History

Michigan Dates in History - May

Contributor: Trish Stroh

From Holland's first Tulip Festival to the fifteen-millionth Model T rolling off the assembly line — May is full interesting anniversaries and memories for the Great Lakes State. How many of these did you know?

 

May 1, 1903

Followers of “King” Benjamin Purnell opened the House of David in Benton Harbor. This religious community was best known for its amusement park and its traveling bearded baseball team.

 

May 1, 1918

Michigan became “dry” before national prohibition became effective. Michigan voters approved a prohibition amendment to the state constitution. It seems while voters approved the change, many did not follow the law. Homebrew and “Speakeasies” were popular and many Michiganians made frequent trips to Canada where alcohol was still sold legally.

 

May 2, 1844

The Detroit Board of Education opened the state’s first high school in a building that had housed the University of Michigan

 

May 3, 1881

Leonidas G. Woolley of Mendon patented the first electric headlight for railroad locomotives.

 

May 3, 1921

Champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson was born in Detroit, Michigan.

 

May 4, 1846

The Michigan legislature passed an act banning capital punishment. Michigan was the first English speaking government to stop executions.

 

May 5, 1710

French settlers Jean Baptiste Turpin and Margaret Fafard were married in St. Anne’s Church in Detroit. They were the first couple of European ancestry to be married in Michigan.

 

May 5, 1831

The Democratic Free Press and Michigan Intelligencer now the Detroit Free Press published its first issue. It started as a 4 page weekly and became a daily in 1835.

 

May 6, 1945

Musician Bob Seger was born in Lincoln Park.

 

May 6, 1968

Detroit Free Press won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 1967 race riot in Detroit.

 

May 8, 1794

The United States Post Office is established.

 

May 8, 1959

Little Caesars, Michigan’s first pizza chain opened its first store in Garden City.

 

May 10, 1933

Julius Stroh of the Stroh Brewing Company poured the first legal glass of beer after repeal of prohibition at an American Legion convention in Detroit.

 

May 13, 1857

“The nation’s first state land grant college for farmers, Michigan Agricultural College opened in East Lansing. The school name was changed to Michigan State College and is now Michigan State University."

 

May 13, 1950

Singer Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw.

 

May 16, 1927

Andrew Kehoe, school treasurer in Bath, killed his wife then set a timer that detonated explosives under the school while he blew himself up in his pick-up truck. 45 people including 38 students were killed in Michigan worst mass murder.

 

May 18, 1802

Father Gabriel Richard began his illustrious career as parish priest at St. Anne’s in Detroit. He brought the first printing press to the state, published the state’s first newspaper, helped start the University of Michigan and he was the first priest to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

May 18, 1929

The first Tulip Festival opened in Holland, Michigan.

 

May 18, 1980

Mount St. Helens erupts.

 

May 20, 1835

The Detroit Common Council approved the construction of the first underground sewer to replace smelly and unsanitary open ditches.

 

May 20, 1913

Co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company William Hewlett was born in Ann Arbor.

 

May 20, 1942

At the Victor Studios in Hollywood, Glenn Miller recorded what might be the bestknown song about a Michigan city, “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.”

 

May 20, 2016

Peninsulas first brick and mortar store was opened in Berkley!!

 

May 21, 1852

Michigan Central Railroad ran its first train between Detroit and Chicago.

 

May 21, 1937

My Michigan written by Giles Kavanagh and H. O’Reilly Clint of Detroit was named an official song of the State of Michigan.

 

May 23, 2002

Governor John Engler signed a bill making the Historical Society of Michigan, the state’s official historical society.

 

May 25, 1935

In just one hour, at the Western Conference (now the Big Ten) track and field championships held at the University of Michigan, a sophomore from Ohio State set world records in the 220-yard dash, the 220-yard low hurdles, and the long jump while also tying the mark in the 100 yard dash. His name? Jessie Owens.

 

May 26, 1927

Henry Ford and his son Edsel drove the fifteen-millionth Model T off the assembly line. Later that day production of Model T’s was terminated in order to retool the factory for production of the Model A.

 

May 27, 1947

Legislature passed a bill requiring lobbyists to register before they attempted to influence legislators.