‘Historical past with a dark twist:’ Carr presents an ugly past of Michigan’s famed names | News
TRAVERSE CITY – Tom Carr had a neighbor in Buckley whose father had an old Ford Model A.
The car had a connection to the man behind its maker’s namesake, Henry Ford, and the man, Ronald Smith, drove Carr around town in it.
“It was a Model A that had been heavily modified by Harry Bennett so he could drive around the Ford factory premises,” said Carr.
Harry Bennett rose to the position of chief safety officer for Ford Motor Company in the 1930s. That was, of course, his official title. He was known as an enforcer who thwarted unionization plans among Ford factory workers while other Detroit automakers like Chrysler and General Motors gave unions a seat at the table.
Carr began researching Bennett more. He uncovered photos of him and newspaper articles depicting Bennett’s place amid violent protests outside the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Factory. A photo showed Bennett injured after a stone was thrown at him at the Ford Hunger March. It was previously reported that he had been shot.
This story is detailed in a chapter of Carr’s latest history book, “The Dark Side of the Mitten: Crimes of Power and Mighty Criminals in Michigan’s Past and Present”, until Bennett’s exit from Ford Company.
The book is a sequel to Carr’s two best-selling books, “Blood on the Mitten: Infamous Michigan Murderers, 1700s-Present” and “MI BAD: Robbers, Cutthroat, and Thieves in Michigan’s Past and Present”.
“This one did a lot of things like the dark side of some of the famous people in Michigan and some other people who are not that famous but had a position of some kind of power,” said Carr, a former record-breaking Eagle reporter.
“Henry Ford’s Henchman” is one of the three stories Carr has about Henry Ford in the book. “Henry Ford and the seal of approval of the Third Reich” describes Ford’s connections to the German NSDAP. The other is “The Club Too Rich for Henry Ford,” a short chapter on the particularly private Huron Mountain Club and Ford’s attempts to get involved.
“I even say there myself that it shouldn’t take anything from its enormous achievements,” said Carr. “But you know, he made no mistake about being anti-Semitic.”
The rest of the 39 stories stretch from the 18th century and the entire story has an impact on the state today. Most of them take place between the 19th and 20th centuries.
For example, “Slavers of the North” is about Michigandians who owned slaves; “Boss Pontiac: Heroism and Cruelty” tells how Chief Pontiac, the namesake of a car and Michigan city, drowned a trapped girl.
“I’m not trying to spare anyone,” said Carr.
Some stories are related to Traverse City. Others cover the entire Northern Michigan region.
Take Arthur Curry, for example, who hoped to revive the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City and the Perry Hotel in Petoskey in the 1980s and 1990s. When the plans went through and Curry left both projects, he needed money.
“And all of a sudden you find out that this guy you put your money in kidnapped a woman in Indiana and asked for a ransom,” said Carr.
Curry was arrested in a K-Mart parking lot, the joint venture went bankrupt, and the developer was sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping, 11 of which were served before parole in 2001.
The other tale with a connection to TC tells the story of Magdelaine LaFramboise, one of the most successful fur traders in the Great Lakes region in the early 19th century, aided by her fluent English, French, Odawa and Ojibwe languages. In winter it traded frequently from Grand Traverse Bay to the Kalamazoo River.
LaFramboise spent her off-season summers on Mackinac Island buying the pots, weapons, and tools that Indians on the western Lower Peninsula exchanged for their furs.
When her husband Joseph was murdered by a Potawatomi man named Nequad, LaFramboise became extremely successful even in the fur trade.
The other Mackinac Island story is the story of a fur trader, Alexis St. Martin, who lived with a hole in his stomach that wasn’t closed.
It enabled Dr. William Beaumont, the namesake of Beaumont Health in all of Detroit, observed the human digestive progress in St. Martin.
“It’s always been an interesting story, but it’s not often told from the point of view of the man who had the hole. It’s usually told from the point of view of the doctor who did the research on it, ”said Carr.
“Dark Side of the Mitten,” published by Mission Point Press, is available on Amazon for $ 16.95. Chris Schluep, editor of the Amazon Book Review, put the book on the website’s “Best True Crime Books” tab.
The book can also be purchased from Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City and is available from the Traverse District Area Library.
“I’m not trying to spare anyone.” Author Tom Carr