Talk given for Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society
I came to Oakland County when I was six years old, there’s not much story there, is there? I’ll try to explain. My father (Charles Edwin Perry), the youngest of ten children, left his father’s (Edwin Ruthben Perry) farm to “Seek his fortune” in the factories and came to Pontiac in 1916. I think he worked for G.J. Burdett. He was a carpenter and I remember his discussing with my uncles the new kind of roof they were building that looked like the teeth of a saw. My paternal great-grandfather (Deliverance Perry) came to Michigan from Vermont by way of Mass. and NY end took up land from the gov’t in Macomb County in 1835. After his death in a hunting accident, his widow (Hannah Bennet) and her second husband moved to St. Clair County. My grandfather (Edwin Ruthben Perry) established his home there also and my father was born there.
However, my roots do go back to Oakland County. My maternal great- grandfather, Comelius McCrumb and his wife Phoebe Simmons came to Michigan from “York State in a covered wagon in 1837, when my grandfather was one year old. He bought a farm in Novi Twp. that his brother-in-law, David Angus Sirnmons, had taken up from the gov’t. The farm was on Grand River Rd. in Novi Twp., and is shown on the recently restored map hanging in Wisner House. Cornelius was the “first white child born in Bristol, New York” according to an old atlas I found in New York State, but alas for my genealogical research, it does not name his parents. All of his sons except my grandfather followed David Simmons to Eagle, Michigan. My Grandfather Philip McCrumb remained on the same farm and my mother was born there. When he retired, Grandpa and Grandma moved to Macomb County to be near an older daughter, and my mother went with them. She met my father through mutual friends end I was born in Macomb County.
My father brought his family here, and we lived near Sylvan Lake. I was enrolled in Daniel Whitfield School in the second grade. My daily walk to school was a daily adventure, across fields, walking the car tracks, through a woods and another field. There were no buses in “those days”. After one winter of Wading through snow drifts, it was decided I would change schools, so l rode the street car and came into Crofoot School. Although I soon got used to the trolley, I always felt insecure. I remember the time I missed the street car, probably ‘playing around” and walked home. It seemed like a hundred miles. How far is it down Huron from Crofoot School ‘to Telegraph where the little river goes under the road, much less than a mile, I’m sure. The place where the trolley stopped and I got off was called “Happy Home”. I have an idea that street would be there now.
My father went to work for the Detroit United Railways, the inter-urban that was called the D.U.R. and we moved to Farmington. Farmington was the greatest town to grow up in. It was a town where you could roller skate to school, walk to the library in a wing of the “Town Hall”, and go to Sunday School in a white dress. There was a main street, Grand River, and a few stores on side streets. There was Pauline’s dry goods store on the comer where my sister and I bought ribbons for our dolls when we had saved our pennies. Schroeders Meat Market was next to it or near it. There was a candy store where we bought “Mary Janes” and if it had an inside tag saying “free” you got another. I still use a letter opener that says ‘Otis Super Service, Farmington, Michigan, Phone 11". When the C.F. Smith grocery store opened, it looked as big as a supermarket. After graduating from High School, I worked for 8 year in the telephone office which by then had moved from the old building on Grand River to offices over the new bank that replaced the old Hotel on the corner.
I have still another attachment to Oakland County. My husband Frank Warren Rice was born in Novi of early Oakland residents. Warren’s great-grandfather, Clark Rice, came to Michigan in 1840 and lived in North Farmington. His son A.T. Rice settled in Novi, and his son Frank, my husband’s father, lived there also and Warren was born and grew up there, Bo when I married and want to live in Novi, I had, in 8 way, come around in a circle back to the town of my mother’s birth.
Our four sons were born in Novi. We came to Pontiac in 1943 after the great depression to find employment in the factories producing war materials, and Pontiac has been a good home to us. I am afraid this story has been rambling, but I imagine those first pioneer stories may have rambled a little bit also. So you see, that while I was only six years old when I came to Oakland County, I really came here in 1837.
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