees Fog making his way out into the water where he has moored his boat. Waring then takes a few days to create a dugout boat of his own and sets off in the direction Fog went to reclaim his property, saying, “I’ll find that ancient mariner,” an obvious reference that equates Fog to Coleridge’s doomed iconic Gothic wanderer figure. Indeed, as the story progresses, Fog reveals himself to be the quintessential Gothic wanderer.

Waring travels on the lake through a fog, but in the morning, the fog lifts and reveals a log house floating on the lake; this structure is the Castle Nowhere of the title, which explains Fog’s saying he was from Nowhere. This moment is interesting because it shows how Woolson is drawing on the Gothic tradition as created by her great-uncle in his novel The Deerslayer. In that novel, “Floating” Tom Hutter lives in a house in the middle of a lake. He also has two daughters living with him, whom he later on his deathbed confesses are not his daughters but stepdaughters. Waring soon discovers that Fog also has a daughter, named Silver, who lives with him (although not until the end of the story will she learn that Fog is not her father), as well as a servant who is a negress.

Woolson again draws on Gothic elements in her depiction of Silver as an innocent young girl who does not know good from evil because she is never allowed to venture off the floating house. She is a sort of Eve before eating the apple, but also a Rapunzel kept by a type of male witch in the form of Fog, and an Immalee, an innocent young woman who lives on an island in Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). Immalee knows nothing of the world save for Melmoth, a cursed supernatural wanderer, who visits her on the island where she is otherwise solitary. Melmoth makes Immalee fall in love with him, and eventually, she ends up entering into a satanic marriage with him. Silver is so innocent that she knows nothing of the Bible and Fog doesn’t want her to. She also has no knowledge of death. Previously, a servant boy, Jacob, and Fog’s sister Shadow, lived with them, but both died of illness and Fog took their bodies away by boat at night so Silver would never have to experience death. Woolson describes Silver in many ways to emphasize her innocence, including calling her a “water-maiden” and a “fair pagan.”

When Waring arrives, Silver is happy to meet him, and they become acquainted before Fog returns from one of his journeys. Fog is not happy at first to see Waring, but when he sees how Silver likes Waring and when Waring understands that Fog stole the book and picture for Silver, he keeps his mouth shut for a while. Later, however, Waring learns that Fog manages to support himself and Silver by being a scavenger and stealing, and worse, he is a “wrecker”—someone who puts lights on the shore to make sailors think it is a safe place to land a ship in a storm and then the ship ends up wrecked on the rocks. Fog then collects what belongings get washed ashore. Fog justifies the fact that he causes death for the shipwreck victims by saying that their lives matter nothing when compared to the pleasure he can give Silver by bringing her their belongings. Waring tries to stop Fog from wrecking a ship and the two end up in a scuffle with Fog hurting his leg. Waring then decides to stay to care for him for Silver’s sake because no one will provide for the family otherwise.

During this time, Fog tells Waring his story—that he committed a crime in New York unintentionally that caused him to become a wanderer, and finally, he convinced his sister to join him in his wanderings. They decided to call themselves Fog and Shadow because both are gone by morning—a wandering metaphor. Fog obviously suffers greatly, saying how his crime only took a minute, but his suffering is endless. Still, he believes God will eventually forgive him and be merciful (this despite how he continues to murder through causing shipwrecks). He claims that when he found Silver as an orphan child, he felt God was letting him know he would eventually be forgiven.

As winter approaches, Fog tells Waring he’s well enough to provide for Silver again, so Waring can leave before the lake freezes and the ice makes it impossible for him to depart. Waring, however, decides to stay because it’s clear he’s fallen in love with Silver. In time, it’s decided that Waring and Silver will marry and Waring will take her back to the real world. They wish to marry before they leave, so Fog and Waring go to nearby Beaver Island to kidnap a former Presbyterian minister who lives there among the Mormons so he can perform the marriage ceremony. This reference to the Mormons on Beaver Island makes it clear the story is set between 1848 and 1856 when the Mormons had a colony there before being driven off the island.

