Monroe in the Time of Typhoid

This post is not about beer, it’s about water. So why is a beer blog doing a post about water? One; beer imageis mostly water. Two; beer was often drunk as an alternative to polluted water. St. Arnold of Soisson’s miracle was to get local peasants to drink beer, “gift of life”, instead of water. His parishioners survived the plague. Okay, stories similar to the last one were possibly myth. But in the book “Last Call“, Daniel Okrent does mention that one of the many factors in passing the 18th amendment was better sanitation leading to clean reliable drinking water.

The summer of 1915 was still young when local physician and Monroe Health Officer Dr. J.J. Siffer noted that between June 25 and July 12 seven patients came to him showing the symptoms of typhoid: high fever, diarrhea and a red rash. It became clear thatimage the 7 thousand citizens of Monroe were in the midst of a typhoid outbreak. Initially the reason for this outbreak was unclear but by the time he tended to his seventh patient he felt that the water supply was to blame. At this point Dr. Siffer imagecontacted the State Board of Health and requested a sanitary engineer be sent to Monroe. And so James W. Follin was dispatched to find the cause of the outbreak. One that would grow to 44 cases by the end of the summer.

Typhoid is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi which is transmitted by ingesting the feces of an infected person. The fight against disease causing pathogens was just getting started. Water treatment processes such a filtration and chlorination were becoming more widespread. State and local health departments were opening up. The famous case of Typhoid Mary was eight years previous and Wilbur Wright died of typhoid just 2 years earlier to Monroe’s outbreak.

In 1915, the water was supplied by Monroe Water Company which had been granted a 30 year franchise in 1889. This was not the first time water quality had been an issueimage for them. A large majority of the water tested since 1908 was deemed unsafe for domestic purposes. Water pumped in from the lake was not treated in any manner. Fish would come out of hydrants and block service lines diminishing water pressure. Untreated Lake Erie water is very inconsistent and was considered undrinkable by customers during certain times of the year which drove the citizens to the 5 public wells located throughout the city. But people were mistaking clear water for clean water and the water from the well was no safer to drink.

The well at Wadsworth and Second that some called “the old sulphur well” was the oldest well in Monroe. The well had a few cases of typhoid tied to it dating back to 1914. By June 26 the well had six cases directly attributed to it. When the test came back from Lansing the Wadsworth well plus the one at Noble and Tremont were badly contaminated. Byimage July 19, three public wells in total were closed never to open again leaving only the public wells at Harrison and 6th plus the Rapp Park well open.

This did not end typhoid outbreak. The bacteria was being carried in untreated sewage that was dumped straight into the river. It then flowed out to the lake. And when the wind blew in a certain direction it headed straight for the intake.

The state issued a boil water warning and demanded that emergency treatment of city tap water with hypochlorite of lime on July 21. The Monroe Water Company set up a chemical feed system and maintained a chlorine residual throughout the system. These actions contained the outbreak to 40 people until Monroe Water Company decided to cease feeding chlorine for three days without notifying the public. This caused four more cases. Meanwhile, city officials were talking seriously about improvements they could make and the need for more oversight.

James W. Follin’s thorough investigation led to the conclusion that the city needed toimage build a filtration plant. Chlorine can only purify the water but it can’t clean it. Without the removal of organics, the water would still be unpleasant to drink creating a lack of confidence in Monroe’s water supply. Eight years after the outbreak a new city run Filtration plant was dedicated on March 1, 1924. The plant is still is in use today.

I recommend checking out Follin’s “Report on the investigation of the typhoid fever epidemic at Monroe, MI occurring during the summer of 1915”. Because of the report’s depth and wealth of information, it is impossible to condense it into a blog post. The report includes maps, test results, pictures and a list of every case in Monroe. If you enjoy nerding out on how life used to be please click the link. To me it’s just more proof that the good old days weren’t so good.

 

Buy Beer Memorabilia in Monroe?!

