Alexander Richards and the Flat Iron Block

Circa 1880’s image of Alexander C. Richards. Photo Courtesy Anthony Perkins

Circa 1880’s image of Alexander C. Richards. Photo Courtesy Anthony Perkins

        Alexander Richards was born on September 26, 1844 in Quebec, Canada to Lambert and Serafine (Serois) Richards, Alex was the eldest in a sibling group of eight children. Little is known about his early life in Canada. He immigrated to Michigan in 1866 at age 22 and resided at Fayette where he operated a butcher shop. Richards married Roxanna Knapp in Delta County on January 2, 1869 and seven children were born from this union.

            The family lived in Garden, Michigan for a time, but moved to Manistique in 1876. While living in Manistique the family resided in a large home on the corner of Cedar and Walnut Street, which was the future site of the A. S. Putnam drug store. Eight people lived in the home, including a servant. The servant was a necessity, as Richards’ wife Roxanne had gone blind. Richards was very kind to all his children, and only reprimanded them when they moved items in the home which made it difficult for Roxanne to move around and find things. He had a playhouse built for his daughters in the back yard complete with a toy cook stove.

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Decoration Day Celebration – May 30, 1885

The above is a rare photo of Manistique’s Civil War veterans getting ready for a patriotic holiday celebration. Pictured from far right: John Gayar, Henry Brassel, Amos Hill, George W. Rice  (partially hidden behind Hill) and Wright E. Clarke (buttoning coat), On the far left, the men with insignias on their hats are David Blair (left) and William Wood (Right).

The above is a rare photo of Manistique’s Civil War veterans getting ready for a patriotic holiday celebration. Pictured from far right: John Gayar, Henry Brassel, Amos Hill, George W. Rice (partially hidden behind Hill) and Wright E. Clarke (buttoning coat), On the far left, the men with insignias on their hats are David Blair (left) and William Wood (Right).

Decoration Day – 1885 

            Manistique’s first celebration of what was then known as Decoration Day, took place on Sunday, May 30, 1885. The citizens of the town were stirred from their sleep at the rude hour of 3:00 A.M. by the ringing of hammers and anvils announcing Decoration morn. In the forenoon the streets became crowded with horse drawn wagons and carriages, as pioneers from the country arrived to celebrate the holiday. By noon, the stirring martial music of the Cornet brass band was heard echoing down the avenues.

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Manistique’s Civil War Cannon

The Civil War Cannon on the Court House Lawn - 1915 Image

The Civil War Cannon on the Court House Lawn – 1915 Image

             In 1896, the United States Navy Department donated a Civil War era cannon to Manistique’s George F. Fuller Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. The cannon had seen service on the James River in Virginia during the years 1861-65. After it arrived in Manistique, the cannon was placed on the Courthouse grounds where it soon became an honored emblem of national pride. The cannon played an important role in the life of the community. It was paraded through the streets of the city on Decoration Day and on the Fourth of July.  Its thunderous boom could be heard on National holidays and on extraordinary occasions, such as at the death of President McKinley in 1901, when the Presidential Salute was given. It took two men to fire the cannon, and the duty fell to Civil War Veterans, Henry Brassel and John Gayar.

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