After the wedding, Fog becomes ill and dies, but not before his deathbed confession to Silver that she is not his daughter, but an orphan he found and cared for as if she were his own. This scene is obviously heavily influenced by Floating Tom’s death scene in The Deerslayer, as well as other scenes in Gothic tradition where people reveal family secrets on their deathbeds. As he dies, Fog asks God whether his sin is expiated, but whether he receives an answer is unknown as he dies right after the question is asked. After Fog’s death, Waring and Silver return to the civilized world, taking the negress with them, while Castle Nowhere slowly disintegrates and sinks into the lake until it is, indeed, Nowhere.

“Castle Nowhere” is both a remarkable and gripping story to read in many ways, as well as an early work that shows Woolson is clearly imitating authors she has read. It is also fascinating because of its Gothic, supernatural, and somewhat fairy tale atmosphere. Woolson would go on to write her first novel, Anne (1880), which bears some resemblance to “Castle Nowhere,” although it is more realistic; in that novel, the title character is also a young girl who has lived a sheltered but happy life on an island—although Mackinac Island and so she is isolated but not solitary—and eventually, Anne also leaves to enter the real world, only her experiences will not be happy, while we can predict that Silver and Waring will live happily ever after.

As a resident of the Upper Peninsula who is familiar with many of the locations Woolson writes about, I can say that the area remains heavily forested, and I can definitely see why it would inspire a Gothic atmosphere for a novel. Woolson, who was a close friend of Henry James, would go on to write many more books set in the Great Lakes area as well as the South before her fatal death falling out of a window in Venice. Some speculation exists that she committed suicide. Perhaps Woolson had a bit of the Gothic wanderer’s spirit about her.

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Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, the Children of Arthur series, and numerous novels and nonfiction books set in or about Marquette, Michigan. You can visit Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com and www.GothicWanderer.com and www.MarquetteFiction.com

Ten-Year Anniversary Edition Released of Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

April 21, 2016

Marquette, MI, April 20, 2016—In 2006, local author Tyler R. Tichelaar published his first novel, Iron Pioneers, which was soon followed by two sequels, The Queen City and Superior Heritage to complete The Marquette Trilogy. Now Tichelaar is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this first novel by reprinting it with a new color cover, an interior historic map of Marquette, and a new preface “Creating a Literature for Upper Michigan.”

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

“It felt like the ten-year anniversary of my first book was a reason to celebrate,” said Tichelaar. “And Iron Pioneers remains my bestselling book to this day, but I was never happy with the brown cover, which was chosen by my publisher at the time. I initially envisioned a gold cover, so I’ve chosen that, which seemed appropriate for an anniversary edition.”

Tichelaar first had the idea to write novels set in Marquette back in 1987 when he began writing his first book, eventually published in 2009 as The Only Thing That Lasts. But it was in 1999, when he was living in Kalamazoo, earning his Ph.D. in Literature, and homesick for the U.P., that he had the idea to write a novel that covered the scope of Marquette’s history. “It was Marquette’s sesquicentennial year,” he said, “and I felt it was time to tell Marquette’s story in a new way that highlighted its significant role in American history.” Tichelaar planned to write one novel, but the more research he did, the larger it grew, until it eventually became a trilogy. “It was seven years from conception to publication,” said Tichelaar, “but nearly 600,000 words and countless drafts later, I found it all worth it when people began reading The Marquette Trilogy.”

The plot of Iron Pioneers begins with a prologue about Father Marquette coming to the Marquette area. It then moves ahead to 1849 when Marquette was founded. It follows several fictional families through the early pioneer years, the Civil War, the fire of 1868, and the growth of Marquette. Numerous historical people, including Bishop Baraga and Peter White, are featured in the story. The story concludes in 1897 with the celebrations surrounding the Father Marquette statue’s unveiling. The successive books in the trilogy continue the story of Marquette’s history up to the sesquicentennial celebrations in 1999. “I wanted readers to feel they were stepping back in time to meet Marquette’s pioneers and to come away appreciating the sacrifices they made and the courage they showed when the settled here,” said Tichelaar.

