What was life like 100 years ago? One of the best indicators of what was happening in our communities are the newspapers. They were what carried the news of the day – the issues people thought about and talked about.
Fortunately, the Farmington Community Library has copies of Farmington Enterprise, the precursor to the Farmington Observer, dating as far back as 1888. Let’s look at some of the news headlines that appeared in 1920, 100 years ago.
“Smugglers caught by state troopers.” The July 23 Enterprise has this title, a sign of the times about two men jailed, on bail set at $500, for having “stills,” “moonshine,” and other liquor-making paraphernalia. made illegal by the 18th Amendment in their home “one mile from Seven Mile Road on the Elm Road” – which would have been south of Farmington Village in Livonia.
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“The business will change hands on Monday.” On August 20, this notice of Mrs. WE Lord and her son Howard appeared in the Enterprise. He thanked Farmington for his patronage and support, citing WE Lord’s ill health and death as reasons for selling the paper to Mr Wales Martindale. It turns out he was editor for just over a year, when the paper changed hands again.
“$38,000 for the new community church.” This January 9 title refers to Farmington Methodist Church, also known as the Methodist Episcopal Church, which today stands on Grand River Avenue in downtown Farmington. A rendering by famed architect Marcus Burrowes accompanies the title. The real architects were Wells Butterfield and his daughter Emily Butterfield. Many don’t realize that this iconic church has roots in Farmington dating back to 1844, and the former congregational church on Warner and Shiawassee streets was damaged by fire. The new church was consecrated on March 19, 1922 and has been in use ever since.
“Village to have a new post office.” This October 22 headline announces the construction of a brick structure “between Smith’s Pharmacy and the office of the new Warner Diary Co.” for use as the Farmington Village Post Office. “History of the Farmington Post Office”, by Erika Peckham, tells us that the post office was in postmaster Thomas McGee’s pharmacy on the south side of the Grand River, but moved to the Warner Block on the south side. north of the street on February 25. , 1921.
“Village population 853, according to the census.” Understanding that the village meant much of what is now Farmington, not including Farmington Hills, this October 1 headline represents a good deal of growth since Farmington’s beginnings as a small farming town. The article goes on to say that the 1900 population was 530 and that the 1920 figure represents a growth of 289 people since 1910.
“The construction of a two-way road on the Grand River is necessary.” This Dec. 31 article sounds more like an editorial, but few 1920s folks could dispute the statements that “present growth calls for action” and that the times of the Indian path and the plank road are past, requiring changes to improve circulation. Who would have thought that widening and improving the Grand River would take so many years to come to fruition? It was not until July 30, 1931, that the Enterprise reported that “Grand River is open in both directions after a year of blockage”, following the widening of the street to improve traffic conditions.
“Land values on the rise.” This November 12 article asks “how far will they go? mentioning the development of neighborhoods east, west and south of the village of Farmington. Although no actual price is mentioned, the article envisions Farmington as a future “bustling, bustling center of activity”. Earlier in the year, advertisements for Farmington Acres, north of Eight Mile and west of Farmington Road, hailed Farmington as a “town with a future.” Articles about the purchase of the Brossow farm to the east of the village also indicate lucrative development in the area.
“Local News.” Each issue contains “local news”, which amounts to neighborhood events like “Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hogle and Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Bicking spent Sunday at John Melow’s” (March 5, 1920). You could consider it gossip, but at the time, it was news.
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