Annual Meeting: October 15, 2017

I am pleased to announce it is time again for our annual meeting. We hope you can join us to hear about the programs and activities of your society since last October.  We have accomplished a great deal and look forward to sharing it with you.

As part of our annual meeting, we will be asking you to vote on some small revisions of the society bylaws conducted this year and the election of board members.  All the meeting documents can be found on our website at

These include the following:

Please take the opportunity to review the documents prior to our meeting.  If you are unable to attend the annual meeting but wish to mail in a ballot, please send it to Traverse Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 7051, Traverse City, MI 49696-7051, so it will be received by Friday, October 13, 2017.

I look forward to seeing you at our annual meeting in the McGuire Room in the Traverse Area District Library at 610 Woodmere Ave. Traverse City, on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 1:00 P.M.   

Thank you.

Stephen Siciliano, Ph.D.
Board President


TAHS Annual Meeting 2017

Photograph of the Victor Petertyl family meeting Louis Petertyl at the train station on his return from the army. Louis is standing at the left with his back to the camera and Victor is the man in the hat standing in the middle of the photograph, ca. 1917-1919. Image from the Historical Society Collection, Traverse Area District Library.

Join us for our Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 15th! This is your opportunity to talk directly with the Board of Directors, find out what the organization has been up to, and what you can do to help. This is always a fun, informative, and social event for all. Free and open to the public (even for non-members!)

The Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, October 15th, 1-3 p.m., in the McGuire Room at Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere Ave.

The Annual Meeting replaces our monthly speaker series. We will return to our regularly scheduled monthly history meetings on November 19th, 1-3 p.m., when John Brian will speak on the history of Merchant Shipping on the Great Lakes in the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries. Brian is recently retired from serving over 25 years as a merchant marine deck officer on the Great Lakes.

September 2017 Program: Abraham Lincoln through the Eyes of Political Cartoonists

“The Rail Splitter Repairing the Union” — a political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln from 1865, during the Reconstruction era of the United States (1863–1877).  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Don’t miss the Traverse Area Historical Society’s September program, Sunday the 17th1pm in the McGuire Room at Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere, Traverse City.

TAHS Board Chair, Stephen Siciliano, will be speaking on “Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency Through the Eyes of the Political Cartoonists of His Day.”  If you think Presidents Trump and Obama have been roughly handled by today’s press, you will be amazed by the treatment of the man who we now see as one of our greatest presidents. Siciliano has a PhD in American History from the College of William Mary, where his area of special study was the Civil War.

Fall 2017 Newsletter: Catch up with us!

Hot off the press! Image from the archives of Jay Perry Smith, former editor of the Traverse City Record-Eagle, undated.

Want to know what we’ve been up to this past year? Need the schedule of events for the coming year? Interested in volunteering? Discover answers for all your pressing questions and more in our Fall newsletter, hot off the press! Click on the link below to download:

2017 September 15

Special thanks to Bill Ruesink for his labor in editing, layout, and publication of our newsletter!

Historical Tours are Back!

Spread the Word!
TAHS Historic Tours Again Offered! All tours are $10 per person, and all funds raised go to support local non-profit historical activities.

Downtown Traverse City, ca. 1880.

Downtown Walking Tours start at 10:30 am on Saturday, June 17th and run each Saturday through October 14th, with the exception of July 8th (Cherry Festival) and July 29th (Film Festival). Participants should meet outside Horizon Books 15 minutes before the start time. Tours last approximately 1-1/2 hours. For additional information, call (231) 995-0313.

Reservations not necessary, but please call for groups of over 5 people.

Join us for a Sunday stroll, won’t you?

Walking tours of Oakwood Cemetery, starting on Sunday, June 18th, will be available at 6:00 PM every Sunday thru October 15. These tours focus on the unique history of the area and the early pioneers who founded the community we know today. Geared towards an adult audience, the tours will last about 1 ½ hours. Participants are encouraged to wear shoes suitable for hiking over uneven terrain. They should meet on the sidewalk outside the cemetery near the Eighth Street entrance, approximately 15 minutes prior to start time. For additional information, call (231) 941-8440.

