This week the Keweenaw Time Traveler was honored to help one of our users Dennis Pellerin. Dennis had some wonderful stories that he wanted to contribute to the new Explore App that came to him from his father. Here is a great quote from Dennis on how these stories came to him:
"One day back in 1987, Dad handed me a sealed manila envelope and asked me not to mention it to the rest of the family, and not to open it until after he died. Well, Dad led a pretty long life and and lived some 22 years after he gave me the envelope. It was about a month after Dad died that I remembered the envelope. It was a little difficult to find since we moved twice since he gave it to me. When I open the envelope, I found a cassette tape. That was it, no note, no description on it, just the tape. Well, technology had advanced, and cassettes were no longer sold. They went to the wayside along with 8 track tapes and cd’s. It took me about a week to find a cassette player which I hooked up to my PC. What a surprise when I first listened to it. What a great present to leave the family! I edited it into individual stories, burnt them to disc, and shared them with all of the family members. To this day, a number of us will occasionally listen to a few of his stories. "
"I belong to a group on Facebook called ‘You know you’re from the Copper Country when…’. About a year ago, I posted one of the stories and received many ‘likes’ and comments. Over the course of a couple weeks, I posted one story a day. During those two weeks, I was surprised the number of people who had made comments that were family members of those named in the different stories. I met a number of people whose names I remembered Dad talking about when I was a kid. What a great experience it was. "
Dennis wanted to share the memories and stories his father left him on the Keweenaw Time Traveler for others to enjoy, but he noticed our Stories can't play audio files (yet!) and he wondered if there was anything we could do to help.
Over the last few days, the Keweenaw Time Traveler team has been hard at work to make these great memories and stories available to everyone. Below are links to the Memories and Stories of Armand Pellerin, we hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we did!
About My Dad
by: Dennis Pellerin
Let me give you a little background on my dad. He was born in Lake Linden in August, 1912. He quit school in the 8th grade to help support the family. Somewhere along the line, the family built a camp out at Rice Lake, a log cabin, where he would spend as much time as possible. He loved the outdoors and, like many men, joined the CCC. Unfortunately, I have not researched when he was in, nor do I have any info on which location he was at. Sometime between 1930 and 1935 he moved to Detroit for work. I do know by 1940, he and his cousin Raoul Pellerin, had opened the Roxy Riding Academy in Warren, outside of Detroit. It was there that he met my mother. Mom was a transplant from New York City, who did not like horses. Soon after meeting mom, dad sold his stake in the stables, and got a job in one of the factories in Detroit. With the horses out of the picture, they married in July 1941 at St. Joseph Church in Lake Linden. They resided in Detroit, until he went into the Army in March 1942. He was in the 101st Airborne where he was awarded the bronze star among other citations. After getting out of the military, mom and him raised us 4 kids in the suburbs of Detroit. Mom passed away in 1982, and dad passed away in 2009 at 97 years old. Anyways, hope this helps paint a picture of him for you.
**Please note that currently links are not click-able in our Stories, please copy the link provided into a new browser tab to listen to these remarkable stories**
As a team we deeply appreciate all of these amazing stories Dennis has shared with us. We love learning from the memories and stories our fellow Time Travelers share with us. If you have memories and stories, you would like to share, just click the ‘Share a Story’ button in the lower right-hand corner of the Explore app! If you have stories that best told in a way that doesn't quite work well in our current App (like the great oral histories above), contact us! We are always happy to help make your stories a part of the Time Traveler.
The memories and stories that fellow Time Travelers share are amazing. These stories connect us in a very personal way to our shared Copper Country history. Our new ‘Story of the Week’ column will celebrate some of the special stories shared on the Explore App.
This week’s story comes from an anonymous Time Traveler who found an interesting clipping from the Detroit Free Press from the 29th of June 1934. The clipping relays the story of a young woman by the name of Jane Elliott who, while spending the day on Lake Medora, noticed a small rowboat had capsized in the high winds on the lake. Twenty two year old Jane jumped in a boat with her two teen aged friends Bert Strucel and Louis Semanski and rowed half a mile out into the lake to rescue the men clinging to the boat. Thanks to her actions Harold Bastian, and Edward Warth were both saved. Unfortunately, Nicholas Gresnick, who was also on the boat, drowned while attempting to swim to shore.
