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Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III)

Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image Ypsilanti: Its Past, Present and Future (Part III) image
Charles Rich Pattison
Rights Held By
Ypsilanti Historical Society
OCR Text

This early history first appeared in the Ypsilanti Commercial on May 23, 1874 and was written by Charles Rich Pattison. Mr. Pattison was Editor-Publisher of the Commercial 1864-87.

This is a continuation. Part I appeared in the April, 1981 and Part II followed in the July, 1981 Gleanings.

This is the final section in the series.


While it has been our object to write more particularly of the religious, educational, and manufacturing interests of our city, we would not wholly ignore the general business of the place.

Dry goods, Groceries, Drugs, Books, Hardware, Boots & Shoes, in the latter department quite largely, and other classes of business are well represented, and goods bought in the eastern markets are sold here at prices which keep the purchaser from going elsewhere; it is conceded that our merchants constantly keep a large stock on hand from which to make selections. Our advertising columns indicate the enterprising merchants.

Our meat markets in general equipment and in the ambition to supply first quality of meats are not excelled in the State.

We have six hotels, one, the Follett House, the boast of all travelers who visit our city; and the Hawkins House has for many years been a favorite.

Invalids are offered the best of medical treatment. We have a first class hospital under the superintendency of Mrs. Ruth A. Gerry, M.D. A superior hydropathic institution most delightfully located upon the banks of the Huron, Mrs. Helen McAndrew, M.D., proprietor. And a medical institute, Dr. W.H. Hall proprietor; and physicians of all schools of first class reputation.


The Michigan Central Railroad was completed to this place in 1837. This road goves easy access to the outer world, and it is now joined at this place by the Detroit, Hillsdale & Indiana road which was completed in 1871.

The road to be built from here to Trenton and which will make direct connections with the Canada Southern has been surveyed and will doubtless be completed at an early day, making a connection north at some point with the Pere Marquette Railroad. The amount of shipments over the Michigan Central Railroad to and from this place amounted to 51,136 tons for the year ending March, 1874, and the number of passengers over the same road leaving here was 41,615.


It will be seen from what has been said concerning the subject, that we are by no means without a large manufacturing interest in our midst. Already is there more than $1,000,000 invested in the manufacture of staple commodities, and these industries give employment to a large number of men and women. The woolen mill alone provides work for about sixty persons when in operation. Thirteen firms employ steam to the aggregate of about two hundred horse power, and others employ the river to the amount of over one thousand horse power to run their machingery. This source of power last mentioned is but partially used, and there are excellent sites both above and below the city still unoccupied. Within three miles of its southern boundary several dams might be constructed which would afford power equal to that already employed, and the river is never so low as to prevent a waste of water at all the places where now used.

The aggregate sales of all these firms amounts to over $2,000,000 per year. This last item is based upon the estimates of ten of the leading establishments.

The reader should remember that all that has been said about manufactures does not include the hardware stores, all of which are supplied with skilled laborers who are constantly engaged in the manufacture of sheet iron and tinned ware for cook stoves, etc., nor the dealers in shoes, all of whom keep from three to six workmen who are manufacturing thousands of pairs of boots and shoes per year for their regular customers. These dealers purchase many thousands of dollars worth of material each year for use in their own shops. Nor does this estimate include the dealers in clothing, who keep many pairs of hands constantly busy in the manufacture of clothing of the most desirable quality; neither does it include dress-making and kindred manufactures, which are more or less transient in their nature, and which require but a small, because a constantly changing capital, to conduct them.

Advantages of Locality, Climate, Residences, Etc.

Ypsilanti is about thirty miles from Detroit, to which it has ready access by rial at nearly all hours of the day. Many men who do business there have their homes here, and by an arrangement with the M.C.R.R. are enabled to go and come for not much above a mere nominal fare, while the reduced cost of living, and other advantages enjoyed here, render their annual expenses very much less than they would be did they live in Detroit. A train is run into Detroit before business hours, and leaves at the close of business in the evening.

