Saturday, January 15, 2011

Welcome to Crossroads Village of Flint, Michigan

Welcome to
~Crossroads Village~
Please watch your step.
Walks, streets, and floors
those of the 1800's
and are uneven.
(from the brochure of Crossroads Village)

The entrance to Crossroads Village

Tiny plumes of smoke rise from the boiler at the Master Cider Mill and drift silently over the wooden walks and dewy grass. Down the street, a woman walks among her gardens gathering flowers in her apron and waves to the gentlemen at the sawmill, who are turning huge logs into planks. There’s a game of checkers just starting at the barbershop, and musicians backstage at the opera house are tuning up their voices for the first show of the day.

The century-old grinding stones at the Atlas Mill are turning wheat into flour for the day’s bread, while a little girl learns to crochet and her mother admires a hand-made quilt. Eager passengers slide onto their seats in the wooden coaches of the Huckleberry Railroad as the conductor calls out, “All aboard!”

Most of the 35 buildings here were moved – brick, board and stone – to this magical place at the edge of Mott Lake. Many came from just a few miles away. In this peaceful setting, they have been preserved, furnished and put back into use, so you can experience first-hand what life was like in a small village in Michigan in the late 1800's

(this was taken from the official Crossroads Village web site)

Thus begins our journey to and through that little village that few are aware of, Crossroads Village.
Crossroads Village was founded in the year 1973 as part of the upcoming United States bicentennial celebration. It had only three buildings at that time but grew to 13 buildings by its grand opening day of July 4, 1976.
It now has over 30 structures.
What makes Crossroads Village so unique is its authenticity - it has dirt roads, wood-plank sidewalks, an actual period train and train cars, and just has the look and feel of stepping into the past, moreso, dare I say, than the modernized Greenfield Village.
Does Crossroads have its problems? Certainly, and I plan to address those problems throughout this blog when I feel it is necessary.
I will address one complaint here: for the twenty + years that I have been visiting Crossroads Village, I have never seen a guidebook with info and photos, only a brochure with a few lines written about each structure. I feel this needs to be rectified, for this Village deserves more than a simple brochure.

When all is said and done, we here in southeast Michigan are truly blessed with having two open-air historical museums within two hours of each other.
For those out-of-towners who cannot make it to either one, I hope my blogs help you to enjoy them vicariously through the information and photos posted.
By the way, all photos were taken by me. If you would like to use them, feel free, but please give me and this blog the credit. Thank you.
(Here is the address to my Greenfield Village blog -
So, come along on this Journey to the Past...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fox House

This Italianate 1876 house was originally the home of Jackson Fox, a prosperous farmer, and his wife, Melissa, with their ten children.
Jackson lived in this house until his death in 1899. His widow remained there until she died sometime after. Other generations lived in the house until it was donated to Crossroads Village in 1975.

The following, taken from the Flint Journal, reveals more about the Fox house than I can find elsewhere:

Here's a surprise: Kalamazoo, Michigan man gets a special birthday by visiting family homestead in Crossroads Village in Genesee Township

by David Harris | The Flint Journal
Monday December 29, 2008, 10:00 PM

GENESEE TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- Jackson Fox Jr., his wife Katrina Schuur-Fox and his brother, Steve, stood around a table Monday in the 132-year-old house, eyeing an ancient land deed from when their ancestors bought the property.

The deed was dated from 1837 and said "United States government" on the top.

"Isn't that neat?" exclaimed Schuur-Fox as she peered at the document.

All around them was family history. There was the parlor room with wood floors where the family used to gather around for years.

Next to the parlor was the dining room where they used to have Sunday dinners and Thanksgiving. There were the pictures of the original owners, Jackson and Adeline Fox, and their 10 children on the walls.

The family gathered for Jackson Fox Jr.'s 60th birthday. The house now is located in Crossroads Village.

Jackson Fox Jr. of Kalamazoo is the original Jackson Fox's great-grandson.

The elder Fox built the house, which originally was located at Carpenter and Branch roads in Genesee Township, in 1876.

Jackson Fox Jr. said it is rare to have so much family history.

"I don't think many people could ever point to a home that belonged to their great grandparents, let alone set foot in it," he said. "It's a way to connect to your ancestors."

About the Fox family:

1837: The family comes to Genesee Township from New York and buys 80 acres of farmland, building a log cabin.

1876: Jackson Fox builds a two-story house with nine rooms and lives there for the rest of his life.

1940s: The house undergoes restoration.

1975: The house is donated to Crossroads Village, where it stands today.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Atlas Gristmill

From colonial times and into the first half of the nineteenth century, gristmills flourished in America by meeting an important local need in agricultural communities: grinding the farmers' grain with large, circular stones, and levying a toll, usually in kind, for the service.

The founding father of Atlas, Michigan was Judge Norman D
avison, who arrived here in 1831 from Livingston County, New York. He cleared the land and built a house for his family near the river on the site where the Atlas Country Club now stands. He erected a sawmill in 1833 and a gristmill in 1836. The town was first known as Davisonville, and the first post office was started in 1837 with Mr. Davison as the postmaster. (In 1854 the name was changed from Davisonville to Atlas due to confusion with the mail between the town and the Davison Station on the Grand Trunk Railroad. The Atlas Post Office is considered one of the oldest in the state.)

