Tag Archives: Old Mission

A Sweet Treat from Old Mission, 1884

wilhelmfamily074Care to make a classic Edwardian dessert for your holiday festivities this year? Mrs. H.G. Reynolds of Old Mission has just the recipe for you! Reynolds’ version of a Charlotte Russe was found in a local cook book compiled by “Grand Traverse Housekeepers” and from the Household Department of the Grand Traverse Herald, one of few newspapers published in the Grand Traverse Region around the turn of the previous century.

All subscribers to the Herald were presented with a copy of The Herald Cook Book, copyright 1884. The endeavor must have been popular, as two more cook books were published by the Herald before 1900. All three are available for your perusal at the Traverse Area District Library.

You can imagine a Russe was a popular dessert because of its versatility. You could flavor the dessert with whatever fruit was in season that moment. You could use up any cookies, sponge cake, or biscuit that had gone stale. And, you didn’t have to monitor the dessert in the oven! What a perfect dish for Thanksgiving, when that space is already occupied by whatever main dish you’re serving. Enjoy!

“Charlotte Russe

Line a pan with lady fingers, or light cake. Take a quart of cream, sweetened to taste and flavored with vanilla, then whip it. Pour half a cup of hot water on half an ounce of gelatine which has been soaking in a little cold water. After it is dissolved stir very hard into the whipped cream and then pour it into the mold being careful not to upset the cake. Set in a cold place to harden.  -Mrs H.G. Reynolds, Old Mission.”




Dougherty’s Primer for the Ojibwa Language: A Missionary’s Efforts at Printing the Spoken Word, 1847

Recently, I attended a meeting of the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society, and had the good fortune to hear a talk on the Reverend Peter Dougherty, delivered by Mr. Bill Cole, President of the Peter Dougherty Society. The life of early settlers, especially missionaries, is an intriguing topic, and I found myself back in the Nelson Room at Traverse Area District Library looking for more on Dougherty and his work in the field. I discovered a slim volume, a facsimile of an original, titled Short Reading Lessons in the Ojibwa Language, by Rev. Peter Dougherty.

Portrait of Rev. Peter Dougherty. Image courtesy of the History Center of Traverse City.
Portrait of Rev. Peter Dougherty. Image courtesy of the History Center of Traverse City.

When Dougherty began in 1839 to serve as a missionary from the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission to the native population living in and around the Grand Traverse Bay region, what were his primary concerns? Certainly the logistics of any trip arise: how to get there, where to stay, what to pack. Compensating for his isolation would have played an important part in all his decisions, and I think not the least would be the worry to make himself understood!

Translating was a matter of necessity for 17th century fur traders and early Catholic missionaries, and some translation keys were published, but more as a curiosity than a work of instruction. Later, the pioneering work of Henry Schoolcraft and his mixed-race wife Jane Johnston (a native speaker of the Ojibwa language, author, poet, and resident of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) prompted an interest in translating between the languages as a means of retaining native culture and practices. However, it appears there was no drive for creating primers that were instructive and reusable until Dougherty’s era of missionary work began. Dougherty seems to have mastered the language well enough to write Short Reading Lessons, printed for the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in 1847, and we presume it was used as a guide for other missionaries serving in areas where the Algonquin language family was prominently spoken. Dougherty also provided a translation for the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer in The First Initiatory Catechism, 1847.

Short Reading Lessons is a dual-language primer containing 20 lessons. The following format is provided for each lesson: an image is shown, then the image is described in English, followed by the Ojibwa translation. As the lessons progress, Dougherty’s subjects moved from the secular (boys picking apples, a hunting party), to religious themes (Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, David and Goliath). One wonders if this was intentional.

Here’s the language key provided in the front matter:

A has the uniform sound of in the word mason.
E the uniform long sound a in the word e-den.
I long when it constitutes a syllable, and short in all other cases; e.g., as in pine, and in into.
O long, as in note.
O short, as in moderate.
U like in ugly, when it follows e; like u uncorn [sic].
G the hard sound like k.
J the soft sound.
The rest of the alphabet like the English.

Ready to give lesson one a shot?:


An apple tree.
A willow basket.
Stone Wall.
A ladder.
Five boys.
These boys are gathering apples.

Wuh-tuh-be muh-kuk.
Ah-sen-e mich-e-kuk-nah-ko-be-je-gun.
Nah-nun que-we-zan-sug.
O-go que-we-zen-sug o-mah-mo-zhuh-ge-nah-won me-she-me-nun.

