All posts for the month January, 2015

Christiancy 72

Senator Isaac Peckham Christiancy Home Lansing, MI

A Substantial Residence

“On a commanding eminence in the southeast part of the city stands the new residence of Judge Christiancy. These premises were once a portion of the L.A. Torrance farm, and were purchased by Mr. Christiancy soon after his removal to this city. Before the death of his wife a new house was planned and rapidly being built, which he expected would be his permanent home.

The site upon which this building is located commands a sweeping view of the whole city, and surrounding country wherever the forests have been cleared away. The soil in this part of the city is sand and gravel, and at all times of the year the walks and drives are free from mud and never present the appearance of a mortar-bed.

The main building averages 43 by 43 feet, two stories in height, with tower and faces west and north. There is a wing, average size 18 by 26 feet, on the east. The structure is of uniform cream-colored brick, manufactured by Robert Barker of this city. The foundation wall built by Jere Van Keuren, from the granite boulders of the field, is unquestionably as handsome and substantial as can be found in the state. The cellar extends under the whole building, and contains the same number of rooms, as does the first story. In the cellar is one of Camp’s furnaces, with ventilation apparatus, which heats and ventilates the whole building.

The real front of the building is west, and the north has also a front door. On entering the building at the west door, you find 8 by 10 feet. A door opens into a hall 8 by 32 feet. To the right is a parlor, 15 by 19 feet. In the rear of the parlor is a dining room, 15 feet 8 inches by 19 feet. In rear of the dining room there is a passageway 14 feet in length, which leads to the kitchen, and both sides may be used as pantry.

Opposite the parlor is the library room, same size as the parlor; in the rear of the library room is a bedroom, same size of dining room, with bay window. On this floor is also a bathroom and various closets.

The second story is nearly the same as below, with little difference in arrangement. The main stairs lead up from the hall.

The building was planned by Senator Christiancy, with the exception of the roof and tower, which were devised by Abram Cooper.

Although the house looks as if built after the usual mode of constructing brick houses, it is vastly different. In the first place a regular balloon frame was erected and this was sheeted on both sides with inch boards. Then the brick wall was laid on the outside and lathed and plastered on the inside. There is no danger from dampness, and its strength and durability cannot be questioned. Every partition in the house was also double sheeted, then lathes and plastered.

This building stands today as a monument of what our Lansing builders can do. The mason work from top to bottom was under charge of Jere Van Keuren. The carpenter work was done by Abram Cooper. (These guys may have been here to work on the Capitol. They are in the 1873 CD)

While the building is a masterpiece of workmanship, the parlor, library and hall are the principal points of attraction. The woodwork in this part of the house is of butternut and black walnut, with an oil finish, smooth as glass. M.J. Murphy, long in the employ of D.W. Buck, had an opportunity of showing his skill, and we do not believe it can be surpassed in the state. Visitors in the public buildings at Washington sat there is nothing in the capitol that will equal the beauty of the finish in these two rooms.

The stairs of walnut and butternut are elegant in the highest sense of the word, and the railing and sides shine like a polished mirror. H.E. Partch, the grainer and painter, whose work was so much admired in John Robson’s house, has the job of graining and painting, and he has fully kept the reputation so well established.

The doors of butternut with black walnut moldings were made at the shop of Mr. Cooper, and constructed after the most approved patterns.

The total cost of this building will be $8,500 when fully complete. Of course there are many houses in the state, which far exceed it in cost, but for convenience, durability, and beauty of workmanship, it can hardly be exceeded.

The commanding site on which this building stands makes it appear to better advantage that twice its cost, expended on premise on a level with the country around. From the tower and roof the whole city, Grand and Cedar rivers, the various railroad tracks, highways, and improved farms, lie like a handsome map around you. (LRW 4/6/1875)

“Judge Person has traded his elegant residence at Howell for the house and extensive grounds of the late Judge Christiancy’s estate on Cedar street south. The place will make an excellent home for the judge, and he will remove into it shortly. SR 10/4/1893

Christancy School 72

Christiancy School 1401 Beech Street

In 1907 Judge Rollin Person subdivided the property and established the Rollin H. Person Addition Subdivision. The Christiancy residence sat just off Beech Street on Out Lot A and Lots 50 and 51. Out Lot A and Lots 50 and 51 was sold to the Lansing School District in 1910. The home was later sold in 1913 for $500 and removed from the Lots. In 1914 the school district decided to build the Christiancy School on the lots, the school was designed by Judson Churchill.

