Ladd Sisters' Plymouth Coupe? | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Tim and I never take vacations. Our feeling is, we already live in paradise, so why go anywhere else? Ok, maybe if we had unlimited funds, we might pry ourselves out of the Grand Traverse region, but until then, our m.o. is to drive around the neighboring counties, take pictures and look for cool oddities.

Last weekend while tooling around Leelanau County, we spotted an old gray car in a carport, and Tim and I both said in unison, “That’s the Ladd Sisters’ car.”

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Longtime Old Mission Peninsula residents will remember the Ladds, the family for whom Ladd Road was named. The Ladds lived in the house now occupied by Ginny and Lew Coulter; Ginny runs Old Mission Flowers, and we’re proud to have her as an advertising partner on Old Mission Gazette.

Here is a picture of that house, which according to the Solomonson’s book “A Century of Service,” was built in 1916 by Miles Jenkins Gilmore (seated in the auto with Bertha Gilmore). So, the Ladds acquired this house somewhere along the way, because I remember the Ladd Sisters living there in the 1960s when I was a kid.

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Ladd home, corner of Ladd Road and Center Road | A Century of Service Photo

However, here’s another photo from that same book, of a home built in 1852 by Elisha P. and Lizzie (Stone) Ladd. This house is located on Center Road, on the west side of the road north of Old Mission Tavern.

According to the book, it was inherited by the Ladds’ nephew, Russell Holmes, who operated it as Poverty Heights Farm for many years. If you look closely at the barn, you can still see the words “Poverty Heights Farm” above the door (I did not realize the Ladds and the Holmes were related until just now).

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Center Road home built in 1852 by Elisha P. and Lizzie (Stone) Ladd | A Century of Service Photo

Anyway, one of the reasons Tim and I had the same reaction about the car we spotted in Leelanau County is because it’s very clean and in great shape – just the way it was when the Ladds owned it – if this indeed is their car. Tim thinks it was sold to Dave Kroupa after the Ladds passed on, but we don’t know the whereabouts of it after that.

This car is a 1951 Plymouth Concord, known as a Plymouth Businessman’s Coupe because of its massive trunk space, where traveling salesmen could easily store all of their stuff while on the road.

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Ladd Sisters’ Plymouth Coupe? | Jane Boursaw Photo

I don’t know if any of the Ladds were traveling salesmen, but I do know that their family dates back to the 1800s on the Old Mission Peninsula. I believe the two ladies I grew up knowing as “The Ladd Sisters” were actually sisters-in-law. One was Hazel Ladd, and the other was Mrs. Carleton Ladd (Hilda?), who I think was married to Hazel’s brother. Someone correct me if I’m wrong on that, because I’m 100 percent sure I probably am.

As a side note, I always think of them as the elderly Baldwin Sisters on “The Waltons,” although I don’t know if the Ladd Sisters had their own “Papa’s Recipe.”

However, I do know they had other recipes. After the Ladd sisters had both passed on – I’m going to say sometime in the 1970s – there was an auction held at Gleason & Co. (the former cherry receiving plant on the corner of Eiman Road and Center Road, where Jeff and Sue Fouch now have their boat storage business).

I was pretty excited when I scored a box of miscellaneous items at that auction that turned out to be full of scraps of paper with the Ladd sisters’ recipes scrawled on them. It might as well have been the Hope Diamond when I opened the box and found those recipes. Yes, I will put together an OMP cookbook when I can carve out time for it.

As far as their OMP heritage, here’s a clip from the Traverse City Record-Eagle dated January 1962, in which Al Barnes notes that 100 years earlier in 1862, E.P. Ladd had an interesting journey from Grand Haven involving horses leaping off a ferry and Mr. Ladd losing his valise carrying a batch of treasured newspapers from Chicago.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle, January 1962 |

Here is another piece of evidence of the Ladds’ OMP heritage – a photo from the Peninsula Township Treasurer’s book circa early 1900s. You’ll see that the Township paid E.O. Ladd $3 for something. Or more likely, E.O. Ladd paid the Township $3 for something.

