1119 N. Washington (CADL/FPLA)

Oliver G. Tooker built his home in Lansing in 1847 (1848) the same year that the Capitol was moved to Lansing. The Tooker name was one that was interwoven with the early history of Lansing. Oliver was born in New York in 1823-1824 to Eliphlet (Ellflit) and Sarah (née Smith) Tooker.[1] Oliver came to Lansing in 1847, he was a carpenter by trade and was a veteran of the War of 1812.[2] After the death of his parents in New York, Oliver raised his younger brother, John S. Tooker, who would later become Lansing’s Mayor (1872-73 and 1876) and Territorial Secretary of Montana (1884). In December of 1847 Oliver married Miss Caroline M. Stoffey (Stuffey), the couple had three children, two daughters who predeceased their parents, Lizzie and Mary and one son, Edwin S. Tooker. Oliver passed away at his home on December 11, 1892. (SR 12/11/1892) Caroline stayed in the home after Oliver’s death and 1898 celebrated with family and friends her 50th year in the home.  An account of Caroline’s early days in Lansing was published in the State Republican, which explained that after her marriage to Oliver in December 1847, Oliver returned to Lansing to build a home for his bride. In April 1848 he returned to Woodhull, Michigan to take his wife to Lansing. When Caroline arrived in the Capital City she discovered that they had only four neighbors and at night she could hear the Native Americans who were camped on the banks of the Grand River. Oliver purchased a stove in Dexter, Michigan for Caroline and she managed to acquire six tea cups and saucers at a store near Main Street and the river, with those items secured she set up her home. (SR 5/24/1898) Less then a year after the celebration Caroline passed away at the home where she lived for so many years on May 10, 1899. (SR 5/10/1899) After both his parents died, Edwin S. Tooker lived at the home until his death on February 1, 1924, Edwin’s wife Martha stayed at the home until 1951, Martha passed away at a nursing home in Farmington, Michigan on March 25, 1952 at the age of 95. (LSJ 3/26/1952) In July of 1951 the Tooker home, the oldest standing structure in Lansing was torn down, for wait, you guessed it a parking lot. (LSJ 7/21/1951) Yep a parking lot, which it still is today, only now it is covered in grass. I should say WTH. Really, the oldest home in Lansing was torn down for a parking lot. They knew it was the oldest home but what the heck let’s just tear it down. I have been doing research on Lansing for 20 years and the same result is always found, ‘Structure torn down for a parking lot’, the irony is there are a lot of parking lots in Lansing and they are never filled and no one has trouble finding a parking spot, and this lot is never used! Consider what North Lansing would be like if it had the oldest home in Lansing. The home was a wonderful example of the work done by a talented carpenter. The porch faced the south allowing for a comfortable seating area during the summer months. Notice the location and size of the windows, positioned to allow as much natural light as possible to flood the interior rooms. In its day, this would have been a cozy and functional home. The home was not a grand structure, but what the hard working man who built Lansing would have lived in.

The will not be an August post, see you in September.

© Lost Lansing 2018

[1] History of Montana, by Joaquin Miller, 1894

[2] It is doubtful that Oliver served in the War of 1812, this claim was made by his nephew Dr. Oliver A. Tooker. Oliver Tooker date of birth is always listed as being in 1823 or 1824 and State Republican listed his age as 69 at the time of his death in 1892. Oliver A. Tooker may have confused Oliver’s service with that of his father, Eliphlet Tooker who served in the War of 1812 as a private. See LSJ 7/21/1951

The Cortrite home and Fanning Mill Works is an image that appeared in Durant’s History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan. The color image is one that I came across years ago, I just cannot remember where. The address of the home was listed on the illustration as being 96 Michigan Avenue in 1880. So just where was that? Well in today’s world it is 808-814 E. Michigan Avenue. The Fanning Mill was sited at 810-814 E. Michigan Avenue while the home was located at 808 E. Michigan Avenue. That is in the elevated lot between Moriarty’s Pub and Stober’s Bar. The Fanning Mill Factory is long gone, but the home existed until the mid 1980s. Hard to believe that the home was not listed in Memorandum 76, that may have been because of the homes location, set back from the street and between two commercial blocks. Simply it may have been overlooked.