Reservations not necessary, but please call for groups of over 5 people.

A look at the many stops on our “Virtual Downtown Walking Tour.”

Virtual Downtown Tours are offered for those who cannot participate in our walking tours. Check out our new on-line history tour of Traverse City’s downtown. If you have access to internet-capable devices, this self-guided experience can give you a good taste of the walking tour! It features descriptions as well as historical and current photographs of sites important to Traverse City’s history. This tour can be found at

Call for Summer Volunteers

A standing time “piece” of history: Martinek Clock in downtown Traverse City. Image courtesy of Richard Fidler, 2016.

Dear TAHS Supporters: This June, and into the fall, you each have a chance to actually DO some local history! Once again several experienced TAHS members will be guiding tours of downtown Traverse City (Saturday mornings, 10:30am) and Oakwood Cemetery (Sunday, 6pm).  Tours are a mile-and-half or so long, and run for approximately 90 minutes.

We could really use some assistant tour guides!  Choose two or three times (or more!) over the summer or fall to help with tour logistics.  You can help collect money, get forms signed and mingle with the tour participants.  AND if you entirely enjoy assisting, we are always looking for new lead guides, also.  Either way, you will experience wonderful walks around our town and learn so very much about our area!

If you would like to take advantage of this great opportunity, call and leave your contact information on the TAHS voicemail at 995-0313.

It will be a great summer for walking, learning and helping the TAHS.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Peg Siciliano
TAHS Program Chair

May 21st, Maddie Lundy, “Les Biederman and the History of Radio in Traverse City”

Les Biederman, from the cover of his autobiography, “Happy Days.”

The TAHS has one more spring program to be presented on Sunday, May 21st in the McGuire Room at the Traverse Area District Library. It will start at 1:00 p.m., with light refreshments being served following the program.

May 21st: “Les Biederman and the History of Radio in Traverse City,” given by local historian Maddie Lundy!

Also, check out our latest newsletter for a letter from the President, an update on the Archives, and a sneak peek of our Summer Tour line-up!

Norton Bretz on “A Murder in Eastport, 1870,” April 9th

A Murder in Eastport: An 1870 Family Story of Racial Profiling
By Norton Bretz, President of Eastport Historical Society
Sunday, April 9th, 1pm

This talk will examine a compelling 1870 murder that echoes issues our country still deals with today.

On June 12, 1870, a black man named William Swan was walking along what is now US31 near near Eastport. William and his family had been living in the Charlevoix area for over five years, the only black residents of the county. He was was shot and killed by two Civil War veterans, for no apparent reason. The shooters would be acquitted.

Come hear Mr. Bretz, a descendant of these veterans, give a lively recounting of this event and its aftermath.

Norton Bretz is President of the Eastport Historical Society. He spent his career as a nuclear physicist at Princeton University. He is a Michigan native who grew up spending summers in Eastport.

Program is free and open to the public. Program will take place Sunday, April 9th, from 1-3pm, at the Traverse Area District Library, Children’s Story Room, 610 Woodmere Ave.

Kathy Firestone on “The History of Power Island,” March 19th

693On the 3rd Sunday of every month, the Traverse Area Historical Society presents a program on local history. This month, we welcome author Kathy Firestone, who will speak on the History of Power Island, that famed plot of land in West Grand Traverse Bay that was the playground of the likes of Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison and Babe Ruth.

Program is free and open to the public. Program will take place Sunday, March 19th, from 1-3pm, at the Traverse Area District Library, McGuire Room, 610 Woodmere Ave.

Steve Kelsch on “Steamers of the Grand Traverse Bay Line,” February 19th

On the 3rd Sunday of every month, the Traverse Area Historical Society presents a program on local history. This month, we welcome Society favorite Steve Kelsch, who will speak on Steamers of the Grand Traverse Bay Line.

2586Program is free and open to the public. Program will take place Sunday, February 19th, from 1-3pm, at the Traverse Area District Library, McGuire Room, 610 Woodmere Ave.