Category Archives: Mystery Photo

Time for a treasure hunt! Can you guess where this photograph, related to a historical story in the Grand Traverse Region, was taken? Come back for next month’s issue and check your answer!

Ready to submit a mystery photo from your community? Send it to the editors of the Journal at gtjeditor@tadl.org. Remember to include the answer to your photograph in your email!

Council Oak Tree, a deteriorating mystery

Image courtesy of the author, May 2018.

These photographs show a mystery that is disappearing into the abyss of past time.  On Old Mission peninsula along East Bay old records indicate the existence of a Council Oak, a tree used as a gathering place for Native Americans.  It was situated just south of Archie township park and north of Wilson Road, perhaps a hundred yards from the water’s edge.  Now, a subdivision occupies the area around the site, appropriately named “Council Oak.”  The tree is mostly gone with only a rotten stump remaining–and one more thing.  A shoot grows from its base, a shoot of black oak, the same species as its grandparent tree.  Is it a symbol of the resilience of the Odawa tribe that used to inhabit these lands?

Image courtesy of the author, May 2018.

Scrips Kept the Money Moving

For this month’s Mystery Photo, we show you two sides of scrip, a currency Traverse City city leaders issued in 1934, the height of the Great Depression.  This money could be redeemed at many Traverse City businesses in exchange for goods.  At one point teachers were paid in scrip since there was no other money available to them.  The question is—why is the back filled with stamps?  What goal did that accomplish?  Good luck, history buffs!

The stamps were placed on the back on a weekly basis to ensure wide distribution. Every merchant supplied a stamp and after twenty stamps, the scrip could be turned in for a real dollar!

A quote from the Traverse City Record-Eagle at the time indicated there were problems with stamps falling off, but the system worked reasonably well.

Factory On Boardman Lake identified!

To date, January 2018s mystery photo has created the longest debate in the history of our publication! Thank you for being engaged and keeping your editors on their toes!

This image is easily one of your editors’ favorites! Taken about 1910, here is Boardman Lake, taken from the northern end and looking south. In the photograph, we see a number of fun-loving Traverse City residents ice skating, playing hockey, and in general enjoying a perfect frozen lake with no piles of snow to contend with. Solve the mystery of this image: What is that large factory shown on the background on the left? Bonus question: What building now sits where that factory was?

Congratulations to reader Biff Martin, who successfully identified the factory on the far left (with the three tallest stacks) as the Oval Wood Dish Company!

The bonus question raised some debate, but Mark Roberts answered successfully: the Boardman Lake Apartments is the former site of the Oval Wood Dish Factory.

Between the Factory and it’s famous family owner-operators, the Hull family, there’s a real story to be told! Maybe you would be interested in researching and writing that history? Let us know!

Boardman Lake, ca. 1910. Image 718.000001.327, Traverse Area District Library Local History Collection.

Depression-Era Scrip Stamps? It’s a mystery!

For this month’s Mystery Photo, we show you two sides of scrip, a currency Traverse City city leaders issued in 1934, the height of the Great Depression.  This money could be redeemed at many Traverse City businesses in exchange for goods.  At one point teachers were paid in scrip since there was no other money available to them.  The question is—why is the back filled with stamps?  What goal did that accomplish?  Good luck, history buffs!

 

 

Nestled next to a brook, “The Brook” had entertainment for all

This stairway is all that remains of a formerly well-known nightclub in Traverse City that operated from the 1930’s up to 1970.  It is located where Maple Street crosses over Kid’s Creek.  What was the name of that nightclub? (Hint–the Kid’s Creek name might suggest the answer!)

Thanks to reader Mark (with a little help from fellow readers Larry and Mozelle), we have our answer! “The Brook” was a happenin’ nightclub, a real jazzy joint, the old timers might say.

Can you name the factory across the way on Boardman Lake?

This image is easily one of your editors’ favorites! Taken about 1910, here is Boardman Lake, taken from the northern end and looking south. In the photograph, we see a number of fun-loving Traverse City residents ice skating, playing hockey, and in general enjoying a perfect frozen lake with no piles of snow to contend with. Solve the mystery of this image: What is that large factory shown on the background on the left? Bonus question: What building now sits where that factory was?

Boardman Lake, ca. 1910. Image 718.000001.327, Traverse Area District Library Local History Collection.

Fenton Street Mystery Solved!

Newspaper clipping from the Traverse City Record-Eagle, undated.

Why are Al Hoeflin (left) and Mr. & Mrs. Lane Fenton staring at these street signs in Kingsley in 1960? If you guessed that they are members of a signage admiration society, try again! Here’s your hint: What is unique about the sign that appears above “Fenton St?”

So what’s so important about these street signs? Kingsley was once two separate villages, Paradise and Kingsley Station… and each had their own Main Street! So, when the two eventually merged (sometime between 1900 and 1908), good ol’ Kingsley had two Main Streets. (The merger apparently involved much bitterness on at least one side, but the man who platted Paradise, Myron S. Brownson, did get to name the township and had a major street in Kingsley named after him.)

By 1908, the village began to distinguish between the two as North and South Main Streets. In 1960, the village finally had enough of the whole business, and renamed the street after a third-generation village family, the Fentons.

 

 

Mystery of the Tree Trail Solved!

Congratulations to library patron Elizabeth, who successfully answered last month’s Mystery Photo! Indeed, the trail marker tree at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center was part of a trail that spanned from the Straits of Mackinac to Detroit.

Plaque for trail marker trees at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, image courtesy of Richard Fidler, August 2017.