Welcome to the Parker Family Mills!

Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! (HM1Z5M)

Location: Ann Arbor, MI 48105 Washtenaw County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 16.439', W 83° 40.079'

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Starting a New Life
William Q. Parker and his bride Mary came from England in 1861 to begin a new life. They purchased land in Washtenaw County and by 1872 were well-established farmers. Here, on the ruins of the old Fleming sawmill, William built a small gristmill in 1873. The mill ground wheat, buckwheat and corn into flour and meal for the family, and corn feed for the farm. William also provided this service for local farmers, playing a vital role in the frontier community. The cider building (on the right) was built in 1887 to produce cider and vinegar. A dam and millpond on Fleming Creek provided the waterpower necessary to run the machinery in both buildings.

Three Generations of Parkers
Fred, William's oldest son, built the cider building, the early Geddes Road Bridge and many other area structures. In 1910, after William's death, his second son George took over operations and expanded into commercial sales. The business thrived and the Parker brand of Flemings Creek Mills flours, cereals and vinegars were sold at grocery stores. When the apple blight of 1914 ended the vinegar business, the cider building was used for grain receiving and cleaning. After George's death, his son Dale reduced operations to meet the needs of the family farm. The mill was finally closed in

A Place in History
The Parker Mill complex, a National Register Historic Place, provides a look back to a bygone era when people lived off the land.Water-powered mills were the first manufacturing industry to arive in Washtenaw County and they played a vital role in the settlement of the Michigan "frontier". At one time, over 40 water-powered grist, saw, woolen, paper, pulp, plaster, and cider mills existed along the rivers and streams in Washtenaw County.

The Parker gristmill was built on the remains of a sawmill built by Robert Fleming in 1824, one of the earliest mills in the area. In 1829, John Geddes and his brother Robert constructed a sawmill on the Huron, where Dixboro Road crosses today. It was around the Geddes mill that a small area settlement began to grow. By 1850 the Geddes mill complex also included a gristmill and a plastermill. This area, known as Geddes or Geddesburg, at one time had a school, post office and railway station. The Geddes gristmill burned down in the 1860's. When William Parker built his gristmill in 1873, it filled an important niche in the community.

1820s - American immigrants begin to buy land in Detroit, settling the "interior" of Michigan
1824 - Robert Fleming & David McCord build a sawmill on Fleming Creek
1829 - John and Robert Geddes build a sawmill on the Huron, where Dixboro Road crosses today
1837 - Michigan becomes the 26th U.S. State
1839 - First passenger train from Detroit to Ann Arbor
1843 - Fleming sawmill no longer functioning
1845 - Geddes School built on Geddes Road, where U.S. 23 interchange is today.
1850 - Geddes Mills complex includes sawmill, plastermill, gristmill. Railroad station listed on Michigan Central Railroad schedule, fare $1.00 to Detroit
1852 - William Parker, age 16, begins 4 year apprenticeship with a wheelwright in England
1861 - William & Mary Parker emigrate from England, at suggestion of cousin living in Washtenaw County
1863 - William and Mary buy 61 acres in Washtenaw County
1860s - Geddes Mill gristmill burns down
1872 - Parkers are well established farmers
1873 - William builds the gristmill
1875 - Geddes Post Office first opens; closes 6 months later
1876 - William builds the grand stone farmhouse
1887 - William's son Fred builds cider building, cider press produces cider and vinegar
1894 - Geddes Post Office reopens; open until 1902
1903 - Ford begins mass production of automobiles
1905 - Detroit Edison begins buying major power sites along the Huron River
1910 - William's second son, George, takes over mill operations. Begins commercially producing flour for local stores
1914 - Apple blight ends cider business;
second mill building used for grain receiving and cleaning
1916 - Former site of Geddes Sawmill obliterated by Detroit Edison renovations along the Huron
1924 - Geddes road paved, realigned and raised; Mill foundation raised 4' to meet grade of road; Wooden paddled tub-wheel replaced with smaller, more efficient metal turbine
1925 - Edison begins liquidating sites along Huron
1941 - The U.S. enters World War II
1945 - World War II ends
1956 - Death of George Parker, son Dale reduces milling operations to meet farm needs only
1959 - Mill operations cease
1968 - Farm broken up; mill buildings and farmhouse acquired by Matthaei family
1970 - Matthaei family hires engineering firm to inventory and measure mill
1978 - WCPARC initiates study to develop Parker Mill properties into a 27-acre park
1981 - Parker Mill Historic District established; initial park master plan developed
1982 - Parker Mill designated a National Register Historic Place; original dam bursts in flood
1983 - WCPARC acquires Parker Mill property; restoration plans prepared
1984 - Mill restoration complete; opened to public on weekends
1989 - Geddes Road realigned; log cabin moved to location by creek
1996 - WCPARC builds Visitor Pavillion and Restroom Facility
HM NumberHM1Z5M
Placed ByParker Mill County Park, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, June 24th, 2017 at 12:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 279986 N 4683644
Decimal Degrees42.27398333, -83.66798333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 16.439', W 83° 40.079'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 16' 26.3400" N, 83° 40' 4.7400" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)734, 313, 586
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4606-4798 Geddes Rd, Ann Arbor MI 48105, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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