Transvestites and Weasels: A Look Back at Chrislip’s History
Yesterday a letter poured in asking us to give a little background information about the history of our town. Our history is much the same as that of most other small towns that infest northern Michigan, but we did uncover a few facts that might be of interest to readers.
Chrislip was founded by Otto Von Chrislip and a band of German immigrants in the mid 1880s. For a time, it looked as if the town might be called Hitlerville, as Otto wrestled with Alois Hitler for control of the settlement. Otto triumphed, and a rumored affair with Hitler’s wife sent the defeated couple back to Germany. It’s said that Mrs. Hitler was pregnant with Otto’s baby. If so, the child is lost to history.
~ The area used to have a vast weasel population. However, the popularity of weasel hats in the 1890s caused the herds to be hunted to near extinction.
~ John Dillinger passed through town in the early ’30s. There was no gunplay, but when he stopped at the local drugstore, he thought he locked his keys in his car. It turned out they were in his other pocket.
~ Chrislip likes to think that it invented the first TV. In 1908, Clement Turnbull built a big wooden box with an open front and hired actors to perform inside it. He went to the patent office and tried to have it patented as “Dr. Electro’s Magic Picture Box.” They punched him in the face and sent him home.
~ In the 1880s, people in Chrislip enjoyed a primitive version of “base ball” in which a group met on a field, chose up sides, and beat each other unconscious with bats. No one knows why this version was popular, since the actual game of baseball had already been around for twenty years.
~ Rumors that Chrislip elected Michigan’s first transvestite mayor in 1916 are patently false. It was 1918. He did little to advance the civic or economic growth of our town, but he did declare chiffon our official fabric.