If your interest is piqued, Short Reading Lessons is available in its entirety online through the Hathi Trust Digital Library: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100585421; or, feel free to visit us at Traverse Area District Library to take a look at the print copy. Sorry, we do not promise any level of proficiency if you finish the primer!

Amy Barritt is co-editor of Grand Traverse Journal.

Privy Excavation Reveals life for Old Mission family, 1860-1930

Warne, November 2014, describing the excavation of the privy site. Warne is also involved in the more recent excavation, in June 2015, undertaken by North Central Michigan College professor Kerri Finlayson and her students.
Warne, October 2014, describing the excavation of the privy site. Warne is also involved in the more recent excavation, in June 2015, undertaken by North Central Michigan College professor Kerri Finlayson and her students. Image courtesy of the author.

Nancy Warne’s interest was piqued. While undertaking her volunteer duty of raking the grounds behind the house and buildings of the Dougherty Home on Old Mission Peninsula, she would find an assortment of debris, mostly broken glass and pottery. Her suspicions were further raised, after having watched a program on excavating a historical outhouse site.

What else could be found under the myrtle in the Dougherty/Rushmore backyard?  What might be found at the suggested site of the Rushmore outhouse?

A brief, but relevant, digression: Peninsula Township purchased the Dougherty Historic Home Site property in July 2006, in collaboration with a number of concerned organizations on Old Mission Peninsula. The Site is home to the original 1842 structure built by Reverend Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian minister and missionary. The Mission House “is believed to be the first post and beam house in the lower peninsula, north of Grand Rapids”. (1) Solon Rushmore purchased the property from Rev. Dougherty in 1861, and it remained in the Rushmore family for 100 years. (2)

An archaeological study of the entire home site was commissioned by the Peter Dougherty Society, the organization responsible for restoring the buildings and grounds on the property. When that gridded search came up empty, the Society members figured there simply weren’t any buried treasures to uncover. So what was Warne uncovering during her raking stints? Random refuse? A possible location of an old outhouse? 

There was nothing for it: Warne had to know.

Rather than searching blindly, which could compromise the integrity of any historical dig sites found, Warne had some help.   Nancy (Rushmore) Hooper, the grandchild of William and Minnie Rushmore who had run the Mission House as a summer inn for visitors until about 1915, knew where the Rushmore privy was located.  She had used it as a child during her summers in Old Mission.  She recalled during inclement weather running through the house into the summer kitchen and out the door of the woodroom directly to the outhouse.

The outhouse was restored in 2009 by dedicated Society volunteers, and other than the roof and 4 inches of treated wood at the base of the outhouse, most of the wood is original. Needed replacement wood was obtained from a collapsed 1870s barn near Bowers Harbor. Original wooden pegs in the window framing and 5 different sized square steel nails from the roof were reused in the reconstruction. The lids are original, as is part of the seat. Sorry folks, this three-holer is for display only. Image courtesy of the author, October 2014.

Understandably, after the Rushmore family purchased the home from Dougherty and eventually turned it into an inn, the first order of business was to move the Dougherty outhouse from direct view of the dining room window and orient the door to face south for additional privacy. That new location was the one Hooper remembered and the one that was excavated.  The Mission House was not graced with a full bath until some time between 1930 and 1950. In the 1950s after the site was sold to Virginia Larson, the outhouse was moved to the cement slab where it now stands.

Once plumbing went in to the Home, the privy holes were slowly filled with household refuse. After the outhouse was moved in the 1960s, the holes were further filled with dirt, and myrtle gained a footing, creeping over the site and providing effective camouflage.

Society members are fully aware of what it takes to properly dig a site and restore any findings, so after making an initial, inches-deep search of the spot Hooper identified, Warne called upon experienced archaeological students and Society volunteers who were excited to begin digging. They began digging August 23, 2012, and lasted through the month of October. On that first day, nearly 60 bottles were found. Warne says that, initially, the items were merely cataloged based on where they were found in the dig site, but quickly a more rigorous procedure was developed, as follow-up research would clearly need to be done to do the excavation justice.

The results? Three to four tubs of disintegrating metal, mostly cans; some intact pieces of metal, including an 1869 shield nickel, a small child’s sterling silver ring, a shotgun barrel; dishes, mostly broken that are being lovingly reconstructed; a Kewpie doll and clay marbles; and most significantly, 280 intact bottles.

