|Quiz #52 - March 12, 2006
|Question: What does the picture on the site
have to do with a dog named Meeme?
|Many thanks to Dale Niesen for suggesting this quiz.
The city of Houghton, Michigan was named in honor of Douglas Houghton, who
was the first state geologist of Michigan (as well as being a doctor and mayor of
Detroit). Unfortunately, he drowned at the young age of 36. However, his black
water spaniel (and best friend) Meeme was also on the boat and survived.
The URL given in this week's quiz leads to a photo of the Eagle Harbor of Houghton, on
the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Hitting the space bar toggles the picture between the
Hougton of today and the Houghton of about 1900. There are several mouses-overs
that highlight various landmarks of the waterfront, both today and in c. 1900. These
include: the Amphidrome, the Douglass House Hotel, the Houghton Co. Courthouse, the
Portage Swing Bridge, and the Copper Range Railroad Depot.
See http://www.doe.mtu.edu/houghton_panorama/index.htm for a very nice 360
rotating panorama of the Houghton waterfront.
Douglass Houghton (September 21, 1809 – October 13, 1845) born in Troy, NY, was
an American geologist, medical doctor and mayor of Detroit, Michigan.
At an early age Houghton removed to Fredonia, New York. He erected a hermitage in
his father's orchard, where he began his research into the laws of nature. Among his
experiments was the manufacture of percussion-powder, which had been recently
invented. An explosion occurred in which he was blown up with his manufactory.
Although receiving no serious injury, he bore evidence of this accident throughout his
Houghton was graduated at the Rensselaer polytechnic institute in 1829, remained there
as assistant, and in the following year was appointed adjunct to the junior professor of
chemistry and natural history. He delivered a course of scientific lectures in Detroit in
1830, which attracted large audiences. In 1831 he was licensed to practise medicine by
the medical society of Chautauqua county, and at this time served as physician and
botanist on the government expedition organized by Henry R. Schoolcraft to explore the
headwaters of Mississippi river.
Houghton's report on the botany of this region proved his extensive knowledge of the
flora of the northwest, and extended his reputation. He is well known for his geologic
surveys of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Through his work in the 1840s the true
wealth of the Keweenaw Peninsula (Ojibway for "place we go around") was
understood, leading to the settlement and mining of what's now colloquially called
Copper Country. Iron was also mined in the region.
In 1838 he was appointed professor of geology, mineralogy,
and chemistry in the University of Michigan. In 1840 he
explored the southern coast of Lake Superior, the results of
which research he reported to the legislature. In 1842 he was
elected mayor of Detroit. He was a member of the National
institute of Washington, D. C., of the Boston society of natural
history, an honorary member of the Royal antiquarian society
of Copenhagen, and of other scientific and literary associations.
Houghton's aid to the development of the region thus came at
a very young age… but so did his death. He was only 36
years old – and still foolhardy – when his beloved Lake Superior took him into her
waves. In Eagle Harbor on October 13, 1845, he was in search of another surveying
party when he and his party decided to turn back west toward Eagle River. The waves
and wind picked up severely, as did his stubbornness when he refused to beach the
boat. Only when water had filled the boat did he make a motion to row the boat toward
the Great Sand Bay. They never made it alive. Water knocked him out of the boat, and
he soon drowned, still encouraging his companions to swim to shore. It wasn’t until
midnight that his party reached Eagle River to tell the story, and it wasn’t until the
following May that his body was found washed up on the beach, an arm protruding
from the sand. The only confirmation that it was him were the initials “D.H.” engraved
on his boots. His trusty dog Meeme, who was in the boat as well, made it to shore alive
and was sent back to his home in Fredonia, New York, but Houghton's remains were
buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.
The city of Houghton, Michigan (as well as Houghton County) are named in his honor,
as is Douglass Houghton Hall, a dormitory at Michigan Technological University.
Among other accomplishments, he was the second professor hired at the fledgling
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a founding member of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science. A plaque commemorates Houghton on the
entrance to the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan. He is
also memorialized with a monument near the University of Michigan's Graduate Library
featuring a broken pillar along with three other early professors whose "lives ended
Meeme is Chippewa for "wild pigeon". There is a township and town in Manitowoc
County, WI named for the dog.
The Lansing, Michigan House of Representatives, State Capitol has a huge oil painting
done by Bradish (probably in the 1870’s) and purchased by the Legislature in 1879 (Act
135) that depicts Dr. Houghton, Founder of the city of Houghton, standing on shore of
Lake Superior with Pictured Rocks in the background and his dog Meeme at his feet.
|Marker to Douglass Houghton at the University of Michigan
In Memoriam Douglass Houghton, M.D.,
professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and
Geology in this University and head of the
geological survey in this state. Learned in
science, zealous in action while fearlessly
engaged in public work, he perished by the
overturning of a boat in Lake Superior.
Drowned, never, alas, again to be seen until
the lake shall give up its dead. He died on
October 13, 1845 at the age of 36. The
Regents of the University of Michigan have
had this monument erected.
Personal Note from Lisa Brzys:
Though I have toured [Elmwood] cemetery a few times, I have never seen his grave
site!! I am very curious now and will look for him next time I visit.
As for local-Yup! We live in a near suburb, just north of Detroit. When I saw the
photo of Houghton, MI -we just had to take a shot at your quiz. It's just coincidental
...but the general mgr of Elmwood Cem. (also the Exec VP of the Elmwood Hist Fdn)
is Chancey Miller, a wonderful man of many hats: he also happens to be the current
president of the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research (DSGR). The next time I
see him at our board mtgs, I will ask him about Dr. Douglass Houghton. A website
says Houghton's grave had been abandoned?? but efforts were afoot to restore the site
and place it in perpetual care. If anyone knows of Dr Houghton's resting place at
Elmwood, it's Chancey. I bet he has a good story to tell too...will keep you posted!
I really liked the photo overlays -old and new for this quiz. I have never seen that
before but it is very very cool!
|Congratulations to our winners!
Mary Fraser Mary E. South
Debbie Wesley Carol Phillips
Rick Mackinney Deedee King
Don Schulteis Ellis (E-Pop) Nienhaus
Judy Pfaff Debbie Sterbinsky
Misty Bogle Peter St. Wecker
Kelly Fetherlin Rudolph & Frieda Jenko-Brzys
Judy Peterson Eva Royal
If your name has been omitted from our list of winners, please let me know. It was unintentional.
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