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Perella Andrus Tull (r) with her daughter Faye Mathia | Jane Boursaw Photo
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One of the many joys of my mom (Mary Johnson) living at Orchard Creek Supportive Care in Traverse City is all of the connections I’ve made through her new friends there. In particular, I’ve had the chance to meet Perella Tull, whose roots in the Old Mission community run deep. Perella turned 100 on Jan. 20, 2017, and word has it the party was standing room only! Read on to find out why.

Perella is the daughter of Ira and Laura Andrus, and her siblings include Lawrence (Bud) Andrus, Ivan Andrus, Theodore (Ted) Andrus, Francis Andrus, Edward Andrus (who helped restore Mission Point Lighthouse in the 1950s), Violet (Vy) Bellinger, Martha (Marty) Schlosser, Jean Jackson and Barbara Bee.

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Megan Long (Perella’s granddaughter) and Jon Andrus (Perella’s nephew; Jon’s parents are Bud and Betty Andrus) | Jane Boursaw Photo

I also learned that Perella is the grandmother of Megan Lawrence Long, who is married to Tyler Long, who is Marge and Keith Long’s son. Marge, daughter of Ed and Jo Brown, also has a long history on the Old Mission Peninsula (my husband Tim and I bought our property from Ed and Jo in the 1990s).

Megan says that her aunt, Faye Mathia (Perella’s daughter), believes that Perella was born in Perkins, Michigan, but that the family moved to the Old Mission Peninsula in time for her to attend school at the Old Mission schoolhouse, located north of the Old Mission General Store. The family also lived in Elk Rapids prior to moving to the Peninsula.

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Perella Andrus Tull turns 100 | Orchard Creek Photo

According to Evelyn Johnson’s book, “Barns of Old Mission Peninsula,” the Andrus family lived on “The Ridgewood” from 1933 to 1940. Perella, along with some of her sisters, worked as a nurse at the State Hospital, now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.

The Ridgewood is located at the very end of Ridgewood Road, past Haserot Beach in Old Mission. If you drive up to The Ridgewood, you’ll see the trailhead of Old Mission Point Park. A little ways back on the trail (before you veer off to the right), you’ll see where the farmhouse and barn was located, on the left side of the trail. (There was also a house nearer to the trailhead; however, no buildings or barns exist on the Ridgewood property anymore).

According to Faye, as well as “Barns of Old Mission,” the Andrus family didn’t own the land, but rather farmed it for the Traverse City Depositors Corp., who acquired the property in the 1930s. In 1939, David Murray, Sr. bought the property.

The barn, which burned down in the 1970s, was one of the biggest barns in northern Michigan, measuring 100 feet long, 75 feet high and 50 feet wide. According to Evelyn’s book, it was built in 1906 and also owned at various times by George and Hulda Parmalee, O.H. Ellis, and J.C. Howe, a patent attorney from Chicago who built the barn and poured a great deal of money into the farm, but later lost the property to the banks in the 1920s.

It’s been such a pleasure getting to know Perella and Faye through Orchard Creek, and learn more about the history of the Andrus family. Happy Birthday, Perella!

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Ridgewood Barn | Courtesy of ‘Barns of Old Mission’ via Barbara Bee

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. Perella (Andrus) Tull is my mother’s sister. Violet L. (Andrus) Bellinger and was known by “Vy” to family and friends. My mother was the oldest child in the Andrus family. She was born in Ishpening, Michigan. By the time the family lived on the Ridgewood, my mother was boarding in Traverse City and attending St. Francis High School. She graduated in 1932. In 1937, she married my dad, Owen (Bill) Bellinger and I have a wedding photo of them with their attendants, sister, Perella and brother, Lawrence (Bud). Also, a photo of my parents at the Ridgewood house in the background. They had the wedding celebration meal at the Ridgewood home. Mom painted a picture of the house which I have.
    I’ve searched for a complete picture of the barn. What my mother had in her albums were sections of it in several photos. She did mention that it was so big it was not possible to get an entire picture with her camera. I don’t recall seeing it since by my time the family was in other locations throughout the area and people took preference.
    I’ve enjoyed your Old Mission Gazette site. Thank you for the enjoyable family history visit.

    • A correction to my comment: Violet Andrus Bellinger was born in Escanaba, Michigan. Her mother: Laura Andrus was born in Ishpening, Michigan.

      • Thanks for the great info, Bonnie! I’ve made some edits to the post, correcting my spellings of Vy and Bellinger. I know I just barely scratched the surface of the Andrus family history. I’m sure several books could be written about it! If you have the ability to scan and email any of your photos of the barn or house or anything else, I’d love to see them and could add to the story, with your permission – [email protected].

        • I have an ongoing computer search for a complete picture of the Ridgewood barn. The pictures in the book are from my mother’s photo albums. Note: the photo in the book which shows a young lady and dog is my mother with family pet, Chaney. My Aunt Barb is the young girl standing with her brother, Francis. Again, the photos shows several portions of the structure but not a complete image. I continue my computer search and was thrill by the enlargement of the one photo. Yes, I have a photo of the house and will have my son send it to you. (he is my personal computer guru).
          My mother was a avid writer and I have her work from her high school years which were mostly poems and a personal notebook of extensive writings about her life and family. The Ridgewood years were monumental in her writings.
          Old Mission Gazette is a wonderful read. I found you after your piece on Mark Andrus and his mother, Aunt Marge, which ties the Boursaw family to the Andrus family. I enjoy ancestry searches which are like opening a wrapped present. Thank you so much. Bonnie

          • Thanks so much, Bonnie! I would love to see/post whatever photos you have, as well as your mom’s writings, if you’d like to send a copy along via email or snail mail (P.O. Box 43, Old Mission, MI 49673). I love that the photos and stories on the Gazette start the conversation, and then we learn more of the backstory from folks like you whose families were THERE. Thanks so much.

  2. She was my grandmas(Jean Jackson) sister. Hadn’t seen her since childhood. My grandmas stories about Old Mission always intrigued me. She always told me I reminded her of her brother Ed. The two are together now and I am hoping they are enjoying each other’s company once again.


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