Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Broadcast Television vs. Cable Systems

In 1907, Russian Boris Rosing and Englishman A.A. Campbell-Swinton combined a cathode ray tube with a mechanical scanning system to create a rudimentary electronic image. It wasn't until 1927 that twenty-one-year-old American inventor Philo Farnsworth invented the first television system with a transmitter that sent electronic coded images over the airwaves to a receiver which decoded the signals into light and dark. Black and white television was born.

Philo Farnsworth--with invention.

Legend has it that when Farnsworth pitched his invention to potential investors, one of them asked him when they might see some dollars out of this thing. Thinking quickly, Fransworth televised the image of a dollar bill. Investment was there, but the Depression and World War II put commercial television production on hold. RADAR, SONAR, and information processing research took precedence over consumer televison until war's end.

The miracle of television was brought to our homes via tall broadcast towers that sent electromagnetic signals over the airwaves carrying TV programming to rooftop antennas connected to our television sets in our living rooms. The first broadcast stations in 1946 had limited broadcast hours. Hollywood Westerns dominated early programming. By 1949, most American urban centers had at least one station; by 1953, half of all American households had a television set; and by 1956, most United States cities were linked to network programming.

Broadcast signals weakened the further away from the transmitter towers. Mountains and weather could interfer with a station's reach. The national broadcasters (NBC, CBS, and ABC) needed to reach the largest number of viewers, so they concentrated on densely populated urban areas leaving people in rural or outlying areas with a weak signal or no signal at all. Cable TV began in 1948 to address the problem of providing outlying areas with an improved signal.

Coaxial cable
Robert J. Tarlton is credited by many as developing the first cable TV operation. He parlayed his Army radio communications training into opening an electronics store in Lansford, Pennsylvania after the war. Nobody in town was interested in buying a TV from him because a mountain blocked the signal from Philadelphia sixty-five miles away. Tarlton convinced some investors to build large antennas on top of the mountain in 1949. These antennas channeled the weak signals from Philadelphia, fed them into coaxial cables, amplified them, and carried the strengthened electronic signals to decoder boxes--all for a one-time $125 installation charge and $3 monthly cable box fee.

Cable Antenna Television (CATV) was an immediate success but its expansion was limited until sufficient infrastructure was in place. In 1950, there were 70 cable systems across rural America, but by the 1960s, there were 640 systems. The growth of cable TV threatened the network broadcasting cartel that believed cable providers were thieves stealing their product and making a profit from it. For the next thirty years, cable TV was restricted by the FCC--at the behest of the national networks--to show only existing network programming thereby eliminating competition.

In 1962, the FCC asserted its authority over cable because of its potential negative impact on broadcast television. Their regulations limited cable TV systems to small local markets inhibiting their growth again to protect the networks from competition. In 1969, the FCC forbade cable systems from showing movies under ten years old or televising sporting events under five years old.

The game changed in 1975 when the FCC allowed orbiting satellites to broadcast television signals. Small start-up media company, Home Box Office (HBO) began distributing its limited programming nationwide via satellite. Then on October 1, 1975, HBO broadcast the first pay-per-view program--The Thrilla from Manila--a world heavyweight boxing title match between Muhammad Ali and Smokin' Joe Frazier broadcast worldwide live from the Phillipines. The global success and financial windfall prompted HBO to file a lawsuit against the FCC. In 1977, the federal court in Washington, DC ruled that the FCC was not justified in restricting cable televison's development.

The nation's cable operators gained the right to air recent movies and live sporting events. More importantly, the cable industry was free to develop specialty channels with original programming targeted at smaller, niche audiences. 

Ted Turner
Entrepreneur Ted Turner transformed his small Atlanta cable operation into a national cable network in 1976. WTBS was dubbed America's First Superstation and in 1978 WGN from Chicago also went national. In 1979, the Entertainment Sports Programming Network (ESPN) quickly grew into a multi-billion-dollar media giant leaving its imprint on American sports culture. A revolution in television news expanded the media universe with Ted Turner's Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980, and Music Television (MTV) exploded onto the scene in 1981 focusing on the new medium of music videos.

