A visit to remember


Upon visiting my Aunt Ann Carter Mays, prior to departing on our vacation trip to the Upper Michigan Peninsula I learned of a letter from Escanaba’s own Dianna Bennigan concerning Cary Lafayette Carter. Since these patriotic Escanabans had researched this War of 1812 veteran and had erected a monument in his honor, Frances Hairfield Crowder (a direct descendant of Cary L. Carter as it turns out; her mother was Katherine Carter Hairfield) had her curiosity piqued if this 1812 war veteran was in fact her great-great-great-grandfather.

After a 1,000 mile automobile sightseeing trip to the Upper Peninsula and three wonderful days of discovering Mackinac Island and the surrounding area, we were planning our return trip for the following day. Since I had brought my Carter genealogy notebook on the trip with the possibility of checking out my connection to Cary L. Carter and Escanaba, I called Dianna on the evening before our return trip to North Carolina. She strongly encouraged us to come to Escanaba.

I conferred with my husband, Joe, and he figured “what’s another 150 miles amongst friends.” So the next morning we set out for Escanaba without too many expectations.

Well folks, if you think Mackinac Island is beautiful, it pales when compared to the warmth and beauty of the people of Escanaba. Overnight, Dianna Bennigan, Ann Miller and Ann Roman had arranged a luncheon at the Swedish Pantry and a welcoming ceremony at the local fairgrounds fitting for royalty; just for me and Joe, and of course for Cary Lafayette Carter who made this all possible.

Joe opined that if he was going to war, he would want this committee of three of Escanaba’s finest (Dianna and the two Anns) to be in charge of organizing and implementing the logistical aspects of the rapid response movement of troops. It is noted that some of these folks traveled long distances on an extremely short notice.

What would an event like this, steeped in military history, be without the Patriot Guard Riders led by Captain Nancy Gage, all veterans of the various military services. We thank you for your service.

For fear of slighting anyone associated with this impromptu event, I will only mention a few of Michigan’s finest who made my visit to Escanaba one of the most memorable in my lifetime. There was the president of the U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Association, Skip Dufour along with members Ralph Miller, Albert Chie, Lee Elder, Sip and Bob Willis, County Commissioner Tom Elegeert, was a gracious representative in attendance. Vickie Micheau, Chamber of Commerce director presented me with a wooden basket made by Lakestate Industries filled with mementoes of the event. And how could I forget the interview with the Daily Press writer Jenny Lancour, and the radio station interview for a later broadcast. Well, I went from a little, obscure lady from Eden, N.C., to a celebrity in Escanaba, Mich. I’ll never forget the hospitality extended to Joe and me upon our journey to the fair. So if you happen upon Dianna Bennigan, Ann Miller or Ann Roman around Escanaba, thank them for their service for they are true American patriots.

In a brief span of about five hours visiting Escanaba, I gained a lifetime of fond memories and a new family of friends of kindred heart. I see a reunion in the near future with my Escanaba family when I make my way back to the fair.”

Frances Crowder

Eden, N.C.