Farmer Parker Didn't Like Cows
This article was printed in the "Legal Advertiser-Ferndale Gazette-Times" written by Maurice F. Cole; Copyright 1966. It was also included in Maurice F. Cole's book, "Ferndale of Yesteryear", published in the 70's. Mr. Cole was Historian, Attorney, and Teacher in Ferndale Michigan and got his info for this article from my uncle, Roy E. Cline. There are a few errors that have been clarified by further research.
Comparatively few of the men and women who settled our land will be remembered in history by name. The rest were ordinary folk, now for the most part forgotten, often unlettered, but honest, energetic and frugal.
They cleared the land, tilled it, and raised up families of children who became good citizens in their respectable communities.
In doing all of this, they endured great hardship, had few of the conveniences which we have today, but by their industry and perserverance they have made possible the great heritage which is now ours.
Probably the first farm house to be built on Pinecrest Drive was by such a pioneer, Benjamin Parker, by name. At that time the road was known as Livernois Avenue, and some time later as Mill Road.
In the winter of 1856, Benjamin Parker had purchased an eighty-acre parcel of land on the east side of the old Saginaw Trail.
Here he built a substantial farm home and after clearing the land, he began farming it. (Benj. was born about 1817, son of Thomas and Eliizabeth Parker who came from Lincolnshire England in 1838 on the Ship St. Laurance, and settled in Royal Oak Twp. in Section8.) His brother, Jim, had arrived with him from England shortly before this but, after remaining with his brother Benjamin for a year or two, Jim moved on the the Lexington area in St Clair County. ("Jim" was probably Thomas Henry Parker who settled in Lexington, and I believe that's in Sanilac County now. Benj. also had brothers William and Henry.)
Benjamin Parker had an aversion to cattle, so he went into the business of raising sheep. Shortly after his brother left, Benjamin married a young lady from the Wayne County side of Eight Mile Road, and together they raised a large family. (Benj. married Mary Ann Carver b. 1828 in NYS, dau. of Zalmon Carver and Achsah Smith. Mary was grandaughter of Ebenezer Smith, Rev. War Veteran of Auburn Village, Pontiac Twp., Oakland County, MI, previously of Cayuga County NYS.)
Unlike her husband, Mrs. Parker liked cattle and she went into the dairy business. It is reported that Benjamin never milked a cow in his life, so the milking of the cows was left up to his wife.
She not only cared for the cattle, but she did the churning of the butter, which she would later take to Detroit and exchange for groceries and other commodities.
Although there were very few families living in the entire area at that time, there were public duties to perform and Benjamin Parker, as a good citizen, made himself available.
He served the district as school assessor, having been elected to that office at the annual mettings in both 1890 and 1893. In the latter year the school census reports, by name, a total of only thirty-one pupils of school age in the entire district, several of whom where grandchildren of Benjamin and his wife.
Before his death, which occured on Sept 11, 1902, Mr. Parker and his wife divided their farm among their six children, one son having gone to war and never returned to Michigan. The elder Parkers reserved in themselves a life estate in the farm.
The six children were Harriet Wells (wife of Erastus H. Wells), Emily Rockelman (wife of Fred Rockelman of Germany), Ann Elisa Lafferty (wife of Charles/John Lafferty of Ireland), Mary Truesdale (wife of William Truesdale), Rosa M. Cline (wife of John A. Cline of Bloomfield Twp, MI), and George Parker.
These lands have now been subdivided and where the old Parker farm was located we now have the following subdivisions: Ridge Road Estates, Lux-Howey Co.'s Ridge Road Subdivision, Badder Gardens, Ridgeway Subdivision and a portion of Anderson's Subdivision of Ridge Heights.
It is interesting to note that when Ridge Road Estates was platted in 1916 (it has since been replatted) the first street paralleling Ridge Road was named "Parker Road" in honor of the parents of the subdivider, Mary (nee Parker, 1st married Alfred Payson Knowles and was widowed early in life; she married twice more.) Truesdale Barnard.
In 1920 the Ferndale village commission changed the name of the street to Kenton, its present name.
(A photo accompanies the article) Shown in front of the old homestead, which stood on the east side of Pinecrest Drive, about where Pearson and Leroy Avenues reach that highway, are, from left to right; Mrs. John Cline, a daughter, Mrs. Benjamin Parker, holding baby Helen Cline (grandmother of this transcriber), and Benjamin Parker, while in front are Roy and Floyd Cline, grandsons. (John Cline is shown in the background, holding a team of horses.) Roy Cline is still a resident of the city. (Roy has passed now and is buried at Oakview Cemetery in Royal Oak, Mi.)