Posted tagged ‘peter white’

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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The Peter White Home – 460 E. Ridge, Marquette

February 28, 2013

The following is from my book My Marquette. Photos of the Peter White Home are included in the book:

In 1867, Peter White was the first person to build his home on Ridge Street and he lived there until his death in 1908. The home was inherited by his daughter, Frances P. White, and her husband, George Shiras III. George Shiras III was the son of Supreme Court Justice, George Shiras II and his wife, Lillie, another of the Kennedy sisters. George Shiras III would be famous as a naturalist who engineered the ability to photograph wildlife at night. At the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, his work took first prize. Shiras Hills, Shiras Pointe Condominiums, and Shiras Pool at Presque Isle are named for him, but I think he would have been most pleased to be remembered with Shiras Zoo at Presque Isle. George Shiras III would also become a congressman for Pennsylvania and become a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, having a major influence on Roosevelt’s conservation efforts. Roosevelt would stay at the Shiras home when he visited Marquette, most notably in 1913 during his famous trial at the Marquette County Courthouse. George Shiras III died in 1942 and was buried in Marquette. The Shirases would have two children, George Shiras IV and Ellen Shiras. Ellen would marry Frank Russell Sr., owner of The Mining Journal.

The Frazier Home stands where formerly the Peter White Home stood

The historic Peter White home was torn down by the family in the late 1940s because it was considered too expensive to heat. The current home was built in 1949 by Lincoln and Ann Frazier. Ann Reynolds Frazier was a cousin of the Shiras family and the daughter of Maxwell Kennedy Reynolds and Frances Q. Jopling (Frances’ mother was Mary White, Peter White’s daughter). This new home was the first Ranch style home in the historical residential district of Marquette, which makes it historic in its own right despite its looking out of place among its neighbors. The house was featured in Home and Garden as a model modern home. The entire home is built on one level—no upstairs, no basement—and provides spectacular views of the lake from several rooms. Behind it is the original carriage house and Peter White’s terraced gardens. One can imagine Peter White entertaining his guests there with his famous Peter White punch. Today, the home is owned by Lincoln and Ann Frazier’s son Peter White Frazier and his wife, Peggy.

Marquette’s Maritime Museum and Lighthouse

July 27, 2011

Thank you to Marquette’s Maritime Museum, especially Director Carrie Fries, for the opportunity to be part of the Tall Ships event this past weekend. My fellow authors (Gretchen Preston, Milly Balzarini, and Donna Winters) and I enjoyed talking to all the tourists, natives, and our readers.

Marquette Maritime Museum

Marquette Maritime Museum

As a thank you to the museum, and in honor of August as Maritime Month (can you believe August is only days away?), here is the section from My Marquette about the museum:

           The sudden lurch catapulted several passengers over the ship’s rail. Sophia, having momentarily released Gerald’s arm, found herself thrown overboard with several other ladies. Panic-stricken, she scrambled in the waves, fighting to keep her head above water while her skirts quickly soaked through, growing so heavy they threatened to pull her under. The lake was calm that evening, the waves nearly indistinguishable, yet Sophia was terrified. She had not swum in twenty years, and she sadly lacked for exercise. The sudden surprise and the biting cold water nearly sent her into shock. Gerald was almost as surprised as he stood clasping the rail and trying to spot his wife. After a few initial screams, the other women thrown overboard began to swim toward the ship. One man, Mr. Maynard, had also been pivoted overboard, and like Sophia, he struggled to stay afloat. Sophia’s terror increased when she saw Mr. Maynard’s head sink beneath the waves. She instantly feared he had drowned, and his failure to resurface made her splash and scream frantically until she began to swallow water. Hearing his wife’s screams, Gerald spotted her and dove to her rescue. — Iron Pioneers

The Marquette Maritime Museum was formed in 1980 and opened to the public in 1982. It is located in the old Marquette Waterworks building designed by D. Fred Charlton in 1890. In 1897, the Father Marquette statue was placed on the waterworks building’s property, although it was later moved to its present location. The construction of a new waterworks building resulted in the old one being converted into the Maritime Museum.

