Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 5648

By Michael Hatt

Behind the Scenes
Wherein Michael Hatt shares a rundown of himself, his book, the concept, the research and the writing.
Dust Jacket cover of my book.  .Advertising Flier with book ordering information.

Meet Michael Hatt
Born September 9, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan.  Eldest of three sons born to A. John Hatt and Louise P. Hatt.  Grew up in the small town of Hillsdale, Michigan.  Which coincidently is 25 miles east of Coldwater, Michigan, site of my book.  Graduated Hillsdale High School in 1967 and served four years with the U. S. Coast Guard, 1968 to 1972.  Additionally, served an additional twelve years in the Coast Guard Reserve.  Had a 32 year career with the U. S. Postal Service, hiring in at Hillsdale, Michigan, and moving and working at Port Arthur, Texas, Muskegon, Michigan and ending up at Coldwater, Michigan.  Retired from the Coldwater office in 2004, bought an eighty acre farm, and moved to the country.  Self built my retirement home, a quad level farmhouse located in the center of the eighty acres, over a year and a half.  Enjoy the solitude, nature and wildlife of our rural location, just outside of Montgomery, Michigan.  Still located within 28 miles of Coldwater.

Married Julie Ann Kyser in 1971, and have two daughters, Nicole Louise Hatt and Amber Christiane Hatt.  Nicole is a Doctor of Chiropractic, and Amber is a free spirit.  Julie and I were divorced in 1981, and she passed away in 2002.  Am now married to Gloria Jean Hatt, and we have just celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary.

Back in the early sixties, while still in grade school,  saw a fellow student reading a Tarzan book, (Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar) during study hall.  At that time I thought Tarzan was only in the Sunday comic strips.  A query posed at my local newsstand brought the reply that the Tarzan books were long out of print and that to obtain any I would have to find the old publisher's editions.  My mother introduced me to a friend of hers who was also a book dealer.  My desire was to obtain any old Tarzan books for further reading.  She advised me to focus on a particular genre of books; firsts, seconds, reprints, etc. (Naturally, I chose first editions.) She also gave me the address of a book dealer in New York, Rodney Reston. Rodney Reston became a friend and guide, advising a young collector on the Burroughs library of books that were available, and was the catalyst in my obtaining Tarzan of the Apes first edition.  With my mother's support, started to obtain those appealing first edition books.  (Unfortunately, could not read those valuable editions.)  That unread collection continued to expand.  Also discovered there was much more than just Tarzan.  Enjoyed the collecting.

Around this time, both Ace and Ballantine started republishing the Burroughs novels.  Bought every edition as they hit the newsstand.  Was finally able to read the books that I had been collecting.  Definitely was not disappointed.  The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs became a life long passion that still burns to this day.

While working at the Coldwater Post Office, a fellow employee and lifelong Coldwater resident approached me and mentioned that he knew of my interest in the works of ERB, but did I know that the author used to visit Coldwater back at the turn of the century?  Oh, this was news to me.  He informed me that Burroughs' in-laws -- his wife's parents -- owned a farm in Coldwater and that the family visited the area with regularity.  He even mentioned an older house in town that Burroughs had visited, the home of friends.  This news was astonishing.  The concept that Burroughs frequented the same areas that I lived and worked around simply floored me.  Thoughts of tracking down his movements entered my mind, but was dismissed as being impossible to follow up.  This interesting piece of history stayed with me and remained a seed that was waiting to grow.


Attended an antiquarian book fair in Lansing, Michigan back in 2001.  While there, learned of a new book on Burroughs' early life, written by Brian Bohnett.  (Them Was the Days)  Brian was in attendance and I bought a book from him.  While discussing the early days of ERB, mentioned Coldwater to him and my idea of possibly following up on the Burroughs connection.  He inscribed the book I bought from him, and wrote that he anticipated seeing my future book concerning Burroughs and Coldwater.

Thanks to Brian's support, I made a trip to our local library's historical research room.  (Heritage Room)  Found the library's copy of the Porges Biography, made some notes on the Coldwater references mentioned in the book.  Not much.  Gave up on the concept, once again.

Twelve years later, while searching through some old boxes of paper, found the notes that I have made back in 2001.  The idea of researching the Coldwater connection came bubbling up again.  Being retired was a plus, giving me the time to proceed.  With my wife's permission started putting together the information that would result in "Tarzan Slept Here".

The research, contacts, and people that all contributed to gathering the information for Tarzan Slept Here.

