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Washtenaw County Historic District Commission

German Agricultural Heritage Tour

One of Michigan's first and largest German settlements was established in western Washtenaw County during the 19th century. German immigrants from Wurttemberg, Westphalia, and other areas of Germany favored Washtenaw County for its rural environment which enabled the formation of an independent rural farming society. This society's social structure was defined by a common language, heritage, and economic standing. Their settlements thrived form the 1830's to WWII, when technological advances and animosity of the German language led to the process of assimilation. Initial settlers arrived in Washtenaw County looking for economic opportunity. They convinced kin and others to join them and eventually called for a German Pastor. Much of the land occupied by German immigrants was purchased second hand from pioneering Yankee settlers; therefore many roads and cemeteries were already established. By the mid 19th century the German community was thriving. Many lived on self-sufficient farms which usually consisted of a brick or wood frame farmhouse, large barns, multiple outbuildings, cleared rectangular fields, and wood lots. The children attended one-room schools and multiple churches were established in the area.

  • 1.

    L. Uphaus Farm

    L. Uphaus Farm

    The Uphaus Farm is situated in an area that was still predominantly English until the mid-19th century.

  • 2.

    Salem United Methodist Church

    Salem United Methodist Church

    Built in 1874, this Gothic Revival church served the German Methodist community.

  • 3.

    Schaible Farm

    Schaible Farm

    This farm has been owned by German families since the mid-19th century.

  • 4.

    Schenk Farm

    Schenk Farm

    J. Schenk owned this 80 acre farm sometime before 1856.

  • 5.

    Dresselhaus-Kress Farm

    Dresselhaus-Kress Farm

    This farm was established by the Dresselhaus family, who arrived from Germany in 1842.

  • 6.

    Freedom Cemetery

    Freedom Cemetery

    This is type of small roadside cemetery is typical of the early 19th century.

  • 7.

    J.F. Stierle Farm

    J.F. Stierle Farm

    This Centennial Farm includes a Greek Revival-style house, smokehouse, and two bank barns.

  • 8.

    E. Fiegel Farm

    E. Fiegel Farm

    John G. Fiegel established this farm by 1856.

  • 9.

    Strieter House and Farm

    Strieter House and Farm

    The Hertzell family constructed this home in 1874.

  • 10.

    Graden Farm

    Graden Farm

    The setting and workmanship of this farm are representative of 19th century farming practices.

  • 11.

    Roller Farm

    Roller Farm

    John Roller, a farmer and stone mason from Wurttemberg, purchased this farm sometime after 1856.

  • 12.

    Zion Lutheran Church

    Zion Lutheran Church

    This church was constructed in 1867 in the Gothic Revival style.

  • 13.

    Old Zion Parsonage

    Old Zion Parsonage

    The Old Zion Parsonage was built in 1889-1890, and rebuilt in 1917 after being damaged by a tornado.

  • 14.

    Jacob B. Eschelbach Farm

    Jacob B. Eschelbach Farm

    Jacob Eschelbach purchased 80 acres for a farm from his neighbor John Schenk ca. 1854.

  • 15.

    Kuhl Barn

    Kuhl Barn

    This property was owned during the 19th century by Henry G. Kuhl, who emigrated from Prussia in 1840.

  • 16.

    Salem Evangelical Church

    Salem Evangelical Church

    This 1870 church replaced an 1836 frame structure.

  • 17.

    Bethel United Church of Christ

    Bethel United Church of Christ

    The Evangelical German Bethel Congregation of Freedom Township was established in 1840.

  • 18.

    Niehaus Farm

    Niehaus Farm

    Early settler S. S. Peckens purchased this farm before 1856.

  • 19.

    Laubengayer Farm

    Laubengayer Farm

    The Laubengayer Farm is represented by a prominent brick Greek Revival-style house.

  • 20.

    Wiedmayer Farm

    Wiedmayer Farm

    This farm includes a farmhouse, dairy barn, milk house, silo, and numerous smaller outbuildings.

  • 21.

    Henry Feldkamp Farm

    Henry Feldkamp Farm

    This Queen Anne-style home was the long-time residence of Henry Feldkamp.

  • 22.

    Noyer Farm

    Noyer Farm

    This land was part of an 80 acre farm owned by M. Heimendinger.

  • 23.

    Fritz Kruger Farm

    Fritz Kruger Farm

    Paul Fritz arrived from Germany in 1837. By 1856 he owned the 120 acre farm.

  • 24.

    J. Stabler Farm

    J. Stabler Farm

    The farm was owned by the Stabler family from Wurttemberg as early as 1856.

  • 25.

    St. Francis Parsonage and Cemetery

    St. Francis Parsonage and Cemetery

    The St. Francis Catholic Parish, established 1839, built a church on this site in 1858

  • 26.

    Goodyear-Braun-Blumenauer Farm

    Goodyear-Braun-Blumenauer Farm

    Henry Goodyear, from Connecticut, owned this farm in the middle of the 19th century.

  • 27.

    Alber Orchard

    Alber Orchard

    Michael Alber established an orchard on this 75 acre farm in 1890.

  • 28.

    John Alber Farm

    John Alber Farm

    This farmstead was originally part of the M. Alber property.

  • 29.

    Kramer-Kuebler Farm

    Kramer-Kuebler Farm

    By the 1870's the property was owned by Adam Kramer, Jr.who built the original log cabin on the property.

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