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The following program was produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service for national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. I recall the blowing of the whistles of typically on 6 o'clock. For the men to be ready to awaken then be ready to. Go down to the mining. Thing every. Day. When they. Were there with me. To. Fight. The history of a place is the sum of many memories the recollections differ sometimes conflict. But as people give voice to that memory as history take shape the past comes alive. The copper country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula is an area
rich with story. It includes the keep an op into which juts into Lake Superior and lives north of Wisconsin. On this the second of two programs the people of the copper country create in their own words the colorful complex history of that area and the many varied aspects of life in the copper country and as a youngster I reckon the number of the Indians coming to our home with their use the various They have a box in their neighborhood. With with other straps you know and they would sell a blueberry to give them something and they'd so embarrassed when I graduated you're in the high school 913 worried nobody didn't thing else we just had we just heard a bolt. That was everything. That was our priority our class day and everything you know we are in charge this boat to go way up to the canal. That's up on the portage bay toward the big lake you know then we go to the hotel and assume we have some Indians here to do their heavy work. They wouldn't dare appeal the potatoes and scale the fish and we
always have planked white fish. Remember that and we have this shared to tears you know and the rest of the night we dance in the moonlight coming down that was everything. That was years and years ago you couldn't get her home here to rent there was nothing everything with a bird. And this is what's not here. Even when I only nurse 73 years ago this time got one at least I got what not clinician. There was no cure but one or two. And well you still have to go right by the where the congregation which are accused today the great big boulder that they wish to go right now and that national bank would rather that than me that I could remember right came right from from Cornwall. I came near 1914. We finally landed up at first place I worked a pain jail. In the mine
and Newark and the war came on depression. And I think for six months. The work less than half time. So from there I went to I know when I worked in the mine it Wynona. All for a boat here I guess. And then we moved to Calumet. I worked at. The scene h mine. For a boat. Six months while I came down here 1917. And life resided here ever since. My father came from brig Cornwall in Maine and mother's. CORNISH But born in this country. So I'm just about here. CORNISH I was born in England.
And Arturo elect from The Verge pleasure of you I don't know who you know about radar bench over here. Writer now about to Myron you decided that you are in a word you're not going camping. I don't run by we move to a place called the Law of Love. I would not been a good data mining expert from but I were moved to a place far apart you're not going to know my going to work or in About Time and my father was working a cover of Vogue. I don't know I worked you know my going for 21 years and I worked for would you going to call your old comedian but when they are there is such a large number of Finnish people in this area that we are still here in the copper country have an epidemic news dissemination by means of the thing
the Finnish language over both radio stations not only does the NBL but in our reporting the news here is Mr. Randall So you know. Thank you John. So in a cheetah like a stolen house on the list I'm sick and then under the guns allowed out of the building. And you listen. It Camilla potentially to give her mother celebration. When I got in there got hung up a lengthy letter from my son. Many friends have given much needed a new kind of reaction to the coverage under such I think in large numbers saw national steam vents. I have one at my home and another at my cottage of dreamland. Nick Cornish all regarding Jack have of course made many things famous he answers the jokes and stories. Well they are in a class by themselves they're rather quaint humor I think the thing that makes them as interesting as anything I think is the dialect in which they're spoken
as certain people in the copper country over the years have made rather a hobby of collecting them all to Greece for instance with the State Board of Education well known throughout the state educational field. While he himself is of German extraction was quite a well-known teller collector Cousin Jack story. We've all heard stories there's one about the woman that kept boarders and she went to the meat market to look for some meat and the proprietor of the meat market had a stuffed doll up on the back of his cash register so she went in and she said oh let's have that chick up there and he said well that's no chick that's out. I don't know what I would is he's good enough for borders. Then there was a Cornish miners came out here two fellows who were working together they just got to this
country and they noticed that all the other miners had a watch. Neither one of them had a watch. So they said one was call area and one was called and he said payday we should get ourselves a watch. Well they couldn't afford to buy one so they bought one between the two of them. And he said well one wore it to work one day and the other one the next you know one of them could tell time but they had to watch because everybody else had one so down in the mine to work on and he said What time is it at ARI. So I didn't know you pulled a watch out of his pocket and showed it Barry said there it is. He says so too is it. They don't want to know what barriers but there were people who came here. Either because they knew. I. Was here all their friends came or they came together with friends and it consequently grew up.
