Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dynamite is savior

This story appeared in The Ypsilanti Record of Thursday, February 21, 1918.

The free use of dynamite in breaking up the ice pack which last Thursday night has choked Huron river from the Michigan avenue bridge south to a point some distance below the U. S. Pressed Steel plant, has undoubtedly saved thousands of dollars of property loss, to say nothing of inconvenience to residents along the river and to loss of time at the Pressed Steel plant and possibly the putting out of commission of the city water works plant and electric street lighting station.

A force of six men has been employed by the city daily since the ice pack and resulted flooding of the low sections along the river began, cutting trenches in the piled up ice fields and inserting and discharging dynamite. In all more than 400 sticks of explosives has been used, and to what good effect is seen in the wide expanse of river surface opened.

This timely action on the city's part did not prevent all damage, however. Such was the rush of floating ice and high waters last Thursday night that Water street was inundated and eleven families were driven from their homes in the night. Police calls were sent in and by 2 o'clock Friday chief of Police Cain and members of the police force had successed in taking the inmates of 11 homes to safety with a\the aid of boats.

The families driven from homes by the water were as follows:
Sheldon Granger, Thomas Barnum, H. Ross, Mrs. Josephine Alford, Frank Tuttle, Freemont Randail, Walter Russ, Robert Counsellor, Mrs. Wilmer Pressler, Mrs. Burrill and Lee Borch.

While the water had by Monday gone down several feet in the river and consequently drained the flooded district, residents of Water Street were still unable to return to their homes. Yards were piled high with cakes of ice and contents of the houses as far as the first floors were soaked. Thursday efforts were made by some of the occupants to build fires and dry out their homes, and by others to get conveyances at hand and move household goods elsewhere, but word came from Lowell where an Edison Co. dam is maintained, that the water was raising an inch an hour and a flood of even greater proportions that that of last Thursday night was predicted. Once more everybody was driven out from Water Street, and through Thursday night the houses were deserted. A sudden change in temperature caused the rain to cease and the river to freeze and the flood was temporarily averted.

Through the efforts of Mayor Brown a supply of dynamite was secured last Friday and a force of six men was secured last Friday from Shepherd ice house to handle it. The gang was to work below the Water Works station four of them sawing trenches and two planting and firing dynamite charges. Thus by Tuesday they had successed in opening the river from a point below the Pressed Steel Co. plant up stream to the gravel pit. Previous to this work the river had been frozen completely over and the floating ice from up-stream had been forced under water until the whole river bed was chocked.

Nor is the danger yet past. The thaws that must come are bound to produce a tremendous volume of water that must be carried off and if the ice is not kept out of the way floods are bound to result. Thus far Race street residents have not suffered. The water works and lighting station has been kept above water and the Pressed Steel Plant has been kept running. Still higher water in the near future is not impossible.

This is not the first time the Huron has caused damage by flooding. About 12 years ago unusually high water took out the Peninsular Paper Co.’s dam, the Knitting Mill dam and an Edison dam below. It also washed out the Forest avenue bridge and the East Cross street bridge.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Officers Pay visit

This story appeared in The Ypsilanti Record of Thursday, February 14, 1918.

Suspected of being in some way or other interested in the German government, Albert Hettich, residing at 430 North Hamilton street on Saturday was compelled to submit to a search of his home by representatives of the sheriff’s office, who called armed with a search warrant. The visit has aroused the indignation of Hettich and he declares the questioning of his loyalty to American an outrage.

Arthur D. Moore, of Ann Arbor, special deputy sheriff connected with the American Council of National Defense, came to Ypsilanti Saturday and appealed to Justice Stadtmiller for a search of Hettich’s home. The warrant was issued, authorizing a search for “books, papers or pamphlets” that might be derogatory to his loyalty to American.

Not until Wednesday morning was a return made on the warrant by Deputy Moore. In this return it was stated that a letter written by Mr. Hettich was found “displaying the typical Germanic hatred for the British policies.”

Mr. Hettich, and his wife who is now in Chicago, came to Ypsilanti several years ago, but what brought them here has never been clear in the mind of many. Mr. Hettich never seemed to have any definite occupation, while his wife’s sole activity seemed to be in connection with a semi-public restroom. Mrs. Hettich is said to be descended form near royalty in Hungary, and Mr. Hettich is said to have served in the German army as an officer, reaching the rank of captian before he retired.