Tichelaar has been very pleased with his readers’ responses to Iron Pioneers and his other books. “People tell me that they look at Marquette differently after they read my books. They notice old buildings, wonder about the people who once lived or worked there, and want to learn more about them. Tichelaar also noted that when he began writing Iron Pioneers, there was a lack of adult fiction set in Upper Michigan. Since then, the number of U.P. writers has exploded. “Today we can be proud that we have a vibrant and diverse U.P. literature,” said Tichelaar. “We have novels, history books, and poetry. I know of over one hundred U.P. writers all doing their part to capture the essence of our life here. I am proud to be one of the pioneers of that movement, and I intend to write many more books for the people who love this place and call it home.”

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (ISBN 9780979179006, Marquette Fiction, 2016) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.MarquetteFiction.com. Review copies available upon request.

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Marquette’s Centennial Year 4th of July – 1949

July 4, 2015

In honor of Independence Day, here is the passage from the end of my novel The Queen City: The Marquette Trilogy, Book Two, depicting the 100th anniversary of Marquette and Fourth of July Fireworks. Happy 4th to all!

The Queen City: The Marquette Trilogy, Book 2 covers Marquette's history from 1902 until the 1949 centennial celebrations.

The Queen City: The Marquette Trilogy, Book 2 covers Marquette’s history from 1902 until the 1949 centennial celebrations.

In small towns, people depend on each other. In Upper Michigan, through long, harsh winters and economic woes, people form bonds even without blood ties. On this day of civic pride, an entire city became one family, a city filled with people descended from a handful of brave pioneers who came to Iron Bay a century before to build a community which still prospered. Even Jimmy Whitman, who today would rather be in California, and as an adult would live miles from Marquette, would in later years look back on this day with fondness.

The picnic broke up all too soon as everyone looked at their watches and realized it would soon be time for the fireworks. People went their separate ways. Bill wanted to be alone with Sally. Thelma was tired so Jessie brought her home. Harry Jr. had promised to take his children over to a friend’s house. Some decided to go home rather than attend the fireworks, but Sylvia insisted on seeing the finale of the city’s celebrations, and Eleanor, finding her daughters’ enthusiasm matched that of her aunt, agreed to take them all. Margaret told Roy he had no choice but to drive her to Memorial Field for the fireworks. “It won’t hurt you to take me and then stay at your mother’s house another night before going back to that old cabin of yours,” she insisted. Roy knew better than to argue. Henry and Beth talked Michael into piling into their car with the children. Then they followed Roy’s vehicle while Eleanor and company brought up the rear. Once the three automobiles reached Memorial Field, the Whitman clan found thousands of people crowded together, eagerly awaiting the finale to the centennial celebrations.

The Boy Scouts of Racine, Wisconsin entertained the crowd with their drum and bugle corps. Then a Vaudeville show made the crowd laugh and join in singing.

Gazing at the crowd, Sylvia felt overwhelmed. “I never saw so many people in my life. Everyone in Marquette must be here.”

“Yes, this city sure has grown,” said Margaret, remembering as a girl how she had thought Marquette much too small. Now amid a sea of jubilant faces, she scarcely recognized anyone. Proudly, she said to Sylvia, “Unlike us, most of these people don’t have their names in The Mining Journal as Marquette residents for over fifty years.”

“No, I guess not,” said Sylvia. “I’ve lived here my whole life, that’s seventy-seven years. I was born in Marquette’s twenty-third year, so I feel as if I belong more to the little village of a hundred years ago than to this big modern city.”

As they found a place to set up chairs and lay a blanket for the children to sit on, Margaret asked her sister-in-law, “Do you remember the day they unveiled the statue of Father Marquette? There was a big crowd that day, but nothing like this.”

“Yes,” said Sylvia, “I remember that, and I remember when the streetcars were put in; we were all so excited to have them, and now they’ve been ripped out for I don’t know how many years. I can even remember when we first got electricity.”

“I can remember the days before electricity,” said Margaret. “I’m sure glad those days are over.”

