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
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.
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.