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Peninsula Township, 1904 Treasurer’s Book | Jane Boursaw Photo

Here are a few more photos of the car we saw in Leelanau County. Think it’s the Ladd Sisters’ car?

Leave thoughts in the comments section below, along with any thoughts, memories, Ladd family connections, or corrections to this story.

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Ladd Sisters’ Plymouth Coupe? | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Ladd Sisters’ Plymouth Coupe? | Jane Boursaw Photo

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 Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our 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. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. That home that Ginny now lives in was built by my grandparents as you mentioned; Miles and Bertha Gilmore.
    Connie Sargent

    • Wow – thanks, Connie! Did you spend time in that house? Was the driveway originally on Center Road, with a little garage out by the road back then?

      So tell me your lineage with the Gilmores? How are you related to Mert and Ruby (and Alice, now married to Jack Lardie)?

      • Jane, sort of a long story… my grandmother has a baby die a few days after birth. So the baby was buried in the cemetery right across from the driveway. Then my grandfather died and was buried next to their child. In the meantime they had 2 children, my mother -Nellie and then my uncle – miles. My grand father died when the children were young about the age of 2-3 or maybe 4. Running a farm, as a single mother with young children was very difficult for her my mother told me. On top of that seeing her husband’s and child’s grave was hard. She had not only orchards but animals to maintain.
        So she eventually sold the farm and moved into town but then they acquired the gray- blue house by the Mission school. They summered there for many years until my mom was in her late teens. Then my uncle moved in to the house after he was married. My grandmother donated the land where the replica mission church was built. There is a plaque that notes that on the building. My mother was a cousin to them.
        I donated that picture to the phone company. My mother said there was a cupola on top of the house that one could go up to and see the cherry orchards and a long distance. But evidently there was so much wind that they ended up removing it.
        Hope that helps.
        Interesting about the car. Not sure about the garage , have to look at more pictures- who knows where they are ! Thanks for all you do, Connie Sargent

  2. Jane, this is really interesting!!!!!!!!! We always called Hazel and Hilda, THE LADD GIRLS. And I’d forgotten about the car till I read this. They were out everywhere in that car. You always knew it was the girls. I was in the Old Mission Womans Club with them and they were really enjoyable. When we were first married, we were on the same phone party line with the Ladd Girls, the Leightons and Mabel Jamieson!!!!!! Lizzie Ladd was a daughter of William R Stone. Her sister Wilmina married John Holmes, father of Roy Holmes who married Lula Russell and they had 4 children, Russell, Jean (my mother), Wilmina (Billie who married Ray Carroll, and Becky for whom I was named. Wilmina Stone and our granddaughter Avery (Michael and Betsy Wells) share the same birthday 144 years apart!!!!!!!!! I will never forget Poverty Heights!!!!!! The year people named the farms and had signs out, my Mother saw Uncle Russ’ Poverty Heights and kept exclaiming, Russell how could you do that and on and on. Of course those who knew Uncle Russ, knew what a jokester he was!!!!!!!! He had a name for everyone in the Old Mission community. Mine was Southern Belle. And he just loved playing jokes on everyone in the community. I loved the house they inherited from the Ladd’s and going over to Aunt Kate and Uncle Russ’. Jack was my idol and he always was really good to me, watched out for me his whole life. Great great grandfather William R Stone was the first postmaster at Old Mission, a box nailed to a tree in front of his house in the beginning, and served for many years. Thanks for the memories!!!!!!!!! Becky

    • Holy smokes, what a lot of info, Becky! Thank you so much! So your mom was Jean Holmes – who was your dad?

      I grew up across the road from Russ and remember his dry sense of humor. He called me “Red” – whenever I rode my bike past his house or walked up to catch the bus (I got on at the store for a year or two).

