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    The History of Farmington Hills, MI

    2 years ago · · Comments Off on The History of Farmington Hills, MI

    The History of Farmington Hills, MI

    Justin Becker

    Updated: March 21, 2022

    Whether you are planning on moving to Farmington Hills, already live there, or are just interested in the place, it is worth getting to know the history of this city. When you want to experience a certain spot properly, knowing more about how it came to be can make things more exciting.

    A Little Geography About Farmington Hills

    The city of Farmington is within Oakland County and spans around 33.31 square miles. Less than one square mile of this area is water, but there is a lot of natural beauty to enjoy here. The public parks in the city make sure that everyone has a safe place to walk, jog, hike, exercise, or just hang out and enjoy the greenery. Oakland County itself is a prestigious and safe place to live, with Farmington being one of its most desirable suburbs.

    Many towns and cities have rich backgrounds and/or backstories, and Farmington Hills is no different. While Farmington and Farmington Hills are now considered different cities, their past is strongly connected. This is in part due to Farmington being surrounded by the area of Farmington Hills.

    However, the history of Farmington Hills definitely deserves a thorough look. Starting out with log cabins and dense forests, the city of Farmington Hills, MI is now a flourishing area that boasts all sorts of private homes and communal spots. Also, Farmington Hills consistently ranks among the best places to live in Michigan today.

    So, how did this area develop so much and why do so many people aspire to live here? Along with the convenient location and recently renovated downtown, the rich history of Farmington Hills is also what makes it such a desirable place to live. Here is a detailed look at the background of this city:

    History of Farmington Hills, MI

    The founding month of Farmington was March, in the year 1824. Before this, Native Americans lived in the area and carved useful trails for navigating through the forest terrains. These trails had Native American names as well, including Orchard Lake, Grand River, Shiawassee, etc. After surveying the land, the American government started selling it off for around $1.25 per acre.

    About Arthur Power

    At this point, Arthur Power, from Farmington, New York, seized what he realized to be a great opportunity. Power was widowed twice and father to 13 or 11 children. Eventually, he traveled to Farmington, Michigan, and settled there. Here are some interesting points about his journey and endeavors:

    • Power did not travel by wagon, but by a sleigh with two horses. He set out in winter, which means that a sleigh was probably the most logical and easiest way to travel along the trails (at that time of the year, they were probably covered with ice and snow).
    • This was not Arthur Power’s first trip to the area; he had been there before in 1823 and camped by a spring in the vicinity of what are now the Ten Mile Road and Orchard Lake Road.
    • During the previous trip, Power had purchased a decent amount of land that extended from the present Nine Mile Road to the Eleven Mile and Power Roads (at that time, they were simply called Sections 28, 22, and 27, respectively).
    • Power passed away in 1836 and was buried in the Quaker Cemetery with his wife.
    • Power’s journey to Farmington, Michigan took more than a month; the founder was traveling with his sons and two hired hands.
    • Overall, the journey to what is now Farmington Hills took Arthur Power through Windsor, Detroit, Royal Oak, Hamilton, and what is now Birmingham, all the way down to the present-day Power south of Eleven Mile Road.
    • Arthur Power arrived in Farmington on March 8th, just before sundown and cut down the first tree.
    • The settler probably slept in their sleigh for the first few days, but soon cleared some land and built the first log cabin by a small water body.
    • Arthur Power and his fellow settlers also planted around nine acres with wheat and six acres with corn for the first season
    • The first name of Farmington may have been “Webbville,” “Powerville,” or “Quakertown,” as Power was soon followed by some fellow Quakers from New York.
    • The other Quakers included Ezekiel Webb, who was also the first postmaster doctor in the area; other names included George and Cynthia Collins, who were the parents of the first white settler born in the area.
    • During development, there was some debate over the name; some said it should be “Quakertown” while others were in favor of “Powerville.” However, a compromise of “Farmington” after their mutual hometown was the final decision that stands to this day.
    • It was not until they established the post office that the name of the area was officially named “Farmington.”

    Settlers Getting their First Land

    Nathan, one of Arthur Powers’ sons, received the first land the settlers cleared. This son had stayed behind in New York to take care of the family farm. The first Farmington land covered 160 acres, with another log cabin that was a little bigger than the initial one. The rest of the acreage became the property of Power’s other sons, as well as his daughter.