After the thrill of excavation, Warne got down to the nitty-gritty of her research. What were these bottles, and what would they tell us about the Rushmore family?

A sample of Warne's work on identifying and dating the bottles found during excavation. Image courtesy of the author, October 2014.
A sample of Warne’s work on identifying and dating the bottles found during excavation. Image courtesy of the author, October 2014.

An introduction to glass bottle manufacturing in the United States, ca. 1860 to 1930, was the first step in dating the bottles. Warne’s primary dating method deals with the seam present on machine-made bottles, which ran up the side and over the rim of the bottle; a bottle-making machine was invented in 1895, and in wide use by 1910. Many of the bottles had manufacturer’s marks on the bottom. With that information, Warne was able to date most of the bottles, the majority of which are machine made. Some of the oldest items were canning jars, dating from the 1870s, complete with common imperfections of the time, such as bubbles in the glass.

One of several displays for the August 2012 privy excavation. Image courtesy of the author, October 2014.
One of several displays for the August 2012 privy excavation. Image courtesy of the author, October 2014.

Some of the bottles are of brand names we would recognize, “Colgate,” “Hires Root Beer,” “Listerine,” Alka-seltzer”, “Heinz Catsup”, “French’s Mustard”, “Bromoseltzer”, Carter’s Ink” Ultimately, Warne divided up the collection into Food, Personal Use, Household, Medical (which turned out to be the bulk of the collection), and Miscellaneous. An important local find were bottles from the American Drug Store, Traverse City, Michigan.

When asked if anything really stood out to Warne, she pointed to her favorite bottle, “Mascaro Monique for the Hair” (pictured above), largely for the history of the woman behind the hair tonic. Warne also noted that there were “lots of laxatives. Take that for what it is.”

Warne’s find has been on display in the “kitchen” of the Mission House for the past three years, and as she told me, “seeing this many bottles on display really gives you a sense of the numbers, including the number of hours I spent cleaning and identifying them!” As the restoration of the Home continues, the vision being to restore the interior and exterior back to between 1850 and 1915, Warne’s find is no longer safe in its current space, and will be put into storage. She anticipates that one-third to one-half of the collection will be put back on permanent display, once the restoration has finished. She also curates two annual displays, at the annual Log Cabin Days on the last weekend of June at the Dougherty Home Site property, and at the Woodmere Branch of Traverse Area District Library, usually in August.

Warne, here piecing together pottery found in the June 2015 excavation, in much the same way as the August 2012 finds.
Warne, here piecing together pottery found in the June 2015 excavation, in much the same way as the August 2012 finds. Image courtesy of David C. Warne, June 2015.

Warne stresses that the restoration of the Home has truly been a dedicated group effort by all the Society members. “We have experts come in, but most of the work has been done by retired businessmen, teachers, farmers… just people who are really handy.” (3)

This summer of 2015, a licensed archeologist, Kerri Finlayson and her student crew from North Central Michigan College have been digging in the suggested area of the original Dougherty outhouse.  Hundreds of small artifacts have been found from a depth of one foot to nearly 20 feet, including an arrowhead, buttons, ink bottle, shoe polish jar, toothbrush, pipe stems, animal bones, chards, etc.

The Peter Dougherty Society continues its work to restore the Home. Many of their restoration projects to this point have been on outlying buildings, including the outhouse, ice house, and summer kitchen. You can help the Society complete the restoration of the Home and establish it as a museum! The Jeffris Family Foundation has awarded the Society a challenge grant of $157,000, to be provided on a 1 for 2 match basis and has kicked off a three year Capital Campaign to raise $314,000 to complete the restoration of the Mission House and establish it as a museum. Fundraising for the matching grant must be completed by December 31, 2015, so no time like the present!

For additional information or to donate, contact www.oldmissionhouse.com, Peter Dougherty Society, PO Box 101, Old Mission, MI  49673 or call (231) 223-8778.

Amy Barritt is co-editor of Grand Traverse Journal. Nancy Warne, interviewed for this article, has been an active member of the Peter Dougherty Society since 2005. In addition to discovering lost privy holes, Warne is also responsible for filming much of the restoration projects underway, as well as all pre-restoration documentation, “to record the way everything looks before they tear it all apart,” as she says.