The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 completely deregulated the cable industry. Today, the cable industry has over 900 programming networks available to 93% of American households. The industry supports more than three million, well-paying jobs. In the 2000s, it remains to be seen if cable TV can survive a new era of competition from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Will the American consumer cut the cord? In an industry that thrives on innovation, only time and the marketplace will tell.

Origin of the Limelight. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Zug Island Novel Gets Facelift

July 2017 marked fifty years since the Detroit Riot left its indelible mark on American history. Anyone who experienced this week of bloodshed and arson can never forget it--43 reported deaths, 7,000 arrests, 4,000 injuries, 2,500 buildings looted or burned to the ground, 5,000 residents left homeless, 16,682 fire runs, and a river of fire ten blocks long.

Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel tells the story of two young men, one white and one black, who push the boundaries of race as they explore each others culture. Set in 1967 against a backdrop of industrial blight and urban decay, Jake Malone and Theo Semple get a crash course in race relations as they stumble in and out of rhythm on Detroit's mean streets discovering the face of racism comes in every shade of color.
Kirkus Reviews, a publishing trade magazine, said of Zug Island, "The novel is tightly written with a dramatic plot, well-rounded characters, and clear insights into social history. An engaging, dynamic story that grapples intelligently with the themes of race, class, and morality."

My award-winning, revised 2nd edition has a new cover and includes several enhanced scenes. Since writing Zug Island in 2011, I've learned more about the Detroit communities of Delray, Black Bottom, and Paradise Valley, and this edition reflects that. Also new is a segment on the Algiers Motel murders conspicuous by its absence from my first edition. 

Paperback copies and all five ebook formats are available online from Amazon and B&N. Zug Island Amazon Site

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Little Richard Streicher--Ypsilanti's Depression Era Unsolved Murder

On the blustery afternoon of March 8, 1935, thirteen-year-old Buck Holt and his eleven-year-old brother Billy followed muskrat tracks in the snow and discovered the body of seven-year-old Richard Streicher Jr., missing since the previous evening. He was found frozen solid under the footbridge leading to Island Park (now called Frog Island), adjacent to the Cross Street bridge spanning the Huron River.

Buck Holt ran to the Anderson Service Station (gas station) across the street and told attendant Raymond Deck (22) there was a dead kid down there. Deck investigated and immediately phoned the Ypsilanti police. Chief Ralph Southard was the first to arrive, followed shortly by Washtenaw County Deputy Sheriff Richard Klavitter, and his brother Sergeant Ernest Klavitter of the Ypsilanti police.

Scene under the footbridge where Streicher's body was discovered.
By the time police arrived, a crowd of curious bystanders had trampled any footprint evidence left in the overnight snow. To further complicate matters, a bucket of sand was spread on the snow to make it safer for investigators to climb down the slope to view the body. The shovel used to spread the sand was used to pry Richard Streicher from the cement ledge he was frozen onto. Then the body was taken to the Moore Funeral Home in Ypsilanti to thaw. Richard Streicher's stiff clothes were cut from his body and burned at the request of his parents. More potential evidence was destroyed.

The autopsy was done at the funeral home rather than a medical facility. Of fourteen knife wounds, three punctured the wall of the heart causing his death. A good-faith police investigation--by Depression era standards--was conducted. Seven months later, Richard Streicher's body was exhumed, with a second autopsy performed by the county coroner's office.

On September 27, 1937, a one-man grand jury was conducted by State Attorney General Raymond W. Starr. He took another look into the case and interviewed close to forty people, but no new evidence was disclosed. The result--nobody charged--nobody indicted. The case remains unsolved over eighty years later.

Richard Streicher, Jr. was buried in Highland Cemetery (Section 16 - Lot 66), but nobody in living memory can say if his grave site ever had a marker or headstone. It has been unmarked for decades. Perhaps someone misplaced the headstone when Richard's body was exhumed. More likely--someone removed it for a macabre souvenir. Nobody knows.

