2015-06-20 / Looking Back

Lookiing Back


The St. Ignace Enterprise Thursday, June 17, 1915

There is no more earnest or enthusiastic student in matters pertaining to the history of the Mackinac country than Edwin O. Wood, of Flint. Long before he was named as a member of the board of Mackinac Island State Park Commissioners, and of the Michigan Historical Commission, he had been gathering together material and collecting books, maps and manuscripts, all directly bearing upon the Michilimackinac of the seventeenth century and later. He started out to bring into one library everything obtainable relating to Mackinac, but soon found that to cover the subject properly it was necessary to include a great deal of American, Michigan, the Great Lakes, New France, the Indians, and finally the old Northwest. Therefore, while the magnificent library is distinctively a Mackinac collection, yet it is known to historical societies and scholars as one of the largest and best special libraries in the country upon the old Northwest.

For ten years Mr. Wood has been engaged in editing and preparing a compilation upon the Mackinac country. He has had transcripts and Photostat reproductions made of records in Washington, Ottawa, London and Paris. Recently he has purchased from Mrs. Anna L. Kelton, widow of the late Mayor Dwight H. Kelton, the entire Kelton library, including correspondence and manuscripts, together with the copyrights, of all of Major Kelton’s works. These include “Annals of Fort Mackinac,” “Indian Names,” and “History of Sault Ste. Marie Canal.”

In the Kelton collection are autograph letters from Constance Fenimore Woolson, Francis Parkman, Rev. Edward Jacker, John Gilmary Shea, General Winfield Scott Hancock, General W. T. Sherman and some of the most noted historians, army officers and writers of the country. There is also a fine collection of photographs, covering Fort Mackinac from the earliest days. Among the pictures of those connected with Mackinac history is a splendid likelness of Major A. H. Holmes, the hero who fell leading a gallant charge against the English and savages. Mr. Wood has been in direct touch with the relatives of Major Holmes, and has brought out many interesting facts connected with his earlier life. The father of Major Holmes was Joseph Holmes, born at Londonderry, Ireland, August 22nd, 1746. His older brother was the first Governor and first United States Senator from Mississippi. Another brother, Hugh Holmes, was judge of the General Court of Virginia.

Mr. Wood has just procured an original edition of the work by Dr. Wm. Beaumont entitled “Experiments and observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion,” covering the experiments for a term of years upon Alexis St. Martin, who was wounded at Mackinac island in June, 1822.

Rt. Rev. Monsignor Frank A. O’Brien, L. L. D., has just been elected president of the Mackinac Historical Commission and he has called a meeting in joint session with the Mackinac Island Board of State Park Commissioners for July 12 at the Island. It is possible a reception or dinner in honor of Monsignor O’Brien may be given at that time.

Mrs. Kelton is a sister of Miss Donnelly, the representative of the Western Union Telegraph Co., on the Island. The late Major Kelton wrote “Annals” in the old officers quarters building. He received the honorary degrees of A. M. and L. L. D. and was recognized by all of the historical societies in the states making up the old Northwest as an authority upon Michilimackinac.

Dr. Edwin R. Campbell, of New York, one of the best known of the summer residents on Mackinac Island, recently presented Mr. Wood with a priceless friendship gift, being the original autograph letters of General Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln.

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