Discovering 1919 TC in a boy's diary

Aug 19, 2016

This past year, the Traverse City Historical Society received a diary. The diary was donated by a woman from Kalamazoo who bought it at an antique store in Traverse City while on vacation. It was written in 1919 by a 15-year-old boy who lived in town. The author didn't identify himself.  The Kalamazoo woman gave the historical society the diary with one request: figure out who wrote it.

Robert Straub in "The Pines" Traverse City High School Yearbook in 1921. His family owned the Straub Bros. & Amiotte Candy Factory on Front Street.
Credit Traverse Area District Library

Julie Schopieray, a historical society board member and author of local history books, took on that task of identifying the boy, following the trail of clues he'd left in the diary's pages. By matching the names of family members written about in the diary and records on, she discovered the boy was Robert Straub.

​Schopieray says Robert was the son of Anton Straub, a co-owner of the Straub Brothers & Amiotte Candy Company in Traverse City. She says they were a large employer in the area, making handmade candy. 

"They were in business for quite a number of years," she tells IPR, "and the company shipped candies all over the country and maybe even the world."

Robert Straub is very practical in his writing. He writes about his chores, schoolwork and how much money he spends each day. And he recounts what movies he sees at the Lyric Theater and how many scoops of ice cream he gets at Wahl's.

"It brings the Traverse City history to life when you actually read about those places from somebody's own viewpoint," says Schopieray. She wrote an article about the diary, including diary passages, in Grand Traverse Journal.


Schopieray says – as far as historical hand writing goes – Robert Straub's diary was pretty neat and easy to read.
Credit Morgan Springer

Straub Brothers & Amiotte Candy Factory ca. 1905. Robert Straub's father co-owned the company, which was located on Front Street where North Peak Brewing Company is now.
Credit Traverse City Pioneer and Historical Society Collection