Five years ago, an article about Richard Streicher Jr. by John Counts for MLive (December 27, 2015) moved John Sisk Jr. to start a Go Fund Me page to raise money for a gravestone. With the help of Robison-Bahnmiller Funeral Home in Saline, Michigan, Tina Atkinson-Kalusha of Highland Cemetery, and private donations, a monument was designed to honor the memory of Richard Streicher Jr., who deserved better than he got. A nineteenth-century sled is engraved in the granite headstone. Richard was last seen alive sledding with friends. A graveside memorial service was held on Saturday, October 15, 2016.

John Count's MLive  Richard Streicher article: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/12/ypsilanti_boys_murder_80_years.html  

Richard Streicher Jr. paperback and ebook reduced in price. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Mackinac Bridge--Michigan's Most Valuable Asset

If people needed to cross the four mile Straits of Mackinac between Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsulas before 1957, they went either by boat or chartered plane. In 1923, the state legislature instituted ferry boat services for cars and trucks. The phenomenal popularity of the automobile outpaced the capacity of the ferry boats to handle the vacation traffic during the summer and the deer hunting season during the winter. It wasn't unusal for cars to line up for five to eight miles out of Mackinaw City waiting to board a ferry for the nine-mile, forty-five minute crossing to the St. Ignace docks.

The Mackinaw Bridge Citizen's Committee was formed during the 1920s to determine the feasibility of building a bridge with a 4,600 foot span and 150 feet above the water, so it wouldn't obstruct commercial freighter traffic between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Three world famous bridge engineers were hired to determine if such a long span was viable from a mechanical standpoint. All of these experts had design experience with nearly every big bridge project in the world. Once they established that a bridge could be built on the site, the next requirement of the committee was securing adequate funding estimated to be $50,000,000.

No business connection to G. Mennen Williams

The bridge's highest profile supporter was G. Mennen Williams--Michigan's Democrat governor. Williams' mother was the daughter of Gerhard Heinrich Mennen--founder of the Mennen brand of men's personal care products. Williams' Mug Shaving Soap--no relation--was a well-known men's product. Some political wag conflated the two and dubbed Governor Williams "Soapy." The Mackinaw Bridge project soon became known among Michigan Republicans as "Soapy's Folly." Rather than chaff at the nickname, Williams embraced it and used it in his campaign literature. Governor Williams believed the bridge would open up a new trade route and provide opportunities to bolster Michigan's financially distressed Upper Peninsula.

Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams in his signature green bow tie.

By 1953, costs rose from the original $75,000,000 estimate to a proposed $90,000,000. The chairman of the Mackinac Bridge Authority reported that New York City investment firm B.J. Ingen, would sell bonds to finance construction. The financing would be handled entirely with private capital, without state funds involved with the project.

But bonds would only be issued on one condition. The Michigan legislature needed to approve $400,000 anually in highway funds for maintainance of the bridge. The revenue measure was a deal breaker until supporters pointed out that Michigan subsidized the straits ferry fleet to the tune of $650,000 annually. $400,000 for bridge maintainance was a bargain by comparison and the measure passed overwhelmingly.

Because of a soft bond market, sales of bridge bonds were postponed for two months. Mackinac Bridge Authority Chairman Prentiss M. Brown told the press "we regret this decision because we lose the entire construction season." The completion date was postponed one year to November 1, 1957, at which time existing ferry service would be retired.

Once all the contracts were signed, the ground-breaking ceremonies were scheduled for May 7, 1954 in Mackinaw City and repeated on May 8th in St. Ignace. The Mackinaw City celebration began with a fly-over by six F-86 jet fighters. A three-mile long gala parade lead by the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps of Detroit was followed by 75 floats and 40 marching bands and drill teams. They converged at Michilimackinac Park for speeches by bridge authorities and state politicians. During the ground breaking ceremony, the Bresser Chorus of Alpena sang the Star Spangled Banner. Later that evening, a fireworks display lit up the sky.

Construction began on May 7, 1954. The Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corporation was awarded the contract to build the substructure of the bridge, while the American Bridge Division of United States Steel Corporation was contracted to build the bridge's superstructure. U.S. Steel produced and fabricated all the steel used in the bridge's construction which took four years to complete.

