Here is the article that I wrote for the Society’s newsletter. Yesterday, I was asked if the article could published in the Sanilac County News. I’ll add the link to this post when/if it makes the paper. A special thanks to The Most for her proofreading assistance.

Update: The article can viewed in the 8.3.2011 edition of the Sanilac County News: Letters to the Editor. 

Peeking in the Past
While the glow of fascination was still on my face after stumbling upon a captivating piece of Sanilac County history, Tom inquired if I would be interested in writing articles about the archive room for the Society’s newsletter. The newsletter is, indeed, a great way to share our findings and treasures with members and the community, but where to begin…

Working in the archive room, I often get asked by visitors and volunteers if I ever get distracted by the content and end up reading. Not typically; however, one day, recently, I did. While working on an inventory project in the archive room, I was slightly perplexed when I came across a folder labeled World War II — Aerial Bombing. Prior to opening the file and examining the contents, my initial hunch was, like the museum’s Civil War content,  this folder likely contained information about local soldiers who were part of the war; however, in this case, they specifically participated in the bombing of Nazi-occupied countries. I was entirely wrong.

Upon opening the file, I discovered a document dated August 6, 1942, from the War Department based out of Detroit, Michigan, bearing a map of the Thumb area with Harbor Beach and Port Sanilac clearly marked. After closer inspection, I ascertained that this document was a letter to local mariners warning them of an upcoming “aerial bombing practice” taking place in Lake Huron. The document was signed by H.G. Barrows with the title of “Colonel, Corps of Engineers, District Engineer.” (I’ve included a transcript of the document at the end of this article.)

After leaving the archive room that day and attempting to resume course work, I kept returning to the document, in my mind, and began pondering the local history surrounding the event. Naturally, I told my friends and family about my discovery and was excited to see their interest sparked. While gently making a copy of the document, for reference purposes, the Society’s administrator, Joyce, recalled White Rock, being reduced in size due to the aerial bombing practice. At this particular point in the project, I realized that the purpose of these proposed articles should not be limited to sharing interesting documents in the archive room, but to perhaps serve as an impetus for documenting local history. 

I invite you to share your stories and memories. If you recall the practice runs in Lake Huron, or, as a child were told stories about them, please contact the Society. I would be happy to schedule a time to meet with you and document your piece of Sanilac County history that can be shared with generations to come.

LAKE HURON – lower end – Port Sanilac to Harbor Beach, Michigan – CAUTION
Commencing on August 10, 1942, aerial bombing practice will take place in an area 10 miles in width, starting a point 5 miles north of Port Sanilac and extending 20 miles north toward Harbor Beach. Provision for patrolling the area by air and safeguarding personnel and material will be the responsibility of the commander of the organization conducting the practice, and no restrictions will be established relative to the movement of commercial or privately owned vessels in this area.

Photo by Birchfield Studios, 2011

About the Columnist:
JC Brown, a proclaimed bibliophile, is currently working on a Master in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University. In her spare time, Brown blogs about her various bookish adventures, enjoys workshops offered by the Historical Society of Michigan, volunteers in the archive room, and is a recent member of the museum’s accessions committee.