iNGHAM cOUNTY hISTORICAL cOMMISSION'S TRAVELING EXHIBIT ON iNGHAM cOUNTY oNE roOM SCHOOLS
The exhibit will be open from 2-4 on Sunday, June 12th. It highlights rural school districts in Ingham County, the buildings, consolidations, and connections to our modern school districts. The exhibit is free and all are welcome.
Great-Great-Granddaughters of WILLIAMSTON Founder Visit Museum
Recently two sisters from North Carolina who were in Port Huron and due to embark on a trip through Canada to Vermont made a side trip to Williamston, the town their great-great-grandfather James Miles William founded. They knew little about this fact until they began researching their ancestry. They became curious to see what Williamston was like and to learn more about their great-great-grandfather.
The museum was closed, but members of the Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club were working in the flower gardens and called museum board member Jane Johnson who immediately came down and opened the museum. After touring the museum and learning more about James Miles Williams, Jane took them to the house that he had built in the 1840’s and in which he had lived. The house was moved from the southwest corner of Putnam and Church Streets in the late 1950’s to its present location on north Church Street. They also visited Summit Cemetery and found the graves of their distant relatives.
Their paternal great-grandfather Charles B. Williams was a son of James Miles and his wife Julia. Charles and his wife Mary had a daughter Ivone who married and had a son Frank, their father.
They were very excited to have discovered, Williamston, the town where their great-great-grandfather settled after he left Batavia, New York in the early 1800s.
James Miles and Julia had seven children, but little has been known about most of the offspring, so this was an exciting visit for the museum as well as the sisters, Jeanette A Abbott and Yvonne K McLain.
A visit to the Williamston Depot Museum unlocked a treasure trove of history for eleven members of the Mixter family this past weekend. Three generations of the family came from as far away as California and Indiana to see their ancestors’ community. In the process, the family also aided the museum with identifying a century old mystery photo.
Nathan Mixter, a resident of California, contacted the Depot Museum and asked for help in locating former family property and possibly providing any local tales about his ancestors. Museum Board members Linda Siciliano and Mitch Lutzke met the family at the Depot Museum Saturday morning, June 15, in an effort to discover some Mixter family lore.
According to Nathan, Kiran and Martha (Cain) Mixter first made an appearance in the area in 1855, moving here from Herkimer County, New York. The Mixter family purchased a pair of Locke Township parcels that today are on the south side of Rowley Road, between M-52 and Webberville Road. The Mixter’s had a total of nine children; three who were born in New York and six on the Locke Township farm. Kiran Mixter later sold his farm to neighbor and son-in-law, Miles Spears.
The descendant line to visit Williamston followed Guy Mixter, who was one of the three boys born in New York. When an adult, Guy relocated to a farm along the south side of Holt Road, just west of Dietz Road. Guy married a woman named Della Durkee and their son, Floyd, graduated from Williamston High School in 1901. The museum had Floyd’s high school grades in a large ledger book, where it showed him as a top student, making high marks in physics, math and biology. As the grade book was being perused, one of the Mixter clan looked up at a photograph above the museum archway entering the main room and noticed a resemblance to Grandma Florence (Barlow) Mixter, Floyd’s wife. The photo was retrieved from the archway shelf and Nathan Mixter displayed a picture of Florence and it matched exactly. Florence’s portrait was created from the group one displayed at the museum. A second look showed Floyd Mixter in the same photo, along with another relative. A further examination showed 13 students and one adult in the photograph, which matched the same number of people who graduated from WHS in 1901. The long-displayed mystery museum piece revealed itself to be the WHS Class of 1901 graduation photograph.
After spending about ninety minutes at the museum, two van loads of Mixter family members were led to the Rowley Cemetery on M52, where several generations of Mixter, Cain, and Spears were buried. Graves were wiped clean of dirt and dead grass, photographs were taken as family members posed with their ancestor’s gravestones and remarked how cool it was to find so many ancestors in this tiny, rural burial ground.
The next stop was around the corner to drive along Rowley Road and glimpse a few old farmhouses, barns and the very land Mixter ancestors had cleared and planted over one hundred and sixty years ago.
According to Nathan Mixter, Floyd (who lived to be 101 years old) and Florence moved nearer to town and had a farm which was determined to be where the Williamston Antique Mall is now located on South Williamston Road. They sold that farm to James H. Runciman in two sales, one in 1915 and the last in 1917. In 1920 Floyd Mixter was living on Lloyd Street, working as a salesman in a local boot and shoe store and still married to his high school classmate. The couple had four children, Russell, Guy, Rowena and Andrew Mixter. This visiting contingent of Mixters came from the line of the most recent Guy Mixter.
So, on a Saturday morning, a pioneering Williamston area family reappeared at the local museum to obtain some genealogical tidbits. However, in the process, they provided the Depot Museum with an answer to a pictorial mystery and helped preserve Williamston’s history for another group of visitors.
second sunday series instituted
The museum is beginning a Second Sunday Series on the second Sunday of every month from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Subjects most asked about by our visitors will be highlighted.
WILLIAMSTON DEPOT MUSEUM MAKES THE LANSING STATE JOURNAL! The May 17, 2015 edition of the Lansing State Journal featured this article on the Williamston Depot Museum in the "Nonprofit Spotlight" section of the paper.
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