An excellent discussion of this topic is found on Amy Elliott Bragg's most excellent blog, Night Train (to Detroit, and the post has the benefit of being co-written with her husband Scott, who is yet another Michigander fascinated by the Civil War. Check it out here: MI Thirteenth
Look for three new books on Michigan and the Civil War to debut this year. At least three.
One is by David Finney, who most would regard as the leading Civil War expert on the ground in Michigan. He has a book coming out on Michigan's Civil War soldiers, hopefully in March.
Then comes a guidebook by Karin Risko and Dave Ingall, updated/expanded from the version they published a few years ago. Hopefully it will be out in April.
Then, around September it is hoped and planned (and with many prayers) will emerge another book on an aspect of Michigan Civil War matters that will touch on a subject never before adequately covered. The co-authors are working diligently on it, and it will have a dual purpose of educating and memorializing. More to follow ...
These, of course, come on the heels of a number of other books that have emerged during the Sesquicentennial. It would seem -- someone should do a comparison -- that at least as many publications (or as many words) like this have come out as during the Centennial. The preceding commemoration produced the famous "blue books" but the Sesquicentennial has produced some great and longer and more in depth works.
The three to debut in 2015 come with great anticipation, at least in this space.
This, the final calendar year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, has started out well in Michigan.
Yesterday, Governor Snyder signed into law Senate Bill 93, to designate the "102nd United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) Memorial Highway". The location is "the portion of highway I-375 that is within Wayne County." Public Act 494 of 2014 is now on the books, taking effect on March 31, 2015.
Looking forward to appropriate commemorative events to unveil this signage.
This initiative was one of the Michigan Historical Commission Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee's objectives in its work plan: http://www.michigan.gov/mhc/0,4726,7-282-65121_61084_62918_65885-310616--,00.html MiCWSC
More work remains ...
During the coming New Year, let us fervently hope and pray that this historic structure will once and for all be relocated to a place where it will receive the proper respect and treatment by Michigan ... for it would be quite a fitting way to conclude the Michigan commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial.
The funeral for Tom Farrell, former member of the Michigan Historical Commission, is tomorrow, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Gerard Catholic Church, Lansing, MI. Tom passed away early Christmas morning, age 86.
When I received the honor of an appointment in June 2007, I joined a Commission with Tom already a member. He had been appointed to the position August 16, 2005, by Governor Granholm, because (as I heard from an informed source) his good friend Attorney General Frank Kelley thought he would be a good addition to the State's longest standing history body.
The obituary notice I received says the following:
He was well-known among state agencies for his public relations work. In the span of his nearly 50-year career Farrell served as the public information officer for many state government agencies including the Michigan State Highway Department, the Michigan Commerce Department, and the Michigan Department of Education. He also worked for the Michigan Catholic Conference and as an administrative assistant to former U.S. representative John C. Mackey.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, January 15, 1928, Tom Farrell graduated from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School in 1946. Farrell started his career in the news business as an 8-year-old selling nickel newspapers to churchgoers at The Shrine of the Little Flower Parish in Royal Oak. Later, he attended Aquinas College where he met his wife Marilou. In 1946 he worked as a sports reporter for the Grand Rapids Herald before moving to the Grand Rapids Press. In 1949 he hired on with the United Press and covered the 1950 elections before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He spent two years as editor of The Cardinal, at Camp Atterbury, IN, before returning to Lansing to work as the Capital Correspondent for UPI. One of the highlights of Farrell’s half-century career was his coverage of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957.
In 1959 Farrell went to work as the Public Information Officer for the Michigan State Highway Department under the direction of John C. Mackie. During his tenure Michigan led the nation in freeway construction. In 1964 highway commissioner John Mackie won a U.S. House seat and Farrell went with him to Washington to serve as his administrative assistant. Two years later he returned to Michigan to work as the Public Information Director at the new Michigan Department of Transportation. Following this position, in 1968, he was the Public Information Director for the Michigan Catholic Conference under Francis J. “Jerry” Coomes; he held the same title for the Department of Commerce under Dick Whitmer from 1969-72. Farrell spent the next 13 years, 1972-1985 working as the Assistant Superintendent for Legislation and Public Affairs at the Michigan Department of Education.