    Nathan Power arrived in Farmington in 1826 and was the first schoolmaster in this town. While Arthur Power also lived in the same area, he was closer to the present-day village center.

    Daniel Rush, one of the hired hands in Arthur Power’s original party, was also among those who returned to their homes. He started missing New York and left only a few weeks after getting to Farmington. The other hired hand, David Smith, completed a year of service under Arthur Power and also settled in the Farmington area.

    The Clarenceville Settlement

    Around the same time as the clearing and development of Farmington, there was also a small settlement developing in Clarenceville at the time. This area is in the extreme southeast corner of Farmington Township, bordering Wayne County’s Livonia. A man named Stephen Jennings started a tavern in this area, along with a general store that could benefit travelers who were on the road between Howell and Detroit. Right now, the name of this settlement is still part of the Clarenceville School District. The school buildings serve Clarenceville, Livonia, with the same district also serving a small part of Farmington Hills.

    Difficulties for the First Settlers

    The life of a settler is rarely easy; they have to face a lot of difficulties with farming, the extreme weather, and several tragedies along the way. The first birth of the settlers (John Collins) was very close to the first death. The latter occurred when Patience Utley fell from a wagon and died. John Power also passed away a mere four years after the settler party arrived, while Jared Power died when he was only 35.

    There was also a lot of disease around, which took many people as well. The first burials at Quaker Cemetery were Nathan Power’s daughter Phoebe Menerva and his wife Selinda. Both died only a few hours apart due to contracting cholera.

    Farmington Hills in 1827

    Farmington started developing in 1824 right when the first settlers came along. The first Post Office of Farmington came into being in 1825 thanks to Dr. Webb’s efforts. However, the first established school was not in sight until 1828. Today, there are several excellent school buildings all over the place in Farmington Hills. Farmington Public Schools is also a renowned school district for families living in Michigan.

    When slavery was still present in the country, Farmington was also one of the stations on the Underground Railroad.

    1827 was also the year when the Legislative Council of the Michigan Territory established Farmington Township. In 1867, Farmington officially became a village.

    The town meetings of Farmington Hills took place in several different locations until they finally completed the town hall in 1876. This town hall now goes by Masonic Hall. Farmington was officially a home rule city in the year 1926.

    Farmington Township also did not increase in size until the area got more post offices. Needless to say, the post office was a very important structure back then. East Farmington got its own post office in 1939, while North Farmington did not have one until 1847. In fact, the names of the post offices were also East Farmington and North Farmington, respectively.

    Farmington Hills in the Mid-1900s

    With time, there were several more residential subdivisions in Farmington Hills. In 1973, this suburban area officially became a city in the state of Michigan. By that time, it was already a major suburban setting for several residents. Since there were so many families with money living in Farmington Hills, several businesses also started bringing their wares to this area. With this phenomena, Farmington Hills soon became the bustling city we know today.

    There is a diverse crowd of people with several historical sites, golf courses, museums, schools, galleries, a community college, and several other conveniences to enjoy. The Henry Ford Medical Center and Social Security Office on Farmington Road are just a couple of examples.

    Farmington Hills from the 1980s to Today

    The changes in Farmington Hills may seem subtle, but there is no denying that this town stands out from other suburban districts in Michigan. Along with several other metro-Detroit cities, the city of Farmington Hills welcomes growing families, retirees, and young professionals with a peaceful, yet opportunity filled, atmosphere.

    At present, Farmington Hills has more than 80,000 residents, making it the second most populous city within Oakland County.

    The Education System in Farmington Hills

    We have already mentioned the great schooling available in Farmington Hills. This also has an interesting history that explains just why the Farmington Public School District is among the best in the area. Most of the residents here put their children in the Farmington Public Schools without thinking twice. In fact, many actually move to this suburb for this purpose. With so many schools available, you are likely to have a decent school within one square mile of your home.

    Overall, the Farmington Hills schools serve the needs of most residents with an average family size and at least one child.

    For the older students, there is always the Oakland Community College with the convenient Orchard Ridge Campus. There is also an alternative high school option by the name of Farmington Central. The regional bus transit will make sure that students have a public transport option for getting to school and back home safely.