Today is Small Business Saturday and it’s time to seriously think about Christmas shopping. Believe it or not there are ways to support a business here in Monroe and get the beer lover in your life a piece of history.
Monroe Currency and Coin is one of the newer stores to downtown Monroe, Michigan, it opened in 2012. My initial thought was I have a child in day care I don’t have money to spend on currency that I don’t intend to spend so what does this store have for me? I was so wrong.
I met Joe Peruski, the owner of Monroe Currency and Coin, by pure coincidence. And we started to talk about local brewing history. I used something his Grandfather wrote as a reference when writing about Wahl Brewery. It turns out he sells antique beer memorabilia including some stuff from Monroe. But don’t just pop in without talking to Joe. He is knowledgable about local history and the really good stuff is in the back room.
So if you are looking for unique gifts Monroe Currency and Coin is a great place to find it. It’s located at 125 E Front in Monroe, Mi.

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Monroe – Birthplace of the Michigan Wine Industry

By Kevin and Sarah Nash

The 2nd annual Monroe Wine Crawl is next Friday, July 18. Although the event is already sold out I thought it would be a good excuse to do a post on Monroe’s wine history. Have you ever wondered why a town founded by the French on the River Raisin seems to have little to no wine industry? Would you be surprised to find out Monroe in fact did have a wine industry and that it was the Traverse City of it’s day. I know you feel puzzled, what you thought was reality has been turned on it’s head. I feel like I did when I found out that Frank Sinatra was married to Harpo Marx’s ex-wife (which is true). So what happened Monroe?! You used to be cool.

I came across a book a few months ago called, “The History of Michigan Wines” By Lorri Hathaway and Sharon Kegerreis which detailed the startling facts.

When Michigan became a state in 1837,  Monroe was one of the largest cities.  According to the book, Within a few decades Monroe became the birthplace of Michigan’s commercial wine industry.

It started with Joseph Sterling  who arrived in Monroe from New York in 1835 and built several private homes and public buildings in Monroe including the original city hall.  He served as mayor from 1862-1863. The authors write, “Perhaps as Joseph traveled on Lake Erie the combination of the sight of the grape vines on Kelleys Island and the wild grape vines flourishing along the Detroit River and the River Raisin influenced his future profession as wine maker.”

In 1863 Joseph planted the state’s first vineyard for the purposes of commercial winemaking in Monroe County, although the first vineyard in Monroe  was planted in 1854 by J.C.W. Greening, owner of the RiverRaisin Valley Nursery. Joseph’s vineyard was two and a half acres and was planted along with an apple orchard near the docks in Monroe.  Successful vineyards on nearby islands inspired him to plant a vineyard.  He planted 2, 050 vines on twelve acres of property….A few years later, in 1868,  commercial winemaking in Michigan began when he established  Pointe Aux Peaux Wine Company. The winery was named for the point of land that jut out into Lake Erie.  In 1871, Pointe Aux Peaux Winery made five thousand gallons of wine.

The winery’s reputation grew when they received a gold medal and recognition for presenting the best collection of wines at the Michigan State Fair. The following year, Pointe Aux Peaux was awarded a gold medal for perfect vineyard. The judges noted they, “had never seen any vineyard better laden with fruit or in better condition in any respect.”

Success breeds imitation and by 1873 there were more than 20 vineyards on nearly 200 acres producing over a half a million pounds of grapes. By 1873, the Monroe wine industry was booming and had earned a reputation for quality. There were 309 acres of vines; 184,673 pounds of grapes were sold, and 12,355 gallons of wines were made. (25)

So what happened? There is no real satisfying answer here. Upon Joseph Sterling’s death in 1891, the prohibitionist wife of his partner, Samuel P. Williams’, closed the winery. In the late 1800s a fungal disease known as “grape rot” hit Monroe. This combined with the growing strength of the temperance movement and the deaths of the wine making pioneers doomed Monroe’s wine industry. After the repeal of prohibition, several new wineries reopened, but   relocated to southwest Michigan where vineyards established prior had survived by supplying grapes to Welch’s grape juice company.

