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All posts for the month July, 2018


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