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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ann Arbor Township in Washtenaw County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Welcome to the Parker Family Mills!

 
 
Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
1. Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! Marker
Inscription.
Starting a New Life
William Q. Parker and his bride Mary came from England in 1861 to begin a new life. They purchased land in Washtenaw County and by 1872 were well-established farmers. Here, on the ruins of the old Fleming sawmill, William built a small gristmill in 1873. The mill ground wheat, buckwheat and corn into flour and meal for the family, and corn feed for the farm. William also provided this service for local farmers, playing a vital role in the frontier community. The cider building (on the right) was built in 1887 to produce cider and vinegar. A dam and millpond on Fleming Creek provided the waterpower necessary to run the machinery in both buildings.

Three Generations of Parkers
Fred, William's oldest son, built the cider building, the early Geddes Road Bridge and many other area structures. In 1910, after William's death, his second son George took over operations and expanded into commercial sales. The business thrived and the Parker brand of Flemings Creek Mills flours, cereals and vinegars were sold at grocery stores. When the apple blight of 1914 ended the vinegar business, the cider building was used for grain receiving and cleaning. After George's death, his son Dale reduced operations to meet the needs of the family farm. The mill was finally closed in
Mill Area Site Map image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
2. Mill Area Site Map
1959.

A Place in History
The Parker Mill complex, a National Register Historic Place, provides a look back to a bygone era when people lived off the land.Water-powered mills were the first manufacturing industry to arive in Washtenaw County and they played a vital role in the settlement of the Michigan "frontier". At one time, over 40 water-powered grist, saw, woolen, paper, pulp, plaster, and cider mills existed along the rivers and streams in Washtenaw County.

The Parker gristmill was built on the remains of a sawmill built by Robert Fleming in 1824, one of the earliest mills in the area. In 1829, John Geddes and his brother Robert constructed a sawmill on the Huron, where Dixboro Road crosses today. It was around the Geddes mill that a small area settlement began to grow. By 1850 the Geddes mill complex also included a gristmill and a plastermill. This area, known as Geddes or Geddesburg, at one time had a school, post office and railway station. The Geddes gristmill burned down in the 1860's. When William Parker built his gristmill in 1873, it filled an important niche in the community.

1820s - American immigrants begin to buy land in Detroit, settling the "interior" of Michigan
1824 - Robert Fleming & David McCord build a sawmill on Fleming Creek
1829 - John and Robert Geddes build a sawmill on the Huron, where
Left Image image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
3. Left Image
Parker Family in front of their grand stone farmhouse.
From left to right they are: Back row: Grace Pettibone Parker (married to George), Mary Parker, William Parker; Middle row: Will Spooncer (son-in-law, standing), Minnie Parker (daughter of William), Ed Wells (family friend); Front row: George Parker (son of William), and Florence Parker Spooncer ( married to Will )
Family photos courtesy of the Parker Family
Dixboro Road crosses today
1837 - Michigan becomes the 26th U.S. State
1839 - First passenger train from Detroit to Ann Arbor
1843 - Fleming sawmill no longer functioning
1845 - Geddes School built on Geddes Road, where U.S. 23 interchange is today.
1850 - Geddes Mills complex includes sawmill, plastermill, gristmill. Railroad station listed on Michigan Central Railroad schedule, fare $1.00 to Detroit
1852 - William Parker, age 16, begins 4 year apprenticeship with a wheelwright in England
1861 - William & Mary Parker emigrate from England, at suggestion of cousin living in Washtenaw County
1863 - William and Mary buy 61 acres in Washtenaw County
1860s - Geddes Mill gristmill burns down
1872 - Parkers are well established farmers
1873 - William builds the gristmill
1875 - Geddes Post Office first opens; closes 6 months later
1876 - William builds the grand stone farmhouse
1887 - William's son Fred builds cider building, cider press produces cider and vinegar
1894 - Geddes Post Office reopens; open until 1902
1903 - Ford begins mass production of automobiles
1905 - Detroit Edison begins buying major power sites along the Huron River
1910 - William's second son, George, takes over mill operations. Begins commercially producing flour for local stores
1914 - Apple blight ends cider business;
Center Images image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
4. Center Images
second mill building used for grain receiving and cleaning
1916 - Former site of Geddes Sawmill obliterated by Detroit Edison renovations along the Huron
1924 - Geddes road paved, realigned and raised; Mill foundation raised 4' to meet grade of road; Wooden paddled tub-wheel replaced with smaller, more efficient metal turbine
1925 - Edison begins liquidating sites along Huron
1941 - The U.S. enters World War II
1945 - World War II ends
1956 - Death of George Parker, son Dale reduces milling operations to meet farm needs only
1959 - Mill operations cease
1968 - Farm broken up; mill buildings and farmhouse acquired by Matthaei family
1970 - Matthaei family hires engineering firm to inventory and measure mill
1978 - WCPARC initiates study to develop Parker Mill properties into a 27-acre park
1981 - Parker Mill Historic District established; initial park master plan developed
1982 - Parker Mill designated a National Register Historic Place; original dam bursts in flood
1983 - WCPARC acquires Parker Mill property; restoration plans prepared
1984 - Mill restoration complete; opened to public on weekends
1989 - Geddes Road realigned; log cabin moved to location by creek
1996 - WCPARC builds Visitor Pavillion and Restroom Facility
 
Erected by Parker Mill County Park,
Right Top Image image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
5. Right Top Image
Postcard of the mill, circa 1917. If you look closely, you can see the original entrance of the mill headrace and the Parker's family dog!
Photo courtesy of the Parker Family
Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.
 
Location. 42° 16.439′ N, 83° 40.079′ W. Marker is in Ann Arbor Township, Michigan, in Washtenaw County. Marker is on Geddes Road 0.2 miles east of North Dixboro Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in Parker Mill County Park, near the parking lot. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4650 Geddes Road, Ann Arbor MI 48105, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Native American Trails (here, next to this marker); Grist Mill (here, next to this marker); Cider Mill (a few steps from this marker); The Gristmill (a few steps from this marker); The Parker Family & Mill (within shouting distance of this marker); Hoyt Garrod Post and Family History (within shouting distance of this marker); The Power of Fleming Creek (within shouting distance of this marker); Frontier Cozy (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ann Arbor Township.
 
Categories. AgricultureIndustry & Commerce
 
Right Middle and Bottom Images image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
6. Right Middle and Bottom Images
Right Middle: Geddes depot on Dixboro Road, south of Huron River, circa 1905. Michigan Central Railroad.

Right Bottom: Geddes schoolhouse, torn down when U.S. 23 was built.
Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
7. Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! Marker
This marker is the one on the right. The gristmill is on the left; the cider mill is on the right.
Parker Family Mills image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
8. Parker Family Mills
The mills as seen from Fleming Creek. The cider mill is on the left; the gristmill is on the right.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 24, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 64 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on June 24, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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