Posted tagged ‘Ernest Rankin’

My First Visit to the New Marquette Regional History Museum

March 12, 2011

Yesterday I visited for the first time the exhibits at the new Marquette Regional History Museum. My first reaction was simply, WOW! And then as I walked through the exhibits, I felt more overcome with emotion than anything to think such a stunningly beautiful museum should exist in Marquette.

Just how “beautiful” was to me the biggest surprise. I knew that in the new museum the space would be larger, I knew more of the museum’s collection would be displayed, and more history told, but I was not at all prepared for the aesthetic effect. There are gorgeous murals painted by local artist Liz Yelland, there are numerous different subjects, all arranged beautifully, there are interactive parts of the museum, and so many pieces of history I had no idea the museum even had. More than anything I marvelled at the overall layout and all the work and planning that must have gone into the entire building and especially the exhibits.

Somewhere I hope Helen Longyear Paul, Olive Pendill, Ernest Rankin, Fred Rydholm, and the many, many other departed souls who were pioneers and early supporters of the museum could see what all their hard work, devotion, and vision for a Marquette County Historical Society that became a museum and now a regional history center has expanded and grown into.

And of course, most of the success is due to director Kaye Hiebel and all the staff, the museum board, all the generous donors in the community, and all the people who support the museum by visiting it. It is a job well done in every way possible, and I feel personally grateful to everyone who contributed in any way.

I would have loved to provide some photographs of the exhibits but photography is not allowed in the exhibits, so you will just have to visit the museum yourself to see everything, and for $7 per adult, you can see what is worthy of a much larger metropolitan area than Marquette. Plan ahead for spending about two hours. I spent nearly two and a half and I still didn’t get to read everything posted, although I read well more than half the signs and skimmed the others.

Everything I could imagine being relevant to the Marquette region was depicted – displays on wildlife include beaver and wolf and deer. There are extensive collections of artifacts from prehistoric people. A large display of various rocks, minerals, and Lake Superior sandstone are exhibited with enough detail to please the most active rockhound. The Native American imprint on the area is given extensive attention aside displays about the coming of the white men through the discovery of iron ore by William Austin Burt.

The founding of Marquette is told in letters and artifacts from Peter White, Amos and Olive Harlow, and Mehitable Everett. Replicas of Native American lodgehouses are beside early Marquette homes and voyageur fur trading posts. The history of shipping on the Great Lakes is displayed, along with that of farming, logging, and mining.

The area’s brave men and women who fought in the Civil War, Spanish American War, both World Wars and the Vietnam War receive recognition for their sacrifices.

Transportation changes are reflected in automobiles, streetcars, railroads, and snowmobiles. Descriptions of Marquette County’s major communities are provided. And the entertainment, the fun, of living in the U.P. also is provided in a movie projector from the Delft, the story of a pageant on Teal Lake, the creation of quill work and other crafts, the history of hockey, a basketball jersey from J.D. Pierce High School, and early restaurants like Hamburger Heaven.

That’s a small taste of all the history provided at the Marquette Regional History Center. Several fun, interactive aspects of the museum will also provide entertainment for children.

Go visit our wonderful new museum. Marquette, the Queen City of the North, now has a new jewel in her crown, and anyone who loves Marquette and its surrounding communities will be thrilled to see it shine.

For more information, visit the Marquette Regional History Center’s website at www.marquettecohistory.org

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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).