Into A. Very close neighborly Dubai would say People to People would tend to live in the same neighborhood as others from their own homeland so to speak. So down here we were here illegally down here because there are so many people from Italy. Cuma lived in an area in Haiti became very complicated names to him. A lot of social life together. And I don't. Press you are you discouraged people in this community used to always get together and have a body. Party. On. A bridge birthday and usually on New Years too. There's a new school over and used a different one in the deep Jefferson School and on the third floor dating used to be regular parties for years and years and years. And it was that that was the group by everyone to know about. But each group I think ahead is a reason I didn't take I
think it is only the people who did but. Behind. The. SCENE. He was still the outstanding thing about a collar up here I think is that we have the evergreens pointing up the collar everywhere so we always have that contrast. I was a green then the really dark green and then all the colors. But first we have the maples and they start falling. Then we have the wall and they pin Cherry and the mountain ness. Those are only things in this you match then the very last winter and popular virtous turned yellow. I have a collection of log marks which were used by the sturgeon River Lumber Company in the late 1800s. Each log that was hauled
to the river by these various companies right during a fight by a large mark which had previously been recorded with the boom company and the blue crab the inter-net recorded the mark with. The county clerk. Regardless of where they live was found after the drive in the spring the lock Mark identified it and it reverted to its original owner. The topper lumberjack was not concerned very much with what would happen if he should have to quit the job. Those that quit. On short notice are those who worked only a few days and went on to the next camp were called Cap inspectors. Usually one lumberjack quit.
He never gave the foreman any notice except you would walk into the office and say Writer up or I'm hanging up and I was on a list too. No questions were asked. When the lumberjacks said writer up he meant that he wanted to check written out in many cases. Camp Foreman couldn't write the check. All he did was write a time order and then a lumberjack would take his time watered down to the headquarters. Sawmill or duty wherever the job started from and then a bank check or inmate type cash would be given to him for this time or in some cases many of the stores and almost all cases someone would cash these time orders and bring him down to the main office to be turned into cash. There always were sufficient number of saloons and Hancock
especially was well supplied with saloons but I do not believe that anybody can ever say like the writer who wrote a story about Hancock Hurley and hell I do not believe that anybody can say even though Hancock has been put into that characterization that there was some very bad drinking sprees. In any place in the copper gantry during the Prohibition days though there were although there was a lot of comical things happened along with the serious affairs connected with moonshining. It is often said if you walked on the street to Hancock at 3 o'clock in the morning you would get drunk from the fumes coming out from underneath the from the basement windows. Just about every other place in the COC was a moon chain joint. But my first record recollections of in connection with Prohibition was
we went to Hancock when they had one of the big roadster loaded with men came up the front street and I stopped in front of what is now the Golden Pheasant and they rushed inside and we could hear the glass tinkling and pretty soon they started rolling up barrels of beer and chopping the heads out in the street. And of course quite a large crowd gathered and the foam got thick as the beer ran down the gutters and all the barflies in town were along there their tongues hanging out. And they were really looking sad to see all that beer being wasted. And then they. Took their evidence and they took their prisoners over to the jail and in the next day I saw them when they were going out they had stills along both sides of the car. Of course the cars in those days had running boards so they had a place to tie the stills on.