Special thanks to David C. Warne for introducing the Journal to Nancy Warne and her fantastic work, and for the photograph included in the article.

  1. Dougherty Historic Home Site. History. Accessed 15 June 2015. http://www.oldmissionhouse.com/mission
  2. For more information on the “Old Mission” in what is now Grand Traverse County and the “New Mission” in Omena, Leelanau County, check out “History of the Grand Traverse Region,” by Dr. M.L. Leach, from your local public library!
  3. Nancy Warne, Personal Interview, October 2014.

The Mission Table Restaurant of Bowers Harbor: A Splendid Building, But Not a Residence for a Ghost

by Julie Schopieray, local historian and writer

Nestled in the pines on the Old Mission peninsula overlooking Bowers Harbor is a gem of 1920’s architecture that has gone unrecognized for its unique style and quality design.  Now called the Mission Table (formerly the Bowers Harbor Inn), the original farm residence was designed by a dynamic architectural firm from St. Paul, Minnesota in 1929.  The design team of Bentley-Worthen was made up of two talented architects. Percy Dwight Bentley (1885-1968) trained at the Armor Institute in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century.  His early work reflected the Prairie School style of Frank Lloyd Wright, though Bentley most likely never met the man.  He spent several years in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, designing many houses in the Prairie School style, but worked with period revival idioms as well.  Even without formal architectural training, Kenneth Worthen was already well known in St. Paul, having designed over one hundred buildings there by 1929 when he and Percy Bentley designed the Bowers Harbor home.  Starting his career in architecture around 1921, he had great success beginning at a very young age.  A compendium of St. Paul architecture, St. Paul’s Architecture: A History, notes, “Still barely twenty-one years old, he began to create some of the city’s most distinctive period-revival homes. He was so successful that within two years he was supported by a corps of some of the city’s finest draftsmen… Worthen became both specialist in and master of period-revival design for the midsize house… a position he would occupy for the duration of his nine-year St. Paul career.” (1)

Architectural drawing of the front elevation of Old Mission Table, ca. 1927.
Architectural drawing of the front elevation of Old Mission Table, ca. 1927.

The Bowers Harbor project was larger than most of Mr. Worthen’s homes. It was designed in what one architectural historian described as a stylized period house, typical of the design team’s work in the late 1920s. Paul Larson, co-author of St. Paul’s Architecture, described the house’s design in detail.  “The front elevation of the house looks all Bentley — clean lines, balanced fenestration, sharp color demarcations. But the details … look all Worthen — picturesque mix of materials, loads of historicisms. So it must have been a joint design effort.”   The home has many unique features and wonderful details in tile work inside and out. One feature is an elevator which was probably the first one installed in a residence in the entire region.  A Lion-like gargoyle at the peak of a stained-glass widow was a signature piece of Kenneth Worthen’s work– a detail he had used in other homes. Several stained glass windows add more creative flair to the home.  There are two large fireplaces, one on each end of the structure and three smaller ones in the upper bedrooms, each with unusual tile or stonework. The chimney of one fireplace is built of stone and irregularly placed bricks, typical in several of Kenneth Worthen’s St. Paul structures.   A stucco type wall, on one end of the home encloses a small courtyard, and is imbedded with colorful tiles, seashells, and stones collected by the owners. A large, graceful, curved iron hook once held a grand lantern near the front door. Cost to build the house was approximately $175,000, a sum well exceeding two million dollars in today’s money.

The partnership of Bentley-Worthen was brief, lasting about one year, with both men going on to do other projects.  The Bowers Harbor home may have been the last one Kenneth Worthen designed in the East before he relocated his family to California in the latter part of 1930, where he continued his career as a successful architect until his death in 1947.

Tile work on an original fireplace surround.

The Bowers Harbor home was built for Kenneth Worthen’s aunt, Jennie E. (Worthen) Stickney and her husband Charles F. Stickney.  In 1909, Jennie purchased the Chester and Anna Hartson farm which was established in the 1860s.  Wintering in St. Paul with Jennie’s sister Clara Mann, in Chicago with Charles’ sisters (or in warmer climate), the couple arrived in the spring, staying well into the fall. When their house was damaged by a fire in 1927, Jennie hired her nephew Kenneth to build a much larger home around the shell of the old farm house.  Here they entertained family, friends, and fellow businessmen.  Charles started in the shoe and boot manufacturing business as his father and grandfather had. He used his business skills to promote local farming, the business of harvesting, and food processing.  Partnering with J.C. Howe, he established the Howe & Stickney canning company in 1910.  The Bowers Harbor home was a working farm with the Stickneys hiring local men to run the farm and ladies to help in the house.  Jennie enjoyed creating jams, jellies, brandies and pies from the fruits harvested on their farm and made it a point to serve them whenever they entertained.

