Mill Passes

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

A grocery store built on the opposite side of the grist mill was later operated by C. H. Gieske until he sold out in 1930 and went in business at Norvell. The sale of the old grist mill, about the same time, left the village without a business of any type.

This restoration of a picturesque rustic village was done by Henry Ford. Residents remember that one day Mr. Ford visited the quiet spot where the only noise to be heard was the hammer of the blacksmith on his anvil. He called on the blacksmith and the storekeeper, discovering that neither had a radio or a phonograph.

He learned that they both liked music but had no facilities for providing electricity. So a couple of weeks later, both received a phonograph. When the Ann Arbor Land Co. began purchasing property in and around Sharon Hollow, the blacksmith and storekeeper left. The village was deserted.

The old mill, known as the Kirkwood mill, was remodeled and a new water wheel and new generator put in it. The river, both up and down stream, was cleared of stumps and drift wood. A new dam and new bridge were built and the mill race faced with stone.

For awhile the mill became a manufacturing plant, with the huge electric generator and 50 hp. steam boiler' installed by the new owners. Stop light switches, cigaret lighters and armatures for passenger automobiles were manufactured.

But like the Sleepy Hollow legend, some felt that the ghosts of such pioneers as Casper Raby, who ran the saw mill for eight years, and A. T. Kirkwood who ground out 17,550 bushels of grain in one year, and the famed King of Sharon Hollow, Mike Cobbler, wouldn't continue to permit such earthly things coming out of the old mill which manufactured flour. Now the mill is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Eric Martin.

But Sharon Township, tucked away in the remote northwest corner of Washtenaw county is every bit as picturesque and has just as many legends as the more famed realm of "Ichabod Crane."

The citizens of Sharon erected a beautiful memorial monument, near the town hall in the center of the township. It was raised by voluntary and general subscription. It commemorates the names of President Lincoln and twenty-four "volunteers" from Sharon-martyrs to the cause of freedom, and cost $1,500 in 1886 at Pleasant Lake and Sylvan roads.

The 1960 census showed 760 living in the township.

The Sharon Short Hills and other areas of beauty are being utilized by business and professional men for lovely residences. The Washtenaw County Road Commission owns an 80-acre park area which is only in the developing stages.

There is only one lake. This is a private one owned by Tisch on Struthers Road. Water empties into the Raisin, Grand and Huron rivers.

The churches include the North Sharon Community Church on Washburn road, Sharon United Brethern Church at Rowes Corners and the Faith Community Church which is meeting in the Sharon townhali on Pleasant Lake road.

Utilities provide about 15 per cent of the total tax levy. Included are transmission lines of Consumers Power, Panhandle Eastern, Wolverine Pipe Line, and American Oil Co. of Chicago also have pipe lines crossing the township.

Industries include Merit Products, the Weeks' Brothers commercial sawmill on Washburn road, Bakontrol Mfg. Co. making commercial augers and the Short Hills Gravel Co. with its gravel and transit mix cement and fill dirt.

On Leeman road is one of the largest pig farms in the area, operated by William Ternes. Leslie Chavey, E. Erwin, Ernest Kemner and Floyd Proctor all have commercial chicken houses.

The total tax levy for Sharon township for 1966 was $100,856.64. $60,129.86 was levied for the Manchester school district, $11,883.43 for Chelsea school district; $2,169.56 for Grass Lake; $502.69 for Napoleon and $4,469.24 for the Washtenaw Community College.

The Sharon township officers are: Russell Fuller, supervisor; Duane Haselschwerdt, clerk; Herbert Jacob, treasurer; Max Roedel and Donald Irwin, trustees; Ray Haselschwerdt and Mahlon Smith, Justice of Peace.

This is predominately an agricultural township which leads in wool production. At no place in the fall of the year can a person see a more spectacular autumn show unfold than in Sharon. Its rugged landscape, churlish knobs, tangled trees and brush are a refuge for wild game and when mother nature welds her paint brush no words can express the beauty as a deer wanders into a farmer's field. The Short Hills ridge angles across the township and the Southeastern Michigan Beagle Association has a five-acre tract and club house. For a postage stamp color tour Sharon township excels most.

Large farms have been bought as investments by prominent professional men and they are next door neighbors to farmers whose ancestors settled the area in the 1830s. And at the township-cared-for cemetery at Sharon Hollow and Sharon Valley Road, Herbert Jacob, township treasurer, is still puzzled as to why four children by the name of Pierce died within 10 days of each other in May, 1884.