When I was a little girl growing up my grandmother used to take me and my sister with her on her weekly shopping trip to downtown Port Huron. As we made the drive down Military Street, we would admire the beautiful houses. My favorite home was located at 1719 Military Street. My sister and I called it “Cinderella’s Castle.” I would always ask my grandmother to slow down as we approached so I could get a good look at it. Excitement and joy would pulse through my veins as we passed. My imagination filled with fairy tale like images of a beautiful girl living within the walls of that place. Little did I know such a girl had lived there in the early 1900s. Her name was Mary Harrington Thomson Thaw.Read more
Early Harsen Family Ties: Woffert Gerritze Van Kouwenhoven aka Couwenhoven
Nearly twenty-five years before Gerrit Graveraet’s great grandfather, Isaac Graveraet, came to Manhattan Island (aka New Amsterdam/New Netherland) as a “free trader”, Jacob Harsen’s 3rd great grandfather, Wolfert Gerritze Van Kouwenhoven, aka Couwenhoven, stepped foot upon the soil of this New World Read more
Journey from Albany, New York
After the British capture of Quebec from the French during the French and Indian War at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on September 13th, 1759, it would take almost another four years for the French to cede all their territory in North America to the British under the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763.  By Great Britain’s Royal Proclamation of 1763, the French Territory of Canada, known as New France, would be renamed the Province of Quebec. This new province included the Great Lakes Region and the settlement at Detroit. Read more
The demolition of the McMorran mansion on Military Street has left a stain on the Port Huron community. 50 years later the topic is still discussed. The vacant lot serves as a shrine of our mourning. Make no mistake about it, we are not the only ones who cared about the passing of this architectural masterpiece of the past. Henry McMorran cared greatly about the aesthetics of his residence and its upkeep too. In fact, on his death in July of 1929, there was work being done on the home. His final estate expenses included payment to W.J. Scott, contractor and builder, for general labor and parts and to J.A. Davison Co. for gallons of paint the colors of mahogany, red, dark slate and moss green.Read more
Tiffin and Michigan Land
After the War of 1812, the federal government conducted surveys of land to be used for military bounties in parts of the Northwest Territory for soldiers who fought in the war. Each soldier to be given 160 acres. Edward Tiffin, Surveyor General for the Northwest, issued a letter dated November 30, 1815, to Josiah Meigs, Commissioner of the General Land Office, in which he reported unfavorable conditions in the Michigan Territory describing the land as “so bad that there would not be more than one acre out of a hundred, if there would be one out of a thousand, that would in any case admit of cultivation.”Read more
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.
Beliefs, Values, Morals
“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), Belief
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 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. Honesty, education, loyalty, money, faithfulness are just a few examples.Read more
Last weekend I was browsing the internet looking at commercial real estate properties in Port Huron, Michigan. I came across the sale of the property at 708 Lapeer Avenue, the old Active Lounge. This property tugs at my heart because it was built by Henry McMorran and Wilbur F. Davidson in 1891. Two capitalists who have captivated my attention for the past few years. Having researched the life of Henry McMorran, I have a special place in my heart for this building that still stands at 7th and Lapeer.Read more
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 changed all that when 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.
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.