The city lies upon both sides of the Huron, which enters its limits near the northwest corner, and after describing a graceful curve to the East, leaves it near the middle of the southern boundary. The current of the stream is rapid, and there are no flooded flats or marshes to pour forth their pestilence over the country. The banks of the river rise in beautiful terraces, upon which lies the city, and the ascent from the river is so gradual that the grading of the streets has left on “steeps to . Of the streets it is necessary to say that in their grading, and consequent excellent conditon, they challenge inspection.

The business of the is largely confined to Congress Street on the west side, and to Cross Street on the east side. The depot is on the east side, but the distance from one side to the other is so short that no inconvenience to the citizens or the public arises from the division. The old jealousy between the two portiors long since died out.

The city is beautiful with shade trees, which have been planted with no stingy hand. Among the more beautiful streets may be mentioned Forest Avenue, Huron and River Streets. Many fine residences already exist—more perhaps than are usually to be found in towns of this size.

Our situation as regards Detroit, our healthful climate, the beautiful and highly productive country around, our excellent facilities for manufacturing purposes, the ready access to the place from abroad, our nearness to a good market, and the excellence of our religious and educational advantages, are every year adding to the number of those who are desirous of taking their families where they will be free from the dangers—both moral and physical—which infest a large city, and where they will have the advantages of the best schools, and yet be near enough to their business to give it their daily supervision without being absent from home more than the usual business hours of the day.

From what has already been said, it will be inferred that an intelligent and moral tone permeates the social atmosphere, and this opinion is emphasized by the fact that the ladies of the place have through their own resources accumulated a public library of seventeen hundred volumes, and have secured for its reception large and tastefully furnished rooms. To the books already owned others are constantly being added, and not only the ladies immediately interested, but the whole town have reason to be proud of their success.

We have two first-class banks. The First National,—its directors being among our most wealthy and reliable citizens; and Cornwell, Hemphill & Co., a solid, first class business firm.

There are several first class dentists in this city. For further information see special notice column.

Note—Ypsilanti is the headquarters of traveling commercial agents. Nearly forty at present making this city their home. They are drawn here for the reasons given elsewhere.

It is a striking fact that our shrewd men of means are buying up the valuable locations in the city and suburbs, confident of a big rise in real estate.

Frank Smith began advertising reqularly in the Commercial five years ago, taking a half column. He has built up a marvelous trade.

There are several soda fountains in the city that would do credit to any city of ten times our size. Among the most notable are Lieut. Halleck's at the Central Drug Store, and the one at J.A. Wilson's Bakery.

Our News Depots are not surpassed in the State. James E. Seaver in the P.O. Room and J.H. Davis near the Railroad Depot.


has the largest establishment in the city. He keeps the Mowers and Reapers of the most celebrated manufactures. He occupies Norris block near the depot, one of the finest blocks in the city. His sales run up to nearly $100,000 per annum, and it is comparatively a new enterprise. In the same block is the paint shop of Thompson & Vaughan, one of the most extensive shops in the city or county. This firm has painted the Normal and Union school buildings and many of the finest public residences. They employ from twelve to fifteen hands.


Our Fire Company

recently organized compares favorably with any other in the State. It is composed of our best citizens. We have two Fire engines, one of them is a steam engine of which our firemen are justly proud. It is a beauty. Connected with it is a thousand feet of hose. F.P. Bogardus, Foreman.


Ypsilanti Light Guard

is the name of our city military organization armed and equipped at the law provides. The State Inspector General pronounces it the best drilled and finest company in the State. Capt. Cicero Newell is the commander.


Hewitt Hall.

The Ypsilanti Light Guard have rented for a term of years Hewitt Hall, one of the largest in the city, and have fitted it up in superb style. The Hall is provided with scenery and it will be rented for concerts, shows, etc.

Follett Hall.

Connected with the Follett House is a neat tasty Hall. It is occupied Sunday evenings by the Spiritualists. Banjamin Todd, lecturer.

Batchelder's Hall.

Occupied by the Good Templars, Granges, and Temperance Sunday School. Rented for socials, parties, etc.

Samson's Hall

A neat place for social and festive gatherings.

The Post Office

Is in the efficient charge of Capt. C. Spencer, and few offices do as large business with the same amount of population. A proof of the intelligence of our people.

There are two telegraph offices here, with accomodating operators, and a good amount of business.

The American Express Company, with Samuel J. Vail as agent, does an immense amount of business.

