From Our Community: Why is Michigan the Real Mitten State?

“The Great Mitten debate,” “Mittengate” and “The Battle for the Mitten” are just some of the interesting names popping up from the fallout from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s decision to put up an image of a somewhat stretched-out mitten for its new winter activity section on its website. That move has sparked a wave of pride and defense from Michiganders and has gained national attention. We’ve started a website to help determine who truly is the mitten state that you can find on michigan.org.

There have been hundreds of comments and Tweets we’ve read responding to the question we posed today on our Facebook and Twitter pages asking: “Why is Michigan the real mitten state?” Here are a few we came across. Thanks to all who responded!

“Because when Paul Bunyan was chopping down trees in the winter he dropped his mittens and over time it became the state of Michigan!!!! Why do you think we have statues of Paul Bunyan all over in the state???” –Mary Doyle on Facebook

“Their [Wisconsin’s] attempt looks like they pulled a mitten over the top of some guy wearing a cheesehead hat.” –Brent L. Larson on Facebook

“I had hoped to support Wisconsin’s mittenosity, but after wasting some time in Photoshop, I must concede that the lower peninsula of Michigan requires the least hand deformation to wear.” –Rexella Van Impe on michigan.org

“I knit a mitten once that looked kind of looked like Wisconsin. I didn’t knit the second one.” –  @JulieKay0919 on Twitter

“Dear Wisconsin, Identity check: You are not a mitten. But as they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. #PureMichigan” –@mattfrendewey on Twitter

“We have an attitude and we show it. Everyone can “talk to the mitten” if you wanna dish Mich!!!” –Cheryl Love Taylor on Facebook

“Because it’s the only state where you might have to wear mittens in May, but may NOT need them on Thanksgiving?” –Kathy Wolf Smyser on Facebook

“You know, this mitten thing could really take off!” – @MKelto on Twitter

“If you look at the shape, it’s obviously a mitten. No matter where you go in the U.S.A. if you say you’re from Michigan people get it when you hold up your hand and show them where you’re from. No other state can you do that without confusing the crap out of someone.” – Kristen Wheeler on Facebook

“Because, even on the map, our hand is raised in greeting hello!” – Lois Payette on Facebook

“I don’t want to get into it. Talk to the hand.” – Sue Stuever Battel on Facebook

 

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 4

Photo courtesy of Battle Creek-Calhoun County Convention & Visitors Bureau

We’re happy to share with you another post in our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names. Here are five more – including a seasonal city, perfect for this time of year. In case you missed them, here arePart 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Battle Creek
You might already be thinking, “Battle Creek must have been the site of some epic battle!” The reality of it though is a bit less epic. In 1825 a group of government surveyors were working near a stream near the present day site of the city when two Pottawatomi Native Americans appeared at their camp asking for food. A discussion turned angry and, during a brief skirmish, one of the surveyors took the Native Americans captive when he produced a rifle. The surveyors reported the skirmish to the Governor and later surveyors at the site recalled it as “Battle Creek.”

Royal Oak
The city of Royal Oak is named after a legendary oak tree. In 1819 Michigan Governor Lewis Cass set out to explore Michigan and prove surveyors’ claims that the area wasn’t completely swampy and uninhabitable. At first, swampy land was all they were finding until the group came across a massive oak tree, much larger than any other in the area. It reminded Gov. Cass about an oak tree King Charles II of England is said to have taken refuge under during an enemy attack in 1660. Recalling that story, Cass and his companions named the tree and the surrounding area “Royal Oak.”

Flint
Flint’s recorded history also dates back to 1819 when a trading post opened. It was originally called “Grand Traverse,” however over the course of 17 years it had other names as well like “Todd’s Crossing”, “Sidney” and “Flint River” after the local Indian name “Pawanunking,” which referred to the nearby river’s rocky bed. It was later shortened to Flint in 1836 before being incorporated as a city in 1855.

Hell
There are a few theories on the origin of the name for Hell, Michigan. The most popular involves a man in the 1840’s named George Reeves who, when asked by officials what he wanted to name the settlement he helped start, replied, “Call it Hell for I care!” Another story of the town’s name comes from the frontiersmen who traveled the low-lying wetlands at the height of mosquito season. After traveling through such wet and infested terrain they referred to it as “Hell.”

Christmas
The story of Christmas, Michigan’s name is a bit more merry. A Munising man began a roadside factory in 1938 so that he could create holiday gift items. Unfortunately, the factory burned down shortly thereafter, but the name and the factory’s roadside Santa Claus stuck around to this day.

The Runways of Michigan

By combining her passion for fashion and love for the state, Tieka Dierolf is a personal style blogger of Selective Potential. Her stories of life, adventure and style have inspired thousands of girls to visit Michigan and its attractions. Hear more of her success on Pure Michigan Connect!

I just recently acknowledged my first full year in my fashion blogging adventure. Okay, fashion blogging. I know the concept sounded unique to me at first too, but now it’s become my life. I am a personal style fashion blogger. How is this possible? – I’m 24, I live in a small town in Michigan, I have absolutely no connections in New York City or Milan. How am I able to carry on a fashion blog with over 150,000 page views a month? It’s because of Michigan.

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