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train  Hamburg Historical Society

The Hamburg Historical Museum is operated by the Hamburg Historical Society.

Board of Directors

Wayne Burkhardt, President
George Weinhagen, Vice President
Suzanne Hines, Secretary/Treasurer

Joyce Terry, Member at Large
Mary Culp, Member at Large
Chad HInes, Member at Large
David Walmroth, Member at Large

Trasa Burkhardt, Newsletter Editor
Pat Coor, Membership Chair

Board Meetings

Board Meetings are held the third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Museum.

The History Club

If you would like to be inspired by Hamburg history, come to the museum and join the History Club. We meet on Wednesdays, between 5 and 7, with the second and fourth Wednesdays planned as formal meetings and the first and third Wednesdays as workshop meetings. You can always call the museum for more information.

Have you ever wondered what the younger members of the early Hamburg families had for toys? When the wagons first arrived, there were probably no boxes of toys the way there would be in a moving van today. Each child was very lucky if they had even one toy. The girls might have had a doll, probably made by their mother, maybe made out of a bundle of cornstalks the mother might have gathered from a cornfield they passed on their walk from Ann Arbor or Dexter. The boys might have had a slingshot, made by their father, who was hoping the youngster would be able to use it to add to the family meals. There wasn't much playtime for children anyway, they were treated like small adults and given chores that would help the family almost as soon as they could walk and talk. At Christmas time, the children were not showered with toys and games like they are today, they might again be gifted with a parent-made toy, most likely something that was very similar to something the parents used in their everyday chores – if they were very lucky, they might even receive something purchased in a store when the parents were purchasing supplies. If the family was well-to-do there might have been a jackknife for a boy or a little china tea set for a girl.

When Hamburg grew past the early pioneer days, the country was entering the Victorian era. During this time period, young children were allowed to be children, and they had more toys and games. Pull toys were often handmade by Dad carving a farm animal out of wood. The same was true of building blocks, Dad could saw and carve them out of wood. Even marbles could be made at home, especially if the farm had an area where there was a lot of clay. Marbles could be made from a rounded ball of clay heated in an oven – even an older brother or sister could make a set of marbles. A piece of rope could become a jump rope, and could be really special if someone made handles for the ends of the rope. Children today play with various kinds of balls from their earliest days, but back in the 1860s,70s, and 80s, rubber hadn't yet come into common use (although Firestone vulcanized rubber in 1839), so there weren't ball games, even though Abner Doubleday may have invented baseball during theCivil War.


If a child had a ball, it was most likely made from rags wrapped with leather – a ball for throwing and not bouncing. Games like Tag, Hop Scotch, Red Rover and foot races didn't require equipment and were very popular at school recess time. In the earlier 1800s there were no books that were specifically designed for children, but some were available after the Civil War: they were mostly designed to teach moral lessons and were treated as great treasures.


The poorer families might not have any books, or might have only a Bible, so a child who was given a book was gifted with a great treasure. My grandmother, who was born in 1880, remembered the great treat she received one Christmas when she was given some candy and an orange (consequently, throughout my childhood, the toe of my Christmas stocking was always filled with a handful of hard candy and an orange.)


If you are able to come to the museum during December, there will be a display of early toys in the history alcove. If you remember a special Christmas gift or your favorite childhood toy, share a little story about it (in writing) and we'll add it to the information in the archive room – and if you have other stories from days gone by, we'd love to preserve those for you, too. If all goes as we plan, there will be people in the distant future who will enjoy reading about how we lived "in the olden days". If you have a real estate abstract, a family history, or any other historic papers, we would love to copy them, return the originals, and place the copy in the museum archives.

Membership In the Hamburg Historical Society

Send your name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number and e-mail address with your check for annual dues to:

Hamburg Township Historical Society
P.O. Box 272
Hamburg, Michigan 48139

Or - better yet - drop it off at the Museum.

For online donations, visit


Membership Benefits Include:

  • ½ off price of three museum events(excluding fundraising events)
  • Unlimited access to the Hamburg Historical Museum Archive Room
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Museum news/events updates throughout the month via email
  • 10% off purchases made in the museum gift shop
  • 10% off price of tea room rental for private parties

Ways To Join

  • Phone: 734-810-986-0190
  • E-mail:
  • At the museum – 7225 Stone St., Hamburg, MI

  • Annual Dues

    • Individual - $15.00
    • Family - $20.00
    • Student - $2.00
    • Business - $40.00
    • Life Membership - $200.00