Once the decision was made to research and write the book, the project became my everyday job.  To start off, I consulted my own material collected over the years.  The Porges Biography, Tarzan Forever, The Big Swingers,  Zeuschner's Bibliography, and H. H. Heins biblio, all contributed information.  Spent hours pouring over the various chapters.  Information was there, if one looked hard enough.  Many Coldwater references were found, more than I expected.  My notes started to pile up.

One item really drew my attention.  The back cover photo on Tarzan Forever written by John Taliaferro, displayed an image of ERB standing on the shores of Morrison Lake, Coldwater, Michigan.  The photo was taken during the family's 1916 auto gypsying tour, while camping at Camp Branch.  Middle aged Burroughs appears to be cheerful and enjoying himself.  As I studied the photo, questions arose in my mind.  Just where was Camp Branch?   Just where on Morrison Lake did Burroughs camp out?  Was it possible to find the exact location where Burroughs stood for the photo?  This location, while most probably lost to time, should be recorded if found.  Also the concept of having my picture taken in that same location where ERB stood was an appealing idea.

On November 2, 2012, I walked back into the Heritage Room at the Branch District Library with an agenda.  Wanted to find Burroughs' local relatives, discover the history of Sunnyside Farm (Emma's parent's farm in Coldwater), search for any local newspaper articles mentioning ERB, establish a time line of Burroughs being in Coldwater, and my priority search was to find the location of Camp Branch.  Over the next few weeks, with the assistance of library volunteers, much of the information that I was seeking slowly came to light.  The notable exception, was our inability to establish the site of Camp Branch.  The search for this elusive site was long and filled with much fruitless effort.  The following are some of the low lights along with a few high lights.

The Porges biography supplied the first clue.  Camp Branch was named by Burroughs to recognize that the camp site was beside the Branch's lakeside cottage.  (The Branch family, highly successful Coldwater retailers, were related by marriage.  Emma's sister, Julia, married Leroy Branch.)  So where was the Branch cottage on Morrison Lake?  Morrison Lake is a spacious 288 acre lake located seven miles northwest of Coldwater, and has been a popular fishing destination for many years.  In 1887, ten members of the Coldwater Lodge of the Masonic Fraternity, Jacobs Commandery No. 10, (Knights Templar), leased five acres of Morrison Lake shoreline for a resort and cottage development. The lakeside site became known as "Templar Beach".  One of the ten members was presumably J. B. Branch, a life long Mason, and patriarch of the Branch family.  This indicated that the cottage built by J. B. Branch was most likely located somewhere in this strip of beach.  A quick trip to the Branch County Register of Deeds office should have sufficed to establish which lot the Branch's formerly owned.  Unfortunately, the land was leased by the Mason's for 99 years, and no plat was recorded.  (Leased land had no requirement to be recorded.)  There was no record of any of the Templar Beach leases.  The first major stumbling block.  Which way to turn, now.

Contacted our local historian, Randall Hazelbaker, for assistance.  He stated that the leased lots provided a pretty impassable stumbling block.  He had no idea of the location of the old cottage, and stated that I should have started my project 20 years earlier when there were still people alive who would remember.  Thanks for the support, Randall.

Two descendants of J. B. Branch were located working in Coldwater.  Brother and sister, Dave Nagle and Nancy (Nagle) Borden also had no idea where the old cottage had been.  Dave volunteered to ask his great aunt, and granddaughter of J. B. Branch, for possible information.  Later, she sent the reply that, "No one alive today knows the location of the old cottage".  Rather disheartening.

Another idea came to mind.  An old acquaintance, Deann Pann, a long time member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic Group, informed me that the historic Coldwater Masonic Temple might have records dating back to the 1880's, that could include information on the 1887 lease of Templar Beach.  With excitement, I was given a tour of the old building and ended up in front of the vault door leading to those secretive old records.  Inside the vault were many sagging shelves, loaded with numerous boxes and stacks of papers, along with a generous layer of dust covering everything.  There was no particular order to the jumble.  While I was offered access to the records in the presence of a Mason, I decided this route would be the last resort.

Looking in another direction, contacted Bill Carlson owner of the largest local post card collection.  Asked if he had any cards depicting Morrison Lake from the turn of the century, which he did.  He later allowed me to make copies of 16 old post cards containing views  of the lake from that time frame.  Once again, Porges came to my assistance.  While studying a photo of the Burroughs family gathered behind Ed's yacht on Morrison Lake, noticed a murky cottage in the background.  The one noticeable feature that could be made out was a dormer style window on the second floor.  A pair of Bill Carlson's post cards pictured a cottage with a very similar dormer window.  After much studying, established that the Porges photo and the Carlson post cards showed the same cottage.  The Branch cottage.