The Cortrite Fanning Mill from the 1870 patent

Durant in his history of Ingham County stated that that the Eureka Fanning Mill plant was established in Lansing in 1875. Prior to that Henry Cortrite operated the factory that manufacture fanning mills in Plymouth, Michigan. Henry relocated to Lansing because of its central location to the railroad lines. If you consider where the new fanning mill was located, just two blocks east of the Michigan Central Railroad line and several blocks from the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway line, the factory was in a perfect position to capitalize on shipping via the railroads. Barnard Cortrite was the inventor of the Cortrite fanning mill, Henry his brother, was not listed in the patent. Barnard also operated a factory to manufacture fanning mills in Norwalk, Ohio, while his brother Henry operated the factory in Lansing. Between 1876 and 1880 the two plants manufactured and sold over 10,000 fanning mills. A fanning mill was an implement that employed sieves and a fan to remove chaff from grain that had been threshed. Later, the technology was combined with the threshing machine, eliminating the need for a separate mill. On Sunday, April 23, 1882 disaster struck the Lansing business when the warehouse that contained 150 finished fanning mills was destroyed by fire. Although the business was insured the production of fanning mills by the Cortrite’s ended in Lansing. (ICN 4/27/1882) The 1883 Lansing City Directory listed Joseph Schneeberger (1832-1911), as the owner of the Eureka Fanning Mills and living at 804 E. Michigan.[1] At this time, it is unknown when Henry sold his business to Joseph, but it must have been in either 1881 or 1882 and it is not clear if Joseph was manufacturing the Cortrite fanning mill or one of a different design.

Henry Cortrite

Henry Cortrite was born in Phelps, New York on November 23, 1837 to Garrett and Electa (née Pullen) Cortrite. When he was 16 he moved with his mother, sister and younger brother to Genesee County, Michigan, Henry’s father Garrett died Phelps, New York on June 16, 1857, just why the family moved to Michigan four years prior to Garrett’s death is unknown. On November 23, 1864, Henry married Miss Annie E. Moreland, the couple has six children, Bernard, Elizabeth, Mary Jane, Henry, Charles B., and Lucretia E. Cortrite. After leaving Lansing for Pontiac, Henry worked in the real estate business and owned a farm. Henry died in Pontiac, Michigan on December 7, 1909. His brother, Bernard continued manufacturing fanning mills in Norwalk, Ohio and retired to California, he passed away on February 17, 1921.

Detail of the porch on Henry Cortrite’s home on Michigan Avenue

I almost forgot, I was exploring the house at 808 E. Michigan. So, if you examine the above image of the porch and focus on the arch between the columns you can see that there is a small opening near columns side of the arch, and another at the center that carried through with the arch. Now observe in the next two images and you can see that the same pattern repeated. Unfortunately, the detailed millwork from the upper part of the porch is missing from the two later images of the home.

808 E. Michigan from the 1950s (CADL/FPLA)

The Cortrite home was later divided in to five separate apartments. You can see the two separate front entrances in the images from the 1950s. The second-floor windows have been replaced with the ornate central window being exchanged with a door. All the gingerbread bargeboard had been removed from the home giving the structure a rather pedestrian appearance.

808 E. Michigan from the 1950s (CADL/FPLA)

So just what happened to the home? Well it became sort of a flop house. The majority of the references in the Lansing State Journal in regard to 808 E. Michigan Avenue are either advertisements for apartment rentals of notices regarding the criminal citations for one of the residents. The home was torn down in 1985. So, what does this all mean? Well it is another example of Lansing choosing destruction over preservation. You may think that this is out of place because the structure is in what has been called the downtown corridor, which is asinine. As much as the mayor and advertisers like to state, downtown is west of the river and not east.