On June 6, 1956, the Consumer Power Company began laying four underwater electrical lines across the straits to provide the first electrical power linking the lower and upper peninsulas. A tug-powered barge carrying four reels of cable began work on a clear, calm day and laid the cables beside Michigan Bell and Western Union telephone lines already in place.

The day before the inaugural opening on November 1, 1957, the Traverse City Record-Eagle ran an editorial lauding the new bridge: "Tomorrow will mark the beginning of a new era for Michigan history.... This bridge will make the Upper Peninsula an actual part of Michigan instead of a poor relation. The Mackinac Bridge will be a firm tie between the two peninsulas where only a loose connection existed previously. The opening of this bridge will be one of the most important days in Michigan history."

The original toll was a flat rate of $3.25 per car; the current toll is $2.00 per axle or $4.00 per car. Motor Homes and commercial vehicles are charged $5.00 per axle. The last of the Mackinac Bridge bonds was retired July 1, 1986, and the current fare revenues are used to operate and maintain the bridge.

The tradition of the Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day began in 1958 with Governor Williams and state dignitaries leading the pack, but pedestrian traffic is only allowed on that day. Bicycles are not allowed on the bridge either. For a $5.00 fee, someone from the Bridge Authority will take cyclists and their bikes across the bridge.

Some people have a fear of crossing bridges (gephyrophobia). The Authority has a Driver's Assistance Program that can be scheduled in advance or arranged at the toll booth. More than a thousand people a year would rather have someone drive them and their vehicle across the Straits.

Despite the remoteness of the bridge, the traffic flow averages 4.5 million vehicle crossings per year or 12,000 per day. After sixty-three years of hard use and winter's abuse, the Mighty Mac remains Michigan's most valuable and photographed asset.

Detroit Salt Mine 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Michigan Outdoors with Mort Neff

Mort Nell armed with a 16mm camera.
One of the most beloved programs in early Detroit television was Michigan Outdoors hosted and produced by Mort Neff. The original outdoor show debuted in 1951 specializing in hunting and fishing segments. It ran for twenty-three straight years and 1,196 shows before it was cancelled in 1977. Michigan Outdoors has the distinction of being the longest-running outdoor and sportsman show in American television history.

Mort Neff graduated from the University of Michigan with a double major in journalism and electrical engineering. Upon graduation in 1927, Neff began writing an outdoor sports column for a small newspaper in Detroit. In 1942, the Michigan Conservation Department asked Neff if he would be interested in doing a recorded radio show. At first, he did his recording from a small studio, but Neff drew upon his background in electronics to devise a battery pack to power a wire recorder for remote reporting from the fields and streams of lower Michigan.

In 1946, Neff learned to fly and used his single engine Piper Apache to cover outdoor stories all over Michigan including the Upper Penisula, which at that time was accessible only by slow-moving ferry boats that took hours of waiting in your car before boarding. Neff surprised ice fishermen by landing his plane on frozen lakes and interviewing the anglers with his battery-powered wire recorder.

Mort Neff and his Piper Tri-Pacer on Brighton Lake with ice fisherman.
By 1951, Neff ran an advertising agency specializing in outdoor films for the commercial and industrial market when he was approached to produce a show called Michigan Outdoors. Neff recalled, "Fran Congdon--ad manager for Altes Golden Ale Brewing Company--asked me to produce a TV show. Two weeks before the show debuted, the chosen host had a conflict of interest and was dropped from the program. Fran insisted I do it."

Neff's only experience was behind the camera. Of his early days in television, Neff said, "I was awful. Who had any idea how to do a television show? Nobody!" But despite his lack of experience as on-air talent, the show became an immediate Thursday night hit and one of the most popular programs on Detroit television. 

Mort Neff soon became a local television personality and a much sought-after luncheon and banquet speaker around Detroit. Michigan Outdoors brought out the ham in Neff. He enjoyed his new-found celebrity and soon sold his ad agency. Mort had discovered his life's work.

