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LeRoy Barnett Collection, 1880-2022, and undated

46.5 cubic feet (in 75 boxes, 20 Oversized folders)

Collection of research materials on Michigan topics, mostly photocopies, notes, drafts of articles, and correspondence.

The collection consists mostly of photocopies of newspaper articles, magazine articles, information from websites, the Congressional Record, and chapters from reference and other books, on topics of interest to Barnett. Also included are his correspondence and email to various institutions and people asking for information and material, his notes, and typed articles he wrote on various topics. Topics documented in depth include: Ash, Center Line, John Farmer, Upper Peninsula railroads, Magnet Truck, Michigan railroads, the Mackinac Bridge, music and singers who sang songs about Michigan and or cars, the longstanding oleo versus margarine debates and laws, Michigan Central Railroad Co. Head Lights (a publication), Michigan jazz, traffic lights, with biographical materials on W.L. Potts, and Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette Railroad Co. maps (oversized transparencies). The materials (photocopies)on Headlights or Headlight Flashes includes: an advertising publication of the Company, which describes the comfort of traveling via the Company's trains and provides city histories with biographies of important families and individuals, as well as photographs of those people, expensive homes, businesses, public buildings, and pastoral scenes. Towns described include: Michigan City (Ind.), 1894; and the Mich. cities of: Albion, 1895; Pontiac, 1897; Benton Harbor and Flint, 1896; and Saint Joseph, 1898. Also included are microfilmed newspaper articles (photocopies), in which the Headlights of various cities were advertised, 1895-1896 and 1941, and 1997-2000 typed transcripts of other similar newspaper advertisements, 1895-1898. Additional subjects include: Agricultural Demonstration Trains of Michigan State University, 1906-1937; buying Michigan, 1795-1796; counties, name changes/considered creation of new counties; the history of county names; dandelions [as an emergency source of post-World War II rubber]; highway lighthouses [precursors to traffic lights]; lynchings; prisoners building Michigan roads during the 1920s; reflectors (roadside); roadside parks [Michigan had the first]; stagecoaches; broadcasting; homestead lands; Hollywood; the Port Huron and Milwaukee Railroad; Sabbath blue laws; Ludington (Mich.); swamp lands; centroids; Iron Range and Huron Bay Rialroad; ferries; population centers; Oldsmar, Florida; David Ward, Deward (Mich.); the Detroit and Charlevoix Railroad Company; Cigar Industry in Detroit, including strikes, unions, and women employees; Cigar Store Indians; crops of Flax and Gingseng and flax industries in Michigan prisons; Michigan Indians mentioned in county histories; Michigan Road Construction Train; Michigan World War I fruit and olive pit gathering campaign to create gas masks; Ragweed and hay fever and the Northern Hay Fever Resort Association, Topinabee, and the Western Hay Fever Association of the U.S., headquartered in Petoskey; General Philip H. Sheridan 's warhorse Rienzi; St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal Company and its subsidiary units, the Canal Mineral Land Company and the Michigan Pine Land Association; and Windmills in Detroit. Also included is a draft of a book by Graydon M. Meints on lumber baron David Ward that Barnett reviewed. The major topics found in 2021 Addition, Boxes 63-75, include: American Tract Society, Bloomers, Colporteur, Graphite Mining in Michigan, Medical Quacks, Michigan Iron and Land Company, Samuel Geil Maps of Michigan, and Whipping (Military corporal punishment). The 2022 Addition, Boxes 76-79, includes the major topics of Vigilance Committees against German Americans during World War I and Ski Trains. Other topics include: Buffalo Bill Train Accident, Carbon Works in Detroit, Detroit’s Streetlight Towers, Grand Duke Alexis A Romanov Visits Detroit, ‘Hello Girls’ [U.S. Army Signal Corps, World War I], Lindbergh in Michigan, Michigan World War II Veterans Bonus, Wetzel (Antrim County, MI, village), Bomb Mackinaw (which were 1925 practice maneuver plans to prevent enemies from crossing into the straits by dropping bombs from airplanes), and Crawfish. The collection is ongoing.

Processing Note: Abbreviations used by Barnett on folder labels were used and copied by Clarke processors exactly. Acidic materials were copied in 2014.


Tom C. and Fred R. Trelfa Collection, 1802-1971, and undated

4.5 cubic feet (in 7 boxes)

A significant manuscript collection of Michigan and the Old Northwest Territory. The major series of the collection are Manifests, American Fur Company, Circulars and Correspondence of the U.S. Treasury Department and Collector of Customs with subseries of Marine Hospital Money Returns and Registry of Vessels; Miscellaneous, U.S. Payment Vouchers, Bids for the Construction of Lighthouses with subseries Bois Blanc Lighthouse, Chicago River Lighthouse, St. Joseph Lighthouse, South Manitou Island Lighthouse, Miscellaneous Lighthouses, Treasury Circulars, and Pottawattamie Lighthouse; Light Boat Reports and Scrapbooks.

This is a significant manuscript collection of Michigan and the Old Northwest Territory. The collection consists of some 928 individual items and 20 volumes, 1802-1971, and relating to the conduct of the fur trade and commerce at Michilimackinac and Sault Ste. Marie, and lighthouses and maritime activities on the Great Lakes.