      I bet that party line was a lot of fun! (I mean, um, not that any of us ever listened in on the neighbors or anything.) 🙂

      • Hi Jane, Uncle Russ was definitely a “work of art”!!!!!!! My dad was Tony Bartak who was born and raised in Traverse City. I am also a 5th generation of his family. The Opera House was built by my family, Wilhelm, Bartak and Company (Votruba). The Bartak’s had several businesses in town including The Majestic Grocery under the Opera House which was a gourmet grocery. I still have bottles of rootbeer and lemonade syrup from there and also still wrapped spices. At least I did. Who knows where they are at the moment. There was the Bartak Mortuary on Union across from Dills where DeVito’s Jewelry was years ago. There were two front built out windows there. Bartak Wallpaper and Paint on Union near the old Wilson’s store and probably others I don’t remember. The Bartak’s came from Bohemia. Great great grandfather Wencil and wife Lucy, whose daughter became ill on the boat and died in NY and was buried there. They had Anton, Matilda, Mary and Amelia. Mary married a Wilhelm, Amelia a Votruba, hence Wilhelm, Bartak and Company. Anton was very much the man about town, and he was involved in just about every facet of Traverse City. From things I have read, he was a hard working, very honest person and at one point the city was going to buy some property that had the size trumped up and he caught it and saved the city a large sum of money!!!!!!!! Anton and wife Lucy had Edward, my grandfather, and Edith and a daughter who died in infancy. Edward and Edith were both involved in running the Bartak businesses with Anton. Edward and his wife Sadie Magee from Kalkaska married and had one child, my dad Anthony Magee, hence my middle name too. She died when my daddy was 12. Then there is ME, also an only child. So my boys and grandchildren are the 6th and 7th generation of both the Bartak and Holmes families. Edith Bartak never married. My dad graduated from Michigan State as a mechanical engineer and went to work for Eastman Kodak in Kingsport TN. The president of Tennessee Eastman at the time was married to Vera Wynkoop of this area and their nephew Jimmy Thirlby and Daddy were close friends so they went down and Daddy got the job. He always said he started at the TOP and worked DOWN. He started shoveling coal off the roof into coal cars in 1934 and worked down to a corner office as head of the purchasing dept, his title when he retired. He and Mother were married in 1935 and she joined him in Kingsport at that time. I spent every summer of my life out here with my grandparents, Roy and Lula Belle Holmes. We would drive over the Hogsback and Mother would point to the East and say oh, Terry Wells bought that farm over there. I’d say WHO CARES and here I am!!!!!!!!!!! Becky

  3. My grandmother was Zema Columbia Ladd born to Emmor O. Ladd and his first wife Agnes Davis. I’ve always wondered where the Ladds were from and what country did they immigrate from. Does anyone know where Elijah P. Ladd came from? I live near Manistee. Do I have some relatives still in Grand Traverse County?

  4. Jane, I saw this tonight so read the whole thing from the first time you saw the car in Leelanau county so read what I had sent to you those years ago. Have just copied it all off. Interesting that this Ladd woman’s name is Rebecca!!!!!! Because there was my aunt Rebecca Holmes and myself who decended from the Ladd family by marriage. I really don’t know much about the Ladd family but heard about Aunt Lizzie Ladd my whole life but don’t remember them. They lived in the house that Uncle Russ and Aunt Kate Holmes lived in my growing up years. I loved that house. I may respond to Rebecca Miller but want to look through a very thorough history of the Holmes, Stones and Ladd’s and more that another relative did of the whole family. The Stone family home at Old Mission across from you was my DREAM. I loved that house, huge and so historical. I was upset when Aunt Kate and Uncle Russ tore it down and built the current house. The house was probably not really redoable as it needed loads of work done to it. But I loved going through it with the antique water pitchers in the bedrooms and the “slop jars” there too. I loved the back stair way too. I have a great memory of my Aunt Nellie Stone Baldwin who lived there in my youth and she would sit in a chair with her birdcage next to it and I always thought of her and Tweety Bird when I saw her there. She was VERY OLD and and thin, had pulled back white hair and looked like Grandma and Tweety Bird comic.


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