Bartleby the Scrivener (vegan27) wrote,
Bartleby the Scrivener

the old brooks farm

I recently observed this old farmhouse for sale in Southfield. It sits on just over one acre of land and includes a barn that was built in 1925, according to the real estate ad.

This house lies on section 9 of what was originally Southfield Township. Section 9 is bounded by 12 Mile, 13 Mile, Lahser and Telegraph Roads. It is worth noting that sections 8 and 9 of Southfield Township were an Indian reservation following the 1807 Treaty of Detroit, in which several First Nations ceded claim of most of southeast Michigan to the United States government. This reservation was named Segin Siwin's Village after its chief. There was another reservation in Southfield, on sections 30 and 31, which I have written about previously.

An 1877 history of Oakland County notes that "signs of ancient Indian occupation" had been observed in this area, noting that "there are those living who recollect small patches of maize and irregular clusters of neglected apple-trees" and "an Indian sugar-orchard" in section 9. I do not know exactly how long the reservations existed, but the 1877 history said that at some point after Michigan achieved statehood, the reservations "were disposed of in the usual way ... and the Indians were reimbursed in the form of annuities."

This farmhouse was built by Cornelius Brooks, but it was not his first house on the property. A 1912 history of Oakland County includes these details of his life: He was born in Berkshire, England in 1823 and moved to London at the age of 16 to learn carpentry. Two years later, in 1841, he came to America and worked in New Jersey for a time. He bought 160 acres in Southfield Township in 1846 and the following year married Mary Ann Stewart of Orange County, New York. For the first 27 years they lived on their farm, they stayed in a small log cabin, not building a new house until 1873.

A date of construction of the house for sale seems to be indicated in the 1912 history book. It reads, "the house where they [Cornelius and Mary Ann Brooks] died and in which Joseph Brooks now lives was built in 1885." The map above is from an atlas published in 1896, the year Cornelius Brooks died. The image below is from a 1908 atlas, and shows Joseph Brooks living in the home that we now know of as 23410 Twelve Mile Road.

Joseph Brooks (1861-1945)

One of the children of Joseph Brooks who grew up in th is home was Harry Joseph Brooks (1903-1928), who went on to become the chief test pilot of the Ford Motor Company's short-lived airplane division. According to his Wikipedia page:

Brooks began pursuing his interest in aviation, taking flying lessons at a local airstrip, where he was observed on several occasions by Henry Ford. His father played the violin at dances at a local inn and met Ford. The elder Brooks invited Ford home for dinner and introduced him to his son.

In February 1928, Harry Brooks set a long-distance flying record, traveling from Dearborn to Titusville, Florida--about 1200 miles--on 48 gallons of fuel. On his flight home, his plane--a Ford Flivver--crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, and his remains were never found.

The ad mentions that the house needs to be extensively renovated or torn down. If you know anyone who might be interested in preserving this piece of local history, please let them know about this property!


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