The collection is organized chronologically and alphabetically. The major series of the collection are Manifest, American Fur Company, Circulars and Correspondence of the U.S. Treasury Department and Collector of Customs with subseries of Marine Hospital Money Returns and Registry of Vessels; Miscellaneous, U.S. Payment Vouchers, Bids for the Construction of Lighthouses with subseries Bois Blanc Lighthouse, Chicago River Lighthouse, St. Joseph Lighthouse, South Manitou Island Lighthouse, Miscellaneous Lighthouses, Treasury Circulars, and Pottawattamie Lighthouse; Light Boat Reports and Scrapbooks.

In the descriptions, few changes have been made in spelling although for the sake of clarity some consistency has been imposed. Variant spellings of names have also been entered. However, when the identification of a particular name was in question, the spelling as recorded by the file clerks at Michilimackinac or Sault Ste. Marie (and usually cited on the verso of the document/letter) is given.

Titled “Manifests,” Boxes 1-2 actually consist of manifests, bills of lading, clearance papers guaranteeing protection for vessels bound to and from Canada (particularly St. Joseph=s Island, cited herein as St. Joseph), documents certifying duties paid on entering goods, and other papers relating to commodities entering or departing from Michilimackinac. Since Box 1 includes pre-War of 1812 documents, they are of particular value because many of the commodities entered or shipped out were done so on behalf of the American Fur Company through their various agents. In addition, these documents also prove valuable for information on the numerous schooners, sloops, and brigs traveling the lakes, in particular the “Hunter,” “Thames,” “Nancy,” John Jacob Astor,” “Saguina,” “Contractor,” “Ranger,” “Adams,” and “Montreal.” Names of individuals and companies which frequently occur are Rocheblaue and Portier, Isadore LaCroix, Daniel and David Mitchell, Jr., Tousaint Pothier, Giasson and Berthelot, Lafromboise and Schindler, Josiah Bleakley, George Gillespie, and The Michilimackinac Company.

Dating from 1838 to 1847, the American Fur Company papers which make up the remainder of Box 2 complement the numerous collections, in original manuscript or on microfilm, which the Clarke holds relating to the company. Certainly from the perspective of commerce, domestic and foreign markets, domestic manufacturers, transportation, and the problems encountered by American Fur Company agents in the field, these papers provide detailed information. The majority of them relate to incoming and outgoing correspondence from John R. Livingston, head of the St. Mary’s Outfit at Sault Ste. Marie, and deal with various accounts, problems incurred by agents in the field, transportation of supplies, and concern over a decreasing market. Market problems, both domestic and foreign, relating to furs and fish are well covered in the correspondence from Ramsay Crooks and George Ehninger in the New York central office to Livingston. Early mining efforts in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and problems of transporting goods to and from their sites are also to be found in the letters of the Union Mining Company and the Eagle Harbor Mining Company to and from Livingston.

The circulars and correspondence between the U.S. Treasury Department and the Collectors of Customs (usually Abraham Wendell at Michilimackinac) contained in Box 3 are divided into four major subseries: marine hospital money returns; registry of vessels; general information sent to the collectors; and miscellaneous documents. The section on hospital money returns is important for the detailed information on the number of men on board the various great Lakes vessels, their names and time of service, and the amount of hospital tax paid by each. The material relating to the registration of vessels in general tends to be printed documents communicating Congressional acts concerning registry, registry forms, duty rates, etc. Several of the items are actual registration documents filed with the Collector by masters of the various vessels. The third section, general information and communications, deals with duties, laws covering the Collectors, and problems with certain imports. The three miscellaneous documents relate to land transactions.

Box 3 also contains circulars and correspondence from the Treasury Department to the Collectors of Customs and communications with the Superintendents of Lighthouses (usually Abraham Wendell). This series is divided into four subseries: miscellaneous materials; circulars and correspondence from the Treasury Department to and from the Superintendents of Lighthouses; U.S. payment vouchers; and bids submitted for construction of lighthouses. The miscellaneous materials include questions regarding duties and annual and quarterly reports, and certain treasury notes. The superintendents of Lighthouses material deals with reports submitted, questions relating to these reports, allocation of funds, and general instructions to Superintendents and Keepers. Payment vouchers are included for wages paid to the various Deputy Collectors, Aids to the Revenues, and government suppliers. The materials on construction bids include those submitted to the Superintendent for the proposed lighthouses at White Fish Point, Detour, and Copper Harbor as well as several bids to furnish supplies and fuel for various light boats.

The Bois Blanc and Chicago River Lighthouses material in Box 3 is particularly important as it concerns both daily operations of these lighthouses and quarterly inventories of property and supplies on hand as well as those expended during the period in question. Various procedures, storms and requisitioned supplies, are discussed in the letters.

Similar information is in Boxes 3 and 4 which deal with the Saint Joseph River, South Manitou Island, miscellaneous lighthouses, Pottawattomie Lighthouse, Light Boat reports, Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse, Presque Isle and Bois Blanc lighthouses, and the schooner “Sparrow.” Boxes 5-7 contain scrapbooks on such subject as Alcona, Iosco, and Presque Isle Counties, Mackinac Island, and the Rogers City centennial.

Researchers are encouraged to consult other collections in the Clarke. Since a majority of the Trelfa Collection originates from the period of Abraham Wendell’s tenure as Collector of Customs and Superintendent of Lighthouses, the Abraham Wendell Papers should be used to gain a more comprehensive picture of commercial and maritime life on the Lakes. Similarly the collections of the American Fur Company (in original or on microfilm) and the Henry Rowe Schoolcraft Papers, the Henry Hastings Sibley Papers, the George Johnston Papers, and the Lawrence Tafiaferro papers (all of which are on microfilm) should be used. There is also a Fred R. Trelfa Photograph Collection of photographs relating primarily to Alpena and Alpena County history.