Monroe  is a farming community that takes a lot  of pride in it’s history. Perhaps a glance at  its past could help move the city toward a better future. I’d like to think that all we need is a few pioneering spirits like Joseph Sterling who can see Monroe for it’s potential. People with a passion for their craft and an uncompromising commitment to quality.  There are signs that it is  happening right now in the county through the efforts of Jon Trelor owner of J. Trees Wine Cellars who cultivates grapes and apples to make  fantastic wine  and cider right here in Petersburg and Brad Sancho at Original Gravity who set up shop in Milan on the Monroe side of the county line and is turning out consistently top notch craft beer. Now if a winery or microbrewery would just open within walking distance of our house.

 

 

Erie Bread Company and Spent Grain Bread

<div class=\"postavatar\">Erie Bread Company and Spent Grain Bread</div>

Erie Bread Company in Monroe, MI will be selling bread baked using spent grain this Tuesday, December 28,  from the local homebrew club, Muskrat Mashers. The grain came from Craig Laginess, an avid beer lover and our club treasurer. He brewed a wheat and rye so the bread will include four pounds of each grain.

It is fantastic to have a local bakery that is so willing to work with a local group like us. The fact that they are so good at what they do is an added plus. Thank you for choosing Monroe to be your home.

I can’t wait to try the bread and Craig’s beer. You can drop off a bottle when it’s done.

Beer List for Michigan Beer Tasting @ 129 Lounge

This is our tentative beer menu for the tasting on Tuesday July 22nd. I am really excited about having New Holland Golden Cap Saison on this year’s beer menu. New Holland is delivering it with a representative from their brewery to help us pour. 

Arbor will also be sending down two of their representatives to the tasting. Arbor Brewing is a great supporter of local products. The ice cream that is served at their brewery is from Carleton Michigan’s own Calder’s Dairy. 

If you know of anyone that would interested in attending this event pass onto them. We had a great time last year and we hope it will be as big this year.

Arbor Brewing Co. (Ann Arbor, MI)

Bell’s (Kalamazoo, MI)

Dark Horse Brewing Co. (Marshall, MI)

  • Crooked Tree I.P.A.
  • Fore Smoked Stout
  • Raspberry Ale

Fletcher Street Brewing Company (Alpena, MI)

  • Thunder Bay Bock

Founder’s (Grand Rapids, MI)

Keweenaw Brewing Co. (Houghton, MI)

  • Pick Axe Blonde Ale
  • Lift Bridge Brown Ale

New Holland Brewing Co. (Holland, MI)

McGeady’s Adds 2 MI Breweries to Menu

McGeady’s Town Pub has added some beer to their menu. Two Detroit Breweries are now available. You can go to Monroe’s downtown and enjoy a Detroit Dwarf from Detroit Beer Co or 2 different ales from Atwater Brewery. One of the Atwater ales they have there is the Vanilla Java Porter. Last night, we went and the VJP was my dessert. In my opinion it is one of the best beers that Atwater brews. Since the new owners have taken over the beer selection has improved. The beer is also reasonably priced. They even have discounts on their beer. Gone are the days when this place was nicknamed McGreedy’s.

129 Lounge is still this best bar to get MI beer in Monroe. Although, since I went out after work 3 Fridays in a row in May their supplies have dwindled. I know that no one at 129 will read this but PLEASE, BRING BACK POET STOUT! It is my session beer.

Now, if we can only get Michigan Bar and Grill or Pete’s Garage on board with selling MI beer we might end up with a nice little beer community in this town. They won’t though. The server at MB&G said they have no room in their refrigerator for MI beer. I guess it is too full of 20 different kinds of lagers. It is frustrating when chain places like Buffalo Wild Wings has a better local beer selection than a local restaurant. I am real close to not returning to either of those places until they serve craft beer from the state where they made a lot of money in.

Well, what started as a small post about a local bar selling some local beer turned ugly toward the end. Sometimes, it is nice just to have a place to vent your frustrations with things around you. Believe me, I am thankful that this is the biggest frustration in my life. This post should be on a whine blog and not a beer blog. Thanks for taking that detour with me.