In 1999, when I first conceived the idea to write The Marquette Trilogy, I visited the Maritime Museum to see the exhibits as research for my books. During that visit, I learned about the sinking of the Jay Morse which I knew would make a great dramatic scene since most of Marquette’s wealthiest people were on the ship. The passage above resulted from my visit to the museum. Fittingly, my novels have since found a happy place in the Maritime Museum’s gift shop. The friendly employees have read them and frequently recommend them to their customers, something for which I am always grateful.

The museum includes numerous displays about the early schooners and ore boats on Lake Superior as well as dioramas, old rowboats, and a small theatre with ongoing films. In 2002, the museum also acquired the Marquette lighthouse as part of its property.

Marquette was built to be a port for shipping iron ore from the mines in nearby Negaunee and Ishpeming. Every harbor town requires a lighthouse, and Marquette constructed its lighthouse in 1853, just four years after the town’s founding. No building records exist for this first lighthouse, but it was reputedly thirty-four by twenty feet in size. The lantern room contained seven fourteen-inch Lewis lamps which were used until the introduction of the Fresnel lens in the later 1850s. Because the living quarters and tower were poorly constructed, they were replaced with the present lighthouse in 1866.

The 1866 lighthouse is today the oldest structure of any real historical significance in Marquette. The original structure was a one-and-a-half story brick building with an attached forty-foot square brick tower housing a fourth order Fresnel lens. An identical lens is on display today in the Marquette Maritime Museum. The original lens showed an arc of 180 degrees. In 1870, it was increased to 270 degrees.

The keeper and his family lived in the lighthouse. As long as the keeper’s job was only to maintain the light, a single man was able to do the work. However, when the light at the end of the breakwater was added and a two whistle signal system installed at the end of the point, the work was too much for one person so an assistant keeper was hired and a barn behind the lighthouse was converted into living space for him. In 1909, a second story was added instead for the assistant’s quarters. Additions were also made to the back of the lighthouse in the 1950s.

The Maritime Museum has available on CD the lightkeeper’s log books which reflect some of their interesting experiences. In 1859, Peter White complained about the lightkeeper because “He is a habitual drunkard, frequently thrashes his wife and throws her out of doors.” This lightkeeper also failed to light up until sometimes after midnight which caused great danger for ships.

Just west of the Marquette lighthouse, the U.S. Life-Saving Service established a station in 1891. Led by Captain Henry Cleary, the life-savers performed death-defying rescues on the lake. Their fame grew until they were invited in 1901 to escort President McKinley down the Niagara River during the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (the following day the president would be assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, who for some time had worked in various lumber camps in Michigan, including in Seney. In 2009, Marquette author, John Smolens, published The Anarchist, a novel about the McKinley assassination). Eventually the U.S. Life-Saving Station was absorbed into the Coast Guard, and it became the building in operation for the longest time that was owned by the Coast Guard until 2009 when a new Coast Guard station was built directly on the south side of the Maritime Museum and in front of the Lower Harbor’s breakwater.

The Marquette lighthouse remains one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks for its bright red walls, and it is probably photographed more than any other place in Marquette. When I worked at Superior Spectrum, a former local telephone company in Marquette, the lighthouse was used in numerous marketing pieces, some of which I helped to design. Today, the lighthouse is open for tours operated by the Maritime Museum, and it is being refurbished to reflect the lighthouse keepers’ living quarters in the early twentieth century.

Be sure to check out my several other posts last August 2010 that celebrated Maritime Month. And of course, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum and the lighthouse this summer!

Early Upper Michigan Literature – a Brief and Incomplete History

July 18, 2011

The U.P. Author Book Tour is in its last week, but several events are still happening. You can find the list of the remaining events at: http://rariekki.webs.com/apps/blog/. The book tour has generated a lot of discussion about Michigan, and specifically Upper Michigan authors, both present and past, so I wanted to post a little about the legacy of Upper Michigan literature. I am sure there is much more than what I will post here so I invite others to let me know of any early U.P. literature I forget. Finally, thank you once again to Ron Riekki, author of U.P. for all his work organizing the biggest literary event in Upper Michigan history with more than 60 authors over the course of a month!

