History of the ‘Friends’
In 2004, knowing the home of the Garden City Historical Museum was slated for demolition and time was of the essence, Carol Bird,
Muriel Grima, and Mary Jane Schildberg began searching for a new home for the Museum.
With the help of local philanthropists they were able to secure a down payment and purchased
the Straight Farmhouse from Starfish Family Services.
From there a Board of Directors was elected and the name ‘The Friends of the Garden City Historical Museum’ was chosen. By Laws were drafted and ratified, and the group was incorporated as a 501(c)(3).
The original Board of Directors were:
Frieda Affholter, Carol Bird, Dr. Gerald Collins, Muriel Grima, Gerald Marquette, and Mary Jane Schildberg.
2003– City notifies Historical Commission current museum site (The Log Cabin) is slated for demolition
Late 2004– Straight Farmhouse is purchased
February 2005– First Board of Directors was elected and By Laws were ratified by the membership.
July 2005- Lathers General Store Grand Opening.
August 2005– Demolition begins on future Grande Parlour.
December 28th, 2005– Grand Opening of the Grande Parlour Banquet Room
June 2006– City moves artifacts from Log Cabin to the Straight Farmhouse
October 20th, 2006– Grand Opening of Museum in new location (The Straight Farmhouse)
Grande Parlour Construction
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 ( Daniel, Enos, Matthias, Charles, and Zachariah Jr.) 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 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 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 1896. Both are buried in Newburgh Cemetery.
Daniel’s son, Oscar, was born in 1839 in Nankin Township, and at age 27, married Mary E. Peck of Perrinsville, Michigan- age 23 (born in 1843), 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. Some years later, Oscar also served as Postmaster for two years. Oscar and Mary had two sons, Marshall, date of birth unknown, and Ralph, 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. Their son, Ralph, died at age 14 on February 18, 1887, four months and 9 days after his father, Oscar. Both are buried in Newburgh Cemetery in Livonia. 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.
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.
Several extensive paranormal investigations have taken place at The Straight Farmhouse. Almost all have concluded 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.)