Next the Christiancy Scandal


© Lost Lansing 2014

Lansing Toy Gun Company continued

 Hoop Gun

The Daisy Hoop Gun

The second toy gun was actually a toy; it was the Daisy Hoop Gun designed my Henry G. Lewis and Charles C. Curtis. The Daisy Hoop Gun was intended as a toy for children. The idea was simple, the hoop is placed in the recess and drawn back until it engages, then the gun was shot, the idea being that the hoop could be aimed at an object with the idea being the hoop landed over the object. Much like that carnival game the ring toss. Considering everything this could have been a fun toy. Think about it. Lots of children at a party shooting color coated rings at an object to get prizes.

Hoop Gun Trigger

The trigger on the Daisy Hoop Gun

The story of  is a bizarre tale. Charles was born in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1827. At the age of eleven Charles’ family left New York and settled in the south. When the war with Mexico broke out he enlisted in the United States Army, after his discharge he took part in William Walker’ expedition and conquest of Nicaragua in 1855. Returning to the United States, Charles settled in Florida and became a slaveholder. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Charles enlisted in a Southern Regiment and served until captured by Federal forces in 1864. He was confined to Fort Delaware Prison where he escaped and made his way to Canada where he stayed until the war concluded. Financial ruined Charles settled in Albion, Michigan. At some point he married Mrs. Ellen F. Thompson; the couple had two sons, Harry D. and Jennings Demorest Curtis. Charles moved to Lansing in 1880 and opened a tin shop on Franklin Street [Grand River] with Paul Dunham. Later Charles worked by himself or with a variety of partners.

On June 4, 1897 Ellen passed away at the couple’s home in Lansing. Ellen F. Green was born in Otsego County, New York in 1837, her family came to Michigan and settled in Oakland County in 1850. On July 4, 1854 Ellen married Jeremiah Thompson, the couple had three children, Nehemiah, Marshall and Edwin. Between 1870 and 1880 Jeremiah and Ellen divorced, Jeremiah passed away October 11, 1892 and is buried at Mount Vernon Cemetery, Macomb County, Michigan. At some point between 1870 and 1880 Charles and Ellen married, in the 1880 Census they are married with a two-month-old son, Henry D. Curtis. (LJ 6/5/1897) Once Ellen died Charles life spiraled out of control, he returned to his work as a tinner, but he was constantly move in and out of hotels. In fact after 1904 Charles disappeared completely from the printed record and only his obituary is available to fill in the missing pieces.

The Lansing Journal stated that Charles had a room above Ernest Kowalk Saloon located at 1233 Turner for the last year of his life. The State Republican related the Charles was found in an excited state in a dirty little room above a store on Turner Street by a Lansing Policeman, he had not eaten in days and was without any money. Chief Behrendt questioned Charles who told the tale of giving all his money to his children who then proceeded to ignore him, Behrendt intended to send Charles to the Poor Farm, to which Charles replied that he would commit suicide rather then be imprisoned at the Poor Farm. Friends of Charles rallied to his side and obtained a room at the Digby Hotel for him. On September 16th he was removed from his room at the Digby Hotel and sent to the City Hospital. Early on the morning of September 20, 1907 one of the truly worldly characters in Lansing passed away. His body was removed to Mount Vernon Cemetery, Macomb County, Michigan to be buried next to his wife Ellen. SR 9/20/1907 and LJ 9/21/1907

So what happened to the Lasing Toy Gun Company? On Tuesday September 9, 1884 a fire was discovered at 6:30 pm at the Lansing Toy Gun Factory on Franklin Avenue [Grand River]. The building was filled with wood shavings, lumber and wood stains all combustible materials which resulted in the fire spreading quickly through the building. The North Lansing Fire Department responded rapidly but the fire was too advanced to extinguish swiftly, the factory was completely destroyed. Lansing Toy Gun Company lost all of its inventory and machinery valued at $5000, since the company only carried $2000 in insurance it was a devastating loss, from which the company never recovered. (LRW 9/11/1884) In February of 1885 the Lansing Toy Gun Company was reformed at the Michigan Novelty Manufacturing Company with many of the same people involved in the company. The plant was rebuilt on the site of the destroyed Lansing Toy Gun factory, the main building was a brick veneered structure 32 by 79 feet and all new machinery was purchased. It is difficult in determining if the Michigan Novelty Manufacturing Company ever produced anything it only appeared in the 1887 City Directory then it was gone. By 1892 the site of the plant was occupied by the Lansing Spoke Company with Jacob F. Schultz as president. Jacob was also president of the Lansing Toy Gun Company and the Michigan Novelty Manufacturing Company. The same equipment used to produced the toy guns could also be retooled to make spokes. It is possible that Michigan Novelty Manufacturing Company failed and was reorganized as the Lansing Spoke Company. No records have been discovered for the Michigan Novelty Manufacturing Company. LRW 2/11/1885


© Lost Lansing 2014