Charles E. Samson's “Temple of Music” furnishes musical instruments, and the latest music publications.

City Government.

Mayor—Watson Snyder

City Clerk—Charles M. Woodruff

Treasurer—Cornelius N. Ganson

Aldermen—Edward H. Jackson, George W. Kishlar, Charles Shier, J. Frank Smith, Charles Fleming, Daniel Putnam, Charles McCormick, Joseph Follmor, Clark Cornwell, Charles Woodruff.


There are seven clothing stores. They keep a general stock of clothing and furnishing goods, and manuacture clothing to order. The leading house in this line is Sanders & Wortley. They keep the most complete stock of men's, youths' and children's clothing, hat and caps, furnishing goods, and a full stock of cloths for custom trade. They make a specialty in fine ready-made garments, which for quality, style, and trimmings are equal to custom work. They are young men well posted in their business, and always make it a point to have the very latest styles direct from New York.


In jewelry, S.H. Dodge takes the lead. His stock of watches, jewelry, silver and plated-ware is unequaled in extent and quality of goods in Washtenaw County. He buys for cash, of the largest manufacturers and imprters only, and can not be undersold by any house in the State. We were shown some beautiful goods of his own manufacture, consisting of rings, pins and sleeve buttons, set with amethyst, topaz and cameos, that for quality, style, and beauty of workmanship, could not be excelled. He also manufactures to order, in any style that my be desired, and at lower prices than could be purchased at wholesale of Eastern manufacturers. Mr. D. commenced business in 1861, and is now doing the largest business in this line in the county.

Our Census Statistics

In 1850 we had a population of 3,052; in 1860, 3,956; 1870, 5,471—not a rapid, mushroom growth, but a healthy, stable improvement. We have kept pace with some of our sister cities, Ann Arbor for instance, which has an increase from 4,870 in 1850, to 7,369 in 1870, Our increase in twenty years is 2,419; Ann Arbor, 2,498. A close competition and a remarkable race on our part, when it is considered that the Michigan University is located there. Being only eight miles distant, not a few of our young men and women board at home in this city while attending the University.

Surrounding country.

Immediately adjacent to the city, and stretching far away in all directions, is a country abounding in farms under the most approved state of cultivation, and supplied with every desirable natural feature. The older houses have largely been supplanted by elegant farm houses of modern design. The older resident farmers have quite uniformly become wealthy.

Beginning at the eastern boundary of the city is one of the loveliest plains to be found anywhere, about two miles wide and four long. For nursery purposes it is unequalled in the country. On this plain Mr. E.D. Lay established the pioneer nursery of the State, It is peculiarly adapted to fruit. Mr. T. Phillips, from a garden of only ten acres, sends thousnads of baskets of luscious fruit to Detroit every year. This Spring he sold five thousand strawberry plants to one man and seven thousand to other parties, though a bad year for selling.

Ypsilanti town, and the adjoining towns of Superior, Pittsfield, York, Augusta, Van Buren and Canton, are rich in agricultural products, as well as first-class timber. It would astonish the stranger to see the enormous amount of apples bought in this market and exported to less favored communities. Also potatoes; Mr. J. Emerick, a farmer near the city, raised last Fall, as unpropitious as the season was, over four thousand bushels from fifteen acres.

There are several cheese factories near by, the most noted of which are in the town of Augusta, and near Rawsonville.

The butter of Washtenaw County is not excelled by the famous Orange County butter of New York.

Good farms can be bought for from $25.00 to $100.00 per acre.

There are beautiful rural residences on the plains and room for more. Adjoining the cinty on the northeast is a farm containing many hundreds of acres, which the propietor, J.E. Sexton, proposes to lay out in ten acre lots for rural homes, convenient to the depot. Mr. E. Laible, and several others from Detroit, already have their palatial residences on these fertile plains, and daily attend to their business in Detroit.

R.W. Hemphill, and other parties, are making valuable improvements on the southwest boundaries of the city, and will ere long place upon the market some eligible lots for residences.

Excellent mild is furnished our citizens from the nighboring dairy farms, the most noted being those of Finley & Nygh, and A. Seymour.

Produce Exportations.

We give the reports of three of our produce dealers, from May 1st, 74.

