Chapter 1 (1824-1859)
The most recent version of how the name Ann Arbor was chosen by John Allen, one of its founders, is provided by Russell Bidlack, in his book, Ann Arbor's First Lady: Events in the Life of Ann I. Allen (published by the Bentley Historical Library in 1998). In that book, Dr. Bidlack states that Ann Arbor was named in honor of John Allen's wife, Ann:
"Named in her honor five months before Ann's arrival, his having rejected 'Allensville' and 'Annapolis' as possibilities, John Allen, the town's principal founder, had chosen the word 'arbour' to follow his wife's first name, it being commonly used in Virginia for a bower of trees. In Michigan Territory, arbour seemed appropriate to describe the setting of sunshine and shadow produced by the scattered oaks in the 'opening.' In so doing, he created a place name that would remain unique. Recorded officially for the first time in a plat map of the village on May 25, 1824, the name was written 'Annarbour,' but thereafter it appeared as two words. The Allens insisted throughout their lives, however, on the pre-Webster spelling of arbor." (p. vi)
Some previous writers on the naming of Ann Arbor suggested that it was named for both of the wives of the founders, Ann Allen and Mary Ann Rumsey. Russell Bidlack himself, in an earlier 1962 publication, John Allen and the Founding of Ann Arbor, said:
"There can be little doubt that Allen and Rumsey chose the name 'Ann' because Allen's wife bore the name and because Mrs. Rumsey was generally called Ann, although her full name was Mary Ann."
In the 1998 book, Russell Bidlack notes in passing, "Rumsey's wife had the middle name Ann, but she was not called by that name."
Most earlier versions credit both wives and even suggest that Mary Ann Rumsey was more involved since she was present at the time and Ann Allen did not arrive until five months later. The version of the naming given by O. W. Stephenson in Ann Arbor: The First Hundred Years (1927) is:
"Some time about the middle of May, when the leaves were unfolding, Mary Anne Rumsey was sitting in an arbor of wild grapevines which ran up over a plum tree near the bank of Allen's Creek, just south of Huron street, and a hundred feet or more west of First street. Both Allen and Rumsey had spent some time in making this arbor more beautiful and for a time it had been their home. Mrs. Rumsey was wont to sew in this arbor and to wash clothes in a huge iron cauldron nearby. One day, perhaps soon after the survey was made, when John Allen was searching for a name for his town, he approached the arbor where Mrs. Rumsey was sitting and, lifting his hat, remarked with a smile, 'My! What a restful place you have here; what do you call it?' Mrs. Rumsey resplied, 'This is Ann's Arbor; don't you think that is a good name for the place?' John Allen agreed that it was a good name for not only that particular spot but for the whole place he and Mr. Rumsey had lately surveyed. He saw in the name a way of honoring Mrs. Rumsey and his own wife, and rushed off to find Mr. Rumsey to solicit his opinion. Rumsey was struck with the name and the two men decided none could be better. It was duly recorded on their plat, therefore, and so it appeared May 25 when the plat was recorded in Detroit." (p. 38)
Wystan Stevens, in his charming brochure, The Naming of Ann Arbor (1974) (underwritten by the Ann Arbor Bank), addressed this particular conception of the arbor portion of the name:
"Many present-day residents are still confused about the origin of the name which Rumsey and Allen chose for the village. A persistent myth would persuade us that their wives, both named Ann, were a leisured pair who whiled away the warm afternoons sewing and exchanging gossip in the shade of a wild grape arbor built for them by indulgent husbands.
"It is a very romantic legend, to be sure. But Allen and the Rumseys arrived in February, and we know that the name 'Ann Arbor' had already had been chosen by May 25, only three months later, when it was recorded at the office of the Register of Deeds in Detroit.
"Spring weather in these parts is notoriously bad for gossiping in arbors. Nor was there much yet to gossip about. The husbands were too busy surveying their village and selling lots to spend time building anything frivolous. Grapes weren't yet in season. And Ann Allen -- the other Ann -- didn't arrive until October, five months after Ann Arbor was named."
In another passage in his book, Dr. Bidlack says Ann Arbor's first historian, Mary Clark, writing in 1863, correctly explained the choice of arbor:
"It was called 'Arbor' on account of the noble aspect of the original site of the village - which was a burr oak opening, resembling an arbor laid out and cultivated by the hand of taste."
John Allen spelled the name 'Annarbour.' But Russell Bidlack explains in his latest book:
"While map-maker Judd spelled the name 'Annarbour,' and Governor Cass wrote it as two words, John Sheldon inserted a hyphen between Ann and Arbour. The Governor's choice became standard, except for the gradual acceptance of Noah Webster's 'American' spelling of arbor, i.e., arbor, although neither John nor Ann ever made the change."
Cities of the United States (Gale Research, 3rd. ed., 1998) cites another theory of the naming:
"According to an unsubstantiated story, however, the settlement was named after a mysterious young woman guide named Ann D'Arbeur who lead parties from Detroit westward into the wilderness as early as 1813." (vol.3, p.189)
Of these various versions, the documentary evidence supports Dr. Bidlack's explanation of how John Allen chose the name Ann Arbor.