As they aged and their health began to decline, the Stickneys hired a personal nurse to care for them. Jennie suffered from diabetes, heart disease and–in her last years–possible early stages of dementia. Their nurse and her children lived with them in Bowers Harbor in the summers and  accompanied them wherever they spent the winter.  Mrs. Stickney died in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Pantlind Hotel in March 1947, where they had a suite for the winter.  Mr. Stickney, though confined to a wheelchair, continued to enjoy their Bowers Harbor home for two more years until his death at Munson Hospital in Traverse City, in August 1949.

Colorful floor tile work.

Numerous newspaper articles beginning in the 1970s report that the Stickney summer house is “haunted,” claiming that Mr. Stickney died first and that Mrs. Stickney took her own life in the house. These claims concerning the Stickneys’ deaths are unsupported by historical research. Another story has it that Mr. Stickney had an affair and donated all of his wealth to a caregiver, causing a jealous Mrs. Stickney to hang herself in an elevator shaft in the house. Whether or not Mr. Stickney had an affair, Mrs. Stickney did not hang herself in an elevator shaft in the house!

The legends associated with the house vary, but are all unsupported by evidence. The bare truth holds less intrigue than tales of vast lumber wealth, infidelity, vanity and suicide that have spread locally over recent years. The real story is about two elderly people who needed help from their widowed nurse, a person to whom Mr. Stickney did leave his worldly possessions, but only out of respect and gratitude. With no children of his own, Charles felt his nurse was a perfect recipient of what was left of his estate. She had two children to raise and the Stickneys had come to care about the entire family. Others connected to the Stickneys and left out of the will may have felt entitled to some of the estate, that bitterness leading to jealous rumors about an alleged indiscretion between Charles and his caregiver. However the false stories started, they are nothing more than rumors and unsupported gossip.

Tile work on the exterior of the structure mimics the colorful tile inlays found on the interior floors.

It is widely reported by former owners, employees and visitors, that there is something unusual about the house. Some claim to have experienced phenomena pointing to Mrs. Stickney’s ghostly presence, often referring to her as “Genevieve.”  Birth, marriage, will and passport documentation proves that her name was never Genevieve, but Jennie. The only document with the name Genevieve is her death certificate, signed by a physician who did not personally know her.  He could have assumed Jennie was short for Genevieve, or, in her state of dementia, she might have started calling herself by that name.  For 80 years she went by the name of Jennie, her given name.

Perhaps the  “ghost” experienced by many at Bowers Harbor is not Jennie at all.  It could be Chester, Anna, Nida Hartson, who all passed away in the old farm house before the Stickneys arrived.  Or, more likely, there is no ghost at all.  If it is Jennie, however, it can only be because she lingered about her dearly loved, beautiful, unusual home–her one permanent residence, designed by her only nephew, the sole surviving child of any of her siblings.

The fabricated myths need to be dropped. Perhaps if they do, Jennie’s “ghost”—the twisted memory of an honorable woman–can finally be put to rest. It is a shame that Mrs. Stickney, a woman with no one to defend her legacy, has had her life story so completely tarnished.  Throughout the last few decades, the ghost stories have been a lure to bring people into the restaurant–as a glance at the Mission Table website reveals.

Unique details, such as the stained glass windows, sets the Stickney home apart from other local residences.
Unique details, such as the stained glass windows, sets the Stickney home apart from other local residences.

Mrs. Stickney deserves redemption.  It is the hope of the author that with the real story told, the house itself will be a new reason to draw customers. When people can finally look at the house—its true history and its glorious design–with new eyes, when they can study the quirky, exceptional details of its architecture, and when they forget the ghost legend, this splendid building will become recognized and respected for the showpiece of 1920s architecture it is.

(1) Thank you to Donald Aucutt, architectural historian, who has studied the work of Percy Dwight Bentley, as well as other Midwest architects of this period.

Julie Schopieray is a local historian and writer. Julie is currently working on a project concerning Jens C. Petersen, a Traverse City architect who practiced in this city from the early 1900s to 1918.