The Beginnings

the song of hiawatha

The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Upper Michigan literature really begins with the Native Americans since they were here first. They practiced oral traditions and talked about their myths and the supernatural creatures and beautiful Great Lakes area. Much of this wonderful oral tradition has probably been lost, but some parts of it were preserved. As far as printed books go, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and his half-Ojibwa wife, Jane Schoolcraft, lived at the Sault and wrote down several Ojibwa legends that were collected into book form. Various versions of these works exist today. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used these stories to compose his famous The Song of Hiawatha in 1855. Longfellow never set foot in Upper Michigan, but we can claim him as one of our own for first making Upper Michigan significant in literature on a nationwide level. The poem remains well-known today and the U.P. continues to commemorate the Hiawatha legend in the Hiawatha National Forest that composes a large part of central Upper Michigan as well as the Hiawatha Music Festival held in Marquette every July (coming this weekend July 22-24–visit www.hiawathamusic.org). And any true Yooper knows Lake Superior’s true name is Gitchee Gumee, as Longfellow states:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

ojibwa narratives charles kawbawgam

Ojibwa Narratives

Once you read the poem, the rhythm never gets out of your head. An interesting sidenote is that Longfellow borrowed the meter for the poem from the famous Finnish epic, the Kalevala–a work also well-known in Upper Michigan because of the large number of Finnish immigrants who have come to this area, although a generation after Longfellow’s poem was written.

Another wonderful collection of Ojibwa narratives are those that Chief Charles Kawbawgam of Marquette and his brother-in-law Jacques LePique told to Homer Kidder in the 1890s (a depiction of this event is included in my novel Iron Pioneers). The manuscript was not published until 1994 by Wayne State University as Ojibwa Narratives, but it is another example of early Upper Michigan literature.

The First Novels

Snail-Shell Harbor Langille

Snail-Shell Harbor by J.H. Langille

I am uncertain what the first Upper Michigan novel was, but for now, my best guess is Snail-Shell Harbor (1870) by J.H. Langille. This novel is set in the bustling early village of Fayette, Michigan, once an iron-smelting town in the Garden Peninsula. Today it is a famous Michigan ghost-town. The novel describes the everyday life in the village of the ironworkers, fishing in the harbor, and the life and death struggles that those early pioneers faced. A reprint of the book is available at Great Lakes Romances. Fayette is today a historic park open to visitors. For more information, visit Historic Fayette State Park.

Anne by constance fenimore Woolson

Anne by Constance Fenimore Woolson

Another early novel is Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Anne (1882) set on Mackinac Island. Woolson was the great-niece of James Fenimore Cooper. she lived in Ohio but dearly loved to visit Mackinac Island. She was the aunt to Samuel and Henry Mather, owners of the Cleveland Mining Company. Henry Mather’s home still stands in Marquette, Michigan today, although no record exists that Woolson visited any of Upper Michigan other than Mackinac Island. When Woolson died, her nephew Samuel erected Anne’s Tablet on Mackinac Island in her memory. On the tablet is a passage from the novel. The novel itself has beautiful descriptions of Mackinac Island in winter, and frankly the Mackinac Island scenes are the most worth reading. It is a rather conventional romance novel of its time in that the heroine leaves the island and goes to the East Coast where she falls in love with a man in society but is ultimately jilted and returns home to Mackinac Island. It is not a great novel, but it is well worth reading for the descriptions of Mackinac Island alone.

Children’s Books

Much of Upper Michigan’s early nineteenth century literature is in the form of children’s books.

In 1904, Marquette author Carroll Watson Rankin published Dandelion Cottage, which is still considered a minor classic by many children’s literature enthusiasts. She reputedly wrote it because her daughter complained that she had read every book ever written for little girls. The story is about four little girls growing up in Lakeville in Upper Michigan who want a playhouse. The church allows them to use a small rental property it has in exchange for picking the dandelions off the lawn. The novel is based on a real house which still stands in Marquette today. See my previous post on Dandelion Cottage. Rankin went on to write several more books, including three sequels to Dandelion Cottage.

James Cloyd Bowman lived across the street from Rankin on Ridge Street in Marquette. He was the head of the English department at Northern State Teacher’s College (now NMU). He became famous for his children’s book story collections, especially Pecos Bill for which he won the Newberry Medal, but he also published a book about Upper Michigan’s own Paul Bunyan, and Tales from a Finnish Tupa (doubtless because of the Finnish population in the U.P.) and he wrote a little known novel Mystery Mountain, set in a fictional version of Marquette and featuring the Hotel Superior. I imagine he and Carroll Watson Rankin knew each other, living across the street from one another. If only their conversations had been recorded.

