The Straight Farmhouse
Home of the Garden City Historical Museum
6221 Merriman Rd. Garden City, MI 48135 (734) 838-0650
The Straight Farm House & Property
The property itself, containing 160 acres, “was located by Thomas Dickerson on June 2, 1831”. A Land Patent dated February 10, 1832 by “The United States of America, by Andrew Jackson, President, and A.J. Donelson, Secretary, and Elijah Hayward, Commissioner of the General land Office”, was granted to Thomas Dickerson. When Thomas Dickerson died intestate on March 3, 1842, one of the Commissioners appointed to settle the estate was Daniel Straight. The property was partitioned and awarded to the 8 Dickerson children. Daniel Straight purchased 14.85 acres “more or less” in 1854 from T. Dickerson’s heirs. Silas Dickerson gave Daniel Straight a Warranty Deed to their share of the property in 1854. This property was farmed continuously.
Another section of land containing 80 acres was located by Luman Fowler on December 3, 1831. He was granted a Land Patent on June 8, 1833 and sold his property on July 11, 1835 to Enos and Daniel Streight (sic). Daniel and Enos purchased 80 acres more in 1836 for $400.00. By 1851, Enos and his wife, Marcy transferred their 160 acres to Daniel in a quit claim deed. Daniel then leased 100 acres for 99 years from February 28, 1865 for the purpose of boring for oil, petroleum or other chemical products and for such purpose only to Cullen Brown, who gave an Assignment of Lease on March 16, 1865 to Wayne County Oil Company. Daniel was promised 1/10 part of all oil, etc., provided that if operations are not commenced in one year, then this lease shall be null and void. It provided further that if oil or salt is not discovered within 5 years, this lease shall be null and void.
Around 1866, Daniel built the house now owned by the Friends of the Garden City Historical Museum at 6221 Merriman Road. On November 26, 1869, Daniel and Marcia, his wife, deeded 55+ acres to their son, Oscar in a Warranty Deed for $3000.00. Various sections were conveyed via Quit Claim Deeds back and forth between father and son until September 26, 1874 when the total property reached 105 acres, “more or less”.
By 1877, after Daniel’s death, smaller parcels had been sold to Amy A. Taylor, Thomas W. Stringer, John Shultz, Albert J. Tate, Wilson Preston, William Baehr and to Edwin E. Gilbeth. The remaining property was inherited by Oscar and his sister, Louisa P. Osband of Lansing, MI. She sold her share to Oscar for $5,000.00. After son, Oscar’s, death in 1886, the property ownership and administration was granted by Probate Court to his wife, Mary. Upon Mary’s death (date unknown) the remaining living heirs of the property were Marshall Straight and his wife, Helen. Marshall’s younger brother, Ralph, had died at the age of 14, four months after his father, Oscar, on February 18, 1887. Oscar and son, Ralph, are buried in Newburgh Cemetery.
Records show that Mary Straight and son, Marshall were living in Ypsilanti, MI when they granted a Life Lease to the property to Daniel’s widow, Marcia A. Straight on December 23, 1890. Marcia died in 1891. Both Daniel and Marcia are buried in Newburgh Cemetery.
In 1896, Marshall and his mother, Mary, sold 90 acres to C. H. Roberts for $2,000.00 (mortgage). In 1905, Alice H. Roberts, widow, is named executrix of the estate of Charles H. Roberts and the property goes back to Marshall and Mary Straight in a discharge of the mortgage. It passed through many hands until the last family to live in the house from 1936 to 1964 was the Brand family.
It was subsequently sold to the Northwest Child Guidance Clinic which later became Starfish Family Services. The Friends of the Garden City Historical Museum bought the property in 2004, named it “The Straight Farm House” and established the Lathers General Store and the Grande Parlour, a rental facility to support the operation. In October of 2007 it also became the home of the Garden City Historical Museum -- a museum devoted entirely to the history of Garden City. A brick-paver walkway was created as a memorial to our founders, families, friends, schools, churches and more and includes a monument and flagpole dedicated to military personnel -- a gift from the American Legion Riders, a motorcycle organization founded in Garden City.
The Straight Family History
Descendants of Zachariah Straight, Sr.
Zachariah Straight, Sr. was born September 17, 1781 in West Greenwich, Rhode Island and died in New York on March 22, 1825. He had married Elizabeth Cobb in New York. She was born September 3, 1786 and died August 23, 1871 in Nankin Township, Wayne County, Michigan at the age of 85. She is buried in Newburgh Cemetery.
Their five sons came to Michigan in the 1830’s from Essex County, New York.
1. Daniel, born December 10, 1808 in New York, married Marcia Ann Ferris, born in December 1816 in New York before coming to Michigan. They had 5 children, including Oscar and Louisa, but 3 others died at young ages. Oscar was born in 1839 and Louisa was born in 1842. Daniel and wife, Marcia moved to Michigan in 1835. Daniel built the Farm House on the West side of Merriman c. 1866 and later sold this house to son, Oscar, possibly in 1869-70. It is believed, but not confirmed, that Daniel then purchased the home that Enos built on the east side of Merriman Road Daniel and Enos were both men of sterling worth and of undoubted integrity. Daniel died on or about February 25, 1875 and Marcia died in 1891. Both are buried in Newburgh Cemetery.