Soon after Davison settled in this location, many more settlers came to the town. The first blacksmith, Enas Rockafellow, arrived in 1837. Fitch R. Tracy started a mercantile business in the late 1830's. Dr. Elbridge Gale started his practice in Atlas in 1837. Due to his interest in tanning, sheep were introduced to this area. With the coming of sheep, Oliver Palmer built a wool carding and stock dressing business. A woolen mill was erected next to the gristmill during the 1850's. The first tavern appeared on the scene in 1840. Noah Hull, as a carpenter and millwright, helped build many of the businesses and houses after his arrive in 1846. Furniture for the town's people was made by the local cabinet maker, Mr. James Shields. Residents could have their shoes repaired or have new ones made by the shoemaker, James Lobban. There were many other settlers who contributed to the prosperity of Atlas.

With the increase of families coming to the area, a school was started in 1837. One can just imagine this small mid-19th century town, how it looked in the early days. Probably very similar to what Crossroads Village looks like today.

Gristmills flourished in America by meeting an important local need in agricultural communities by grinding the farmer's grain into flour. It is operated by water-driven turbine beneath the water surface so the mill can operate in winter if the surface of the water is frozen. The water power turns the large stone wheels used for grinding.

Each granite stone, which were made around 1835 in North Carolina, weighs 1800 pounds.

The Atlas gristmill, during the early days of the settlement, was used for other purposes besides grinding grain. The lean-to of the mill was used as the first school in Davison/Atlas, and the first post office was also located in the mill. On April 4, 1836, the first township meeting was held there.
It remained in operation until 1943, when, due (in part) to WWII, replacement parts for repairs were no longer available.
The mill was dismantled and moved to Crossroads Village in 1975 where it was renovated and then moved, in 1977, to its current location inside the Village.
The sights and sounds of the spinning, grinding wheels give the public a first-hand glimpse of an earlier age. The turning wheels could grind one barrel of flour (whole wheat or buckwheat) or corn meal an hour.
An early portrayal of living history.
It now produces stone-ground flour sold in Crossroads Village.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

George H. Durand Home and Law Office

I'm sure the long railed entryway is not original!
Note the wood-plank walk way in front. Simply wonderful!

This is a side and back view of the house.

This 1850's home office, originally located at 4224 Davison Rd. in Burton Twp., is named after the first president of the Genesee Bar Association, George Harman Durand, who was born in 1838 and died in 1903. Durand moved from New York to Oxford, Michigan in 1856 where he studied law. After he was admitted to the bar, he practiced law in Flint, Michigan, where he was also a member of the Board of Education in the 1860's.

Near the front door

He became mayor of Flint in 1873 and 1874.
In 1874, he was elected to Congress as a Democrat,serving from 1875 to 1877.
Afterward, Durand resumed his law practice and was appointed Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1892. It was typical for lawyers to work out of a small office in their home in small towns.

Durand died in Flint and is interred in Glenwood Cemetery there.

This house was last lived in 1963.


Friday, September 12, 2008

J.E. Barbour M.D.

This is an exact replica of the 1880's doctor's office where Dr. Julius Barbour practiced his medicine in Bristol, Indiana.
Originally from the Flint, Michigan area, Barbour enlisted in the Civil War at age 14 and studied medicine during his tenure in the army. Afterward, he attended schools to learn both general medicine and homeopathy (herbal cures) as well. The Flint Academy of Medicine banned homeopaths from practicing in the area, which was why Dr. Barbour, in 1879, moved to Indiana, where he lived until 1908.

Off to visit the doctor.
An office visit was usually fifty cents to a dollar. But, most doctors would also accept a chicken, ham, or other food instead.

The waiting room.
The doctor's desk in the waiting room.

This next photo is of the actual examining room.
In Crossroads, the doctor's office is located just around the corner from the Attica Hotel.

(Please click HERE for more information about 19th century doctors)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scenes Along Main Street

Here are various pictures of Main Street I have taken while participating at a re-enactment.
As you can see, with properly attired people, the past can truly come to life and give the viewer a very accurate portrayal of the 19th century. The only things missing are horses and dogs!

Folks doing their Saturday business in town.

The Attica Hotel and the Printing Shop are shown here, side by side.

A bit of both sides of the road is shown here.

Every so often I like to portray my photos in sepia to give it that authentic feel

The little girl is my daughter at age five.
A scene right out of the past!
Now, on to the rest of the Village!


Mason Tavern

The photo below shows the tavern with lively 1860's townsfolk enjoying a summer celebration.

Daniel Mason, a native of New Hartford, New York, before immigrating to Michigan, built this structure as a stagecoach inn and tavern around 1850. It soon became a popular stagecoach stop along the route of the Flint and Fentonville Plank Road Company, which was established in 1849.
From 1853 to 1871, Mundy Township's first post office was also housed here. The tavern and post office continued to operate until shortly after the Flint and Pere Marquette Railway came to the area. In 1879, Mason sold the property and moved to Flint, where he died in 1880.
Crossroads Village recently re-opened this building - actually, I believe 2010 was the first time the Mason Inn/Tavern has been open to the public since its relocation here. And it truly is a beautiful building to see.

Here is the guest dining area of the tavern. It would have also been used as the local post office. From what I understand, the mason Tavern was used partly as the post office.

The parlor - family only!

Here is the dining area - although I don't know for sure, I believe this was set up for the owner of the tavern and his family.

I have not had the opportunity to see the 2nd floor at the time of this writing. Maybe one day...