2017-03-30 / Columns

Omena News: Snowbird sightings; Civil War ties; happy Poetry Month

Phone/fax 386-5686

PICTURED DURING a trip to Mexico from left are John Smart, Mary Tonneberger, Ron Tonneberger and Judy Smart. PICTURED DURING a trip to Mexico from left are John Smart, Mary Tonneberger, Ron Tonneberger and Judy Smart. * * *

Omena’s far-flung snowbirds have been gathering over the winter in many locales, but three areas have attracted flocks of them: Omena South (Florida), Omena del Sur (Mexico), and Omena Southwest (Arizona). We have not received any reports from the southwest, but the early birds are starting to return from Florida and Mexico. Both Kim and Dennis Armbruster and Kanda and Harold McKee have returned from Florida. While there, they got together with other Omena South vacationers for some fun in the sun. Dave and Jacquie Johnson stopped and stayed with the McKee’s in Sanibel for a short visit while they were in Florida.

Kim and Dennis also got to visit with his family while they were there. His mother, brother and sister were in the Fort Myers area also. They said that the weather was perfect and they enjoyed playing golf almost every day.

Ron and Mary Tonneberger are back from three glorious weeks in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico area. The weather was perfect—80 degrees and sunny every day. They enjoyed time on the golf courses, poolside, and dining out (no cooking). During their first week, they met up with John and Judy Smart at the harbor front in the downtown area. They had a delicious dinner but when leaving, were surrounded by military personnel who were guarding a political official. Not a typical Omena outing.

During the third week, the Tonneberger’s daughter Karen Edgley and granddaughter Tess joined them for more good fun. Tess brought along a schoolmate and the two girls explored the area with energy, including a scubadiving adventure.


A little closer to home, Alice Littlefield and Larry Reynolds recently traveled to East Tawas to visit Carla and Bruce Cunningham in their new home. While there, they toured Lumberman’s Monument nearby, and the village of Mikado, a once-thriving town founded by Carla’s grandfather, Daniel Bruce, who built a hotel for lumbermen there in 1886.

Daniel D. Bruce was born in King Center, Ontario, Canada in 1850, the son of Scottish emigrants. Once he found that a railroad ran west of Greenbush, he purchased land from the U.S. Government and built a hotel. The land he purchased was known as “West Greenbush.” After obtaining a train stop from the Detroit and Mackinaw Railroad, Bruce wrote the Postmaster General in Washington D.C. suggesting the name “Bruce Crossing” for the newly founded village. Postal authorities informed him that a town of that name already existed in the Upper Peninsula. It was the assistant Postmaster General who named the town Mikado because he recently enjoyed the Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta “The Mikado.” However, the translation was lost as locals pronounce it “My Kay Doe.” But that is how the town, founded by a Scotsman in 1886, came to have a Japanese name. Mikado Township has 13 bridges and a rural population just over 1,000.

When Jim and Kathy Miller were on their cross-country road trip, originally reported in the March 9 Omena News, they came across a flyer for a Newton, Miss. festival “The Loose Caboose Festival.” In addition to other festivities, it celebrates the history of Newton. The Millers discovered a connection with Omena. Newton is the site of the Civil War battle referred as “Grierson’s Raid,” the same General Grierson who built a cottage on Omena Point in 1896. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman called that raid “the most brilliant expedition of the war.”

This raid on Newton Station was not an isolated stunt like so many dashing cavalry adventures of the Civil War. It was well planned and was an important part of the maneuverings that won Vicksburg.

In the spring of 1863, the Northern grip on the Confederacy was slowly tightening. Yet there was still a chance for the South to win the war. If Vicksburg and the Mississippi River could be held, the Confederacy might be able to survive. The Union army knew this. The raid on Newton Station by Col. Benjamin Grierson and his brigade on April 24, 1863 was a vital part of General Grant’s campaign for the capture of Vicksburg.

Vicksburg, built on bluffs high above the Mississippi River, was heavily fortified, and could not be taken by water. Gen. Sherman tried it and was repulsed in December 1862. In the spring, Gen. Grant decided to march against Vicksburg. He knew he would have to cut Confederate Gen. John C. Pemberton’s lines of communication with the rest of the Confederacy, herd Pemberton’s troops into the Vicksburg entrenchments, lay siege to the city, and then capture the Confederate army and city. In order to do this, he knew it would be necessary to screen his actions and to divert the attention of the Confederate troops away from his intended target. The entire story of the raid is too long for this column, but is a fascinating account of a critical point in the history of the Civil War.


This week marks the beginning of April, National Poetry Month. The Leelanau Township Library in Northport will be hosting events in honor of that all month. The Friends of the Library is holding a program every Wednesday evening in April at 7 p.m. at the Library with Michigan poets. The April 5 program features Teresa Scollon. Go to the library’s website for more information.


The Northport Arts Association (NAA) has an interesting set of programs and activities this spring. Friday, April 7 from 6 - 9 p.m. there will be an exhibit at the Village Arts Building in Northport entitled “Gratitude - A Gift of Light and Color” in stained glass, wood and word. Thirty-seven middle school students and some high school students are learning and creating a work of art in stained glass and wood with a written statement of gratitude for the recipient of their gift.

The students have designed and created a panel depicting their gratitude to the recipient of the panel. The instructors are Tom Woodruff, Jenny Evans, and Elizabeth Wodek for glasswork; Steve Wetherbee — woodwork; and Donna Wilson — creative writing. The special workshop for students began Feb. 6 and is running through March during school hours at the Northport School.

The NAA classes and events begin in April with offerings such as Aromatherapy, the healing Arts, Painting in Oil and Acrylics, Watercolor and much more. Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there is Open Studio time for members.

Visit the NAA website, northportartsfor all.com, for more details.


Happy Birthday to Omena Village Council member, Brit Walker, a black lab. Happy Birthday to the April Fool’s kids Christopher Orsello, Myrn Steele, and Ed Hallett. Happy Birthday also to Bill Renz, who is just one day older than Myrn, Dan Ziegeler, Kelsey Wick, Lauren Browning, Eric Hallett, Chico Luna, and Al Flees.

Return to top