But probably moonshining was just common if somebody was sent to prison nobody know nobody pointed them up as a convict after he came back he just got caught that one of the hot spots was the other lake dance hall. Now at the time I had a sandwich shop right down here on the highway and on the nights when they had a dance I used to steal until about 4 or 5 in the morning and of course I get all the stories. The dancing was done between fights the most the evening was taken up fighting and every time when they get tired of fighting with and they'd do a little dancing and we passed there we came across the burial Plains about midnight one time. There must have been a hundred people out in front fighting and all.
Stages of knockdown drag out and there was a fielder level spot across the road so my brother said well we aren't going to stop and we pulled out in the field and we circled the place and started off down the road. We had enough of the other leg dancehall. One thing I remember is when we used to have the surfaces come everything ready and the barred circus used to come to the kidney area. They played at the. All. Morning driving part. The carriage theatre was a beautiful theater and the appointments were beautiful. The felt that they competed favorably with any Theatre in Chicago and I think that. That all actors and actresses who came here felt that it was a real fine theatre it we had of course a good many of the great here
we had Schumann I think we had Jim Melba and Caruso. As artists as well as a great many of the very fine actors and actresses. The brain just several years ago. Not too many years ago and it was a great loss to the copper country. I remember going to the kid in the theater when I moved to seem Jerry checked in one piece and Marion Davies movies and those days I came to the theater here. Carson had the old curtains. And if I remember correctly one of the curtains had a princess I wonder being carried by our service and the decorations around the Presidium arch were garlands and roses and cherubs and I think some of the music is now everything I remember in connection with beer is something
that is more or less unique to the cup of country although I did see a mention of it once in our poll it was declined from I believe the Iron River Michigan. And next a callus something and I looked. I've looked it up checking to find out just what it was because I didn't remember same either saying oh there's a telephone and you know it's count something to do and that was our Fourth of July for the copper country was at one time was a tremendous area for circuses and big shows and Brian Newman barely in Ringling Brothers you were came here regular. And one time when my dad was the station agent they brought him in Belize were to come to a hotel and the delegation from Hancock met them at the depot and I offered them
a thousand dollars just to cross the bridge and come to him and that night after the show was over when my dad was processing the circus train through he heard them discussing it and they said that that was the biggest gate he ever took. In the history of their circus big do it of course but of the famous characters of the area. He was only 8 feet 1 inch tall. He weighed about 400 pounds. You are a shoe in size 18 he had probably the tallest. Strongest Man from in the area. He spent quite some time with the circus
and was 30. I did my own thing and I regret what I said I really loved him he loved one to him. And whenever you come downtown shopping. He would drive us first. The last time I saw him he was getting out of a buckboard in front of Home Rule the story he had little vocal in. It's halfway between a shotgun pulling a full one horse. And he'd picked up book one lift them shove it into the sidewalk and then pick up but it's too warm to the horse lift him up on it and said No way. He was a big man. The first train came in here for that red road came in here in 1883 well up till that time everybody had a stock up in the wintertime. My grandmother said she they got that I think drawled the apple I don't know how many my dad said they got in.
But in regard to the apples after they'd have those barrels a couple of weeks then they'd open up the barrels and in the evening everybody gathered around and they'd take out the apples individually out the barrel and they'd wipe them off wipe the sweat off of the apple. And they were repacked. So they kept all winter. But that is one of the big items I suppose to prevent scurvy. And cheese and butter all that type of stuff had to be stored in for the winter because of flour cooking that a lot of them stored their own and then they had a lot of stock from the store and met the folks in them by spring when you cut the cheese. You said even the Wigglers can have the cheese and it is pretty right. And Uncle I would said the bread and the and the
butter was strong enough to go down the dock and Pola pressure to have a butter up the hill. But by spring everybody was really anxiously waiting for the boat. In the course they were short of supplies just about everything. Whiskey was according to the records I got there. Flying in the summer in the fall it ran maybe a dollar and seventy five to two dollars a gallon. And then through the books you'll notice it's going up to two and a quarter to him and beg him to spring get around it was up to about $4 a gallon so that was another big item that made a makeshift for the boats to see the boats word would come through from the entry when they said the first boat and then they knew they had a watch up on Quincy Hill in when they see the sail of the boat coming into parted lake where then they get down to the
closest miner Malan the whistle started blowing and uncle will say you have to be really on the jump to get out of the window the schoolhouse ahead of the teacher because as a rule he was the first one out the window door open that that was a decent day because they were expecting the boats. Nobody bothered going through the doorway in because they knew the doorway would be crowded. Everything stopped when the boats came. The whistle blew like crazy and everybody headed for the docks and gramma said that you could hear the clump of the hobnailed boots coming down over the rocky hills and we just did a clatter. Everybody coming on the run to get down to the docks and across they'd be down the docks along the head of the boat and it was regular holiday spirit because nobody nobody was looking for a fight. Everybody could say what they pleased and it was all a joke.
