This is the first entry of a new local history blog that will run regularly in our online History section. I call it History Crossroads because I hope it will become a gathering place and forum for people who enjoy local history and the many stories about our area’s past you can find in the Record-Eagle and Reflections by the Bays, our stand-alone quarterly magazine that has a strong history emphasis.
I will monitor this blog and write small pieces weekly, but it is my hope that readers will help, too, through comments, by providing additional historical information about a story or asking questions about local history that others readers can help answer.
Thank you to all who emailed and called to tell me how much you enjoyed the first installment (available at record-eagle.com/history) of our occasional series that will run this year on local veterans and the area home front dating back as far as the Civil War.
If you have a World War I story about the Traverse City area or comments on our Nov. 21-22 World War I stories that you would like to share online with other readers, please write them in the comment box below.
To get things started, here are some comments I received from readers about the World War I package.
Tony Rakowski , my mother’s first cousin was killed by a German sniper in early November ( as we know the Armistice was signed Nov 11, 1918). He was the grandson of German emigrants Michael and Mary (Englander) Limberger of Potter Road. As the family story recounted many times – a few more days and he would have made it !! He is buried in the Old Catholic section of Oakwood
P.S. My aunt Clara Moon (the artist) might have more detail as he was also her first cousin.
Sen. George McManus Jr.
Editor’s note: Former state Sen. George McManus is also a former Grand Traverse County extension agent and author of “The Boy from Archie,” published in 2008.
Clara Moon, 92, a long-time Peninsula Township water colorist, did have more to tell about the 19-year-old son of a Garfield Township farm family. In fact, she has an old letter sent by a member of his platoon to Tony’s sister. He died on Nov. 2, 1918 by shellfire near Metz, France, while trying to take two hills. Clara also has a card Tony sent her mother in June 1918 just days after she was born. He was at training camp in Waco, Texas.
“How’s my little cousin getting along?” he asked in the card. “I hope you are both well. When I get back there will be lot of strangers I’ll have to get acquainted with…”
Nice article in Sunday’s paper about WWI. Am glad you included information about Thomas H. Coxe. He is one of my heroes. To the best of my knowledge, only the socialists in town raised any objection to that war. And that objection was quite muted–understandably. The illustrations were impressive. Love the sepia one on page one that shows the train at the station.
Editor’s note: Richard Fidler is a retired Traverse City biology teacher who now focuses his research skills on local history. He has written and published two books on area history: “Glimpses of Grand Traverse Past: Reflections on a Local History” (2008), and “Who We Were, What We Did: Fresh Perspectives on Grand Traverse History” (2009).
The latter offers a chapter on Thomas H. Coxe and World War I dissonance in Traverse City. Coxe, editor of the short-lived Traverse City Press, refused to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner” and was ejected from a 1917 city commission meeting shortly after the United States entered the war. The Socialist Party of America drew significant support in the early 1900s from trade unionists, progressive social reformers, populist farmers and immigrant communities and one Traverse City commissioner at that time was a socialist. The party staunchly opposed U.S. entry into World War I.
Jim Neve, Leelanau Township supervisor, said the Nov. 21 front-page photograph of a crowd gathered at the old Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad station during World War I reminded him of a story he once heard about the Cedar railroad depot during World War I. According to that story, soldiers departing from Cedar wrote their names on the wall of the depot. I checked with a couple of Leelanau County local historians but they hadn’t heard this story.
Does anyone out know more about this? If so, please fill the rest of us in by leaving a comment below.