What’s in a Name? Posted June 16, 2023 Throughout the summer season, Mackinac Associates, the friend’s group for Mackinac State Historic Parks, hosts several member events. These fun seasonal events bring together people who share a love for preserving and sharing Mackinac’s heritage. Mackinac Associates biggest event of the year is the G. Mennen Williams Mackinac Celebration. Since 1989, this event continues one of the premiere happenings on Mackinac Island for Mackinac Associates members. But, why is this event named after G. Mennen Williams?Prentiss Brown, G. Mennen Williams, John F. Kennedy and an unidentified man standing on the Mackinac Bridge. Photo from the University of Michigan Library Digital Collections, HS17694 The G. Mennen Williams Mackinac Celebration is a tribute to Gerhard Mennen Williams, Governor of Michigan from 1949-1960. Sporting his signature green bow tie with white polka dots, Williams developed a solid reputation in politics and a notable love for the Straits of Mackinac. One of his most noteworthy accomplishments during his time as governor was his support for the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Built to link Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas, the Mackinac Bridge was completed in 1957. Just one year later, Governor Williams’ love of historic preservation and Mackinac Island’s rich history inspired the 1958 legislation giving Mackinac Island State Park Commission the authority to finance its historical programs through the sale of revenue bonds. Governor Williams also played a key role in bringing together local leaders, historians, and politicians to support the restoration of Fort Mackinac.Brian and James Dunnigan with President Harry Truman and Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams on Mackinac Island in 1955, during President Truman’s fundraising trip for his presidential library. Photo MSHP After completing five gubernatorial terms, Williams was later elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1970 and he served as Chief Justice from 1983 to 1986. In 1988, G. Mennen Williams passed away on February 2nd in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 76. He was laid to rest in the Protestant Cemetery on Mackinac Island. In July, Mackinac Associates hosts a small private event for high-level donors, sponsors and partners, and Legacy Society members called the Laframboise Donor Reception. This reception is named for Magdelaine Laframboise, a woman of Odawa and French-Canadian descent, who played a leading role in the affairs of Mackinac Island during the first half of the 19th century. After her husband Joseph was murdered in 1806 while on business in the Grand River region near present-day Lowell, Michigan, Magdelaine took control of the fur trading company and continued its success. For the next 12 years, she wintered in the Grand River Valley, collecting furs from trappers. Each spring, she supervised the transportation of the furs to Mackinac Island. Magdelaine Laframboise successfully influenced the ways of the newly arriving American businessmen, government agents, military and missionaries to the Straits region.A sketch of Ste. Anne’s Church adjacent to LaFramboise’s home circa 1827. Photo MSHP In 1822 Magdelaine, then 41 years old, decided to retire on the stunning shoreline of Mackinac Island, where she built a very fine home. There she entertained dignitaries, military officers as well as many of her native American friends and family members. On his famed visit to the United States, French aristocrat and diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville visited with Magdelaine upon his arrival to Mackinac Island.This view, ca. 1880, shows Magdelaine LaFramboise’s house with the addition of a small porch. Photo MSHP Magdelaine started the first formal school on Mackinac Island, in her home, and encouraged William Ferry to start his mission school. She also assisted Father Mazzuchelli in starting a Catholic school. Her daughter Josephine married a captain at Fort Mackinac, Benjamin Pierce, brother to Franklin Pierce who would become the 14th President of the United States. When Ste. Anne’s Church was looking to relocate on the island, she donated a portion of her land adjacent to her home to the church, and a new Ste. Anne’s Church was constructed there. Magdelaine became known as “The First Lady of Mackinac Island” for her charitable work and the many visitors she welcomed into her home. Magdelaine Laframboise died April 4, 1846, and was buried beneath the altar at St. Anne’s Church on Mackinac Island. The Laframboise home remains on Mackinac Island still today, now known as Harbour View Inn.The home of Magdelaine LaFramboise has been renovated and adapted for use as the Harbour View Inn. Photo MSHP These special events hosted each year by Mackinac Associates are named for people who shared a desire to protect and preserve the history and culture of the Straits of Mackinac. They bring together dedicated members, friends who share the same passion to protect and preserve this beautiful place. For information on how to join Mackinac Associates and be a part of preserving and sharing Mackinac’s heritage, please visit www.MackinacAssociates.com.