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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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