Weber Centennial Farm

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

Otto Weber, 80, of Manchester and a nephew and his wife, the Donald Dolls, own one of Washtenaw's centennial farms at 17410 Heim Road, Chelsea. Weber also has a home in Manchester where he spends some time.

Otto's grandfather, Simeon Weber, bought the farm and it has been in the family ever since. They estimate the double brick house to be about 115 years old. The huge Scotch Pine in the yard is about 106 years old.

The farm was designated a centennial farm by the Michigan Historical Commission.

The purchase price of $13.30 per acre for the 180 acre farm caused Simeon to sign a mortgage when he bought. The Dolls and Webers have legal papers which show when the farm came into the Weber family. Land prices in the area have soared since that early beginning.

In 1814, Simeon Weber was born near Steinbach, Germany. When he crossed the ocean in 1843 it took two months. Arriving at the same time was Genevieve Hauser, who later became Mrs. Weber.

There were no white satin and orange blossoms for the bride and the family has no record of a honeymoon. But they do know that the couple walked from Sylvan to Detroit to be married at St. Mary's Catholic Church. The bride lived to be nearly 100 years old.

The Simeon Webers had four sons and three daughters. John, who was born in 1855 and his wife, the former Lena Kirchgessner, were the next owners. Their children included: Otto (who today is one of the owners) Lawrence who died in July 1964; Mrs. Loretta Doll of Chelsea and Mrs. Genevieve Dagwell, who died in May 1959, and Celia, who died in 1913.

Otto married and lived in Manchester from 1935 to 1965 but decided to return to the farm. He works 30 acres of woods during the winter time. Don works at Chrysler Proving Ground and does general farming. It is not too uncommon for them to find Indian trinkets and arrow heads while dragging the fields.

Dolls did an extensive remodeling of the house at the farm. When they tore up an old floor upstairs they found deeds and other valuable papers where someone had put them years ago for safe keeping. Although the newspapers had become a target for mice-not a single deed was touched. There were original insurance papers from a German insurance company.

One thing they learned in the early descriptions was that Heim Road many years ago was the main route from Ann Arbor to Grass Lake. Another bit of history was that there used to be a sawmill near the Baker Dam site. The old ice house and several old buildings have gone but one huge barn still stands.

Otto remembers that, when he was a boy, the Indians came back to the vicinity for the burial of their chief on an island in Island Lake. And the red rose bush which Don's great-grandmother planted so long ago blossomed again this year.