In 1985 then-Chief Justice G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams hired Farrell to be the Public Information Officer for the Michigan Supreme Court, where he worked until his retirement in 1993. Farrell also worked under Chief Justices Dorothy Comstock Riley and Michael F. Cavanagh. Farrell was previously quoted as saying, “I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had some of the greatest bosses in the world.”
Farrell was a member of the Michigan Historical Commission, was president of the Michigan Press Association, a member of the Michigan Broadcaster’s Association, and a lifetime board member for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He also did public relations and media operations for various political campaigns.
Thomas is survived by his eight children, Richard, Grand Ledge, MI; Thomas, Michael (Carol), Mark, Susan (Douglas) Lenon, Lansing, MI; James (Jane Greenway) Okemos, MI; Mary (Robert) Moffett, Pierson, FL; and Nancy, Weslaco, TX; his many grandchildren, great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews; sisters Joanne Chapin, IL; Mary Cagney, OH; and Lois, Lansing. He was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Marilou, their son Patrick, daughter-in-law Gail, daughter Catherine, and granddaughter Sara Rivera. The family wishes to invite those whose lives were touched by Tom to join them in celebration of his life Wednesday, December 31, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Gerard Catholic Church, Lansing, MI. Burial at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Lansing, MI. Visitation is Tuesday, December 30, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m., with Vigil Service at 7 p.m. in the Tiffany Funeral Home, 3232 W. Saginaw St., Lansing. Viewing will be from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Wednesday at church. Friends may visit the guestbook at www.tiffanyfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to organizations supporting Alzheimer’s research and care.
According to Gongwer, "Mr. Farrell was praised by reporters as a man of tremendous knowledge, humanity and integrity." And: "Mr. Farrell was someone who knew everyone, knew their history and the history of current issues. He was an invaluable source to reporters, knowing what they needed and what they did not, and never tried to oversell a story. And in a political climate where people often were looking over their shoulders, Mr. Farrell was unafraid to be direct either to reporters or the people he worked for. He also had a tremendous sense of fairness."
Thomas Maurice Farrell served this State and its citizens loyally and with great dedication practically his whole life. I am grateful for our paths having crossed. Condolences to his family.
We are ending the year with news that is so far removed from five/six years ago, and it bodes well for the future of this great State:
State Population Grows By More Than 11,000 People
Michigan's estimated population increased to more than 9.909 million people in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, keeping Michigan the 10th largest state in the U.S.
The estimates of state population released by the bureau Tuesday also showed the state had grown by more than 26,000 since the 2010 census when Michigan was the only state to lose population during the previous 10 years.
... six states -- Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico, Alaska, and Vermont -- lost population during the year.
Source: Gongwer News Report
Last night, on the final day/night of the current session, the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Bill 93.
The bill was introduced on January 29, 2013, by Senator Coleman A. Young II, with cosponsors Hoon-Yung Hopgood, Steven Bieda, Morris Hood, Rick Jones, John Pappageorge, Bert Johnson, and Glenn Anderson. The bill would have added a new section to the Michigan Memorial Highway Act to designate the portion of highway I-375 within Wayne County as the "First Michigan Colored Infantry Regiment Memorial Highway".
The First Michigan Colored was a regiment of Michiganders of African descent who enlisted to fight in the Civil War on behalf of Union and emancipation. They were recruited in 1863 from the southern tier of Michigan counties.
The bill was referred to committee and languished. Suddenly, on October 1, 2014, the committee took up the legislation, and the bill was reported out in the form of a substitute S-2. The substitute amended the bill to read as follows: SEC. 1076. THE PORTION OF HIGHWAY I-375 THAT IS WITHIN WAYNE COUNTY SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE "102ND UNITED STATES COLORED TROOPS (U.S.C.T.) MEMORIAL HIGHWAY. " On November 6, the substitute was adopted by a vote of 37-0 with one member excused.
