Michigan History Photo Gallery
|Author: Douglas B. Sharp
The following is a collection of treasures that my family has handed down to me. These old documents and photos are courtesy of my great-grandfather Edward Christopher Sharp and my great-great uncle, Elmer Thompson.
Sharp Dairy Farm
Lansing Mall and portions of Sharp Park in Delta Township were parts of the Sharp Dairy Farm.
Delta Township is a suburb of Lansing, the capital city of Michigan. But in 1836, Erastus S. Ingersoll settled here and constructed a water-powered sawmill. A gristmill was added, and in 1840 a resident wrote that people came from twenty miles around to have their flour made. A school modeled after Oberlin college was chartered as the “Grand River Theological Seminary,” but never opened. Platted as Grand River City in 1841, the village was commonly called Delta Mills after the township and main industry. The mill operated into the twentieth century. At one time, Grand River City was considered for the site of the state capitol.
Elmer Thompson willed an old house in Lewiston Michigan to my grandmother and her sister in the mid-1950’s. We used it for a vacation home until maintenance got too much for my family and it was sold in 1972. Later we found out that the house was built by the original lumber barons about 1890, and was the home of Otis Kneeland, brother of David Kneeland who lived next door in the house that is now the museum operated by the Lewiston Historical Society.
When our family sold the house, many treasures were discovered in it, including Elmer’s photos, what I call the Summitville papers and Dr. Hale’s Home Remedy and Recipe book, hand written between 1846 and 1863.
Summitville can still be found on some detailed county maps of Lake County, Michigan. It is located between the tiny towns of Nirvana and Chase on U.S. 10, at the intersection of State road. There is indeed a summit, but little else except the abandoned railroad bed of the Pere Marquette railroad, some snowmobile trails, and a dirt road that intersects with Farrington Road. There is nothing there in the way of buildings. But from these documents, the Randall family operated a business, farm, railroad depot and recorded history in these documents, which are contained in an old ledger whose entries begin in 1839. The oldest document is a copy of the Norwich Times (NY) from October 13, 1830. Unfortunately, that newspaper is too big and too fragile to scan.
This document is a one-of-a-kind hand-written treasure, a doctor’s handbook with entries dated 1846 and up. This 134 page book is hand-indexed and contains many recipes, some of which obviously didn’t work so well. Dr. Hale made up a code on the first page which he subsequently used in the rest of his book to obscure some of his nastier ingredients, like arsenic.