“Life was harder then,” said Sylvia. “But back then, since we had no idea there would one day be electricity, and automobiles, and movie theatres, we didn’t miss them. I don’t think people are as polite and courteous as before the wars either. I do miss that.”

“People don’t have the class they had back then,” Margaret agreed. “All these young girls running around with skirts above their knees.”

Eleanor and Beth chuckled, knowing this comment was pointed toward Bill’s girl Sally, who had come to the picnic with her knobby knees on full display.

“And this modern architecture,” sighed Sylvia. “Houses look like boxes now, and each one is painted a dull white. Houses had more color when I was a girl. I remember my grandparents’ house on Ridge Street—my grandparents moved away when I was only four, so maybe my memories aren’t exact, but my parents often told me what a beautiful house it was. Inside there was ornate woodwork and elaborate colored wallpaper and stenciling on the walls and borders along the ceiling. It was so beautiful you never wanted to leave it. Now we have these puffy sofas and metallic kitchen tables with pop-up leafs and—”

Sylvia could not finish her sentence but just shook her head.

“Which grandparents’ house are you talking about?” asked Henry. “Your Grandpa and Grandma Whitman?”

“No, they had a boarding house when I was a girl,” said Sylvia. “Not that their house wasn’t nice, but the house I’m talking about was my Grandpa and Grandma Henning’s house. They built one of the first and finest homes on Ridge Street, but they only lived there a few years before they moved away. I wonder what happened to all their money. I never saw any of it. I bet Grandma Henning left it all to Aunt Edna.”

“You mean that big sandstone house, don’t you?” said Margaret. “I remember Will pointed it out to me one time.”

“Is the house still there?” asked Henry, his carpenter instincts awakening.

“Oh, yes.” Sylvia described it until Henry suspected it was the same as Robert O’Neill’s house, where he had fixed the porches during the war.

“Aunt Sylvia, why did your grandparents move away?” Lucy asked.

“Well, their daughter, my Aunt Madeleine, drowned in the lake. I can’t really remember how; I was just a little girl then, but my grandparents were so upset they sold their house and moved back East. I never saw them again except once when my grandpa came to visit just after I was married. I don’t remember much about him either. I wish now I knew more, but my mother died when I was just a girl and my father died when I was in my twenties, so I guess I was too young to think about asking them many questions then.”

“I know what you mean,” said Margaret. “My grandfather always said the Dalrymples were related to the royal family of Scotland, but I was too lazy to ask exactly how and write it down. Just think, I might’ve been a Scottish princess.”

“I do remember,” said Sylvia, ignoring Margaret’s pretentious claim to the Scottish throne, “that my father said my mother’s family came to Marquette the year the city was founded.”

“You know,” said Michael, “my Grandma Bergmann used to tell me she came to Marquette during its first year. How odd. I bet our families have known each other a long time.”

“They have,” said Sylvia, taking his hand. “I remember being at your parents’ wedding when St. Peter’s Cathedral was just being built. I must have been about twelve then.”

“Someone,” said Roy, “should write all this down. Marquette is the finest city ever, and since our family is part of its history, neither should be forgotten.”

Everyone nodded in agreement, but writing Marquette’s history seemed too daunting a task for any of them. Not one felt confident with pen and paper.

“Hello, Roy,” said a young man passing by. “How are you?”

“Hi, Fred. Everyone, this here is Fred Rydholm,” Roy introduced. “He works with me up at the Club. He drove the Club’s car in the parade today.”

Everyone greeted Fred. Introductions were made and remarks exchanged about how impressive the parade had been. Then Fred said goodbye and walked away. One day, Fred Rydholm would pen two mammoth volumes detailing the history of the iron ore industry, the founding of Marquette and the Huron Mountain Club, and the Upper Peninsula’s important role in American history.

“How long before the fireworks start?” asked Ellen.

“Can’t we go home?” Jimmy complained. “It’s cold out here, and fireworks are boring anyway.”

“Don’t be a creampuff,” his grandmother teased. “The fireworks will be marvelous. This has been the best Fourth in the North.”

