On January 17, 1900, Henry McMorran applied for a passport to take a winter cruise to the Mediterranean. The trip, known as the Clark Holy Land Excursion, was organized by Frank C. Clark of New York, the manager of the traveling tour. On February 1, 1900, Henry, with his daughters, Emma and Clara, and other Port Huronites, Reverend and Mrs. John Munday, Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Barnum and Mrs. William Jenkinson, embarked at Boston on the Dominion Line Steamship, New England, commanded by James McAuley.
Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching underwater
You never can hit who you’re trying for
Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It’s the chemical weapon
For the war that’s raging on inside
– John Mayer, 2006, Belief
Beliefs, Values, Morals & The Great Leap Forwards
Our beliefs form from our experiences, what we see, hear, read, and think about. They are assumptions or thoughts we associate with who we are and how we perceive others to be. They help shape and form our opinions and attitudes about what we perceive to be “good” or “bad”. Values come from our beliefs. They are the things we think are important. Whether it’s honesty, education, loyalty, money, faithfulness, etc.
Last weekend I was browsing the internet looking at commercial real estate properties in the Port Huron area. I came across an advertisement for the sale of the property at 708 Lapeer Avenue. This property tugs at my heart because I know it was built in 1891 by Henry McMorran and Wilbur F. Davidson. Two capitalists who have captivated my attention for the past few years. Having researched the life of Henry McMorran for almost four years, I feel a kinship with him and this building. When it popped up in my search, I felt the need to share what I have learned about this building over the years.
A few ideas for a Christmas blog have been gnawing at me for the past few weeks, but with the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation, writing time has been limited. Today, I took my son to see the new “Grinch” movie. I guess you could say the “green” guy swelled my heart three sizes, causing those Christmas thoughts to meander around in my head again. Which led to the creation of this blog post, despite the fact I am under a time crunch today. I guess some things they just got to come out of you one way or another.
In life we all get our start somewhere. In most instances, that start begins with experiences and connections we share with people. Henry McMorran’s start is no exception. As I discussed in an earlier blog, Henry worked for W.H.B. Dowling as a clerk until his business closed in 1860. During the Civil War period from 1861 to 1865, Henry went to work as a clerk for two men, John Stillson, who was engaged in the lumbering and mail stage business in Brockway & Port Huron, and Myron Williams, who is known for having been heavily involved in the lumbering and vessel building trade in the Marysville area with his son-in-law, Nelson Mills, starting in 1850. In 1862, Myron sold his interest in the lumber mills to Nelson and focused entirely on his vessel business.
The Port Huron and Northwestern Railway Company
In March of 1878, D.B. Harrington, John P. Sanborn, Henry Howard, Fred L. Wells, Charles A. Ward, William Hartsuff, James Beard, Henry McMorran, Silas S. Ballentine, Peter B. Sanborn and Charles R. Brown, came together to form the Port Huron and Northwestern Railway Company. They formed the company to construct a railroad with a gauge of three feet that would travel in the city of Port Huron and through a portion of St. Clair, Sanilac, and Huron counties to the village of Port Austin. Each member held 100 shares in the railroad, except D.B. Harrington; he held 110 shares.
There was more to R.C. Mudge than just making paper garments. He enjoyed music, acting, and giving to those less fortunate than himself. In 1889, he printed a piece of piano sheet music titled “The Paper Vest Gallop” composed by J.E. Fancher from the sulphite paper used to make his paper garments. He gave out free copies to anyone in the Port Huron community who requested one. At the time, the cost of a piece of sheet music was 50 cents. Today, that would equate to $12.50. The sheet music survives and is part of the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection at the John Hopkins Sheridan Libraries & University Museums archive. In addition to printing off and giving out free music, Mudge was praised many times by the Port Huron community for donating paper blankets to the Port Huron Hospital and Home Association and paper vests to local mail carriers.
Sometimes an idea is sparked by a simple thought, a notion, or a gesture that stays with us. We let it mull around in our minds for a while, keep it close, and when the time is right we put it to use in our physical world. These kinds of ideas mass produced by all of us contribute to our personal experiences and essentially create and dictate the world we live in. Other times, it is almost like the form of an idea runs quickly across our consciousness and is filtered out. Gone. Was it a missed opportunity for exploitation? Doubtful. I like to think that ideas that brushstroke our consciousness are in fact faulty thoughts gone astray that our mind was supposed to weed out and dispose of in the trash receptacle space of our unconscious mind. But who knows? All I do know is we are lucky creatures to have the intellect that we do and the physical means to share it. When I read or hear a personal story that entails an idea that take hold, grows, and shapes our world or someone’s individual life path, I love to share it. So here we go……
We have all heard the expression “Life is a Journey”. As we progress through our lives, this sentiment truly begins to morph from a mere saying into a true feeling. During my examination of Henry McMorran’s life, this feeling of journey and the passing of time holds steady in me. The process of putting together the pieces and parts of a person’s life from an historical perspective makes me personally reflect on my own life and serves up a large slice of inspiration pie.
Henry G. McMorran served as the US Congressional Representative for the 7th Congressional District of Michigan from 1903-1913 (United States, Congress, n.d.). While in Washington, he and his family frequently took up residence at The Portland located in the Thomas Circle neighborhood. (The Port Huron Daily Times, 1909 & Detroit Free Press, 1912).