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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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.
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!