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Early Hamburg Was A Farm Community - Historical Moments - Hamburg Historical Museum

hamburg_historical_museumPreserving and Presenting The History Of Hamburg
Early Hamburg Was a Farm Community

Hamburg Farmers - SketchWe think of Hamburg today as a bedroom community. People work elsewhere and come home to Hamburg to rest and recuperate.

Fifty years ago, Hamburg was a summer cottage community.

A hundred years ago, Hamburg was a train destination for lakeside recreation.

Before that, Hamburg was a very successful and wellknown farm community. Almost every resident was a member of a farm family.

The people who came here in the early days were mostly farmers, or the sons and daughters of farmers.They spent the first years clearing the land to create farm fields – in those days before tractors and other farm machinery, they basically built their farms from scratch using the power of their own hands. As they cleared the land, they used the logs for cabins, and then planted the cleared land with potatoes and squash and other produce that could grow around tree stumps and feed their families.

When they prospered because the cleared land grew more than they needed, they cut down more trees and used the logs for lumber to build bigger and better houses.

In 1833, only two years after Felix Dunlavy and Jesse Hall first settled on their farms in Hamburg, Stoddard Twitchell sowed ten acres of wheat and in 1834 Cornelius Miller harvested the first apples grown in Hamburg.

Only two years later, in 1836, a large frame hay and grain barn was built to store the crops planted by Martin Olsaver.

In those early years, David B. Power raised a breed of shorthorned cattle and a flock of sheep on the land that was later farmed by William Bell. Mr. Bell became a respected cattle and sheep farmer who was wellknown even beyond the borders of Hamburg.

We can still see the remnants of an early farm on M36 across from the Urgent Care, where the Knapp family settled and their descendants still own the land. Those early farmers made life easier for each other by sharing some of the heaviest labors.

There were barn raising events that were labor intensive and even dangerous.

The first township supervisor, Christopher L. Culver, came to a surprising and early death by being crushed at a barn raising.

The earliest farms were established south of the Huron River, but once a bridge was built across the river in 1837, people discovered that there was wonderfully rich land beyond the marshy land near the river. Some of the most prosperous farms were then established north of the river. Those farms included the 400 acre Galloway farm that later became Governor Edwin Winaans farm and is now the Lakeland Golf and Country Club.

The Galloway/Winans land was on the west and south sides of Winans Lake. North of that farm was a farm belonging to Colonel Edward Bishop, who is remembered in the name of Bishop Lake and Bishop Lake State Park. Col. Bishop and his wife raised ten children by farming and making wagons for other farmers.

Northeast of Winans Lake a large apple orchard was established by the Hull Family, headed by the son of General Hull who led an American army on an attack into Canada. The Hulls are remembered by Hull Road that runs from M36 to Gut Lake.

Still going around Winans Lake, south of the Hull orchard, was the Hendrick farm, now remembered by Hendrick Drive. Peter S. Hendrick was a veteran of the War of 1812, and was a "mechanic" as well as a farmer. As a mechanic he designed and built many of the homes and barns in the area.

East of the Hull orchard, the Hayner family established their farm, and that's why we have Hayner Lake and are fortunate to still have some Hayners living in Hamburg.

Farming expanded all over Hamburg Township in the 1840s and was the major occupation of most residents for the following 100 years.

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