Come to. Our Fire tour and two years ago and why we were there we ordered the gondola which took quite a while to deliver. And. It's as if they're like instrument which developed from my Eunice string instrument into one which chance can today be played in different keys and it's about thirty six strings in it. The subject of prehistoric copper mining and the miners particularly miners is one that I can speak on freely because nobody knows anything about them.
We know that there are at least 4000 years ago. Maybe longer maybe since that time. Above all we know we know they used cameras they used and they made and they mined copper. And they used fire mining which is heating up along the vein carrying the copper with fire and then throwing water on it to cause the rock to spawn off. Then they use the rock hammers to pound it and liberate the copper and to form the artifacts that they made from it. These people were smart they mind on every modernly mind up here. They were smart enough to know that by heating the corpora with them Fire think and hammer it more without breaking. And they were engineers geologists mechanical engineers and metallurgist. So that they really were.
They really were smart people in some ways. Santa was based on a prehistoric Indian diggings and I don't recall but what it clearly was many of the Mayans we're talking about of course the great captain who was founded on Indian diggings and the Indians uncovered some things which led to further exploration in most of these mines. Course we know that's true to the strike in 1913 14 supposedly started on July 25th and in the middle of the middle of April in 1014. So it lasted about nine months and Siri during the latter part of that there are say the last three months there were only a hard core of the union members out on strike. And the earlier part the very first weeks the mines were completely closed down. That was the AK excuse of course for calling in the militia the National Guard the National
Guard was called in the community. And. Operated all along the range they were stationed clear down as far as mass as far north ridge is up into key when all county he went to county mines in operation and clear up as far as more. And the National Guard. The Donald Massey situation turned up the most rapidly. That's the masses and not going county and the mines throughout Horton County also had the National Guard stationed in them with some vigorous activities by the union members and the more active in the union members. One of the complicating factors was the employment by the mining companies and by the sheriffs of what were no one as used to be known in popular products as the Pinkertons. Actually these were Waddell Mohan men or ash or agency man employed by them as mine guards. In the case of the sheriff they were
employed as instructors to his deputies. They shot up a boarding house in pain and they killed two of the boarders in bed and. The Citizens Alliance went to our meek and they dragged the people out of their own homes and beat them up and they are dead and these Waddell man where I think they were it seemed to be the hot spot and the town marshal said that they came to his house and entered his house and took his own service revolver and they put him under arrest for having a concealed weapon and they took him to court and Amit the next day. And of course the Waddell men were wearing guns and he was the marshal of
The American town: A self-portrait
Copper country: Part II, part 1
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, focuses on the Keweenaw Peninsula on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Cultural life and ethnic groups are studied. Also includes the story of Father Baraga, a pioneer priest.
Series Description
Historical documentary series drawn from the recollections of senior citizens in a variety of American towns.
Local Communities
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Host: Sears, Ralph
Producer: Johnson, Ralph
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-9-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:02
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Chicago: “The American town: A self-portrait; Copper country: Part II, part 1,” 1967-02-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “The American town: A self-portrait; Copper country: Part II, part 1.” 1967-02-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: The American town: A self-portrait; Copper country: Part II, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from