Norton Bretz on “A Murder in Eastport, 1870,” April 9th

A Murder in Eastport: An 1870 Family Story of Racial Profiling
By Norton Bretz, President of Eastport Historical Society
Sunday, April 9th, 1pm

This talk will examine a compelling 1870 murder that echoes issues our country still deals with today.

On June 12, 1870, a black man named William Swan was walking along what is now US31 near near Eastport. William and his family had been living in the Charlevoix area for over five years, the only black residents of the county. He was was shot and killed by two Civil War veterans, for no apparent reason. The shooters would be acquitted.

Come hear Mr. Bretz, a descendant of these veterans, give a lively recounting of this event and its aftermath.

Norton Bretz is President of the Eastport Historical Society. He spent his career as a nuclear physicist at Princeton University. He is a Michigan native who grew up spending summers in Eastport.

Program is free and open to the public. Program will take place Sunday, April 9th, from 1-3pm, at the Traverse Area District Library, Children’s Story Room, 610 Woodmere Ave.

2 thoughts on “Norton Bretz on “A Murder in Eastport, 1870,” April 9th

  1. I really don’t find it appropriate to refer to any murder as fascinating. This is very disrespectful. I would hate for MY murder or that of a family member to be described as “fascinating.” Disgusting, repugnant, deplorable are the words which I believe should be used to describe ANY murder.


    • Dear Lena,

      Thank you for your comment. I agree that murder is deplorable as you suggested. Our use of the word “fascinating” was used in its meaning as compelling. William Swan’s murder resulting from the racism of the time is a compelling story from the Reconstruction period that has lessons for us today.

      Stephen Siciliano
      Board President


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