At that moment, the first loud cracking thunder broke. Memorial Field was packed with thousands of city residents and visitors who lifted their eyes to the glorious explosions in the night sky. Pink blazing sparks spread in every direction. Then a burst of blue, an explosion of green, a shot of white, a spray of orange, then yellow, then blue again, and red, and green, and blue, and orange, and yellow, and pink, and white. Burst after burst, straight firing white lines, kaleidoscopic green, pink, purple, all at once. One separate firework to mark each year of Marquette’s history. Up into the sky they shot in shimmering streaks like a hundred candles blazing on a bombastic birthday cake. Ellen covered her ears; the fireworks were so delightfully loud.

Henry leaned over to kiss his wife’s cheek.

“Ouch, that tickles,” Beth giggled. “When will you shave off that silly beard?”

“First thing tomorrow morning,” he promised, “but you have to admit it looks pretty good for having been grown so quickly.”

“Shh, Daddy, you’re missing the fireworks,” Ellen scolded.

Henry and Beth both chuckled, glad to see their daughter happy. They were happy themselves. They were back where they belonged, in their hometown for its centennial, which they would not have missed for anything. Henry thought back on all of Marquette’s remarkable history, the raising of the courthouse, the library, the banks, the houses, the bravery of its people, the struggles through fires and blizzards, economic woes and wars. He thought of the ore docks, those formidable giants of the iron industry, stretching out into the world’s greatest lake as emissaries to distant lands. For a hundred years, from Iron Bay, the Upper Peninsula’s riches had been shipped out to bolster a nation, yet Marquette had scarcely received mention in a history book. Many people could not even pronounce its name, much less find it on a map. But its Northern sons and daughters knew the great privilege they shared in living here. They knew Nature had blessed them by giving them this land of pristine beauty, mighty forests, fresh air, and remarkable weather. Henry and Beth were grateful to have been born here, and thankful they had been wise enough to return. Thousands that night felt in their hearts what Henry spoke as he turned to Beth.

“We truly do live in THE QUEEN CITY OF THE NORTH.”

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, seventh generation Marquette native, is the author of The Marquette Trilogy, My Marquette, and numerous other books about Marquette and its past. For more information, visit his website www.MarquetteFiction.com

Book and DVD of Popular Local Play Willpower Now Available

June 19, 2015

Marquette, MI, June 19, 2015—When Will S. Adams was diagnosed with ossification, a mysterious disease that caused his tissues to harden until he became nearly a living statue, he refused to quit living life fully and was immensely productive. Now the original play Willpower, which translated his life story to the stage, is available as a book and a DVD.

The new book version of the play Willpower includes the full text of the play, sheet music, historical photos, and essays by the playwright and director.

The new book version of the play Willpower includes the full text of the play, sheet music, historical photos, and essays by the playwright and director.

In September 2014, Marquette’s Kaufman Auditorium was packed with people who came out to see the story of Will S. Adams translated to the stage, much as the Marquette Opera House was packed in 1906 with people who came to see his original operetta Miss D.Q. Pons. Born in 1878, Will was the adopted son of Marquette businessman Sidney Adams and his wife Harriet. He grew up in the sandstone mansion at 200 E. Ridge St., played baseball, and sang in the boys choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Then a strange disease began to stiffen Will’s legs and work its way up his body until he lost the use of his limbs, became bedridden, and eventually lost his eyesight before his early death at age thirty-one. Through it all, Will never lost his sense of humor, his energy, or his determination to make the most of every minute. In his short life, he ran his own newspaper, wrote poetry, drew cartoons, and composed the operetta Miss D.Q. Pons with Norma Ross, a local music teacher and his close friend, who also starred in the production. Will’s spirit of perseverance would attract countless admirers, including a Detroit Free Press reporter and the famous actress Lillian Russell.

In 2013, the Marquette Regional History Center hired local novelist Tyler Tichelaar to write a play and bring Will Adams’ story to the stage. The MRHC produced Willpower with the aid of a major grant from the Michigan Humanities Council and grants from the Marquette Community Foundation and Upper Peninsula Health Plan. The play was directed by Moire Embley, with Jeff Bruning as musical director. It starred many local actors and included period music. Filled with humor, romance, dreams, and faith, Willpower was received with standing ovations by audiences, and The Mining Journal’s reviewer said, “Will’s is an interesting and inspiring story to all and deserves to be told and retold.”