Mrs. Hettich has many times explained their German relations, and has frequently emphasized her loyalty to the United States, but she oftentimes told of being the owner of a house in Berlin which was at one time the home of Count Zeppelin, of dirigible fame. This, it was claimed, was not the only property she possessed in Germany. She also owns property in Chicago, it is said.

Although believed to be a native born German, and still to be a subject of the fatherland. Mr. Hettich had not up to Wednesday noon, shown any disposition to appear before Chief of Police Cain and register with other German alien enemies, as required by the federal law. Four days were allowed last week and the first three days this week, in which registration could be made.

Failure to register, in case he is a native of Germany and has never completed his citizenship papers in the United States, will subject Mr. Hettich to arrest and internment for the period of the war.

Mr. Hettich is reported to have been very indignant at the search, and is said to have remarked before Deputy Moore’s return on the warrant was made, that the search was “without avail.” He is quoted as saying: “Nothing was found because there is nothing in my house that could not rightfully be in any American home.”

Speculation is rife as to the means of support of Mr. and Mrs. Hettich, since by the statement of Mrs. Hettich, all income from their foreign property was cut off when the war broke out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Drinks acid to end his troubles

This story appeared in the Ypsilanti Daily Press of Tuesday, February 18, 1908.

“Your papa’s troubles are now over,” said William Johnson, of 310 Florence Avenue, to his four year old son at 8:30 this morning.

Mrs. Johnson, who was in the room turned, and saw her husband draining the contents of a glass.

“What have you done?” she cried.

“Here is your bottle,” he answered, throwing a bottle which had contained carbolic acid to her, and in a few seconds he was writhing in terrible agony on the floor. Dr. H. B. Britton was called, but Johnson died within 30 minutes after he had taken the poison.

“He had often said he would commit suicide, but I did not think he would do it,” said Mrs. Johnson.

The family have had bad luck during the past 18 months. Mr. Johnson, who was 47 years old, worked in Detroit for the American Car & Foundry Co., but was injured by a plank falling on him, a year ago last July. Since then he has been practically an invalid, and on Mrs. Johnson fell the task of providing for the needs of her sick husband and four children. She washed and worked in factories, until her strength was broken down. The day after New Year’s she was taken to Ann Arbor, where she underwent a serious operation, only returning home a couple of weeks ago.

“We always got along by working hard,” said Mrs. Johnson, “but this winter we have had to have help from the city. I am behind with my rent about $15, and if I can catch up with that, will be able to take care of my children.”

The family now consists of the widow and her four children: Alice aged 14; Bessie, 9; Henry, 6 and Carl 4. They are almost destitute circumstances.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Woodlawn Cemetery

Take Huron River Drive, go east past the Ypsilanti Township Civic Center and the National Guard Armory, and between Carton Avenue and Brown Drive, you will see a break in the trees. As you drive past, take a quick glance to your right. There you will see an open field, with a small wooden cross on the far side. This is the final resting place for about 150 persons, but there is no sign, no maker, only headstones to mark the graves. This is Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the abandoned cemeteries of Washtenaw County.

The Rev. Garther Roberson, of the Second Baptist Church of Ypsilanti, founded Woodlawn Cemetery in the early 1940’s, primarily for the parishioners of his church. The Rev. Roberson died in 1955, and the property passed to Estella Roberson and a Mrs. Booker Rhonenee. The two women soon after declared bankruptcy, as they were short of assets and since then both women have died. The Woodlawn Cemetery Association had failed to file the appropriate corporate papers and no money was set aside for perpetual care of the grounds. The last burial in Woodlawn may have been in 1965. There are no records of who is buried there, when they were buried or where in the cemetery they are buried. Today no one is sure who owns the property, and it has an assessed vale of zero. Ypsilanti Township has someone cut the grass a few times a year.

Today Woodlawn Cemetery is a snow-covered field, with the walls of a maintenance shed, its roof fallen in long ago, standing on the far edge of the grounds. A stack of used tires is on the ground nearby. The air is silent, but for the wind.