    If you have a school going child, the top Farmington Hills elementary schools are worth a look.

    The Separation of Farmington and Farmington Hills

    Some people may get confused between the similar names of Farmington and Farmington Hills. Let us put one thing straight right now; these are not the same community. However, they did start out as being within the same Farmington Township during the Northwest Territory time.

    Of course, those living in or visiting Farmington today can also benefit from the offerings of Farmington Hills. In fact, Clarenceville School District serves both areas of Farmington and Farmington Hills. They are also in the same Farmington Community Library District.

    In 2006, there was a public meeting to decide whether Farmington Hills and Farmington should merge with each other. This was put forward as a possible venture to save money and also to enhance the goodwill between the two communities.

    Right now, though, this change does not really seem possible. Farmington Hills does share a lot of services with Farmington, including a library system, school district, and district court. However, there are separate fire departments for each community. Plus, Farmington does not have an official police department that is called a public safety apartment.

    The Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills

    The features of Farmington Hills as a separate community today include a lot of delightful additions. There are tons of public parks, with Heritage Park being a must-visit option. For those who prefer historical sites and museums, the Holocaust Memorial Center is simply unbeatable. Other forms of enjoyment include exotic car dealerships, several restaurants in Farmington Hills, Farmington Hills shopping malls, and so on.

    The Memorial Center, however, is the only one of its kind in the whole state of Michigan. It was originally in the neighboring West Bloomfield Township, but after its expansion, the new facility was built in Farmington Hills, where the staff and exhibits continue to educate adults and children about this particularly tragic phase in history.

    Other Incorporated Entities in Farmington Hills

    Before Farmington Hills officially became a city, there were at least two incorporated entities working inside it. The first was Quaker Valley Farms, which is presently a subdivision consisting of 85 homes. In the 1940s, they started building the first homes of this area.

    The second was Wood Creek Farms, which was founded in 1937 by George Wellington. It was a subdivision and named after a New England state.

    The Development of Entertainment Options in Farmington Hills

    The earliest settlers in Farmington Hills may have struggled to lead a passably good life, but the city now has a lot more to offer both residents and visitors.

    For those who love golf, the Farmington Hills Golf Club is one of the most long standing and prestigious options. You also have the Walnut Creek Country Club with its lush green courses. With the growing population and no dearth of retirees in the population, it won’t be difficult to find somebody to play golf with. These are also the perfect places for building up business and networking connections.

    If skateboarding or just skating is more your cup of tea, do not think twice about going to the Riley Skate Park. This skating park is made completely of concrete, so anyone can enjoy themselves and train at the same time. Read up on a selection of the best parks in Farmington Hills, MI for a well-deserved breath of fresh air

    A Brief History of Grand River Avenue

    Before the freeways construction post-war, the Grand River Avenue was one of the most important roads in the city. This highway was initially the state highway with the number M-16.

    Grand River’s route today cuts right through the Lower Peninsula with a northwest-southeast direction. Before the latter half of the 1950s, Grand River also followed roads running near Grand Rapids. While it does not remain quite as essential after the construction of modern freeways, the Grand River Avenue does have a second life and will continue to be part of Farmington Hills.

    The Takeaway

    Residents and visitors to Farmington Hills know the city through its rich history, safe neighborhoods, friendly community, and plenty of shopping opportunities. The authorities in this city also do their best to maintain a safe Farmington Hills environment and preserve assets in order to have the maximum growth and development per square mile. Oakland County, where Farmington Hills is located, is also known to be one of the most upscale and desirable areas in the state of Michigan.

    Initially, Farmington and/or Farmington Hills were little more than a humble village that mostly served the farming community in the area. With the building boom after the war, many people were seeking to move away from Detroit and settled in Farmington. This led to the development of the suburban area we know now, with a city council, town hall, post office, and some interesting history in every square mile. Now, Farmington is a crossroads community in the middle of south Oakland County. There is no doubt that Farmington Public Schools are also among the best in the state, and the city’s history is one of the major attractions. So, do look up what you need to know about living in Farmington Hills.

    Tags: Farmington Hills

    Categories: Neighborhood

    About The Author

    Justin Becker is a property owner in the state of Michigan and has a passion for managing communities. He owns both apartment complexes and mobile home communities and has been writing his own blogs for his properties for several years.