“Many people have expressed a desire to see the play again,” said Tichelaar, “and while I hope it will someday return to the stage, I wanted to release a book version to tell more of the history behind the play and allow Will’s story to continue to inspire us.” The newly released book includes the entire script of the play, photos from the original production, sheet music of songs from the performance, numerous historical photographs, extensive commentary on the history behind the play, and an essay by director Moire Embley.

The book version of Willpower is now available in local bookstores and gift shops and online through Tichelaar’s website at www.MarquetteFiction.com. A DVD of the original performance is also available at the Marquette Regional History Center’s gift shop.

About the Author

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., is a seventh generation Marquette resident devoted to capturing the past through his books. He is the author of the popular history book My Marquette and nine novels, including The Marquette Trilogy and The Children of Arthur series. In writing Willpower, Tichelaar grew to feel a special kinship with Will Adams, who shared his passion for literature, and with Norma Ross, who was friends with his great-grandmother.

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Experience the Power of “Willpower” – Coming Soon to the Kaufman Stage by Moire Embley

September 8, 2014

The following article is by Moire Embley, Director of Willpower, an original play I’ve written that will be presented at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette on Thursday and Friday September 18 and 19.
A sunny mid-August day in Marquette, Michigan, an operatic aria fills the air from a west side apartment. The melody is from an original composition, “You Will Not Love Me” for the upcoming Marquette Regional History Center’s new production Willpower by Tyler Tichelaar. The beautiful soprano voice of Sara Parks floats effortlessly along with piano accompanist and composer, Jeff Bruning. As Sara soulfully sings the repeated lyric “You will not love me; you won’t say why,” her character, Miss Norma Ross, comes to life.

"Willpower" director Moire Embley

“Willpower” director Moire Embley

I have assisted and directed several plays in Marquette over the last fourteen years. Willpower is one of the first original plays I have had the opportunity to be a part of. Last September, the Marquette Regional History Center’s Director, Kaye Hiebel, was scouting for a director and I was lucky to recommended by a good friend and mentor of mine. I came into the first meeting feeling slightly shy and a bit overwhelmed to be offered such a break as a director.

I sat quietly in the large conference room surrounded by high-powered ladies, taking in the conversations, stories and ideas, which saturated the room. The focus was on a young man from Marquette in the late 1800s by the name of Will Adams. Will, I came to understand, was not your typical boy. Adopted as a young child by former Marquette Mayor Sidney and wife Harriet Adams in the early 1880s. Growing up at 200 East Ridge, the beautiful sandstone house, which is now known as the “Terrace Apartments.” As a youngster, Will sang in a boy’s choir at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and was a noted athlete, artist and literary mastermind by the community. After suffering a severe baseball injury to his knee, an ossifying disease began to develop in his legs. As he grew, so did the disease, until it consumed his body, slowly turning his soft tissues to stone before he passed away at thirty-one.

Will’s story is not a sad one, but one of love, ambition, community and courage. After leaving the meeting, I found myself eager and driven. This was a drama I needed to help tell on the historical stage of Kaufman Auditorium. Tyler Tichelaar a well-known local novelist, was hired as the playwright. After Tyler released the first draft of Willpower, I spent an entire road trip reading the play and then reading it again. Tyler’s use of public domain music was thoughtful and clever. His character delineations were accurate, concise and well researched. I could not put the script down. I became fascinated by his depiction of Will.

Will was not the only character in Willpower to stand out. His caring childhood friend Norma Ross also captured my imagination. Norma and Will met as young children, and a friendship was nurtured by their shared love for music, theatre and literature. As Will’s disease became more debilitating, Norma would visit almost daily. They would pass the time singing to one another. When Will began to lose the use of his arms, unable to hold a book, Norma became his eyes and hands, reading aloud to him.