Neff and his various cohorts over the years filmed segments on sportsmanship, hunting, and fishing, as well as wildlife and habitat conservation. Michigan Outdoors prided itself on giving accurate, up-to-date information on current hunting and fishing conditions in Michigan. The Catch of the Week feature was one of the most popular segments of the show.

If Neff mentioned on his Thursday night show an area where hunting was good or a lake where the fish were biting, 200 to 300 Detroit area sportsmen could be expected for the weekend trek up north, which sometimes caused problems for local residents. Often county roads were not adequate to handle the onrush of city traffic. Getting "Neffed" was not always welcomed by county officials. After some negative publicity, the show developed a policy of not reporting specific hotspots in favor of regional locations.

When Mort worked for the Michigan Conservation Department decades earlier, he learned that the South American country of Chile imported rainbow trout eggs from them in 1918. The eggs were hatched and the fry released into the Chilean mountain river system. Neff always wondered what happened with that forty-year-old project. Now, he was in a position to find out. He organized a two-week expedition with a film crew and a few friends to report on the original project and catch some rainbow trout.

Mort and his cohorts discovered that Chilean rainbow trout grew larger and faster than their Michigan cousins. "On average," Neff said, "a two-pound rainbow would reach six pounds in Chile. When we cleaned our first catch, their bellies were full of crabs the size of half-dollars found only on the river beds of the Andres Mountains. My fishing friend Buck Newton from Traverse City caught a rainbow over 21 pounds. It sounds like a fish story, but we have film and the photos to prove it."

On the strength of his successful Chilean fishing trip, Neff was recruited as an outdoor correspondent for ABC's American Sportsman hosted by Curt Gowdy. ABC producers financed Neff and a film crew for several more South American fishing trips which were featured on the network show giving Neff national exposure.

In 1971, Michigan Outdoors moved from WWJ-TV (channel 4) to WXYZ-TV (channel 7). As the 1970s wore on, American attitudes about hunting changed. Sportsmanship and conservation were always central to Neff's outdoor narrative, but his audience was aging and younger viewers were not tuning in.

In response to this new trend, Neff told reporters, "I think the hysteria over ecology has been overdone. Sportsmen and conservationists were working on the environment long before it became fashionable. I do think it is good that more people are aware and interested in preserving our natural resources and protecting the environment." Michigan Outdoors continued to lose audience market share until it was cancelled on January 7, 1977.

Neff wasn't bitter. He told the Detroit Free Press that "My wife Maureen and I decided twenty-three years was long enough to support the tremendous burden of a weekly television program, and we're ready to move on. I've been lucky. I've had one of the most golden careers ever." The Neff's retired and built a beautiful summer home just north of Harbor Springs.

Mort Neff passed away from a stroke at the age of eighty-six on Wednesday, August 15, 1990 at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petosky. Ten years before he died, Mort selected the tree to make his coffin, had it sawed into planks, and asked his neighbor Bill Glass to build it. Bill kept telling Mort it wasn't time yet. Mort brought the subject up one last time two weeks before his death. Bill Glass began building the pine box on Thursday for Friday's private funeral service at Harbor Springs Presbyterian. Mort was laid to rest in the coffin lined with cedar boughs cut by his family members.

World Adventure Series hosted by George Pierrot 

Friday, May 22, 2020

World Traveler George F. Pierrot

Detroiters who grew up watching television in the 1950s and 1960s are no doubt familiar with George F. Pierrot, the gravelly-voiced, rotund host of the World Adventure Series on WXYZ (channel seven) which debuted in 1948 and George Pierrot Presents on WWJ-TV (channel four) which debuted in 1953. Pierrot holds the distinction as the only Detroit television personality to host shows on two local stations concurently. Pierrot instilled the desire to travel in many of its younger viewers.

From the point of view of the audience, Pierrot's job seemed easy enough. He introduced his guest travelers who showed and narrated their 16 mm films of the Western United States and exotic world location with speakers like Don Cooper, Stan Midgley, Dennis Glen Cooper, and Lowell Thomas. Behind the scenes, Pierrot booked the speakers, viewed and edited their films for content, and handled all negotiations and background arrangements.

