Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hickory Island: Ternes Summer Playground

A version of this post originally appeared on Tangled Roots and Trees on 6 May 2014:

Hickory Island played a large role in the summers of the Ternes family. My first cousin twice removed, Harold Muir (1917-2003) married Marian Ruth Ternes (1918-1973) in 1949. Marian's sister, Ruth Marie Ternes, drowned on Hickory Island the year before Marian was born. She was only 3 years old at the time of her death.

A couple of years ago, I found the Live from Tormville! blog. The author, had purchased some embroidery at a garage sale and when she unpacked it, she discovered a typewritten transcript of voice taps that Edith Mary Madeline (Ternes) Reynolds, Marian's first cousin, sent to a relative about their shared family history. In those transcripts, Edith wrote about celebrating the 4th of July on Hickory Island:

The 4th of July was generally spent at Hickory Island and it was always a spectacular day. The relatives all gathered there in the morning and after lunch we were given all the sparklers and lady fingers we could handle. This helped us wear off the lunch and prepare for a very special dinner. After dinner our dads would set off the Roman candles and sky rockets and pinwheels and we would roast wienies and toast marshmallows at the bonfire on the beach. We had some wonderful times out there. We went to the Island as soon as school was out in the spring and stayed there until it was time a to get new clothes for school again in the fall.

I wanted to learn a little more about the island that played such a big part in the Ternes family's lives.

Corps of Engineers 1905 topographical map of Hickory Island

The Corp of Engineers topographical map dated 1905 shows that Hickory Island is divided into two large islands.  At this time Upper Hickory was principally farmland. The only buildings were the caretaker's house and barn and a few outbuildings. Conversely, the eastern shoreline of Lower Hickory was well lined with cottages. Cottagers arrived at the dock on Upper Hickory and used a path along the riverbank to to reach the footbridge leading to Lower Hickory. The bridge crossed the channel near Peek-a-Boo, the small island between Hickory's upper and lower sections. This is the earliest map known to show the road leading to Lower Hickory with a bridge for vehicles to cross the channel.

Upper Hickory Dock where people boarded a steamship to return to Detroit;
photograph courtesy of Robert George and published in Images of
America: Grosse Ille
 and copyrighted by the Grosse Ille
Historical Society

I wish I would have known about Hickory Island when I lived in the Detroit area in the mid 1980s.

'Topographical Map of Hickory Island,' U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE)
'Upper Hickory Dock,' Grosse Ille Historical Society

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