The bill was referred to a House committee, which reported it out on December 9 with a recommendation that it pass without amendment. On December 16, the House adopted a substitute H-1, which would amend the bill to read as follows: SEC. 90. THE PORTION OF HIGHWAY I-375 THAT IS WITHIN WAYNE COUNTY SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE "102ND UNITED STATES COLORED TROOPS (U.S.C.T.) MEMORIAL HIGHWAY". On December 18, the House approved the bill by a vote of 108-0.
Because the House had adopted a different version of the bill, the Senate had to concur for it to become law. On the same day, the bill was transmitted to the Senate, and that body adopted the House version by a vote of 38-0. The bill is on its way to the Governor where it undoubtedly will be signed into law.
Thus, during the 11th hour of the current Legislature, a bipartisan consensus occurred and without a single dissenting voice action was taken -- quickly and in the only way to achieve passage -- to honor the First Michigan Colored Infantry Regiment, later denominated the 102nd United States Colored Troops.
Immediate effect was approved, so the bill will become law upon the Governor's signing it.
The bill was introduced as part of the Michigan Historical Commission's workplan to assist Michigan in commemorating the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Last night's passage is extremely gratifying. But even more, it is such an appropriate action by our elected officials to call to the attention of all 10 million Michiganders and those visitors to our State who travel I-375 the heroism, patriotism, and selfless sacrifice of the thousand-plus men who put on Union blue and carried armament to fight, primarily in the Deep South, under the flag of the United States of America. As chair of the Civil War Sesquicentennial committee would say, "Huzzah!"
The new edition of Michigan History magazine is out, and included is a piece by yours truly entitled "The Man With the Branded Hand" about Michigander and abolitionist Jonathan Walker of Muskegon. His son Lloyd Garrison Walker is featured in a sidebar, along with one on the National Abolition Hall of Fame (does anyone know of it?!). Incredibly, this is the first occasion for the story to be told in the fabled pages of the State's premier popular history periodical. Congrats! to the editorial staff for wanting such a story to be told.
So why a "branded hand"? You see, Walker was a virtuous man who wanted to help enslaved people escape their chains, and so he ... well, perhaps you should get a copy of the magazine and see the whole and fascinating account of his life and deeds.
Also is featured with an image on the cover and another typically well-done story by Le Roy Barnett: "The Hero Who Was a Horse" about "Winchester" also known as "Riezi", the horse made famous (or was it the other way around ... ?) by Philip A. Sheridan, the Civil War general who helped the Union gain the victory.
Hope folks will read the entire issue as it is full of interesting stories.
The Freep has a "This Week in Michigan History" item today about Secretary of State Lewis Cass resigning on this date in the year 1860. What, was he caught in some scandal?
No, he stepped down from his prestigious post, as the Freep recounts, "after disagreeing with President James Buchanan about Southern secession." He "felt Buchanan, a lame-duck president essentially biding his time" until Abe Lincoln got sworn in, "wasn't doing enough to prevent the South from splitting from the Union, such as reinforcing military forts in the South."
This line of thinking has not been much emphasized in the histories of the period. Cass was 78 years old then. His life dated back to the 18th century, and he came of adulthood when Thomas Jefferson was elected. Though a Democrat, he brooked no mention of splitting up the U.S. of A. He espoused popular sovereignty, and this misguided political doctrine got buried in the 1860 election, but he advocated that his party leader -- who still had nearly three months as the Chief Executive -- do something to forestall the South's taking a "mad" step in breaking up the country.
Cass was a giant in Michigan history. That he opposed the Jefferson Davis wing of his own Democratic Party ought never to be forgotten.
His resignation deserves recognition for an act of conscience and patriotism.