Friday, March 22, 2013

In the interest of clarity: the farm

One of the great truths about life in smaller places is that we tend to know much of what there is to know about everyone else and what we don't know --- we make up. And the latter is generally lots more fun.

This all came to mind at a meeting yesterday while clarifying a hot Chariton rumor of the moment, founded in a bit of truth but embroidered by imagination.

Although my grist for the mill is of lesser import than that rumor, let me be among the first --- although hardly the first --- to confirm that the part of the old Miller homestead in English township owned by my aunt, Marie Miller, has indeed been sold although the deal has not yet been officially closed. Now jot this down. The owner was Marie Miller --- not the variety of other names that has been put forward.

And my Aunt Marie is very much alive, and well, and living in upstate New York. Her three daughters, who did not grow up in Lucas County although they visited frequently, live in Michigan, Georgia ---  and upstate New York.

I wish I could tell you the names of the new owners, but I'm terrible about names. The couple also now own the old Williamson School building and they are engaged in a variety of innovations there. No, they are not separated. She has been spending most of her time here while working on that project, he has been spending much of his time in their former home while new living quarters were arranged here.

And, no, I had nothing to do with any of this. It was my great pleasure during the last years my aunt lived in Lucas County but traveled widely to keep an eye on the place. Once she moved and the farm went on the market, I backed away. My dad always said that a sure route to disharmony is to get involved in someone else's business and I'm a believer, even though that can seem a little harsh at times.

Yes, I know how much it sold for. No, I'm not telling.

And, yes, we're all delighted that it has passed to new owners and wish them only the best. Marketing began just as the real estate market collapsed and it's been a long haul.

The farm is the larger share of property acquired by my great-grandparents, Joseph Cyrus and Mary Elizabeth (Clair) Miller during the 1880s. They traded their earlier farm a couple of miles northeast, in part, for it.

When my grandparents, William Ambrose and Jessie Frances (Brown) Miller, married shortly after the turn of the 20th century they acquired in part by inheritance but mostly by purchase the larger part of the family farm. My great-uncle, Jeremiah Miller, and his family acquired the smaller portion and it remains in their hands, along with the big old house that commencing in the 1890s was the family home.

My grandparents built the big old house and the massive barns that remain on the farm just sold. My grandparents raised their family here and upon Granddad's death during 1969, the farm was purchased by my uncle and aunt, Richard and Marie Miller, then living in a Detroit suburb.

It was Uncle Richard's dream to live on the farm, my aunt willingly shared that dream, and they spent a number of seasons here renovating the house entirely before finally moving to Lucas County permanently. They lived happy years on the old farm, until my uncle's death, and Aunt Marie remained on the farm for a few years after --- until it became impractical for someone in her 80s to manage such a big place.

There you have it.

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