Two other children’s authors from Marquette were Dorothy Maywood Bird and Holly Wilson. Bird’s best known book, Granite Harbor (1944) is also set in a fictional Marquette and tells of a girl from Texas who comes to stay in Upper Michigan. Although resistant to her new home at first, she soon discovers how much fun a girl can have in the U.P., especially in winter with skiing and other activities. Bird wrote a couple of other novels as well.

Holly Wilson grew up in Marquette on Arch Street. She wrote several children’s books set in Upper Michigan, and others just set in the Great Lakes region. Among her best books are Clara the Unconquered, which depicts a fictionalized version of Marquette in its early years, Deborah Todd, the story of a girl’s antics based on Wilson’s childhood, and The Hundred Steps, about the hundred steps in Marquette that led from Ridge Street down to the harbor; Wilson uses the steps to depict the class divisions in the town.

U.P. Literature Becomes Famous

Anatomy of a murder by Robert TraverDr. James Cloyd Bowman taught creative writing at Northern, and one of his students was John Voelker, who would publish the bestselling Anatomy of a Murder (1956) under the pen name Robert Traver. Voelker used to bring his writing to where Bowman was residing and go over his stories with him. Wouldn’t we love to have those conversations recorded as well? Of all the novels to come out of Upper Michigan, Anatomy of a Murder remains the best known. It is based on a real murder that took place in Big Bay. Voelker was the defense attorney in the court case, and consequently, he was well-qualified to write a fictionalized version of it. In 1959, it was made into the film of the same name, starring Jimmy Stewart, Eve Arden, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara, and Arthur O’Connell.

Upper Michigan Literature Today

Novels set in the Upper Peninsula remained relatively few throughout the rest of the twentieth century, but in the last decade the number has grown tremendously as more and more locals come to appreciate how special Upper Michigan is as well as changes in the publishing industry allow people to self-publish their books.

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Well-known authors like Jim Harrison have depicted Upper Michigan in books like Returning to Earth. Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat series (The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare etc.) are set in a fictionalized U.P. town. Mystery novelist Steve Hamilton has set several books in the U.P. including Misery Bay . (You can catch Steve Hamilton as part of the U.P. Author Book Tour. He makes his last appearance on Beaver Island on Thursday afternoon, July 21st at the museum).  These authors have all achieved nationwide attention.

The list of UP authors today is far too numerous to list them all. I encourage anyone interested in who is writing about the U.P. today to visit the UP Publishers and Authors Association for a list of all the member authors’ books. Another, far from complete list of U.P. authors can be found at my website www.MarquetteFiction.com.

I began writing novels set in Upper Michigan back in 1987, although I did not publish any until 2006. I felt strongly that Upper Michigan is full of stories, wonderful characters, dramatic episodes, significant history, and beautiful settings. The perfect place to write about. At the beginning of my first published novel Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One, I inserted the following quote from Ralph Williams’ biography of Marquette pioneer Peter White. I think those words, more than a century old, remain true today about why Upper Michigan literature is and will continue to be significant:

Iron Pioneers The marquette trilogy book one tyler r. tichelaar

Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

“The beginnings, therefore, of this great iron industry are historically important and are of interest to every citizen in the United States, for there is not a man or woman today living who has not been, directly or indirectly, benefited by the great mineral wealth of the Lake Superior country and the labor of winning it and working it into the arts . . . . Has it not the elements in it out of which to weave the fabric of the great American novel so long expected and so long delayed? For the story is distinctly American. Indeed there is nothing more distinctly American.”

—Ralph Williams, The Honorable Peter White: A Biographical Sketch of the Lake Superior Iron Country (1905)

Wetmore Landing’s Namesake

June 7, 2011

It’s summer and many of us will be venturing to favorite places along Lake Superior in Marquette County. One of those favorite places is Wetmore Landing, but how many of us know where the name came from? Here is what I wrote in My Marquette about Mr. Wetmore and his home in Marquette:

William L. Wetmore lived at 314 E. Ridge St. in Marquette (the home is no longer standing). He was one of the co-founders along with M.H. Maynard, Peter White, William Burt and his grocer brother F.P. Wetmore to organize the Huron Bay Slate and Iron Company, which owned the company town of Arvon as well as a 200 yard wooden dock built on Huron Bay, which was never to have any ore deposited or shipped from it.