After graduating from college with a degree in music from Northwestern University, Norma returned home to Marquette. Will, now in his late twenties, became fascinated with writing an operetta in which he enlisted the musical talents of his good friend. Norma and Will spent nearly three months preparing the lyrics and music. Will hummed the melodies as Norma played the piano, putting the music down on paper. Miss D.Q. Pons opened at the Marquette Opera House in the summer of 1905. The operetta’s success spread quickly, eventually touring to Ishpeming, Sault Ste. Marie, Hancock and Calumet.

As I read the first draft of Willpower, I couldn’t help feeling that there was more between Will and Norma. I met with Tyler and Jessica “Red” Bays in mid January to discuss the first draft. I hadn’t met Tyler before and I was very nervous to discuss some edits I thought could be made. My approach was only to assist in using my theatre background to help guide the script to the stage. Some minimal character enhancements were made along with some plotline adaptations. Red and I left the meeting with Tyler more excited than ever. I felt he graciously considered my notes, however standing his ground on some changes. Between Red, myself and Tyler ideas bounced back and forth as we found our creative balance.

Poster for Willpower, an original play by Tyler Tichelaar. Poster art by Cory Sustarich.

Poster for Willpower, an original play by Tyler Tichelaar. Poster art by Cory Sustarich.

Tyler quickly came back with the second draft. Every note we had discussed was in the script. Tyler’s attention to detail and respect for my creative vision as director was admirable. I frequently would tell him my job is to bring his story to the stage, but in a way I feel that this play is a collaborative effort between Red, Tyler and I. With only minimal edits to be made Tyler quickly moved on to the third draft.

After the script became finalized, I searched for the best artistic staff I could find. Suzanne Shahbazi, well known for her work with the Lake Superior Youth Theatre, agreed to do costumes. Jalina Olgren joined the production; she is one on the most talented stage managers we have in the Marquette community. Lastly, Jeff Bruning, a brilliant pianist, voice teacher and music virtuoso signed on. To round out the creative production team, Jessica “Red” Bays became my right hand, my support and promotional guru.

Casting is always a wonderful process, offering a director a first-time glimpse into seeing the characters come alive. Within the two-day auditions and one day of callback auditions, I was blessed with an overwhelming amount of talent. I feel fortunate as a director to work in a community with high talent, quality vocals and acting ability. The final casting after auditions can be sometimes difficult. It is important undoubtedly to see a specific character within an actor. A director must also see that the character, small at times, be in the actor’s potential.

Although Willpower is a straight play, public domain music and old ragtime songs are used. This piano style popular from the nineteenth century through the early twentieth century gives the play a musical feel and also illustrates how music was an integral part of Will and Norma’s relationship. There was one piece composed for the play, “You Will Not Love Me,” by Jeff Bruning and lyrics by Tyler Tichelaar. Jeff wrote the piece, which captured the feel of the romantic ballads at that time. Tyler’s lyrics possess a witty touch, as if Will wrote them himself.

The set design I will keep secret. I will only allude to my extensive research done at the J.M. Longyear Research Library. Using the expertise of research librarians Rosemary Michelin and Beth Gruber, the three of us spent hours hunting for Will and Norma’s past in genealogy files, photos, books, newspapers, magazines and plat books. I have great respect and gratitude for all the hard work Rosemary and Beth did for me. This play would not be what it is without their assistance.

Directing Willpower has been an amazing experience thus far. I look forward to every rehearsal, researching each character and also learning more about the community in which I live. Willpower is a production that everyone can relate to, whether you are a history buff or a theatre and music enthusiast. It is a play that will warm hearts and tickle the mind.

Please join us at Kaufman Auditorium on September 18th and 19th at 7:00p.m. For more information, call the Marquette Regional History Center at (906) 226-3571. Tickets are on sale at the NMU EZ Ticket Outlet or by visiting www.nmu.edu/tickets. This production is made possible by the Marquette Regional History Center and generous grants from the Michigan Humanities Council in addition to a matching grant from the Marquette Community Foundation and the Upper Peninsula Heath Plan.