Revisited the Nagle's with my cottage update. Nancy (Nagle) Borden, out of the clear blue, showed me an old polaroid photo of two gentlemen standing in front of a cottage.  She identified them as J. B. Branch and his son Leroy Branch.  And just over their heads was the prominent dormer window!  An amazing occurrence.  Solidified the ownership and the appearance of the cottage.  She loaned me the photo.

With the Branch cottage now identified, there was still the need to locate it, or it's former location.  During my running about, I had come across an unrecorded plat map of Templar Beach from 1955.  The lots, over a hundred of them, were all numbered and laid out.  An idea had come to mind that I was interested in following up.  If J. B. Branch was one of the original ten Masons to lease the lake front land, it would kind of make sense that he would have built his cottage on a low numbered lot.  My publisher, Brian Bohnett was in Coldwater to see the sights, and I took him out to Templar Beach.  We walked the area of low numbered lots, looking for any structure that resembled the old post card photos.  Suddenly, right there in front of us, still prominently protruding from the roof line of the cottage, was the old dormer window!  No doubt about it!  We were gazing at the old Branch cottage, still standing and only slightly modernized.  And right next to it was a vacant lot, former lake access for lots not on the water, and the location of Camp Branch!  The site was completely recognizable as being the same as the old post card photos and the images from the Porges biography.  Believe I danced around a bit, and kept the grin on my face for a long time.

Informed the Branch descendants of my discovery, resulting in a parade of family and friends driving out to view the old cottage.  Contacted the current owners of the cottage, Steven and Luann O'Donnell, asking if they knew the significance of their summer resort.  They responded that the Branch ownership was news to them, but that the Burroughs cottage was two cottages to the north.  I was confused.  They explained that they had previously owned that other cottage and had found a framed bill of sale on the wall with Edgar Rice Burroughs name on it, selling it for $ 500.00 in 1926.  Contact with the owners of the second cottage, John and Julia Wiley, confirmed their possession of the bill of sale.  So, with no intent on my part, I had also discovered ERB's "Country Place", mentioned in his unpublished autobiography, and bought in 1918.  After the months long search, this was an incredibly satisfying conclusion to my efforts.

The people who were of tremendous assistance while researching my book.

As previously mentioned, Brian Bohnett and Mad Kings Publishing was my publishing company.  Twelve years after my initial meeting with Brian, as I contemplated finding a publisher, contacted Mike Conran with questions about Mad King Publishing.  He informed me that Brian was the principle, and arranged for our contact.  Brian called me.  After describing my project, Brian responded that he was all in.  Brian led the way, instructing this computer illiterate author on just what had to be done. Did not own a computer and was not on line.   A long learning process followed.  I'm sure that at times, Brian felt he was dragging me along.  However, we did work through it, with the resulting final book publication.

Brian was also extremely generous, allowing access to his impressive Burroughs collection, and sharing a considerable amount of material that appeared in the book.  The book was so much more detailed thanks to Brian.

At Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. in Tarzana, California, both Jim Sullos and Cathy Wilbanks were supportive and helpful.  Cathy found the old photos taken during the family's stay at Camp Branch in 1916, and sent them to me.  They were some of the high lights appearing in the book.  A long lost newspaper article written by Burroughs for the Coldwater Daily Reporter, was supplied by Cathy.

George McWhorter at the Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville, responded to an inquiry by me concerning the unpublished journal kept by ERB during their 1916 auto gypsying tour.  He immediately sent a copy of the 37,000 word manuscript that provided Burroughs own descriptions of the adventures encountered.

Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books, gave permission to use a recently discovered newspaper article from The Oak Leaves, April 29, 1916.  Titled, "Gypsying All Summer", Burroughs wrote of his preparations to make a summer long camping trip and his planned destinations.

Robert Barrett long time Burroughs enthusiast, who was helpful during my search for ERB's lost newspaper article written for the Coldwater Daily Reporter in December of 1918.  Locally the newspaper microfilm records contained a blank spot that covered the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919.  These copies just did not exist.  This included the Burroughs article.  Inquiry's to ERB, Inc., was also coming up with a dead end.  Robert suggested that ERB Inc., search through their manuscripts section instead of the newspaper clippings.  The article, "Late News" was immediately found, in manuscript form.  A happy outcome.

Many local interviews were conducted.  Pam Randall Rose, owner of the former Sunnyside farm house;  Dave McDonald, president of the Branch County Historical Society;  Robert Huntley, member of the Masonic Fraternity and former home owner on a leased lot out at Templar Beach;  Kenneth Sowers, former owner of the Sunnyside farm house;  Louis E. Legg Jr. (Ned), whose family owned Sunnyside Farm back in the 1940's and 1950's;  and Deann Pann was enlightening with her views of Coldwater gone by.