"I demand a good reporting job," Pierrot said. "Sure, I want good films, but the speaker must have his facts straight. Viewers want indepth lectures and documentaries on what it is like in different countries." Like Pierrot himself, all of the commentators on his shows belonged to the Circumnavigator's Club whose headquarters was in New York City. The show was sponsored by Edward Brink of The Mutual of Omaha insurance company.

World traveler, author, and raconteur, Pierrot was born in Chicago on January 11, 1898, but his family moved to Seattle where his father practiced medicine and introduced his son to globetrotting. George studied journalism at the University of Washington before becoming the editor of the Washington Daily, but he left to write for a national magazine based in Detroit called The American Boy in the early 1920s. Pierrot became a regular luncheon and banquet speaker at service organizations and non-profits all over the city making him a much sought-after personality in Detroit.

When The American Boy went out of business in 1934, Pierrot pitched the idea of a weekly travelogue program to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to boost the museum's poor attendance during the Great Depression. In those days, world traveling was a much bigger deal than it is now. Travel was impossible for the average person. Pierrot became the director of the World Adventure Series. For a yearly membership fee of one dollar or a charge of ten cents per lecture, the public could attend the Sunday afternoon travelogues. The programs were a big hit and set Pierrot up with his life's work. The DIA series ran in the Longfellow auditorium until 1979.

With the start of World War II in Europe, Pierrot complained in October 1939 that "It's hard enough under normal circumstances to assemble world celebrities for lecture programs, but now the war is disrupting every travelogue series in the country. However, we do have the war to thank for our first feature of the season. A motion picture newsman returning from Poland will show two of his films this Sunday. 'Poland Under Fire' at 3:30 pm and the 'Defense of Poland' at 8:30 pm."

The DIA suspended The World Adventure Series in October of 1942 because of gas rationing and the curtailment of public transit on Sundays when the programs were held. Gas stations were closed and drivers were asked to stay home in an effort to save gas for the war effort. Forty-five percent of the program's audience came from the suburbs, so the museum shut the program down. The DIA resumed its Sunday World Adventure Series the following year when the ban on Sunday travel was eased. Rather than travelogues, documentary films from the battlefronts where Americans were fighting and dying dominated the lecture program until the war ended.

One-millionth USO serviceman winning a day on the town. Saturday, April 24,1943.
Pierrot did his part for the war effort by becoming the director of the Detroit Branch of the United Service Organization (USO) in 1942. He ran one of the most extensive and successful programs in the country. Activities for American soldiers and sailors included weekly dance parties and an entertainment unit that showed free motion pictures with special features like Movietone News and cartoons. Pierrot reported to the Defense Department that the Detroit USO entertained 40,000 G.I.s a month.

Three years after the war ended, Pierrot took his World Adventure Series to the new medium of television. For twenty-eight years--1948 until 1976--he brought the world of travel to Detroiters in their living rooms. In 1979, the DIA's World Adventure Series went dark after forty-two years.

Pierrot lead the way for television travelogue hosts like Rick Steves and Anthony Bourdain. In addition to travel, George was known for his love of food, drink, and off-color limericks. On February 16, 1980, George F. Pierrot suffered a heart attack at his Indian Village home and died forty-five minutes later in Henry Ford Hospital. He is buried at Elwood Cemetery in Wayne County.

World Adventure Series with George Pierrot circa 1960 

Michigan Outdoors with Mort Neff 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne Namesake--"Mad" Anthony Wayne

Protrait of Anthony Wayne painted by Thomas Pauley
Throughout the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan the name Mad Anthony Wayne resonates in communities far and wide. Scores of towns, cities, counties, schools, parks, hospitals, streets, and businesses have been named after this Revolutionary War general.

General Anthony Wayne led his soldiers in essentially rear guard actions harassing the British behind their lines. In several successful skirmishes with the enemy, he ordered surprise "bayonet only" attacks at night that inflicted many casualties. He was known as a courageous general--decisive and quick to act.