2. Enos was born in 1811 in New York and came to Michigan in 1834 with Daniel. They bought the east 1/2 of SW 1/4 section 10 from Luman Fowler. They also bought the west 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Samuel Willard and worked it all in partnership. Enos returned East, married Mercy Jones, born in March 16, 1814 in New York. They married May 12, 1835 in New York and came to Michigan in 1836. In 1842, Daniel and Enos enlarged their business by engaging in wool carding and cloth dressing at Perrinsville. In 1846, they, in company with their youngest brother, Zachariah and W. H. Osband, under the name of Straight. Osband & Co., built a steam sawmill at Inkster, and after three or four years, he and Daniel dissolved partnership and divided their property. Enos died of cholera in 1854 in Nankin Township. Mercy died May 13, 1897, burial site unknown to us.
3. Matthias was born November 14, 1814 in New York and after settling in Michigan, married his first wife, Laura Nash of Plymouth, MI, on March 30, 1842. He subsequently married Amanda Smith of Livonia between 1848 and 1849. She was born in 1826 in New York. He married his third wife, Sarah, in 1857. He fathered one child with each of his wives. Matthias bought the SW 1/4 of section 11, being part of the Job Sherman estate. He later bought the eighty acres joining it on the south. He accumulated property, and for some years lived in Ypsilanti in easy circumstances. The date of his death is not known to us.
4. Charles, born March 24, 1819 in New York, married Mary Towner, born December 11, 1822 in New York. Their two children Harriet, born in 1846 and Lucius, born in 1849 were born in Nankin Township. Charles settled on the east 1/2 of SW 1/4 section 11, formerly owned by Emily White, and built a farmhouse on the northeast corner of the intersection of Shotka and Ford Road in present-day Garden City. The farm house was built on a large sand hill, which housed the famous (or infamous) “Bomb Cellar” in the basement below. The Cellar was rumored to be a speakeasy around the start of World War II. By industry and economy he added other lands to his possessions and enjoyed easy financial circumstances. Charles died November 24, 1903 and is buried in Newburgh Cemetery. Mary died in 1888, burial site unknown to us.
5. Zachariah, Jr., the youngest brother, was born on January 17, 1824 and came to Michigan in 1836. He was a bright boy and a good student in school. Besides the district school, he attended the Ypsilanti academy during the winter of 1843-44. Afterward, he taught three terms of district school. Zachariah married Elizabeth Osband Reeves in September of 1846 and partnered in owning the sawmill in Inkster. “Eliza”, born June 19, 1825 in New York, died May 13, 1847 in Michigan. In 1852, Zachariah sold his interest in the sawmill in Inkster and went to California with his brother Charles by way of Panama. On his way he was shipwrecked at Acapulco, but reshipped. He was taken sick before he reached his destination and died a few days after reaching San Francisco.
Daniel’s son, Oscar, was born in 1839 in Nankin Township, and at age 27, married Mary E. Peck, age 23, of Perrinsville, born in 1843 in Michigan, in the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Detroit on May 22, 1866. Mary’s father, James A. Peck, was elected first Postmaster of the Perrinsville Post Office on October 11, 1861. Oscar also served as Postmaster for two years some years later. They had two sons, Marshall O., date of birth unknown, and Ralph W., born in 1873 in Nankin Township. Oscar bought the home at 6221 Merriman built c. 1866 by his father, Daniel, on their property of 105 acres “more or less, according to the original survey” in 1869-70, for the “consideration of $3,000.00”. They lived here with their children until Oscar died on October 9, 1886, and was buried in Newburgh Cemetery in Livonia. Their son, Ralph, died at age 14 on February 18, 1887 and is also buried in Newburgh Cemetery..
A professor at Eastern Michigan University discovered a connection to Marshall and the Straight family when he was doing extensive genealogical research and found that Marshall had enrolled at the college and listed his home address as “Stark, MI” -- which is a part of Livonia, MI 48150 in the U.S. Zip Code information for our area. Marshall later worked for Ypsilanti photographer, J. J. Stephenson. In 1885, Marshall was in a partnership in a photography business called Straight & Osband in Ypsilanti. From 1892-1894, he was in a partnership called Gibson & Straight. He was in business for himself after 1894 in Ypsilanti. Later census information in 1900 finds Marshall and wife, Helen, living in Grand Rapids, MI and listed as a bookkeeper.
Oscar and Mary’s son, Ralph, died in 1887 at age 14, four months and 9 days after his father, Oscar, had died. Michigan Ghostwatchers have concluded after extensive investigations of the Straight Farm House that Ralph’s ghost still inhabits the house. They claim that the Straight Farm House actually has three resident ghosts! Will we ever know the identities of the ghosts and learn more about their lives?
(Editor’s Note: The above historical offering has been compiled from various sources including census records, genealogy sources, and the extensive research of several determined persons.)