Discussed the early days of three cottages in a row at Templar Beach.  Luann O'Donnell (the Branch cottage), Bridgette Barle (cottage rented by Burroughs in 1917), and John Wiley (Burroughs summer place), all provided perspective on the early days of their cottages.  Referred to this strip of three cottages as "Burroughs Row".

Penny Johnson provided unlimited access to the Wing House Museum, in Coldwater.  The Branch County Historical Society has on display a typewritten letter from Edgar Rice Burroughs dated December 2, 1943, and addressed to Marjorie (Westendarp).  Photo image of this letter is in the book.

My daughter, Nicole Hatt, provided her computer for the entire start to finish project, along with just how to handle it.  And my wife, Gloria Hatt, who was ever so patient despite some excessive behavior on my part.

Since the book was published in January of 2014, more facts and details have come forward.  People read of the events, and then offer more previously unknown stories.  An updated edition may be forthcoming.  Also have obtained the hand written letters, by ERB, written while camped out at Camp Branch in 1916.  Addressed to Ralph Holmes, reporter at the Detroit Journal Daily, they describe the family's  journey from Chicago to Coldwater, and then Ed's liking of the newspaper article that covered ERB's writing and the camping tour.  These letters would make an excellent addition to an updated edition.

Have completed a second book.  It is currently being formatted at a publishing company in Pittsburgh, Pa.,  Dorrance Publishing.  The book tells of my own four years spent in the military during the Vietnam years.  Joined the U. S. Coast Guard and served from 1968 to 1972.  Was stationed aboard a polar icebreaker, and experienced locales north of the Arctic Circle that most people will never see.  Titled, "Icebreaking Aboard the Westwind and Other Coast Guard Escapades", the book should see publication early next year.


The book, Tarzan Slept Here.  Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Coldwater Connection
can be ordered from:
Michael Hatt, 898 Kelley Road, Montgomery, Mi. 49255.
Cost $ 22.95, and shipping $ 4.50, for a total of $ 27.45.
The book is also available at local Coldwater outlets.

A face book page, Tarzan Slept Here, was started by my daughter in law, Heather Somerlott.
She was showing support in an on line fashion.
It was this page that finally prompted me to buy a computer and go on line.
Have since assumed the administrative duties of the page.
Try to keep the current news and happenings connected to the book posted.

Many of the people and places referred to above

Branch Cottage post card photo.
Branch Cottage post card photo.
ERB standing on the shores of 
Morrison Lake, July 1916.
Michael Hatt standing in the 
same location ERB stood 97 years earlier. 
J. B. Branch and son, Leroy Branch
in front of their cottage. 
Dormer window overhead. 
5.  Sunnyside farmhouse, Coldwater, Michigan.  Hulbert's big city get away.
6.  Sunnyside farmhouse.  Undergoing renovation.
Sunnyside farmhouse, Coldwater, Michigan. 
Hulbert's big city get away.
Sunnyside farmhouse. 
Undergoing renovation. 
Today's view of
the cottage from the lake. 
1.  View of the Branch Cottage taken from the road.
2.  Branch Cottage to the left and ERB's 1917 summer rental on the right.
View of the Branch Cottage
taken from the road. 
Branch Cottage to the left and 
ERB's 1917 summer rental on the right.
3.  Burroughs Summer Place.  Bought in 1918.  View from the road.
4.  Burroughs Summer Place.  From the road.
 Burroughs Summer Place.  Bought in 1918. 
View from the road.
Burroughs Summer Place. 
From the road.
5.  Burroughs Summer Place.  Facing Morrison Lake.
6.  Another pic of the 1917 rental cottage.
Another pic of 
the 1917 rental cottage. 
Burroughs Summer Place. 
Facing Morrison Lake.

Michael Hatt's 2017 Coldwater Dum-Dum
6250: Dum-Dum 2017
ERBzine 6251: 
Souvenir Packet
ERBzine 6252:
Day One
ERBzine 6253: 
Huckster Room
ERBzine 6254: 
Coldwater Tour I
ERBzine 6255: 
Coldwater Tour II

Previously Compiled by Bill Hillman since 1996
Thanks to Danton Burroughs for sharing much of this information
from his personal Burroughs Family Archive

Joan Burroughs Pierce Biography
An Auto-Biography by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs Day-By-Day Bio Timeline
Note: ERB named the submarine in Beyond Thirty: "THE COLDWATER"
Beyond Thirty eText Edition: READ
Ed's USMC Great Nephew from Coldwater even wrote in one of his WWII autograph books
Tarzan Slept Here Review
There are many Coldwater references all across the ERBzine site - especially in the many ERB personal letters.


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