The legend behind the sobriquet "Mad" Anthony Wayne owes little to the general's military achievements. It has more to do with a drunk and disorderly colonist--known as Jemmy, the Rover--who the general sometimes used as a spy. A constable arrested the man who began to drop the general's name. When the general heard this, he threatened Jemmy with "twenty-nine lashes well-laid-on if this happens again."

In disbelief, the now sober Jemmy replied, "He must be mad or else he would help me. Mad Anthony, that's what he is. Mad Anthony Wayne." The story made its way around town and became a favorite among the troops. The general's nickname had a rhythm and bravado that was repeated in the ranks until it stuck.

President George Washington called Major-General Wayne out of retirement to command the newly formed Legion of the United States. Wayne established the first basic training facility to prepare  regular army recruits into professional soldiers.

Wayne mustered and trained a fighting force of 1,350 American soldiers and led them to the Northwest Territory (Ohio and Michigan) where they won a decisive victory against British forces and the Indian Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, just south of modern-day Toledo, Ohio. The war ended and Major-General Wayne negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy and the United States signed on August 3, 1795.

While returning to Pennsylvania after the conflict, Wayne died from complications of gout on December 15, 1796. He was buried at Fort Presque Isle. His body was disinterred in 1809 at the request of his family to be buried in a family plot. His bones make the journey to Radnor, Pennsylvania in saddlebags. For that grisly bit of history, consult the link below.


Aerial View of Old Fort Wayne.

The star-shaped fort in Detroit, Michigan--which bears Anthony Wayne's name--began construction in 1842 at the Detroit River's narrowest point with Canada. Fear of a territorial war with British Canada prompted the fort's building. It was named to honor Major-General Wayne's defeat of the British at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The victory resulted in the United States occupation of the Northwest Territories. Diplomats were able to settle territorial disputes, and the war with Canada never materialized. The new fort never fired a shot.


Fort Wayne was first used by Michigan troops in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. It became the primary induction center for Michigan troops for every field of American combat from the Civil War through Vietnam.

During World War II, every truck, Jeep, tank, tire, spare part, or war ordinance manufactured in Detroit went through the docks of Fort Wayne to the battlefronts. Also, Italian prisoners of war from the North Africa Campaign were housed at the fort. After Italy's surrender, Italian POWs were given the chance to return home. Many chose to settle in Detroit where there was an established Italian-American community and greater opportunities awaiting them.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Fort Wayne's grounds were open to assist and house homeless families. During the Cold War of the 1950s, Nike-Ajax missiles were installed to prepare for a nuclear war that never came. And during the Detroit riots in 1967, the fort was again used to house displaced families, the last families leaving in 1971.

Today, the Detroit Recreation Department operates the fort with the help of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, the Friends of Fort Wayne, and the Detroit Historical Society. The grounds are the home of the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, the Great Lakes Indian Museum, and historic Civil War reenactments. Special events are held throughout the year.

Fort Wayne was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958 and entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The State of Michigan wants to upgrade the property into a multi-use facility while maintaining the fort's historical significance. Once the new International Transport Bridge is built in old Delray, the United States customs plaza will be located near the historic site. More information on restoration plans can be found in the Detroit News link below.


Bruce Wayne--Millionaire Industrialist
While researching, I discovered that Batman's alter ego--Bruce Wayne--was named after Scottish patriot Robert Bruce and Mad Anthony Wayne. In DC Comics, Bruce Wayne is said to be General Wayne's direct descendant, and stately Wayne Manor is built on ground given to General Wayne for his Revolutionary War service.

Another little known fact is that in 1930, stunt man and young actor Marion Michael Morrison was originally given the stage name of Anthony Wayne by director Raoul Walsh. Fox Studios changed his name to John Wayne because Anthony sounded too Italian.


For more information on preservation plans for Historic Fort Wayne:
The story of General Anthony Wayne's exhumation may be more noteworthy than his military achievements. For more details, check out this link: http://www.americanrevolution.org/wayne.php