In 1871, William Wetmore cut hardwood and built kilns to make charcoal in Alger County as well as founding a general store there. When he retired in 1894, the small community was renamed Wetmore in his honor.

Wetmore Landing was initially a clearing along shore where lumbermen could bring logs out of the forest to the lake from where they could be rafted down to Marquette.  Today it is a popular beach for swimming, as well as surfing, and the rocks along the shore make a good spot from which to fish. Next time you visit, remember that it is not only a place to surf or enjoy the scenery but once a significant part of U.P. history and the logging era.

Dandelion Cottage: Marquette’s Famous Literary Home

May 31, 2011

Anyone  in Marquette can see that it is definitely Dandelion season again, so I thought today would be perfect for posting a section from My Marquette about what may be Marquette’s most famous home, Dandelion Cottage.

Dandelion Cottage was a real place, and its story is yet another example of how Marquette seeks to preserve its past.

Dandelion Cottage Carroll Watson Rankin Arch Street Marquette Michigan

Dandelion Cottage

No one knows when the cottage was initially built, but Peter White, who owned it as a rental property, donated it in 1888 to St. Paul’s with the understanding that it would be moved from its original home on High Street, a couple of hundred feet north to 212 E. Arch Street, behind the church. White had it moved to make room to build the Morgan Memorial Chapel.
The cottage would remain at its second location for 103 years and soon become famous.

In 1904, the house became known as “Dandelion Cottage” after Carroll Watson Rankin wrote her children’s book of the same name with the cottage at its center. The story is a fictional account of four girls, loosely based on Mrs. Rankin’s daughters and their friends. The characters, Bettie, Jeanie, Mabel, and Marjory, earn the right to use the cottage as their playhouse for the summer in exchange for picking the dandelions from the cottage’s lawn.

Although the girl’s antics and adventures are largely fictional, dandelions were a problem in early Marquette. John M. Longyear recalled a contest held to see which child could collect the most dandelions in Marquette, but the contest, despite its popularity, and three-thousand, five hundred bushels of dandelions being collected, did not rid the city of its weeds. Another possible real-life source is the character of Mr. Black, rumored to be a fictional portrait of Peter White.

While the cottage’s notoriety grew throughout the twentieth century along with the popularity of Dandelion Cottage and Mrs. Rankin’s other books, it remained a rental property for the church. Then in 1988, St. Paul’s decided it needed to
expand its parking lot and Dandelion Cottage and the other small house beside it were in the way.

Thankfully, the church acknowledged the historical significance of Dandelion Cottage, so rather than simply tear it down, it
sought someone to buy it for the sum of $1.00 and then move it. The church did not give up easily, and after three years, in early 1991, Mayor William Birch and his wife Sally came forward to purchase and move the cottage. On October 12, 1991, the cottage was moved to its present location, which was directly behind the Birchs’ Ridge Street home.

The Mining Journal ran numerous stories about the attempts to sell the cottage and its successive move. Estimates to relocate it two blocks down Arch Street were said to be $20,000. But the Birchs went beyond just moving it. Dandelion Cottage was
given a beautiful restoration. It was repainted yellow, remodeled inside with a modern kitchen, woodwork was replaced and where possible replicated to match the original hardwood; the maple floors were refinished, and dandelions stenciled on the walls. In all, the restoration cost over $60,000, but William and Sally Birch understood that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Soon after, Phyllis Rankin, the then ninety-seven year old daughter of the author, suggested a state historical marker be sought which today appears on the cottage.

June 28, 1992 was a gala day when Dandelion Cottage was opened to the public. My brother and I were among the many who stood in a long line down Arch Street to tour the newly restored historic cottage. I doubt a single visitor was anything but pleased and grateful that this Marquette landmark was preserved. Phyllis Rankin told The Mining Journal, “I am glad it was saved and I know my mother would have been delighted about it. It looks lovely….It’s a beautiful job.”

Dandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin

The cottage has since been resold and continues as a residence. Visitors to Marquette make a point to seek it out, and customer reviews at Amazon reveal that Dandelion Cottage remains a favorite among readers, and the Marquette County History Museum sells numerous copies of the book each year. What appears as a weed can turn out to be a gift to future generations.

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