Old Northwest - The "Old Northwest" became the first possession of the United States through the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain, which ended the American Revolution in 1783, the area known as the "Old Northwest" was organized as the Northwest Territory and it considered of what are now the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. Ownership of this area of the then young United States included land bordering the Great Lakes. The ownership and use of this land was a continuing source of friction between the British and their Native American allies and the U.S. The war of 1812 between Great Britain and the U.S. was fought in large part because of the disputed ownership of the Northwest Territory.
Masonry - Refers to the largest secret society in the world, formally known as the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons." The Masons (or Freemasons as they are also known) are not governed by any central authority. Authority is divided among many national organizations around the world called "grand lodges." Religious tolerance, loyalty to local government and political compromise were basic to the beliefs of the Masons. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and other Revolutionary War leaders were Masons. Despite its popularity, the organization remains a controversial among some religions and governments. The name "Mason" comes from "stonemason," a person who is skilled in building structures (such as a cathedral made out of stone). Membership is no longer limited to stonemasons. Masonry as a secret order dates back to 14th century England and Scotland.
Chapter 2 (1860-1879)
Fort Sumter - This U.S. fort was built on a large sandbar, also known as a shoal, at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1860, the South Carolina government passed a law to withdraw (or secede) South Carolina from the United States of America. After seceding from the U.S.A., South Carolina demanded that the Federal government turn over all U.S. property to the state. By 1861, South Carolina joined the new Confederate States of America, which was made up of 11 southern states. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired cannon on Fort Sumter, which the Federal government refused to give to the Confederates. The two-day battle over Fort Sumter was the first violent act of war between the United States and the Confederate States, a conflict which came to be known as the Civil War. On April 14, the Federal commander surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederate army. The fort remained in Confederate hands until near the end of the Civil War in April-May 1865.
Chapter 3 (1880-1899)
Booming - When the members of the Businessmen's Association of Ann Arbor said the purpose of the taxes were for "booming the city," they wanted to use the tax money to publicize the good points about Ann Arbor and to attract more businesses to the city. This is also called "boosterism," meaning an attempt to cause rapid settlement and growth of a city or town.
Alderman - "Alderman" is a word that we have borrowed from the English and Irish. In this country, an alderman is part of a city's legislative body. We now call this our City Council and its members are called councilmen and councilwomen.
Macademized - "Macademized" refers to a type of road construction where workers crush small broken stones into a compact mass and then use cement or asphalt to bring the stones together tightly so the stones will stick together. The result is a smooth, protective surface on the road. These kinds of roads replaced dirt roads or sometimes roads made out of wooden planks.
Prohibition - The word "prohibition" here refers to a movement to prohibit the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcoholic beverages (for example, beer, wine, whiskey and other liquor). In the late 19th century, political parties like the Anti-Saloon League and the Prohibition Party promoted legislation and constitutional changes to stop the production of drinks made from alcohol. They finally succeeded in 1919 when the states approved the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which officially forbid (or "prohibited") the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic drinks. The 18th Amendment was repealed (or "overturned") in 1933 when the states approved the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Temperance - Unlike those who believed in the total prohibition of alcoholic drinks, there were others who believed in the moderate use of alcohol. These people belonged to the "temperance" movement. They even recommended wine and beer as replacements for hard liquor. The temperance movement in the United States began in the late 19th century but by the Civil War many leaders of the temperance movement backed total prohibition of alcohol.
Chapter 4 (1900-1919)
Liveries - A "livery" is a place to feed, stable, and care for horses, and sometimes it is a place that rents horses out to customers for short periods of time. Because of the popularity of the automobile in the early 20th century, by 1919 Ann Arbor had no more liveries.
Vaudeville - This was a type of stage entertainment in a theater. A "vaudeville" show would include many different and unrelated acts by singers, dancers, comedians, acrobats, and actors. Vaudeville shows were replaced by movies as the most popular form of entertainment.
Polyscope - This was an early optical device used to show motion pictures or what we now call movies. One of the largest of the companies using this device was the Selig Polyscope Co., which became among the first movie companies to move, in 1908, to Los Angeles to take advantage of the mild climate and sunshine which were necessary for making movies all year long when filmmaking was mostly done outdoors.
Kinetoscope - The "kinetoscope" was a device for watching moving pictures. In 1893, Thomas Alva Edison and his staff developed and marketed the kinetoscope, which became very popular in penny arcades. People would watch the moving pictures through a special viewer, leading them to call these "peep shows."
Teutonic - A word used to indicate Germanic people or culture. It comes from the Teutons, who were an ancient people who spoke a language now classified as belonging to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family.
Doughboys - A word used for American infantrymen, especially in World War I. Originally, a "doughboy" was a small, round donut. Early in the Civil War, the word was applied to the large brass buttons on the soldier's uniforms, which looked like donuts. Eventually, the infantrymen themselves were called "doughboys."