© Lost Lansing 2018

[1] This is a good time to point out that addresses in Lansing changed several times between the 1880s and 1906 when Lansing implemented the Philadelphia method or street addresses.

The Porter Home on the South West Corner of Washington and Kalamazoo. (CADL/FPLA)

So sometimes it’s fun to look at an old image and see what we can learn from it. The other day I was on Forest Parke Library and Archive’s site, Local History Online, and I came across the above image of the Porter House on South Washington Avenue and Kalamazoo Street. The image was described as the E. H. Porter House, located on the south west corner of Washington and Kalamazoo. The home was owned by Edwin H. Porter, he acquired it from Charles W. Butler in 1871 in exchange for Porter’s home on Townsend Street. Charles was the son of Orange Butler, Charles was a developer who along with Edward Sparrow and John J. Bush platted the Bush, Butler & Sparrow’s Subdivision.

The Porter Home on the 1866 Bird’s Eye View.

The home was built circa 1862 by Charles and can be seen on the 1866 Bird’s Eye View of Lansing. Edwin Haines Porter was born in Onondaga, New York on December 16, 1822 to Seth John and Cynthia Miriam (née Haines) Porter. Edwin came to Michigan with his parents in 1832 and in 1846 married Miss Adeline E. Waiter, the couple had four children; Harvey, Charles, Alice and Nellie. Adeline Porter died in June 1866. During the Civil War, Edwin enlisted with the 4th Michigan Cavalry, serving as Quartermaster and was present at the capture of the Jefferson Davis. After the war, Edwin married Miss Emily E. Nash in 1867. Edwin passed away on May 6, 1912. (LSJ 5/6/1912)

An enlarged image of the Porter Home.

Before we continue with a history of the Porter residence, I thought it would be interesting to look at the house close-up. Notice how the porch extends around the home. There is a picturesque element to the structure. The gingerbread details on the lower and upper porch lend to the elegance of the home, coupled with the ornate widow’s walk made this one of the impressive homes in early Lansing.

An extreme close-up of the Porter Home.

So, you may think there is nothing of the above image, but look closely, I know it’s not much but this is the earliest image we have of the Freewill Baptist Church. Notice the steeple to the right of the widow’s walk. Between 1880 and 1882, Porter sold the home to Dr. Charles N. Hayden who the 1883 Lansing City Directory is listed as residing at 402 S. Washington, the house retained the 402 S. Washington address until 1894, the address changed to 111 W. Kalamazoo. Why? Well we are going to look at a series of maps that may help to explain what happened.

From the 1873 Lansing map. Notice the location and footprint of the Porter home and site of the Freewill Baptist Church.

This is an image the 1892 Lansing Sanborn Map. Notice that there is now a grocery business built on the front of Lot 1. This explains why the house number was 402 S. Washington. Also observe the shape of the Porter home, notice how it matches the shape on the 1873 map and the 1866 Bird’s Eye View. Also, the wrap around porch is present in all the images, except the next.

Above is an image from the 1898 Lansing Sanborn Map. Look how the home is was located to the back of the lot, away from the rear of the grocery building. I believe it is quite possible that the home was moved to the back of the lot and that the western single story structure was removed. Look at the layout of the home in 1898, it resembles the 1892 layout without the wrap around porch and single story wing. Is this conclusive proof, no but it needs to be considered? The 1906 and 1913 Lansing Sanborn Maps all show the same footprint for the home. In 1896, the address for Dr. Charles N. Hayden changed to 111 W. Kalamazoo. Dr. Hayden lived in the home until his death in 1902. The home at 111 W. Kalamazoo was torn down around 1935 and turned into a used car lot. Previous to that the home become a flop house.

© Lost Lansing 2018