This story is something special and by posting it on the Explore App we can now learn so much more about everyone involved in this heroic rescue. The explore app holds records for every single person that appears in this story.
A simple search for our hero, Jane Elliot, reveals that in 1930 she was living in a small apartment on the corner of Portland and 5th Street in Calumet with her father (a janitor at a local office), mother and brother. The apartment also housed 24 other renters! The Time Traveler also has Jane’s school records. We can see that in 1918 Jane at the age of seven attended Webster school and had Edna M. Cormick as her teacher.
We also know quite a bit about the unfortunate Nicholas Gresnick. In 1920 at the age of 10 Nicholas was living with his father, mother and five brothers and sisters in a small house about a block away from the Hancock & Pewabic boiler house, the ruins of which can still be seen today. His dad supported his family working at the mine as a timberman, a dangerous job that involved supporting the hanging walls of the mine with large timbers harvested from the surrounding forests keeping the mine from collapsing on the men working within it. In 1930 the family still lived on Calumet Street, but his father is not recorded in this census. Did he pass away doing his dangerous work leaving Nicolas’ mother the widowed head of the family? With his father gone, Nicolas was now working in the mine as an electrician, supporting his mother and his five other siblings along with his sister who was working as a waitress. His death in 1934 must have been a devastating blow to his family after recently losing their father.
The Time Traveler also gives us insight into the life of one of the men Jane Eliot saved that day. In 1940 we can see Harold Bastian is alive and well, renting in Laurium and working as a WPA painter. Harold is happily married to a young woman named Bertha and they have two young children.
This story, a simple story about a windy day on a lake, is special in so many ways. It connects us to the heroism of a janitor’s daughter on a windy day on Lake Medora and how that act of bravery shaped the lives of so many. It also reveals the devastating impact of Nicholas’ tragic death on a family already struggling under the grief of losing their father. Without the contribution of this story to the Time Traveler we would never know how that fateful day on Lake Medora shaped the lives of so many.
You too can help bring Copper Country history to life by sharing your story! Learn how in this blog post from last week, or just click on the ‘Share a Story’ button in the lower right-hand corner of the Explore app to contribute your memories!
By: James Juip
There are now two ways to share your own story on the new Explore app. You can click on the ‘Share a Story’ button in the lower right corner of the app and then click on the map to locate your story, or you can connect your story to people, places and stories already in the app! When you pull up the records of a person, place, or story on the left side of your screen you should notice a gold ‘Share Related Story’ button. By clicking on this button your story will be directly connected to the Time Traveler Records of this particular person, place or story. On Friday of last week a Citizen Historian used this feature to share a powerful story about the fire that devastated the Lamdba Chi Alpha fraternity house early that morning.
We hope to see your Copper Country memories and stories soon! From all of us on the Time Traveler team, happy exploring!
The New Explore App is Here!!
The new Keweenaw Time Traveler Explore App is finally here!! The re-launched Explore App features a new interface, developed by Houghton company Monte Consulting, that provides access to over 631,000 historical records including the census, city directories, and Calumet school records. You can search for people and places by name to find them on hundreds of historical maps. You can also add your own local knowledge by sharing your own stories and memories of Keweenaw places using the "Share a Story" button. You can start exploring now!
We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who attended the Re-Launch celebrations over the past week. It has been extremely special to hear such enthusiasm from colleagues and fellow citizen historians. Our hosts, the Carnegie Museum of Houghton, for Thursday's Re-Launch celebration provided a wonderful space for us to showcase the new App. It was wonderful to see so many people exploring the new maps and data, and sharing their own stories and memories of the Keweenaw with us on the new Explore App.
If you missed us, don't worry! We will be out and about at a number of community events this summer and look forward to sharing the new Explore App with you! You can discover more information about the new Explore App in the About the Project section of our website, as well as watching the Re-Launch presentation below.
Thank you to the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities and the Advisory Commission of the Keweenaw National Historical Park as well as all of our other contributors for your generous support of this project.
Fellow Time Travelers, we hope you enjoy exploring Copper Country history with the new Explore App and we look forward to seeing all of the stories and memories you have to share!