S.G. Rowley & Co.—Eggs, 70,000; Butter, 60 tons; Turkeys, 14,000 lbs.; Chickens, Geese and Ducks, 22,000 lbs.

William H. Yost,—Butter, 50 tons; Eggs 60,000 dozen; green apples, 6000 barrels; Dried apples, 150,000 pounds; Wool, 28,000 pounds; Dressed Hogs, 1,000; Beans, 2000 bushels.

Homer Cady,—March 2st, 1873, to March 1st, 1874.—Butter 174,000 pounds,—25,000 pound to one man; Eggs, 50,000 dozen. Aggregate amount of his sales, $47,000.

S. Robbins is dealing largely in hides and pelts, and exporting to eastern markets.

The Eashtern Michigan Agricultural Society Including several adjoining counties hold their annual fairs in this city, annually, about the last of September. Their grounds at the west limits of the city embrace twenty acres. Two grand stands, Floral Hall, Vegetable and Fruit Hall, and as good a half mile track as can be found in the State.

Several of our farmers raise blooded stock. D.M. Uhl, on the plains, does so on the largest scale. His stock is the pride of our local and State fairs, and sells at fabulous prices.

Livery Stables.

Of these there are four (Noble & Hutchinson ranking first), which furnish to citizen and stranger good rigs at reasonable rates. A ride down the river on its east bank to Rawsonville, four miles, and then its west bank to Belleville three miles farther is rarely equalled for fine scenery.

Our soil is well adapted to sweet potatoes, and a number of farmers are beginning their culture.

The farmers of the vicinity are united in a joint stock company, the Farmers' Store being the result which has proved a great success. Hon. J.W. Childs, President; J.M. Chidister, Superintendent.


In view of all the advantages we possess we invite all who contemplate a change of residence, either for the sake of educating their children, to make profitable investments, or for the purpose of engaging in manufacture of any kind, or for pleasant homes where they may enjoy life and peacefully end their days, to visit our beautiful city and examine the facilities here offered before going elsewhere.


We are amply supplied with tradesmen of all kinds, physicians and lawyers, but in every line of manufacturing there is room for almost unlimited expansion. Fuel is cheap for those who prefer steam; and a number of good mill sites, near by, are waiting for some one to come and occupy them; building materials of all kinds and of excellent quality can be had at fair prices, being much cheaper than in many places whose advantages are much less than ours. Material for manufacture when not native, is easity and cheaply imported. No fact is more thoroughtly established in the economic industries than the one, that material should be taken to be manufactured where it can be done at the least expense provided that by so doing it is not carried so far from market as to make the cost of transportation equal the amount saved in manufacturing; and for the manufacture of cloth, leather, boots and shoes, paper, wood work of all descriptions, clothing, all kinds of machinery, hardware, tin ware, etc., etc., Ypsilanti answers the conditions of this principle. Besides a good home market, we have access, at all seasons of the year, to the markets of the east, west, north, and south. Another great advantage is also found in the low price of real estate, and the low rate of taxation. Owing to the fact that the value of many sites for the purpose of manufacture, is not appreciated because not known by their present owners, or if known, because there is lack of capital. Such property can be bought today for one-half the sum it will be worth in ten years.

Another and considerable advantage arises from the condition of the city. The streets are already graded, the public buildings are erected, and two fine iron bridges span the river. There is no heavy bonded debt hanging like a mill stone upon us.

The panic of last October struck us, as a community at a time when we was wholly unprepared, but the fact that so little check was given to those interests which were elsewhere most affected demonstrated their reliability.

It is an interesting fact that to a large extent our manufacture, and indeed it may be said of almost all kinds of business in our midst that they are owned by the men who built them up.

That so many men have already made their homes here while their business lies elsewhere, tends to demonstrate the belief already stated, that here is to be a town of more than ordinary beauty, owing to the taste and wealth that will be expended in the erection of beautiful residences, a goodly number of which we already possess.

A little more attention paid to strangers looking for investments, and a disposition to aid and encourage them, would advantage both them and us.

Women here with willing hands to work are scarce. They are quite largely employed in our manufactories, paper mills, etc., wherever they can be to advantage, and get good wages.